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SPS-367: The New Kindle Storyteller Award Winner – with Peter Gibbons

After winning the 2022 Kindle Storyteller Award, Peter Gibbons joins the show to share his inspiring and insightful approach to writing, publishing, and marketing that has propelled him to a full-time income.

Show Notes

  • Peter’s experience winning the 2022 Kindle Storyteller Award
  • Launching a fantasy series after a historical fiction series
  • How Peter targets the right readers for his books
  • What it takes to be a full-time indie author
  • The research process for historical fiction

Resources mentioned in this episode:

FACEBOOK ADS EXPEDITION: Join the free 7-day challenge to supercharge your sales.

MARK’S THREADS: Follow Mark on Twitter @pbackwriter for exclusive publishing insights.

PATREON: Self Publishing Formula Show’s Patreon page

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

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT:

SPS-367: The New Kindle Storyteller Award Winner - with Peter Gibbons

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

Peter Gibbons: I plot out the book. But often, you get to a point that something triggers in your head, and the plot changes and you do feel the love for the pantser side of things. I'd love to be able to have that freedom to see where a story goes. But for me, because our time is precious, I have to have that discipline.

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 to The Self Publishing Show with me, James Blatch.

Mark Dawson: And me, Mark Dawson.

James Blatch: It's the second show of 2023, but the first show that we are in 2023. So we can say happy New Year a second time, because it feels like we should.

Mark Dawson: Yes. Yes, because we recorded the last one in 2022 when things were bleak and horrible, and things are only marginally less bleak. Actually they're probably worse, aren't they?

James Blatch: Don't say that. No, everyone says that the whole time.

Mark Dawson: But when I was trying to come back, I tell you what, I was coming back from London today with my daughter, as I just mentioned to you off air. And we were staying in the Shard, which is a great big tall skyscraper in London, and looking directly over London Bridge, and looking down on the tracks, and there were no trains at all. Zero trains.

James Blatch: No. They're on strike, aren't they?

Mark Dawson: Because there's a strike today, so we had to get a taxi back. So yes, in terms of the bleak-ometer, it was actually quite bleak.

James Blatch: You got a taxi back from London to Salisbury.

Mark Dawson: I did, yeah.

James Blatch: You are so rich.

Mark Dawson: And there.

James Blatch: Not anymore though.

Mark Dawson: No, no. Not as rich. No. I could have got-

James Blatch: A helicopter?

Mark Dawson: ... Very easy have driven I suppose, but then I would've had to drive into London, which to be honest, I didn't fancy too much. So quite happy to have someone do that, and just sit in the back and actually work. I was actually able to do some work, which was quite nice because I wouldn't have been able to do it otherwise. I'm very busy right now. So I did a very long threaded tweet. I've done a couple of those in the last two days, and it's been quite fun, actually. I'm just thinking about...

Apparently I know lots of shit, which you start writing because you think, what can I tweet about? I think I know about that. Then you know about that, and before you know it you've got 15 tweets. I think it's reasonably useful. Yeah, talking about reader magnets today and things you can use. Yesterday I talked about giveaways, and actually did a little bit of research and looked at the history of giving something away to generate sales and other things-

James Blatch: I saw that. ISO.

Mark Dawson: Yeah, well it was-

James Blatch: Was it

Mark Dawson: Benjamin Babbits, it was Wrigley. Coca-Cola. I actually found a reference to an innkeeper giving something away, a 14th century poem, which is the earliest I could go back.

James Blatch: Good research.

Mark Dawson: Yeah, it was quite fun.

James Blatch: You're going to be the Confucius of the indie publishing world. They'll be saying Dawson, he say first book free.

Mark Dawson: Possibly confused, but not Confucius.

James Blatch: No, they're very good. The threads are excellent. They're on Twitter on your personal account, which is @pbackwriter. I will put this up on the screen. So follow @pbackwriter, but also follow Self Pub Form, @selfpubform, and I'll retweet them there. Also, we are putting on tips. We're trying to do a lot more on social media. And I would love it if you're on TikTok, if you could follow our TikTok account. We have a Self Publishing Show TikTok account, which started, I opened it probably a few weeks ago. I actually started posting this week. So it's always quite hard to get going on these platforms, but there's already some amazing stuff on there. So that's @SelfPublishingShow.

Mark Dawson: I'm going to try and start doing some stuff on Twitter. Did I mention it last week? I can't remember, but I did a tweet roundabout Christmas that had, what, 1300 likes, which is, I suppose that's about as close to being viral as I'm ever going to get, just through 10 years of experience. I think it'll be quite interesting to take those and maybe do 30 second videos on each one, just expanding a little bit about what I was waffling on about. I'm not a TikTokker particularly, but I've seen more than enough evidence now of what can be done with TikTok. And it'd be great if we could start to do a little bit of content for authors who enjoy the platform. So we'll have a chat off air, and you can tell me what I need to do.

James Blatch: Yes.

Mark Dawson: You're the expert. I'm not.

James Blatch: I do enjoy TikTok, I have to say. It's a good environment, a fun environment, and there's quite a good community of us there. We also support each other, and I've got a nice little reply from D2D, who are on TikTok, welcoming us to contribute to indie. And then I got a-

Mark Dawson: D2D, James, for those who don't know?

James Blatch: Is Draught to Digital, an aggregator, someone who I'm going to be using very soon for my first giveaway book, because I'm exclusive with Amazon in my first two books. Book three will be not in KU, and so I'm actually going to use D2D. I think I will talk about strategy, and I'll ask you some questions about that near the time. So that book's just gone off to proof, the final stage, so I'm really close to releasing that, and I'm excited about it. Hey look, before we go any further, can we welcome our Patreon supporter?

Mark Dawson: Oh yes. Well done. That's very good.

James Blatch: Do you know where it is? I've got it if you don't.

Mark Dawson: No, I don't. You can do it.

James Blatch: It's Zach Thoutt. Thoutt? I'm going to say Thoutt. T-H-O-U-T-T, Zach Thoutt. It's quite a good name, actually. Hey, Zach Thoutt, from Colorado, USA.

Mark Dawson: Thank you, Zach. Yeah, I'm just trying to find his name so I can go and check. Oh yes, Zach Thoutt. Yes, I see. Got it right here, so thank you, Zach.

James Blatch: Zach joined us on Patreon. We're going to try and rejig our Patreon this year, and make it a nice attractive thing to do. But thank you very much indeed for supporting the show. It means a lot to us, and you do get some goodies for being a part of that.

Mark Dawson: Naked pictures of Blatch.

James Blatch: Naked pictures of me obviously, or I send them whether they want them or not. I probably shouldn't say that anymore, actually. It's a technical offence, and obviously we are joking. Yes. The other thing I think we need to say before we go any further is we are two days into our challenge, or at the point this is released, we are two days into our Facebook challenge. So if you've not got into Facebook ads yet, or you are not got them working for you, this could be a really good thing for you to do with everybody else as we learn Facebook ads together from the beginning, take those first tentative steps in. For me, it's still a hugely important platform for selling books, and to take part in it, we're two days in, but you can catch up with the videos very quickly and easily.

If you go to the Facebook group, we're doing everything through our Facebook group, and a quick link to get there is selfpublishingformula.com/facebookchallenge, all one word. That will take you straight to the group, click join, one of our many little squirrels will admit you into the group very quickly and you can get on with that. So we're doing that this week. Hey, I had a BookBub, my first ever featured deal for one of my own books. I've run them before for Fuse books and I've seen the power of them, but I was blown away. I think I had, I've meant to look this up, but knocking on 30,000 downloads in all. So 26, 27,000, something like that. And it immediately, it had an effect in different areas straight away.

So first of all, I sold loads of print versions of the book on the same day, and astonishingly, I sold 80 audio versions of Final Flight in December. And 60 of those were that day and the next day that the BookBub featured deal went out. So it's not just... And that's important, because they're £3.77 each for me, royalties on average, those audio books. So you times that by 60 and you're starting to easily cover the expense of the BookBub, let alone the sales you're going to get as a result in the days and weeks that follow, and the days and weeks have followed. I've just had a fantastic week. I've only got two books out. I'm very open with my figures, and I did a big post into the group actually at Christmas, or the New Year. People want to see how the last year went for me, actually I think I posted in the 20 books group.

Mark Dawson: You did, yeah.

James Blatch: Yeah.

Mark Dawson: You posted to the wrong world, the wrong group.

James Blatch: Yeah.

Mark Dawson: It's a group-

James Blatch: A group.

Mark Dawson: You should definitely post into our group.

James Blatch: Yeah, I will as well, to share those figures. But I've just had a really brilliant week of I think £700, about £500 profit once I take away my Facebook ad spend. But my Facebook ad spend hasn't changed. So this must be just the tail of the BookBub coming in. Now, I'm in my audience... If you read this thread, which I will post, I'll make sure it's there by Friday into our community group. I'm refocusing on audience building, which I've lost my way a little bit, really trying to show off by making a profit, by employing your Facebook ads tactics, which I've mastered in some way here and there. But I really need to be building audience again. So my third book is going to be a giveaway. It's gone off to proof now, as I say, and that'll be back and out this month. That will be wide, I might even... You're going to hate this, but I might even dabble in AI audio for it, because one of my friends-

Mark Dawson: I don't hate it.

James Blatch: One of my friends has just done one of her books, a full length novel, cost I think $450 to have an AI voice on it. And it was pretty good. I played it to a few friends over Christmas at parties, said, "What do you think of this?" And it took them a little while to think, oh is it an AI? You can tell.

Mark Dawson: Well as we record this, there's the story in The Guardian today, which you might have missed.

James Blatch: I don't read The Guardian.

Mark Dawson: I know you don't. But it's actually gone wider than that, Apple has released their AI assisted audiobook creation. So Google and Apple do it now. And I listened to the Apple examples, two of them today, and they're good. I mean, I probably wouldn't use it. I wouldn't use it because I have a narrator I love, and my readers love him, and actually more than... And Gemma Whelan from Game of Thrones does the Beatrice books, and she does a great job too. So I would not use an AI, because I think we're not at the stage yet where they can do a performance that is anywhere near on the level with a professional narrator. But saying that, these are really good, they don't sound that kind of uncanny valley. It doesn't really sound like that. The only thing that gives it away is things like intonation is a little bit standard and constant and there's a regularity about the way that they read the words that is a little... Not robotic, but it's just too metronomic.

But saying that, they're really good, and I think for shorter books I think it would be hard to spot the difference. And this is a still reasonably early. So if we post about this, I've posted a couple of things in the group about this, and things that might happen over the next 18 months. I'm not worried about authors, because I don't think we are at anywhere near the stage where an AI can write a book in the way that we can, with depth of character and everything that goes along with a really exciting read. But I think cover design and stuff is getting a little bit itchy about that. And AI for voice I think is quite well ahead, fueled by things like Alexa and all the home systems that we've been having for the last five years. So we will see.

I was actually on Joanna Penn's podcast, and this will go out after I was on Jo's podcast. We had a good chat about that, and I think, speaking as a retired lawyer, there needs to be and there will be a very big case that looks into how this is affecting copyright, because especially when it comes to art... So I think what's happening is it's trawling-

James Blatch: Van Gogh and-

Mark Dawson: Things... Well no, anything it can find. I've seen posts from artists who have identified their style.

James Blatch: Yes.

Mark Dawson: The style they have worked for 10 years developing and making their own. So it's identifiably theirs. The AIs are just picking that off and then making new things. They're not really breaching the copyright, they're not copying, but very-

James Blatch: Well, it's derivative, which all art is ultimately derivative.

Mark Dawson: So at some point there is going to be a reckoning and it's going to be a very expensive and confusing case where the law, which is probably five years behind anyway, even before we look at AI, is going to have to try and wrestle some sense into this.

James Blatch: It is, it is. I mean, it's Jo Penn you mentioned and the Creative Pen Podcast are very good friends over there. She's very into this area, has been talking about it for years.

Mark Dawson: She has.

James Blatch: And there's always been a little bit of, with you, a little, "We're not there yet," with a lot of these areas. So it's interesting to hear you talking about the voice. I mean if Cecilia Mecca, or Bella Michaels writes a contemporary romance and she used it and played me, sent some clips, and I think for my end of it, I think I'm with you. I want, particularly cult... I write historical novels and there's a human, like Matt Hadis narrated my first book and he was brilliant at just picking up the way people spoke slightly differently in the 1960s. And today I'm not convinced the computer's going to do that very well, but for a novella that I'm giving away, and therefore is a loss leader, I think it's definitely something I will try. If your-

Mark Dawson: AI? I wouldn't.

James Blatch: An AI narrator.

Mark Dawson: It's got to be good, you're not doing this-

James Blatch: True, yes, I know what you're saying.

Mark Dawson: But you want it to be the best it can be, and whatever they-

James Blatch: Well I suppose what I mean is it's a short book, and it's an experiment for me too, it sounds like. If it's not good, I'm not going to use it, obviously. But I don't know if you've been on Chat GPT, have you tried it out?

Mark Dawson: Yeah, I have. Yeah.

James Blatch: So I saw someone, I was watching someone today actually, who asked it to write an episode of Seinfeld where George becomes the managing director of the New York Yankees. It did a pretty good job. And it's not there, it's a long way for, you wouldn't record that episode. But you would give it to a writer and say, "Here's an idea, work with this." And that's something I-

Mark Dawson: It's good for ad copy. I mean, I asked it to generate 10 Facebook headlines for Facebook ads, and it did a really, really good job. I would've used them without changing a word.

James Blatch: Wow.

Mark Dawson: So that's only eight words. So you give it something to start with, and say variations on that, please, and it did a really, really good job. It's also pretty good on blurbs, and it needs... Not to understand that you can actually use them. But I gave it, what did I do? I think I gave it some... I said this is a story about X, Y, Z, one, two, three, can you write me a blurb and make it punchy, exciting, whatever. And it did a really good job, and it wouldn't... It needed work.

James Blatch: Yeah, that's a good start.

Mark Dawson: As a starting point, it was very acceptable.

James Blatch: Well on this front, but if you don't know what we're talking about, Chat GPT is an open AI programme that you can... It's got a playground, it's called, that you can play with. So you can type in these questions, get answers, and ask it to do things. It's at chat.openai.com. Although I have noticed the last few days, it seems to be busy to capacity so you don't get in.

Mark Dawson: It often is, yeah, it often is. It seems when the big story broke a couple weeks ago, you couldn't really use it, because-

James Blatch: Right. I've read. It's the first time I've tried to use it in a couple of weeks. That's probably why, today. I mean, Stuart Bache, our cover designer, has actually meddled with this, because he's struggled, I think, to write himself, and have the ideas. And so he's found this useful to get his writing going, not to write it for him, but to say we're in a forest and you're confronted by a witch, and then let it write a paragraph or two to spark your ideas. And he's using the actual source code to create a little tool to help writers like that. He's trying that out. I know he's floated the idea.

Mark Dawson: We'll do an episode on AI, because it is... And probably we should get somebody who knows a bit more than we do. But I mean, you can use it for all kinds of things. Prompts. I said look, give me five topics for blog posts on Facebook ads and it did titles that you could then work off. It was pretty good. So yeah, it's interesting times.

James Blatch: I'll have to look at how much it costs to upgrade, so you can actually skip this queue.

Mark Dawson: Can you pay them? I don't know if you-

James Blatch: Yeah. Set up a paid account.

Mark Dawson: Okay.

James Blatch: Personal.

Mark Dawson: Anyway.

James Blatch: Anyway.

Mark Dawson: That's not for the podcast, James.

James Blatch: Yeah. I'm going to do it all live. Okay. Right. Let's move on to our interviewee. We've got obviously lots to talk about, because we haven't been together for a while. Let's move on anyway to our interviewee, who is the winner of the Kindle Storyteller Award. We both met him in London, and it was a bit of a surprise, because when he looked at, was it five books nominated I think?

Mark Dawson: Yes. Yeah.

James Blatch: And I would've thought Peter Gibbons was the outsider just looking at genres. Nothing to do with the quality of the books, but the genre is a little bit more sort of Viking, and he was up against mainstream romance, thriller, who done it, LGBT romance.

Mark Dawson: I mean, I've been a judge twice for the Storyteller Awards, and we weren't affected by the genre. It is pretty, at least when I did it, it was all fairly meritocratic. So it was, which was the most interesting book. So I think one year we did Anna McNuff, and that was-

James Blatch: A travelling one. Yeah.

Mark Dawson: A travelling book, a book on travelling, it was a really, really excellent book. Really well written. So yeah, I know what you mean, he is coming from a less popular genre than some of the others. But I think what they would've done is looked at what was the best book, regardless of genre, and he won.

James Blatch: Well he won, and the judges were walking around saying that it was the book that they probably thought, am I going to enjoy this as a judge? I've got to read this. And they all became absolutely absorbed with it, and loved it. So anyway, Peter's a lovely guy, lives in Ireland, from the northwest of England, but I caught up with him a couple of weeks ago, and this is Peter.

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

James Blatch: Peter Gibbons, welcome to The Self Publishing Show. We met in Parliament, which sounds very posh, doesn't it? But we met, it was a posher night for you than it was for me, even though I enjoyed it, because you were crowned the Kindle Storyteller Award winner, which was fantastic. Just tell me about that moment when they announced the winner.

Peter Gibbons: Yeah, it was a bit surreal, James, and thanks obviously for having me on as well. It's great to be with you. But it was one of those things where I was invited to the ceremony, I never for a second thought I was going to win, because there's lots of fabulous authors that were shortlisted, and I don't know whether you noticed at the time, but everybody was a crime author, which is a huge genre. I was the only historical fiction author on the short list. So I never expected to win, but I went over and enjoyed it, it was like you say, it was at the Houses of Parliament, so it was completely something that you'd perhaps never do again in your life. So I enjoyed the drinks, and had a relax and had a few drinks with the other shortlisted authors before we went.

And Barry and a few others, JD Kirk and a few of the other guys who were really friendly. I was with my wife, and we went down and tried to relax and it was brilliant. And then when the Amazon guys read out my name, I was completely surprised. And it was funny because my wife was actually videoing me because we were laughing beforehand saying we should try and do one of those faces for the crack, at the Oscars where you have to pretend that you're happy for everyone.

James Blatch: Yes. Yeah, yeah. Rehearse that.

Peter Gibbons: Yeah, do a miserable face just for a bit of fun or something. But obviously when they announced I was the winner, I was gobsmacked. But yeah, it was amazing. I was delighted to win. It's been an amazing experience. So yeah, it's great.

James Blatch: Yeah. And you write historical fiction, but also fantasy and is that fair? Is that fantasy is what you'd call your...

Peter Gibbons: It is, yeah. So I probably released my first book probably September last year. And the first series is Viking historical fiction. But the most recent book I released there was a passion project for me, which is historical fantasy. So I love fantasy and I love historical fiction, so it's a melding of the two. But the book I released recently is set way back in history in ancient times, classical history. But it's cool releasing something new in a slightly different genre, because you get to go through all the... Well if you find it exciting, how you do all the marketing stuff, and trying to get out to new readers, and new genres, and research, and ads, and promotion, and all of that stuff, which is good.

James Blatch: We know that readers fall into, certainly with the romance subgenres, they can fall into quite neatly groups, and neat groups, and they don't have a lot of overlap. So you have to be careful with what you put in a book, so you don't confound the expectation of somebody who's bought it. But I'm wondering, so I write historical fiction, but mine's 1960s, Cold War and I couldn't in bring in any fantasy or magic to that, it would be ridiculous and I'd turn my readers off. But Vikings are so far back, even further back than Game of Thrones era, that I wonder if it's an easier movement for some of your readers.

Did you find that? Did you find you carried some of your historical fiction readers over to the fantasy?

Peter Gibbons: Yeah, it's probably a bit early to say, because the fantasy book is only out maybe two or three weeks. And this week really I start all the promotion. I've done this stuff with my newsletter, and with the Facebook followers, trying to see, but I delayed... I wrote the historical fantasy book eight years ago, which probably the first or second book I... But I sat on it precisely for that reason. I was worried that I'd perhaps alienate the people who are more hardcore, they want the history to be right, and factual, and all of that stuff. Whereas with the fantasy it's a little bit more Game of Thrones, in that it's set in an actual period of time but obviously with elements of magic in it. And I can almost see it now with some of the reviews that are coming in, you can see that perhaps people who would staunchly give you a five star review, and now are perhaps giving you a three or a four.

So I think now I've got a lot of the advertising and promotion is starting this week, which is purely geared at a completely new audience, a fantasy type audience. And I'm really hoping that they're going to review, and the much better reviews are going to flow through. But the people that like the Viking history books, and I think that's the part of the reason it's been so successful for me, but people who the Viking stories are a particular...

There's a particular cultural element there of people that like Vikings, especially in the US. The books did really well for me in the US, and I think there's a thing there that US people feel that synergy, or people of European roots or wherever it might be, like that Viking, that time, and a lot of the elements that go with that. The Scandinavian people taking to the seas, and blood and gore and all that. Whereas the historical fantasy book is a bit more Alexander the Great and the Persian Empire times. It's completely different. So there's no axe throwing or blokes with big beards taken to the wild seas. It's a bit more-

James Blatch: Less horned helmets.

Peter Gibbons: Yeah. So what I'm almost trying to do is broaden my reach to different... So I imagine a lot of the people that are going to read their historical fantasy novel is perhaps there's not that much crossover between the Viking historical fiction.

James Blatch: Which always brings us back to that point about negative reviews, or poorer reviews are nearly always a reader not saying this isn't a great book, I mean, they think they might be saying that, but what they really mean is, "This is not what I expected it to be." And so you have to be ever so careful with that, don't you? But I think heavy marketing with a very clear this is fantasy book is the right way of doing it.

Peter Gibbons: Completely, and being really clear with the cover, being really clear to your mailing list about what it is and why it's different. But like that, you're always going to get a lot of the staunch guys, which is great, who are going to support you, and read the book. And they might not like it as much as they do... The Viking series is continuing. I have another Viking book on pre-order that's just finishing editing now, that'll be out in January. So I'll continue with that. It's just the fantasy stuff is something that I'm equally as passionate about, and I had the book written, and I toyed with the idea of using a different pen name, or sitting on it again for another year. But when you have the thing written and it's ready to go, you want to get it out there.

James Blatch: Yeah. So what difference do you think... First of all, tell us what did you win with this Kindle Storyteller award?

Peter Gibbons: What, the prize?

James Blatch: Yeah.

Peter Gibbons: The prize is of, there's a cash prize which is 20,000 pounds.

James Blatch: Nice.

Peter Gibbons: And also then you get a marketing support package from Amazon. So Amazon will help promote your book. So the book that won was King of War, which is the fourth book in the Viking Blood and Blade Saga. So Amazon put a lot of support then behind that book, so beyond what you would normally get for the things they would do for you anyway, the 99P offers and that kind of thing, and how they're pushing Kindle Unlimited. So they're doing a lot. There's a thing that will happen shortly, an editors pick for the book, and different bits and pieces. So the award was twofold. So it's a cash prize, but also the marketing support.

James Blatch: Yeah. And you were, or still are at the moment full-time employee somewhere. But that is changing?

Peter Gibbons: That's changing, yeah. So on the back of winning the award, but the books themselves, sales have been successful enough probably for the last three or four months to warrant going full-time. But you've got the fear, because I have a wife and three kids and responsibilities. So you don't want to go off on a chaotic passion project and not be able to pay your mortgage. But with the winning the award, I thought now was a good time to leave the day job behind and go off and... Because it's a dream, obviously, when you write your first book. A, you're not sure if one people or two people are going to read it, and B, that you'll be able to make a living from it. So I'm absolutely thrilled that that's proved to be the case. And I've got about four weeks left of my notice period before I'll be a full-time author.

James Blatch:Yeah. I think I've read your job title somewhere, it's not... You are relatively senior, are you not in...

Peter Gibbons: Yeah, I'm global head of sales for a big international private medical insurance company. Yeah.

James Blatch: Wow. I think it might be the big insurance company my brother-in-law's quite senior in as well. We'll have a conversation off air, see if you know each other.

Peter Gibbons: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

James Blatch: A German based insurance company.

Peter Gibbons: That's exactly right.

James Blatch: Yeah. So that is a big bigger move than most, because often you do hear people who basically do a day job that supports them whilst they're trying to write. But you've had a full-on career doing very well, and I imagine they probably were sorry to see you go. You probably have some conversations about what might be in the future for you in a big organisation like that.

Peter Gibbons: Yeah, for sure. Well I'd always thought that that would be my career, that I'd keep pushing on. I relocated to Ireland, gosh, what would it be? 17 years ago now. And I've risen up through their financial services ranks, and like you say, I'm in a fairly senior position now, and I thought my career would always pan out that way. It was only really when I discovered, I'd always wanted to be a writer, and I loved reading and history and all the things you normally hear. And I wrote my first book and did all the... Invested in myself a little bit, in terms of understanding story structure, and blah blah blah. So I had the book written and it was only really when I'd sent it off to a few agents and things like that, and received nothing or rejections. And it was only really when I turned over the stone of self publishing, because obviously you're not born understanding the self publishing world.

It's something you need to be exposed to, and understand. It was only when I began to understand it that I saw the possibility of it. And I spent a lot of time trying to understand it and learn the different nuances and the different elements you need to try and make your book a success. And I put the first book out there, and it went really well. And it was only a couple of months into that journey that the flames started to kindle in my head that becoming a full-time writer it might be a possibility. And since that time I've pursued it aggressively. So I've been getting up early mornings, working weekends, trying to keep writing books. So I was able to get four books out over the first 12 months, which is important.

James Blatch: Wow.

Peter Gibbons: Be able to read a list through the website, really get a solid grasp on Amazon ads, and BookBub ads, and all the different things you need to try and make yourself a success. Writing a blurb, cover, there's a lot of elements, and you guys know better than others. I listen to your podcast, but there are a lot of things you've got to learn and understand. You can release your book and it'll just die a death and it's not that... And luckily for me, I enjoy that side of it as well. I enjoy the sales and marketing side. But yeah, it's been great. It's been a great journey, and now to become a full-time writer it is a dream come true, and hopefully it lasts and I don't have to go back to my employer begging bowl in hand in 12 months time.

James Blatch: Do you think you'll stay in Ireland? You sound to be maybe from the northwest of the UK?

Peter Gibbons: Yeah, I'm from Warrington originally, just in between Liverpool and Manchester. Yeah, so my wife is Irish, my kids are growing up here, and we live in the countryside in County Kildare. So it's nice and I'm building an office out in the backyard now where I'll be based. So no, I'll definitely stay in Ireland. This is where I live now and it's a nice place to be. It's a nice place to be located. It's nice and safe.

James Blatch: Yeah.

Peter Gibbons: No, I love living here.

James Blatch: And quite a good business environment.

Peter Gibbons: Yeah, it's good. Yeah, it's good for different reasons. It's good as an author, there are tax benefits to living in Ireland. There's an artist exemption you can avail of, which is an interesting facet to consider when you want to become a full-time author, or you start earning money from it, obviously it's how your income is taxed. So any exemptions or benefits you can get like that help. And that's really what made the jump full-time a little bit more possible, is trying to get a grasp and an understanding of that side of it. And I like that, you hear it often on your different podcasts that you guys do, the writing of the book is only one element of your career, and tax and income is as important as marketing and the writing itself.

James Blatch: You've got to love good spreadsheet, don't you?

Peter Gibbons: Unfortunately, yeah, you do.

James Blatch: I do love a good spreadsheet. So when did you become aware of self-publishing, and then how did you teach yourself?

Peter Gibbons: So I started the journey, I'd always wanted to write a book, and I'd always been interested in that Viking period of time, and the invasion of England, and blah blah blah. And I wrote a manuscript which I thought was great, and it turned out to be rubbish. And I invested in a manuscript assessment programme, a structural edit, for want of a better word. And I got the edit, and it came back, and that blew my mind and introduced me to things like story structure, and three acts, and save the cat, and all that. And so went off then learning about all of that. Kicked the manuscript into shape, killed off a couple of characters, kill your darlings as it were. Sent the thing off to a few agents, heard nothing back. But at that time then I discovered self publishing, because I read all the time myself on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited. And it only clicked with me at that time that a lot of the books I was reading were self-published authors.

So then I delved into that, and really the internet obviously, and your podcast, the stuff you can see and access on YouTube. There are different things like the stuff that you guys put out, the Kindlepreneur and all different things where you can learn about how to upload your book, how to format your manuscript. But even before that, about how to write your blurb and what your cover should look like. So I invested a lot of time in that. It's funny, actually, after I released my first book, a guy, an American guy who made a YouTube channel, made a YouTube video about the blurb for my first book, taking it apart, which was great for me, because I spent so much time on it making sure that all the elements were right.

So if you like books by X, Y, and Z, you're going to love this book because it's got A, B, C in it, and all those hooks to try and to get readers in. And the cover for the first book I hemmed and hawed about, and in the end I found a brilliant cover designer on Upwork. I don't know if you're familiar with that. But you got-

James Blatch: It's like Fiverr.com.

Peter Gibbons: Exactly.

James Blatch: It's a marketplace, yep.

Peter Gibbons: Exactly. But what I really wanted was something that if you saw it, you would immediately see that, you immediately understand that it was a Viking book, it was axes and a shield on it.

James Blatch: Yeah.

Peter Gibbons: So those basics, and then I was geared up then, I had my keywords ready, my categories ready.I invested a lot of time using different tools like Publisher Rocket where you can trawl and see where you should be with your categories. So understanding all that, then get the thing live, run through some promo sites, which I'm doing again now for the book I'm just releasing. So you can use a service called Book Rank who you can pay, and that they'll put you through to all the big different mailing lists, like Fussy Librarian and Book Baby and all those things. Try and get some promos out there, reduce the price of the book.

This is all the stuff I did for the first book. Get lots of people to download it and start reading it. And once you've got 10 reviews, that's when you really start kicking in with the ads. So I do, and still do now run Facebook, Amazon ads and BookBub ads, but most of the investment is in Amazon ads, because you can really drill down in terms of... And be specific in terms of competitors you want to target, keywords you want to target. So learning about all that, I probably spent six to 12 months learning about all that. So I was ready that when I released the first book that I could start following that plan and kick it off. And luckily it did, and I was really surprised. I think I ran it free for the first couple of weeks, lots of downloads from that, and then the reviews started coming in, and then it started running the ads.

And once you get in that, you start surfing that wave of the Amazon algorithm, you get brought along then and your requirement for doing all the extra things reduces, and you can really survive then on the embrace of Amazon, and your basic Amazon, Facebook, and BookBub ads. That's the way I do it, and it's worked, and still most of the ads I invest in are for the first book. So you get the follow through then through the rest of the series. Well there's so much you can learn, and you guys run a brilliant course on it. There are a lot of courses out there, but it is, I would recommend to anybody listening or watching to invest in yourself, invest in... So you might have written the best book in the world, if you stick it up there without investing in that stuff, it'll just die. And equally, you could have a book that's fairly mediocre, but if you understand all those different elements you can really take it somewhere.

James Blatch: Absolutely. Well thank you, Peter, I appreciate that. And I see that in terms of strategy, you'd keep... The Wrath of Ivar is number one in your series?

Peter Gibbons: Number two.

James Blatch: That's number two.

Peter Gibbons: First one-

James Blatch: Okay. So I noticed that's at 99P.

Peter Gibbons: Yeah. So that's just on Amazon. So every so often, free Prime reading, I get emails from Amazon and they'll run a campaign. So I've been fortunate in that in any month there's always one or two Amazon based campaigns running, either in the US or the UK. Either generally a 99P offer or something like that. The book I won the award for, King of War, was just on offer for the last month, and I have a few offers running through Amazon after the... Amazon are running, I think, post or pre-Christmas for 12 days of Christmas or something. So I have two books discounted for that period as well.

James Blatch: Right. That's nice. And I'm guessing George RR Martin is one of your target authors, or who else do you target?

Peter Gibbons: Yeah, the main one would be Bernard Cornwell who writes The Last Kingdom that was on TV. So he'd be the main guy, but obviously the cost per click on a Bernard Cornwell keyword is massive. So you really want to drill down and find more targetable contemporaries. So people in the UK like Matthew Harffy, Tim Hodkinson, real historical fiction, Viking guys, try and target those guys, that's really where you'd spend most of your keywords. And then also anything to do with Game of Thrones, keywords then around anything to do with the Viking TV series. But yeah, I'd have campaigns, then I'd run Amazon ads campaigns based around particular competitors, based around particular keywords. And like you'd say, unfortunately the spreadsheet, as much as your Word document or whatever it is you write in, your Excel spreadsheet does need to be your best friend.

James Blatch: Yeah, yeah. Well look, I'm making notes from you now, because I've decided, looking at your blurbs, I'm going to put my comp authors in the top line. If you like Tom Clancy, you'll love James Blatch.

Peter Gibbons: Yeah, I just always-

James Blatch: It helps with search terms as well, doesn't it?

Peter Gibbons: I think it does. I just think if people are looking and they see your book and you say that you like X, Y or Z, if you like this person, you're making that sale to the reader or that guarantee that if they read your book they're going to read something broadly similar. So I like to, like I normally use somebody like David Gemmell who's a great fantasy author, and I like to think if you read one of my books, there would be similar amount of action in it as you would get in a David Gemmell book.

And equally I use Bernard Cornwell because he's the master of historical fiction, in terms of action and adventure historical fiction, which is what I write. So I like to think with those names once people read the book that they know what they're buying into, and I think that works. And then you've got to write your little hawk at the bottom, which is unforgettable characters, or blood and gore, or whatever it might be for your particular genre that's going on. But the blurb is huge, as important, I think, as the cover.

James Blatch: And again, getting the right readers is so important.

Peter Gibbons: Yeah, for sure. For sure. And like that, getting the right readers in. If you're Amazon only, which I am for my self-published books, then you really want to get as many... I make as much on Kindle Unlimited page reads as through actual ebook sales. So it's really important that. I think a lot of people, a lot of readers, if they're getting something on Kindle Unlimited, it can just sit there on their Kindle, and they don't read. Well what you really want is obviously the read, you want the page read, so you want if somebody sees your book, they download it, but that they're also going to read it and keep reading it. So you've got to hook the reader in with your promotional materials, your cover, your blurb, but obviously then your book needs to be good as well then.

James Blatch: Yeah. So you had a few books written before, including you said your fantasy book, but this series, was that planned out? You're five books into it now, was this planned out from the beginning or did you just write book one and...

Peter Gibbons: I wrote book one, and I always hoped it would be a series. So I set it at a time, which is 865 AD, where a lot of stuff happens in the next 30 or 40 years around Europe, and that's what happens. So the main characters are able to go on this odyssey around the Viking world, meeting all these exciting Vikings with cool names and different locations. So they can go from Anglo-Saxon England to Norway, to Denmark, to what is now Russia. They haven't yet, but they can go all the way down then to the Arab world, and all those different things, and southern Spain. And so there's opportunities there for a long series. And the books are, they're adventure books which lends itself well to a series. So you have a gang, you're on board a ship, and they all have different characters and relationships, and what I try and do is try and find that macro event, so in the first book it's the great heathen army invades England.

But within that then you've got your own fictional characters who are operating within that historical setting, and that then translates itself to the different events of the period. So I wrote the first book just to try and see if I could make something of it, and see if... You know yourself, when you write the first book, 90% of you thinks that it's rubbish and nobody's going to like it. And then when people do actually start reviewing it and liking it, it's amazing. And that really then spurs you on to keep going and write more, and people love the characters and all of that. But I think if you said you were planning out a 10 or 15 book series when you write your first book, I think you'd be probably fooling yourself. Because if your first book tanked, you'd be doing it for vanity. And I really wanted to see, first of all, if people would buy it and read it and enjoy it, which they did. But luckily I did pick that period of time, which does lend itself to a series.

James Blatch: Yeah. Well, it's obviously done well. How do you react or interact with your readers? You have a Facebook group and a mailing list?

Peter Gibbons: Yeah, I have a mailing list. So again, that was one of the key elements I learned when I was educating myself on the whole process. So I set up a website, set up a free website, set up a mailing list, a simple mailing list using MailChimp, which I still use. I actually launched a new website there a couple of months ago, so that's important. Then I have a Facebook page, and with that then we were able to do an Instagram. One of the big challenges with trying to balance writing with a full-time job is I always feel like I'm only doing maybe 10 or 15% of the stuff that I want to be doing on that side of it, in terms of engagement readers, and doing all the extra things you know should be doing.

But it's hard when you're doing all your writing early in the morning, you're working full-time, you've got three kids, trying to fit everything in around that. So when I do go full-time now in a few weeks, that's the bit that I'm really going to focus on is that reader engagement, using all the different platforms properly. I know you guys are, listening to some of your podcasts, geez it must have been eight months ago you guys were focusing on TikTok. That's something I need to look at. I don't do enough on Twitter. So generally at the moment it's Facebook, the mailing list. I do a monthly newsletter, but yeah, there's a huge opportunity for me to do more there.

James Blatch: Well that'll be exciting, to see what... The first few days you might find you've got all this time, and then very quickly that will disappear and you'll be as busy as you were before. So that was a hard period for you, with a full-time job. I mean I noticed September 21 book one came out of this five book series so far, plus your fantasy book.

Peter Gibbons: Yeah.

James Blatch: And that's just over 12 months ago. That's a hell of a time period. And tell us about your typical day during that period.

Peter Gibbons: So what I do, I get up around half five and I'm a plotter, not a pantser. So I have a plan already, and I target myself to write 2000 words a day, which I do. So I generally know, before I write the book, I have an idea of what's going to happen. So I try and plan it out. I try and plan out each chapter what needs to happen in each chapter. Then alongside that I do a character arc then for each of the major characters, what's going to happen to them. So everything is clear in my head of what needs to happen when. Then in the evening I have a quick look at what I've got to write the next morning, and make sure I'm clear. I get up, I get my 2000 words done, and then the kids start waking up and I start getting ready for work then.

And then if I need to, then in the evening I'll go back in and either finish that word count, or focus on some marketing bits and pieces. And I do that every day. And generally then if you stick to that 2000 word goal, I mean some days it's less and some days it's more. On a tough day when you're writing a complex chapter, it could be 1000 words and you'd be happy with that, but on another day you might get 3000 out in the same time. It just depends. And even though I say I'm a plotter, I plot out the book, but often as you probably well know yourself, you get to a point that something triggers in your head and the plot changes, and you do feel a love for the pantser side of things.

And I'd love to be able to have that freedom to see where a story goes. But for me, I can't, because time is precious, I have to have that discipline of being able... Because I think part of the, what would you call it, the bubbling cauldron of self-publishing success is being able to release frequently. I think readers want that. And I think if you're only releasing a book a year it's a challenge, and I think really you need to be able to, at least three or four a year, I think, if you can, and be on point with your pre-orders. I think people like to finish a book and know that there's another one if they're invested in your characters, but know that there's another one coming down there, coming down the pipeline. So I've tried to be ruthless and focus on that.

James Blatch: Yeah. So you've got this fifth one I think on pre-order you said in that series. And what is your plan for the next 12 months with the fantasy work? Would that be a series?

Peter Gibbons: It will if people like it. So for me, I love that story, the classical period for me would be something I've always been passionate about. The time of Alexander, the time of ancient Persia and all the different things that happened then. And the fantasy element of that is that the characters in it are immortal characters who are able to travel through time to different parts of history, and it's a battle, a darkness versus light and all that kind of thing.

And what the idea is that these characters will be able to travel through different points in history as part of that ongoing battle. Hopefully people like it and the series can continue, but obviously when you're a writer you've got the business side of it as well, then it needs to drive income. So hopefully the first book drives enough income to warrant a second, and then a third and a fourth and a fifth. But if it doesn't, I'll focus on the pure historical fiction.

James Blatch: Yeah.

Peter Gibbons: Because even though we'd love to do it for fun also, there's also a business side of it as well, right?

James Blatch: Yeah. Have you got ideas in mind for future series? Would you carry on with that Viking series, or would you start a new one?

Peter Gibbons: No, I'd keep going with the Viking series. Yeah, but I've lots of ideas. I think that's the beauty of historical fiction is you have... The well is endless. You can dip into, I'm a huge fan of that Viking time. One of the catalysts for the first book was my wife and I went on a trip to, they have this Viking ship museum outside Copenhagen you can go to, where they dug up this fully preserved Viking warship, and you can go and see it. And we did, and it's huge, and that's inspiring, and that was one of the triggers for the first book. But I also love crusades, Middle Ages, and like I say, classical history. There's the Spartans. So the well to dip into for future series is deep. So I have lots of ideas and hopefully I can keep it going. But what I'm particularly excited about going full-time is to keep writing the existing series, but also explore things that I love, like that ancient history and other things, and also spend more time on marketing.

James Blatch: That sounds brilliant, the Copenhagen thing. Isn't there one, friends of mine visited Stockholm recently and said there was something similar there. They described it as being, I think it's still in the harbour, and they've built something above it.

Peter Gibbons: Yeah, Roskilde, it's called, outside Copenhagen. And they found this huge ship in a burial mound and the actual ward from the ship was cut from forest in Glendalough in Ireland, in County Wicklow.

James Blatch: Wow.

Peter Gibbons: Yeah. So while the Vikings were, because they were in Ireland, obviously, they cut the timber, formed the ship, sailed it up to Denmark, and buried the thing in the ground with some sort of viking war leader in there. When you see-

James Blatch: So a bit like Sutton Hoo, in early East Anglia.

Peter Gibbons: Exactly like that. Exactly like that. Yeah. And then they have a reconstructed version of the ship. Obviously what they can glean from that in terms of the craftsmanship, but also the danger, if you imagine for the likes of myself and yourself, if you have a job or say in those times you're a farmer, it's nice and safe. Somebody comes to you with an idea, let's take this pretty shallow ship and we'll sail it across the North Sea and see what the crack is, see if we can get a few bags of silver, it's almost unthinkable. And that's what's inspiring about it is the daring of these guys, the bravery. Obviously the flip side of the coin is the violence and all that stuff, but I think it's such a different way of thinking to what we have now in modern times, that they were able to do that and have that courage. I think that's why people love reading those stories, because it's something so alien to us, sailing to a land that you or nobody's ever seen before, even though it's relatively close. Having all the adventures that they had. It's...

James Blatch: Just feels like a different planet, doesn't it? And when did this interest, was this since school or...

Peter Gibbons: Yeah, since school. I was always interested in history, and on reflection, I wished I'd done the history at university but I didn't, I did law and that led me into the thrilling world of insurance. But when you look back, you'd wish you'd done... And I always, in my spare time I've always read and studied history, read a lot of historical fiction, but also read a lot of historical nonfiction. And I'd always want it to be a writer. And it was something, it was always an ambition for me, and like that it's a bit like the little catchphrase you guys have at the start of the podcast. The audio that plays at the start around the barriers being removed. When you understand that, it becomes mind blowing that you can write your book, it's relatively simple to produce it. It's relatively simple to get the thing up on Amazon. And if people like it, they can buy it and enjoy your work. It's unbelievable.

James Blatch: Yeah. Back to the Vikings then. Let me ask you a couple questions about them, because you're obviously probably a bit of an expert on this subject through your various delvings.

The popular conception or perception I should say, is the raping and pillaging hoards who came over here and ransacked villages, took what they wanted, had their way with whoever they wanted. Is that really true, or is that mythology? I mean, was there a more civilised-

Peter Gibbons: There's different schools of thought on that. I think in the modern age we like to think of them more as merchants, and obviously the Viking culture was a rich culture. The Norse mythology was a big part of what they believed in, but there were no churches. It was a completely different way of thinking, but they very much were that the gods they worshipped were violent gods, and it was very much a different world. So when they came to England, they brought that culture with them, and it was a mixture of everything. So the first guys that came here who raided Lindisfarne off Northumbria in the northeast, that was very much a violent raid where they couldn't believe that there was a church there with silver and gold, and no warriors to guard it, it was just priests. Because obviously for the English people, there was no need to have any worries there, because nobody would think of attacking a church. So suddenly if you land there, and you're big hairy Norwegian or Danish guy, it's like a gift.

James Blatch: And you're not scared of going to hell, because you don't subscribe to that belief system.

Peter Gibbons: It's not a thing. It's a good thing for you to show your bravery and your daring, and if you die, you die in battle, you're going to go to Valhalla, right? But with that, then, with the raiding and the opportunity came the culture and the merchants, and all the different things. And they were so successful, and people always say, "What happened at the end of the Viking age," there was no end of the Viking age. They were so successful that they just became absorbed into our society, and also society in France. Like in Normandy, the Franks, the Vikings settled in Normandy. William the Conqueror was the descendant of Vikings. Even our language now, a lot of the words we speak are still Viking words. So they never really failed, they just became assimilated. Eventually they took over the different royal families.

But yeah, I think the idea of them being the ultra violent rapers and pillagers is probably accurate, but it's only one facet of a much more nuanced experience in the age, that first of all came the warriors. After that then came their families, and the settlers, and the farmers, and the merchants, and I think they were really the pioneers in terms of developing those trade routes. With their shallow ships, they were able to sail up rivers, shallow rivers, they were able to sail all the way down from Scandinavia through Russia, right down to Constantinople, and really open up that link between east and west. So I think the view of them just being rapers and pillagers is one-sided, whereas their actual culture was much richer than that.

James Blatch: And I must say I hadn't realised until you mentioned it earlier, that they got all the way over to Ireland. So if you know your geography, that's the other side of the British Isles.

Peter Gibbons: Yeah. If you think of Dublin, Dublin is a Viking town. Dublin was founded by Vikings. Same for Waterford, same for Cork. Even where I live, I live in a town called Kilcullen in Kildare, and there's a little walk you can go on with your kids down by the river, and we only know it because there's a plaque on the inside of a bridge there to say that the Vikings sailed all the way down the River Liffey, and came through that part in the river. So they went far, and they did well. And again, I think that's why people are so interested in that subgenre.

And it was something that I struggled with publishers before I got into the self publishing journey, was that publishers were a little bit narrow, in that they want... It's got to be either Roman or Napoleonic, or they feel like there's no market for it. Clearly that that's not the case. I think the whole Anglo-Saxon/Viking historical fiction is a thriving sub genre. A lot of the writers I mentioned earlier who I am bid against on Amazon ads and those different things, those guys do really well. You've got Matthew Harffy, Tim Hodkinson, Steven McKay, all these guys were super successful. And that's all within that Viking/Anglo-Saxon, subgenre. So I think there's a huge amount of interest in that, and there will always be.

James Blatch: Yeah, we've had the TV series Vikings, so have you had any emails drop from HBO or Netflix yet?

Peter Gibbons: No, there was some interest there from a Netflix producer, but it was incredibly exciting for about three days. But then there was no response to emails and stuff like that so it faded away. But there was a bit of interest shown.

James Blatch: I mean historical fiction is going great guns on TV, isn't it? Not just that era, but obviously in the wake of Game of Thrones we've had spinoffs and that. But there's also Outlander is doing well again, I think Highlander, they had a series adaptation recently, and there will be more.

Peter Gibbons: Yeah. And I think it really, Game of Thrones obviously is pure fantasy, but it's set in a pseudo War of the Roses type world. You've got the Vikings TV series, which everybody loves. You have the Wheel of Time on Amazon Prime, which is pure fantasy, but it's set in a mediaeval world. You've got The Last Kingdom, which is Bernard Cornwell's series, and I think they're actually filming now one of his other series which was set in the dark ages, a King Arthur type story. And those books are actually brilliant. So that'll be a great series. So like I say, I think people will always be interested in history, the characters from history, what they did. Because often when you delve into it, it's like when you're writing a historical fiction book, say for me, a lot of the plot comes from the actual history.

So a lot of the most exciting stuff that happens in the books is actually true, which is great. It's a bit like you James, I'm sure, when you are researching your books, and you get stuck into the history that you love researching the planes, and the way that the guys flew the planes, and the adventures they have. And your plot really comes from the teasing out of that research. And that's the most exciting part of it for me is you read a non-fiction book and stuff that you didn't know jumps out of the page and that really influences then how your book's going to develop.

James Blatch: It is exactly the same. Yeah, I absolutely love those real incidents, and then my story gets built up around them. It just gives them authenticity to it. And like you, I mix my reading with threaders in a similar genre. I always feel I should read more, but I'm so drawn to non-fiction. I read Anthony Beaver and Max Hastings, I'm reading his Cold War Cuban Missile Crisis non-fiction book at the moment, and that's as important for me as reading comparable authors.

Peter Gibbons: Yeah, you need both, right? I think that myself, and I try and be conscious of that. So even though I love reading fantasy, I'll try and mix it up, and every third book will be a non-fiction book. And there are some great ones out there for if you're interested in the period, there are some great books out there about Anglo-Saxons and the Vikings, and a lot of them are on Kindle Unlimited. And if you're a member there, you get to read them for free, and it opens up that whole world. And if anybody's interested in writing about the period, a lot of the narrative does jump off the page and really gets your mind working. And that's the great thing about writing historical fiction, right, is the truth is often stranger than fiction and-

James Blatch: Yeah. Yeah.

Peter Gibbons: It's brilliant.

James Blatch: Absolutely. Well I love your enthusiasm, Peter. It's been brilliant. I'm so happy that you won that award. I don't think I would've, just without knowing any of you, matter of fact I did know a couple of the nominees, but looking at them, I just wouldn't have picked yours. I wouldn't have expected yours to have won because it didn't, as you said at the beginning, didn't quite fit into those big genres that do well, that are poster cards for Kindle. So it's absolutely brilliant that you won, and you must have knocked it out of the park with your book. So well done.

Peter Gibbons: Thank you. Thank you. No, listen, I was delighted to win. I think from talking to the guys on the judging panel, retrospectively, I think that perhaps went in my favour because it's so different, and some of the judging panel actually said to me at the start of the book, they couldn't get into it. And I think it's because their brains are so coded to be reading that world that they write in, which is the crime fiction, and they're expecting... But equally then I think once they got hooked into the characters, because it is exciting, there's a woman warrior in it with one eye, jumping around the place with that, but wielding axes, and how can you not love that, right? I think it's just...

James Blatch: I mean-

Peter Gibbons: So I actually think that the difference went in my favour, to be honest.

James Blatch: Yeah, so I bet a few people started reading it thinking they wouldn't probably take to it because it's so out of their normal area. But well done.

Peter Gibbons: Yeah, no, and thanks, and it is, it would be out of the norm. But like I said, what I try and do is take that macro event but also have the characters that you can... Their interactions and their relationships are the same as ours on a daily basis.

James Blatch: Well that's what a couple of judges said to me when I spoke to one in the evening. They forgot they were reading a Viking book in the middle of it. They found it so gripping. Yeah, and good luck with your, I was going to say sort of retirement, it's not retirement at all, your transition in into being a full-time author and we wish you well.

Peter Gibbons: Thank you, and thanks very much for your time. It's great to be part of the podcast. Because like I say, I've always listened to it and learned a lot from you guys, so thanks.

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

James Blatch: There you go. Well done, peter Gibbons, Kindle Storyteller award winner for 2022. Of course Ian W. Sainsbury is a former winner, and he's one of our Fuse Books authors. Claire Leiden, well done Claire, I should say, she got nominated as well.

Mark Dawson: Yeah.

James Blatch: Always comes to our conferences, and I keep her entertained with my wit whenever we're in the bar.

Mark Dawson: Yes. With slightly spoiling myself in terms of, spoiling, not soiling, I should say there, and spoiling news that I might release later when it comes to the conference. One of the things we probably are going to have in June is all of the Kindle Storyteller award winners on a panel. That's something I've been talking about with Amazon, provided they can all come, of course, or at least as many of them as we can get. I think it'd be quite interesting to talk about where they were, what happened. Some of them won during the pandemic, for example, so they couldn't go to the... I remember seeing a couple of virtual award shows and this was the first one at, was it Westminster, where we had to queue for about an hour to get in.

James Blatch: Yeah, in the rain.

Mark Dawson: In the rain, yeah. And see how their careers have gone since then. So yeah, that would be fun. Yeah, I'll be looking forward to seeing that one.

James Blatch: Yep.

Mark Dawson: That session.

James Blatch: Yes. Well, we'll talk about the conference I think a bit more in the next couple of weeks. We've just passed the early bird pricing point, so it's now at full price, but it's still an absolute bargain, I think, for what you get. And we've seen conferences put on-

James Blatch: Well, single day conferences put on by LBF for writers at £500, £495 I think for the day.

Mark Dawson: It's crazy.

James Blatch: And this a fraction of that, and it's all indie, so I'm looking forward to that. But that's in the background. We'll talk about that in the future. Thank you very much indeed to Peter Gibbons. Congratulations again, Peter, great to speak to you, and hopefully see you in London in June. And thank you to the team in the background putting the show together. Thank you, Mark. Thank you me. Who thanks me? Thank me.

Mark Dawson: No one. No one thanks you.

James Blatch: That's a thankless job.

Mark Dawson: Anyway, that's it.

James Blatch: All the remains for me to say is a goodbye from him.

Mark Dawson: And a goodbye from me.

James Blatch: Goodbye.

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