SPS-267: The Magic Formula to Going Indie – with John Gaspard

John Gaspard was originally traditionally published but was able to retrieve the rights to his books and become an independent author. He hasn’t looked back and now has several cozy mystery series that are selling well, with more books on the way.

Show Notes

  • What happens when an author doesn’t have a contract with their publisher?
  • Investing in new covers that brand a series well
  • Appreciating being able to press publish when a book is finished, rather than on a publisher’s schedule
  • Creating read-through by giving excerpts of the next-in-series at the back of each book
  • Getting over the mental hurdle of making the first book in a series free
  • Learning to lean into the tropes the cozy mysteries require
  • How writing and editing films helped John learn to write sequences rather than scenes

Resources mentioned in this episode:

PATREON: Self Publishing Formula Show’s Patreon page

MERCH: Are you a ligneous beetle or a yawning hippopotamus? Get your SPF hoodies and t-shirts in the brand new SPF Store.


SPS-267: The Magic Formula to Going Indie - with John Gaspard

Speaker 1: On this edition of The Self-Publishing Show.

John Gaspard: I'm not a magician, I can do one card trick, but I know more than you know, and that's all I really need to do. And I know enough so that when a magician reads it, they don't get mad.

Speaker 1: Publishing is changing. No more gatekeepers, no more barriers, no one standing between you and your readers. Do you want to make a living from your writing?

Join Indie bestseller, Mark Dawson, and first-time author James Blatch as they shine a light on the secrets of self-publishing success.

Speaker 1: This is The Self-Publishing Show. There's never been a better time to be a writer.

James Blatch: Hello and welcome, it is The Self-Publishing Show, with me, James Blatch.

Mark Dawson: And me Mark Dawson.

James Blatch: Welcome to the United Kingdom on this Friday. We're just coming up to a year, aren't we, to all this craziness started. I was thinking about that. I think, as we are recording this, our jolly ruffled-haired Prime Minister is hopefully going to put some light at the end of our lockdown tunnel, but we're waiting to hear the news on that. I think schools might go back in the next few weeks.

And now that we've got a vaccine, it feels kind of good, it's been a slightly crazy time. We've talked a lot about it from an author point of view. And I think as we get away from the pandemic, hopefully, hopefully we will get away from the pandemic, we'll look back a little bit at what's changed for the long-term on that. So, maybe future episodes.

Couple of things to mention, I suppose, before we go into our interview today with John Gaspard. I talked about the BookBub that we had for Fuse Books for a number one in the series of Kerry J. Donovan's thrillers on Ryan Cane. So that went ahead and I think you did predict it would be like 20 to 30,000 downloads. We actually had 32,200 downloads on the main day, and I had three or 4,000, either side of that.

We actually got to just under 42,000 downloads, free downloads, of the book, which I'm thrilled about. And I can tell you, I did the figures this morning for yesterday, and there was this big bump in books on book two in the series, both of page reads and purchases. We actually had nearly a hundred books bought yesterday, which was huge for here, because it's lower than that, we are building up.

So I can already see however much the BookBub costs. I think it was $640, from memory. I can already see that's going to be paid for in a few days of the BookBub taking place. So, that is incredible.

I can see already. I know there's some cynicism about every platform. It was, oh, does it work anymore? Is it working? What's the best strategy? Well, I can tell you from my personal experience that I've done an international BookBub deal with Robert Storey's books, and now a US and international deal with Kerry's books. Unquestionably, they have been financially worth it.

Mark Dawson: Yeah, absolutely. They always, and I've done, I mentioned before probably 40 feature deals now in worldwide ones and they're always at least double the money. So yeah, sure, they are expensive, if you think about in terms of the amount you got to lay down, $800, say, for a thriller. But it's not expensive when you make $1,600. That's pretty good.

And I've not done a free one for a while, so I'm pleased that's worked as well as that. When I knew that would be the kind of number that we'd be looking at in terms of the downloads, they're great covers, they always write great blurbs. And I saw the email coming in because it's in the genre that I subscribed to in the BookBub.

I saw that the book coming in and I could imagine, I knew what you'd be like refreshing every half an hour to... Well, actually I remember the first one I had, I was refreshing every like 30 seconds and say, "Oh, look. Another a hundred, another 200." Kind of watching how high you can go.

Plus you hit number one in the store, didn't you?

James Blatch: Yes. We hit number one in the UK store. Number three, I think, in the US store, on the free charts, that is. I talk a lot about Fuse because it's my learning process of actually putting into action what I've been listening to on this podcast, on this show, for the last couple of years. And I think it's useful to go through it and I'll do another blog soon.

Kerry's books, when we inherited that series alone, Kerry does have other series by the way. But I think the average page read today were two to 3000. Yesterday, the day after the free period ended, we did 66,247 page read in one day. So a record under our stewardship for his books and that is, without question, related to the BookBub, simple as that.

Mark Dawson: Those will continue, you'll see a wave. Those 30,000, assuming say even 5,000 of those get opened and read, you'll see those as people continue to read, log back in on wifi, so the data's able to be shared with Amazon. Those will continue to register possibly free.

I still get page reads on a couple of books I don't actually have live anymore. I still get them like two years after I took them down because they're still on people's devices and people will still occasionally read a couple of pages and they'll get paid about 0.006 of a cent for those books. But it's just goes to show that that will be a benefit that will continue for the next well, however long... Months.

James Blatch: Yeah, I would like the dollar to go back up a bit, I have to say from, from SPF point of view and from-

Mark Dawson: It's been quite good for me, actually, I've just done an audio deal. I'm buying lots of US dollars with pounds at the moment. But yeah, when you cut it the other way round, I think this is the highest it's been for I don't know how long.

James Blatch: Yeah. I can remember it. In SPF days, I can't remember it being 1,47, 1,46, 1.47. And it's now 1,40 something. So it's back up to where it was well before COVID hit. And Brexit.

Mark Dawson: Yeah.

James Blatch: Anyway, we've got some dollars at some point I need to change and just bite the bullet on that. And a Bitcoin's going down today as well, I noticed, someway.

Mark Dawson: Going down is it?

James Blatch: It's down. It's been up massively, but it's going down.

Mark Dawson: Do you buy any Bitcoin?

James Blatch: Yes. I've got Bitcoin.

Mark Dawson: Oh, well done.

James Blatch: Yeah. But I haven't sold it. It was just a longterm investment. Just that idea that it might be the next Amazon, if you hold onto it for 10, 15 years.

Mark Dawson: Right. It's gone up 90% this year, isn't it, since Elon bought tons for Tesla?

James Blatch: 1.5 billion worth, Elon... Anyway, this is another podcast to talk about trading. Quite good discussions. I don't know if you've got into Clubhouse yet. Sort of the audio social media. Well, they do quite a few rooms on investment, which I found quite good.

Mark Dawson: I listened to Clubhouse. There was a Ricardo and Dan Wood and Will Dages, I think it was, from Findaway Voices, did a little session. And I did listen just to see what it was like. And I just, I have to say, I can't see the point of it at the moment. Now, that doesn't mean there is no point. It may just mean I haven't got it. But it just feels to me like a bit of a, I don't know, it was like, "Why would you just want an audio channel?" I don't really... It seems a little more limited than...

James Blatch: The thing is it's life. I think that's what gives it a bit of an edge, for me. It's somewhere between radio, which is live and interactive, although, one in a thousand callers get through and talk to a big radio station, and a podcast, which is nearly always recorded or there's some people do to them in life.

But Clubhouse is that extra something in between where it's live, you've got a very realistic chance of putting your hand up and going up and asking a question live, which feels so quite engaging and exciting. Although I have had a couple of rooms where somebody gets invited up to ask their question, and then they're drone on for eight minutes with their star sign and everything else. And obviously like the sound of their own voice. And that kind of ruins the room. So they do have to well manage the wheelchair at the rooms, but there's a few people who really like Clubhouse.

Mark Dawson: There's a hot kind of profit, isn't it? But I don't know. I don't see it. I remember when things started at Periscope, was massive. You might not remember that, Twitter had Periscope as its kind of live video, even in Facebook live. I did read the other day, Zuckerberg did something, the kind of the yearly report, and they are not seeing Facebook live as being quite the thing that they thought it would be. So it's great that there's people experimenting and trying these different things, but I could definitely be wrong.

James Blatch: Yes. Well, what was interesting is that, yeah, Periscope's pretty much died, but Mark Zuckerberg was on Clubhouse the other day. He was live on there.

Mark Dawson: Yeah. Well, even Mark's on it, so he's pushing it quite. So he's definitely saying that they're interested in. I do remember you saying to me a while ago, "Let's buy Bitcoin", about 18 months ago. And I'm like "No. Don't." If I'd said yes before, we could have retired probably.

James Blatch: Yeah. I've put a lot more into it..

Mark Dawson: There's this Game Stop, I hear could be pretty-

James Blatch: Yeah. Not so much anymore. Just catching up. Anyway. I imagine, at some point, if it's still around, maybe in the summer, we'll spend a week and we'll do a couple of things in Clubhouse, if people want to join us there. And we can have a live session, people ask questions and give that a go. We'll drag you into it.

Mark Dawson: I'm not doing it.

James Blatch: You can do it. You'll be good.

Let's go onto our, our interview this week. We have John Gaspard. I think I mentioned this at the beginning, I think he and his wife both pronounce his surname differently, but anyway.

Mark Dawson: Isn't he a character in Beating the Beast? Is that Gas...I don't know.

James Blatch: You're not thinking of Jean Valjean, from Name Is?

Mark Dawson: No, I'm not thinking of that. No, James. I'm thinking of Gaspard, I'm pretty sure that's the bad. Anyway. Sorry about that, John.

James Blatch: Maybe it is. My children are older than yours. My children watch One Division and Mandalorian. Okay, look, here we go. This is John. He writes brilliantly, brilliant looking inventive books, novels that involve magic. I think each book is named after a famous magic trick. He's somebody who's been down that route. He's been traditionally published. He got the rights back. He discovered self publishing and has not looked back. Here is John Gaspard.

John Gaspard.

John Gaspard: Yes. Hello, sir.

James Blatch: Sorry. Gaspard. You just told me, your wife says Gaspar, you say Gaspard?

John Gaspard: Yes. And that's been the single argument of our married career is how do you say it properly.

James Blatch: But you doing okay. That's the argument.

John Gaspard: I think so. I really think that's pretty good.

James Blatch: Yeah. I'd settle for that. Good. It's a shame you haven't settled it, but that's okay. Maybe that's the secret. So, okay. Let's talk books, John.

You've had an experience I think in both traditional and indie publishing. And I'm very interested to hear about that difference that you've encountered. It's a story we are, I think, going to be familiar with from other authors as well. Unfortunately, Mark's among them, but there's always worth retelling. And then we'll talk a bit about your writing process and where you are today with marketing and selling your books.

John Gaspard: Sure thing. It'll be fun.

James Blatch: Great. Well, let's start probably with, I guess, your beginnings as a writer and being traditionally published, which is, regardless of anything else, worthy of note and congratulations, because it's a tough gig to get.

John Gaspard: It was as hard or harder than writing the first couple of books, was getting that publisher. And thinking, well, I must be terrible because no one wants this. The other thing that drove me crazy was, "We'll let you know in six months", it's like, "What do you mean? What do you mean? What do you mean?" And then I was paging through Mystery Scene Magazine. There was a review of a book that had a similar tone to mine, similar light, comic tone. I thought "That might be the right publisher. What's the name of that?"

I saw the publisher's name and I emailed them and got an email back, couple of years later, said "Would love to look at it. Might be a while." Sent the manuscript over and two days later I got a phone call saying, "I love this book. I want to publish the book." So that's about the best news you can get starting out like that. And it was a nice ride at the beginning. They did the first four books.

And then it kind of petered out for them. I don't think they quite know how to market it, because it's a cosy mystery, but it's a male lead. The main character is Eli Marks. He's a magician in the twin cities here. He makes his living doing corporate and restaurant magic and stumbles into murders. And I think they thought, "Oh, our market is magicians", which is not really true.

The percentage of people who like mysteries in the whole population is the same as the percentage who like mysteries in the population of magicians. So just because you're a magician, doesn't mean you're going to want to read this book, but you didn't have to be a magician to enjoy it. In fact, it's not really for magicians.

So it sort of petered out after, on the fourth book, and I also got tired of waiting a year. You finish a book and then you wait a year and it comes out. And so I said, "Can I have the rights back?" And that was a long, interesting conversation.

James Blatch: So what was the contract?

John Gaspard: I had no contract.

James Blatch: Interesting.

John Gaspard: In fact, that year I had gone to a Malice for the first time and was on a lot of panels and people would excitedly say, "I just talked to my agent and I've signed a contract for three more books." And I would just get this sick feeling in my stomach. Like "I want to enjoy this process. And for you to tell me I have to do three books, sound like the worst thing in the world."

So I told the publisher, I will do them as I do them, because I have a life. And then you can publish them or not. And the downside of that is you're not on a schedule. So, when you give them the book, they put you one year ahead and that's when you come out. So that's the downside of it.

The upside is you can write when you want and don't have this sort of Damocles hanging over your head that, "Oh my goodness, I have to have a book out next week." Because, for me, it is a hobby that can kind of be profitable, but it's supposed to be fun.

At the time I was working full-time as a writer, director, producer for videos. And so I had enough deadlines in my life and I didn't want to have more deadlines with the book. So, after some spirited conversation, I got the rights back and republished them and did a couple more books on top of that.

James Blatch: There must have been something in writing for the books that they did take off you.

John Gaspard: Yes. We did have a standard contract for that sort of thing. It wasn't a great contract and it was kind of a loosey goosey contract in some ways. But it was enough that, for example, they didn't quite have audio rights, but they kind of did, but they didn't. And when I pushed them on that, I was able to get those rights back right away when I wanted them.

What I did was I just looked at how little money they were making on the books. And I said, "Okay, you guys are going to give up on this in two years. I'm sure. Here's how much money you would have made in two years with this book. I'm going to write you a check right now. Give me back the books." And they were fine with that.

James Blatch: Yeah, that's good. There's nothing more frustrating, I think, for an author in that situation, seeing books, not being marketed, not being sold, but also not being released back to you, because that's just unfair. But it does happen.

We publish a couple of people's books, on our little indie publisher, and we write into the contract that, if we're not selling at the amount that they were selling by themselves, actually double the amount they were selling by themselves, because it's 50/50, then they automatically return to the author. So a really fair way of doing it. So that only works if it makes financial sense for them. The moment it stops making financial sense, they return to them. Well, six consecutive months of it not making financial sense, I should say, just to allow us the odd blip here and there, but ...

John Gaspard: Exactly.

James Blatch: Yes. I've always said this, I think indie publishers are writing the next chapter of contracts that are going to be fairer to authors, I hope.

John Gaspard: I hope so.

James Blatch: But anyway, ideally, and we say this to anyone who comes to us anyway, you should be publishing yourself. Taking all the royalty and doing the work yourself. Some people balk at the idea, they're not enthusiastic about it. They're under-confident.

How did you feel? Because presumably when you were getting the rights back of this stage, were you thinking about self publishing or thinking about selling it?

John Gaspard: I was, totally.

James Blatch: Okay.

John Gaspard: I was done with publishers at that point. My background, since around age 13, I've been making low budget feature films in all different formats, from Super 8 to 16 millimetre to digital video to ... So I'm used to having a big, messy project that needs to get done, and that's kind of what a book is. I'm used to the idea of a little bit every day and you get it done. So that process didn't really scare me too much.

And while being published, while Eli Marks series was published, I did self-publish a couple of other little things that I had just to get my feet wet and see what that was like. So I knew what I was into on the technical side, and I'd, the parting words the publisher gave me basically on the way out the door were, "Take Mark Dawson's class," which I did right away, which was very helpful.

And it, not in the sense that everything that was in there have I used or will I use, but it just established the universe for me. Here are the kinds of things I'm going to be dealing with, and here's the things I need to do right away, and the first thing I knew I needed to do right away was get new covers and get really good covers.

I'd been given a lot of compliments on the original publishers covers, which were very nice, and they were very nice. The problem was, and this is something I've learned that I would do going forward is I looked at the first cover, which was, the books called The Ambitious Card, so it was playing cards, and those are represented on the cover, and I went, "Oh, that's nice, that's great." And not realising that every subsequent cover would have a kind of a cartoony look because anything else you're trying to picture outside of a playing card is going to be some kind of clip art or something, which I didn't really like as much. It just looked a little more childish than I wanted.

So I searched around and found an excellent designer over in England, who looked at what I needed and said, "All right, here's your six books that you've got. What if we did this, or this, or this?" And gave me different approaches and we went down a path. And because he knew he was going to have to replicate it seven, eight, nine, 10, 11, he set it up in such a way that they have a brand, but each one of them is unique. And that was a great experience.

That was the smartest thing I did, was spending what ended up being probably 200, $300 per cover, which seems like a lot when you do them all at once.

James Blatch: Yeah.

John Gaspard: But then you hit the ground running and I can re-release, I was able to re-release them all at the same time with the new covers.

James Blatch: Yeah. I mean, it's really not a lot ...

John Gaspard: Money well spent.

James Blatch: When you think of the impact the cover has on selling your book.

John Gaspard: Absolutely.

James Blatch: It's, and compared to other costs such as editing, it's a ...

John Gaspard: Yeah.

James Blatch: Bargain, really, for what you get from it. You can name check the cover designer, if you like.

John Gaspard: Sure. It's Designed for Writers, and it's a couple, Andrew and Rebecca, I don't know where they are in England, but I know I'm dealing with the same time issues I'm dealing with with you ...

James Blatch: Okay.

John Gaspard: For them. You know, if I send them an email at noon here, I get an email back saying, "We're closed."

James Blatch: Yeah.

John Gaspard: Well, good, good. I'm glad you're closed. That's good.

In addition to the covers, he gives you everything you need. And it's surprising how often you need all the different things, whether it's the full wraparound or the PDF or the hard cover or the audio book cover, or you need it up to a certain size. He also does the little 3D thing, which I can do as well, but they're nice to have. It's just such a nice package that for your, whatever, $300, it was, boom, everything you need. And then in the future, when it comes time to, I need this size cover for the book in whatever I'm doing, it's just right there. It's already done. I don't need to worry about it.

James Blatch: That's superb. And one thing I find very useful getting from Stewart for the books we're publishing is the PSD files, the Photoshop layered files, which you have to talk to your designer in advance ...

John Gaspard: Yep.

James Blatch: Because it might be a bit extra, which is absolutely fine, but then you can take off all the text and you can then play with what you've got left as your advertising imagery.

John Gaspard: Yes. That, and he does that as well, and that's ... Just having those backgrounds alone is a huge help.

James Blatch: I think that's a really important thing. And cover designers who've come out of traditional publishing probably would be wondering why somebody would want that, but, of course, that's exactly what self-published authors want ...

John Gaspard: Yes.

James Blatch: Because we're every possible department you have in that building in New York is in your bedroom. You're the art department ...

John Gaspard: Yes.

James Blatch: The commercial, all the rest of it. So yeah, really useful. Well, that's, so a great start, you were happy with the covers. And this is The Magic Square, The Miser's Dream, is that this series with Eli Marks?

John Gaspard: Yes.

James Blatch: Yeah.

John Gaspard: Exactly. Each book is named after a magic trick.

James Blatch: Okay.

John Gaspard: So it starts with The Ambitious Card and then goes onto The Bullet Catch. And then there's seven books now in that series. So the latest one just came out. And the nice thing about the latest one, The Magic Square, is it came out when I wanted it to come out.

James Blatch: Yeah.

John Gaspard: It was like, I was done with it, I was happy with it, and I published it the next day. I didn't have to wait a year. I didn't have to wait for anything. I was ready, I had all this stuff ready do all the marketing stuff, I had all of that ready, but it's just such a huge difference then that you get that email that says, "Yeah, we've got you on the calendar for, you'll be September 20,21 ..."

James Blatch: Yeah.

John Gaspard: "When you're coming out." And you go, "Well, I don't know, I'm 62, things happen. Will I be here in September 2021? I'd rather get the book out now."

James Blatch: Yeah.

John Gaspard: So that's one of the nicest parts of self publishing. And also the flexibility that I had, because one of the problems I had with their publisher originally was they felt I wasn't doing my end on marketing. And I'd had a publisher before that, I'd done a couple of filmmaking books in the '80s and '90s, and that was a small publisher, that's all he did was filmmaking books, and he had about, I don't know, 30, 40 books. And so that was a very traditional publisher.

I sent him the manuscript, he did the book, he did the marketing, he sent me the money. That's what I was sort of used to. And so when I was getting these kind of passive aggressive emails about, "You're not really marketing the way you should." I said, "Well, I can certainly do that. I can do run ads. I can do all that. I'm going to need you to give me the sales figures on a daily basis."

"Oh no, no, we can't do that. We'll send them to your quarterly." And even when they did that, it was still sort of sketchy. I said, "Well, I literally cannot market if I don't know what's working, that I'm just throwing good money after bad. I know you have the information. I know it's there. You could give it to me."

"Nope, Nope. We can't do that at all."

That was a huge frustration because, as you know, when you see an opportunity in marketing, you want to be able to just try it, look at the results and then change it and try it and change and try and change it. So that was very frustrating. And getting the books back allowed me to do market them the way I thought they should be marketed.

James Blatch: When you got the rights back, you got your new covers. You had four books at that stage?

John Gaspard: I had five. They had done four. I had a fifth one that I said, "I don't think you guys want to do this anymore. I'm going to publish this one on my own." So I copied the style of the cover and did that, but trying to market book five in a series when you don't have access to the information of book one through four is hard.

James Blatch: Yeah.

John Gaspard: When I walked away from there with five books and now have seven.

James Blatch: Okay. And you, you repackaged them a bit.

John Gaspard: Yeah.

James Blatch: What was your relaunch strategy and marketing strategy then when you had them, all the rights?

John Gaspard: Right. It was maybe a little scattershot, because I'd never done something like that before, but I had taken the course, so I how to do Facebook ads, and I also understood the concept of promotional stuff through I use Book Funnel.

So my idea was let's get as many people as we can reading the first book, and then we can try to build the read-through that way. And I'm 18 months into it now.

It was very frustrating at first because I would look at the numbers every month and people were reading the first book or at least buying the first book, and I know there's going to be a drop-off from book one to two and then a little, a little drop off, a little drop off, a little drop off, but they weren't really getting to book two. But the ones who got to book two then did a pretty good job going through.

So I thought, okay, the problem is I'm not hooking them enough at the end of book one. So what I'm going to do is at the end of book one, I'm going to give them about a third of book two, take it up to the one of the best cliffhangers in that book.

So you get to the end of The Ambitious Card, "Hey, did you enjoy that? Why don't you start reading The Bullet Catch?" You read through that. And then I lowered the price of the bullet catch from 4.99 to 2.99. So you get to the end of that and you go, "Oh, that was good. I'll pay 2.99, see how that ended up." As you read through The Bullet Catch, The Miser's Dream is in there, that one's back at 4.99, but you're kind of into the rhythm at that point.

Each book has the next book of, you know, five to eight chapters in the next book in it, followed by, "Here's the link to buy that." And I think one of the best things I learned was make that link your series link. So when you're done reading that sample and you want to buy the book, it doesn't take you to the Amazon book, it takes you to the whole series.

James Blatch: Yeah.

John Gaspard: Because they already know what the name of the book is. And I found that having done that in all the books, about once a week, I'll just get a little burst of two, three, four, five, six, seven, they'll just, boom, all six books will be sold right away within an hour.

Of course, now Amazon has changed how you can can see that, so I can't see it as easily as I could before, but it was clear that people were seeing this series thing, they're seeing that it said, "Read the whole rest of the series for $22." and they're clicking that, which made a big difference. Now the read through is really good. The last couple of months it's been really, really solid.

James Blatch: Right. So the major change being sticking a bit of book two in the end, but also where you're sending people to when it's done.

John Gaspard: And then also each book, because when I started out, I was paying someone to format each book. It was a very nice person on Fiverr or something, and she did a fine job, but it was kind of pricey, and I realised I can't do that after ... I'm going to have to be able to make changes very frequently on these ebooks.

The paperbacks stay pretty much the same all the time, but the ebooks are going to change, depending what's going on. So I bought Vellum, which paid for itself probably a day later.

James Blatch: Yeah.

John Gaspard: And it's so easy to use, and they're so helpful when you have a question. So I make sure that not only do they have the next book, a good chunk of that, plus a link for that, but they also have, "Do you want to read a free, short story about this character?"

And that's going to give me your email address, if you do that, or do you want to join the newsletter? Do you want to do that? And oh, by the way, if you'd like that series, here's an ad for the other, The Como Lake Player's mystery series, or one of the standalone books."

You can update that so easily as an ebook, I'm constantly changing what that is and just keeping an eye on what's working, what isn't.

James Blatch: Yeah. And it's a series, as opposed to serial, so you could read them out of order, they're all standalone mysteries.

John Gaspard: You absolutely can read them out of order. And in fact, the sixth book, which is called The Zombie Ball was designed for late comers to the series, it's a story that takes place before the first book.

It's a flashback story. So if you jump in on that one and you like it, you can go back to the beginning and it will all make sense, and it hasn't given away anything major that you'd find out in the other five books, but it also sets you up for the next one if you'd rather just move straight ahead.

James Blatch: Oh, and why magic? Is this a passion of yours?

John Gaspard: No, not really. I know a lot of magicians, I know more magicians than a normal person should, partially because I have just a couple of friends who are magicians, partially because I used to work in a meetings and events business, and would have to hire talent. And so I've met a lot of magicians that way.

I wanted to write a series with one main character. I'm a big fan of Lawrence Blocks' Burglar books with Bernie Rhodenbarr. And those are just light, airy, funny mysteries. And I was trying to think of a character that would move throughout, you know? He can be in a corporate situation, he can be in a party situation. There's a lot of reasons for him to be a lot of different places.

And then I started just doing a little minor research on it and saw the names of the tricks were so evocative, you have the misers dream, you have the bullet catch, you have the ambitious card, you have the zombie ball, these are all trick names and they just sounded great.

I'd launched, jumped into it, knowing very little about magic. The first book has to do with a bunch of psychics being killed. So, at the same time I was learning about magic, had to learn about psychics, I had those two paths going, and now I am, I don't, I'm not a magician, I can do one card trick, but I know more than you know, and that's all I really need to do is know more than the average person.

I know enough so that when a magician reads it, they don't get mad. They go, "Yeah, that's exactly how that should be." In fact, Teller, of Penn & Teller, sent me an email because he had read one of the books and he said, "I really like how you treated magic, and magic is normally not done writing mysteries, and you've got all the details right."

James Blatch: Wow.

John Gaspard: And at that point, I thought I should just stop because all I really ever wanted was books to be accepted by the magic community where they're not throwing them across the room and getting mad ...

James Blatch: Yeah.

John Gaspard: They're saying, "Yes, that's how it is." And getting up to speed on that took a while, and it's still an ongoing thing. I'm still listening to magic podcasts and reading magazines and seeing magicians and talking to magicians, because you just ... I can see you've got an aircraft right behind you for your book. I don't know how in-depth you had to go for your research.

James Blatch: Quite.

John Gaspard: Yeah. And I don't know if you always knew what you were looking for, but you needed to just fill the hopper with as much stuff as possible. And that's what it was with magic, was I just needed to get all this stuff so that I have access to anything they would have access to, where, and it's right. When a magician says, "I'm going to do a torn and restored rope trick." That is the way it's said, is a torn and restored rope.

James Blatch: Yeah.

John Gaspard: That's how you say it.

James Blatch: And I think that's the trick, is the little bits of language. It's the small bits that giveaway the innate information you have about a subject, it's not knowing the big things.

John Gaspard: Nope.

James Blatch: That's what you've obviously been able to capture, is the language that they use in conversation with each other.

John Gaspard: Yep. It's getting that vernacular right. The latest book takes place at a magic convention and all the emails I've gotten from the magicians have been, "I know exactly where you are. I know exactly who you mean. I've been in that conversation in that ballroom with these people." So it's nice that they're seeing that the work paid off.

James Blatch: Fantastic. Well, we're re-watching Arrested Development at the moment, so most of my magic is G.O.B. Who I think is probably the greatest illusionist who's been on television.

John Gaspard: He really. He's very, very good.

James Blatch: But do you know what? The writers of that series, who made G.O.B. who is obviously terrible, probably had to do the same amount of research and innate understanding of magic and illusion to get him right, because there's a trick to... There was a famous magician, comedian in the UK called Tommy Cooper. I don't know if you've ever heard of him?

John Gaspard: Oh yeah, yes.

James Blatch: Tommy Cooper got all his tricks wrong, and other magicians would say, "You've no idea how hard he works at his magic to get them wrong like that. It's just as much talent." And I think that's a trick, excuse the pun, putting them into a book or another context requires a lot of, as you say, understanding of the craft.

Anyway, we could talk about magic, we're not really here to. Magic is fascinating, I love it as a subject matter. And they're very evocative, the trick names, the illusion names, aren't they? I always remember, was it The Transported Man was in the film? And there's the Vanishing Man as well and so on. So yes, all these famous old names.

The big question is, you got your rights back, you were getting checks, albeit not making you look forward to retirement in your traditional publishing company.

How did it go in the first year, two years of you self publishing?

John Gaspard: I'm not going to retire on it yet, but I never intended to. It's a hobby and I'm trying to keep it fun. And I know that there's a whole nother track of independent authors, where they want to be making that tonnes and tonnes of money. And I wouldn't turn it down, but I'm not willing to work that hard, but I just wanted to make sure I wasn't losing money.

Because like I said, I made a bunch of low budget feature films, none of which ever made their money back but they kind of almost did. And I'm okay in that universe of kind of breaking even. I'm no longer breaking even, I'm making money every month. I've gone from when I started probably selling a couple of books a day to selling 10 to 20 books a day, which adds up, which is very nice.

John Gaspard: The read through on the series as I look at the numbers has been really gratifying to see that I figured out a way to get them to do it. And one of the ways I did it, which was one of the hardest things I've ever done was to make the first book free for a short amount of time.

Now I know there's a lot of people who have free books that are permafree and they're okay with that, and they live with that. But that first book was hard. That was a hard book to create. And the idea of making it free, I'd let it be 99 cents for a long, long, long, long time, and that kind of worked. And then when I made it free for, I don't know, three days, something like that, suddenly there's seven thousand, eight thousand, nine thousand books gone. Like that.

Part of me is going, "Well that's income I'm never going to see." But the other part is going, "Well you never would have seen it anyway." These are people who would not have necessarily bought the book or seen the book or found the book. And you're only losing 35 cents each time. And if you had an ad that was costing you 35 cents for every click and every one of those clicks, they took the book. You'd go, "Oh, that's a pretty good ad. That's not a bad ad." But it's costing me nothing.

So once I got over that hump and did that, and then I've just seen, because I did that maybe four months ago, just seeing the constant, it's just constant. It just keeps going. They just keep buying the rest of the books and moving on through, and then wanting to go to the next series and emailing and saying, "When is the next Eli going to happen? When is the new audio book coming out?" So it was hard to get over that 'free' speed bump. But now that I've done it, it's like, "Well, I'll have to do that again next year at some point." But it really was a lesson and it paid off really, really nicely.

James Blatch: Do you know what I think? That's the benefit of Mark's course. It's not necessarily, people say, "Well what do I get out of it?" It's instead of saying, "Well, I'm not going to make my book free, why would I do that?" Or saying, "I'm going to make my book free."

It's understanding why you would do something like that, where the benefit is and how to balance that and make good decisions. Because the way you described that, it's quite complicated actually as to why it's beneficial giving your book away. But understanding that detail, that's what you get when you start tuning into Mark and Jo and Nick Stephenson and others in this region. It's tuning in to that language of, a bit like the magicians, it's its own world.

John Gaspard: It's hard. And I feel for you because your book's coming out when, next year?

James Blatch: March, I hope.

John Gaspard: Yeah. I have a couple of standalones. I don't know how to market a standalone. I have one that does quite well on its own just because it's so silly, it's called the Greyhound of the Baskervilles. And I took the text for the Hound of the Baskervilles and rewrote it as if Sherlock's dog was with them and he's narrating the entire book. And it's adorable and people really seem to like that.

I'm going to do a sequel called A Christmas Carl, which is A Christmas Carol told from a dog's point of view. If you can get those into the right niche, those sell, but other stuff that I have, I have a Jack the Ripper thriller, hard to get that selling. I have a fantasy thing. It's just so hard.

I feel for people who just have the one book, because I'd be lost without having this whole series that, of getting them in and getting them through it.

James Blatch: Your next book is the best marketing for your current book, isn't it? So that's why I'm 30,000 words into book two before book one's even been published.

John Gaspard: Oh, good for you.

James Blatch: Just like that, and I'm already starting to think where's book three going to come from. So yes, it's a longterm strategy for me and it should be for people.

Occasionally there's the Harper Lees of the world isn't there, who write this one book and retire off it. And ironically, I think she did write the sequel in retirement, but yes, they are the exceptions, not the rule. I think a good series that people want to get to the end of. And I've got friends who read a lot, read more than I do. And in fact, I met one yesterday, who's just finished, gone through Lee Child, took him a while to find Lee Child and asked me for recommendations for his next author.

So of course I said, you should read Mark Dawson. And he will read all 23, 24 Dawson books and then he'll move on to the next author. They're the readers who fuel the indie industry, and actually they're the reader fueled publishing for years. So yes, that's why series work.

John Gaspard: Yes. And another thing I've learned, although I can't prove that it's doing any good, but anytime I get an email from someone where there's an issue of any kind, like I got one the other day from someone in Canada saying, "I see that the Zombie Ball is 99 cents in the US but it's not in Canada." Which is probably my fault when I did it, I probably did that wrong. I wrote back to her and said, "Sorry, here's a link to the book." Just give them the book. Just give them the book.

It never hurts to just give them a free book. The eBooks there's no cost. I used to, in the old days with paperbacks, you have to pack them up and send them off, and there was an actual cost to it. But it's like, "Boy, you've got this wonderful advertising, marketing tool and it's right there in BookFunnel. You just click the link and off it goes." And that's what I've gotten better at doing this year is just going, "Just let go and give it away and it'll come back to you because you got the other books."

James Blatch: Yeah, absolutely. So that is not your only series as you alluded to, you've got your Sherlock Holmes, Holmes' dog, and you've got another pet take on a classic story coming up. And I think beyond that, you are now experimenting with more, I suppose your magic stories are cosy mystery really.

You would describe them as cosy mystery?

John Gaspard: They are. They're considered cosies because they fit all the qualifications and there's no sex and all the violence happens off screen and it's an amateur detective. But back when I was with this publisher, one of the many reasons they gave me why the books weren't selling is, "Well, it's a cosy and you're a male author and you have a male lead and most cosies," which apparently it seems to be kind of true, "most cosies have female leads and authors names that could go either way." It's not really gender specific. So I thought just for the heck of it, I will try writing a series under the name, Bobby Raymond, and I'll have a female lead and I'll do it third person rather than first person, because I'm not a woman. Someone asked me, how do I write characters? And I said, I can write two characters. I can write a 33 year old magician, or I can write an 80 year old magician. Those are the two characters I can be inside their heads.

James Blatch: Yeah, you've nailed those.

John Gaspard: Yes. But a 30 year old artistic director at a small community theatre in St. Paul, I didn't want to get right into her head, but I've directed a lot of plays and my wife's an actress, so I know that world actually better than I knew magic world. And so I thought I'll just do a series about a small community theatre, very similar to one that I've done a lot of work for over the years and make the female lead, make her a female and just play with place. So the first one is called Acting Can Be Murder, and if they're doing a production of Arsenic and Old Lace, and she's giving a tour to someone over the set and they open the window seat and there's a dead body in there. It's a critic who had panned the play.

And it was one of those books where it was a pantser, as they say, I did not know going in, who had done it or why. And by chapter three, I did. And I went, "Oh, that's kind of, I kind of like that." And unlike the Eli Marks series, which are pretty tightly outlined, these are a little more loosely outlined, so I can have more fun with them. And then the second one is called Dying to Audition and they're doing The Importance of Being Earnest. And the one that'll be out next year is called Rehearsed to Death and they're doing A Christmas Carol. And they're just, in the way the magic books have a lot of magic jokes in them, they just have a lot of theatre jokes in them. Just a lot of making fun of actors, making fun of performers, making fun of the whole circus.

James Blatch: And you went through a couple of the tropes there that identify a book as a cosy mystery. I always find these interesting areas, sort of sub-genres and so on. And the way you set up that book is that the person is the, what the director, or involved in the production of the play and the main critic has been murdered. So is that a normal trope? Is one of the motivations for trying to solve the murder is that they're in the frame for it if they don't? Or was that an accident?

John Gaspard: I were a better writer you bet that would be. But the problem was in fact that some of the notes I got back from readers on the first one, was the main character Leah doesn't do a lot of detecting. She was sort of a reactive character, she wasn't out there. But as someone pointed out to me in the Eli Marks books, about half the time Eli solves the mystery wrong. He gets it wrong. Chapter 20, he says, "I know who the killer is." And in chapter 21, that person is dead. So I'm not apparently a huge proponent of always letting the lead character really be a good detective. But in the second book, in Dying to Audition, she does do more. The problem I have with that, and with Eli series and with any of these types of series, which apparently I just have to get over, is why does this one person have so many deaths around them? And in the case of a small community theatre, if that many people died, who would go to that theatre?

James Blatch: I think you do have to look past that because there's a village called Midsummer, you know Midsummer Murders, I don't know if you get what that one is?

John Gaspard: Yes.

James Blatch: It is a bit of a running joke, it's the serial killing capital of the world, but that never gets mentioned. It just happens to be another murder every week. But you know what people tune in, in their millions to watch that on TV and read the series. So let it go.

John Gaspard: Exactly, so let it go, get over it.

James Blatch: That sounds great. Now you mentioned pantsing, so we'll talk about writing star. We're trying to use, well I do prefer the term 'discovery writer', which is a nicer term, isn't it? Than pantser?

John Gaspard: Cleaner sound, yes.

James Blatch: Yeah. So discovery writing, is that how you wrote the earlier books as well? Or did you plot them a bit?

John Gaspard: I couldn't. No, the process I got into by about the third book was having a tonne of notes that got me about two thirds of the way through the book, and then a pretty strong idea of what the ending would be, but leaving that last third a little loosey goosey. Because things are going to change and I need some wiggle room at the end to do that. So I go in always knowing who did it. Sometimes the victims may change, but it's pretty tightly crafted up till about the two third point. Otherwise, I would just get lost. Because I have to make sure, I mean, if you read through the structure books, like Save the Cat, there's certain beats that in theory you should try to hit. And I think if you've read enough mysteries, like I have, you kind of have internalised that and so you know when you need to change or shift or kill or something like that. But it does help to put it down on paper and go, "By chapter 15, these number of people need to be dead."

James Blatch: So how is the discovery process? How did that feel compared to that?

John Gaspard: It felt a little unnerving, except that I did figure out in chapter three who the killer was. Which I can understand people can go much further, it really helped me to figure that out. So in the second book in that series, I did the same thing but I knew who the killer was going in. That was really all I knew going in, was who the killer was. And then you just, what does Aaron Sorkin say, "It's intention and obstacle." Every scene is, what is the intention they're trying to do? What's in their way? What can I throw on their way? What can I throw on their way? And just finding ways to just mess up their lives a little bit.

James Blatch: Yeah. Someone watching his master class at the moment, and he says, "That's when you have a story." People often say, "I've got a great story about this guy trapped on an oil rig or something." That's a situation and you've got to create the... although actually does have an obstacle in it, but the intention and obstacle. That's the beginning of your story.

John Gaspard: You know, he's remarkably consistent about saying that over the last 20 years, the new thing he's added, which I tried in this last book, The Magic Square, which he'd heard from somebody else was, try cutting out the last line of each scene or in this case, each chapter. Just do you really need that last line? And it is sort of interesting that sometimes you do overwrite a little bit and if you just took that last line out, it is a bit more evocative. So if Aaron Sorkin says it, I'm going to try it.

James Blatch: Yes, yeah. He's the genius. I might give that a go. I do struggle with the last line, because I do feel sometimes it has to be a kind of concludory... Is that a word? Conclusionary, a conclusion to the scene. But maybe it's not necessary.

John Gaspard: Well, one of the things that was lucky for me going into novel writing, because I didn't start doing that until late forties, maybe. But I'd written a tonne of screenplays up to that point. Some produced, some not produced. But the ones that I've produced myself, you really learn what is a scene because not only have you written it, but you're also working with the actors to shoot it and then you're in the editing. And when does the scene really end? When does it begin? And then you learn, which you get more when you're into editing, but if you can bring it back into writing it's very helpful, is don't think of it as a scene. Because there really are very few scenes, there are generally sequences.

John Gaspard: There's a thing that starts the ball rolling and it's a scene and a scene and a scene and a scene, but it's a full sequence. And that's how, when you edit movies, you generally edit sequences. You don't edit scenes. And if you think of the book writing that same way where yeah, you may have four chapters and it may take place over six locations, but it really is one sequence. It's one big sequence. And if you think of it that way, it's easier to write it.

James Blatch: Yeah. That's interesting. Just occurring to me as you were saying that from your film background is that it costs money obviously to film even a low budget film. Thousand of dollars will go into filming one scene, which is a really good way of writing, and really testing, is this scene necessary? Is this driving the story forward or can you pull it out? Because if you think there's going to be all these people standing around cameras and holding lights and actors brought in, you'd better be sure this is moving the story forward.

John Gaspard: Well, I had a painful lesson in that back when I was in college. So this is in the 1980s at the University of Minnesota. We had borrowed a bunch of video equipment and were making a feature on and around the campus. And one of our professors in the theatre department was a former Broadway actor, had been kind of a big deal in Broadway. And was a very handsome, very... Had a lot of presence. So we wrote a part for him in the movie and we shot two scenes with him. And it was kind of a big deal that he was willing to do it. And we went in, we put the movie together and we're watching it, my partner and I, and we get to the end, we turn to each other and go, "We don't need those scenes. We have to cut him out. We don't need those scenes." Very painful to do. He didn't really care one way or another.

John Gaspard: But it's a good lesson to go, as you're writing a screenplay that you know you're going to shoot, "Do I really need this? Do I actually? Do I really, really need this or do I just want to shoot it?" And you take that mindset into novel writing. And the nice thing about novel writing is even if I don't need it, it's only a novel, I don't care, I'm going to include it. Because you can do that as long as you're not... Somebody said it's easier to write a novel than a short story and it is true. In the short story, you've got to be precise.

James Blatch: And probably the same with the screenplay, I imagine? Easier to write a rambling novel, that's the point you're making, I guess, than a... Well no, you don't want to write a rambling novel, you want it to be a tight...

John Gaspard: Yeah. I know you want it to be tight, but you also can take little trips, little tiny side trips, that would be the first thing they're going to cut when they try to turn it into a movie. And I know I'm writing for a reader, but I think in the back of my mind, that reader is me 10 years from now, when I forgot that I wrote it. And I know I will enjoy reading these books.

James Blatch: Yeah. There's another Aaron Sorkin tale. When he wrote The American President, that I think his first screenplay was 268 pages long. And he said, "I enjoyed the sound of my voice. I enjoyed this president I'd created and I enjoyed all these scenes and I wrote all these scenes." And of course, when they said to him, "You're going to need to make that 120 pages." he stripped it all away and was left with this amazing story, very tight three-act story, which the film is. And he said, actually all that stuff he rejected became The West Wing. He penned the first three episodes of the West wing and then went on from there. So yes, I guess that's one of the reasons I like taking myself back to the 1960s. Not back to it, I was barely alive, but I love the atmosphere, the feeling. And sometimes you just want to write a bit of that.

James Blatch: And that's partly, I suppose, what you're providing your reader. A bit of time alone, behind the scenes with the magicians. Even if it's not necessarily taking you dramatically further in the story, that's why people would choose to read your book, right?

John Gaspard: Yeah. It's character stuff. It's the interaction. But you know, one of the comments I get the most is people just love Eli, who's in his thirties and he used to live with his Uncle Harry. And Uncle Harry is in his eighties and is a master magician. He is, if you were a magician, I could say the names, Eugene burger and Jay Marshall, and you'd go, "Oh, I get it." But you're not a magician, you don't get that. But he was on Johnny Carson, he's done every kind of magic there is. And he is not an easy person. He's not a forgiving person, he can be very harsh. And people love that relationship. And a lot of times I get caught in the fact that I can sit and write these two guys talking together for hours.

John Gaspard: I could fill books with them talking because I know the 80-year-old magician, I know the 33 year old magician and I can have them talk. And you do have to pull that back a little bit sometimes and go, "Yes, I know people love that and we'll have some of that in there. But I do have to advance the story." And it can't just be this charming banter between these two guys, but people like it. That's one of the reasons I read the book, is I have a flawed hero who doesn't always solve the mystery, who has interesting relationship with his uncle.

James Blatch: There's got to be a bit of comedy and incompetence, I think, in cosy mystery, right? That's the classic kind of cosy mystery solver, is getting her or himself into a little bit of trouble along the way. That's why they're the amateur, right?

John Gaspard: Yes, exactly.

James Blatch: Although of course, in the end they show up the professional detective with their...

John Gaspard: Sometimes.

James Blatch: Sometimes. There you go. Okay. Well, John, it's been fantastic chatting to you. You've got those two series, what's next? Are you going to carry on with the Eli Marks series?

John Gaspard: Yes.

James Blatch: Are you going to carry on with the Bobbie Raymond series?

John Gaspard: I'm going to do both. Next year, we'll see the third book in the Bobby Raymond's Como Lake Players series, Rehearsed to Death. I'm starting to work on the new Eli Marks and I'm just finishing up A Christmas Carol, which will be part of what's now called the Greyhound Classic series.

James Blatch: That's a great idea. Is that a niche audience? What genre would you describe that as? Are there people out there who want to read stories from animal's perspectives as a specific thing?

John Gaspard: Yes. That appears certainly in cosies, having animals is a big thing. I've chosen to go with the Greyhound route, just because we've owned a couple of retired greyhounds. And that group of owners are particularly rabid. Maybe that's not the right word to use, but they really love that kind of dog.

James Blatch: Passionate.

John Gaspard: I had no intention of doing this except I woke up one morning and then the phrase, "The Greyhound of the Baskervilles." came into my head. I thought, "That's funny. I can even see the cover. Let's just look and see if it'll work." It's public domain, I pulled it up and started reading and I went, "Well, this is a no-brainer." It is 80% Conan Doyle's text. The dialogue is essentially the same. It's just the point of view's changed a little bit.

Because Dr. Watson, who does the narrating, is not that in on things really, doesn't really know what's going on. And now the narrator does know a little bit more of what's going on because he does recognise things that Watson isn't recognising. So people really responded respond to the book. I don't know how much the Sherlock Holmes crowd likes it, because they can be sticklers.

James Blatch: What is the legal situation with the book? Is that out of copyright, the Conan Doyle?

John Gaspard: It's out of copyright. I checked into it. It's public domain. There've been some headaches with Amazon with it and it can't be in KU for example, because they say a certain percentage of a book has to be out of public domain, has to be copyrighted, to be in KU.

But at the beginning process, getting the book published, they somehow couldn't read the word Greyhound. They read it as The Hound of the Baskervilles even though the title said Greyhound of the Baskervilles. And it's actually, if you compare the texts, my version is shorter than his version because I took out a lot of stuff. The first few lines are different so that you'd know that it's different. Somehow they couldn't see that. I get all these emails saying, "This is a public domain book." And I'd write back and say, "It is not."

And then what I finally got them to stop was I sent them a link to, in the Amazon store, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Which is the same thing. He took the book, he added stuff. And it's coauthored Jane Austin, whoever the guy did that thing was. I said, "This is a precedent and it's been around for 10 years or whatever. This has been done before. This is not a public domain book." So they allow me to sell it because there's no reason why they shouldn't. I just can't do Kindle Unlimited with it.

James Blatch: John, it's been absorbing. We didn't really talk about your film career, but I think maybe we'll have to save that for next time you're on.

John Gaspard: It's okay. I got to tell you, it is so much fun talking to you because I've had your voice in my... I listen to the podcast all the time and the only thing I ever say out loud during the podcast is, "Mark, be nicer to James. Just be nicer to him."

James Blatch: Yeah. Be nice to me, Mark.

John Gaspard: Yes, come on. Just be nice. Even when the topic isn't quite in my wheelhouse, I always learn something from it.

James Blatch: I guarantee that's what people will say today about this interview. Even if that's not exactly the genre, it's been fascinating talking to you. And I knew it'd be a good interview because I read your background and was looking forward to chatting. It's been exactly, it's lived up to that. So John, thank you very much, indeed.

John Gaspard: Thank you.

James Blatch: We wish you all the best with your future publications. And you promise me that you'll come back on at some point and maybe we'll talk about screenwriting or some other aspects of your long career.

John Gaspard: We should do. And I'm looking forward to reading your book as well.

James Blatch: Thank you, John.

John Gaspard: All right. Take care.

James Blatch: It's very difficult to say John Gaspard without sounding like you're in Les Miserables or something.

Mark Dawson: Oh, here we go. Today, James will be insulting... Haven't done Australia, let's do the French.

James Blatch: Let's do the French. No, I loved that. Loved chatting to John, a real character. Nice, nice guy to meet and just chat to. Hopefully meet at some point in the future. Yes. So there's there's John, that familiar story one.

One you're familiar with yourself, Mark, of being traditionally published and having a kind of "Meh." time of it and then discovering self publishing and not really looking back.

Mark Dawson: Yeah, exactly. That certainly was my experience, back in the day. And I've been quite enjoying doing it the other way for the last nearly 10 years. 10 years next year, I think it is, is the time I first pressed publish on my first self-published book. And yeah, things have changed a lot since then.

James Blatch: And one day you'll be able to afford your own Bitcoin, a whole one.

Mark Dawson: Yeah. So that will be lovely, won't it. Worth 50,000, aren't they, at the moment?

James Blatch: Well, I think they were 42,000 yesterday and they're 35 today.

Mark Dawson: All right, okay. Buy. Buy, buy, buy.

James Blatch: Choose your moments, yeah. Yeah, buy on the way down. Okay, good. Thank you very much indeed to our guest, John. Thank you very much indeed to Mark and to you for listening.

Lots going on in the background, we're busy, busy at the moment. More stuff to come out in the next few weeks and we have an episode, I think next week, we're going to enjoy very much, looking at our foundation. Until then though, all there remains for me to say is it's a goodbye from him.

Mark Dawson: And a goodbye from me. Goodbye.

James Blatch: Goodbye.

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