SPS-274: Audiobook Distribution for Authors – with Damon Courtney

Since 2015 Damon Courtney and his team at BookFunnel have been supporting authors to build and nurture their connection with readers. They continue to add features that indie authors ask for, including audiobook delivery and direct sales.

Show Notes

  • The BookLab is open for submissions to Patreon subscribers
  • How and why BookFunnel helps authors connect with readers
  • New features added to BookFunnel
  • On direct sales from author websites and how BookFunnel supports this
  • Delivering audiobooks directly to readers and earning more per book
  • The app which lets readers manage any ebooks or audiobooks they’ve received via BookFunnel

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.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT:

SPS-274: Audiobook Distribution for Authors – with Damon Courtney

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

Damon Courtney: What authors really want is they just want to keep writing books and all of this fiddly stuff they would rather just somebody else handle that stuff for them. We're actually really good at that. We're good at building software that solves a problem. That's how we started all of this.

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. 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: Back in your office and life returning back to normal a little bit tomorrow. I think it's tomorrow. Not tomorrow, Monday. Monday, I think, is the date where things start moving again in the UK. The brilliant news, Mark, is that pubs open. You can't go inside them, but they do open on Monday.

Mark Dawson: There are no pubs near me, really, and I don't have the opportunity to go to pubs very much these days, but still good news for people like you.

James Blatch: Well, yeah, for people like me. I do go to the pub. I enjoy the pub. I've missed it. So, yes, I shall be down at Wetherspoons on Monday morning for breakfast, outside, in the rain. It's freezing.

We've got a couple of things to talk about today. The first, before we get onto our interview, an old friend of the show, Damon Courtney, is on today's show. Looking forward to catching up with Damon on all things BookFunnel in a moment. And if you don't know what BookFunnel is, where have you been?

It's a really, really useful tool and Damon's done a fantastic job and service to the community in building up that company. So we're going to hear from Damon in a minute. And we'll take it from the beginning, explain what BookFunnel does if you're not using it yet, at the beginning.

We want to mention the BookLab because it's time for us to don our white coats and get back into the laboratory to dissect and critique somebody's book... Well, their marketing effort around their book... To get them on the straight and narrow and hopefully give them a boost to their marketing.

The way that you can have your book selected is you have to be a Patreon subscriber. I think a gold level Patreon subscriber. So, if you go to patreon.com/selfpublishingshow. Make sure that you are subscribed and then just let, I think, Catherine know your book details. Is that how we do it? Shall we email?

If you email into [email protected], let us know which book it is, just the Amazon link, that you're interested in. We'll take everything from there. We'll take the cover, the look inside, the blurb, we'll take it off the Amazon page. We'll send that out to our experts and you will be interviewed on how you took the result at the end of it.

We'll be doing that over the next few weeks. If you want to get in with a chance to be selected then become a Patreon supporter. And actually, as a kind of mini BookLab, I have invited Andrew Lowe, my editor, and Jenny Nash, my former editor, who helped along the way to get The Final Flight over the line. As I speak at the moment, it is out there in the wild. It's going to go exclusive.

I'm following the Mark Dawson instructions. It's going to go exclusive next week. At the moment, it's wide and print on demand on Amazon. Of course I've gone through Ingram Spark as well. I'm a bit confused about that, but perhaps I'll ask you some questions.

I'm going to get Jenny and Andrew, and I think it would be worth just revisiting how I got from a non-novel writing beginning to a novel which I think is acceptable. I hope I'm going to get a slightly better blurb quote from somebody than acceptable, but anyway.

Mark Dawson: Yes.

James Blatch: Get through the development work that went on, and that was a very important part of my learning process. I know I've done a lot of this very publicly and openly, but I thought it would be useful chatting to Jenny and Andrew again now that it's through and I'm onto book two.

Actually, I want to show you something. This is rather nice. One of the themes in my book was inspired by an actual newspaper photograph, and this is the original photograph. You can't really see it actually very well if you're watching on YouTube. It's the Observer from the UK. That's a photograph of people at Stonehenge. They're actually revellers. They're officers from RAF Boscombe Down who happened to go there after pulling an all nighter on a summer ball. Of course, it's the midsummer so the solstice is on, there's druids all over the stones. It was a great photographer of the officers in their finery. And on this side is my mom and dad.

Mark Dawson: Oh my goodness, there we go.

James Blatch: John Blatch and that's Emily Triggs, the air traffic controller, just before they got married in '63. I thought this was a really lovely touch for my publisher to send me this. I even got a certificate of authenticity. Really lovely. "For your book launch," it says. "On the occasion of your book launch, original text for inspiration." I thought that was a really thoughtful touch from my publisher.

Mark Dawson: Who's your publisher?

James Blatch: Well, I am actually my publisher so I sent it to myself, but I do think it's important to act as a publisher. You've always said that, haven't you? You've got to separate yourself out from being the author. I thought, "As the publisher, Vivid Dog, publishing this book, what would we do to say thank you to the author and give them a little treat?" And that's what I thought I would do for my author, which is me.

Mark Dawson: That's very good. There are authors who publishing through Fuse who don't expect that kind of attention every time they release a new book.

James Blatch: No.

Mark Dawson: We just make sure that their royalties increase about 20%. No, 20%. 20 times in one case, isn't it?

James Blatch: Yeah. That's the prize we give. It's the gift that keeps on giving. Yeah, so there is some stuff going on in the background with Fuse which is very, very exciting. We can't announce it at the moment, but we will do hopefully in the next few weeks. We're schtom about it at the minute, all bound in confidentiality and legals, but it's going to come out of the woodwork soon. Very good.

I've got a couple of questions just about the launch process, Mark. I've kind of followed your advice. It is wide at the minute and I've told my mailing list... Such that my main list is, it's less than 1,000 ... is that it's there on Barnes and Noble, and Kobo, et cetera, at the moment but it will go back into exclusive.

I've used punter friendly language. I haven't said exclusive. I've just said it will be available in Kindle Unlimited next week, which means it won't be available as an ebook elsewhere.

Now, I have set it up on Ingram Spark, and I'm assuming that after I shut down the ebook, which I've done through Publish Drive actually. I just thought I'd try out Publish Drive. We're big fans of Draft2Digital and Publish Drive, and I chose between them just because you use D2D, I've used D2D before, and I wanted to see what Publish Drive was like using it. I'm using Publish Drive. I'll have to close off the ebooks next week and go live with Kindle.

Mark Dawson: Well, yes, a few days before. If you've set your pre-order and you've ticked the KU box you need to make sure that they're down well in advance of that date.

James Blatch: At the moment, my publication date is the 6th of May, but I want to bring that forward to next week. It's not having ticked the select box.

Mark Dawson: You haven't?

James Blatch: I have not, not yet, no.

Mark Dawson: Right.

James Blatch: So I'm assuming the order of things I do is to choose a publication date, perhaps next Tuesday. Although that's getting quite close now because it's Friday. I might not have time for that.

Mark Dawson: Yeah, too soon, yeah.

James Blatch: Well, let's do a week Tuesday, let's choose that, bring the date to that, Kindle Unlimited. Publication date and tick select. So the book will go live on that day, right? It's not like me saying, "I'm ready to publish now," which is the other option. I think you said to me before, "You'd end up waiting two or three days possibly."

Mark Dawson: Yeah, you usually wait two or three days before the pre-order goes live and the book starts to distribute, but what you won't be able to do in that period is your dashboard will be locked, so you've got make sure that everything is ready by that stage. You'll have the final version of the manuscript up, covers up, blurbs up, everything. The price is set.

You don't want to change anything at that point because once you hit that button and you get to that deadline it will lock and you won't be able to make any further changes.

James Blatch: Would it not be better for me to change the date? So a week on Tuesday, whatever date that is, to say the 25th of April. I'm not looking it up but if I change it to the 25th of April today, make sure that the final manuscript is up and it's all ready to go, then I don't have that in between bit of waiting three days. It will go live on the 25th of April, presumably.

Mark Dawson: Yeah. If you look on your dashboard now it will tell you the soonest time you could go live. It will be probably Tuesday. It might be Monday, but it'll probably be Tuesday. If you wanted to make it go live immediately but I wouldn't recommend that because you won't be able to get it down from Barnes & Noble, or not reliably.

James Blatch: I suppose the question I'm asking you is, I say publish now, I wait three or four days, whatever it is. But if I set the publication date for a couple of weeks time, it's not like that date comes and then I wait three or four days for it to go live?

Mark Dawson: No.

James Blatch: You don't have that wait? That's what I was getting at, okay. I know at least one person asked on the YouTube comments after last week's episode, what was the point of holding back the exclusive and the ebook on Amazon? Why not go with that straightaway?

Mark Dawson: Well, you can answer that.

James Blatch: I can answer that. It's because obviously you've got audience who won't necessarily want to buy on Amazon who read on their Nook's or whatever and then you're giving them a chance, and that's potentially sales on the table that you wouldn't otherwise have.

Mark Dawson: Probably not much. For an author in your position, that won't be many. You may sell a handful. You could argue, is it actually worth it? It doesn't make much difference. You're not being at a disadvantage because you're still getting pre-orders on the Amazon page. When it goes live those will convert sales and you'll get more sales as well, so you'll probably end up with a few more sales that way to people who don't buy on Amazon.

James Blatch: Yeah.

Mark Dawson: But it's a handful. You said to me you haven't seen many yet on other platforms.

James Blatch: No.

Mark Dawson: I don't know, maybe you'll get a dozen, which is worth having, but you're not going to retire on it. Well, you might.

James Blatch: No, I'm not going to retire on it. I'm still waiting for my first review to come in. I think eight or nine people on the review team, I've had a couple of emails from people saying they're enjoying it, they're reading it, but I haven't seen any reviews yet. So I might send a prompting-

Mark Dawson: Oh dear.

James Blatch: A prompting email for them. Well, the emails they've written me have been nice, but I haven't specifically asked for a review. I think that's one thing I've learnt from running online businesses, including SPF, is that you have to ask people to do things.

If you have group of people who are likely to do something and you ask them to do it, a percentage will. That's kind of how the whole online business works. You build a product, whether it's a book or an online course, and it's good and it's going to work for people. You build up an audience who might be interested in it, and then you ask that audience to buy it, a percentage will. That's how it works. That's exactly the same. With an advanced review team, you want reviews. There's no point in me sitting here hoping fingers crossed they're going to do some reviews. You should email them and ask them. That's what you do.

Mark Dawson: Yes, absolutely. You need to ask. You're not obliging them to do it. You're not insisting that they do. You have to ask so you shouldn't be afraid of just telling them that the book is out there and if they have a chance it would mean a lot to you if they would leave an honest review. There's nothing wrong with that at all.

James Blatch: Great, well very very excited. I'm really thrilled to have the book out though. It's been a long haul. I know this is old hat for you and for many people listening but then there's a whole bunch of people who listen to this podcast who've been in the same position I have and they're often the people who email me and say, "I've been trying for five years," or whatever but it's a great feeling to get to this point and I do feel motivated about the next book and the next stage.

I want to say thank you to everybody's been very supportive in the groups, in particular I've had lots of lovely comments over the last few days which actually brings me on to the last thing I was going to ask you about which is I've had a few requests from around the world of whether I could do signed copies and people very kindly saying that they wanted to buy the book rather than me send them a signed copy free. This is probably very small numbers and I don't suppose it's a particular issue but I'm sure that if I buy author copies they're not going to count for book rank or anything like algorithm sales, are they?

Mark Dawson: No. You can buy author copies from Amazon. It will be at four or five pounds depending on how heavy the book is. They'll be shipped to you, you can sign them and then you'll take them to the post office and figure out how much it's going to cost to send it to wherever it is that people are requesting them.

James Blatch: Yeah, okay. I might put something on the page. I might put something on the JamesBlatch.com website or I'll get Stuart Grant, my little web developer, normal size web developer, to potentially do a page that if people did want a signed copy. I've been signing a few today for some people. Wow, look at me. Signing copies of a book that no one's read or reviewed.

Mark Dawson: I've got 350 books coming next week for the hardback of the next Milton book which is out at the end of the month. Those are the ones that are being sold by WH Smith's. It is a very, very, very cheap prices. 6.49 for a hardback which is kind of nuts.

James Blatch: That is nuts.

Mark Dawson: With a signed hardback. Yeah, they're sending those to me which I've then got to sign them all, box them back up again, send them to Smith's and then Smith's will then send them out to the people who pre ordered them.

James Blatch: Well, that's me.

Mark Dawson: Oh thank you very much. Yeah, you are one aren't you? It actually does take quite a long time to open the boxes. They come in boxes of 10 so they'll be 35 boxes which I'll have to carry up the stairs to the office, usually get my daughter to help. I'll open the boxes and she kind of hands them to me on one side. I sign them, move it to the other side of the desk. She then puts them back in the box.

James Blatch: Do you say best wishes or do you just sign your name or?

Mark Dawson: I think if you're only signing a few you can go... People do go on my site. I have a page on the site where people can ask for signed copies and actually ask for... Want me to say something if they're giving it as a gift obviously I'll sign it and write a message to the person. That's fine if you're doing 20 or 30 of those a week it's not a big deal but for 350 at one time, if you think about it writing best wishes and then signing it 350 times that takes ages and also my handwriting is abysmal. I have dreadful handwriting.

James Blatch: Yes, so's mine.

Mark Dawson: I only need to do 10 and then it would become an illegible scrawl which would be fairly pointless so yeah, I just sign them. I didn't know this, there's an etiquette to signing as well. I had some people, a couple people emailed back and said I didn't sign it in the right place and there is a certain page apparently that good signature practise requires you to sign in this place and I didn't know that either.

James Blatch: Well you better tell me where that is. I've been signing the title page.

Mark Dawson: There is actually a word for it. When this reader emailed me and said, "Mark, you signed it in the wrong place, you should've signed it at the whatever," I hadn't heard that word before so I had to look it up. Actually I had to ask him what he meant and then I sent him another one and sent it as he wanted but there's a whole hidden world about book signings.

You need to get a nice pen. I knew I was doing this for the last book. Neil Gaiman is really big on fountain pens. He loves fountain pens and I thought if I'm going to be spending a lot of time signing these books I want to use a really nice pen. I ended up following his recommendation and invested quite a lot actually given what it is in a nice fountain pen and so Japanese ink and it is actually-

James Blatch: Probably squid.

Mark Dawson: Probably. It's a nice process. You're taking the fountain pen, unscrewing it. You're sucking the ink up into the cartridge, putting it back again, signing it.

James Blatch: Oh I have my mother's fountain pen which I inherited. It's a lovely... I think it's a Cross. Cross or Mont Blanc are two very good... It's either Cross or Mont Blanc one of the two and it's lovely. Very smooth to use to write on. I do like it so yeah, I use that. Good.

Hardback would be nice. I'd love to do a hardback edition but in my KDP account have not been invited into the beta and neither has Fuse actually but I noticed, because we're doing some work in the background for Fuse Books, that one or two other authors are showing that beta hardback option there so I don't know when that's going to be rolled out. Well, you won't know either.

Mark Dawson: Well I know when I was invited I didn't take part because I don't need to with regards to hardbacks. Ingram Spark will let you do hardbacks if you want to.

James Blatch: Oh, okay.

Mark Dawson: That's an option.

James Blatch: I think they do a really posh embossed one which libraries like. Sarah Rosette was telling me last week when I interviewed her-

Mark Dawson: And possibly Ingalls Books. I'm not up on Ingalls because I've never used them before but I understand that they do offer quite a few different options for authors.

James Blatch: Good. Okay, right. Well that's all brought us up to date on the final saga of The Final Flight and we are moving on to our interview as I trailed ahead earlier, it is Damon Courtney who is based in Texas in the United States. He came up with the idea of BookFunnel as an author who saw a problem that needed solving.

It's a classic case of exactly that, getting it right and working hard and producing a fantastic company and service. We're huge fans of Damon and here is his interview and then Mark and I will be back to have a chat.

Damon Courtney, welcome back to The Self Publishing Show. Do you know I was thinking about this the other day, we started in 2015. I didn't know much about self publishing then and when we started talking about BookFunnel I just assumed you were like this 10 year old company, you'd been there forever, everyone knew the landscape and you were like the granddaddy of self publishing but when I look back now you started about the same time as us, didn't you?

Damon Courtney: October 2015 was when we actually opened our doors.

James Blatch: Yeah, after us.

Damon Courtney: Yeah, just a few months after.

James Blatch: That's amazing. In that short time, you have done that classic thing which good businesses do which you have solved a problem.

We should probably start this interview by explaining what BookFunnel is and the problem it solves for authors.

Damon Courtney: I was back in 2014 I guess Mark and Joanna Penn, people like them, were building this following around the idea that you should be building up your newsletter, right? You should be building up a mailing list and talking directly with your readers and for me as an indie author and somebody who was really very powerfully indie, right? Had never even considered that I would ever publish a book traditionally because I don't want to go through that process.

I don't want somebody's permission to publish my book. I just want to write something and put it out there. This whole direct contact with your readers. Get rid of the middle man and talk directly to your fans, that sounded really cool to me. I started doing that idea.

I wrote a short story, I sat down that night when I remember I was listening to podcasts and they were talking about this. Oh, that's a really good idea. I sat down and wrote a short story that night and was the very next day setting up MailChimp and going through the whole process and then I get to the part where, okay now you're going to send your free short story to the readers. I was like, "Okay, well how do I do that?" Well you just attach it.

I went and signed up for Mark's mailing list and Joanna Penn's mailing list and Hugh Howie and Joe Konrad and all these other big, big authors and they all did the same thing, they just attached the file to the email and said, "Here's your book."

I thought, "Well, that's not going to work. That's not good enough. It'll work fine for me but there's a lot of people that are not tech savvy that are going to have a problem with that."

James Blatch: Was it a PDF attached to emails? Is that what they were doing?

Damon Courtney: No, they were attached to like the EPUB and the MOBI and say, "Here's the MOBI for your Kindle and here's EPUB for everything else and then some of them would also maybe give you a few instructions like, "If you're on the iPad plug it in and drag it into iTunes and yada, yada, yada."

Anyway. I just immediately thought, "No, no, no, no, no. This is not going to work," so I sat about sort of solving my own problem and in the end I realised that I could solve a problem for other authors too and that was... Like I said, we opened our doors in 2015. I launched the really early alpha, holy crap, no one's even seen this thing in May of 2015 and so by October we really...

Mark was actually one of our first real beta testers. We'd had a few small beta testers but he was the first one who really drove a lot of traffic and so we very quickly realised where our problems were and where our holes were and we patched those up. We started making everything better so by October of 2015 we felt like we really had something great that we could put in front of readers and we could solve a problem. That was what we did and you're right.

It's like, looking back now it's 2021 and it was funny because for the longest time our website, we didn't update our website and our website was all about the problem that we solved which was readers have trouble getting books and we've solved that problem. We're here to help readers get their books and we've solved the problem and it's sometime around 2018 the last time I was on the podcast was three years ago in January 2018 and we had to completely reroute our website because we were looking at all of the people that were talking about us and the new authors, new self published authors who were just getting into the game and they published their first book or their first couple of books and they didn't know that this was a problem, that because for all the bigger authors nobody talked about it anymore.

Joanna and Mark and all the gurus and all the people that had already moved over to BookFunnel so this was a solved problem but no one ever mentioned the fact that, "Oh yeah, without BookFunnel, this was a real problem back in the olden days.

James Blatch: Back in the day six months ago.

Damon Courtney: Back in the days when we were all shipped MOBI files by dinosaur. We had to rewrite our whole website because our website was pitching a problem that nobody realised was a problem and then of course by then we'd already built all these other amazing features and things you could also do and we just hadn't really done a great job of telling people, "No, no, no. We have all this cool stuff that you can do, it's not just this one problem anymore."

James Blatch: Also just to fill in the blanks with people who still don't know what it is exactly you do, you provide a service where I would upload my manuscript and cover to BookFunnel, get a simple landing page, make a few choices but ultimately what I end up with is a link that I can stick in my email and as far as I'm concerned I've delivered the book and actually you take over from that point because people click the link, they go to your pages, there's clear instructions on how to get it onto their device and the best thing, if that's not good is that if they don't get onto their device, have a problems, you deal with that.

Damon Courtney: Right, we deal with the problems. That's what you get. That's at every level of BookFunnel. Yeah, the once they get to that part, we do our best to try and walk them through the process and I will say that from our support, the level of support that we get, greater than 99% of people are able to get through the steps that we've laid out and get the book to whatever device they're on if they're on a Kobo or a Kindle or a Kindle Fire or an iPhone, doesn't matter.

We're platform agnostic. We support all those devices but for that percentage of people that don't get through, yes, they can just tap a button, they can ask our people for help and we jump in and walk them through the process of getting it to whatever device they're on. That's the best thing that you get when you get BookFunnel is our people.

James Blatch: That's great, and it allows authors to focus on what the content of the email is and the things they should be focusing on is turning fans into readers, et cetera.

How do you run the support by the way? Is that just a bunch of people working from home in the US or do you outsource this elsewhere or?

Damon Courtney: No, that's just a bunch of people working from home in the US. We have all of our people are in Texas so we like to say we have Tex support-

James Blatch: Ah-ha. I see what you did there.

Damon Courtney: Because we're corny but it's a big part of who we are and it's a big part of how we talk to readers and the way that we trained our support people, I said we, my wife Julie and I run the company.

The way that we trained all our support people is to always be human. Always be a real person so we say things like, "Hey Gracie. No problem. We can help you get that book." Talk to them like they're real people. Don't treat them like they're just a problem. They're having trouble and we're here to solve their problem so all of our emails are all answered by real human beings which surprises some people not only that they almost all of our emails get answered within a couple of hours and they're always answered by a real human being so people are surprised by that.

I love to programme, I love to write code, I love to solve problems algorithmically but I also recognise there are places where an algorithm can't solve the problem as well as it should be solved by a human. In those cases we just don't. We don't say, "Yeah, yeah, yeah. We've got an algorithm to answer this person." No, we'll take it by hand and one of our people will answer them.

It makes a big difference because most of the people that we get questions from are going to be older readers. Thriller genres and romance... Thrillers and romance which are the two largest... The three biggest genres that you get and that we have on BookFunnel and that bears out if you look at our numbers are romance, sci-fi fantasy and thrillers.

We don't get a lot of support for the sci-fi fantasy crowd, not nearly as much as we do on the thriller and the romance front and I think that tends to be because the authors in those thriller and romance genres tend to be a little bit older. I will say that most of them are willing to go through and figure it out, they just need sometimes they just need a little nudge in the right direction or they need a little help and they appreciate that because we get emails from fans all the time. We have our fans, people that love us because our people are always there to help.

James Blatch: I'm not surprised. I want to join the BookFunnel fan club. Give us an idea of the numbers. You alluded to the fact that you've got an overview of the indie world.

Can you give us an idea of how many people are BookFunnel users?

Damon Courtney: How many authors are BookFunnel users?

James Blatch: Yeah. Yeah, sorry authors I meant, yeah.

Damon Courtney: I haven't checked the numbers of how many that we actually have. It's well over the 50,000 range at that point that are BookFunnel authors. We're not business people so we're not very good at marketing and stuff so people always ask, "How big is your market? What is your potential market reach?" And I can't tell you that. I don't know.

I can tell you that we have hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of signups every month and many of those are new authors who are just now publishing their first or second book. They're just starting to get out there. We get a lot from Mark's course. We put a coupon in both of Mark's courses and we end up getting a fair few signups from those and it's funny because with the Self Publishing 101 course, obviously you get newer authors who are just sort of figuring this stuff out and then you go over the Ads For Authors which runs opposite of the Self Publishing 101 and you get authors who have been doing a lot of this for years and are just now dipping their toes into this whole newsletter.

We get seven figure authors who still don't have a newsletter which is astounding to me because I see the newsletter as such a powerful tool for building an audience but they have been really successful at building that audience somewhere else, be it on Facebook or Twitter or through their own just by putting out book after book after book.

James Blatch: Yeah, that's interesting, 50 odd thousand because I think there's 145, 150,000 people probably on our mailing list now and we often talk about this overwhelm of indie authors and I hear some of these figures of 30,000 new authors in the first three months of the year have joined Amazon or uploaded to Amazon but it's actually still a relatively small number doing this. A relatively small number. Most people who are doing it properly will have a brush with BookFunnel one way or another.

Damon Courtney: Sure.

James Blatch: There's quite a good litmus test. We're still fairly small group within this huge number of people who are just uploading books to Amazon and doing what... I don't know what they do, cross their fingers and hope everything works.

Damon Courtney: My guess is they're probably not making a lot of money but-

James Blatch: No.

Damon Courtney: It's hard because the message that nobody wants to hear is you've actually put in the hard work and you've written the book which for some people is years in the making, right? They're so proud and you should be. It's such a huge achievement.

So many people, they do these polls every once in a while where they ask random groups of people and some large portion of the populous of the world wants to tell a story or write a book and some of them, some smaller portion of that ends up starting to write a book and then a very small portion of that ends up actually finishing the book and then publishing it. Either by querying and publishing traditionally or self publishing.

The fact that you've written a book and you've got it published means that you already head and shoulders above the mass populous of people that would love to write a book and just never got around to it. Then you put your book up on Amazon and weirdly enough you're not getting a lot of sales. Once your family and friends and a few people buy it and maybe they tell a few friends to buy it, it just sort of sits there.

Now you start looking around for what is my next step. How do I level up and start getting other people to actually buy the book. That's when you start getting into, well, you probably should work on building a newsletter. You should work on creating a connection with those fans because that's how you're going to get people to buy your books. Then running ads and all kinds of things, right?

It's so hard to write the book that we wish that that alone were the hard part and then the rest is just easy sailing, once you put the book out there and truth be told, back in 2010, 2011 that almost was the case for some people. They would just slap a book up there, slap a 99 cent tag on it and pew, it would just fire off and start getting hundreds and thousands of sales and so it looked like to everybody it was like, "Well hell we can all just get in there and write that book and do that." Now it's 2021 and the market is matured enough it's not the case anymore.

James Blatch: Yeah, that is not the case. It's pay to play now I think. Okay so we talked about the origins of BookFunnel and the task that it was born to do to deliver your giveaway book to your readers on your mailing list and but you've added a lot more functionality to BookFunnel and it can be a one stop shop for many people.

Do you want to describe some of the things that have been bolted on since those early days?

Damon Courtney: The first feature that we added was what we called Certified Mail which was we had a lot of authors asking to send out advanced review copies and that's a very different thing than here's this link that I put up for everybody to download from and well I don't really want to have this just public link sitting out there that people can share with other people and that sort of thing.

Certified Mail was our answer to that where you actually give us the list of email addresses. We emailed each person an individual unique download link just for them and then we tracked them through the process. We track when they viewed the link, when the downloaded the link so that you could keep track of who has your art, who you've sent that out to.

Then we did when we initially launched, our first landing pages were really just download pages. We didn't do the email collection. You were expected to do that on your mailing list. Your MailChimp and MailerLite, you collect the email address. We're just going to handle the download part but very quickly we realised that a lot of authors would rather that we just handle all of that for them.

It's a repeated message as we continue to build out features in BookFunnel is the more authors that sign up the more we realise that what authors really want is they just want to keep writing books and all of this fiddly stuff they would rather just somebody else handle that stuff for them. What's great about that is we're actually really good at that. We're good at building software that solves a problem.

That's how we started all of this. We built landing pages where we'll collect the email addresses for you. We'll gather those email addresses and then we'll do it all in one step, boom. We get the reader their book, we get you the email address, you're good. Then we started integrating with MailChimp and MailerLite and all of these other big services because I don't want to be the mailing list service and nobody really wants me to be the mailing list service. Everybody out there has solved that problem so we'll just integrate with them and then you guys can go on your merry little way.

The last time we spoke, we spoke at NINC, remember when we used to go to conferences? Remember?

James Blatch: Yeah, I remember that.

Damon Courtney: That was a hell of thing wasn't it?

James Blatch: Standing in the actual same room as another human being. I do remember that.

Damon Courtney: Right?

James Blatch: I don't know how I'd react today but anyway we'll leave that.

Damon Courtney: When we were in NINC that year we had just announced sales so a lot of authors had been asking us, they wanted to sell direct from their website but they wanted BookFunnel to handle the delivery, right? I'll do the sales part but I just need BookFunnel to pick up the last mile and do the delivery part. We had just announced that at NINC that year in 2017 when we recorded the first time I was on the podcast.

Since then, that has blown up. We have so many authors now, thousands of authors that are now doing either one of two methods. We have a lot of them that have set up an entire book store. They have a big enough back list that their own website is a store just filled with all of their books and we have authors that have done that and as well as publishers that are using BookFunnel as delivery for their entire book store.

Then you also have the authors who just use our direct sales platform to either pre sell the book before they publish it everywhere else so they pre sell it to their super fans and the people that are on their mailing list or they'll sometimes put together really awesome discounted box sets and things like that.

While they publish everywhere or they publish all their books, they reserve that direct selling mechanism for putting out these occasional discounted box sets and they'll run it for a week or a weekend and they'll only send it out to their newsletter or their super fans.

Direct sales has been a huge build for us over the last well three years since the last time we talked because more and more authors have gotten into that and realise, "Oh hey, if I sell it direct, I get 95% of the cover of the retail price that I sell it for."

The downside to that is you have to drive your own traffic. Nobody's just going to happen upon your website and buy books from you so you have to be the one that drives traffic. If you've gone through the process of learning how to do Facebook ads and you've taught yourself BookBub ads and you've gotten good at it then you can for sure, you can absolutely run Facebook ads and you can drive book traffic to Amazon and you can sell more books on Amazon.

If you're already paying for the ad, you're already doing the work then you can also drive those ads right to your own website and sell the books direct where you take 95% of the cut. That's what more of the authors are doing out there, at least according to our numbers and the number of people that have jumped onto direct sales.

James Blatch: That's an exciting area and it is something people do talk about setting up their own stores and I can see one day BookFunnel having your own store where you could have people whether they wanted to opt in to the BookFunnel book store and have their book sitting there.

Is that something you thought about?

Damon Courtney: It's something we've talked about a lot. It's hard because the question always becomes how do you drive that traffic, right? This was the problem with Amazon. It's not a problem with Amazon but obviously they're serving a huge scale but the problem for a small store comes into, well everybody's opted in and said, "I want to be on the BookFunnel store," but who gets featured? Oh, I click through to sci-fi fantasy.

Which books do you put up there? Is it just by sales rank alone? Well now you have people that are trying to game the system and get their books pushed up to the top and once you start going down the path you quickly start to see why Amazon becomes so draconian about their requirements for reviews and no, we rejected your review and you have to spend at least $50 before you... Those seem so draconian to honest, real readers who want to leave a review for their favourite authors but there's so much scamming going on and that's what they're trying to do.

They're trying to stop that scamming and as much as I think about, "We have all the pieces in place to build a book store," but then I have to deal with those problems, and I don't know how I necessarily would deal with those problems.

James Blatch: I'm going to back you to build the algorithm to beat all algorithms. I feel you're going to redefine what algorithm means and come up with the killer idea. It's the secret to Amazon, that algorithm and it is a secret.

Damon Courtney: Yes. That's the secret. That's the secret sauce. That's what made Google, right? Back in the days of Web Crawler and Yahoo and all those guys and Google came along and said, "No, we have a better way to rank results so that when you search for words we have a better result and you're more likely to find what you're looking for if you use Google." At the time, people thought that before Google got on the scene people thought this was a solved problem. Back in the day we had Hotwire and Alta Vista and Ask Jeeves and Yahoo and Web Crawler.

James Blatch: Nobody asks Jeeves anymore.

Damon Courtney: Nobody asks Jeeves for anything. When Google came on the scene, people thought, "What do we need this for? This is a solved problem," But it turns out it wasn't a solved problem, it was a poorly solved problem and someone had a better idea.

James Blatch: That is often the way and I suppose you could say Apple have done that. They've not necessarily invented very much but they've perfected the existing thing so they've looked at the way a PC worked and said, "You know what? We could do this better," and I think the iPhone as well there was already a bit of that going around arguably people say that other iPhones are better and maybe it's their marks and they get right as well. Okay, so not the book store necessarily, not the next Amazon although I'm not betting against it at this stage.

Damon but what is on the horizon? What do you think about when you look at your website and think what's next?

Damon Courtney: We just launched audiobook delivery in November of last year. That has been the big push that we... We were working on that for over a year so a few years ago we allowed authors to deliver short audio fiction or non-fiction but most of the authors on BookFunnel are doing fiction which let you deliver audio up to two hours so in audio terms that's about 18,000 words so a lot of authors were able to deliver novellas and short stories and then really long samples of their books which was really cool.

That was our precursor to we knew that we wanted to do audiobooks and we got requests for it all the time but it's a very different beast than delivering ebooks. An ebook is like a one megabyte mobie or an epub file and here comes your gigabyte of 300 file box audiobook box set which we now have. We have authors that are delivering eight and 10 book audiobook box sets that have hundreds and hundreds of files so it was a very different problem to solve as much as we wanted to solve it.

All the features that we built over the years with BookFunnel really all came from our authors saying, "Hey, you know what would be really great is if BookFunnel did this." A lot of times our answer was, "It would be really great if we did that but we don't have the resources. We're a really small company."

We finally got to the point where we'd felt like we'd solved a lot of the other problems that we had tackled that we'd set out to do and audiobooks kept coming up. More and more authors, I'd go to conferences, remember when we used to go to conferences? More and more authors would come up and say, "Hey, when is BookFunnel going to do audiobooks?"

For two reasons; one audio has just been exploding. Audiobooks now are where ebooks were back in 2010. They're just blowing up like crazy and so more indie authors are getting into that audiobook game just like back in the early days of ebooks all of that stuff used to be owned by the traditional publishers. Audiobooks were expensive to produce, more expensive certainly than just buying a copy of Scrivener and putting out an ebook.

For the longest time audiobook listeners didn't have indie books to listen to. They didn't have anything like that so they just didn't. They would spend their credits, they'd spend their money on traditional published books but then indie started getting into it and audiobooks really started expanding and blowing up.

We wanted to be there and give authors the tools that they needed to do the same things that we've always allowed them to do on ebooks and that's what we did when we launched audiobooks. Everything you can do on BookFunnel with an ebook you can now do with a full audiobook.

We have a feature called print codes where you can print these unique generated codes and you can print them and put them on a book mark or a business card or something like that. You can use them all over the place but we called them print codes because that's what authors wanted to do. They go to conferences, they go to workshops, they go to things where they meet readers and they say, "I want to be able to hand a reader a cool little postcard that has a code to get a copy of my book on the back."

You can do audiobooks with print codes. Everything you could do with an ebook you can also do with audiobooks on BookFunnel. That has launched into most of the authors that are now in our audiobook beta programme so we launched the beta in November and it's an open beta. You just ask us and we'll put you into it so there's no requirements other than you just ask and you're in it.

Most of the authors that have uploaded their audiobooks, they're using them to do to direct sales and I think the biggest reason for that is that their book sales on Audible only net them 13% of whatever the sale was for, right? If an average reader comes in, most readers on Audible are spending their credit so that 14.95 credit that they pay every month and then Audible gives you, if you're non exclusive, Audible gives you 13% of that 14.95.

But if you sell that same book on your own website for 10 bucks, which is cheaper than the reader would actually pay for it on Audible, you get to take home $9.30 of a $10 audiobook sale.

You can even discount your books to five bucks and you still take home three times as much as you would get if you'd sold the exact same book to a reader on Audible. I'm certain that over time we're going to start to see more authors that are using audiobooks in the same way that some authors have used ebooks for years which is reader magnets. Hey, join my list and you get the first audiobook of my series for free.

We have seen a few authors doing that but more and more I think that they're leaning into the sales side for the audiobooks. Audiobooks, unlike ebooks, are a lot more expensive to produce so authors are all trying to get a little bit more bang for their buck out of that whereas with the ebooks they were always willing to give away a novella or something else for free.

James Blatch: How do listeners listen to an audiobook when they've downloaded it from BookFunnel?

Damon Courtney: We have an app that we launched in January last year so it's now been out there for a year and it's awesome. The first thing is it let's them manage their entire BookFunnel library so any ebooks, audiobooks, anything they've ever gotten from BookFunnel is all stored in their library just like you would if you'd bought it on Amazon or Kobo or anywhere else.

They get into the BookFunnel app and they have their library, all of their books are there. We built our own ebook reader. I say we, I built our own ebook reader because I wanted readers to be able to read right in the BookFunnel app and you can still from our app you can send it to your Kindle app, you can send it to your Paperwhite, you can still do all of that because that's what BookFunnel is founded on but we have tens of thousands of readers a day who now just read right in our app. We've built a player into the app so that people could listen to audiobooks directly from the app.

We also built a browser based player so everybody could listen in the cloud. You could go into Mybookfunnel.com, you can go there, login and you can listen right from your browser so on your PC or your Mac and then we also give authors the option to allow readers to download DRM free MP3s of their audiobooks. Some authors turn that on, some authors don't turn that on. It's entirely optional. We leave all that control in the hands of our authors. We trust them to make the decision that's right for their business.

James Blatch: That's amazing. Some technical things, when I listen to audiobooks I'm not classically I suppose. Generally I use Audible and one of the things I like about it is on my phone I can send it to different speakers so I'll quite often listen to an audiobook in the bath which is quite a magnificent sight if you could imagine it for a moment Damon.

Damon Courtney: In your princess bath?

James Blatch: Yeah, in my princess bath and I'll send it to the Move, the Sonos Move speaker in there. You can do that with your app as well?

Damon Courtney: Absolutely, that's all just bluetooth stuff.

James Blatch: Yeah. I think there's not just bluetooth but also it sort of somehow connects with your wifi, your Sonos sits on the wifi as a device.

Damon Courtney: Audible has a deal with Sonos where they specifically list Sonos devices from the daily Audible app but every phone, every smartphone, every smart tablet has bluetooth built in so I can connect my phone.

I have an Amazon Echo Show, the Echo with the little screen on it. My kids love to ask trivia questions and do all that kind of stuff while they're eating at breakfast but you can also just pipe audio to that Echo as a bluetooth device. So the BookFunnel app doesn't have any direct integration with Amazon's devices or Sonos devices but everything acts like a bluetooth device so you can listen to it in your car, you can do all of that stuff.

James Blatch: That's really interesting and I'm starting to think about audiobooks as my book gets actually close to being published and I completely agree with you. Audiobooks have been around for years and I'm not really an audiobook listener. I've got friends who always have one in a long car journey or when they walk around with the dog. For me, my mind's always wandering off and so I suddenly find I've been listening for five minutes and I haven't heard a word they've said.

Recently I've just discovered good comedy audiobooks and I'm a little bit addicted to them and I think I'm not a bad litmus because I've got some friends who are starting for the first time to listen to these comedy audiobooks or horror audiobooks which are happening and I sense is exactly what you just said. It's just starting to permeate the masses, audiobooks now.

It's a really good time to get on board and this is an intriguing prospect with you.

Damon Courtney: What's really neat is that I tried a few audiobooks and I had the same experience that you did. I'm a reader. I get in bed at night, that's when I typically do my reading and for a long time I didn't. My wife, we were having kids, we have three of them and during that time I was so tired when I hit the bed that I didn't have time to read and so for 10 years I probably close to 10 years I just quit reading altogether and I'm sort of back to it and I read every single night.

I crawl into bed and for me, ebook reading, as soon as I got my first Kindle I stopped reading paper entirely so just no, I don't want to hold a book and oh, it falls on my... No, I'm not doing that. Then for the longest time I read on my Kindle but I got so used to just holding my phone in my hand, now I just read on my phone anytime I'm reading and I can just pick it up if I'm sitting in the car line waiting to pick up the kids, I can just pick up and read a chapter or whatever.

My wife, Julie, made the switch to audiobooks a few years ago and at first it was sort of like, "Oh, I'll listen to that while I'm doing some other things" and then she switched back to ebooks when she was reading at night but slowly or probably pretty quickly she moved into what we think of as audio first listener. She still reads ebooks but if it's available in audio she absolutely does that first.

For some readers they move all audio. Once they find audiobooks and they get hooked on it, they become not just an audio first but I won't consume your book unless it is in audio. What's great about that is so many... It hasn't actually cannibalised ebook sales at all because so many of the people who are discovering audiobooks for the first time are readers who have been away from reading for a time for one reason or another. I just never had time. I never had the time to read. Oh, I don't have time for that anymore, but suddenly, they've discovered audiobooks and that's like, "Well, I have an hour commute in the car every day and now I enjoy listening to audiobooks. I listen to an hour on the way to work and an hour on the way home," and those readers weren't buying books anymore.

They had fallen out of the book buying market because it didn't serve them a product that they could consume. Now, what we're seeing at least on BookFunnel and what we've seen from authors and their testimonies when they're talking to us is that a lot of those readers who are audio listeners, are an entirely separate market from the ebook readers that you're already selling to. It's not like oh, I'm going to go produce my audiobook and I have 1,000 people on my list and suddenly people who were buying my ebooks are going to be cannibalised and now they're going to buy audiobooks. No, you're going to attract an entirely different audience of audio listeners.

James Blatch: I know what you're saying about it being a different audiences. It would be lovely to have on your Amazon page somewhere sneakily a line saying, "Here's where you get the audiobook." I guess that'd be quite difficult. Maybe sneak into the comments, see if they notice. You're seeing a good take up on that? When's the beta going to go to what happens next? Beta? Gamma?

Damon Courtney: After beta we just go to release.

James Blatch: Release, okay.

Damon Courtney: Everybody has different levels but for us it's alpha which is sort of internal testing and then beta is when we launch it for everybody else. We're planning on probably early summer. At this point the only thing that is still beta is we haven't figured out the pricing model for it yet so everybody right now who's in the beta is just using it as part of their existing BookFunnel account but it's going to be a separate plan on top of your existing plan because it's a much bigger thing.

We haven't figured that part out yet and we had to add the features. When we launched in November it was app only and I will say looking at our stats, greater than 90% of readers are listeners. We started doing this thing and it's like, "Well, are they readers or... Let's just call them readers. Readers are listening within our app and most readers when we polled them that's what they do. They listen in their Audible app or whatever their player is but for a lot of them it was Audible.

We launched with the app first and then the second piece we launched was MP3 downloads which a lot of our authors have been requesting because for them they don't really care how the reader gets the book, they just want the reader to get the book as quickly and easily as possible and for some of those readers especially if they're writing, again, kind of going back to sci-fi fantasy, for a lot of those authors... For a lot of those readers, sorry, they want those MP3's.

I have an MP3 player that I listen on and we had one guy who emailed us and said he's a diver and a swimmer and he has a special waterproof MP3 player that he listens to all of his books on and can I download these? Well, at the time when we first launched you couldn't but then by February we had added that as an option that you could turn that on and then in March we launched the browser player so you could listen to it on anything. Anything that has a browser you can listen to audiobooks on now through BookFunnel.

Really just the beta was getting all of the features that we ultimately knew we wanted to release with but we wanted to get it out the door with the app and everything in place first so that we could see what the reader response was going to be. It's been pretty phenomenal.

I will say that we did a lot of work. We spent a lot of time perfecting the reader to make sure that it matched what reader's expectations are. Things that as not an audiobook listener I would not have thought would be terribly important like speed controls on playback and sleep timers and you're like, "Who needs all of that stuff?" Well it turns out a lot of people.

James Blatch: Yeah.

Damon Courtney: We built and when we launched ours we launched with all of those features built in because I didn't want readers to feel like they were getting a second class experience. If you open up our app everything that you would expect from the Audible app, our app does it because I want readers to feel like, yeah, you purchased a book or you got it for free, it's a first class listening experience.

James Blatch: Fantastic and I guess is this going to require a bit more server space at your end compared to the book side of thing? You have to expand your storage facilities, whatever you say technically.

Damon Courtney: Yeah, storage and transfer are the biggest things, right? I'm having to store multiple copies of every book because we allow readers to listen at different quality levels, we allow them to download the MP3's, we allow them to listen in the cloud like we have different storage requirements and then of course transfer requirements. You have to pay for every megabyte that transfers out of our system to somewhere else you have to pay for.

That's why this becomes an add on plan to our existing BookFunnel plans. We've been doing ebooks for five years now and in five years we've never raised our prices on any of our plans and that's because we found a nice medium where we can handle all the transfer, we can handle all the support and all of that stuff is taken care of but as we've started moving into audiobooks it's like, "Wow, if somebody uploads a 500 mg audiobook, we're going to have to store a gig and a half worth of data forever and ever."

Even if you cancel your BookFunnel account, I've made the promise that the reader who purchased this book is going to be able to get and download a copy of that if they want to listen to that book five years from now so I have to continue to store that forever and ever amen.

James Blatch: I'm still trying to puzzle the guy who's a diver and feels the need to be listening to an MP3 presumably whilst he's diving which is why he needed the waterproof MP3 but anyway.

Damon Courtney: I would guess so.

James Blatch: You'd think sharks and fish and shipwrecks would be enough to occupy you when you're under there but anyway. Whatever. Perhaps he works. Perhaps he works on the rigs out in the gulf.

Damon Courtney: Maybe. He's down there doing some welding and it's like there's only so much that you can really get as entertaining. You know what? I need really something to listen to down here.

James Blatch: Yeah.

Damon Courtney: We get wacky requests like that all the time. When we first launched BookFunnel we didn't allow authors to upload PDF's because I thought, "Nobody needs to read a PDF on a phone. That's not really necessary," but over time it's like, "Okay, some readers really like PDF's because they understand that format and it's easy for them to consume."

So we finally allowed that and in the years that we have been distributing PDF's we have had, not many but at least a dozen readers who have told us that they need this book in PDF because they print it out to read it. So they download the free book, the free PDF from the author and then they print all 300 something pages on their printer to read it, which I think is astounding that you would go to all that effort but hey, different strokes and all.

James Blatch: There you go.

Damon you better tell us, you mentioned you haven't put the prices up for a while, just tell us what the sort of entry level is for BookFunnel and how people can find you.

Damon Courtney: The cheapest plan on BookFunnel starts out at $20 a year, not per month, per year and what you don't get for that is collecting email addresses directly from us but we have so many authors especially the ones that are just starting out who just, they have already set up MailChimp, they've already set up MailerLite, they've already got a form that they're using on their website to collect those reader email addresses so really the thing that they need the most is BookFunnel's delivery experience and our support and at that level you get full support. Our people, it's not like that, what is it MailChimp does that thing where it's like, "Oh, you get free but we won't help you at all. We're not talking to you, we're not chatting with you. We don't do that." We support everything even down at the $20 level.

The next level up is 10 bucks a month or $100 a year and that pretty much opens up BookFunnel to everything. You get all of the features that you would expect except for direct integration. That's the sort of next level up. Then you get multiple pen names. It all just depends on where you are.

If you're just starting out, that $20 plan is perfect. It really gets you all the things that you need and we've had that plan since we started. The very first time we launched with Mark in his Ads for Authors which back then wasn't called Ads for Authors it was-

James Blatch: Facebook Ads for Authors.

Damon Courtney: Facebook Ads for Authors, right? When we first launched we launched with that $20 plan from the very beginning because we felt like that no matter where an author was in their journey if they were just starting out, they just published their first book, I don't want you to feel like you've got to spend a lot of money up front to get started and 20 bucks a year will get you BookFunnel's amazing support team and we'll handle all those downloads for you so that you can get started and then hopefully keep writing and maybe build up that newsletter and build up the fan base.

James Blatch: Yeah, and it's all at BookFunnel.com.

Damon Courtney: BookFunnel.com, yes you asked where can we find you. We're not very tricksy with the names. It's BookFunnel.com.

James Blatch: It's great and I think you are one of those services if you ask people to name the must have services in the indie space I think quite a lot of people will say Scrivener, Vellem comes up quite often. BookFunnel is there or thereabouts number one, number two I think when you ask people and I think that's an amazing job you've done.

Damon Courtney: Mark actually did a survey in the SPF group a couple of years back where he asked what are the tools that you consider the must have tools and it was Scrivener, BookFunnel, and then everything else was way below that. I don't usually brag, I'm not much of a bragger guy but I thought that was really cool. I was like, "Holy crap. We're right after Scrivener? That's pretty impressive.

James Blatch: You're part of the furniture now Damon. Now, look. I didn't tell you this but you've done well to get me today because I had my jab yesterday, my vaccine and everything was fine until 4:00 this afternoon and I hit this wall and actually about an hour ago I was snoring on my bed. I feel quite weird now but it's actually been a quite enhanced the interview being slightly high on a COVID jab.

Damon Courtney: Did you get the first one or the second one?

James Blatch: I got the first one. We're doing a first jab first policy in the UK. They're really going for the first jab, get everyone done because of the amount of coverage you get. My second one will be in 11 weeks. I had the Astra Zeneca.

Damon Courtney: My wife and I got our second one just a few weeks ago and the first one, I really just had a sore arm... Sore enough that I couldn't lift it above my head but the second one we both had that same experience. It wiped us out. I was out the whole next day just got awake, had breakfast, sat on the couch, bonk, fell asleep.

Julie was actually out for two or three days where really she had a regular fever and you keep having to remind yourself, you're not actually sick. This is just your body reacting to... Because you feel awful.

James Blatch: It's a bit weird.

Damon Courtney: Yeah.

James Blatch: It's your body producing the antibodies, that's the important thing. Your immune system's being fired up. Anyway, that's where I am at the moment but I'm delighted we got to speak and it's always a pleasure talking to you Damon. I cannot wait until we are in a room together, hopefully at Link in September. We've booked our flights, God willing everything's going to allow-

Damon Courtney: Maybe be the first one that we go back to live. We're going to do NINC this year and then we'll be at 20Books in November. Those are the only two that we've got booked for this year and I do hope that they open back up.

I miss being able to hang out with people, see people and talk about just everybody's stuck at home. A couple of my author friends and I have been having regular chats and regular calls. You've been on several of them where it's just like oh, it's so nice to talk to other people who are in publishing and because at home it's me and the kids and after a while it's just nice to be able to talk business and talk about ideas.

James Blatch: It's a human trait, isn't it? That interaction and we're missing it so it won't be long. Anyway, Damon, won't keep you any longer. Thank you so much for joining us. Look forward to seeing you later in the year and yeah, keep on doing that BookFunnel thing, being part of the furniture.

Damon Courtney: Yeah, right. Thank you guys for having me.

James Blatch: There you go, there's Damon. We did talk about his karaoke prowess. He's pretty hot on the karaoke isn't he but hopefully we'll hear that again later in the year at NINC. I think we can announce that we are going to be the sponsors of the welcome reception at NINC this year, which will not as it stands be a huge affair because we think they are currently limited to 200 plus industry guests. I would guess that might be about 300 people in the room or 250 maybe but we're hoping... I think they are hoping to open that up to more people if they rules change in Florida. Let's hope they do. Yeah, we'll catch up with Damon and what can you say about BookFunnel? It's just a fab service that gets it right.

Mark Dawson: Yeah, there aren't that many companies that just never really put a foot wrong. Damon does seem to have nailed that and it was great when it came out, must be five years ago now and it's still great. They're adding features to it all the time. I've used it now to deliver ebooks that people order directly from me. Really simple to do. Hook me up with Pay Hip. BookFunnel communicates with that, sends out the copy once the payment's been received. I thought it might be a little bit of work but probably 20 minutes. It was really good. Audiobooks now they're doing too so just a really good service and Damon's just a lovely guy. Big fan of Damon's.

James Blatch: Yeah, indeed and we're quite closely tied as companies because we started around the same time and I think his offer to our students is a very important part of the growth of BookFunnel in those early days so that's a nice thing as well.

I'm getting text messages telling me I need to do a five mile run because I'm doing this terrible torturous training regime at the moment that is finally coming an end at the end of next week and it's raining and cold so I've got to do that. How's your afternoon looking?

Mark Dawson: I'm going to walk back along the river and the barn project which I've mentioned in the community, haven't got time to talk about it now but the builders are in. We're moving things from an old barn that we're going to convert into an office so that's going ahead so I'll see how far the builders have got by the end of the first week.

James Blatch: Do you walk along that river path that goes... Is it the Red Lion Hotel? The mill? The old mill?

Mark Dawson: No, if I went the other way I'd go that way but no, I'm heading out down towards Christchurch where the river deposits its water.

James Blatch: That's a technical term, good. Well, without boring you to death there's a scene in my book set on that path. You can read it one day. Okay.

Mark Dawson: Okay, I'll check it out. Is it out yet?

James Blatch: Soon. Any decade now. I'll have to change that on my Twitter profile-

Mark Dawson: You will.

James Blatch: I think it says any decade now. Great. Look, thank you very much indeed to Damon our guest today. Don't forget go to Patreon.com/selfpublishingshow to be in with a chance of being selected as our next guest in the book laboratory, a very worthwhile and useful exercise for all. That's from me. All that 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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