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SPS-330: Getting Ready for The Self Publishing Show Live! – with Mark Dawson & James Blatch

Mark and James share details about the upcoming Self Publishing Show Live! conference in June in London, UK. 

Show Notes

  • An overview of the speakers at SPS Live in London
  • Highlights of what attendees will learn at the conference
  • Why success as an author is available to anyone

Resources mentioned in this episode:

PATREON: Self Publishing Formula Show’s Patreon page

MERCH: Check out our new 2022 hoodies and t-shirts in the SPF Store.

SPS LIVE! 2022: Grab your tickets here.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT:

SPS-330: Getting Ready for The Self Publishing Show Live! - with Mark Dawson & James Blatch

Announcer: On this edition of The Self-Publishing Show.

Mark Dawson: I'm very confident that there will be people in the audience who are just getting started. Maybe they've got a book or a couple of books. And when we do it again next year, they'll be on stage, and then we will-

James Blatch: That could be you.

Mark Dawson: It could be you. Yeah, exactly. Won't be you.

James Blatch: It won't be me. It might be me.

Announcer: 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's the Self-publishing Show with me, James Blatch.

<>Mark Dawson: And me Mark Dawson.

James Blatch: I've got a new, lower camera angle. I'm going to look into the camera. People always say I don't look into the camera. Look into the camera, James, look into the camera, Not into my eyes, look into the camera. How's that? It looks creepy to you.

Mark Dawson: It looks very creepy to me, but yeah.

James Blatch: Okay. Look, here we go. It's only for people watching on YouTube. If you're listening and jogging and whatever you do.

Mark Dawson: That's five people.

James Blatch: That's five people.

Mark Dawson: No, no it's a thousand. We have a few thousand, yeah.

James Blatch: Okay. We are going to be talking about conferences and we talk about our conference, making some announcements about who's coming today. But I think we'll also Mark, we can just talk about conference season and the different ones that are on offer and reasons for going and best approach. That's going to be the focus of this podcast episode.

Before we start, I do need to announce that we have a winner from our Patreon supporters, who we welcome in every week. One of the benefits of being a Patreon supporter, I think at a certain level, I think silver level onwards is that you go into a draw to win our courses. And a name has been drawn out to win the 101 course free of charge, that's $600 worth of course. And that is Bill Duncan. Bill was chosen out of the hat randomly, but I was delighted to see his name come out.

I met Bill and Catherine at 20Books, I think probably 2019, something like that. And we sort of follow each other on social media a bit. Bill's a good cyclist over there in Australia. Lovely people, couldn't happen to a nicer guy. So Bill Duncan has won self-publishing 101. And don't forget, you could be in the hat for the next draw for 101 and Ads for Authors later on in the summer, if you go to patron.com/selfpublishingshow and become a patron supporter at silver or gold level.

Good. Okay. Marcus, I know there's lots going on in everybody's world at the moment, but we are going to focus our minds on June. God, I can't believe it's so soon because it's May now. It's next month.

Mark Dawson: Yes. It is next month, isn't it? Yeah. That's a bit worrying,

James Blatch: Which is worrying. Yeah. So next month we are holding a two day conference in London on self-publishing. It's going to be an opportunity for people to learn, to be inspired. And probably most of all, and I think this goes across all the conferences you go to, to meet other people in the same boat as you, which is a huge help in life.

Mark, you've been working on the schedule of our conference. I should just say the logistics of it's going to be in a perfect position on the South Bank in London, it's called the arty part of London. South Bank of the River Thames. You can walk across the river, you're in Westminster and Covent Garden and, and so on Soho.

We will have a social in the evening as well, but there's a gazillion pubs and restaurants where we are. It's a great little part of London to be in. We're very excited about it. There's lots of hotels as well. Probably I would imagine quite good value now because we're still COVIDy in terms of people making plans. And I think it's likely we're going to have 600 ish there we think this year. We'll top that out soon and close off tickets. So last chance probably to buy tickets next few weeks, which is selfpublishingformula.com/spslive.

And Mark, who are we going to hear from?

Mark Dawson: Well, so yeah, it's pretty much confirmed now. I've been working on this for a month or two and it's been fairly straightforward to do really. Everyone I asked to speak has been able to, which is great. So it's two days this time. And the last one we did was one day and we felt that well, it would be very easy to do two days of content. I could very easily to do three days of content.

So I wanted to do a bit more in terms of longer sessions. Well, the same session length, but more speakers for people to listen to and learn from and hopefully enjoy. So we are going to start on the 28th. So that's the Wednesday, Tuesday?

James Blatch: I think it's Tuesday, Wednesday.

Mark Dawson: Tuesday, I'm going to check.

James Blatch: We should know that shouldn't we? We will be there on the right day.

Mark Dawson: People keep asking me what day is it and I'm like, "I think it's the..." It's the Tuesday, the 28th is the first day. So what usually happens is I think we open up about 8:30 and the actual halls open a bit after that. So people will start to congregate in the foyer area. And it was pretty buzzy last time, people were kind of meeting people that they've met online, perhaps. They said they're going to meet up at the conference. Our crack team of volunteers, ably marshalled.

James Blatch: The yellow shirts.

Mark Dawson: Yeah, the yellow shirts. Ably marshalled by Catherine. Taking registrations and giving out lanyards and bits and pieces like that. And there will also be some booths in the entrance area that will be staffed by representatives from the sponsors. So there'll probably be someone from Amazon Art, Amazon will be there, they sponsor the conference. So there'll be several Amazonians there. They may have a booth. But I know Reedsy, BookBub, lots of sponsors. I think a few more sponsors might come on between now and then.

It would be a good chance to meet those guys and start to make connections. One of the best things about doing a conference like this is that you will, even for introverts, and I'm reasonably introverted at these kinds of events, it is a good chance to meet people and get contacts that can be really useful in the future.

So once that's all done and we've had our cups of coffee and our bagels, whatever, and we go into the hall. The first event, I think, this is subject to change, so we may tweak the kind of running order a little bit. But the first speakers I've got on my list here are Caroline Peckham and Suzanne Valenti, who we've had on the podcast before, are doing obscenely well at the moment, in terms of how many books they're selling. Really big on TikTok, but not just on TikTok.

They're big and successful in lots of different ways with their books. So we are going to have, I think it will be an interview with them. So possibly with you, or maybe Darren Hardy from Amazon, not quite sure yet. But there'll be an interview with Caroline and Suzanne and I've tentatively titled that The New Queens of Kindle, because as I said, they'll be in the top, let's say the top 20 best selling authors in the world.

James Blatch: They've had an insane last 12 months. It's difficult to look at the overall top, the charts in .com and .uk and not see a sprinkling of their books there. And they'll talk about TikTok as well, I think.

Mark Dawson: They will yeah, yeah. I don't want people to think they're one trick ponies, because they're not. But they've been successful in lots of different ways. But they have been successful on TikTok. So we will have a chat with them.

Then the next session. So these are roughly an hour, maybe 50 minutes something along those lines, we've got Nick Stevenson coming along. Now Nick has been a friend for, well ever since we've been doing SPF. So a good seven years or so now Nick and I have known each other. And Nick's a good guy. People may have taken his course, he's got a course called Your First 10,000 Readers.

Nick is really good on email. He writes fantastic email copy. Not entirely sure what he's going to speak about yet. We are having a chat soon just to work that out. But whatever it is, it will be good. And I don't think Nick's ever done a conference before, so...

James Blatch: I've never met him.

Mark Dawson: Oh, well there we go. Yeah. Nick's lovely.

James Blatch: I talk to Nick all the time and you deal with him every month on affiliate matters and stuff and webinars, but I've actually never met him. I don't know if he really exists, it'd be interesting to find out.

Mark Dawson: It was actually me. So it's me and-

James Blatch: That's what I thought.

Mark Dawson: ... a slightly younger version.

James Blatch: And you're Jo Penn as well, aren't you?

Mark Dawson: No, there's only one Jo Penn, which is very, very neat segue. After a little break, we're going to go into a chat with Jo.
Joanna was at our first conference and lot of people were very keen to get their photo with Jo. She's been doing this for a long time, much longer than me. And is part of the furniture really when it comes to the self publishing space, her podcast is great. Has over 600 episodes. She's very well known and she's a really good speaker.

She is going to be doing something called The Creator Economy. I don't know much more than that, but I think the last one she'd do was multiple streams of income for our last conference, which as I say, went down really well. So this one will be called The Creator Economy. I think that's one that people will fill lots of notebooks cumulatively when Jo goes through her presentation.

After then we're going to have probably a little chat between me and you. Because you've insisted that I have to do something. I don't really want to this year. But anyway, I probably will just-

James Blatch: It's a bit weird that if we don't do something.

Mark Dawson: Well, yeah.

James Blatch: We are definitely going to do something. I think because the greatest part of the show is the banter at the beginning. That's what we'll do a session, just of trivial banter so that somebody can stand up and say, "When does the interview start?"

Mark Dawson: Yeah, exactly. So we'll do something. I'm not quite sure what that will be yet. But then there'll be a break for lunch. So an hour to wander along the South Bank. And as you said, there's tonnes of nice restaurants down there. And also this will be summertime in London. So last time we had it in March. I think it was a reasonably nice day actually, wasn't it? It wasn't unpleasant there wasn't raining in the evening?

James Blatch: It think it was cold.

Mark Dawson: It rained in the evening. On the boat.

James Blatch: It was March, so...

Mark Dawson: So anyway, this is June. Late June. So it should be quite nice. So a good chance to have a walk along South Bank, which is very nice. When we get back, the next session is going to be with Stuart Bache. And Stuart again, I'm chatting with Stuart at the most with Stuart is my cover designer, cover designer of lots and lots of indies. Very well known designer these days. Has a company called Books Covered and works with me and me and you on Fuse. Stuart's been doing this for ages as well.

He is going to be doing, at the moment I'm calling it Covers From Start To Finish. So the plan at the moment is to get one or maybe two authors from the audience with covers that they don't think are any good. And basically Stuart in, this is very English late 1970s reference, Tony Hart style or even Rolf Harris. I should Rolf Harris style. Stuart might-

James Blatch: Unfortunately he's been to prison for...

Mark Dawson: That's the only similarity between Stuart and Rolf Harris is that they're both good at art. Actually I'm not even sure Rolf Harris is very good at art. Stuart will be taking a cover, one or two covers and will create covers from start to finish. We'll watch his screen on the big screen at the Southbank Centre as Stuart goes through the process of actually creating a cover live.

I suspect he might look at how to work out what kind of tropes that should be included on the cover. And he'll do some image research. And then we'll actually use Photoshop and we'll put the covers together.

At the end of the session, those two authors will have we'll have Stuart Bache covers. So we need to think about finding some willing guinea pigs for that. So we should probably have a think about that. In fact, if anyone is going to the conference and would like to put themselves forward for that, it's probably not a bad chance, bad opportunity to do that now. So if you email us at [email protected] and put the title, guinea pig, then we can have a chat with Stuart and maybe pick out a couple of people to go forward for that.

James Blatch: Catherine and John are having no clue what those emails going to be about when they see the title guinea pig.

Mark Dawson: They won't. So yeah, that should be a fun one. I'm looking forward to that. So this penultimate session on the first day is going to be Amazon Ads 101 with Janet Margo.

Janet coming over, and you haven't met Janet either, have you?

James Blatch: I don't know if she exists.

Mark Dawson: Yeah, she does. I've met her in Seattle. Janet, as anyone who follows us will know, does the Amazon Ads section of the Ads For Authors course and Janet was in charge of the books advertising team at Amazon for I'm going to say seven or eight years now. Is not with them anymore, but she has tonnes and tonnes of extremely relevant knowledge and information as it pertains to running Amazon Ads for books.

What Janet will do is she's going to go through a kind of the best practise, the kind of 101 level for Amazon Ads. And that will be something that I think everyone can benefit from. You especially actually, I should probably, this is a slight aside. I got an email other day from someone who is a podcast listener and said it was given that we sell advertising courses. And well, you've never made a secret with the fact that you can get Facebook ads to work, but you can't get Amazon Ads to work. And this author said, you probably shouldn't say that on the podcast. Because it makes you sound like you don't know what you're talking about.

James Blatch: It's not like I haven't got them to work. Is that I have not put the graft in to learn them. It should be noted that you are the author with success behind you. And I'm like the operations guy running the company. I'm one of your students. So you're the person who teaches people how to do ads. So I think it's fair that I say I'm on that.

Mark Dawson: No, absolutely. No, no we shouldn't. Well, we're not ever going to be dishonest about that. And as you say, the fact is you haven't really tried Amazon Ads properly yet. When it comes to can we get Amazon Ads to work using what we teach? Yes, because that's what I do. So Amazon Ads work extremely well for me.

And as we said, your focus has been on Facebook ads, which you have got to work very well on just one book, which is quite impressive. So anyway, that's that kind of aside. It's a reasonable point that was made, but there's a very easy response to that.

Anyway, the Amazon Ads 101 session with Janet will be good. It'll be one that I think we'll all take notes from. And then at the end of the day, the last session on the first day is going to be the, I've got down as Amazon slot.

Amazon are the main sponsors for the show this year. I spoke to several Amazonians at the London Book Fair and they will be there. So Darren is the head of KDP in the UK. Darren is a good friend and Darren will be there. I have a feeling that his counterparts from France and Germany will be there as well. And with some others as well, we're going to try and get someone from Audible, from ACX, from KDP Print. A good selection of Amazonians for people to meet and to get to know. That can be extremely valuable to get to have a name that you can refer to as necessary as you want.

James Blatch: It's one of the most common questions that you and I will get on emails. Do you have a secret contact at Amazon? Can you ask Amazon this? I had one this morning actually about somebody. And the answer's no. We're simply not going to abuse the relationships that we have there. They're professional, and it would quickly be the end of that relationship.

But here is an opportunity for you to be in the same room as senior Amazonians. And certainly at LBF, at the London Book Fair, Darren is happy to talk to any authors about anything they've got and steer them in the right direction. So this is that opportunity.

Mark Dawson: Yeah. So they'll all be there. I think they'll probably be at the party as well, in the evening. So again, a good chance to get to know them. So, yeah, that's the end of the first day.

Then in the foyer, which is as people who've been there before will know is a very large space. We're going to have an evening party. I don't know from the top of my head, what time it starts, I'm going to say like half six or seven o'clock.

James Blatch: 7:30 I think something, like that.

Mark Dawson: 7:30.

James Blatch: Yeah.

Mark Dawson: So two or three hours, probably get a band again, Buster Birch, who really provided some great entertainment on the boat last time. And there'll be a bar and a chance to meet us and to just hang out with authors.

That was one of the fun things last time on our floating Petri dish on the Thames. As we all wondered, how many of us were going to go down with COVID. But this time, yeah no COVID this time. So hopefully it'll be not so much of a worry this time.

But a good chance to round the day off with a drink or two and a chance to listen to music and to have a chat with like-minded authors and make connections, fill your black book with addresses of... if you're writing in a particular genre is a really good time to find other authors who write in that genre, and maybe you could work together in the future. There's tonnes of things that you can come out of these kinds of events.

James Blatch: That sounds like a really good day. Well done for working on this show. I'm excited.

Mark Dawson: Oh, thank you very much. I'll do the second day then. And see if I can stick the landing, as they say. So the next day, so the, what day is it? Thursday?

James Blatch: 29th.

Mark Dawson: 29th, the Wednesday, isn't it? I don't know.

James Blatch: Wednesday, yeah.

Mark Dawson: Whatever it is, the 29th. So we'll start with, again, a sponsor is BookBub this year and Wade Lucas and one or two others from BookBub are coming over. Wade and colleagues will be presenting on how to use BookBub ads to sell more books. So another good session talking about, I suspect that will be about the paid ads that you can get on the BookBub emails that we teach how to use in the ads course. But again, it'll be a good chance to talk to the BookBub team about anything that BookBub does.

So if you've got questions about their featured deals, it'll be a good chance to talk to them. And again, they'll be in the conference both days. They'll probably be at the party or they're sponsoring the party with Reedsy so they'll be there in the evening. A good chance to chat to them about anything that you might want to find out about how BookBub works. So again, a really, really good opportunity to meet someone very useful.

Next is going to be an interview probably with you, given that you and Lucy Score are good friends. Lucy Score is again, an Amazon number one bestselling author. Sold millions of books, writes romance. I don't think we've ever seen Lucy do anything like this before. So this will be quite a good opportunity to get to know Lucy a little bit better.

What are you going to talk to Lucy about James?

James Blatch: I've got lots of things to talk to Lucy about. She won't know what's hit her when she's on that stage. No, I mean she's nervous about it, I think. But she and Tim, her other half, Mr. Lucy, I think he's officially referred to, have become a very well-oiled machine in terms of production and marketing. And I think that's an important thing to explore how you organise, how you scale for growth, how they cover everything, the amount of work that goes into that.

So there's a lot to explore. It's a kind of blueprint for success, I think. And whilst, yes, she's mega huge. Now she's also a bit like Caroline, Suzanne, she's had a brilliant last six months. Her book, Things We Never Said, I think, has really flown. But she started obviously like everyone did, like you did Mark, quite small and just had some initial success and then had to quickly build and scale up an organisation around that. So I think that's what we'll focus on.

Mark Dawson: Yeah. So that'll be a good one. Next session is with Suzy K Quinn, who is one of the presenters, she does a course for us about How To Write A Bestseller. And Suzy approaches that kind of thing in quite a, almost kind of an arse about face way, you might say, in the sense that she does her packaging-

James Blatch: It's brilliant. I absolutely love Suzie's methodology and teaching. I think it's absolutely spot on.

Mark Dawson: It's very sensible. Very commercial.

James Blatch: And it's really, really important to understand that. Even if you want to adapt it and do it slightly differently, make compromises about what you want to write at. You need to understand what she's talking about to understand how marketing, how people, make decisions to buy books.

Mark Dawson: Yeah. So yes, her session is going to be Five Secrets Of Best Selling Authors, which will be again, another good one. There'll be, then we've got kind of empty slot, which I haven't filled yet. Then there'll be lunch.

And then after lunch, we have Rachel McLean who is the Kindle Storyteller Award this year. And she did a really, really good webinar for us on multi-platform advertising, how she uses Facebook ads, BookBub ads, and Amazon Ads in conjunction and effectively, and in quite a logical way. It was a really good webinar. One of the best ones.

Actually I said to her at London Book Fair, it's probably the best webinar we've ever given. It was very well attended. I thought it was excellent. So it was a pretty easy decision to get her to come back and present something similar on the same lines as we did on that webinar. So that will be a really good one.

Following Rachel, we have Alex from K-Lytics. So coming over, I think Alex is in Switzerland at the moment. So he'll be over to talk about 10 reasons why your book is missing the market and what to do about it. So for those who don't know, K-Lytics is Alex's business. And he uses scraping technology to scrape data from the public facing Amazon pages, and then is able to manipulate that data to work out where there are niches that might be underserved, but potentially profitable.

He can look at trendy season covers in blurbs, in reviews, all kinds of things. He has lots and lots of data. And his reports on genre are always very interesting and definitely worth subscribing to.

Alex will be coming over to talk about that specifically, why books might be missing the market and how you can fix those errors. So that would be a good one. I've seen Alex present a couple of times. He's really good.

James Blatch: Loads of stuff.

Mark Dawson: Lovely German accent, which we like. So yeah, Marc Reklau isn't talking this year, but we will be representing with the German accent, which we like.

James Blatch: So I played golf in Majorca with three Swiss Germans, like Roger Federer Swiss German. Because it's a multilingual country. And I hadn't realised that 'jawohl', I always thought it was like, certainly. They used it as a kind of when somebody hit a good shot.

Mark Dawson: Yeah, yeah, yeah, it's...

James Blatch: So I'm going to start using that now.

Mark Dawson: Okay.

James Blatch: I'm going to shout it loudly during Alex's session. Every time he hits the nail on the head of it.

Mark Dawson: He'll love that. Sure. He'll really enjoy that.

And then finally, the last session is at the moment called Quitting The Nine To Five. And that is with some authors. I've put out a call in the SPF community because I wanted to get something similar to a session we had last time, which was really well regarded and enjoyed with five, as it turned out, female authors who were making not kind of mega, mega money, not the seven figure or six figure authors. But some actually six figures and kind of mid to high five figures. So replacing what would be a standard salary with an equivalent salary made from books.

And that was really great. We had Benedict Brown on the podcast saying that was his favourite session and Benedict has gone on to have similar levels of success. And actually I better put him on my spreadsheet there, because I've left him off. He'll be on the panel as well. So five or six authors interviewed by you or me, and just looking at what they've done. So we've got at the moment, we've got Gary Ross-Jordan, Tracy Green, Benedict Brown. Actually he was on there.

James Blatch: He's on there twice.

Mark Dawson: Liz Hurley.

James Blatch: Liz Hurley.

Mark Dawson: Yeah. Not that one. And Meg Jolly, who are all doing really well. Not life changing. Well, yeah, it is life changing because they're not having to work for the man anymore.

James Blatch: It's the biggest life change, I think. I mean, when you get to Lucy Score, Caroline Suzanne level. Okay, so I don't know what that means. Business class travel or whatever, it's a scale up. The big change for me fundamentally is not having to work for the man, to put it old fashion terms. To not have to schlep into a job every day that you don't particularly inspire you. So it's fundamental.

I also think it's important because, I mentioned Lucy, I'm going to interview her. I should just say her book is called Things We Never Got Over. Released in January and it's currently number 10 in the .com store. I mean she's had a phenomenal year. And there is something that happens and it's annoying. I hear it from time to time.

Actually people have said it about me recently as well. I published my figures of my first year. They say, "Ah, yeah, but the reason you are successful is..." and then they fill in that space with something that doesn't apply to them. So that's why they can't be successful. So in my case, they said, "Because you've got a podcast, James, that's why you've been able to be successful."

Mark Dawson: If they thought about it, would realise that it's just complete nonsense.

James Blatch: It is nonsense.

Mark Dawson: There aren't many military aviation fans in this podcast.

James Blatch: Well exactly. But I do meet them, there's a few, but they're very few and far between. And in the case of Lucy, they'll always think, well, yeah, but she's a megastar and you are Mark say that's unobtainable to me. It's nonsense because they've all started.

All of you have started. And what you're doing today is not fundamentally different from what you did to get yourself to that point. So it's really important listening to people who've been very successful. And most people are like that. But that's why I think this session is important.

Mark Dawson: And it's because it doesn't feel like it's a massive step. It's not out of reach. These are people who maybe are six months ahead of where some of the audience will be. And that's why I'd like to close with this. Because I want people to leave, like we did last time, I want people to leave feeling that it is achievable.

It is very possible to stop working for somebody else and to do something that anyone listening to this podcast, there's a very good chance that we've wanted to support ourselves, make a job out of writing stuff. Non-fiction, fiction, kids books, whatever it might be. For years since we were kids. I know that was certainly always my dream. And I want people to leave feeling that it's possible.

So I think ending with Lucy, for example, as we say, is a seven figure author now. Although inspirational, may not feel attainable. I want people to leave the Southbank Centre on the Wednesday after having two really great days with other authors and having a really excellent time learning loads, but wanting to leave and go back to their desk on the 30th feeling that it is possible, and has never been more possible to replace a traditional income with an income made from writing books.

James Blatch: Yeah, absolutely. I think you said this last time, you said there'll be somebody in the audience at this conference who will be on the stage at the next conference.

Mark Dawson: Benedict Brown.

James Blatch: Benedict Brown.

Mark Dawson: So there's at least one and possibly there'll be another, well actually Rachel McLean, I think as well was in that situation too. So absolutely, I'm very confident that there will be people in the audience who are just getting started. Maybe they got a book or a couple of books and yeah, when we do it again, next year, they'll be on stage.

James Blatch: That could be you.

Mark Dawson: It could be you. Yeah, exactly.

James Blatch: Good.

Mark Dawson: Won't be you.

James Blatch: It won't be me. Might be me.

Mark Dawson: You're on stage anyway.

James Blatch: Second book might... yeah, that's true. The conference environs, as I say, are very social friendly. There's restaurants, all sort of chains and some independents. South Bank's actually a really good place. They usually have street food as well, along the way there.

We do have a Facebook group set up. I think it'd be quite useful in the next few weeks for you to, if you are going to the conference, start getting involved in that Facebook group. Find similarly like-minded people you can meet up with and go out for a meal with in the evening and lunch and hook up with. Hook up with there's a different connotation with the American sense, but you know what I mean. So make the most of those opportunities to make contacts and buddies that can significantly help your career and you can help each other.

And a final word. I think we have, there's been a bit of talk in conference world generally and in self-publishing about the behaviour levels expected of people. And we have done some work in that front, in that sense. So we want it to be a comfortable and safe area for everyone at the conference. And you'll find some things in place when you get to the conference just to help that and mitigate any problems that we might have. Hopefully we won't.

We didn't have any problems last time, but we are responding to that and making changes. Okay. So that's our conference Mark, which is very exciting and a snip at £149 for the two days. Actually that includes the party, it's £120 for the two days.

Mark Dawson: Exactly. I've seen some other conferences, I'll say, well events or things that are much more expensive than that. I'm not going to cost any aspersions on anybody, but I think that's a pretty punchy price.

James Blatch: It's a really good price.

Mark Dawson: Really good price. And we will probably lose money on this. We'll be round about breaking even if we are lucky. So this isn't something that we're doing to make to retire onto some kind of Spanish beach. But yeah, probably not going to be something like that, but it is something we want to do.

Obviously we don't want to lose money, but even if we lose a little bit, that's fine, we'll swallow it because I think it is something that is going to be a really fun thing for us. And worthwhile and fun for everybody. So yeah. I think it's really good value.

James Blatch: LBF had a one day symposium for authors before London Book Fair. And it was that 650 quid.

Mark Dawson: Was it? Oh my God.

James Blatch: Yeah. It was really expensive. And they very often are these. I saw someone, it was a completely unrelated area. I can't remember what it was, about learning real estate or something. It was $1,200 they were advertising, doing the seminar for the day. So we've priced it as a point where hopefully we're not going to lose too much money and we might even break even. So that's what we're hoping for.

Mark Dawson: That reminds me. If you can't be there in person, what we did last time and we're going to do it again, is we will sell virtual tickets. And we are still kind of working on, we should probably talk about this off air James, make sure we know what we're doing.

James Blatch: Well no, I can tell you exactly what this is. It won't be live streamed. We decided against live streaming. We just don't think it's the right aesthetic. What we want to do is to present you with almost like an online course afterwards with professionally filmed, really good sound and vision sessions broken up so you can watch them in your own time.

So it'd be like a package which you can buy. It's going to be, I think we're going to price it at 25 quid. We're going to price it as cheaply as we can. We've got to obviously pay for the production, which is quite expensive and multiple camera and microphone production on top of the AV that goes on in the conference hall anyway. But we will announce that in the next few weeks.

I would buy your ticket for that, because you will then if you can't come to the conference or even if you have come to the conference, actually you might want to watch it again. We're definitely going to put some effort into that, it would be a really good package.

Mark Dawson: It was very slick last time. So it looked really good. It sounded good.It was definitely a valuable little add on last time. So we'll do that again. Because obviously not everyone is going to be able to come, and we've got lots of American friends coming over, some Kiwis and Aussies as well coming over. But not everyone can jump on a plane in June.

Also, this is a reasonable point I suppose, I've seen some comments on the Facebook ads we've been running on this, with someone having to go saying, "Why are you doing it in a weekday? Why not do it the weekend?" And I'm like, well, the weekend is probably more expensive. Might not even be possible at the Southbank Centre. And probably just a number of reasons why we wouldn't, but then she said, "I'm a teacher. I can't get time off." Which is fair enough. So that's when the live ticket comes in. If you can't take holiday, you can't get over. Then the the video package is where that comes.

James Blatch: That is frustrating. And teaching is one of those, I mean, people have jobs where they might be able to not get the flexibility they need. But teaching is a job I know that you have to be there during the day and your holiday's all bunched up. Forced on. That is unfortunate.

But you're right. The discussions about venue Mark, which went backwards and forth for a long time. And you look initially at all these spaces in London that would be suitable and you end up with Hobson's choice because very few of them are available. Very few of them are available two days in succession. And some of the ones that are available are 35 grand for food before you've even started to pay for the... this is out of scope for us. Fine, if you're Price Forbes or someone, a Price Waterhouse or someone. But not for us.

But our first choice is the choice we've ended up at because we wanted to go back to the Queen Elizabeth Hall. We were just looking at potentially a different type of venue, different atmosphere. But I'm pleased we've got the QEH, and they've pretty much dictated our dates because they are inundated with reorganisation stuff in two years of council concerts that go on in that venue.

Mark Dawson: Yeah. So that's how it has to be. It was great last time, we had a really good time. It was very, very smoothly organised, which was, I was going to say more luck than judgement , but people like Catherine and the volunteers played a blinder last time. So hopefully, well, I've got no reason to suspect it won't be any different, so it'll be good. Really good opportunity.

We know a bit more about how these things run, because we've done one before. So I'm pretty confident that it will go well. And I'm very confident that the speakers we've talked about on the podcast today will all be excellent. And it's quite fun for me because I can basically book people that I want to listen to. And so there are some people on that list that I will be very interested to hear what they have to say. And hopefully if I feel that way, then others will too.

James Blatch: So Scott Altman, the F14 pilot who flew the original Top Gun stunts and then went to space.

Mark Dawson: He's actually-

James Blatch: He's an astronaut, can I book him?

Mark Dawson: He's doing a flyover and you are jumping out of his plane on a parachute.

James Blatch: Is he going to buzz the tower?

Mark Dawson: Yeah. Potentially, Maverick.

James Blatch: I think the pattern is full. Okay. Let's wrap up here, but let's talk about the other conferences that we'll go to this year. If you can't make our conference and you do want the conference experience, the ones we've tended to go to in the past are the two regulars for us are 20 Books, Vegas and NINC. They're very different actually, very different feel and very different purpose.

20 Books is more of an open conference for anybody invested in, interested in self-publishing. So if you haven't written a book yet, it's definitely a place to go and start talking to people and start getting hints and tips and solid advice on which direction you should be taken. Both with writing and with marketing. You'll have a myriad of choices. Every day there's like three or four choices of, every hour, every session, three or four choices of different places to go and listen to including a big hall. And of course in the evening you get an opportunity to buddy up with people and make some of those very valuable friendships.

NINC is a bit more specialised. There is an entry requirement for NINC. I think you have to prove that you make five or $6,000 a year, something like that. So you are already established, you are already producing books that are being bought by somebody. And for that reason, the level of detail is a bit high.

Now I should say, I think NINC has sold out for this year, and you do have to be a member to go to the conference. So that is a bit more prohibitive, but maybe one for next year, if you're not going this year. Maybe you can go to 20 Books this year and be qualifying to get to NINC for next year.

20 Books, obviously, is in Vegas. In November's quite nice weather, but it is Vegas. Some people love it. Some people hate it. NINC, I don't think there's anybody who doesn't love going to NINC because it's on the beach in Florida, on the Gulf Coast. It's beautiful. It's warm. It's a nice time of year to be in Florida. Can be a bit oppressive in summer, much lovely time of year.

You and I have both, I think, run along the beach haven't we? And had a swim in the sea and it's a really nice relaxing time. I think we both have here, friends who will be good friends. I mean, Lucy Score is one for the rest of my life who I've met at NINC and Cecilia and others.

There are plenty of other conferences actually. I'm going to Madrid in a couple of weeks presenting on TikTok there. That is 20 Books.

Mark Dawson: You're going back to Spain.

James Blatch: Going back to Spain. Can't believe it. So what we haven't said, a little discussion before is I had a bit of an issue at the airport where somebody took against me for reasons I'm not sure about. It was quite traumatic for me, but I'm over it. I was able to rant, but I do have to now go back to Spain. Thankfully, a different airport.

Mark Dawson: Yes. I heard he's been transferred.

James Blatch: Yes. That's what they did.

Mark Dawson: They sacked him and moved him to Madrid.

James Blatch: Yeah. You get lost in Madrid. I'm really looking forward to that. It's going to be smaller. I think Caroline and Suzanne are going to be there. Caroline definitely is going to be there, and there'll be a few other people presented on these important topics.

Mark Dawson: I might go we'll have to see. I'm basically owed because, if Lucy's listening to the podcast today, but Lucy is at Badminton Horse Trials for four days, leaving me with two kids, two refugees, a dog and 15 builders in the barn. So I am pretty stressed at the moment. In a good way. It's not a problem, but I think basically I am owed a weekend away somewhere. So, we'll see.

James Blatch: Yes. Well that would be great. Come along for the weekend and I'll find a nice golf course for us on the Monday.

Mark Dawson: Oh God. Yeah. Haven't played for a while. I'm terrible at the moment, but yes, we'll see. Sounds quite nice. Yeah. We'll see.

James Blatch: Good. Final thing I want to say is I know lots of authors, some of us enjoy this social occasions, I'm more introverted than you might think. But some authors are very introverted. But because of that, it kind of solves itself that problem, because you'll be standing in a large room with lots of people and a surprising number of whom are uncomfortable in that environment. And that in itself becomes quite a bonding thing. It's just not like you're going to go to like the real estate conference where you're going to get these air punching, guys and girls.

Mark Dawson: No, it's not like that.

James Blatch: It doesn't feel like that.

Mark Dawson: And I think it's with introverts it's not so much necessarily, because I feel this way too. I don't think it's always about being in a room with lots of people and high energy and all that. It's often kind of worrying about small talk. And what do you say to people you've never met before? I feel I'm better than I used to be, but when I remember not that long ago, I used to hate that, going to conferences. I was quite happy to stand in the corner and have a drink by myself and not talk to anybody. So one of the things I think is happening this year is an author and forgive me, name alludes me now, but I think he has blue hair.

James Blatch: Yes, I know who you mean.

Mark Dawson: He asked, could he have a table in the foyer where he would have like kind of an introverts area, so introverts can go, and if you want to, just meet other people who are similarly nervous about the prospect of small talking with people they've never met before. So we'll definitely make that possible.

The other thing is it's quite a big venue, so there's lots of space and we actually have another theatre, second theatre that we're probably not going to be using. So there might even be like a chill out space where you can just go and sit down quietly and recharge. Haven't quite decide what we're going to do with that yet. But there will be the opportunity for that.

Mark Dawson: And also if you just want to go for a leave and go for a walk on the South Bank, on the Thames, by yourself or with someone else, that's fine too. And it is in a really good part of London. The South Bank is lovely. And if it's a nice summer day, walking down by the Thames, it's quite a nice thing to do. So we are aware of that. Because we share some of those traits ourselves. So we will definitely be on top of that.

James Blatch: People don't believe it about us but you'd be surprised. Good. Okay. Look coming towards the end of our time discussing our conference and others. Thank you very much indeed Mark, for your work on the schedule.

We should say Catherine Matthews has taken the helm this year from me, and is on top of things. I think she and John are going back to the venue next week to make some more decisions about stuff. You can imagine, you probably don't need me to tell you that this huge amount of work goes into putting on a conference like this. And we're very grateful for the work going on in the background. Hopefully it'll all be good. And the sun will shine in June. That's a week before Wimbledon, I think. Might even be during Wimbledon 28th, 29th, probably is during Wimbledon, I think.

Mark Dawson: It is, because you remember John had an issue with having tickets didn't he?

James Blatch: Yes. I think he's got tickets for the Wednesday, but he's not going. Yeah. So it'd be a lovely, lovely time to be in London and we cannot wait to see you. So if you haven't got your tickets, there is still a chance selfpublishingformula.com/spslive. That, Mark, is that for this week. Thank you very much, indeed. For the eagle eyed on here, you'll notice that next week's presentation we're wearing the same clothes because we're about to record it because we need to do a little bit of batching.

Mark Dawson: I'm professional. I'm going to go and change my change into a new t-shirt.

James Blatch: Just take your shirt off.

Mark Dawson: Could do.

James Blatch: Yeah, it's that time of year.

Mark Dawson: YouTube views will be significantly down. Next week.

James Blatch: Horrified.

Mark Dawson: People will run away from it.

James Blatch: Yes. And on that bombshell, thank you very much and 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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