Episode 51: Connection, Optimism, & Publishing Wide with Mark Leslie Lefebvre

Welcome back to Alchemy for Authors!

In this episode, I talk with author and book industry expert, Mark Leslie Lefebvre. We discuss Mark’s journey to becoming an author, and the power of connection and optimism to supercharge your author career. Other topics we cover include:

·       How a ghost-walk inspired Mark to write a plethora of books on ghosts and hauntings.

·       Why people need scary stories.

·       What it really means to publish wide.

·       How to be a relaxed author if your book gets pirated.

·       The power that comes from asking yourself: Would you rather have a million dollars or a million readers?

Mark’s humour, optimism, and passion for the writing life make this an episode you’re not going to want to miss.

If you want to hear more conversations between Mark and myself, make sure you check out Episode 297 of the Stark Reflections on Writing and Publishing podcast titled Enthusiasm, Encouragement, and Alchemy for Authors with Jo Buerhere.

Visit Mark’s website here: https://markleslie.ca/

Connect with Mark on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/markleslielefebvre

Connect with on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/markleslielefebvre/

Listen to the Stark Reflections on Writing and Publishing podcast here: https://markleslie.ca/podcast/

Find Mark’s books here: https://markleslie.ca/bibliography/

Books by Mark mentioned in this episode:

Haunted Hamilton       

Killing it on Kobo     

Wide for the Win    

The 7 P’s of Publishing Success   

Other resources mentioned in this episode:

The Relaxed Author – By Mark Leslie Lefebvre & Joanna Penn 

The Creative Penn Podcast – Hosted by Joanna Penn  

The Facebook Group – Wide for the Win  

If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, rate and review. You can also support the show by buying me a coffee at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/jobuer. Your support helps me keep this podcast going.

Follow me on Instagram: @alchemyforauthors and @jobuerauthor.

Join my Alchemy for Authors newsletter and download your FREE copy of Manifestation for Authors here

If you enjoy Gothic Suspense, you can join my reader’s newsletter and download a  copy of my short story collection, Between the Shadowshere

Find the full transcript of this episode below.

Episode 51: Connection, Optimism, & Publishing Wide with Mark Leslie Lefebvre

Jo: Hello, my lovelies. Welcome back to another episode of Alchemy for Authors, episode 51. So happy Easter for those who celebrate. This week’s episode is right up there with being one of my favorite. I got to chat with writer, author coach, and indie publishing industry expert, Mark Leslie Lefebvre. And I have been a fan of Mark’s for years. So it would be near impossible to delve into the world of indie publishing without stumbling across Mark’s name.

And so when I first started making this podcast, Alchemy for Authors, something tangible back in October, 2021, Mark’s name was on the top of my list of dream guests to have on the show. The first episode of Alchemy for Authors released in February, 2022. So you can imagine how thrilled I am that not much more than a year later, Mark has actually on the show. So, this is where I want to offer you the friendly reminder to stay the course. Like, whatever your creative endeavor, your goals, your dreams, you can get there.

I know that you’re just going to love the show as much as I did recording it. Mark shares his passion behind writing and connecting with others through his stories. He talks about how someone who’s afraid of the monster under the bed, even to this day, can go on to write horror. And how a ghost walk set him on the path of writing the plethora of books on ghosts and hauntings. Mark also shares valuable advice about publishing wide and how to not sweat the small stuff like piracy.

So I told you, it’s a goodie!

First though I’m going to give you a quick update about me.

So right now I have the privilege of a week off from the day job. And it’s one more week before my husband gets back from overseas as well. He’s been away for two weeks now. My plan, of course, is just to try and squish in as much writing and book related stuff as possible. I’ve got a couple of books I want to get ready for launching. And I’ve got another book that I need to get ready for my editor. So I have got a lot going on.

However, since the break from my day job in reality, I have instead spent the first day dealing with plumbing issues and having to call in an emergency plumber, that was on Good Friday. And then Saturday, the internet at our house decided to go down. So, I don’t know about you, but I have always had this thing about being super independent. Like when something breaks or needs fixing around the house, I get this surge of determination that I can fix it on my own. It doesn’t matter that I’m not a plumber. It doesn’t matter that I’m no good with technology or any of that kind of thing. Instead I go into hyper-focus and pretty much all I can focus on is fixing whatever’s gone wrong.

So I Google solutions. I watch all the YouTube clips that I can on how to fix things. And then I go and spend far too much money at the local hardware store trying to find solutions. But in the end, and at the begging of my father and my husband over the phone, I had to swallow my pride and call the professionals. And of course it takes them no time to fix what took me days.

So here’s my reflection:

Where else am I trying to do everything? And spending time and energy on something that someone else could take care of for me and do in half the time at probably half the expense. Because here’s the thing. We are living our lives now, like right now, we are in the thick of it. But this life, it has an expiry date. I lost two precious writing days because my stubbornness decided that I had to be Mrs. Fix it. And it really wasn’t the best use of my time. And now I’m a little bit grumpy about having squandered that time. It’s not often that I get time away from the day job, or a house free of interruptions. For example, my husband not being here. And make no mistake, I love my husband, but it is nice sometimes to have a little bit of solitude to just get my nerd on and get stuff done.

So I am sharing this with you because maybe you’re found yourself in a similar situation at times where you’re spending far too much time and energy on things that aren’t actually bringing you closer to your goals. Things that you could say no to, or delegate, or pay somebody else to do. And there’s a saying that I really love. It’s the way that you spend your days is the way that you spend your life. So, how are you spending your life? Are you giving energy and time to the things that light you up? Or are you finding yourself getting wrapped up in the mini dramas of adulting? Like I did. So it’s a cliche. Yes. But life really is too short. So you need to live your life in a way that would make a younger version of you proud. And if you want to learn more about that concept of making the child version of you proud, and using that to help elevate your mindset, then stick around for the end of this episode where I’ll give you a little bit more information about where you can learn a little bit more about that.

But for now, let’s get on with today’s episode with Mark Leslie Lefebvre, and I promise you this will be time well spent.

So when you’re ready. Grab a drink, find a comfy chair, sit back and enjoy the show.

A writer and book industry representative, Mark Leslie Lefebvre, likes to describe himself as a giant book nerd. A long time industry veteran who got a start in 1992. His novels include thriller, urban fantasy, horror, and explorations of haunted locations and unexplainable phenomena. He also informs and inspires writers with his Stark Reflections on Writing and Publishing podcast, and the books he’s written for authors. When he is not writing, he can be found wandering, awestruck, through libraries, bookstores, or craft beer establishments.

Welcome, Mark. I’m so excited to have you on the show today.

Mark: Oh, I’m, I’m excited I get to chat with you again, Jo.

Jo: Yeah, so it wasn’t that long ago that we were actually chatting, which was lots of fun. So now the roles have been reversed here, and I get to interview you a little bit, which is quite exciting. And I’m sure many of my listeners will already know of you in one iteration or another, whether it’s as a author or through your podcast or helping other authors, or even for your dad jokes, I guess, online as well.

Mark: Potentially. Yeah. Eye-roll inducing.

Jo: They’re lots of fun. Lots of fun.

Mark: Thank you.

Jo: I would love if you. Start by, maybe for those who aren’t too familiar with you, talking a little bit about what got you started on this author journey.

Mark: Yeah, I mean, I’ve always been fascinated with storytelling and just what can happen when one person relays to another person, something, you know, we do it at dinnertime at the end of the day. Those are all stories. Every our, our communication with one another are often stories. Hey, getting here, did you have any, you know, you got here okay? That, well, interesting story happened on the drive here, or whatever. There’s always stories involved and I was particularly fascinated with the idea that, you know, oral storytelling is, is one thing and it’s awesome, and I, and I loved, you know, sitting around a campfire and hearing these great stories. But then I love the idea that you could put something on paper.

Jo: Mm-hmm.

Mark: And walk away and somebody else could come and experience it. And, and there’s an old Seinfeld, uh, had a book called Sign Language back when he, you know, the Seinfeld TV show was on. And I was a book seller at the time this book came out. And he said, it’s my book, but you can read it. And, and, and he’s being cheeky and it’s funny and hahaha. It’s your book, but I can read it. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But it’s so true. Every single book is, is obviously some, it, it usually has some intimate connection to the writer in some way, shape, or form. It came through their muse, through their heart, through their soul, through everything. But then the, the reader who picks it up brings a whole universe to that experience. And it’s their book too.

Jo: Mm-hmm.

Mark: I fell in love with that idea of how storytelling connects one human to another, and so, I was convinced from, well, I, I mean, I wanted to be a stunt man, like, you know, firefighter, policeman. I wanted to be a stunt man. I really wanted to be a Hollywood stunt man. Like, like Lee Majors in, in The Fall Guy, just to give you an idea of my age when I was a kid. And being afraid of heights, not a good thing for a, a Fall Guy. So I, uh, I didn’t, I didn’t end up pursuing my Hollywood dream, but I did pursue the thing that inspired me to want to be all those things. And that was a writer. Cuz as a writer I can be all of these things and more, yeah. I can be things in worlds that don’t exist. Yeah.

And, and so yeah, I think from the age of about 13 was when I first sat down in front of an old Underwood typewriter I’d found in my mom’s closet and started hammering out the, you know, stories and, and humorous essays and whatever. I just wanted to, I wanted to, I had stuff to say. And I was hoping that maybe somewhere someone would find them and read them. Uh, and, and then I found out that this publishing thing exists, and the people, you know, the books that I read and I’m enjoying, and the comic books and all the things, they have to be written by someone, Hey, that could be me one day. And so I, I just, I just started pursuing it from, I think I got my first official rejection when I was 15 from, uh, from a writer’s, uh, a writing contest. I got plenty of rejections before then as a, as a young teen, a young man, young teenager. So, but I mean, writing rejections, I got the first one when I was 15.

Jo: Yeah. Oh my gosh. That there’s so great. And what you were saying about you can kind of live lots of lives through your writing, cause, yeah, I see a lot of parallels when I’ve read some of your books and things like that. Just in regards to, you were saying that you wanted to be a stunt man and you wanted to be this, and you wanted to be that. And I had that too. Like there were so many things I wanted to be, I wanted to be a detective and I wanted to be an archaeologist, and I wanted to be a ghostbuster for a very long time too. And oh yeah. You know, and so we get to be all these things through our stories. Which is a pretty rich life, really. Like we tend to think as authors or writers, we sit in a room and, and we are just, you know, it’s just us writing our stories and, and that’s true on one level, but we’re also living very rich inner lives too, aren’t we?

Mark: Hundred percent the old line, you know, open a book and open up a world of, of possibilities. But we’re creating those books. Yeah. So we’re, we’re, we’re engaged in those possibilities before we get to share them with the world. I mean, that’s such a privilege. It’s such an honor and it’s such an exciting thing to do. And yet every once in a while I gotta stand up and get some exercise too, otherwise, you know.

Jo: Yes. Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. Absolutely.

Mark: But not jumping off buildings, not climbing up buildings like Spider-Man, like I wanted to. I was too scared of spiders. I couldn’t get close enough to them to want to get bit.

Jo: Yeah. Yeah. Right? There’s, yeah, there’s reasons we ended up writing instead of Yeah, yeah, for sure. And I love that idea too, of the, the reader brings their life experience to our words as well. So what they get from our books is within the context of what they’ve experienced, and when they make a connection to our work, I think that is one of the exciting things about being an author. It’s so special.

Mark: A hundred percent.

Jo: Mm-hmm.

Mark: Oh, I, I agree with you. I mean, that is, that is, I know, it seems like, yes, I would write, I would write these stories even if nobody ever read them, cuz I can’t not write them.

Jo: Mm-hmm.

Mark: But when I hear from somebody that, something resonated with them. It moves me. I, I still, one of my favorites, I did a, a science fiction story for young readers. It was meant to be a grade four, uh, for used in a classroom to help teach science, science concepts. So they wanted fiction for science. And I remember getting through the publisher. It was just a short story, a little adventure story about the properties of light. And, and the idea was like, what, well, if you had a window in which you could slow down how long it takes light to pass through, could you look into the past through this window? Even if it was only a few minutes. And I thought, okay, well maybe they use it to solve a crime.

Jo: Mm-hmm.

Mark: And, and so that was the, that was the whole case. A little boy going to his uncle’s, who’s a scientist, and he is, he discovers it and he’s playing around because you can break the window, smash it, and it’s, it’s like candy glass, so it doesn’t cut her or anything. And a kid, he is being a, you know, like me now, or a 10 year old boy, yay, I’m gonna smash the window and it’s so much fun. And, and, and, you know, just all this stuff. So, um, anyways, that was a fun story to write. It was my very first professional sale, like 6 cents US a word, uh, for short fiction way back in the day. I think I signed the contract in 2000, 2001. So it goes, goes back a while. But I remember getting through the publisher a note from one of the teachers who had used it in the classroom, and she had said this little boy had not only, he was a reluctant reader, it was the very first story he actually read completely without having to be forced. Like he read it all on his own. He started reading the story. He couldn’t get enough. He loved it. He, it, he was so excited. He drew a, a artwork from, uh, the story and then wrote a sequel and, and I got a copy in, in this handwriting of the sequel. And I think. Okay. I’m an okay writer. I’m a pretty decent writer. I do a good job. This kid was moved by this, but what I, what I’m more excited about for this child, not only that, wow, I did this. If I turned him onto reading. Mm-hmm. Oh my god, imagine all of the amazing books and stories out there that he now has experienced cuz I helped point him in that direction. It’s like I pointed at him, gave him a library card and said, go kid, have a blast. And, and honestly, that moves me, uh, so much. And, and I think about that child and every time, every time a reader reaches out to me, I think about cool, they found something neat, yeah, in my story, in my non-fiction, in my fiction, whatever it was.

Jo: That’s just such a precious story and ah, I just love that. And I think that’s so important that we always hold onto that too, as writers. Like every, every time I get a email from, um, one of my newsletter subscribers, one of my readers, or about the podcast or a DM or anything like that, the fact that, or even a review, like, even if it’s not an amazing review, the fact that somebody was, or I had enough of an impact to get them to put pen to paper or to type something up or to contact me, is astounding that our words can have such an impact on somebody else. For, for good or bad, right? Even if it is the, the two star, one star review or whatever.

Mark: But made you feel something.

Jo: Exactly.

Mark: It made you feel enough that you took the time. Cuz most people won’t. Most people finish it and go, oh, that was a good book. And they put it down and they move on. Yeah. Somebody took the time to tell you, you suck, or I love this, or whatever it was. Hey, look at you. Look what I made you do.

Jo: I know. And I think we’ve gotta be, we’ve gotta keep that gratitude for that, like on this journey. Otherwise that’s when we’re gonna burn out and everything like that. But if we can remember those moments when we impacted somebody or something we wrote resonated with somebody and, um, yeah, I think we’ve gotta hold onto those. I think those are really precious. Yeah.

Mark: For sure. I, I agree with you 100%. Those moments are the power in, in what we do. Yeah. Because it’s connecting humans, the two humans together, which is really what storytelling and writing is.

Jo: Love it. I just absolutely love it. Yeah. My gosh, I could, yeah, I could talk about this stuff forever.

Mark: We’re just gonna nerd out about that. We could just keep going for a couple hours.

Jo: Well, I’m gonna go on a little bit of a side tangent, I think you might already know this about me, but, so I’m also a teacher as well, so I’m in the classroom teaching young teenagers, 13-year-olds at the moment. So that’s fun. Mm-hmm. Um, yes. And we’ve been talking about the Hero’s Journey because I use that in the background for myself for plotting books and that, but I introduced it really as one of the, um, the secrets to the universe, because we all experience the hero’s journey throughout our lives, and it’s quite, you know, like cyclical. We go through it over and over again. And so not only is it the basis of every movie and story and everything like that. It’s what we experience in our lives and it’s what we experience when, you know, they’re in the classroom and they’re learning and just that idea of story just permeates everything, which I think is really, really special. It’s, yeah.

Mark: And I’m glad cuz you get to, I mean, you get to influence students in that way. And you get to influence readers. So you’re, you’re touch, like when I think back to, to so many of the teachers that still to this day, I’m 53 and they still, like, I remember the impact they had in a grade six classroom and something that they said encouraged, uh, whatever it was a piece of art or shared a story or a book or talked about something and I’m like, Ah, I still reflect on that. So you’re having that impact in, in multiple dimensions, in multiple ways, which is fantastic.

Jo: Yeah, I think there’s just, yeah, there’s just going back to what you said, there’s a real power in our words and the stories that we tell ourselves and the stories that we read and the stories that we share. There’s a real power, which is really cool. Yeah.

Mark: For sure.

Jo: So one of the things which is a little bit of a personal kind of interest of mine is you are really well known for, you know, like you write in quite a range of different genres and that, and you’ve got short stories and novels, and you’ve got urban fantasy and thrillers and all that, and books for authors, but you’ve also got a range of non-fiction paranormal books, which just really, yeah. I just love that whole concept, but I want to know what led you to writing in that genre?

Mark: For the fiction, for the stories, I was always drawn to the speculative. I was always drawn to the dark shadows, in the dark corners, and, and I have to admit that I have always been afraid of the monster under the bed. As a matter of fact, we don’t have an under the bed cuz I, I refuse to have one now that I’m an adult and I have a choice. There’s no under the bed that keeps the monsters from hiding there. Mm-hmm. But, uh, I keep the closet door closed as well, so the, the monster in there can’t get me. Right?

Jo: I’m the same. I’m the same. My husband thinks I’m crazy.

Mark: I still run upstairs in case something’s gonna grab me on the way up. Right? And again, there’s no riser they can reach through, like when I was a child. But, so I’ve been afraid. I’m afraid of the dark. I’m afraid of everything. I’m a big giant chicken and a lot of the writing I did, especially the fiction when I was young, were exploring it.

Like, okay, I’m gonna, maybe it was therapy. I just needed to check it out. It was really, really funny and, and, and I called them Twilight Zone Tales. I, I called them horror or Twilight Zone stories because it wasn’t science fiction cuz it wasn’t real science. Hmm. It wasn’t fantasy cuz it wasn’t Tolkien-esque. Yeah. I didn’t know what to call it. So I called it horror cuz horror kind of covered that weird, that weird stuff.

Yeah, and I remember it was kind of funny, uh, one of the stories I wrote when I was a, when I was a kid, my mom, and, and this is an example of, of a story that inspired me. I’m playing well probably with my little Fisher Price characters doing little whatever. And I was probably eight or nine years old, maybe, maybe, maybe a little bit older. I, okay, who cares? I played with him when I was like 14, 15. It didn’t matter because I, no judgment, I would still play with them. I still have them. They’re in my son’s room and when no one’s around, I play with them. But, um, my mom was, was running around and closing the curtains and, and, and, and like turning the lights off. It was sort of like, you know, dusk, uh, time. And, and, and I’m like, what’s wrong? She goes, oh, they’re, they’re here. And my imagination immediately goes, what, you know, vampire’s? Monsters? Like, what’s coming on? And, and, but it was the, it was this group of religious people that were coming door to door to, to try and sell us their religion.

And, and it was just so, darkly humorous to me. Mm-hmm. That I wrote a story,  a horror story, about a woman who’s gone a little bit panicked in, in a world that’s a lot more science. It was in the future and it was science. And in the story it was the father figure that, it’s told from his point of view, knows his wife really should, uh, be on meds or be committed because she could be dangerous. Mm-hmm. Because she’s scaring the kids. And they believe the monsters are coming in and it’s really just, it’s whatever.

And I have him as a middle-aged man who writes books about the paranormal. And I wrote, I think I wrote the first version of the story when I was 14 or 15. Mm-hmm. Little did I know decades later, I would be a middle-aged man writing books about the paranormal. Cause I read, I love them. I love books on Bigfoot and Sasquatch and UFOs and unexplained and ghosts and all those things. I could not get enough of them. I had no idea I would write them until I was on a ghost walk when I was, it was probably in my late twenties, early thirties, and I went on a ghost walk in, in Ottawa, Ontario to our nation’s capital here in Canada.

And I hated history. I couldn’t, just, just didn’t find it interesting at all. But on the ghost walk, there’s this person in a Victorian, you know, robe and they’ve got an old lantern, and they’re telling us really cool historic tales of the, the foundation of our country and building the Rideau Canal and all the, all these intriguing, insightful elements from history. Because you can’t tell a good ghost story without history. And that’s when a flash bulb went off in my head and I went, oh, history can be fun. And I ended up going on lots of ghost walks cuz I loved doing it. I mean, I like being scared in groups where I could hide in the middle and hopefully if they’re gonna pick people off, they pick them from the outside. Cuz I’m, I’m hiding. You know? Little me.

And so my very first book, Haunted Hamilton, was after going on some of the ghost walks from a group called Haunted Hamilton in Hamilton, Ontario. I said, you guys have some great stories, you should write a book, Cuz I was a book seller. Like, Hey and a writer like we, and they said, no, we don’t have time, but we’ll give you access to all of our research and notes if you wanna write a book. And, and they wrote the introduction for me. And that was my first foray into that. And I realized, wow, all of these demons I’ve been exorcising my whole life, I can write.

Now I write these stories with a believer’s intent. Mm-hmm. But with a skeptic believer’s intent. I try to write them from the point of view of, well, it could be explained by this, or it could be explained by that. Mm-hmm. But I can’t explain this other thing. And I love just laying it out and, and saying, well, this. For example, one of my books on haunted libraries and bookstores was a, you know, and the story I would hear was, and the books fell off the shelf all by themselves. And, and, and even though I’m a believer, I go, yeah, but humidity, right? In the summer where I live in Canada, the book paper absorbs water. The, the, you know, they get, they widen and then they’ll flop all on their own. There’s no ghost. And, and I’m, and I’m the biggest chicken. Yeah. So, even when I’m writing stories, I’m like, yeah, that’s not enough. Mm-hmm. The books fell off the shelf. It is not enough to say this place is haunted now. The book’s suddenly piled up, uh, within a three second period. You walked by and you come, come back, and then all the books are piled up in the middle and there’s nobody around like the Goosebumps books. Yeah. You’re like, okay, that’s, that’s different. Yeah, that’s not just, they all fell. This was like, how did they get there? Who put them there? Yeah. How did it happen so fast?

Uh, anyway, so that’s, uh, that’s a, you know, a, a very short way of explaining and that’s how I found myself writing, writing these stories. But it’s so much fun cuz people, the other thing about connecting with people is when I do book signings, when I go into, like usually in Halloween, I’m, I’m asked to go and do talks in libraries about, you know, how do you research ghosts and stuff like that. Mm-hmm. And, and um, usually at almost every one of these events, I have somebody kind of conspiratorially sneak up to me after everyone’s gone and says, I had a ghost experience, I wanna share it with you. And bam, there’s a connection right there. And of course I’m kinda like, pull out the notebook going can I use this in a book?

Jo: Oh, I, I just love that. I’ve always thought of myself as a very skeptical believer. Like, I do believe in ghosts, but I need all the evidence to also, yeah, yeah, add up. So I’m a little bit choosy in what I believe with that. Yeah. But, um, but it’s fun. And what you are saying about the connection, everybody has a ghost story or knows somebody that has a ghost story or, um, even if they don’t believe in ghosts, that there’s certain places they wouldn’t want to go or you know, like there’s always something.

Mark: Like graveyards after dark, you mean?

Jo: Yeah, yeah. Right? Like.

Mark: I’m good, I’m good.

Jo: Whereas yeah, like you were saying that, you know, you’ve kind of got lots of different fears and things like that, and I’m the biggest like wimp out there, scared of pretty much everything except for scary stuff like that. Like, um, supernatural, I’m not scared. I would be the first one to go, oh, is that house haunted? Let me go check it out. But other things, I’m absolutely terrified. Like, just normal everyday things I’m absolutely terrified of. So, yeah, it, it’s a weird, yeah.

Mark: It, it is weird cuz I, I remember like in, in Hamilton, Ontario there was like the Niagara Scarman, we call it the mountain. It’s like, from down in the city to up on top of the mountain, which is not a mountain. It’s, but it’s, it’s a, it’s a nice elevation. And there’s these stairs that go through these wooded areas to get from the city to the upper city, lower city, upper city. And sometimes after leaving a bar at, you know, one o’clock in the morning after it closes and you’re walking home, ironically, I’m not scared about a mugger or somebody there with a club or a gun or anything like that, just gonna mug me. I’m scared Bigfoot might come outta the woods. I’m scared there’s a troll hiding under those stairs. Right? Like, so I’m not, I, I should be afraid of bears and other real things. But no, I’m scared of the monsters. I’m not afraid of a bear attacking me in my tent, but Jason with the hockey mask and a chainsaw, that’s what I’m afraid of.

Jo: Yeah. So fascinating.

Mark: I’m, I’m strange that way.

Jo: No, no, I, I find it so fascinating and I think that whole idea of, um, particularly if you write horror or anything in that genre, like I’m a gothic fiction author and sometimes it is to play with our fears a little bit and to have that, yeah, being safe as we kind of exorcise our fears out onto the page, we can still be safe. We’re, we’re in control, mostly, I think. Yeah.

Mark: For sure. Uh, I remember talking to science fiction writer Kevin J. Anderson at the beginning of the pandemic. I interviewed him for one of the shows that I work for and. I was asking him about like, these times are pretty scary. Mm-hmm. If you remember at the beginning, we didn’t know, right? Yeah. We didn’t, there was no vaccine. We didn’t know what was going on. People were dying all over the world. And I said, well, why are we gonna write horror? Why are we gonna write scary stuff? He’s like, well, well in this fiction, I can’t control what happens in the world, in this fiction the good guys can win. Like good can triumph over evil and we can control it. Which, I mean, which is why I guess romance is so popular because yeah, we know they’re, they’re gonna get together at the end of happy ending and we need happy endings.

And so yeah, in our horror, in our fiction, in those ghost stories that we share as fiction authors, we, we are safe. Yeah. And, and we can create a world in which um, you know, bad things can happen to good people, but the good people can get through it.

Jo: Yes, yes, yes. And I think that’s really important because I think we all need that hope that we can get through it. And when I think of like the Hero’s Journey, and I know that’s just one kind of idea of stories and things like that ,when I’ve shared it with my class and things like that, and we’ve talked about, you know, that that crisis point, that real dark days where it looks like nothing’s gonna work out and we’re all kind of doomed and time to give up, is when we hold on for a little bit longer because things, the light starts to shine through. And so, yeah, I think horror and those scary stories and that really offer that. That things out of our control can happen. Cuz the supernatural is something that’s out of our control. Right? It’s, it’s pretty scary. So things can happen to us that are out of our control. But if we continue, continue on the journey, then there’s always, there’s always gonna be a glimmer of light. It may not be the classic happily ever after, but there’s always some resolution where we get through. So, yeah.

Mark: Yeah, a hundred percent. And, and you remind me of the Writer’s Journey when you say the Hero’s Journey, because a lot of writers don’t acknowledge the fact that the Writer Journey can be fraught with this depth of despair and, oh my God, and oh, I’m never gonna write again and whatever. And then the things are never gonna work out. And it’s that hanging on and just seeing yourself through it, cuz you never know what’s around the next corner. That could be the, that overnight success that took you 10 or 20 years to get to.

Jo: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. A hundred percent agree with that so much. And so that kind of is a wonderful segue into some of your other books that I wanna talk about. There’s a couple that I want to touch on. One of them is Wide For the Win, which came out 2021 I think. So it hasn’t really been out too long. Something like that.

Mark: I can’t, I can’t remember. Sure.

Jo: But what I like about it is, you talk about being wide, and maybe you can actually just share for maybe anybody who’s kind of new to the author world, what being wide means and why it’s a strong possibility for people to consider. Yeah. As far as an author career.

Mark: Great, great question. So the concept of Wide comes from four independent self-published authors. In the e-book world, there’s an option for authors to go into a program that Kindle Direct Publishing offers on Amazon called KDP Select. And that will lock their book for a 90 day tour of duty. And it’s a rotating tour of duty, it automatically renews every 90 days, where they are not allowed to publish that ebook or sell it directly or do anything else with the ebook, except sell it on Amazon. And that’s an exclusivity. So it’s exclusive or a lot of authors call it Kindle Unlimited because it gets the book into the Kindle Unlimited program in many countries around the world. It doesn’t actually exist in more than about, you know, a dozen of, of the 170 countries around the world. So it’s not even a worldwide program. No. But you are locked in worldwide.

Versus wide, which means all the other retailers. So there, there are five major retailers when you think about it. So you have Amazon, Apple, Kobo, Barnes & Noble Nook, and Google Play are, are, are the major ones now. Nook only exists now in, in the United States. But everyone else has more of a global presence. And I would say Apple and Kobo and Google have a much larger global presence than Amazon, cuz they’re in more countries around the world.

So the Wide for the Win, was a term that Erin Wright came up with, and she’s the founder of the Facebook group Wide for the Win. She had actually contacted me to say she had read my book, Killing It On Kobo. Now, I, I use alliteration a lot, especially in my Ghost story books, and I was like, well, I’m gonna go with, you know, Seven Ps Of Publishing Success, Killing It On Kobo, and then Erin’s like, Hey, I’m writing Wide for the Win. I was inspired by your book about Kobo and how to sell on other platforms. And then she ended up putting so much work into this book because she was trying to get into the logistics of publishing. Mm-hmm. And the problem is the platforms keep changing and migrating and evolving. And so I write something this month and then next month they change it and you go, oh, I gotta go back and revise it.

And here’s the thing is, is she’s a six, seven figure romance author who had not been attending to her fans, her poor fans were waiting for her to write the next fiction book. So she was so bogged down by this. She finally said, I can’t, I gotta go back and give my fans what they want cuz that’s my bread and butter.

And she reached out to me and sort of apologized that she didn’t do it. I’m like, Hey Erin, I’ll take it over. Are you okay if I use the same title? Cuz that I kinda like that title. That’s, that’s, that’s my jam. And a lot of, I mean, I do get into some of the logistics, but I, I’d say like 70 to 75 to 80% of the book is mindset. And why mindset? Because, and I was just interviewing someone from my podcast about this, um, you know, learning and unlearning. Unlearning something is almost more important than trying to learn something new. You have to kind of retrain yourself to, and, and you go back to, and I’m gonna talk about an eighties, uh, TV show. But maybe if people have seen Cobra Kai, they flashback to the Karate Kid and the wax on and the wax off. It’s kinda like you’re relearning body movement in a very fundamental, basic way. And you’re actually training your body to, to do certain things. And I think we have to unlearn a lot of our assumptions about the industry and Indie authors, and relearn what it’s like and just say, okay, how do I see the world not through an Amazon tainted lens, but how do I see the world and the fact that there are million, billions of readers around the world and not everyone reads on a single platform. Hmm. And so mindset was very, very critical.

And my wide is a larger, wide than just Amazon versus the other five retailers. My wide is, well, you better be in all the libraries. You better have multiple formats. And hey, traditional publishing is not dead. Traditional publishing, there’s still a place. I mean, I still work with traditional publishers and I self-publish. I can have the best of both worlds and that’s a wide mindset. So as you can tell, I am not at all interested or passionate about this concept of wide publishing. He says cheekily.

Jo: So because I’m relatively new to the author scene and, uh, because I listened to Joanna Penn’s Creative Penn podcast, right from the beginning, I decided, well, I’m gonna go wide. But I have a lot of friends and you know, in the author sphere and that, who are like, oh, as a beginning author, you know, like, or if you have got your first book and you’re wondering what to do, put it on Amazon, go KDP Select, yeah, and just start there. What would your advice be as somebody who’s passionate about wide, knowing there’s pros and cons to both, what would your advice be for somebody maybe starting out as to whether you start just with Amazon exclusive or, yeah? What do you think?

Mark: I do, I think it’s hard. There’s so much to learn, and I really do feel for authors who, who come into the- I mean, I’ve been in the industry for over 30 years and I’m still learning new things every day. Imagine an author showing up today and going, oh my God, what do I do? It’s a giant buffet. I, I only have this little plate. How do you do that?

So one of the reasons why you may consider Amazon is because, well, it’s the world’s biggest bookstore, so you get the best bang for your buck, and you can do that. I mean, you can publish Amazon without being exclusive. Yeah. Because, because then you’re not tempted by the, you know, loading up your dessert first or whatever that is. Or give it a shot, it’s only 90 days. Mm-hmm. But don’t forget, because a lot of people stop there and they don’t see like it’s tunnel vision and they don’t see beyond it, and it’s kinda like, well, I’m not making any money in Kindle Unlimited, but if I just stick it out. And then when they publish wide, they don’t have that same determination and, and I’m thinking, but there’s more possibility, there’s more options.

The other thing I’ve seen people doing, again, I’m not gonna prescribe one thing you should do. What you need to do is figure it out, do a little bit more research and figure out what works for you. I mean, it’s only 90 days. What I do recommend is if you have to start somewhere, don’t start wide and then go exclusive, because once your book’s out there, it’s really hard to take it down. It’s really hard to get it back from some of the retailers and stuff, so you have to be careful. But maybe you start on another platform. Because think about this: you’re a local band, you’re a musician, you’re, you’re working your chops up or a standup comedian and, and you’re practicing your jokes. You’re not going to Carnegie Hall, you’re not going to some major, uh, place with a huge venue like a giant arena and you know, 10,000 people. You go to a local club where there’s five drunk people barely paying attention, and you test out your jokes. Yeah. Right. And then you work your way. So if Amazon is the biggest place, why do you wanna start off not knowing anything and just throw everything up there? Right? Start off with one of the smaller platforms that nobody knows about. Get used to it and then work your way around. So, I mean, and, and I’ve seen authors do different things depending on their comfort level. But again, I hate prescribing.

I mean, I am a wide advocate and I consult with authors. Of course I’m gonna influence them and of course I have biases, but if an author is really dead set on, no, I have to be exclusive to Amazon. I’m like, okay, well how can we do this the best way possible? Mm-hmm. Because that’s what you want and that’s what works for you. It’s part of your goals. So, so yeah. But just remember, I mean, nothing’s set in stone. The greatest thing about owning your own IP and being an indie author is you can make mistakes. You can change things. You can take things down. You can try again. Right? Uh, the key in my mind is, like you said, is part of that Hero’s Journey. Yeah. Yeah. It’s just sticking it out for the long run. Uh, as I say, patience, practice and persistence are the three Ps.

Jo: Yeah. Well, there we are.

Mark: Of your successful journey.

Jo: Yeah. Yeah. And I know some of the things that drew me to the idea of going wide right off the bat was when I decided, well, I’m going to actually start, you know, writing my books and putting them out there, I wanted to start right at the very beginning from where I planned on being long-term. So if that kind of makes sense? I kind of decided right off the bat, well, I want to be wide, I want to be able to reach as many different readers as possible, and that whole not putting all your eggs in the same basket thing was in the back of my mind as well, right. And so I am on Amazon, like you can still get my books on Amazon. They’re just not in KDP Select. But it was, yeah, I wanted to start how I wanted to continue. And so I had in the back of my mind that it might be a little bit of a slow kind of burn to get to where I, I want to be, but yeah. But I, I just thought that that was going to be what suited me. So I think you’re right that there’s no one prescriptive way of how to enter, you know, this author, this kind of stuff, but what kind of resonates with you and, yeah.

Mark: I love the way that you immediately took the long term and it’s almost like dress for the position you want. So, you know, you put on your Wonder Woman outfit and you’re like, there I am. I’m a warrior. I’m gonna do it.

Jo: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Mark: Even if it’s gonna take a while.

Jo: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s totally it. And I remember reading in, um, I think it was Wide for the Win, where you talked about with the other platforms, because Amazon is very, it’s very in our face. I think we hear about it all the time. We see about it all the time. It’s kind of everywhere. Everybody knows about it. But with those other platforms, um, I think in a chapter about, you know, my books aren’t moving or aren’t selling or something, you used a metaphor about relationships. Do you remember that? About kind of wooing these different platforms? Yeah. Can you talk a little bit about that? What you’re kinda meaning by it.

Mark: I mean, when you, when you look up, if you even do Google searches on how to publish and what to do and stuff, there’s thousands and thousands of people teaching you how to game and trick the Amazon algorithms that are constantly changing and always 10 steps ahead. And the minute we figured it out, they do something different. And, and honestly, it’s kinda like squirrel, right? It’s like we’re constantly, we’re constantly chasing the trends and always behind and never ahead. I equate that to a whole bunch of, uh, 10 year old boy playing football or soccer depending on where in the world you are, and the idea is that there’s the one kid with the ball, is excited and happy. Everyone else is just chasing them and they just go this way and that way across the field. And that’s what the, a lot of happens in, in the Indie author community, is that one kid does something, got lucky, that it’s really a combination of luck that you can never control. Mm-hmm. And then everyone’s, oh, let’s do what that kid’s doing. Right? And they’re just chasing each other around.

So with, with Amazon, because it’s all of these algorithms and stuff like that. I often say that on Amazon, the inmates run the asylum. Mm-hmm. And, and that’s really what’s happening there. But the other retailers, uh, well Google is a lot more algorithmic based. Google being Google. But Apple and Barnes and Noble and Kobo are born outta the traditional book selling world. And there are actual people who make human decisions. Yes, there’s algorithms, there’s always algorithms feeding things. But there’s people.

And in the same way that as a writer, you’re gonna have a great relationship with other, other writers potentially who, you know, comp authors and you’re recommending them in your newsletter. You’re gonna have maybe your relationship with beta readers, your editor, your cover designers, all the people you work with as a professional. Mm-hmm. A lot of authors, treat Amazon as a big corporate entity that you gotta game. The other is more like a relationship where you get to know them. And in the book industry, and this is so incredibly important when we forget about this with algorithms, yes, people discover books online, but one of the main, in all of the surveys that I’ve studied and read over the years, one of the main reasons why people buy and read books is because it was recommended by somebody they know, like, and trust. And that comes down to relationships. And it’s personal recommendations. It’s those personal recommendations and the relationships that you can have, especially with those other retailers, that can make a huge difference because you’re treating with the respect that you would give another human, not with the disrespect that you pay to an algorithm, cuz it’s just a machine, right? Yeah. And I think that’s something we forget because we’re all up, you know, against the corporate giant machine that is Amazon. We forget that there are humans. That can decide what books get featured in the front windows of those virtual bookstores.

And, you know, Kobo and, uh, Apple Australia, for example, uh, are gonna have a different front, front display, window display in that virtual world than they’re gonna have in Canada or the US or the UK. Yeah. And there’s different people making those decisions. And so chances are somebody who does the Kobo merchandising for Australia or for Apple is going to attend more to local authors from Australia, whereas the ones in Canada might be more partial to Canadian authors. Yeah, yeah. Little things like that. Right? Or holidays and when is beach read? Right? Is the beach read in June and July? Or is the beach read in in February and March? Mm-hmm. Or whatever, right?

Jo: Yeah, that’s right. Yeah, that’s right. And yeah, I, I think that’s so important. We started, you know, our conversation talking about the power to use our words to, uh, connect with our readers and everything like that. But I think that whole relationship and people aspect, Is so important in everything that we do. In the marketing that we do and the connecting with these other storefronts. And I think the overwhelm can happen when we’re doing what you were saying, which is just kind of chasing everybody else’s special, magical way of becoming a best seller or, or working the algorithms and all that kind of thing, that that’s when the overwhelm and that can really set in for any author along the journey. So I think, um, the importance of keeping those relationships forefront is, yeah, is what’s gonna possibly move the needle a little bit more, I think.

Mark: Yeah. Yeah. Because what’s gonna happen is somebody is going to encounter you as a person and find out, oh my God, she’s got stuff with speculative ghosts and creepy things in it and it’s fiction. And that’s my jam. And I like her cuz she has an awesome podcast and, and she’s comforting and she offers great insights and yada, yada, yada. But she also does ghost stuff I’m in and then they’re suddenly off to, not necessarily Amazon, they’re off to wherever they get books. Yeah, libraries, print. They may be ordered from their local bookstore. And that’s where you want to be and go, yes, I want to get Jo’s books because Yeah. You know, and, and again, that’s not cost per click, measurable advertising and marketing. It’s overall generic branding and marketing. Yeah. Hey, she brings a great experience to me. Oh, she also writes my cup of tea. I’m gonna go check this out.

Jo: Yeah. Yeah. I think that’s so important. Which kind of leads me on to one of your other amazing books that you co-authored with Joanna Penn, and that’s the Relaxed Author, because I think, yeah, we all need to be a little bit more relaxed authors. I know I’m not often very relaxed, even though I love being an author. So yeah, that is a really cool book because it has both yours and Joanna’s perspectives in there, which is sometimes just a little bit different. What do you think are some of the key things that we can do to be a little bit more relaxed in our author professions?

Mark: Well, I’m glad you mentioned this because that’s one of the key things is Jo and I see eye to eye. Joanna, I should say, since I’m calling you Jo in the context fine of this one, fine. But Joanna and I see eye to eye on so many things. We’re painfully optimistic about, about the future and technology and all the things and all the options and availability for authors. And yet I’m a, I’m a fly by the seat of my pants, kind of blue sky, you know, pantser, she’s very organized, project management, detailed oriented. And when you read our perspective on different topics within being a relaxed author, we don’t approach it the same way. Mm-hmm. I am relaxed by different things that, that Joanna is. And or there are some things that relax us in, in a similar way, but there’s other, other things that cause her stress but are fine with me.

And even, even in the way we, we collaborated, uh, as well. We fell into roles that made us both feel more comfortable. And I was more comfortable with the role she assumed. I don’t know how comfortable she was with the role I assumed, but thank God it was me doing it, not her, because she didn’t have to worry. Again, it’s like I can’t do it that way. And, and, and so I think the other thing that we, we constantly, so here’s the thing about the Creative Penn and Joanna Penn and the brand, that, the goddess who is Joanna Penn. Is, she’s been doing, I’ve been doing this business for 30 years. It started in 1992. I guess I’m going into, you know, 31 years or whatever. I can’t do the math without taking my shoes and socks off. But, and you don’t want, we don’t have time for that cuz you know, me bending over, I might not be able to get back up at this age. And Jo’s podcast is over a decade old, so she’s been thinking long term for a long time. And so the two of us, the one thing that we have in common that you’ll see as a common thread is, we get so eager and excited, like on release day, and we’re gonna look at the dashboard and we’re gonna waste all this time getting all excited about these little ego strokes. And we need them. It’s like the adrenaline rush of going to Facebook or Instagram and seeing, you know, the little, oh, someone liked my TikTok, right? Yeah, it, it means nothing, but it gives us a little uh uh, adrenaline rush. And of course we live off of those things. It’s really exciting. Oh my god, people liked my post, whatever it was. Um, but there’s gonna be stuff that’s there in the long term. Mm-hmm. And being able to remind yourself to take a step back, take a deep breath. And I mean, I am coming up upon the 20th anniversary of my very first self-published book. And 2024 is gonna be, um, the anniversary of when I said, Hey, I’ve got all these stories, what do I do with them? Well, I’ll self-publish ’em. What the heck. Even though it was way before the cool kids started doing it. Yeah. And it was against the wisdom of the ages. And I was like, ah, I’m gonna do it anyway. What the heck.

So 20 years have passed and this book is out there making new friends on its own. You know, annoying the hell out of other people, maybe, uh, just like all my books do. Some of them these like, oh, that’s dumb, I don’t like it. And other people like, that’s, that’s my jam. And I just know that the, the, the, the more I put stuff out there, the more I continue, uh, I still, and I’m not, you know, I’m the physician who needs to heal thyself. I, I am, uh, constantly chasing things and, and getting excited and refreshing the dashboard. But I’m remembering that this is just one moment in time.

It’s almost like when you look at yourself in the grand scheme of the universe, oh my God, I’m in so much pain right now. This is the worst thing ever. Mm-hmm. And you realize the world goes on, the universe goes on, and this too shall pass. Yeah. And so it’s almost like adapting that, that, uh, you know, look up into the sky and see the stars and go, well, I guess it’s not that big a deal when you, I think about, you know, I just stubbed my toe. But look at this. Look at all this. And isn’t it awesome that we get to be part of this? Isn’t it awesome that even though I’m not a New York Times bestselling author, and I’m not selling a hundred copies of my book every day that yesterday I sold one. And that means that someone out there, not my mom, but someone out there picked up my book.

Maybe because an algorithm, maybe because of relationship, maybe because they saw a stupid dad joke I put on TikTok and went, Hey, that guy’s funny. I wonder if his books are funny too. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it’s. It, it, it’s tough. I, I mean, I think I have to go back and reread the relaxed author again to remind myself of some of the things, because every once in a while, every once in a while, regularly, I offer advice, but I don’t follow it. I Know it’s the right thing to do, but I still go and do the other thing. It’s okay. Like I said, with the Indie author journey, you make a mistake, you can change. What’s that old Led Zeppelin song? There were two back paths. You can’t go back. But in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you’re on.

Yeah. Right? Yeah. Yeah. We’re all buying a stairway to heaven eventually.

Jo: Yeah. Well, there we are. I really love your optimism with that, and I think one of the keys I got from reading that book, uh, The Relaxed Author, was being willing to adapt and to actually let go of things as well. And one of the things that you had said that really actually stuck with me was actually in regards to piracy of all things, where you were very kind of nonchalant about it. Like, well, yeah, but somebody’s reading my book.

Mark: You’re not losing a sale. You never would’ve gotten a sale from that person cuz they only ever steal. Yeah. Yes. But, and, and again, I also read a study from, um, Project Panorama that was published, um, from a university in Portland, Oregon, uh, a few years ago. And they actually showed stats that libraries and pirates actually help more books sell, because somebody steals a book, reads it, and goes, oh, I gotta read this good book. And then the person who’s honest goes, oh, I’m gonna go buy that book. Yeah. So they’re actually, they’re like a street team. It’s just like you just gave you, you gave it to them.

I remember finding a pirated copy of a book I published in 2009. I found it was, it was not even available anywhere in print, but through five bookstores cuz we were trying to do something with an espresso book machine. And I was so thrilled to find a scan of it up on a pirate site, and I was like, oh my god, people want it so bad they want to steal it. I’d better make it available for 99 cents an e-book to make it easy for them to get it. You know, like, but God, they worked so hard to steal this book. Yeah, I admire that. Like they must really like this.

Jo: That’s a compliment right there, right? Like, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Mark: I think so.

Jo: I think, yeah, mindset. It, it really does come down to mindset because I see people, um, in a lot of like Facebook forums and things like that, getting themselves really wound up and tangled up into knots because they’ve come across somebody who’s pirated their book or something like that. And I think we have to keep everything into perspective. And that’s what I really loved about your perspective of that is that yeah, but you’ve gained another reader. So I think it’s also, you know, getting really clear of why you are even writing. Why are you doing this? Are you doing this and publishing your work so your books just go out into the ether and nobody, you know, so people read them? Or so people don’t read them or, you know, like, why are you doing this? Yeah.

Mark: And, that’s a brilliant question, Jo. Because, you know, I’ve often asked the question, would I rather have a million dollars or a million readers, mm-hmm. Hands down, I, every single day of the year, I would rather have a million readers than a million dollars. Yeah. Because, oh my God, the worlds we could change if I can share this story and a million people are, and a million people make it their own, right? Yeah. And a million people come and think about how the world can change and how, how we’ve been inspired by so many things that we’ve read and experienced and seen in conversations we’ve had with other people. That’s the power. Yeah. Of course. I’d rather have a million readers over a million, even if I didn’t get a single penny for those million readers, I’d rather have those million readers than a million dollars. Because that million dollars will get spent. That million readers, that’s a connection. Yeah. And that’s power, right there.

Jo: Absolutely. And those are those relationships that can last, Yeah, a lifetime and will go on to get your next book and will follow you all the way through. And those are, those are the people you want. Those are the people you want in your circle. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. It’s so special. That is just, yeah, so phenomenal.

Do you have any, for any of the people that are maybe listening to this podcast who are just starting at the very, very beginning, maybe they’ve written their first draft or maybe they’re ready to publish or maybe they’ve got a book out there already, for those that are thinking that they want to do this long-term, like they, they want to keep writing books, whether it’s full-time or not, doesn’t matter, but what would your maybe one key piece of advice be for them? Is there something that’s really stuck with you?

Mark: Yeah, I think I remember what it was like before getting that first thing out there. And it is terrifying. I feel you. I, if you have written something and you haven’t yet shared it or sent it to an editor for publishing or you know, or self-published it or sent it to a publisher, or any of those things, Honestly, I know how terrifying that is. So sometimes just ripping off the bandaid and just showing it to maybe to a trusted friend, maybe, maybe not to a trusted friend, maybe to a stranger, maybe, whatever. You know, it’s okay. Because if you are thinking about yourself as a writer, if that is a vocation, if that is something you want to do, you want to share stories, non-fiction, fiction, whatever it. You have this power within you and there is a story that you’re sharing that even if it’s only one other person that resonates with, what are you holding it back for? You can, you can make someone else’s life better by sharing it, and that’s a scary position to put yourself in, to be vulnerable like that. But, but the connection you can make by putting it out into the world can be the most powerful experience you’ll ever have.

And, the other thing about that is, and if you made a mistake along the way, that’s okay. We can change things. We can correct. Mm-hmm. We can adjust. If you are a writer, you’ll continue to learn. And I’m continuing to learn. I, I mean, I’ve gone back. I mean, again, I can’t keep going back and fixing old books, but there’s always something I would change or improve, and that’s a good sign. It means I’ve grown and I’ve learned. And so never stop learning and never forget the fact that you have an amazing story to tell and the world kind of needs you. Yeah, the world needs your work, so don’t give up on yourself.

Jo: Love it. Love it. Thank you. Thank you so much. So how can people connect with you? Like, I mean, you, you’re kind of everywhere, but when they, they’re looking for you, how can they find you?

Mark: Um, you can find links to most of my social media stuff over at markleslie.ca. You don’t have to spell my last name, aren’t you lucky. markleslie.ca. And then, like, all my social media. And usually if you search on the social media, you’ll find the, the, the bald, the scary, tall, bald guy, um, who’s not really all that scary. Once you get to know me.

Jo: And you’ve got an amazing podcast too, so I think that’s worth, yeah, putting out there too. Your Stark Reflections podcast is fantastic.

Mark: Thank you. Yeah, thank you. And, and I’m so looking forward to sharing you with my listeners on my podcast, which is, yeah. That’s exciting. It probably should be out by the time this airs. I’m hoping so.

Jo: Wonderful. That’s exciting. Yay. Yay. Well, thank you so much for coming on the show today, Mark. It’s again, it’s just been such a blast chatting with you.

Mark: Yeah, Jo, I think we could talk for hours and never get tired.

Jo: Yeah, I think so.

So here are some takeaways from today’s show:

1. Storytelling allows us to connect with others, your words and stories are important.

2. Relationships and connection are at the core of a successful and healthy author business. Remember word of mouth sells books.

3. Sometimes unlearning something is more important than learning something.

4. Making mistakes is okay. Learn, unlearn, readjust, change, and try again.

5. The Writer’s Journey often mimics the Hero’s Journey. Remember the dark night of the soul always passes. And remember Mark’s three P’s: patience, practice, and persistence.

6. There is no one size fits all path to publication- wide or exclusive. Do your research, keep an open mind, and do what’s right for you.

7. Publishing wide goes beyond having your books on the major storefronts like Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Amazon, Google Books, and Apple Books. It’s also about having your books in libraries, in multiple formats, and knowing that traditional publishing has its place too.

8. A healthy mindset understands that piracy doesn’t mean that you’ve lost a sale, but that you’ve gained a reader.

And 9. Ask yourself, the question, would you rather have a million dollars or a million readers? This will guide you to your writing why?

Wow. So I don’t know about you, but I found that to be such a powerful episode. I love Mark’s humor and optimism and his passion for the writing life. My hope is that this episode fueled you to face your fears, remember the power of your words for forging relationships and connection, and to rethink what publishing wide we’re really means.

I would love to hear what your biggest takeaway from the show is. You can connect with me on my socials, leave a review wherever you’re listening to this, or send me an email at jo@jobuer.com. I have lots of links for you in the show notes for you to check out on how to connect with Mark and for resources mentioned in this episode. And you can also check out the transcript on my website at https://jobuer.com.

And if you want to hear more of Mark and I chatting, and learn a powerful mindset technique for when you’re being hard on yourself, or doubting what you’re capable of, and stalling on taking that next step towards making your writing goals a reality. Go check out episode 297 of Mark’s Stark Reflections podcast- Enthusiasm, Encouragement, and Alchemy for Authors with Jo Buer. The tables are turned and Mark is interviewing me about all things bookish, mindset, and authorly. His reflections at the end of the episode are on fire. So honestly go check it out.

Alright, my lovelies. I am wishing you a wonderful week ahead. Remember, don’t do a Jo. Go delegate and let go of those things that are squandering your time and energy. And spend that time instead doing those things that light you up, that fill your creative well, and bring you closer to a life well lived. All my best. Bye.

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