Make Art. Make Money. Lessons From Jim Henson With Elizabeth Hyde Stevens. Podcast Episode 189

In keeping with the author entrepreneur focus of the blog recently, today I’m discussing making art and making money with Elizabeth Hyde Stevens, who wrote a book about Jim Henson’s career, which was both creatively and financially rewarding.

makeartmakemoneyIn the intro, I talk about my awesome Thrillerfest experience, Kindle Unlimited, the new Kindle pricing tool and my German book launch and first experience with a traditional publisher.

This podcast is sponsored by Kobo Writing Life, which helps authors self-publish and reach readers in global markets kobo writing lifethrough the Kobo eco-system. You can also subscribe to the Kobo Writing Life podcast for interviews with successful indie authors.

Elizabeth Hyde Stevens is an award-winning fiction author, and she teaches fiction at the Gotham Writers’ Workshop. She also created the Muppets, Mickey and Money LizHSresearch course at Boston University, and today we’re talking about her book, “Make Art Make Money: Lessons from Jim Henson on fueling your creative career.”

You can watch the interview on YouTube here, listen above or on the podcast feed on iTunes or Stitcher, or read the transcription below. We discuss:

  • Liz’s background in literary fiction and her interest in understanding how a writer could be both creative and earn good money
  • An overview of Jim Henson’s career – from early days as a puppeteer to multi-millionaire creator of TV, film, merchandising and more
  • How Jim Henson made peace with making money as an artist as it enabled him to fund further creativity
  • How larger creative projects require more people and more funding e.g. the making of the Dark Crystal or the Muppet Movie
  • The importance of owning copyright and how that enables bigger projects but keeps the control with the creator. How authors can protect themselves through contracts.
  • How time makes a huge difference and we just don’t know where we will end up, let alone where our books and characters might take us. The importance of the long game for creatives.
  • On loving your work, when work is your fun and redefining workaholism for creatives
  • How failure is just part of the creative path, and how we can learn from our failures
  • “Pure art don’t sell, you need a handle.” On learning marketing and pitching as a creative.
  • Reframing “selling out”

You can find Liz at www.ElizabethHydeStevens.com and on Facebook/Make Art Make Money. Twitter: ElizHydeStevens.

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The Arc Of The Indie Author Journey. From First Book To CEO Of Your Global Media Empire

When you first have a yearning to write a book, you’re not usually thinking of running a global media empire!

winding roadSo don’t worry if you’re not ready to assume the mantle of CEO of your own business just yet.

You don’t have to know everything now. You can learn on the job. We all have to. None of us are born with the knowledge of how to do these things – we just find out along the way.

This is the story arc of the author’s writing and business life as I have experienced it (so far) and the main challenges at each stage, as well as how to overcome them. I’m currently writing a business book for authors, and this is an excerpt from the work in progress.

Stage 1: “I want to write a book”

You’ve always been a reader and now you’re reading all the ‘how to’ books on writing. You’re attending seminars and conferences on writing. Perhaps you’re writing lots already, or perhaps you’re learning about writing without doing it yet.

Maybe you’re scared that what you write will be terrible. Maybe what you’re writing is terrible. But you know you want to be a writer, and you’re going to put in the effort to write that first book. You have a huge learning curve ahead but you know you will persist.

Challenge:

Actually writing and finishing a book. You can read all the books on writing but until you actually sit down and write, you won’t get black on white and you’ll never finish a book.

How to overcome it:

  • birdbybirdThe realization that ‘it’s OK to suck’ in your first draft (as discussed by Mur Lafferty in her podcast, I Should Be Writing and in this interview). This is also the theme of ‘Bird by Bird’ by Anne Lamott, where she advocates writing “shitty first drafts.” My own metaphor for this is Michelangelo’s statue of David – Michelangelo said he saw David within the marble and he just had to cut away the excess and then polish it until it was perfect. Authors have to create the block of marble with that first draft and then editing and rewriting will shape the statue. Creating that block is a hell of a lot of work.
  • Do timed writing exercises, in a class if you don’t have the discipline to do this alone. Set word count goals. Do NaNoWriMo. Use Write or Die software. Do anything to get a first draft done. It’s hard work people. Writing a book is not easy, otherwise everyone who says they want to write one would actually do it!
  • Go through the learning curve while actually writing. Don’t read a book on self-editing until you’re actually editing. Invest in a professional editor to help you with your writing. I learned far more from paying an editor to work on my manuscript than sitting in classes talking about other people’s work. You also need to write a lot. You won’t improve unless you write more.
  • Learn about editing and your publishing options – but don’t obsess too much about the latter until you have at least a first draft. I often get questions about publishing from people who haven’t even starting writing yet!

Stage 2: “I am a new author”

Champagne to celebrate the launch of my first novel!

Champagne to celebrate the launch of my first novel!

You’ve learned the process to get from words to first draft to finished product, and you’ve worked with an editor to improve your book. You’ve learned how to self-publish, or you’ve made it through the lottery process of agent and publisher. You’ve got the book out into the world

There are many people who say they want to write a book, but never actually get around to it. So congratulations if you have your first book!

Challenge:

Realizing that very people actually care that you wrote a book, and that you have to learn about marketing or no one will ever read it. Realizing that you’re not an instant millionaire and that the income from one book is not significant. Realizing that this is just the beginning of the next step.

How to overcome it:

  • Make a decision on whether there will even be any more books. Was the process of writing a book worthwhile for you? Are you brimming with ideas for a new one? Are you excited about being able to reach people with your words? Are you enthusiastic about learning more?
  • Start writing the next book. If you have the bug, the ideas will be plentiful and you’ll be ready to tackle the next book. You might need a bit of a rest, but after a while, you’ll get that itch again. So, get writing!
  • how to market a bookLearn about marketing. Unless you are one of the very few authors whose publisher will do ALL the marketing for the rest of your life, as well as for the first month, you will need to learn about marketing. I started to learn when I had two thousand copies of my first book sitting in my house. I had thought they would sell themselves, but of course, they didn’t! Most of them went into a landfill six painful months later. Don’t make my mistake! That initial failure kickstarted my own journey into learning marketing and over time, I’ve discovered I actually enjoy my marketing activities. After all, it’s about connecting with readers who enjoy the same things you do – your tribe.

Stage 3: “I am an established author”

Once you’ve written a few books, especially if they are within the same genre or category, you know approximately what you’re doing. It’s still hard work, but you understand the process.

hourglassIf you self-publish, you know the ropes and publishing takes very little time. If you have a publisher, the procedure is established and takes longer. You’ve got to grips with at least some aspects of marketing. You have a website and an email list. You get fan mail from readers.

Perhaps you still work a day job, and you’re wondering how to take it to the next level and become a full-time writer, or perhaps you want a side business that brings in extra money.

Challenge:

Balancing your time between writing more, marketing what you already have, real life and probably another job as well as family. Trying to decide whether to give up your day job for the full-time writer’s life, and potentially conflicting with family around this. You’re making some money but perhaps not quite enough to pay all the bills and have some comfort margin.

How to overcome it:

  • Use a diary/schedule to plan your writing time and focus on becoming more organized.
  • Get clear on your brand and what you are delivering to what customers. This will help focus what you write and produce.
  • Turning Pro Steven PressfieldEstablish criteria for going full-time e.g. Income level of $2000 a month from books before quitting the day job. Reduce your risk e.g. Downsize, save six months income, go part-time at work.

Stage 4: “I am the CEO of my creative company”

There is a tipping point where you go from being an author to running a business as an author.

You can now write for your living and you need to take the business side seriously, instead of your writing being just a hobby. The penny drops around rights exploitation and you realize how far your work can go through the opportunities available to authors now.

Whatever the catalyst, you decide to take control of your financial destiny and career as an author.

This may mean you go full-time as an author-entrepreneur, or you allocate a proper chunk of time to the business. To step into this phase means you are seriously about being an author-entrepreneur. You assume the CEO role – you’re in charge.

Challenge: Learning business skills so you can work on your business, not just in your business. Juggling the writing, the marketing and the production side, as well as trying to think about strategy, release schedules and more. Trying to keep track of all your products, the rights you want to exploit, the multiple projects you have going at once and keeping an eye on other opportunities as well as managing the contractors who work for you on various things.

How to overcome it: I’m currently writing a book about this level of the author journey, and stems from my own attempts to manage the challenges, but there are some overarching principles.

  • Get clear on exactly what you want for this business and your life. Look after your physical and mental health as well as your business. Say ‘no’ more so you can focus on your core target market and what enlivens you.
  • Establish your professional team. You need a team in place at this stage, and preferably an assistant, or someone else full time in the business as well as contractors. One of the first people I hired was a book-keeper to help me with the (dreaded) accounts!
  • Streamline your processes. If you have a production plan and you know what books are coming, you can book editors, cover designers in advance and tell fans what to expect. If you know where all your revenue streams are coming from, you can make sure all are reconciled to sales. If you manage your time, you can juggle being creative and being an entrepreneur.
  • Learn some business skills. Check out The Business Rusch posts by Kristine Kathryn Rusch and watch this space for my new book coming in the next few months! If you want to reach this stage, or you already have and are finding it difficult, I’d love to know what your specific questions are, or anything you definitely need covering in the book. Please click here to add your questions or comments and I will use them to shape the final content, as well as naming you in the Acknowledgements if your contribution is used. Or you could add a comment below. Thank you.

Do you agree with these stages on the author’s journey? Where do you fit right now and where would you like to get to? Please do join in the conversation and leave a comment below.

Top image: Flickr Creative Commons Daniel McDermott

Self Publishing In Spanish, Tips For Translation And Launch Of Pentecostés. Thriller de la serie ARKANE.

Last month, I shared the publishing and marketing experience for the German version of Pentecost, and today I’m super excited to announce that Pentecostés is now available in Spanish!

PentecostesYou can buy it on Kindle now, and coming soon in print and on other ebook stores.

In this article, I explain why publishing in Spanish is a good idea, and my translator, M.P.Amador shares her experience and tips, plus we outline our marketing ideas and reveal the Spanish book trailer. I’d also love to hear from you if you have any experiences or tips for marketing Spanish language books, so please leave a comment at the bottom of the post. Gracias!

Why publish in Spanish?

Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world after Mandarin, with over 400 million native speakers. It’s mainly spoken in Spain, Mexico, the United States, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Uruguay, Venezuela, as well as Equatorial Guinea and the Western Sahara.

For the ebook market specifically, Spanish is the second most spoken language in the US, which is the most mature ebook market. There are also specific ebook stores for Spain and emerging markets in the South American countries.

The number of ebooks in Spanish is considerably less than in English, so it is a smaller pond. There are 97,702 Spanish ebooks on Amazon.com as I write this – and only 3928 in the Crimen, Suspenso y Misterio category.

The Amazon.es store looks quite different, and of course, South America is a developing digital market … so this is a just a start. But think ahead 5 years … what will the market look like? You know that saying about the best time to plant a tree …

Interview with M.P.Amador – Translator for Pentecostés

Tell us a little about yourself and your writing & translating background

Paola AmadorI was born in Ecuador but I have lived in several countries. I am an Economist with a graduate degree in Environmental Management from Yale University. I’ve always loved reading, both fiction and non-fiction books. I’ve been making up stories, especially for children, since as long as I can remember, but have only written a few down. I never thought I could make a living out of a ‘hobby’. While working on other jobs, I started translating documents from English to Spanish for some friends, after which I continued with technical documents and a short non-fiction book, all of them environment-related.

It wasn’t until recently that I started jotting down ideas, short stories, and sharing them with my children. I also experienced a renewed interest in drawing and illustrating my ideas and stories. My passion for all this was growing every day, so I started following blogs about writing, publishing, marketing, drawing and illustration, reading and learning everything I could. That is how I found Joanna and this adventure with her began. This is actually my first time translating a fiction book, and so far the process has been challenging, exciting and rewarding.

What are some of the particular challenges about translating from English into Spanish?

I found translating words and phrases that are country or language-specific to be the most challenging. It’s not about translating words but ideas. So, you have to make sure that, even if you are saying things in a different way, you are communicating what the author originally intended. For me, technical documents are much easier than literary books, although the latter ones are a lot more fun.

Translating the names of famous places and people can also require some research, when you can’t just use a regular translation or their equivalent in Spanish, but you need to find out if there is a specific name being used in the language of your choice. In Pentecost for example, is the Apostle James Alphaeus known in Spanish as ‘Santiago el Menor’ or ‘Santiago el Mayor’?

Why did you want to do a royalty split deal with an indie author? What are your tips for translators who want to do this kind of thing?

My tips for translators: First, get to know the author: follow them, read their blog, listen to their podcast if they have one, read/listen to interviews. Make sure you like them, what they say, and of course, read their book so you know if you like it. If you don’t like the book (or books), I wouldn’t recommend translating it. You have to remember you will be working on it for a long time, not only for the translation itself, but also for promoting it, so you have to believe in it.

I had been following Joanna for quite a long time before I contacted her: listening to her podcasts, reading her blog, getting to know her work. I started following her because of TheCreativePenn, and when I learned she was a fiction author I visited her author website and followed her there too, because I liked what I read. One day, I read a post where she was asking for translators, and I decided to give it a try. Knowing who she was and what she did beforehand made this decision really easy for me; she wasn’t just ‘another indie author’, she was an author I liked, and with whom I could imagine myself working with. If I wouldn’t have known her or her books, I don’t think I would have approached her.

Why did you want to translate Pentecost? And were there any surprises on the translation journey?

I wanted to translate Pentecost because I already knew and liked Joanna and her work. I knew I would like working with her and translating the ARKANE series, plus I believe her books have a lot of potential. I also have an additional incentive, which is learning about the writing, editing, publishing and marketing processes from a great teacher; I hope I can use all that knowledge for my own books one day.

The only surprise was that after giving the book a more profound read, I wanted to investigate and actually see the sites it described. Since I couldn’t travel to all those places, I started looking for pictures on Google, and before I knew it, I was spending so much time looking for more information and pictures of those places, just for fun. Nonetheless, all this ‘research’ allowed me to understand why Joanna decided to use those places for the story.

How should indie authors find a good translator for their book? How do they evaluate it when they don’t speak the language?

Unfortunately, I don’t have a clear and concise answer for this question. If you do an internet search, you could find independent translators as well as translation companies and services. Some translators even offer samples you can read. The problem with this, as well as with approaching people who have translated books for publishers, is that they are used to charge in advance for their translation, so you may have to consider the possibility of an upfront payment. You might be able to find someone interested in a royalty split deal from these places though. The other option is to post an offering on your website/blog.

If you don’t speak the language you want your book to be translated to, there are a few things you can do to evaluate your potential translator. If the person you want to work with is a known translator, you can ask for references. If it’s someone you found on the internet or who approached you on your blog, ask for a sample of their work. Then you can have someone you know and trust (friends, family, colleagues…), and who speaks the language, read both the original and the translated sample.

Above all, what I feel is more important than anything else is getting to know your translator – do a search on the internet, read their blog (if they have one), exchange emails, do an interview and conversation on Skype, and make all the questions you need to ask. Then, go with your feelings. Let your intuition guide you.

It is not a foolproof recipe, but if you are doing a royalty split deal, the translator will also be taking a risk by working with you. Translating a book is a lot of work, and they can’t be completely sure they will get a reward that compensates all the hours they need to invest. They will also want to know you and be sure they can trust you. After all, you need a good story but you also need a good translation, so mutual trust is not only a must but a necessity.

How do translators work with authors during the translation process?

I believe authors and translators need to work very closely. Fluent dialogue is key. There should be as many email conversations and Skype meetings as needed, where both the author and the translator can ask and answer all the questions that can arise during the translation. As I see it, there aren’t ‘silly’ questions when your goal is to do the best job you possibly can.

If you have a doubt, just ask. Asking doesn’t hurt. I lost track of how many questions I asked Joanna. Fortunately, she never complained for all the emails I sent her, she answered all my questions and I felt much more confident that my translation was expressing what she wanted to communicate with the story.

How have you found the publishing process? Is it as you expected?

Yes and no. It’s a lot more demanding than I expected, but it’s not that complicated if you have someone who knows what they’re doing. If I was doing all this by myself, I would have gone crazy by now. Fortunately for me, Joanna knows how to handle it and I can learn from her little by little.

Where can people find you online?

If anyone wants to contact me, they can do it at:

http://www.MPAmador.com

Twitter: @MPaolaAmador

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/MPaolaAmador/

The Author’s Perspective – from Joanna

I’m now working with five separate translators and some of them have a lot of experience, and a couple have very little with translating fiction. When I interviewed Paola on Skype after she contacted me, I was really impressed with her passion for creating and for learning about this new way of getting books into the world.

I want to partner with creative people who have an entrepreneurial spirit, and are willing to take risks on the journey – and Paola fitted the bill! Her questions through the translation process showed a deep desire to understand what I really meant, in order to use the right words to convey my meaning. Of course, I can’t read the translation (although I have started learning some Spanish so maybe one day!) but trust, on both sides, is a huge part of this game. We’ll see how it goes!

I do 50:50% royalty splits with the understanding the the translator is also a marketing partner – but of course, there’s no guarantee of making any money – especially as, right now, I have no existing audience in a new language. I am very honest upfront about the fact this could be sunk time with no reward, but I also see this as a long term project – so one of the most important things is being able to talk with your translator honestly. Control freak indie authors can have a hard time with this!

Marketing #1: KDP Select, Reviews, Categories and Keywords

As I have no foothold in the Spanish market at all, we’re using KDP Select as a way to try and get reviews and initial sales. After the initial 90 days, we will move the book onto iBooks, Kobo and Nook. I don’t use Select for my individual English books, but I think it’s a good idea when you are just starting in a new market with few other resources.

Researching the categories and keywords is difficult in another language, as Amazon KDP has categories in English on the publishing end, and of course, the Spanish language store looks different for US Spanish books as well as in the Amazon.es store. The keywords are also difficult, so Paola spent hours using the auto-complete on Amazon.es and Amazon.com to try and work out the best ones to use. We’re playing with them to try and get the best results in terms of categories and keywords right now.

In terms of reviews, we’re reaching out to our extended network, If you’re a Spanish reader, or book blogger, we have some review copies available, so please contact me if you’d like one, or if you have any ideas for marketing. There will be a print version in the next 6 weeks as well.

Marketing #2: Email list

This is not just one book – I fully intend to have lots of books in Spanish over time. I see translation as part of the trickle of income streams from multiple books over the years, so it’s important to gather emails over time. I’ve set up a page in Spanish here and made it prominent on my JFPenn.com site. Lists take time to grow, but you never know what can happen and if lightning strikes, you need to capture as much of it as you can! Plus, there will be some people there for next time at least. All of this is a long term game.

Marketing #3: Book Trailer

I made the original version for Pentecost in English 3 years ago – you can read about the process of making a book trailer here. All I needed to do was switch out the English text for Spanish and change the links and the cover, and it was ready to go. I’ll be doing the same for German as well. I’ll admit to being skeptical about the efficacy of book trailers for selling books, but in an increasingly noisy text-blogging space, having a video to share on social media is a great asset and this didn’t take much time as I already had the material. So one big tip is to look at your English language marketing and see if you can duplicate it in another language.

Marketing: Other things

We’re going to put out a free short story that will link to the book, plus we will do a Goodreads giveaway when the print book is available. Then it’s just the usual rounds of trying to get reviews, interest from book bloggers, and putting out another book. We’re also looking for paid promotional opportunities, so if you know of any, please add a comment below.

Pentecostés. Thriller de la serie ARKANE

Un poder mantenido en secreto durante 2000 años. Una mujer que podría perderlo todo.

pentecostes spanishIndia. Cuando una monja es quemada viva en el ghat sagrado de Varanasi, y la piedra que llevaba en el cuello es robada, se desencadena una serie de sucesos a nivel internacional, en los que varios grupos irán a la caza de las reliquias de la iglesia primigenia.

Forjadas en el fuego y sangre de los mártires, las piedras de Pentecostés han sido traspasadas de generación a generación por los custodios, quienes han mantenido su poder y ubicación secretos.

Hasta ahora.

Los custodios están siendo asesinados y las piedras robadas por aquellos que pretenden utilizarlas para el mal en un mundo transformado por el fundamentalismo religioso.

Morgan Sierra, psicóloga de la Universidad de Oxford, se ve obligada a participar de la búsqueda tras el secuestro de su hermana y sobrina. Jake Timber, el agente de ARKANE, una organización secreta del gobierno británico que se especializa en experiencias paranormales y religiosas, la ayudará a llevar a cabo su misión.

Morgan deberá arriesgar su propia vida para salvar a su familia, ¿pero podrá mantener la lealtad de quienes la ayudan?

Desde los lugares más antiguos y sagrados de la cristiandad en España, Italia e Israel, hasta los confines de Irán y Túnez, Morgan y Jake deberán descubrir dónde están las piedras de los apóstoles. En una carrera contra el tiempo y ayudados únicamente por el conocimiento de los mitos de la iglesia primigenia, tendrán que cumplir con éxito su misión antes de que un Nuevo Pentecostés sea convocado, esta vez por las fuerzas del mal.

Pentecostés, el primer libro de la serie ARKANE, es una historia de suspenso y acción que explora el alcance y limitaciones de la fe dentro de los confines de la historia cristiana de los primeros siglos, la arqueología y la psicología.

Sample or Buy Now in Kindle format – coming soon in print and other ebook formats.

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Have you published in Spanish or do you read in Spanish? Please share your tips and experiences below! Thanks

The Mindset Of Successful Indie Authors And Longevity As A Writer with Bob Mayer

Today, I’m really excited to bring you a fantastic interview with Bob Mayer, who definitely counts as one of the leaders of the indie community.

In the intro, I talk about DRM and some of the things we need to be aware of as authors. The next blog post will go into this in more detail.

This podcast is sponsored by Kobo Writing Life, which helps authors self-publish and reach readers in global markets kobo writing lifethrough the Kobo eco-system. You can also subscribe to the Kobo Writing Life podcast for interviews with successful indie authors.

bob mayerBob Mayer is a West Point Graduate, Former Green Beret, CEO of Cool Gus Publishing and a NY Times Bestselling Author. With 60 books published, Bob has sold over four million books, and is also a leadership speaker and consultant.

You can watch the interview on YouTube here, listen above or on the podcast feed on iTunes or Stitcher, or read the transcription below.

We discuss:

  • Discipline and putting in the work as an author
  • How authors lie and some of the myths around sales figures and the industry
  • How to stay afloat in the river of digital books
  • Focusing on a niche for long term success
  • Longevity as a writer
  • How Bob works with his COO, Jen Talty to run Cool Gus Publishing
  • On the mindset of successful indies and the lure of control
  • Multiple streams of income and how Bob manages his speaking as well as writing
  • On the future of foreign rights, subscriptions services and other things to consider for the next few years of publishing upheaval
  • The themes that span Bob’s fiction work – you can check out a sampler here
  • What writers can learn from TV

You can find Bob at CoolGus.com and on twitter @bob_mayer

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Tips On Public Speaking For Authors, Creatives And Other Introverts

Successful writers have to be speakers – eventually literary festivals, podcast interviews, radio and TV shows will be on the cards, and it’s

speaking in bali

Speaking in Ubud, Bali. Travel is one of the reasons I speak!

best to learn to speak before you absolutely HAVE to!

If you want to run a business as an author, professional speaking can add another stream of income to your portfolio, and there are lots more reasons you might consider adding speaking to your repertoire.

I’ve been a professional (i.e. paid) speaker for 6 years now, and I love connecting with audiences in person. But I’m still an introvert who needs a lot of alone time and finds crowds difficult. In this interview, Viv Oyolu from AudioByte interviews me about being an introvert author and a public speaker, and quizzes me on my tips for starting to speak, or improving along the way, as well as managing anxiety. (Viv also has a lovely voice so you’ll enjoy listening!)

You can listen below or here on SoundCloud:

You can also find the interview on Stitcher or iTunes.

public speaking for authors, creatives and other introvertsWant more help?

Everything I know about speaking is included in my book, ‘Public Speaking for Authors, Creatives and Other Introverts.’ While much of it is aimed at anyone who wants to speak, there are some specific chapters around introversion, as well as the business side of being a speaker.

This SlideShare contains some of the highlights:

You can find the book in print and ebook formats here:

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Do you have any tips or questions about public speaking? Please leave them in the comments below.