SPS-384: Kickstarters & Collaborations – with Martha Carr

Marketing is one of the more perplexing aspects of releasing an indie title. Could Kickstarter be a viable option? Martha Carr, an author with a history of Kickstarter releases under her belt, shares her experiences with the platform.

Show Notes

  • Urban fantasy as a genre.
  • Martha’s experiences with trad publishing.
  • Why use Kickstarter for book marketing?
  • The process of Kickstarter.
  • Martha’s Writing process.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

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SPS-384: Kickstarters & Collaborations - with Martha Carr

Speaker 1: Want to sell more books? Make sure you are at the Self-Publishing Show Live this summer. Meet the biggest names in self-publishing at Europe's largest conference for independent authors. Enjoy two days packed with special guests, an exclusive networking event, and a digital ticket for watching the professionally filmed replay, including bonus sessions not included at the live show. Head over to self-publishing and secure your spot. Now. The Self-Publishing Show Live is sponsored by Amazon K d p

Speaker 2: On this edition of The Self-Publishing Show.

Martha Carr: As an indie author, I walk in knowing I'm going to have to learn all of this. And so I'm actively trying to take it in layer by layer. It makes all the difference in the world. There's really no difference in terms of marketing between traditional and indie

Speaker 2: 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. Hello.

James Blatch: I I hesitate to mention the Coronation because somebody posted their first comment under our last broadcast saying, if you want to skip past the Coronation stuff, the podcast starts at five minutes 35.

Mark Dawson: That wasn't his first comment. That was that was Patrick the cop, I think. Wasn't it?

James Blatch: It wasn't Patrick.

Mark Dawson: Are you sure he was The name was Patrick.

James Blatch: Yeah, but I at,

Mark Dawson: I looked at it this morning. I have to check now.

James Blatch: Loves the banter. Yes, he loves the batz. That's what I thought. Wasn't Patrick O'Donnell?

Mark Dawson: I tell you. Hold on. Okay. Keep talking about yourselves.

James Blatch: Yeah, well if you want to miss this bit, skip

Mark Dawson: Patrick O'Neill.

James Blatch: Patrick O'Neil. Yeah. Yeah. I

Mark Dawson: Think actually has been posing quite a re frequently about skipping the banter. So piss off.

James Blatch: Some people only tune into the banter. What they need is to know when we start talking about self-publishing, cause they're not interested in that. They, they tune in for the banter. They

Mark Dawson: Do.

James Blatch: And we're going to get signed by big label for our bantz big radio station in London. Yes, it's Coronation Day. So we are recording on a Saturday morning and I'm about to go out to Garden Party, but you'll be doing the same. But we've got a couple of things to talk about. We have our launchpad course, which is Open Self-Publishing Launchpad to get your career going and flying. And last week's episode, we went into more detail about that, but you can check it all out at self-publishing And Mark, you've had some exciting couple of weeks because your book's been popping up all over Britain and maybe further abroad. I did look for it in w h Smith in Spain, in New York over, I couldn't see it in they had, did have a small section of of English language books. wasn't there, but it was at Heathrow Airport. And I took a picture of it somewhere, but I didn't send it to you. That's probably at Heathrow as well. But this is because you've been selected for sort of the UK nearest UK equivalent to Oprah's Book Club, which is Richard and Judy's book club, which is high profile here in the uk. And what has that experience been like for you as a mainly indie author?

Mark Dawson: Yeah, it's been fun. So I posted about it in in the SPF group and also on my, my author page a bit more on the author page. And yeah, it's been lovely. Readers have been sending in pictures of books found all around the country. So it's, it's pretty much in every Smiths, which is for those not in the uk, it's probably the biggest bookseller the, the Stationers as well. But yeah, it's, it's a very big chain with stores everywhere. So it's been, you know, big, a big display. And Heathrow Air side young Tom sent me a picture of that. And then Karen ingles also and others have, I've sent in

James Blatch: Ingels

Mark Dawson: Ingles, sorry. Yes. Engels Huntington. I saw Loof,

James Blatch: Someone from Huntington sent you. Mm-Hmm.

Mark Dawson: Not you, someone else did. So yeah, it's been and Smith's in in Salsbury and Waterstones in Salsbury. So it is been, it is everywhere, which is, is really great with some really great, you know, big hitting authors. Lisa Jewel is one of the, the sixth this, this season and, you know, multiple New York Times bestselling author Anthony Horowitz is in there with a James Bond book. And, and Atki. So it's

James Blatch: Yeah, fantastic.

Mark Dawson: Saw a comment on on a blog actually saying, how, how did I do this? And, you know, and suggesting that it'd been paid for and lots of promotion in the trade industry is paid for. So things like, you know being on certain tables in Waterstones that is often of pay for what you call end caps. So end, end of shelves on aisles very prominent position. Those are often paid for. But this, this isn't so this was well back, my print publishers putting the book forward. They, you know, you nominate books to be in the promotion, rich and Judy's team then read through the books and shortlist them and then they go to Rich and Judy, as far as I know. And they apparently enjoyed it and, and they picked it. So it was,

James Blatch: So, you know, what is the financial model for the book club, Richard and Judy? Cause I'm sure it is a financial model, and I understand it would be wrong to operate for them, take taking money for place in books, but they must receive money from maybe the industry or

Mark Dawson: Some, no, I su I don't know, but my guess would be they get paid by Smiths, so so Smiths,

James Blatch: Which is fine. But as long as it, that doesn't impugn the ability, the objectivity of the selection, which it, it sounds like it doesn't, so,

Mark Dawson: Well, it wouldn't really matter if it did. I mean, it, it's, these are, you know, it's, it's a commercial situation for everyone involved as far as I know it is picked on, you know, merit's not the right word, but books that they've enjoyed, and I don't know what their deal is, but my guess would be given that their, their likeness is, and their name and their photos are plus all over the the marketing material. And, and they carry a certain audience with them. My guess would be that they are, they have a, a contract with Smiths for a, for about, for a yearly fee would be, would be my guess. Yeah. I don't know

James Blatch: Because it drive, it drives traffic into the shop. And Smith, as you say, don't just sell books. They, they make money probably on selling chocolate by the till and yeah.

Mark Dawson: Everything, yeah.

James Blatch: A four lever folders.

Mark Dawson: Yep. And the books themselves are all on all half price. So Atco at the moment is 4 49, I think. So

James Blatch: 4 49, that's paperback, right?

Mark Dawson: Paperback, yeah. And I, and you can, that price is the same on Amazon as well. So I, I I don't, I think if you had Prime, you could probably get the book for just over four quid delivered. Which is good. So we, we'll see how it goes. You know, I, I've, I think it's sold a couple of thousand copies over the, over the first few days. So

James Blatch: Do, do you know where they're printed?

Mark Dawson: They'll, the books are printed, I think, well it depends on the Smiths Art printing. They, they'll be printed by the publishers and then shipped to Smith's

James Blatch: Warehouse. But is it Clays or someone I'm in?

Mark Dawson: It's well that used cpi, which is a company C in the south south of England. Clays obviously is is near near you and near I where I came from. And probably the biggest of the printers in the uk. But no, it's CPI two Wellex

James Blatch: So's just, I mean, selling it four pounds something. I mean, you know, when we go through the print

Mark Dawson: That works. So you think on, you print on scale, they're probably getting printed. Yeah. they less, much less. I think if you, if I looked at it before, if you print 10,000 copies, you could probably get it less than a pound to have it printed.

James Blatch: That is incredible that when we go through the p o D process and it shows you the print costs before you get onto the next bit, and then they take a royalty from that. The print costs my book's around a fiver.

Mark Dawson: Yeah. Because there's no scale there.

James Blatch: Yeah,

Mark Dawson: There's, they're printing one book, so cost can be reduced if the economy of scale. So it's different for that. But yeah, you know, it's, it's it's been fun and we'll see Drove pick up my mother from the station in Salisbury and drove her past the billboard and ah, that's amazing.

James Blatch: Yeah, it's pretty cool. So what, what you want to see, of course as an indoors, a knock on effect for your ebook. Yeah, yeah. The rest of the series, that series, I mean, and getting people onto Milton and stuff. We'll see what, see what happens in longer term.

Mark Dawson: Yeah. And I'm kind of, I'm maxing a, a Amazon campaign on the first book in the Aticus series at the moment. So probably spending, well, a couple hundred pounds a day on, on ATUs at the moment. Sometimes that, you know, the ACOs will be 200%, 250%. Cause I think I, I try to calculate the readthrough and I think it's about each sale of the first week is worth about $12 over the, just for Aticus. And that doesn't take into account the fact that there is a whole world of Milton and Beatrix and Isabella different kind of series. But there will, you know, people will, not everyone, in fact, not even the majority, but some will go on to try that and some of those will end up buying all of those books. So the, it is, I think probably saying it's about $10 is, is fairly safe bet. So I can afford to, you know, spend $5 sell, selling the first book looks like I'm making a loss, but I'm probably, I'm probably not making a loss,

James Blatch: You know, that's great. Well, I'm enjoying Amazon ads at the moment, so I'm seeing ACOs as 50 and 60%, which is profit in the dashboard as unhear

Mark Dawson: Of 15 or 16.

James Blatch: Fif 50 or

Mark Dawson: 60 50, 65 0.

James Blatch: Yeah. That's good. And that's on my three books series, so I'm making a profit then. And and our, one of our Fus authors doing really well. Thanks also to Sarah, er, who's doing sort of ads for us. But Amazon ads has been a bit of a mystery for me up until the last, I would say, six months or so, and I've started to get properly into it. Okay. Anyway, we'll talk about Amazon ADS some other time. We do have an interview for you today. Of course, we have an interview for you today. It is Martha Carr, and Martha is one of the writers in the Michael Andela stable. By the way, we have not talked about Michael Andele comments at Seville 20 bucks Seville when he talked about ai. Oh, yeah. Which has kicked off a big storm around the place.

We had breakfast with him a few days later and then chatted it through, and it wasn't quite what he said it was, but I think we'll save that for an AI episode a bit later. But if I mention Michael Andela, I know some people listening will know, not have no clue what I'm talking about. Other people will say, well, you can't mention Michael Andela without talking about what he said at Seville. But he did talk about the advent of ai. It's coming whether you embrace it or not. Anyway, that's for another episode, but let's talk about Martha Car. So she's one of the authors in Michael's stable. She created a series that has gone on to have 300 books in it. I, I guess she created the Universe. Let's have 300 books in it. But she's somebody who's very active on Kickstarter very inspired by Brandon Saron and everything that happened there, man, who made tens of millions of dollars through his Kickstarter. And yeah, lots to learn, lots to learn about engaging with the audience. So here she is. Here's Martha. Then Mark and I will be back for a quick chat.

Speaker 2: This is the Self-Publishing Show. There's never been a better time to be a writer.

James Blatch: Martha Carr, welcome to the Self-Publishing Show. Part of, well,

you are a, a part of Michael Land's Empire, I think, aren't you? Amongst of other things

Martha Carr: actually, we're, I'm a collaborator with him, but I also have my own works that I do. Are you, so we started a uni, we started a universe together, or Sharon,

James Blatch: It's Chris for a fun thing to say that you started a universe, isn't it? I mean, that's God, God godlike stuff that you and Mike Landai get up to. Okay. That doesn't me,

Martha. Why don't you give us the the lowdown on who you are and tell us a bit about your books.

Martha Carr: Okay. Well, I started writing about 30 years ago. I was a writer for the Washington Post. I had a national column on politics with a syndicate that went out to about 4,000 papers. And then I got into writing and wrote thrillers that if you found them, you like them, but not a lot of people found them. And, you know, it happens. And then I wandered into urban fantasy where I probably belonged all along and just didn't see it. And I've been in there all along. I'm a big DC Comics fan. I was an early, I watched Star Trek on television that short run it had back way back. And

James Blatch: The original Star Trek

Martha Carr: the original Star Trek. And we always had large boxing crates of comic books back when they were like a dime. So urban fantasy and magic. I, I was the entertainment for my little brother's birthday party when he was about seven. I did a magic show. So I really did belong in urban fantasy all along. I just didn't see it. And the weird thing is, once I stepped in there, the books took off. And so like we mentioned in the beginning, I started a universe with Michael Anderly or Sharon, which has, I think creeping up toward 300 books in it now. But now I'm also going to venture out on my own for the first time since being an urban fantasy with a new series. And it starts on Kickstarter on May 1st, which I'm very excited about.

James Blatch: Okay. We'll definitely talk about that. So, I'm interested the move from from thrillers.

You, you said you didn't get the visibility for your books, but then that did take off for urban fantasy. Was that better marketing or simply that those books seem to work and the thriller ones didn't?

Martha Carr: I think it was both. I think it was a, a combination of both. And I think that my real talent and the storytelling ability had more to do with a mixture of magic. And the I urban fantasy is a little different from fantasy because it's the idea that magic is all around us and it really exists. We just don't see it. And I think that it really, and then the marketing improved because there was Michael, so it was both.

James Blatch: Yes. Okay. So urban fantasy. Yes. I mean, for those of us who don't, don't write in that genre and perhaps don't read as much of it,

this is very often modern day setting, sort of buffy the Vampire Slayer type environment where it's a school or a college, but there's magic and there's people we don't know about. Is that roughly what the genre is?

Martha Carr: That's correct. I always say it's magic in a realistic setting. So mine o often take place in my hometown of Austin. And Austin's the perfect setting too, because it's so weird that there are real life things that I can put in the book that sound like there oughta be magic involved.

James Blatch: Okay. Because austen's weird

Martha Carr: Because a, well, there's a cathedral of junk that this gentleman started building out of literally every object he could find that goes up and up. It's now an institution here that I'm putting in the second book in this Kickstarter series. And you know, it sounds like that couldn't be real, but it is.

James Blatch: Yeah. Sounds like a good setting. So tell us about your particular setting then and beyond it being in Austin. What is the magic? What are the non-human characters in it?

Martha Carr: So there aren't any paranormal. I tend to stay away from that and see it as a separate genre. So no, no vampires. But the news series is called Queen of the Flightless Dragons and the main character is a witch. But you'll find out as you go along that there's a, she's something else that I made up. I don't want to give it away because it's kind of part of the fun of the book. But also this, this series has a little sci-fi that is in it too with portals and other worlds and a family legacy that doesn't come from this world. So witches would be the main one, but then it branches out into other things.

James Blatch: I did note I had a quick look at your books on Amazon and, and one of the covers I took clicked on because it reminded me straight away of, of Wednesday the series, which was a huge hit recently on Netflix, I think it was a, a Sophie Briggs and the Bureau of Secrets cover very Wednesday ish.

Is there a kind of slightly gothic feel to your books as well?

Martha Carr: They're can be because I really do like that. So that one in particular does not, although I get where you're getting the vibe from, but definitely has that vibe. And yeah, I love that kind of angle of humour and darkness where you're laughing at something that if it didn't have the humour, you might be a little horrified

James Blatch: Murder, for instance. Yes. Right.

Martha Carr: Murder for instance. Just for an example,

James Blatch: What Is the appeal of of urban fantasy do you think? Because it's enduring right? It goes back a long, long time.

Martha Carr: Oh, absolutely. I think it's absolutely that. We all want to believe that things can get better and we all want to believe that we can create something wonderful in our life. And the idea that the universe is on your side and actually trying to help you if you'd only pay attention is something I think we all carry around. And so urban fantasy goes right into that. Now there are authors who take the dark side of urban fantasy as well, but then all they're doing is setting it up so that the main character has to conquer this darkness. And it's like in a lot of urban fantasy takes place in the suburbs or in a an office building. I mean, it's not outside of what we see a normal life and the idea that your life could turn around on a dime because you finally saw the magic. I mean, I think that's what we secretly want anyway.

James Blatch: Yeah. Yeah. It's funny I say I don't read Urban Fancy, but I think Douglas Adams is one of my favourite authors and he wrote a couple of a very short series called Dirk G's Holistic Detective Agency. When I think about it, it is actually urban fantasy with the sort of magical elements. So that's, that's interesting how pervasive it is and you can read it without realising that's what you're reading. Okay, so when you started with thrillers, this was a couple of decades ago. I, I wonder know how how, yeah, I

Martha Carr: Think it was more like a few, but go ahead.

James Blatch: Few decades ago. Yes. Okay. So I think, I think you started when you were 30, you said in your notes. And and

what this presumably was in those days looking for publishers, did you get published?

Martha Carr: Yes. And my first novel Wired was a big hit and I thought, oh, my life is set all as well. And publishers were looking for me and saying, why didn't you send it to me? Which I had and they had rejected it. So I just kept saying, I'll send you the next one. Not pointing that out. And I thought it would be grand, but the second book kind of fizzled. And then there was this long spell of not many people finding the books, but the few who did liked it. And that's very frustrating because no one's saying I hate it. It's just not a lot of people finding it. And that has to do with traditional as well because traditional you only get three months before they take the book off the shelf. And so you have to pack all the marketing ahead of time. But if you've made an error, which happens all the time, then there's not going to be any changing the cover, changing the blurb, you're kind of stuck. So it's a tough road to begin with.

James Blatch: Okay. So that makes more sense to me because that's, I mean, that's such a traditional story of traditional publishing. I mean, Mark Dawson himself had a very similar experience. We're writing a couple of books that, that had those few months of marketing and then the, the company that publishing lost interest and moved onto the next author. Whereas that's really not as authors, we want to keep pushing our books and marketing. So, which is why you are doing much better, I think with, in the indie kind of space or, or hybrid whatever Mar Andela calls himself. But that's, that's clearly shows. I mean, can you get those rights back? Do you think those early thrillers clearly shows,

Martha Carr: I have the rights back and I'm, I'm thinking of putting them out on just for 99 cents just to give everybody that should three of them because they exist. And the other thing too is you know, I spent a lot of time in traditional world and authors didn't congregate the same way that Indies knew. And so we didn't share knowledge, so everybody was reinventing this, the wheel. And on top of that we didn't realise how little the publisher would do until it's too late in terms of marketing. And it's really on, it's as much on your shoulders as an indie author's marketing is. So by the time you catch on, it's, it's way too late. So as an indie author, I walk in knowing I'm going to have to learn all of this. And so I'm actively trying to take it in layer by layer. It makes all the difference in the world. There's really no difference in terms of marketing between traditional and indie.

James Blatch: Yeah, yeah. No, absolutely not. I think it's any, any author who thinks they can sit back and do the air and his Hemingway life is going to be disabused of that very quickly. Okay.

So let's let's move into your, your latest venture then to write a series that you are going to publish yourself. And you are using Kickstarter to get this going. So how have you come up with this plan?

Martha Carr: So I have a learning disability. I can't see numbers. It's called Disc Calculus, which gives me a disadvantage when it comes to ads. Sometimes it's humorous because of what I accidentally added a zero onto, but generally that's not funny. And so Kickstarter makes a level playing field for me because it's more it's a great big shopping mall in a way, which I don't think people realise it's fun to cruise through. It's just that everything that sold there is an original idea, whether it's a bike pump or a book. And so I felt like I had a better chance of showing who I really am. And then I could go and do ads say on Reddit, which I find to be a great place if you're doing Kickstarter to do ads. And I also like the ability to offer things like enamel pins or temporary tattoos or other things as add-ons, or I'm doing a special edition hard cover that's a heavier paperweight has a ribbon on the spine, the art goes all the way around the book. Special things that you can't do generally. So I, and I also like the camaraderie. It's just, I, I think it's a fun place to go and support a brand new author who's doing their very first book. Or someone like me who, who's been around for a while, but trying a new venture.

James Blatch: And Kickstarter, you have, you, you set a figure that you have to reach, is that right?

Martha Carr: Correct. and there's no pri so there's two ways to look at it. If you're putting out, say, a comic book and it's going to cost a certain amount to do it and you have to reach that amount, then that's what you set it at. But if you like me, if I said it low because there's no prize for sending some, that would just be ego if I said it's high. And so I can be, it can be more of a fun opportunity to in, to interact. And if there are authors listening to this or people who want to publish- Kickstarters also the only place that gives you the emails because I have to give you whatever you purchased or are supported. So unlike every other place I walk away with emails to stay in touch.

James Blatch: Yeah, very good. Very useful. Data is is the new currency, isn't it? So

Martha Carr: Right. It's like gold.

James Blatch: Yeah, absolutely. What is the situation on fulfilling the physical items then? Is that something you on your kitchen table with envelopes? And

Martha Carr: It depends on how well you do. I mean Brandon Sanderson was probably not at his kitchen table after 42 million. So that's another thing too is I've had to figure out shipping costs and I have in my back pocket what to do if I have a Kickstarter that goes wildly successful where I'd go for fulfilment. But otherwise, yeah, it's you on your kitchen table, which frankly is kind of fun to some Yeah. To some degree. Yeah. I think it's fun.

James Blatch: Well, I do it myself with my TikTok shop and I actually enjoy it. I enjoy getting orders and fulfilling it. And I'll enjoy the moment when it's overwhelming me. And I need to outsource it as well. So yes, no downside to that. Yes. yeah. Okay. So the book series you're going to do is obviously different from what you are writing with L M N P. I can never get Michael Company

Martha Carr:LNBPM, but there you go. L nbpn. Yes, yes. It's different. I took more time. It's a much, it's twice as long as a book I normally write. It's going to be a trilogy. I really wanted to do something special. It has a lot more research in it. All of the places in Austin are real and I grabbed friends and made them come with me to check them out. And yeah. And it's a more complicated story that I think did really well. I also wrote the book way in advance of the Kickstarter so that I could go out and get reviews, which in indie land we don't normally do. And so it also was wonderful because the reviewers got what I was doing.

James Blatch: Yeah. That's one of the things that makes me hesitate about doing Kickstarter is I'm a slow writer. I, I'm always under confident about being able to deliver writing out of everything else I deliver on time. But my writing is just a, I leave it to the last minute and I don't even put it up for pre-order until the book's basically back from the proof editors. I would be terrified about doing a Kickstarter and missing it. But you've written the book book in advance.

Martha Carr: Yes. And so that gave me several advantages. One, I could get samples and make sure I liked who was going to produce it. Two, I could do a more accurate shipping because I had the actual weight and size. And three, I could get reviews ahead of time. And like you said, I didn't have the pressure of I hope it's good. I hope it's finished, it's been finished for a while and I'm onto the second one. I just, I'm doing Kickstarter because it makes it easier to do it in a different way. More spread out or I'd like, it's a trilogy, so it'll only be three books a year. And I am not interested in getting another once a month plus Kickstarter requires that you fulfil completely the Kickstarter you did before you start a second one. Right. So, so you can't, it's just not going to happen that you can do one every month, nor in my opinion should you, you know, it's, it's not the vibe of the place.

James Blatch: Yeah.

And how long does the whole thing last on? So you, you've set a date, presumably on the kickstart

Martha Carr: May 1st. It's May 1st. First for 21 days.

James Blatch: Okay. So you can't, you can't e can you, can you back it now or do you have to wait until May the first to back it

Martha Carr: So you can go to the link that you'll have and sign up for a message that it's out. And then on May 1st you can go and back it for 21 days.

James Blatch: Right. So it runs for 21 days. And after that, presumably you'll go over your modest total that you've, you've set and

then from that, from that point almost, is that when you start fulfilling the orders?

Martha Carr: Correct. So once it's done and Kickstarter's collected the funds, so you know, everything's done, then I start fulfilling the orders. And also, by the way, someone on Kickstarter a while ago started the idea of stretch goals that wasn't Kickstarter, but some entrepreneur where if you raise X amount, then there's an extra reward that everybody gets if you raise the next one. So there will be fun, stretch goals during the Kickstarter that I'm keeping to myself till it has started. So there's fun surprises too.

James Blatch: Oh, so you, you can add them in when it's live, when it's running.

Martha Carr: Right.

James Blatch: And what, what, so what, what's it starting at? What le how many levels are there?

Martha Carr: I think there's seven different levels. I'm trying to keep it a little simple this time, since it's my first one.

James Blatch: Seven sounds complicated for one book.

Martha Carr: Well, so you have the ebook. You have the ebook with a lot of beautiful illustrations. You have the paperback, the hard cover, a special edition, hard cover enamel pins. And then if anybody wants to a Zoom party with me, and your and your friends,

James Blatch: I've got one for free.

Martha Carr: Well, that's true. Yeah. And actually I do one the first Friday of every month I started during quarantine and three years later I'm still doing it where five people win a pizza and then everybody we join together on Zoom and have lunch together at 1:00 PM Central time, the first Friday of every month. Everyone's welcome.

James Blatch: That's a fun thing to do.

So you are, you are really into developing your audience relationship as being a key part of your marketing.

Martha Carr: Well, I've watched a lot of writers, indie writers over the past five or six years, and those who do extremely well build an Audi a relationship with their audience. And those who do okay may have even better books, but they're not out there actively trying to build a direct connection to the audience. I mean, Brandon Sanderson is a great example of that. I mean, I think you can even watch him writing and he has a con a con that's just his fans. I mean, he is working really hard on that dedicated relationship.

James Blatch: Yeah. He's been unbelievable. It's been sensational watching what's happened to him. I did think there was a bit of an attack article a couple of weeks ago on there on him, which I didn't read, but I saw a lot of people jumping his to his defence saying how hard he works. And,

Martha Carr: Well, not only that, it was a bad piece of journalism, really bad, no research, a lot of personal opinion. The shocking part to me was only that the editors also approved it. It said a lot of bad things about that particular online magazine that will go nameless.

James Blatch: Right. Has it all changed a bit since your day when stuff would've had to go through a, a few editors before it got out there?

Martha Carr: Correct. And not only the regular editors, but the copy editors who ch who would check each fact? Right.

James Blatch: Yeah. So I was a journalist as well. I can remember I can remember that period. Although luckily I had to speak rather than write it down. I think one made a lot more typos. Okay. So this is really interesting to me. And so Kickstart has very quickly gone from something that was rather niche and specialist to being a, a plank of marketing for lots of authors. I'll be intrigued to know how well this goes. I mean obviously, you know, 10% of Brandon Sanderson would set you up for life yea.

Martha Carr: Right. Well also another interesting point is on Amazon you can you can rely on that the most people will read the first book in a series and there's going to be a slight decline. No matter how wonderful you are on Kickstarter, it's actually going to have the opposite effect because a lot of people may wait to see how well you fulfil the orders. If you're legit and you do what you say you will. Or they would just want more than one book before they dive in. So you, and since on book two, I'll go back and offer book one as an add-on. So if you missed out, you can still jump in and get book one and book two. So you'll actually see an increase over time of the number of people who get brought in and you the income will actually go up.

James Blatch: And how, what, what will you, will you do with the book after the Kickstarters closed? Will it then go on to the normal platforms?

Martha Carr: Great question. So no, I'm actually going to start a store on my website. You'll be able to buy it there for a while. And then the paperback and the ebook with different covers will go out wide. And then the last part will be KU at the tail end.

James Blatch: Okay. All planned out meticulously by the sounds of it.

Martha Carr: It's getting there and it's a lot of learning. It's, but you know, I like to learn new things. It's kind of fun. But this is the most fun I think I've had with creating everything. I think this Kickstarter's been kind of the most fun I've had. Yeah.

James Blatch: Well I can't wait to see how it goes. I've I'm going to click the notify me on launch button in a moment. so that I can I can follow along.

And have you followed a particular model doing this or have you just been listening to other people and amalgamated come up with your best guess of what, what timeline would work?

Martha Carr: I have talked to everyone who would let me and gathered all of the information and put together, so my instinct has always been, there's a million shiny objects out there in the publishing world. They're all legitimate. I can't do them all. And it will drive me insane trying to do all of them. So I go by my gut instinct and I pick the ones that I feel I will work the best with and I just do those. But I also did anybody who said yes to talking to me, I asked them all the questions I could think of and then I pulled from it what I thought would work best for me. So it's an amalgamation.

James Blatch: Okay. in terms of some of the mechanicals here, so obviously you're hoping to get to huge level where you'll have to outsource all this stuff, but

assuming you're going to be fulfilling from your kitchen table in terms of printing, where have you gone for your, your printer is this?

Martha Carr: So I wanted to do, I, so there, there are the least expensive printers. I didn't want to do that because I've been around long enough to see the quality matters. So I'm going to mix 'em for the special edition because they print such a beautiful book in the US and in uk. And then I'm going to Lulu for the hard regular hard cover because they do a good job as well. They just don't do as they don't go to the special level, but it's a really good hard cover. And then for the paperback, I'm going to a place called the Book Patch. If you do book patch, you won't find it. It's the book patch. I've dealt with them for a long time. The quality of the colour on the cover is always the best. They use a slightly heavier paperweight. And by the way, if people listening don't understand what that means, paperweight is everything.

And when you get a slightly heavier paper, even though the reader may not realise it, they, some part of them knows, oh, this is made better. The glue will stick. The, the books won't arrive with some of the covers folded. Sometimes with hard covers, friends have told me that they've ordered, say from a foreign country and the some half the order had to be returned because the books were damaged. And that's not going to happen with Mixo or Lulu or the book Patch. One advantage to Lulu too is you can give them the names and addresses and they will ship from there. So if that matters, Lulu's a good option.

James Blatch: Yes. If you need to scale up. So mix 'em. I don't think I know mix them.

Martha Carr: They are so good. And plus, unlike others, they answer the phone.

James Blatch: Okay.

Martha Carr: And the first hard cover has art on the book that wraps around and figuring out the spine with the artist and myself took a little doing and they were patient kept answering our questions until we had it. Right. They'll also do silver foil and if you have a large enough order, it's actually pretty affordable. It's just that the minimum order is 1200 books. So they do loads of things that nobody else does.

James Blatch: Yeah. Nice.

And how do you mind me asking how much you end up paying? Per unit?

Martha Carr: Per per book I believe was about $55. And that was on a low order. So clearly the more it goes up, the lower the cost.

James Blatch: Yeah. Yeah. Very good.

Martha Carr: That was on maybe only 15 books. So that, you know, I would, I just needed samples.

James Blatch: Yes. Cause you're watching on YouTube, there are dogs. Occasionally one of your dogs just looks round. I think that's,

Martha Carr: That's Lois Lane and Blue Bell is sitting next to me trying to talk to me, but I'm trying to ignore her. Yeah.

James Blatch: Lois Lane, I think hears key words from you every now and again and looks up to think is that,

Martha Carr: Is that NOIs was actually born deaf. Oh. So she can't hear anything, but she's terribly nosy.

James Blatch: Ah, she knows something's going on. Okay. so if you're watching on YouTube okay, so that's yeah, we'll look into mix Russia. I can see though in the UK as well. So that's that's good. I know Lulu obviously are. So and good luck with that. So we will follow that along. And in terms of your writing with Michael Lm, N B p Lm

Martha Carr: L M B P N

James Blatch: I'm never going to say it, I'm never going to say it Right. It's a crazy name. Anyway, I've told him that you can only tell him so many times.

The, the series there and the universe, which has grown out of all proportion. Was this you and Michael? You were the one who sketched this universe out the beginning.

Martha Carr: Was, yes. This was the beginning of everything. At the very back when we were kind of flying by the seat of our pants. If you had an idea we were going to try it. And he had an idea for how these two worlds ora and earth, every, I think it's 20,000 years, comes close enough that magic from Aerin flows into earth. And then I came up with the backstory of the first, the Lyric Chronicles and the backstory of Lira. And together we came up with the idea of the troll. And then I wrote, I mean there's a lot of swearing in the Lyric Chronicles. That's somewhat me, but I've tamped it down. Don't worry for the new series. Anyway, the troll's name is Yum. Fuck Tiberius Troll because that's what he kept saying. Yum. And fuck. And I thought it was funny. So yes and Yum Fuck has become beloved. He has his own page on Facebook and people go on Facebook to talk to him and he he answers you back

James Blatch: Mm. Nice. Yeah. When you write do,

when you write what's, do you write fairly clean? The the, I don't mean the language, obviously that's not clear But the

Martha Carr: I do. Yeah. And that's, that's 30 some years of writing. I mean I didn't start that way at all. And the Washington Post was a great training ground for that because you passed through three editors where at a newspaper maybe there's initially one and they all ask you such really good questions that you have to raise your game. And yes, by now I write very clean. Doesn't mean that the editor doesn't find things. Like you said she was meeting him at the store, now she's meeting on the sidewalk. But they're easy fixes to go back and change. It's not like they're saying this whole section doesn't work.

James Blatch: Yeah, no. So you are getting it at, I mean that's part of the production process being efficient is that first draft being almost ready to go.

Martha Carr: Right. And I do think that's a big difference because back when I was writing the thrillers, I for some reason thought people wanted the long history behind something like I did. No, they don't. No they don't. No. And we also,

James Blatch: We all start writing like that

Martha Carr: I thought it was fascinating, wouldn't you? And so I think I worked out all of my weirdness in all these other books. And also that's what doing one a month helps too because there's no time to go on and on and on. I think I, in terms of that, I actually got better when I had less time because I wasn't adding on so much.

James Blatch: Do you know, you've just made me thought of my first draught of my first novel that had so many flashbacks in it that they became kind of nested flashbacks of describing where they all came from, what they'd done in the past. Anyhow, I think probably half the book was just somebody thinking about how they got to where they are. But I've just thought, you know, I've been, I've been numbing and eyeing about potentially doing some bonus chapters of my first book. I should go back to that first draft. Cause there's a lot of, a lot of prequel stuff in there.

Martha Carr: There you go. There you go. You could do short stories on the side and just take those out and put them out as short stories for a dollar. Yeah. And then that would pull people to your series because they only had to pay a dollar and then they could, would go and look for the rest.

James Blatch: That's such a good idea. I should do that. I should do that. Especially as I wrote a novella to do a kind of freebie. But it's selling so well. I've kind of reluctant so far to put it into a, into free. So I'm going to let it run its course and we'll see what to do. Something else.

Martha Carr: Well also my experience with free is that a lot of people who don't like the genre will pick it up because it's free. They'll never read it

James Blatch: or they leave a bad review

Martha Carr: It. Yes. So I don't, I don't think it's worth it. I would pull those and do 99 cents because for a dollar people will try it. They get a taste of your writing. If they like you, they'll search out the rest. It's the best way to do it. If they aren't interested in paying a dollar, they're not interested in paying for the book.

James Blatch: Yeah. I have to dig out my old manuscript. It's going to be hilarious. Looking like what my writing like then. So I'm I'm I'm intrigued by your productivity again.

So just a couple more questions on that. How do you write Martha? Do you, do you dictate or do you write on Scribner a word or?

Martha Carr: I write on Scribner. I'm sitting in my guest room because Lois loves to bark at the window. Friends of mine lovingly call my office Lois's office. And but I just gave up. She's had every training under the sun and still loves to bark, can't hear herself. So barks very loud. And so I set a certain amount of time and a certain amount of words and if it goes fast then I can get up. If it doesn't, then I sit there and I've just been doing, you know, you know, you were a journalist, if they say they need 30 inches, they're going to get 30 inches. And they're telling you you have an hour then you have one hour. Yeah. And it better be pretty clean because there's not a lot of time for anybody to fix it. So if you, I've always thought if you come from jour a journalism background you're much better at deadlines and at just doing it and at using one adjective instead of three.

Because there was a, back then before the internet, there was literally a limited space. And you had, and I used to be able to know, I can't remember anymore, but how many words was how many inches and that's what you did. So it's really finding a goal that you can live with and then making it a priority. So friends know I'm not going to answer the phone in the morning. So you know, you can try, but I'm really not going to answer the phone. I'm not going to schedule things for the morning. Because that's my best writing time when all the words are still there and I really have to treat it with respect and make it a priority. All the marketing's going to be in the afternoon, so the writing has to come first.

James Blatch: Yeah. The advantage of of being a journalist is having that deadline. The disadvantage is without a deadline you don't do it. I do find you have to, you do have to create some deadlines.

Martha Carr: You have to create deadlines. So I, so let's say I, because it's me, I picked a date when I want the book to be finished, then I work backwards on how many words a day would I have to do in order to hit that deadline. And that's without the weekends. You know, working five days a week, how many words per day is it reasonable? And then I try to build in a little I found, you know, something too fun to pass up that I want to do on a workday and go from there. So I know if I've done X amount of words, I I'm still on track. If I haven't then I haven't s Scribner by the way, used to you ha you I put in the amount of words the goal and it starts at blazing red and slowly goes to green. And I love that. And too many people must have complained because in the updated version it just goes from green to blue. But I know, I loved how you'd watch it slowly go from red alert down to it must

James Blatch: Have, it must have triggered some people's anxieties.

Martha Carr: Right. But I loved it. Anyway I, so I can watch that word count too. And it really, really, really, really helps to have an outline so that I know where I'm going and I move the piece in Scribner, I move the pieces around every time a little bit or I add in a chapter or two where I can see there's not enough of a bridge and Yeah, yeah,

James Blatch: Yeah. I love it for that. Yeah. I don't know how people who write in Word end up with a, I mean a hundred thousand Word document is so unwieldy for me, but I don't

Martha Carr: Either, I don't know how they end up with a document That makes sense. Yeah. But I, I mean like, you just gotta be making it harder on yourself on that big of a project. Plus let's say the, let's say you get sick for a week and now you're coming back. Where were you? And I know I can look and see where I was.

James Blatch: Yeah. Before I knew about Scribner and hadn't used words. I used to use like five X's in a row so I could search on those five X's and find it and Right. God, God knows how many of them I left in the document had to be cleared out at the end. But there you go. Okay. It's been lovely talking to you Martha. I I

I've got one more question about Lois, which is, she was born deaf.

Martha Carr: Yes.

James Blatch: So she has no concept that of sound. That she, she doesn't know that she's deaf.

Martha Carr: She doesn't know and doesn't care. And I, and she understands sign language and when she doesn't want to listen to me, she rolls her eyes away from me. So much like a teenager. Yes. And also it means that if she knows that if she wants to do something and doesn't want to get stopped, she'll turn her back to me because she knows I have to run all the way to her and in order to stop her. Yeah. She's extremely clever. And she loves to play tag and hide and go seek. She will search slowly for you. All dogs do this though, but it's so funny that dogs will play hide and go seek with you.

James Blatch: Yeah, that's lovely. I think I'm sure Laura sure. She must have appeared in some of your books at some point.

Martha Carr: She has not. But Bluebell and my form, my dog had passed away a year and a half ago. Lila, the pit bulls do appear and I do that partially because I adore pit bulls and they, I don't think a lot of people understand them. And Bluebell is elderly and can go five miles an hour that's on when she's really moving. But people go on the other side of the street from us and she is so sweet. So in queen of the Flightless Dragons, there's a pit bull named Hannah. There'll always be pit bulls in the books. In the side books.

James Blatch: Cause Craig Martel has Stanley who's another sort of Michael writer. Of course. Yeah.

Martha Carr: Yes.

James Blatch: Okay, well, Martha, look, good luck with the Kickstarter. I'm going to sign up today and follow it along. I'm intrigued by that. I love also interviews that, that make me think I've gotta be better at writing and come up with good ideas, for myself. And that's kind of the point of our, our interviews really. Hopefully other people have been listening to this and been inspired by a few things that you've done. So thank you very much indeed for coming on.

Martha Carr: Oh, thank you very much for asking me. It's been a lot of fun.

James Blatch: We should just say in case we didn't say it clearly, I mean, I just, I just searched on Martha Carr on Kickstarter and it came up straight away.

But is there a specific link you've set up to get people there quickly?

Martha Carr: There is, and the easiest way is to go to Kickstarter and search Martha Carr. The series is called a Queen of the Flightless Dragons. The book first book is called Amon. It looks like Eman, but I like to use Irish words.

James Blatch: Yes. In the UK people would know that's a amen.

Martha Carr: Okay. Well all over the US they'd say eman. So you're looking for e a m o n, but it's pronounced Amon and it means a wealthy protector. So the second book is lesser and that means fire. So it gives you the hint at what's coming next.

James Blatch: Very good. Okay. Excellent. Martha, thank you so much.

Martha Carr: Thank you.

Speaker 2: This is the self-publishing show. There's never been a better time to be a writer. There you

James Blatch: Go. There is Martha Car Kickstarter hearing more and more about people using Kickstarter. I think I, you know, I listen to it and I, I think probably because I write slowly and I'm under confidence about writing still and under confidence about getting my book out at any particular time. I'm just too busy to be able to say, I'm going to have this book out in September the first and run a Kickstarter. So I don't think it's for me, but otherwise I am tempted by the whole process. I like the engagement with fans, the direct engagement with fans that is is something in the authors are really embracing.

Mark Dawson: Yeah. I mean you, you could to, and you, if you got to the, you know, you knew you could see the end, see the finish line. There was late stage editing. You say there's definitely I can release this in a month. Then you could, you could put it up then. That would work. I mean the, for me it's, it isn't, it isn't for me, it doesn't fit my mo my model. I do very, I work very hard to make sure that Amazon markets the book once it's out there. And I think every sale you take away from Amazon reduces the data that Amazon has on potential readers it can market to. And I, it's just kind of common sense would suggest that it, you know, Amazon's not making as much money if that book, it's less like to try and make more money off it. So it's not for me. But for those people who are, you know, not relying on Amazon in the, in the way that I do it's,

James Blatch: Well it worked for Brandon.

Mark Dawson: Well, he's a definite outlier. He couldn't be more an outlier. Yeah. He, people don't make four to 1 million on, on, you know, book Kickstarters as a matter of course. But you know, you see, as you know, Joanna Penn had a Kickstarter for her pil, which book and I spoke to her, she won't be, she won't hear this. She listens to the intro and then doesn't bother with listening to anything else. But anyway

James Blatch: She loves the band.

Mark Dawson: She does love, loves the band in the event that she's listening as I'll tell her, but she should listen on. But no, she, she did I think said 25,000 or something along those lines. After putting the book up there and we had a bit of an email conversation, she was very worried that she wouldn't hit a thousand. And I'm saying, Jonna, you, you'll hear a thousand in about two, two minutes. Yeah, and obviously she did and I think she, you know, she's a big, she's enjoyed that process. Did, did well for her. But she has a, she had a big audience ready to support her with that, that book for, for, for me, I could do it, but it's, I just doesn't, doesn't really suit me. So it's not, not something I'll be trying but good for, good for Martha and, you know, good for those who are able to make it work for them. Yeah.

James Blatch: Well check it out. Go and check out Martha Carl's Kickstarter and which is still running at this time. Okay. Thank You very much indeed. Thank you for the team in the background make this podcast happen. Thank you to our patron and supporters as well. We will be back next week. All that remains for me to say is it's a goodbye from him

Mark Dawson: And a goodbye from me.

James Blatch: Goodbye. Goodbye.

Speaker 2: Get show notes, the podcast archive and free resources to boost your writing career at self-publishing Join our thriving Facebook group at self-publishing Support the [email protected] slash self-publishing show. And join us next week for more help and inspiration so that you can make your mark as a successful indie author. Publishing is changing. So get your words into the world and join the revolution with the Self-Publishing Show.

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