The AmWritingFantasy Podcast: Episode 66 – Publishing wide vs. Amazon exclusivity & MUCH more! (with Joanna Penn)
In episode 66 of the Am Writing Fantasy podcast, Jesper is joined by one of the most influential voices within the indie-author space.
That's Joanna Penn.
Joanna and Jesper discuss whether you should be publishing your books wide or choose exclusivity with Amazon (Kindle Unlimited).
They also cover multiple streams of income. Hosting author events. How to manage a busy work schedule and whether or not authors should be paying attention to future tech, such as virtual reality and augmented reality.
You can find out about Joanna Penn here:
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Read the full transcript below.
(Please note that it's automatically generated and while the AI is super cool, it isn't perfect. There may be misspellings or incorrect words on occasion).
Narrator (2s): You're listening to the amwritingfantasy podcast. In today's publishing landscape, you can reach fans all over the world. Query letters are a thing of the past. You don't even need a literary agent. There is nothing standing in the way of making a living from writing join to best selling authors who have self published more than 20 books between them. Now onto the show with your hosts, Autumn Birt and Jesper Schmidt.
Jesper (30s): Hello, I am Jesper and this is episode 66 of the amwritingfantasy podcast. So while autumn is taken care of some other stuff today, I'm extremely pleased to be joined by probably one of the most influential voices in the indie author space. So I'm going to have a very interesting chat with Joanna Penn and a while we start out by talking about extra activity versus going wide. I'll also try to ask Joanna some questions that I at least hope she hasn't heard a million times before, but we'll see how it goes.
Um, chances are that you've heard you Anna, on other podcasts before. So I, so I want to see if I can take the conversation in a slightly different direction. That than normal, but we'll see how that goes. For those of you who might not know Joanna I can let you know that she's an award nominated New York times and us a two day bestselling author and Joanna writes thrillers under JF Penn and have written more than 30 books and sold over half a million bucks in 84 countries. And I think there's probably more than that by now and five languages.
So she is a very big advocate of selling your books wide rather than being exclusive to Amazon. And she regularly advises authors on topics within self-publishing through her very successful podcast, the creative Penn podcast. So I honestly tried to reduce that introduction as much as I could do. I know, but the, but there's so much to say, so I didn't know where to stop, but welcome to the amwritingfantasy podcast.
Joanna (2m 2s): Hello. Thanks for having me. Yes. For and yeah, I realized I've been going for more than a decade now in this, in these phase, so it can be difficult to encapsulate, but I'm really happy to be on the show today and answer any questions you have.
Jesper (2m 15s): Yeah, that's very good. I don't know, maybe just to start off softly here, is there anything maybe you could share about yourself or what you're doing at the moment that I didn't quite touch upon there in the intro?
Joanna (2m 26s): Uh, yeah. Well I think what's interesting, well, might might be interesting to the listeners. I mean, you have the amwritingfantasy podcast and in fact, I got up this morning and went to my writing cafe and wrote 2000 words on my neck fantasy novel. So I am a fantasy writer. I do like fantasy maps as, as you do. And so I might in the third in my Matt Walker trilogy, which is a kind of dark fantasy split world am portal fantasy I think sometimes they're called. Uh, and then my other self, uh, as Joanna Penn, and I'm this week I have a launch for audio for, which is about podcasting and audio books and voice technologies and the AI and voice and that kind of thing.
So one of the important parts of me is the own quite a split personality, you know, faced a similar to you. I mean you do the same thing. You write fiction, nonfiction. Um, and I write in lots of other genres. So I think that's what I'm working on them. Well, what I'm always working on is I'm always trying to balance my affection and my nonfiction, which is a challenge for many writers.
Jesper (3m 28s): Oh yes. I think I'm going to ask you a bit more about that today as well. That balance part that's a, that is difficult. But, uh, yeah, I once again at least thank you for, for joining today and because one of the things that I initially thought about when, when we wanted to invite you onto the podcast, am wants the whole topic about being wide versus being exclusive to Amazon, meaning publishing within Kindle unlimited. Uh, and I do personally know why you think it's better to be white.
And I agree with your points of view on that, but, uh, but I think it's, it's sort of a topic that bears repeating. Uh, and it's quite important too to think about those things when people, I publishing whether or not you want to publish wide or you want to be exclusive to Amazon, but, but maybe you could just talk us through your line of thinking when it comes to being white versus being exclusive.
Joanna (4m 24s): Yeah, sure. Well, there's a few things. First of all, there is a choice on every book and every format. So you just mentioned Kindle unlimited so that's eBooks specifically within the markets that have Kindle unlimited, which is a very small part of the world and a very small part of the publishing EK system. Um, so even if you want to be on K you for your eBooks, you can still go wide with print and audio, which we'll talk about in a minute. Or you could go exclusive with a series and then go wide with other books. Um, all in one John HRA or an author name.
So there are so many different variations of what white and exclusive means. I want to be clear up front. The second thing is that because I've been publishing independently since before there was even a Kindle. Uh, so you know, I've been, when did I start writing 2006 and I published in 2008. It wasn't till 2010, the international Kindle came along. So I basically started public self publishing when eBooks were just kind of starting out, moving from downloadable PDFs from websites to the reader.
And uh, there was no Kindle unlimited till, I think it was 2014. Am was when it started out. KDP select started out. So I might be wrong on the dates, but it was certainly a number of years after I started publishing or I was, uh, I'm obviously English and um, I was living in Australia at the time. So even when Americans could publish within the K you ecosystem, the Kindle ecosystem, those of us who were international could not, and it's still not open to everyone. So this is the first thing. I mean there are listening to this show potentially all over the world and my podcast has been downloaded in over 220 country, which I think is pretty much everywhere.
See what we've got to remember is when you're on the internet, whether it's podcasting or books or whatever, you have to think that there are people who would like to buy your books all over the world. And as you mentioned, um, I haven't fact now sold books in 134 countries, which is kind of crazy. So this is my perspective as an international author. What I feel is so often the self publishing community is dominated by American voices. And American America is the biggest market for sure on its own.
But if you put everything else together, everything else is much, much bigger. And we barely even begun the digital transformation in most countries. So I have this longterm view. I have this international view. I also have a multifaceted view, I guess because I have so many books. I know you, you and autumn have a lot of books as well. So I do actually have a couple of books in Kindle unlimited, for German. So I have three German books they are in K because I have no ability really to market in German.
Um, and in fact, I just put an audio book live today in German because I have no other way of marketing those. I've decided to use Kindle unlimited and ACX for audible. Um, specifically in order to use the marketing that I need for a market, I have no other way of reaching. Whereas for English language, I have a podcast. I have a website or use social media, I can reach a market globally through other means. So there is so many things to think about when it comes to exclusivity versus white.
And look if, if, if someone listening, if you're just starting out, if you only have one book and you're putting it out in e-book, then sure, go in. K you not a problem because there's a lot of things to consider when you're first starting out and then, cause it's only a 90 day, you know, turnover, you could change your mind later on and go wide later on. Um, but what I would say is for print, print is very interesting because KDP print is brilliant. You can sell your book on Amazon stores, but you won't get into libraries.
You won't get into bookstores, you won't get into universities. You you know, there's a lot of things you can't do if you publish print on Amazon only. So I recommend Ingram spark for print and then for with KDP print plus Ingram spark. Um, and then for audio, um, I use ACX for they, um, you know, the audible market and then I use find a way voices again for library EK systems and for um, you know, Google play for Scribd for all these places where people are getting their audio now.
So I hope that gives you some sort of facets of the different, uh, parts of, of wide versus exclusive.
Jesper (8m 51s): Yeah, absolutely. And I think there is a good point buried there as well in the sense that it's not an, it's not a forevermore decision when you decide, for example, if you put a book into Kindle unlimited it can be a per book decision as well. You know, it's, it's not like you can just pull it up three months later. So maybe there is also a point around not overthinking it in that sense that, uh, if you want to test it out the waters for a while there, you could do but do so, but at the same time, wouldn't you also say that those people who read books in a subscription systems like Kindle unlimited are not necessarily kind of the same people who buy books?
So if you're building an audience purely for example, in co co Kindle unlimited and then you pull them wide afterwards, you're starting a bit over in building an audience wide, wouldn't you say? So?
Joanna (9m 41s): Yes. But then I think as we, as our author career develops, I think we're always building new audiences. So, um, you know, I know plenty of authors who go into K you for, you know, a first year and then take the whole series wide, for example. And, and this is, you know, someone like Lindsey broker. He's one of the biggest in the fantasy authors. Uh, you know, but she writes a book a month, whereas I'm kind of, I write a couple of books a year. In fact, I only white one fantasy book a year. So that's hard to do when you're not someone who puts a lot of books out.
But the biggest difference for those of us who would do this for a career and a new author is that a new author literally, genuinely has one book. Um, or maybe they have a couple of books if they've held onto some things. So I do recommend that people start with getting to grips with one EK system and then moving into other things later for eBooks. But again, I really want to reiterate, especially with nonfiction, you and I both write nonfiction as well. Um, nonfiction is a very print heavy and very audio heavy market.
Um, and in fact fantasy books if especially if they're long fantasy books or if you do a fantasy audio book box that you can get really good sales in audio as well. So I do, what I really want to emphasize is the idea of having multiple formats as well as multiple stores, multiple countries. So if you think about a business plan that is the kind of scaling that you want to do over time and as for different kinds of readers. I agree with you. I'm someone who buys books on the Kindle, but what we're seeing with digital, with audio as well as eBooks is a move to more and more subscription services.
So I mentioned script for example, which is growing fast in am audio books. Obviously it's not just audible at storytell, it's all these different types of subscription services. So I don't think we're stopping the subscription service anytime scene. I think what I want is to say I'd rather be on every subscription service, so I would go, I have nothing, no issues with K you I have an issue with exclusivity.
Jesper (11m 43s): Yeah, yeah. I was actually just about to say the same thing. For example, Kobo plus where I don't have any problem with their subscription model there because they don't demand you to be exclusive with that. That's the part that I also personally don't like. Um, and also Amazon making well as authors, our income is the books that were selling unless we're doing other things as well. But, but at least from a starting point that that's the income we building and being a hundred percent dependent on Amazon deciding something else tomorrow than they did today.
I don't know. I just does not feel good to me.
Joanna (12m 16s): No, exactly. I'm, I'm the same as you as you know.
Jesper (12m 20s): Yeah. But maybe, uh, that moves us quite nicely into, into another part of the same conversation because as authors of course we are, as we just said, we are building an income based on book sales. Um, but one thing is that a book can be several different things like, like you just talked about am audio books is, it's another format. Maybe there is, um, foreign rights or whatnot. But there's also other things you can do as, as, as an author.
I mean, of course am both you and myself and autumn also run some ortho courses and that sort of thing. So what I'm getting into is sort of multiple streams of income that you can make a living from rather than being dependent on a single sole income. S for example, eBooks or whatever we want to say. But I was wondering if we are thinking about somebody who wants to build a full time income, is it, or maybe if there is no difference here, but that's my question. Right? Would you recommend that people focus on like a few well earning streams of income and then put all the, you know, marketing focus and all their money in, in those baskets or is it better to have just a lot of smaller streams of incomes that together builds up a lots of streams and maybe, you know, what are the pros and cons of each if there are any?
That was a long question.
Joanna (13m 47s): Well, there's a couple of, a couple of questions to kind of fire at people less than, um, you know, one is what is a full time income. So this differs from in so many ways. You know, if you are, it's that, say you're listening and you're single and you're renting and you don't have kids, you don't, you know, you don't have a lot of debt. That is a very different situation to someone. You know, he might be in there my age, you know, mid forties maybe has a mortgage, has some kids in school, you know the definition and there's obviously if you live in New York city versus the middle of, you know, Sheffield here or places that might be cheaper to live.
So that would be one thing that you have to decide what is a full time income that needs to be the number one thing. The second thing needs to be what do you want to do full time? So, uh, for example, I mentioned Lindsey broker. Say Lindsey Lindsey is a friend of mine and um, she has obviously the six figure author podcast, which I highly recommend, but Lindsey, right all the time, you know, she has said that she does sometimes 10 hour days writing now there is a different personality and a different type of author. No one is the same type of author.
But when I compare myself to Lindsey, she writes every day for that many hours, say sh maybe she puts in a 40, 50 hour week on the actual writing I write. But I generally write maybe two hours a day. So maybe I put in a 10 hour a week in terms of writing fiction. Um, so if you look at how we make a living that is going to be reflected in the work that we do and that we want to do. So when I, you know, as I said, I've been doing this full time for almost 10 years now since I left my job in, in 2011 and I have never wanted to make a full time income from fiction.
I wanted to be an author, entrepreneur. So this is the thing. Who are you as a personality? I cannot help myself. I don't think you can either. I mean if you, you know, if you, you end up going, Oh, I really want to write this nonfiction book. I really want to do this course because they want to help other people. I really want to podcast because I want to talk about the things I care about. And I think you come from a business background. Yeah, yeah, exactly. So we just can't help ourselves. So there are other people listening who might be like Lindsay, he literally, all they want to do is write those white fantasy books all day.
So what you end up with is the desire to do different things also feeds into the multiple stream of income idea. Um, and that's really important because we don't want you to be miserable. You know, you don't want to give up your job and then find you hate it. I th I would go nuts if I tried to write fiction as a full time job. That's just not how our brains work. I am very happy writing a couple of novels a year, couple of nonfiction, do a course, etc. So that's that. That covers the first say two questions.
How much do you want to make? What is a fulltime living to what kind of person are you and what type of work is going to make you happy? Because at the end of the day, we all have to work. You just have to choose what you want to work out. Okay, so let's get onto the multiple streams. So I have, I have so many, like many hundreds at this point of streams of income, and they're, as you say, there were two kind of basics, active ones and passive ones, and then what kind of half passive, nothing. Nothing is truly passive, unfortunately.
But if we take am, I know you've done a podcast on Scrivener, for example. So I have a tutorial on Scrivener. I have a tutorial on vellum. Do you, do you use vellum vellum yet? Okay, so velum for anyone listening is am formatting software. I love it. So I have a tutorial on vellum, um, on my, on my website, the creative penn.com and I have an affiliate link. So an affiliate link is commission. So if somebody uses my link and buys vallum or by Scrivener, then I get some money.
Now, I recorded that video several years ago. It just sits on my website. People come to the website and I get money every month from they software platforms. Now it's a useful video. You don't have to by using my link. And it's kind of evergreen as about as passive as you can get in terms of an income stream. So what's, what is the problem in doing that? You just have to spend a couple of hours making a tutorial video that will help your audience. Um, so that's, uh, an idea of passive. I don't believe book sales are passive income because you really have to market these days.
You can get some residual sales. So I always say to my husband, if I died, it will probably take two years before the sales wizard to nothing unless you do some marketing. So am books or certainly not passive income, uh, doing a course. So I know you do courses. I do courses and I don't launch my courses. They're all evergreen, which means again, they sit on my website and you can buy them anytime. So again, in a way they're kind of passive. Um, and then just some ideas about active income streams.
So one, obviously both of us do a podcast and I have a pantry on I think. Do you have a pantry on? Yeah, yeah we do. Yeah, I thought you did. Um, so pantry on is an active income stream because if you don't produce a podcast you will not get any money from your patrons. Thank you patrons. By the way, everyone listening you are wonderful. We love you. Um, um, in fact I dedicated my latest book audio for authors. It's dedicated to the lessons of my podcast and especially my patrons because, Oh, perfect.
Yeah, because I they really make, not make me but drive me back to the microphone every week. Okay. So pay Patrion and also just for those of you who write Lindsay again bringing Lindsay up cause she's a fantasy or the. I figure, have you had Lindsey on your show? Yes, we actually did. Yes. Oh, there we go. Okay. So Lindsay also has a pantry on for her books. So T she does something smart. She releases her books to her patrons first and then puts them in Kau. So she actually gets around the exclusivity by, you know, giving, basically selling them to her patrons on a pre-release, then putting them in Kau.
And then when the series is done, she eventually, she puts it wide. So she's got a really good model. Then, um, the other, the other person, um, is, uh, she likes his mirror grant as well. Anyway, there's a lot of writers who put short stories on am pantry on NK Jemisin has a Patriot. I me, she's won all the Hugo awards and everything. Uh, so you patch you on consent and be used for writing, but again, it's an active income stream. And then another one would be speaking. So if you are a successful author, at some point you will be asked to speak, uh, whether that's at a literary festival, which will not pay you, uh, or they'll just pay expenses.
Or you could, um, you know, speaking and get paid. You could do your own events, uh, that type of thing. So, and again, that is an active income stream. You have to get people to come along and then you actually have to teach it. So those are a couple of examples of uh, active and slightly passive, more passive income streams. Yeah. I want to circle
Jesper (20m 48s): back to the events in, in just a few minutes. But before going there, I th the one thing that I'm quite sure many things many people would be thinking is that, okay, so if we have, if we're doing all of these things, because I agree with what you said before, that it all depends also on what do you want to do. And thus if you want to do it, hopefully it doesn't feel like slave slave work or something like that, then you're happy to do it. Right. But at the same time, if we aren't juggling multiple things here, um, and I know you do a lot, so my question to you was how do you structure your Workday to make sure that you apply enough focus on the different things?
Because, um, as you, as you brought up the example with Lindsey, right? If you just writing and your writing eight hours a day and then you do one hour marketing or whatever, then that's pretty simple. But in cases like both us and you were you, your building may be courses, you are tending all kinds of different stuff, but also you're writing some nonfiction and fiction and whatnot. How do you decide where to focus and put enough energy in each one every day?
Joanna (21m 54s): Right. Well, I've always done the same that I had a day job to show. Everyone knows I did have a day job for, for the first five years of doing this. So 2006 to 2011 I had a day job and my shed you'll then is the same as now. So I w I do creative work in the mornings and ID marketing and business in the afternoons. So, uh, you know, when I had a day job I would get up at five and I would write, try and do an hour before then going to my day job. And in the evening I would come home and work on the podcast work on my business website. And then at the weekends I was teaching courses and building out the business.
So basically I did that for five years. So when I left my job, I already had streams of income. Uh, now I do pretty much the same thing. It's just I go in the morning to a cafe and I write and I work on first draft material and I have to get out of the house because I'm talking to you at my home office and I cannot write first draft material in this office because I'm surrounded by distraction. As you say, I have a lot of other things to do. There's always more email, there's always more stuff to do. But I leave the office and I go and I write.
So I know today I did my 2000 words and that's done. And then I go and do some exercise and then I come back here and then the afternoon slash, evening, I do interviews, I do podcasting, I do business accounting, all the things you have to do to run a business. Um, I'll also do course creation and anything kind of more technical in the, in the afternoons. So that is literally it. Um, you, if you're listening in, you're not a morning person, then you're going to have to do it at night. Maybe it's the other way round.
Or you could do alternate days. If you literally only have one hour, maybe you can alternate the days or if, if you are just starting out again finish a book. Like don't get distracted by marketing and all these other things until you have a book. I hear, I get way too. Any questions from authors who were like, well, should I do about marketing? And I'm like, you say, how many books do you have that like, Oh, I haven't even finished a first draft. So yeah, finish the book first. But that is how I manage my time. Um, also another tip is I use Google calendar, um, to really manage my time in block in hour blocks, sometimes half hour blocks and everything is highly shed yield.
Um, so you know, and when I'm in that time slot, like you and I, right now we have a time slot, we're doing our interview and then the time slot is done and I have another time slot after this. I have a whole load of interviews this afternoon, so I batch tasks and um, basically just focus within the period of time I've allowed, whether or not that's, you know, half an hour or an hour like I did back in the day or now my full time life.
Jesper (24m 32s): Yeah. I'm, I'm wondered, uh, not versus autumn for example, autumn is not maintaining a day job, but I'm still maintaining at a day up because I'm kind of in the, in this place where you talked about earlier, right. How much income do you need to replace? And unfortunately, I have too much I need to replace. I'm still doing the day job, so at least on my end as well. Uh, I, I tried, I kind of adopt the same thing as you were saying there in the means that, uh, I can only do my creative stuff, but I, of course I have to do it very early in the morning before I, uh, I do my day job activities, but I can only do creative stuff in the morning because I always feel like afternoon, evening, I'd just too tired.
So, but I can easily do marketing stuff and all that stuff in the evening because yeah, with a business background that comes easy to me. So I don't need to use too much brain power doing better.
Joanna (25m 21s): Yeah. I think, and that's exactly the same as me. I, I it is much easier to do this kind of stuff than it is to write fiction and actually they I would say to people, and there's some romantic myth that being a full time writer is the goal. That's not necessarily the goal. You know, the goal is to have a great life and to write your books as well. Um, if you look at some of the figures that have come out from the various author organizations, most writers, including most indie writers, do not make very much money at all.
So you have to either have multiple streams of income, uh, or you, you keep your job. And in fact, I would also say having a job is great. You know, if you enjoy your job, then keep your job. And I hated my job, so I really wanted to leave my job. And this is the thing, but I, I definitely want to encourage people, look, if you can keep your creative life alongside your day job, then you won't have to do a lot of other things to bring in multi, multi streams of income. You can just focus on your creative work.
And in fact, the book big magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, um, she actually says you should support your art. Don't ask your art to support you. And I find that very challenging because of course I do have my art, but I also have my business. Um, so yeah, these are things everyone has to weigh up for themselves. Um, but as somebody told me a long time ago, don't be romantic about you pay your bills and money doesn't money.
Jesper (26m 47s): That's a good point. But I wanted to, uh, circled back to the events, uh, that you mentioned a few moments ago. Um, and I guess this is a bit of a sort of a self-serving question because I feel like, uh, you know, where we're going to get you on the podcast, I'm entitled to at least have one self-serving question as well because one of the things that am autumn and I have been discussing, uh, was to whether or not we should look at in the future doing some events on our own, you know, putting something together and maybe either with larger audiences or maybe with smaller intimate audiences, I don't know, but I have all the time been wondering if it is really, if you're looking at it from an income perspective, if it is really a viable way to get an income because it feels to me like if you go with the lots audience, of course you're also going to, uh, you know, we have a lot of work on your hands to organize everything.
Um, and of course you need to be able to attract enough of a crowd to actually fund the, the venue that you decide to take out. Um, but if you go with a small crowd then I feel like I think you have to have such a high ticket price that people are not really gonna want to do it or you can only just cover your costs. So I'm just curious a bit about what you experienced when it comes to speaking gigs and events and stuff like that. If it's, is it something that is viable to look at as something you can add money from or is it more like a building your brand name kind of thing?
Joanna (28m 20s): Well, again it depends on what type of speaking you're going to do and uh, cause there were all kinds, you know, I have a friend who was a keynote speaker, uh, for places like Google and Facebook and you know, he can get 20 grand for a lunch meeting, right? So if you choose to speak to a corporate audience and you have a topic that is appropriate for corporate events, then you can earn tons. Um, but if you are, let's say your going to do a workshop on fantasy mapmaking, then you are not gonna make much money from that.
Um, because the audience won't pay for that for, you know, they're not gonna pay that much for that workshop. So this is where you have to decide your own goal. And whereas for example, you could decide to speak as an author convention, you could do a panel on a work on an author convention and that would help build your brand. As you say, we'll probably sell some of your fantasy map making books. Am may get you some more readers, but you don't do author events for the money because it's, it's just not there.
Uh, as, as you say, um, I have, so in terms of actual income, and I may be running as we speak, the Corona virus thing is, uh, having fun with the worlds. Uh, so I was about to actually book a hotel for a am PR in-person event. Um, and I was going to have people, I may still do this, so by the time anyone listens to this, it may well be happening or might be in the future or whatever. But this is the types of things I've done where I have made money. And when I say made money, I mean a couple of thousand pounds in a weekend, which you know, too many people is good money.
Um, and also it's a, you know, can be an interesting weekend. So that would be 30 people in an, you know, a decent hotel and the price would be aimed at people who are serious about their writing career. So it's not a one Oh one how to vote a book type of situation. So, so you've got a number of factors there. It's, you know, what are you comfortable doing? And I've been doing professional speaking again for decades, so I know how to run a small event like that. I would never ever run a big event. I think the risk is too high and also it's not fun for me. I'm, I'm an introvert, you know, I don't enjoy big event.
Um, uh, so yeah, you have to decide like, who are you, who are the audience, who's going to pay? And so, for example, I, I've had an idea on the back burner for a few years now that I'll write and probably pitched you a traditional publisher in order to aim for that corporate speaking market. I may well still do that as well, but that's where I see if you want to be a speaker, then you can earn money with the right audience. If you want to be a teacher and run small events and, or speaker, author things than it is a much smaller thing.
And, you know, speaking at fantasy conventions, that is a brand building so that there's just such a range of, of things.
Jesper (31m 8s): Yeah. Yeah, I see what you're saying. But, and I think also, I mean, of course for the corporate speaking market, um, I fully agree with that. Uh, of course from our point of view, we were more looking at the am at like the author community, right? Because we also across the us are aimed at authors and all that sorts of stuff that would, that would be our audience, right? Or other authors, uh, wanting to, uh, go to an event, uh, whatever that may be.
Joanna (31m 35s): Yeah. And they and then you have to look at the author market in general and say, yeah, there are some authors with some money. Um, but if you look at the ticket price or most author events, they are not very high. So yes, there are ways you can do it, but you, you have to know your audience and know your value to the audience and what you can deliver that is worth a higher ticket price for example.
Jesper (31m 57s): Yeah, that's a, that's a good point. Uh, something we will continue discussing internally, myself and autumn about what we want to do there. But I for for one, I think it could be fun. I mean, uh, of course running podcast running courses, we also do all of that stuff because we like helping other people we like to use.
Joanna (32m 14s): Exactly. And that's another reason to do it. But you know, you asked about the money.
Jesper (32m 19s): Yeah, yeah. And DB because basically I guess what we're, we're trying to see if there was like an overlap in the Venn diagram here, right. Where it's not going to, it's not because we need to get rich from it, but we do want to earn a bit of money because at the end of the day, eh, going, preparing both, preparing an event but also going to an event, it is taking away time from other things that we could be doing that would earn us money. So it needs to sort of be justified in that sentence as well. So that's something we will think about. But, uh,
Joanna (32m 48s): I think you should probably start the pair of you or one of you, whoever, you know, you should pitch for panels at existing events or pitch to do workshops at existing events and then see if you enjoy it basically.
Jesper (33m 1s): Yeah. What am has already participated in a couple of different panels in the U S where she's based, a socio read sort of dipped our toes into the pond there. So, uh, okay. But that's good. But that was a bit about the future thinking here. So maybe I could, uh, shift us into another future future Christian media. Do you wanna uh, because I know that you probably like most, uh, unlike most others I guess really like to look into the futuristic stuff.
Um, so when I had you on here, I couldn't think of anyone better to ask about where you see stuff like VR and augmented reality come into fiction books. And if this is something we should have authors actually pay some attention to, um, and if we want to pay attention to it, where, where do we look, where do we get those? Like, um, you know, if we want to get in early on some of this stuff, where do we get the inputs and the insights as to how to do stuff like that?
Joanna (34m 3s): Well, it's interesting because of course, augmented reality and virtual reality are really starting to take off. And in fact, again, circling back to the, the Corona virus, what we're seeing is share prices in companies that do remote working and remote, you know, experiences are going up. So I think we may even see an acceleration in things like AR and VR because of this am virus, uh, issue. Um, because people will want to do more in VR.
So for example, I meant to be speaking, uh, when this goes out, it will have happened or not happened. But I don't know right now where the London book fair is going ahead and I meant to be speaking at an event and, um, you know, I see. If I could speak in virtual reality, then I probably would. So one of w in talking about teaching courses for example, I do think that we're going to see the rise in, you know, there's a lot of digital tickets to events at the moment. You can get to conventions and stuff that in the future, maybe we just deliver those in VR or in terms of marketing.
Maybe you and I meet in a, some kind of virtual space and people can attend the virtual space. So I think there'll be a lot of teaching. A lot of events will happen in in via, um, of course, one of the biggest areas it's already ahead of the curve, um, is gaming. Uh, so a good example in the fantasy space of course, is the Witcher. Uh, have you read the books or seeing there?
Jesper (35m 28s): I've seen the movie or a series I should say.
Joanna (35m 31s): Yeah, well of course, you know, the books have become massive because of the gaming. Um, so what I think is, is the licensing of fantasy universes for gaming and that is a challenge for independence. I do not think AR and VR are things we can do alone. So whereas we can very easily write a book alone, formatted with vellum and you know, pay a cover designer and an editor please but we can basically get books out on our own. Um, I have my own audio booth, I can do audio books on my own, but when it comes to AR, VR, gaming, am adaptation in fantasy worlds into this multimedia space, this is where licensing is going to come into it saying so I really think this is a fascinating area and there's going to be lots more stuff going on.
And I know quite a lot of writers who write for gaming worlds, uh, at the moment. That's definitely something that fantasy authors can consider if they want to look at that. That's obviously worked for hire, which we didn't talk about, but that is, you know, like that's the sort of contract jobs. Um, but yeah, um, books to gaming to adaptation to fantasy worlds that are turned into these entertainment experiences that is, that is only going to get bigger. Um, as we get more and more of these streaming services, uh, you know, Disney and Amazon and Netflix and everybody else.
So I think that's very exciting. But as I said, the education side, that's probably where I'll be looking, uh, over the next, certainly in the next decade, you know, by the time we get to 20, 30, I think we'll be doing things quite differently. Uh, in terms of podcasting, in terms of marketing, there'll be a lot more that is online in real life if you get what I mean, sort of in, in, in that, in that way.
Jesper (37m 11s): Do you think fiction books, uh, you know, for example, Kindle or eBooks, do you think that they will become more interactive in one way or another?
Joanna (37m 19s): No, I think it is. The interactivity of an ebook to me is, uh, has to be another product. I think we might, you know, w the formats. So audio books for example, I'm thinking of adapting some of my audio books and audio book is a straight read of a text. Right? But I can rewrite my books as am audio dramas. So I've written quite a lot of screenplays for my books, um, but audio dramas as cheaper to produce. So I'm definitely thinking of that. But they in terms of the interactivity, people get that from gaming.
People get that from other formats of, uh, work. So I do think that the ebook, uh, is not something that will become interactive. Uh, I think it'll just be something different. So it might be an augmented reality experience, whatever you call that. So they for example, I've written some books, some crime books that are set along the South bank of London. And I've thought about, well, maybe I could do an augmented reality tour of that area of London. So if you walk around there, I'll be there next to you talking about the place.
Um, I have thought about that, but again, I think we have to consider these things as different formats. And also going beyond being independent to licensing. So we haven't really talked about licensing, it's all but, um, we have copyright in our creative work and we can license it to different people to do different things. So I think Indies have mastered doing things ourselves, the basic stuff, but we're going to have to get a lot more comfortable with licensing if we want to move into these more extended worlds.
Jesper (38m 54s): Right. And do you think all this VR, augmented reality and stuff, do you think that this is something that would be good to get, you know, get going early or getting as an early adopter of that? Or is it better to wait until it becomes a bit more mainstream and maybe the cost goes down to produce it and stuff like that?
Joanna (39m 13s): Uh, I don't think you can get into this early as an independent. Uh, I can't see how you can, it's not like you can buy a piece of software like vellum and then make something unless you're a programmer. Um, getting involved with that, to me as a creative, I can't see a way to get involved in it early.
Jesper (39m 30s): No, no, I agree. Let me, let me clarify what I meant. What I meant was more to really pay a lot of focus on what is happening in the market and sort of have your finger on the pulse and then if, if a company comes out with some sort of solution that can be used from a, from an author perspective, then that you jump in really early on and start moving on it. Or is it better to sort of wait, because I, I, what I'm thinking is that if you jump in early, the cost will also be significantly higher. Uh, whereas if you wait until it's like a proven product that, that people know that this stuff is working, then probably the cost will go down.
But of course then everybody is doing it and you're not getting the early mover advantage there. So that was more my question. I think I didn't explain it well enough.
Joanna (40m 13s): Well, I think everyone has to decide what they're interested in. Uh, so you know, I've been podcasting since 2009 so I was clearly into podcasting before it went mainstream. Thus, I was able to take advantage of being an early mover in the space. Um, but I am not, I don't have, I'm not a gamer so I don't have any gaming headset. If you are a gamer listening, you probably have, uh, you know, you might already have an AR headset. There are lots of different they they've been going, you know, the virtual reality headsets have been going for years now.
So I think people will cheat. You have to choose what you're interested in and follow that and it will likely be the stuff you already do for fun. So for me it's always been audio. For other people it might be gaming.
Jesper (40m 58s): Okay, fair enough. All right, well time flies when you're having fun here. So maybe a to F to finish off am is there anywhere a place where you want to direct our listeners to if, if they want to know more about you and what you're doing? Joanna
Joanna (41m 15s): yes. If you'd like podcasting, which presumably you do say, come on over to the creative Penn podcast family, the Dublin, uh, that is my podcast for authors. I have a nother podcast called books and travel, which is obviously about books and travel and am that is the booksandtravel and yeah, basically I think, um, if people have questions, probably the best places Twitter at the creative Penn but it's definitely a really interesting time to be a writer. And being a fancy writer in particular is definitely a great time to write fantasy so I appreciate what you you and awesome are doing with this show.
Jesper (41m 54s): Oh, thank you. And thank you very much for coming on today. Do you wanna
Joanna (41m 57s): no worries. Thanks so much. Yes. For
Jesper (42m 1s): all right, so, uh, I hope you've got a lot out of that conversation with the Joanna Penn and the next week autumn we'll be back and we will be back into our old groove again.
Narrator (42m 13s): If you like what you just heard, there's a few things you can do to support the amwritingfantasy podcast. Please tell a fellow author about the show and visit us at Apple podcast and leave a rating and review. You can also join autumn and Yesper on patrion.com/amwritingfantasy for as little as a dollar a month. You'll get awesome rewards and keep the amwritingfantasy podcast going. Stay safe out there and see you next Monday.
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