Co-Writing In A Shared Universe And Changing Indie Business Models With Martha Carr

How can you create a universe big enough for multiple series? How can you co-write successfully? How can you pivot your business model to achieve your creative, financial, and lifestyle goals? Martha Carr talks about these things and more.

In the intro, Simon & Schuster is back up for sale [Reuters, Episode 662 with Jane Friedman]; The New Gatekeepers report [Ben Evans]; Marvellous Maps.


Today’s show is sponsored by Ingram Spark, which I use to print and distribute my print-on-demand books to 40,000 retailers including independent bookstores, schools and universities, libraries, and more. It’s your content—do more with it through

Martha Carr is the best-selling author of over 200 urban fantasy novels. Her newest series, Queen of the Flightless Dragons, will be coming out on Kickstarter in May 2023 with Book One, Eamon.

You can listen above or on your favorite podcast app or read the notes and links below. Here are the highlights and the full transcript is below. 

Show Notes

  • The mindset shift when switching from traditional to indie publishing
  • How to take notes, and then turn those notes into books
  • How to know when an idea is big enough for a universe
  • Rules to follow when creating different series arcs within a universe
  • Pros and cons of co-writing
  • Establishing contracts and protecting intellectual property when co-writing
  • How the business model is continually changing for indie authors
  • Kickstarter and why it is valuable to growing your audience

You can find Martha Carr at

Header image created by Joanna Penn on Midjourney.

Transcript of Interview with Martha Carr

Joanna: Martha Carr is the best-selling author of over 200 urban fantasy novels. Her newest series, Queen of the Flightless Dragons, will be coming out on Kickstarter in May 2023 with Book One, Eamon. So welcome to the show, Martha.

Martha: Thank you. I’m so glad to be here. Thanks for asking me.

Joanna: I’m excited to talk to you. So first up—

Tell us a bit more about you and how you got into writing and self-publishing.

Martha: So I started writing actually, shoot, about 35 years ago, and I was published traditionally, and I was a journalist, and I had a national column.

And then of course, the world changed, and indie publishing became a thing, and it just got more and more enticing. And then I ran into Michael Anderle (from 20BooksTo50K), and then the rest is history.

Joanna: Now, some people listening might not know Michael Anderle, surprising as it is. But you said the word enticing, as well.

What enticed you into this indie world? And how did your work with Michael start?

Martha: So in traditional world, you have to have all your ducks in a row leading up to publication because you can’t change much once the book is out there. So if you get the cover wrong or the blurb wrong, you have to live with it.

And all the marketing you do is front-end loaded, and they give you about three months to prove that you can sell books. Then everything gets harder if you don’t sell what they consider enough.

In indie land, if you find the blurb is not working, you can change it that hour.

And you can always redo all the covers. I mean, there’s like a million chances to get to know your audience. And it just seems more organic and makes more sense

A lot of the marketing you do comes after the book is out. A lot of times I don’t do the biggest push until Book Three is coming out. I do it on Book One when Book Three is coming out. So that’s a lot more appealing.

Plus, the cut you get as a traditional author is a lot smaller.

Joanna: Absolutely. And we’ll come back to co-writing in a bit. But you mentioned there that you were a journalist and also were traditionally published.

So even though you found this world enticing, how did you break out of that traditional mindset?

And I’m sure you have friends in your previous career who might have judged your choices, so how have you dealt with that mindset shift?

Martha: So I have found that, inevitably, I have to answer to myself.

And if I make decisions based on everyone else’s gut, I’ll make a million different decisions, and it will add up to nothing because I’ll keep changing my mind. There was a lot of pushback when I initially went indie. And somebody wrote me a really long email about how I was embarrassing myself, and I just deleted it. They weren’t even an author.

Joanna: That’s crazy.

Martha: Yeah. And in the end, I just have to believe in myself and ask myself all the right questions, and it was more about what do I want to do.

Plus, I was having a lot more fun as an indie author, and it just seemed more rewarding.

With traditional publishing, there’s a lot of wait time. You have to get on a schedule. You’re not going to put out many books at all every year, maybe one or two at most. And that, by the way, that’s Lois Lane in the background, who is my very sweet deaf dog, who I would have to chase down to stop her from doing that.

But generally, the people I’ve been hanging with, I think a lot of the authors I knew were curious. It’s something odd when you are more interested in a few gatekeepers liking you than a million fans. I’d rather go with the fans.

My ultimate goal is for people to read the book, it’s not to get editors to like me.

Joanna: I think this is a difficult attitude to adopt, and a strong one. Like you’re clearly very strong on that.

I get a lot of emails from people wondering if they should make this jump. You mentioned a few things there, like the speed of publishing, and that maybe you could have only done one a year with traditional.

You’ve written and co-written over 200 books now. Tell us a bit about your prolific creative process.

Martha: So clearly, that would have never happened in traditional land. People ask me all the time, how do you keep coming up with stories? And I think that’s like my superpower.

I just think I walk around looking at the world differently, and weird stuff occurs to me, and I keep notes, I take little notes, and it just keeps popping up.

I think as a kid, I always wanted to believe magic was real, and so I just have these ideas that keep popping up. That never could have happened in traditional land. And the nice thing, too, is my grown son seems to have taken after me in that way. So when I’m stuck, I can call him and the strangest things come out of his mouth. Once I needed something for a magical museum, and instantly without even hesitating, he said, leather armor for a whale. And that was perfect, and so strange.

The other thing about traditional land is you really are at the mercy of a very small handful of people.

And we’re all human beings, so we are very subjective and opinionated. And one person may hate your book, but 10,000 fans might have liked it, and you’re never going to know that.

Joanna: So coming back to your creative process, you mentioned you have all these ideas, and you write notes. So first of all, how do you take notes? Like I take them on my phone on the “Things” app, that’s what I use. How do you take your notes?

Martha: You’re doing a much better job than I am. I carry around a little notebook, and I usually put the notes there. Or if I’m without it, I just text myself. But your idea is much better.

Joanna: How do you take those notes and ideas and actually write the books?

Because a lot of people have a lot of ideas, and most people do not have several hundred books.

Martha: So standing out to me the most, because I kind of know when I’m going to need another idea, and something is standing out to me, and I’ll just pick that one. And then if I’m working with Michael, I’ll mention it to him. And his brain is like mine, he’s off and running as soon as I give him the start of something, and we just kind of form.

So you have to start with: how does this affect the universe? If that’s what we’re talking about. What’s the backstory? And from the backstory, it gets easier. Once you have that, like, who is this person? What motivates them?

Characters matter to me more than anything, it’s why someone’s going to go from Book One to Book Two to Book Three. The characters will matter more. They’re dropping in to see how their friends are doing. And of course, clearly, plot matters a lot, but if you don’t have the character relationships, it’s going to be hard to drag people along for an entire series.

Joanna: Hmm, true, and we’ll come back to the series side. In terms of your actual writing process, do you dictate? Do you type? Do you get on the phone with Michael and kind of brainstorm?

How do you actually get those words done?

Martha: So when you’re talking about creating the book, I brainstorm with Michael. If it’s one of my books, I’m usually talking to Charley Case, another author, or my son, Louie Carr, who is a music manager.

And I write an outline, a very complete outline, and I will write a lot of things that will never make it into the story. It keeps the character true and gives me a better idea of who they would be if they actually existed. All the side characters are written out. So before I start writing the first word, it’s really fleshed out so that I can just go.

And I don’t use dictation, by the way. I’ve tried it, and I found I just can’t do it. There’s something about typing that brings up another side of me. I wish I could do it. TR Cameron, who writes in the Oriceran Universe, uses dictation. And I envy that, but so far, that’s not me.

Joanna: Yes, I must say, I keep trying it as well. I’ve had a lot more success with my nonfiction, but fiction, I’m like you. I almost don’t know what I’m going to write, I don’t even outline, I’m a discovery writer. And I sit down, and that’s when it comes out is when I type things. I also work in a cafe a lot, and you can’t dictate in a cafe.

Martha: Right? I wonder if anybody tries. I bet there are people who try.

Joanna: Oh, I’m sure there are, but not the type of books I write, anyway. So coming back, so you mentioned there — universe. And I find this really interesting, so many of us writing series, but you write in these universes. So tell us about this.

How do we know when an idea is big enough for a universe?

Martha: So I always say, take what you like and leave the rest. But how I do it, is I look for some kind of mythology that actually exists that I can twist to make it bigger. I need an overriding story that’s so big, that it contains what happens next.

Like in Oriceran, the mythology is these two worlds come together every, I think 70,000 years, that they’re so close that it opens a gate and lets magic flow from one planet to the next.

And the gates are either always in the process of very slowly closing or opening, so that there’s a minimum of magic available, but it grows stronger over time. And that the last time the gates were open, a very long time ago, some humans chose to stay on Oriceran, some magicals chose to stay on Earth. And there’s an ability to portal between them even now, but it’s tricky and dangerous.

So with that, you have a setup for why magic exists here, and you have the history of another planet that I can make up, as well as the history of Earth.

And it makes some of the stories, like about the pyramids, or whatever myth you want to bring up, more plausible that the Oriceran had something to do with it. You just kind of go from there.

Joanna: So you mentioned there a detailed outline for a book. But with this universe idea, so is it that way back you kind of came up with the idea, and then you did flesh out, I don’t know, 30 books, or however many books? Like do you know I’m going to create this much in this universe?

Martha: So Michael actually came up with the original story about the two worlds. But you do need to come up with that idea first. We start with the macro and work our way down to the very small. And when we started the universe, Michael still claims to this day he was talking series, I claim he said universe, but you know, here we are five years later. 

I don’t know that we ever thought that it would be this big when we started, and maybe that’s best. We were just having fun going from series to series. Nobody was thinking, well, we need to get here and we need to get there. We were very much in the moment, just having a good time.

Joanna: So how many books are in that universe right now?

Martha: That’s where the majority of books are. And there’s also been six to eight authors who’ve written in the universe, which is also fun. TR Cameron was found because we did an anthology, Fans Write for Fans. And so it was fanfiction in an anthology based in Oriceran, and we happened to notice how good TR Cameron was at writing it.

Joanna: I find this so fascinating, because as I said, I’m a discovery writer. And like Map of Shadows in A Mapwalker series, I thought it was a standalone, then I thought it was a bigger series, then it was a trilogy, but it’s actually a world or it could be a universe, so it could have a lot more.

How do you distinguish what is a series arc within a universe?

Are they just completely different characters? Or like how do you plan out each of those things within the universe?

Martha: So if I’m doing a series, which I often am, within the Oriceran universe, then it’s much like knowing what the laws of Earth are. I have to include the laws of Oriceran, and what kind of magicals exist, and what the timeline is.

We’ve been doing it long enough now, that there are actually two timelines we operate off of. One is where the human beings don’t know magic exists. And one is a little further into the future where they do know it exists, and it’s a little trickier and more violent. Those tend to be the more action adventure books. And so now I balance that as well. 

It’s really, once you know the rules and the laws, it’s pretty easy. It’s like, I know that the sun should rise every day on Earth, that human beings need to breathe in and out. You’ve got to keep those basic rules, or at least explain why you’re bending them. Once you’ve incorporated the rules of the universe that’s riding alongside it, you kind of just know what the rules are, and that you’ve got to work within them.

Another writer that is writing in the universe will ask, can I do this? And then I just have to ask myself, is it plausible? Do I want to deal with it later? Because it affects everybody. When someone comes up with a new rule, you just have to kind of think about it as best I can for what unforeseen thing it will affect.

Joanna: With each of the series within the universe, are there different characters, or are there characters that cross series that keep readers coming back?

Martha: We’ve done both. And we did it famously with Brownstone, and it was really tough. And so I doubt we’ll ever do it so intensely again, where it’s different characters who’ve been established before are now in other series.

But we have guest appearances, I guess you’d say, all the time. And we do spin offs, if there’s a character in one series that really was very popular, we will take that character and build a new series just based on them.

Because a lot of it too is, I mean, I’m still an author, and sometimes I just want to do something brand new, and I’ll come back to that later. You know, you still want it to be fun for me, too.

Joanna: So how do you balance that then? How do you know like, this idea is a Martha Carr and this one is going to the Oriceran Universe?

Martha: So if it’s an idea that fits in the Oriceran Universe, that’s Michael and I. But if it’s an idea I came up with on my own that just really lights me up and I’m willing to take the extra time, because I’m still doing Oriceran and doing a series on my own, if I really find myself daydreaming about where that plot could go next, or I noticed something out in the real world, and I think, oh, yeah, that’s perfect for that, then I know this is something I really want to do. And I just kind of follow the trail.

Joanna: You do multiple books at the same time, do you?

Martha: I do. And it’s not necessarily easy. I try to more focus on one, and then there’s one that’s coming in, just to kind of keep it straight. It’s not easy, but yeah, I do it.

Joanna: I think it’s amazing. Now I have co-written some fiction and some nonfiction, and I found it very, very hard. So you co-write with Michael Anderle, as you mentioned, and I think other people.

What are the pros and cons of co-writing, and any tips for people considering it?

Martha: So if you’re considering doing it, then you’re going to need to be very open and willing and flexible and know when to just let things go.

If someone overthinks things, I just don’t think it’s going to be a very good experience. And if you’re working with other authors, they’re a creative person as well. So sometimes somebody will have an idea, and my initial interior thought is, “oh, no.” But they’re so excited that I’m willing to give it a day or two and think about it, and often they’re right. It just wasn’t what I had in mind, but that doesn’t mean I’m right.

So flexibility is key, the willingness to listen, and also, you’re going to have to be a very, very, very good manager.

Keeping dates in mind, checking in with people. Where are you? Can you send me the chapters you have? It takes a lot of management skill, and to be kind and courteous, but still have expectation that you’ll get things on time. And it’s not always going to work too, by the way. You can do everything right, and somebody disappears on you, or they just don’t get it done. But you just keep going and try the next one. You can do everything right, and it can all not go well. And that’s okay, too. You just keep going.

Joanna: Yes, I mean, I think this is difficult. And I’ve been very lucky as my co-writers, like I remember working with Mark Leslie Lefebvre on The Relaxed Author, and bless him, Mark’s wonderful, he’s probably listening. And I’m much more of a control freak, and I’m like super organized around dates and things like that, and Mark is much more relaxed. Luckily, he was fine that I took the lead.

So is that another tip — someone has to take the lead on a co-writing project?

Martha: Yes, I would say someone has to take the lead.

So, often I’m taking the lead on the individual project. But at the same time, I kind of have a good instinct for when I need to run something by Michael, partially because I don’t want him to feel like he’s being left out. So I’ll just leave him a quick note: are you cool with this? And he’s off writing, he’s got his own books as well, besides me. Much like me, but he’s on an even bigger scale than me. So he doesn’t need to hear about every detail, and I’m not sure you’d be thrilled by that. So far at least, I have a pretty good instinct for when to check in and say, “Are you okay with this?”

Also, by the way, if you’re going to co-write in indie land, you really need to talk about budget upfront as well.

Because you may have two people who are operating on different personal budgets, and it’s better to iron all of that out upfront when there’s no work that’s been put in and no expectation, or at least they’re lower, so that you can get a good feel for what each side can afford to do.

Joanna: And when you say “afford to do”, you mean time budget and money budget?

Martha: Correct. Exactly. Both. Like how often can you put a book out? Or on the other side, how much do you expect to spend on covers, editing and ads? And do all of that upfront. People are much easier going about negotiating and being honest upfront, and it’s easier to say, “Now, is this reasonable?”

And by the way, when writers are writing in the universe, I mean, that’s a question I am asking all the time, “Now, is this reasonable?” If you get sick or if you want to go on vacation, have you put enough time in there where it won’t cause a strain? So yeah, do it all upfront as best you can. And then just remember that the universe you created will not fall apart if something doesn’t go quite as you hoped.

Joanna: I mean, doing a contract upfront is really important too because you’re co-creating intellectual property.

So it actually goes on after your death, it’s longer than a marriage.

Martha: Right, right. Yeah.

Joanna: So one question I was going to ask you—so I completely understand about like a universe that has its own characters and everything, but I had someone request that I write one of my characters into their universe. And I said no, because—

I didn’t want to mingle the intellectual property. So is that something you think about too, between your work as Martha and your work co-writing?

Martha: I wouldn’t do it. Like intellectual property, but also, like I was saying before, whatever that character is doing in your universe affects every other series out there. And the fans know it, and they’ll point it out to you. “Why can this character do this here, when you said over there that no one can?” And it’ll affect future decisions.

So one thing sometimes a writer will want to do, is they’ll want to do something, and they’ll say that it was a worldwide thing. And I’m always cutting that back to, no, it was a Seattle thing. Because it affects too many books to do these global kind of pronunciations.

It just needs to be smaller so that you can stay in your own little world. It’s one thing to have somebody make a guest appearance within the universe, it makes no sense for them to step out of that universe into something else. No, I wouldn’t do it.

Joanna: It’s funny, isn’t it, these kinds of things we have to think about. And it goes from the story side to the business side. So I wanted to talk to you because I watched your High Powered Authors panel at 20Books Vegas in 2022, which is on YouTube, and I’ll link to this in the show notes, and you were there with a wonderful panel.

What do you see as the most important things for an author who wants to be as successful, in terms of the number of books and income and all that?

Martha: I would say that, for me, it’s an ongoing process of asking myself what I want and being courageous and willing enough to take steps toward it, and to ask for help.

So for a good example, is I’m doing my first Kickstarter that’ll be out in May. And when I started looking into it last year, I knew nothing about Kickstarter. I had been a customer or contributor on the site, but I’ve never seen the other side.

So I started by asking questions, you have to have a willingness to know nothing again, and just keep asking questions, and sorting through till you get to where you start to get an idea of how you want to approach something. And, you know, you want to keep it fresh, and just keep going.

Joanna: It’s interesting, because I mean, like so we mentioned Michael Anderle, he’s been on the show, and Craig Martelle, talking about 20Booksto50K, some people will be aware of that.

But the model of high-powered indies, like yourself, a few years ago was realistically: rapid release, write a lot of books, rapid release into KU, plus ads. That was kind of where it started.

And now it seems that this has morphed quite a lot.

Why are you getting into Kickstarter? How is the model changing for indies from rapid release and KU?

Martha: The model will always change for all authors, whether they’re traditional or indie, but particularly for indies, because we have to think the business side of things more.

And back when we were doing rapid release, there were fewer of us. So readers had a desire for more books and putting them out rapidly gave people who read a book a day exactly what they wanted. And it was a way to stake your place in the author world to fans in a very quick way. You stood out.

It was also taking advantage of the Amazon algorithms because it would keep throwing your books to the front of the line, so quickly, that they all stood out together. And it pointed out to these whale readers, look, there’s at least three of them. And you had a better chance of appearing on a bestseller list, even if it was for the new bestseller list, which is kind of separate. So that was a lot of the reason to do that.

But the world is changing. There are a lot more of us who are writing. And also, that rapid release is tough.

It’s a lot of writing, you may have to store up the books, it’s just different decisions.

With Kickstarter, it’s a whole different ballgame. And it’s kind of fun. And you can bundle things, and you can offer different ways to do it, you can add art more easily without adding so much cost. The amount you keep is higher. 

I’m a curious person and I like to try new things, and Kickstarter is a whole different way to do it.

A lot of the people are doing box games. I’m told Kickstarter is the biggest seller of box games that there is. So you can try so many more things.

Patreon was very big a couple years ago, and a lot of people are still doing it, but it’s not the hot thing anymore. And so now Kickstarter is, And I’m sure two or three years down the road, there’ll be something else we’re all looking at. Some of it, I’ll ignore, I never did Patreon, and some of it I’ll pick up.

My goal is to start to build a separate audience because I don’t know how many of the people who are fans in Kindle Unlimited will actually walk over to Kickstarter.

It might be a whole new group, and I’m kind of starting from scratch, which I think could be kind of fun to build an entirely new audience.

Joanna: I love that you say kind of fun, and that you’re up for learning new things. And you’re exactly right. I mean, when I started self-publishing, there was no KDP. You know, there was none of this.

My first self-publishing experience was printing a load of books and keeping them in my garage. There was no print on demand. I mean, this is what’s so crazy, people coming in now think that this is it, this is the thing, but it changes. As you say, every couple of years, things change.

What I love about Kickstarter is that you can do higher-priced, beautiful products as well. And I feel like it’s valuing our IP in a different way, as well, to do these different products.

Martha: And like you said it, you can do a higher quality. And I really think that the advantage, too, is—

Unlike every other way we sell, Kickstarter gives you the emails.

So you can create your own access to your fans, where you don’t need to talk to anybody else, at some point you could sell directly to them. And there’s nothing more powerful.

So Brandon Sanderson, who we all love to talk about because of what happened last year when he did a Kickstarter and it garnered 44 million. Well, imagine the email list he has. That is the most valuable thing I feel that he got out of it.

So, like for my first Kickstarter, if I hit goal, but don’t go much above that, frankly, to me, that’s a sign that I’ve hit a new vein of fans. And that’s good news.

And so if it takes two or three years to build up a really strong fan base, so be it. I mean, I’ll still be having fun. That’s the goal for me is, clearly you want to pay the bills, but you can have fun while you’re doing it. You just have to figure out how do I accomplish both?

Joanna: Absolutely. And if it’s not fun, then go do something else.

Martha: Right? Because this career is a lot of fun and it’s a lot of work.

And if you’re really not having fun at it, it’s going to feel really tough most of the time. So on the days when I am struggling with a character or a scene, and I’ve even talked to a couple authors and I’m still thinking, “This is not working,” I’m still glad I’m here, I’m still thrilled I’m doing it, and I’ll go do something else to kind of redirect my brain. And I still have confidence that at some point, I’ll figure it out.

I’m not thinking, “Dear Lord, if only I could finish this, so I could sell it, so I could have the money.” That’s not where I’m going. And I’m really still focused on the book, thinking somehow this is going to work.

Joanna: I totally agree with you. And that’s why doing these different projects and trying different tools is fun.

But burnout is a real problem in the indie community, or indie land, as you call it, especially around that rapid release.

What are your tips for being a sustainable creative and staying balanced with yourself and the business and everything?

Martha: That’s a great question. And yeah, if rapid release is not for you, if doing a book every other month is not for you, if three books a year is really your thing, or one big book a year, whatever it is, then head for that. You’re just going to ask different questions.

Your questions are going to be about, how do I sustain curiosity with my audience so that when they see my second book, they’ll want to come and try it?

So here’s a better way to put it. When we started, Michael, in his author notes and on Facebook is naturally very funny. And people just love it. I am not funny in that way. I’m more that I’m going to connect with you on how do you feel what do you want to be doing. And so I had to make a decision early on that I was going to have to be me. And that’s my pit bull, by the way, behind me.

Joanna: This is the dog show!

Martha: I know, that’s Bluebell and Lois Lane who were hanging out with me. And they’re both deaf. One was born deaf and one has gone deaf, so nobody’s paying attention to me.

Joanna: But I mean, that’s interesting that you have two dogs. You must be healthy and out walking them, and there are ways that you’re sustaining your life as well as your business.

Martha: Absolutely. And that’s a good point too. With some of the money that I’ve made, that I’ve been fortunate enough to make, I put in a vast garden in the back that Michael refers to as the forest. And it covers the sides of the house and almost the entire backyard. And it’s your typical suburban size, so it’s not huge, but it’s amazing. I had a delivery person dropping off a chair for back there, and I love that he stood still for like a minute and took a deep breath, and you could feel his shoulders dropping. And so I did that for myself, where I can always go sit in the backyard and take a breath.

So I’ve found I have to eat right. I’ve noticed that if I’m off like eating junk food, it’s harder to write. The margin of error when you’re putting out a lot of books gets thinner. But I’m also 63, and the margin of error got thinner anyway.

Joanna: Thanks for mentioning your age, because also on your website, you say you’re a late bloomer. And it’s like, you’ve got over 200 books. And I mean, you might have another, let’s say, 30 years.

Martha: Fingers crossed.

Joanna: Fingers crossed!

What would you say to any writer who feels like it’s ‘too late’ to get started, either because of their age or because they think indie’s already happened?

Martha: Oh, indie has never already happened. It’s like what you and I were just saying, the thing everybody was playing with might be played out, but there’s something right around the corner that we can all go play with that’s new.

And this is one of the few creative professions, I guess painting would be the same, where it’s really not going to matter how old you are. It’s do you have a good idea? Do you have curiosity? And are you willing to put in the work? And also, to a degree, do you like at least online mingling with people?

I just watched a lot of writers who say to me, I don’t like social media. And I keep thinking, you don’t have to like it, you just have to be on it. You can have somebody who has a great book, but they’re not online, and somebody who has a book that’s decent, it’s not the best thing, but it’s a good story, and they’re online with their fans, and they go to that guy because they want to support him. It’s kind of like Kickstarter, in a way. Everything in this world is about community and relationships, so you go online and mingle with people.

But in terms of being too late, it’s never too late.

Frankly, there was a book that came out in traditional land last year called Lessons in Chemistry. It’s such a good standalone book and the author, it’s her first book, and she’s 65.

Joanna: I didn’t know that. I heard of the book, but I didn’t know the author. Because often now, it’s like in traditional, they don’t want older authors because, you know—

Martha: She’s a one-off. But her book is so good. I’m sure an editor read it and thought, “We’re doing this one anyway.”

But in indie land, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, if you believe in it, go for it. And the nice thing too is, I’ve seen enough people do books that I personally find strange and thousands of people adore. And I love that. And so it’s like you go be you, an audience will find you

By the way, the authors who really have a strong opinion, “nope, this is me,” are more likely to find that niche audience because none of us are one-offs as humans. And so if I exist, then thousands of others like me exist.

And if I can be true to myself, they’re going to find me. It’s when I’m trying to be something I’m not, and I’m trying to please too many people, it gets harder and harder to tell who I am. And it’s going to come out in the style of writing. Therefore it gets harder for people to kind of glom on to me.

So Shayne Silvers does great business. He’s in urban fantasy, too, just like me. We’re both killing it, our audiences don’t cross much. His is a much darker style of urban fantasy, and mine is much more to the light. And I think that’s wonderful.

There’s so much room for all of us. It also makes it possible to cheer on somebody else. It doesn’t take anything away from me at all to help somebody else. It doesn’t take anything at all. It’s not a contest. It’s never a contest.

So yeah, if you’re old, if you have certain physical limitations but you want to do this, just go for it. I mean, I’ll be doing this in some form.

One of the reasons I’m doing the Kickstarter and coming up with a new way of selling, is because at some point, I want to do my version of retiring.

So if I can do fewer books in a year, and in a different way, then that would be my idea of retirement. That’s why I’m doing it. It’s never too late.

Joanna: Well, that’s brilliant.

Where can people find you and your books online?

Martha: So the best way is to go to, and sign up for the newsletter and you’ll keep abreast of contests and what new books are coming out from both Oriceran and whatever books I’m doing and the Kickstarter.

That’s the best way to stay in touch or to get in touch with me. I do answer everyone who writes to me. I always feel like if somebody took the time to really tell me how they feel about it, I can take a few minutes to answer.

Joanna: Brilliant. Well, thanks so much for your time, Martha. That was great.

The post Co-Writing In A Shared Universe And Changing Indie Business Models With Martha Carr first appeared on The Creative Penn.

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Author: Joanna Penn

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  • February 22, 2023