You can sustain a writing and publishing career for decades if you retain your love for the craft – and the business – as well as developing the right mindset and creative practices.
In today's show, I talk to Mark Leslie Lefebvre about his career in bookselling, writing horror and non-fiction, as well as helping other authors – plus why professionalism and patience are critical for long-term success.
In the intro, Findaway Voices announces distribution to Apple Books audio with price control, and Draft2Digital introduces Account Sharing, giving limited access to virtual assistants or other publishing partners.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre is a horror author and also writes non-fiction about haunted places and books for authors, including Killing It On Kobo and The 7 P's of Publishing Success. He also has a podcast for authors, Stark Reflections on Writing and Publishing.
- Building a professional author brand
- How book retailers do pay attention to how authors behave online
- The role that patience plays in being a successful author
- Branding and marketing when authors do in-person events
- Lessons learned about podcasting for authors
- Why mission-driven podcasts succeed
- On what authors can focus on for 2019
Transcript of Interview with Mark Leslie Lefebvre
Joanna: Hi, everyone. I'm Joanna Penn from TheCreativePenn.com. And today, I'm back with Mark Leslie Lefebvre. Hi, Mark.
Mark: Hi, Joanna. It's great to be back.
Joanna: It's so funny when you've been on the show a number of times. But in case people don't know who you are,
Mark is a horror author and also writes non-fiction about haunted places and books for authors, including Killing It On Kobo and The 7 P's of Publishing Success, which is what we're talking about today.
Before we get into it, Mark, people might be confused about who you actually are because you used to be Mark from Kobo and now you're not.
Give us a bit of an update about what's been going on with you the last 18 months and what you're doing now. And how and whether your life has changed.
Mark: My life has changed in a significant way. I was hired by Kobo to come up with a solution for self-publishing. In 2011, I started there as a director of author relations and self-publishing and I came up with Kobo Writing Life.
And built a beautiful platform and hired the most wonderful team in the world and I actually did hire Christine Monroe with the goal of her replacing me.
I got to a certain point after six years, it was a very successful business, one in every four books that sell on Kobo was coming from Kobo Writing Life. And I had all the right people in place and I was loving the job but not liking the commute. So my boss and I had a frank discussion.
We were also seeing things in different ways and there are certain directions that I knew he wanted to go in and there are directions I wanted to go in. And I thought, ‘Okay, I built this cool thing, I've got these great people. I can leave my baby in the hands of people I trust and go on to do other things.'
I left Kobo in November of 2017, and the goal was to strike it out on my own to write full-time. I've been wanting to write full-time my entire life. And to continue to do speaking engagements and to do help authors one-on-one, through Reedsy, for example.
I've been doing one-on-one coaching and marketing with authors. And it's been a fantastic year, my commute has been amazing because I get up in the bedroom still at 5:00, 5.30 in the morning, I feed the animals, put the coffee on, slip into the den and get to work every day. And it's been a fantastic year, of course, what happened was when I was at Novelist, Inc where I think we last saw one another in person.
Mark: I've always gotten along really, really well with the folks from Draft2Digital. And Kris Austin, he's the CEO of Draft2Digital. So Kris was there and so was Aaron who's the president and Dan Wood and Kevin Tumlinson. And so the D2D team was there and it's always fun to hang out with them, not just for karaoke but for all the fun conversations about publishing.
We realized that there were some synergies there and that there were some connectivities. And it was an interesting situation because I wanted to continue to maintain my independence, but I also wanted the opportunity to go and build things.
Chris and I came to an amazing compromise where I'm a remote employee of Draft2Digital; I'm now the director of business development. I still have my freedom to do my independent things but I'm also an employee of Draft2Digital working remotely on business relationships.
Working with distributors, working with different companies and ways that Draft2Digital can work with other people to help authors. So it's almost like the natural progression from what I was doing with Kobo Writing Life and I've kind of taken it beyond that.
And I think it kind of stems back to my partner Liz had being with me at a conference and we talked to an author and the author was asking for my advice and I kept coming back to say, ‘Well, Kobo can do this for you, Kobo can do that for you, Kobo…' And she stopped me afterwards and she said, ‘He didn't want to know what Kobo could do for him, he wanted to know what you could do for him?'
And so now the natural progression is, and I've done this in the last year and I can continue to do this with Draft2Digital, is what is your goal as an author? How can I help you?
And now with Draft2Digital, because it's not just about one retailer, it is publishing wide, now I can help authors in many, many ways, regardless of their publishing path and desire. And so it was a perfect opportunity for me to join the team and I did join the team, I suppose it would be in October of this year and I'm still learning.
The difference is I turn to Dan all the time, Dan Wood, and lean on him a lot because he knows everything. I can reach out to him very easily on Slack, we have another meeting later today. Because I used to know everything about Kobo, and now I'm starting from scratch really.
Joanna: I didn't prompt you with this question, but I am interested in it because many people leave a day job and start writing full-time. And I know that first year for me was very hard. It was very hard in many ways: the loss of status, the loss of community, the loss of a steady income, the loss of a lot of things.
I think one of the messages that I want out of your situation is kind of, yes, you can still be a writer and have a day job. So regardless of the fact that you're working in the author industry, you are now juggling writing your fiction, your own non-fiction and a day job.
What have you learned about the balance between having your own time to write but also the value of a day job?
Mark: When I was at Kobo, I was working 60 to 80 hours a week so I didn't have much balance. In the last year I regained that balance and I've approached Draft2Digital in a way that I am keeping that balance and I'm actually writing more.
I've learned to condition myself because I had to train myself in the last year. And train myself that regardless of the fact that I didn't have to go into an office, I did not have to be anywhere, I still got up Monday through Friday every morning at 5:00 a.m. with a few exceptions or even sometimes on the weekends to get stuff done.
Because I started the podcast and I think to me, it's important to maintain that connection but I've maintained the connection over the years, so I wasn't missing that. I think what I was missing was getting the opportunity to work with really smart people I respect and admire.
I had that at Kobo, I have it again at Draft2Digital. And then not just being able to work on helping authors but to be able to get my fingers in the weeds again and help authors in a different way. And that it almost feels like there's more opportunity for both me as an author independently but also as sort of an advocate for authors.
I really missed that advocacy and I'm feeling I'm putting that back on in a positive way that's not taking away from my life.
Joanna: I like that message. I left seven years ago and went full-time, but I totally understand the value of the day job, especially almost leveraging bigger stuff. I'm interested in AI but how much more could I do with AI if I worked for Google, for example? So I definitely think that that's great.
Let's move into your 7 P's book which is excellent. I really enjoyed, and I have lots of notes actually.
Joanna: Yes, it's great. And I think I'm really glad you got into writing books for authors too because, again, you've got all of that experience talking to thousands of them over the years.
But I want to start with professionalism because I actually think your professionalism is the reason Draft2Digital wanted to pick you up; you wouldn't have got that opportunity without being a professional.
For authors specifically, what are some of the mistakes that authors make in terms of professionalism? And how can they be better at building a personal brand?
Mark: I think this was a lot easier before the internet. We talk about the millennials and the fact that when I was a certain age, I could do things and get away with it and there was nobody there with a camera videotaping it. That's not the case anymore.
But that's also the case you have to think of it as authors. We are out there in social media, we're making comments, we're interacting with people, whether it's editors, writers, industry professionals and everyone's watching.
When I was at Kobo, I paid a lot of attention to what authors were saying and doing. And I'll be honest with you – retailers will pay attention if you are out there doing nothing but bad mouthing. Are you doing nothing but stabbing other authors in the back? Well, that's going to come back and reflect on you.
So I think even not just in your communication, whether you're at a conference or whether you're doing something online. You have to remember somebody is always watching or assume somebody is always watching.
There's a professional element of myself. When I'm at the conferences, I do karaoke and I do silly things and stuff like that, but I still do it with professionalism in mind. And, of course, I've always had that author brand behind me for anyone maybe watching a video.
I have Barnaby Bones, my skeleton, that's part of my horror author brand but part of my industry rep brand is always wear a jacket, that's something that's consistent. And I often talk to authors, is your brand can be eclectic and can be strange but should also have something that's consistent with who you are.
Ideally be consistent with professionalism, with how you treat people on an ongoing basis. And it will come back to haunt you in positive and potentially negative ways.
Joanna: I also think, like at the moment I feel this is important too, doing things like podcasting. I've been doing voice coaching for narration of audiobooks which is a completely different skill obviously. But I feel like many authors will need to do more audio, will need to do more podcasting or speaking or this and the other.
And professionalism to me is also upscaling and training. I met someone at a conference who was like, ‘I'm just not good about being in public,' and sure being an introvert, being shy, those two being different things.
Mark: But I have them both.
Joanna: And the kind of training for who you want to be.
Do you think that's going to be more important?
Mark: Oh, I think so. I'm dressed like batman because you dress for the position you want, right? Both in the same situation, we're both introverts but when we're required to by the role we're put into, we will give it our all and put ourselves out there and it's exhausting.
We'll do that because we've learned that. You learned that over time. I learned that over time. And so that's something that you have to practice.
The other thing about professionalism, I think it's important and at least sort of one of the other P's is progression, not just in your craft. You could continually get better at writing.
And you talked about that on one of your podcasts I was listening to this morning, you talked about that progression with Chris Fox, as well the two of you talked about that, so. But also, that progression in professionalism. You're constantly learning about the industry, which you do through the podcast as well. On an ongoing basis, you're always learning new things, even things that we thought we knew were changing over time.
So that's important.
Joanna: I want to talk about patience because I love that you include this. Some people with the 7 P's it would kind of all be about marketing. But no, most of yours is more actually about psychology and long-term thinking and that type of thing.
One of the biggest negative reason I hear from people, I'm sure you'll hear it even more now is, ‘If I leave KU, can I replace my income in one month?'
So talk about patience, especially when it comes to going wide.
Mark: No, you can't and don't expect it to. Historically, from Kobo, the average author took six to nine months if not longer in order to build their sales on Kobo. And it's not the same.
And the algorithms at Amazon change anyway, so whatever was working now you're constantly learning new things. And I think people spend so much time learning new things about how Amazon's changing and how they can play with the system or game the system or work with the system to be more professional.
You need to do the same things on Kobo, on Nook, on Apple, on potentially Google where there are some authors who are making that. And as you always remind us of the other international markets where we were only at the tipping point, we haven't even hit the tipping point of moving from print into digital.
Never mind the fact that in North America where everyone thinks it's all done, print rating is still 70% to 80% of the industry. So we're still not done growing digital even in established markets.
Joanna: Yes. So what about patience on a bigger scale because I also found interesting… we've known each other for years, but I still found the book really interesting because I learned more about you and your history.
You've being in bookselling, so just give us more of a time frame in terms of patience for you as an author as well.
Tell us a bit more about how patience has helped you as an author.
Mark: I think I've been lucky because when I started writing it was on a typewriter and it was before the internet. I had to get the ‘Writer's Digest' magazine or magazine or some of the books that have behind me or the ‘Writer's Market' which would come up once a year.
Now, my town would get a month after it had already been available because I was in Northern Ontario. And then I would mail manuscripts off and have to wait six to nine months to get my rejection in the mail, then I could package it up again.
We didn't even have photocopiers in my town, so I had to type it again if I didn't get the full manuscript back, which cost more with self-adjustment. So I developed patience at an early age.
I also developed, based on the practice at the time, is before you wrote and tried to get your novel published or with an editor or an agent, you were to submit your short stories to markets and in my case it was horror and science fiction, urban fantasy I guess you might call it to sell more stuff, but I still call it horror. You would establish your name and then after selling a bunch of stories improving your track record, you would get your book published.
Now, I got to a point where I started to become impatient because I think my first professional sale as a writer was in 1992, the year I started in book selling. And I got to a certain point where people were asking me, they said, ‘Well, you are a published writer?' And I said, ‘Yeah, I am,' ‘Where can I get your stuff?' And I went, ‘Well, if you drive six hours to cross the border into the U.S., there's a small town in Upstate, New York where if you get there before the end of the month and you only got four days you might find this magazine circulation 500 copies on the shelf still.'
I got tired of that and I used Ingram Lightning Source, which is not available to authors anymore, I'm grandfathered in. So it's sort of like the back end of Spark that's not as pretty and easy to use because it was meant for publishers.
I self-published a collection of previously published stories in 2004. So I even learned early on to wait, I learned the process and I understand publishing and I understand especially because I also traditionally published. I get paid once a year from my traditional publishers. I get a royalty statement once a year.
So if you think that when the dashboard on KDP is down for maintenance or Kobo Writing Life or Draft2Digital is down for maintenance for half an hour and you're freaking out because you can't look at your sales, I go back and I go, ‘Yeah, well, I'll find out what this book, Macabre Montreal was just published co-authored with Shayna Krishnasamy.' I'm not gonna know how this book is selling until next April or May and then I'll get my check from them as well.
I'm very fortunate in that my experience in traditional publishing has helped me to understand that the pace of publishing isn't as fast as the pace of getting published. And that's given me the patience to look at markets and say, ‘I've been with Google, the Google Play or the Google store since probably 2008, 2009, I only started to sell on Google in the last year.'
That's patience. If I had looked at it eight years ago said, ‘Now, I'm not selling on Google, I'm going to give up.' I think lessons like that are really, really important and I guess maybe because I've worked with enough authors to realize Hugh Howey didn't make it big until his 10th book.
It takes a long time to grow a base. And you understand that over time because when you started with your first book and you didn't give up regardless of what happened with that, you kept trying and kept doing new things. And again, that comes back to progression.
So you brought patience, practice, progression and professionalism all working together and you haven't done any promo yet.
Joanna: We're going to come to that. It's funny because I like to remind people like you brought up Hugh Howey. What's nice is Hugh was being quite quiet the last few years, a lot of new authors don't actually know who he is. But back in the day, he was the one we all talked about.
But Hugh also said that the big news in self-publishing is not people like him, it's actually, it's more people like us who have never hit some massive success, have not yet got our film deal, you know, have not yet made millions.
And I think that's the truth, this thing about patience as well. It may never happen. But if you love what you do and then you're creating work and you're putting the work out there and you're just carrying on and you are having a good time and you love it, then there's no problem with that.
That's most people, isn't it?
Mark: Yeah, the majority. And again, having been on the inside of a retailer and looking at the stats, 90% of the industry are more people like you and I. We might be a little bit more advanced because we've been doing it for a little bit longer, so we've learned and gotten our bruises and cuts along the way.
But yeah, are those who are enjoying what they do working really, really hard and not giving up and continuing to go out publishing it. Because it does come back to the nothing sells your existing books like your new book.
Joanna: Yeah, like another book. That might be the book that takes off that does make million, you just never know, you never know.
Let's talk about the P of promotion because I do want to bring it back to the skeleton because so much of what we talk about with Indie marketing is kind of online marketing and we all talk about that ad infinitum.
You often post pictures on social media of you in physical locations with the skeleton or in the back of your car, that type of thing.
I wonder if you just talk a bit about marketing in person in physical places.
Mark: Digital is a great way to market. But I also think physical marketing and even the digital marketing I do on Instagram etc., with Barnaby Bones and those pictures that I share that's part of the long-term patience, brand building.
Which is important and it's just that reminder then I'm there doing my thing. I think with finding something that you can identify yourself with that people recognize this is part of what you do.
With me, with horror, with ghost stories and things like that it's very obvious that the skeleton is there. Because one of the things that this does is when people see me, they see the skeleton, they either know to avoid me. Or if they're interested, like if I'm at a book signing. And again, not just doing book signings at libraries and bookstores but non-traditional places.
I had an author table at the craft fair at a local brewery in Hamilton, Ontario over the summer. So every Saturday it was $20 for me to buy a table and every Saturday I'd get up early and I'd take my stuff there and I'd spend the afternoon at a brewery, which is where I like hanging out anyways.
I was not drinking all day, unfortunately, because they weren't licensed outside which is where we were set up, but I bought a tent, got the stuff, got Barnaby. And what was amazing is that it was a long-term patience thing because people would come by over time, it was startling.
I had some people approach me. I was on a podcast in 2006, Paula B's the ‘Writing Show' talking about my novel A Canadian Werewolf in New York, which I was trying to finish 10 years ago, and it took me 10 years to finish it.
And I had somebody approach me who saw me at the brewery and they walked up and said, ‘Oh, my god, Mark Leslie, I remember listening to you on Paula B's podcast in 2006.' And I thought it was so amazing.
But then over time, the regulars who would come back on Saturday would swing by and talk to me. And I even picked up a few really hearty readers who bought every week, would come back and buy different books for me and then review them. And so I think that physical presence and following the same professionalism is part of a long-term strategy.
The other thing I think that works really, really well; I brought Barnaby to Montreal with Shayna. We did a lot of posts. There was this weird ghost that was behind us. And even though it was not really a ghost, it was Audrey Hepburn that looked like a ghost.
One of the posts that we shared was this story that was written like sales copy, which pulls you in to make you intrigued by the fact that, ‘Oh, my God, they're sitting there and there's a ghost behind them.' But it was really just a reflection of Audrey Hepburn, thing at that Indigo which is like a Barnes and Noble here in Canada.
So I think we don't think about our physical presence moving about the world. My car has magnets with my name, my book covers, my URL and the chills and thrills branding that I've used no matter where I park. Well, I have Barnaby in the car anyway, this is one of the Barnaby's, I actually have three of them.
There's Barnaby sitting on the front step and has a Santa Claus hat on and Liz is a principal. So we've got a desk that we got out at an antique play store. So school desk, he's sitting at the desk, he was there for Halloween, he's here now with a Santa hat on.
I have a Barnaby in the car, that's the full one that this guy doesn't have legs, he's just hanging behind me. The other one's neck is broken, so he's sort of propped up.
That's part of the branding. Even people who come to the door, I've had delivery people come to the door and go, ‘Oh, you write horror?' I was like, ‘Yeah,' ‘Oh, cool.' ‘And here, go to my website you can download one of my books for free, just sign up for the newsletter.' Or, ‘You've got links to my free books.'
So constantly thinking about where you are, I used to be parked in a parking lot in Toronto every day for Kobo. And then there were numerous times people would shove a note under my window saying, ‘Thanks so much for the laugh,' because it's skeleton sitting in my passenger seat. There's always opportunities thinking outside of the digital box where you can actually be promoting yourself as well.
Joanna: I agree with you. And also, I think like you said you were sharing pictures on social media, so you were able to take the physical marketing and actually turn into something digital.
I often say that to people if they do a event. And even if the event itself is not very good, like if you do a book signing no one turns up, just get someone to take a few pictures and just make it look like there are people there and you have some marketing.
I really like what you're doing with that and I've been watching that and it's kind of something that I'm still thinking about in terms of how I could do more of that as J.F. Penn because I do it as Joanna Penn. But you have the two personas very much.
Mark: Similar to yours, yeah.
Joanna: You don't bring the skeleton when you're doing author stuff, only when you're Mark Leslie.
Mark: Unless I'm using an example of how authors can use author branding.
Joanna: Ooh, which is great marketing.
Mark: Exactly. Again, so it does the double thing, right? Say, for example, in my other persona, I sell scary stuff and here's Barnaby. I actually have brought him to lectures at classes where I can take the car.
I have not yet bought him tickets on an airplane to fly beside me. Although I plan on doing that when I can get a good seat sale, that way I get the benefit of elbow room and you're on a plane for how many hours. There's going to be people who come and ask you what you're doing with the skeletons.
Joanna: I bet you there's laws against it if it's real, or is it just plastic?
Mark: It's plastic. You're not allowed to bring a bag of bones on a plane, but it is plastic and it's very obviously plastic, so but again for my book.
Joanna: That's fantastic, I love it.
I do want to ask about podcasting because when you left Kobo, you were doing the ‘Kobo Writing Life Podcast' which Chrissy and the team have now taken on doing a great job with. But you've been podcasting yourself with ‘Stark Reflections,'
What part does that podcast now play in your life? A lot of people want to podcast, but you and I know how much work it is, it has to be worth it.
Talk a bit about lessons learned around the year of podcasting and any tips.
Mark: Even though I had run a podcast, Chrissy did one a month and I did the other one, so we only did two a month and I knew I wanted to do a weekly podcast. Having done one for years, I still underestimated how much time it took because I got my hands in the weeds and I actually do a short personal intro, usually an interview, and then I reflect on it.
And it's as I'm editing the interview that I'm reflecting on what I'm going to say and then I go when it's all done in a course of a few hours on a single day. And I almost do it live. I started batching and then I fell out of it, now I'm batching again for the Christmas season.
I think I wanted to never stop learning and when I left Kobo, because I left relatively quickly, I told Chrissy because she was taken over a lot of responsibility. I said, ‘Tell you what, I've got a few interviews already done, why don't I just do the podcast for you, I'm not working anymore. I'm not working full-time, I'll just finish the podcast and I'll slide them over and then you can have them and that way you can get caught up.'
And as I was doing it, I realized I'm going to miss this, so I went, ‘Let's do something really stupid, let's start my own podcast.' And again, I wanted to continue that thing.
I've learned so much. It's been an amazing experience. I'm sure you've experienced, and I know you've experienced, is people will approach you and say, ‘Oh, my God, I recognize you.'
I was at a conference, people may hear your voice a room and look over and think…actually a half the time it's because I've been on ‘The Creative Penn Podcast' that they know what that is.
But again, that's just part of that overall experience. But it also is giving me the opportunity because I have a lot of strong opinions about the publishing industry. And I roll my eyes a lot at people who make assumptions because they know, really know something this much, like they know about an inch of it really, really well.
And I'm not saying they don't know that. But they know nothing else about the rest of publishing and they make assumptions based on this really tiny bit of knowledge. And I just get frustrated and go, ‘Oh, my god, it's so obvious.'
But instead of getting mad I thought, ‘Well, maybe I can get my voice out there and try to share some of what I've learned in the last 25 plus years to help authors and publishers understand.' If I could help big publishers understand all the awesome things authors are doing and help Indie authors understand some of the awesome things that big publishers are doing, we'd both be so much better off and the industry would be a lot stronger.
I wanted to bring those together rather than the rest of the world, everyone seems to be fighting each other and pointing at the other as an issue or there's something wrong with you. I want to bring people together and learn from one another.
Joanna: What you're saying there is very important; you're talking about a mission-driven podcast, which is also where I started. And that I think is the one that will keep you going, not necessarily the one that's going to make money.
What I think is really important for people to remember about podcasting is what you said also about learning things, wanting to talk to people about stuff, having a mission, the indie mission as we both have. Those are all the reasons to start a podcast, not some people are making money with podcasting.
Mark: The desire was not to make money off of it. Now, ideally, I've been lucky with patrons and with a sponsor. I've been able to pay for the hosting and actually pay for some of the time and then after I just recently I bought better equipment and my downloads as they grow, you have to pay more. So it's helping me maintain that in a positive way.
But you're right. The mission is internal. The satisfaction that I get from knowing that I've helped someone, that I've inspired them, that I've educated them is priceless. It really truly is and that motivates me. I know I'm not going to sell books because of it.
Joanna: You sell some books because of it but I think, exactly what you said, I now consider this podcast to be part of my body of work. And there are people who listen to our podcast who may never read our books or they may never get that information in another way.
Or actually both you and I have put out enough verbally that may never be written down because it's just stuff that we might say off the top of the head in reflection. But that might be the thing that somebody learns from and that will hit them more than an officially written book.
Mark: Of course, yeah. And you know what, and there's a perfect example that happened to me about a year ago. I went to a conference to do a talk on a panel. And the year before I was the keynote for the lunchtime talk. And when I showed up at the panel I was waiting there talking to my colleagues and I had an author come up to me and say, ‘See this book,' they showed it to me and they said, ‘We'd like to give you a copy of it.'
It was dedicated to me and they said, ‘We saw what you did, we heard your story and we knew that we could do something similar.' Not the exact same thing but they were inspired by what I had said and done and then they took that and applied it to themselves and they published a book.
So you don't always get that, you don't always get the opportunity to hear how you influence someone. But that's such an amazing and powerful thing because you go, ‘Wow, I'm glad I took the time to drive all this way to get the modicum payment that I receive, it barely covered my gas.'
But I didn't do it for the money, I did it because I helped inspire someone. And I think that underlying thing is really, really important. You never know the person in the back of the room at your last talk, that the light went off in their head and suddenly that helped them.
Joanna: And also, podcasting is great because you and I are friends probably mainly because we started doing interviews on podcast and then eventually, we met in person. And now it's just like the way we can catch up, is by having a podcast interview.
Mark: If we don't have an excuse to chat already.
Joanna: Exactly, which is awesome. I'm starting another podcast in 2019, and you're going to come on it, so.
Mark: My goodness. And is it going to be a futurist podcast, I'm guessing?
Joanna: No, it's not. I haven't announced it yet, but it will be on the 10th anniversary of ‘The Creative Penn Podcast.'
Mark: Which I'll be listening to very soon.
Joanna: No, I've done two 10-year things, so 10 years of thecreativepenn.com just happened when this goes out. But the 10 years of the podcast is March, 2019.
Mark: So we'll have to hear about it then. You're wonderfully teasing people. This is awesome.
Joanna: I'm trying. I'm not very patient unfortunately.
Mark: Can I hit the buy in advance button for that?
Joanna: We are almost out of time but what I wanted to ask you, so we're coming into 2019 as this show goes out and you're now with Draft2Digital, there's lots of things that D2D are doing to expand, but so both you as Mark from D2D and Mark as Mark:
What do you think authors should be focusing on for 2019, over and above the standard yes write more books type of thing?
Mark: I think having your work available on multiple formats is important. We all know, and I know this is something people hear over and over again, but audio is just again growing billion-dollar industry.
Draft2Digital is now enabling authors with the ability to get three books into all the markets and continuing to grow that, so we will continue to expand. And that's not just retail but it's library market.
So again, not just the traditional retail markets, not just the North American markets, thinking about that. Thinking about print in different ways, shapes and forms publishing globally, I think different formats of print as well since print is still the majority of the overall market. Thinking of audio.
And then looking at storytelling in a bigger way. And I think we haven't even touched upon that. AI, virtual reality, games, and not just video games but games within board games because there's a resurgence of that tactile feel. Look at ‘Dungeons and Dragons' and how it's a appeared on ‘Stranger Things' and ‘Riverdale' in different guises. And the popularity of that we saw a book that Canada recently released about how the books are selling, the manuals that 20 plus years ago, 30 years ago, I was buying.
I think being open to the fact that storytelling is not just the forms that we think of but storytelling is a lifestyle for us. We can be storytellers right now, you and I, we are storytellers right now, people are listening to us.
And being open to that next thing. I think we haven't even seen the next thing. And you and I are going to be so excited about that. And we're going to be raving about it. In two years' time, there's going to be something that neither one of us even imagined despite the fact that we're always looking forward. And we'll be talking about going, ‘Wow, if only I had known.'
Joanna: That was very true. But as you say we'll keep learning and keep talking. So tell people where they can find you and everything you do online.
Mark: Well, you can find me at markleslie.ca. You can learn more about Draft2Digital at draft2digital.com, and that's 2, the numeral 2, not T-W-O. And you can listen to the ‘Stark Reflections' podcast at starkreflections.ca. Can you tell I'm Canadian?
Joanna: Fantastic. Thanks so much for your time, Mark. That was great.
[Forest path image courtesy Johannes Plenio and Unsplash.]