What are some of the fundamentals behind self-publishing success? James Blatch shares tips and insights as well as introducing the Launchpad course from Self Publishing Formula.
I’m an affiliate of the course, which you can find at www.TheCreativePenn.com/launchpad
James Blatch is a historical military thriller author. He’s also the co-founder of Self-Publishing Formula, Fuse Books, Hello Books, and the co-host of The Self-Publishing Show.
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.
- Lessons learned from writing a second book in the series — and why ‘show, don’t tell’ is so difficult for new authors. You can also find James’s interview about his first book here.
- How marketing a second book differs and why free books still work for finding readers
- Different measurements of success when you’re starting out, and writing for love vs commercial success
- Why the ‘language’ of self-publishing is important to learn — and it might take a little time, but you will get there!
- How to navigate the choices as a self-publishing author
- Some fundamentals of marketing — using email lists, and free books in KU or permafree
- Tips for rebooting an older series, or when you’ve got your rights back on older books
You can find the Launchpad course at my affiliate link: www.TheCreativePenn.com/launchpad
If you buy through my link, I receive a percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you. You can also find the links at SelfPublishingFormula.com.
You can listen to the Self Publishing Show on your favorite podcast app and find the backlist here.
Header image generated by Joanna Penn with DALL-E 2
Transcript of the interview with James Blatch
Joanna Penn: James Blatch is a historical military thriller author. He’s also the co-founder of Self-Publishing Formula, Fuse Books, Hello Books and the co-host of the Self-Publishing Show. So welcome back to the podcast, James.
James Blatch: Hello Jo. Thank you so much for having me back on. I’m, excited to be here as always.
Joanna Penn: Well, it’s good to talk to you again now. You were on the show last year, May, 2021, which I guess is almost 18 months now, talking about the launch of your first novel, the Final Flight, and now you have a second book out in the series, Dark Flight.
And I wanted to talk to you a bit about this because many authors obviously put out their first book and they do all the stuff, and then they put out a second book in the series and it’s quite different.
What did you do differently with your second book in terms of the creative writing side, since you must have learned a lot?
James Blatch: Yeah, I did. I mean, writing the first one was a ramshackle, ridiculously long-winded process of me having no idea what I was doing and gradually over four years, probably of the intense part of it, learning parts about the trade and what I should be doing and being directed and finding it hard to learn.
And rewriting and rewriting. And I had a book that was huge and unwieldy, 210,000 words at one point, and then a book that was ridiculously short, 50,000 words that made no sense because I got the wrong idea of what ‘show, don’t tell’ meant.
And then eventually got to this point where the book was done. I got there and I’m proud of the book. I mean, I think it’s a kind of ‘story for my heart’ type book.
Book two, honestly, it could not have been different. I had the idea when I was marketing and releasing book one, I started to think about this idea. I had the story fully formed in my mind.
I wrote it down over two pages on the Word document of the whole story. And that never really changed. And I wrote it in a fraction of the time. I wrote it probably in nine months. And it didn’t change very much even in the edit, which is so far apart from the first book.
So everyone said to me, the second book will be easy, and I hadn’t anticipated quite what a different experience it would be. I mean, it was a slightly different book. I’ll say Jo, I think the first book is like that book from the heart about my dad and everything.
And book two is much more influenced by me reading in the genre, reading Clive Cussler and Len Deighton and trying to work out what it is in these books, these multi-selling books.
People just burn through those series. That’s the type of thing commercially that’s going to work for me when I’ve got 10 books out, they will do the selling for me. Each one can’t be kind of a Blatch family blockbuster type thing. So it was a different type of book, I think, but anyway, it was a ridiculously short experience.
Joanna Penn: Well, nine months is still not ridiculously short.
James Blatch: That’s true.
Joanna Penn: You said there that you got the wrong idea about ‘Show, don’t tell.’ Can you expand on that?
What did you think it was and what did you get wrong? Because it is one of these things that new authors find really difficult. I did too.
James Blatch: Yes. So I’ve been from one extreme to the other. So I went through writing the first book and writing the first draft, which is, as I say, quite long and unwieldy. Then writing a second draft that’s stripped out everything to the point where — Stephen King’s very big on this, that you trust your reader. And I think that’s a really good thing.
You trust your reader. You don’t have to spell everything out but I did it to such a degree that the reader was confused, it was a confusing narrative. So then I did it again, and this time I got probably some bad advice at the time, but turned out to be quite good. Someone told me after my scene, they’d read the scene and they would say, Yeah, but what are people thinking? I need to see what people are thinking.
So after almost every sentence, there was some italics of internal dialogue from that character. Of why they just said that. And what they were thinking, which might have been different from what they said out loud to somebody, as life is, and that made the book very, very long and full of these italics of internal dialogue, which is obviously not what you want to do.
But it was a brilliant way of me then understanding from my final draft of taking, basically take everything out to italics.
You don’t have to tell the reader what people are thinking. You have to make sure that what they’ve said indicates that. So show that. I think it’s a really hard concept to explain quickly and easily.
But I think I went both ways on it, on my journey to getting somewhere now where I catch myself now writing, I’m drafting book three now, and I catch myself occasionally, either over-explaining or under-explaining something and thinking, Yeah, but what’s the action? What’s the story bit that will show that to the reader?
Joanna Penn: It’s definitely one of the hardest concepts and yet it is the thing that makes a big difference. But also, I guess I would say like your experience with that first book to the second book is exactly what happens.
And I think by book five, like I really felt book five (Desecration) was where something really changed for me, when a lot of pieces fell into place, and this year actually I went back and rewrote the first three novels in my series because I felt my writing had moved on so much. So it’s kind of crazy how much you learn, even though you think you know it all.
So I love that you learned so much, but what about marketing? Of course you’re part of SPF, so you know a lot about marketing.
Marketing a first in series is so much easier than a second in series. So what did you do to market the second in series?
James Blatch: So I wrote the first one set in the UK in the sixties at a Royal Air Force base and I always knew that would be a hard sell in America.
I run Fuse books as well with Mark Dawson and so I have some experience marketing books and I know the American commercial audience is quite fussy, I would say. So, one of the series we market has a Royal Marine who’s a commando, sort of part of the Royal Navy in the UK. But when I advertise in America, I always call him a Marine.
Because I don’t get the clicks when I say Royal Marine. I don’t think the Americans know what that is, and it turns them off a little bit. So I think selling an RAF book in America was difficult.
So my commercial choice was that book two would be set entirely in America with an American character. There was an American Exchange guy in book one so I used him.
And it’s set entirely at Edward’s Air Force Base. So that was the idea. And I thought, well, what I’ll end up doing is I’ll be running ads in America to Dark Flight and in the UK to Final Flights and that’ll work.
Now, Final Flight marketing in the first year paid me a profit of about £900 and something pounds, nearly a thousand pounds, which I wasn’t expecting.
I was expecting simply to be audience building, to be spending maybe a thousand pounds a month on advertising, but to make only that back, but be finding an audience and readers who would go on to read my books in the future. But actually I made a small profit, which I was really pleased about.
So with book two, I sort of thought on that equation, well, book two will be profit for me already because they will go on and read book two, but it hasn’t turned out like that. I’m actually about the same, although last month was better, but I’m still making just a little profit every month, £120 or something a month.
Not much more. And I think that’s because now that I think about it, having one book for one audience, one book for another audience is two book ones, right?
And two book ones that don’t really have the read-through, So I haven’t done anything massively different. I’m a big Facebook ad runner, I’m starting to spend more time with Amazon ads and I have a mailing list building.
So I do all those traditional self-publishing things. But I think probably the bottom line here is I need more books. I need books for five and six to get to the point where that might work for me and I need to make them more similar. So I think book one and book two are quite different for the reasons I outlined earlier. Books two onwards are going to be quite similar.
Joanna Penn: Right. Oh, that’s interesting. A lot of people adjust their series later on, don’t they? And almost make their first book like a prequel, almost like a prequel book zero that’s become trendy. Like people make a book zero and then book two becomes book one.
And almost your problem is, you know too much and you have so much information in your head and I know how that feels because it’s definitely happened to me over the years. It’s like I just know all the options.
So the character carries over. There’s a character in book two that’s in book one. So is it not an episodic series? Is it a series of standalones?
James Blatch: Yeah, I definitely have written them so they could all be, I mean there’s only two and a half so far, but hopefully all my books, you can pick up any one of them. A bit like James Bond, you can pick up any Bond book and it’s a standalone story.
It does make sense to read the story in series because there are things that happen through Bond’s life and episodes, but it’s not necessary. And I think commercially that’s quite advantageous. You know, there’s pros and cons of course, because that serial, you know, there’s certainly the romance genre that what happens next? Serial works really well. And so I’ve deliberately done that.
Funnily enough, book three is going to be my novella. That’s the idea. It’s a novella. In fact, I passed 25,000 words today. I’m doing NaNoWriMo. I should get it done. I’m about to start rewriting it, but that’ll take the rest of the month.
That is a prequel. It’s kind of going to be a book zero. So the character from Book one, the main character book one, it’s his first tour in Iraq, and I’ve chosen Iraq because Iraq works for both Britain and America. They know where Iraq is in America and they’ve heard of it. And although it’s historic or I think that will be a market, it’d be an easier market than something set in provincial England.
Joanna Penn: It’s really interesting. You’ve got this love of the military and the Air Force and flying and things that come from your passion completely, but then you’ve also got this business head on as well.
How much of writing this genre is love and how much is research into what sells and writing to market?
James Blatch: I think it’s more love than it is commercial. I think it’s me writing what I love and then thinking, Well, what’s the best commercial approach I can do? So let’s set this book in America. Let’s do a book one that will work in both America and Britain. Those decisions are commercial, but I am writing what I really want to write at the moment.
And funny enough, I’ve just had a video call with one of our authors in Fuse Books about this subject who’s been writing books he loves, but they don’t do as well as another author in the stable who writes very classic kind of MI6 washed up agent type, John Milton, Jack Reacher type things and he’s now having to mull over that Venn diagram of writing something that he wants to write but is it going to be commercial and that’s a difficult thing to find.
And I haven’t really done that Jo, to be honest. I’m writing what I really like. Each story I keep coming up with is because I’m really interested in that and I love getting under the teeth of it and learning more about a subject I already know quite a lot about.
If I was going to be brutally commercial, I guess I would be writing an MI6 agent. Maybe I will one day. But at the moment I don’t think I could do it still where I am at the moment.
I’m so busy with everything else. Writing is still hard for me to sit down and do. It’s much easier this month cause I’m really, really getting into NaNoWriMo. But otherwise I prevaricate and don’t do anything for months and I think if it was something my heart wasn’t completely in, I would find that it’s a non-starter probably for me.
Joanna Penn: But I think that’s really good that you said that because look, you have a day job and your day job is all the things you do.
Self-publishing Formula, Fuse books. Hello Books. The Self-Publishing Show. You’re a busy guy as a day job and like you mentioned, you make 150, 120 pound profit a month or something. This is not a full-time income, and it’s not intended to be.
This is such an important point. We want to say to people listening — none of us are suggesting you have to be a full-time author.
Like, it doesn’t have to be a hundred percent of your income. It can be dinner out every month. It can be a mortgage payment a year. It can be your full-time living. But equally, lots of us do other things. Like this podcast is one of my other things. We both do courses, so I want people to feel like that’s fine.
And I’ve had too many people recently say to me, ‘Oh, there’s so much pressure in the indie community to be a full-time fiction author,’ for example, and I’m like, ‘No, no, no. Let’s not go there.’ Right? I don’t think you feel like that’s ever what you are intending to be.
James Blatch: No, I completely agree with that, and I think there are lots of other milestones that you can use.
So I’m coming up on 10,000 book sales soon, and I’m coming up on a thousand reviews on my first book, and these are really important milestones for me. 10,000 books is 10,000 people, most of whom I don’t know, have bought and read my book and been as far as I can tell from the reviews, relatively entertained by it.
That’s not going to buy me dinner, but it’s important to me. So I think, why are you writing? You’ve always been like this, Jo. You’ve always said what do you want to get out of this?
And it’s opened my eyes a little bit to having that conversation with people more often at conferences and stuff, like what’s your aim here?
And if they say, I want to make money to pay my mortgage, or I want to be rich, that’s a different conversation with them than I really love writing.
Joanna Penn: Or I’ve got this book of my heart and I want to get that into the world. And actually that’s more common, especially for new authors.
We are going to move into now the course from SPF which is now called Launchpad which aims to help new authors get their books into the world or help existing authors revisit the basics because even if you are not intending to make loads of money at this, we all want to get our books into the hands of readers.
And as you said, there are other things that are important to us and one of those is usually at least getting some reviews, having a great quality book, reaching readers.
The course used to be called 101. Why this rebrand to Launchpad?
James Blatch: Yeah, so self-Publishing 101, we came up with like everything in SPF we came up with probably in about 10 seconds at some point when we needed to name it. And I don’t think any of us really loved the name for start. It is very American and we are very British. 101’s an Americanism, nothing wrong with that, but I’m not sure it was a perfect fit for us.
And also it seemed to me to say this is a course that will show you where all the things you need to learn are. There’s KDP and there’s MailChimp. But what this course does is that, okay, so this is the difference between MailChimp, ConvertKit, MailerLite. This is what you need to use those programs for.
Anyone can set up the program and log in and set up a price plan and join that. But this is why you are doing it. This is how you get to turn yourself into a friend of readers and show your personality and stuff. So really under the surface of 101.
So that’s why we came up with Launchpad. It’s something that will — once you follow it — give you the maximum chance of finding readers, which might be for you to make a profit. Or it might be simply that your books will find readers, which, is where I am at the moment and I’m delighted with it.
Joanna Penn: That’s great. And to me, having looked at the course and had a look at what it covers, it is more than like 101 implies that someone doesn’t know anything. Whereas I also think that the idea of a launchpad is if you are someone who has a number of books or if you’ve come out of traditional publishing, for example.
You might be an experienced writer or you might have some books already, but what you don’t have is how to launch into more of the self-publishing world and taking control of all these different things.
So I think this rebrand is a good idea. And I went through it and I was like, Oh, that’s interesting. I mean, we can all do with revisiting the basics, to be honest. Even years later. And of course when I started there wasn’t any of this around anyway.
But you mentioned a few things that you dropped some words like ConvertKit and Maite and MailChimp and people are like “Ah, Stop talking to me! It’s too much.” So I mean, there are a lot of tools, there are a lot of decisions like which platforms, whether to be exclusive, whether to pay for things or learn to do it yourself.
How can authors decide what’s best for them? How do they navigate these choices?
James Blatch: Well, I think it starts with what are you are using the service for?
And that’s what I mean really about launchpad, the difference between 101 and Launchpad. So, those services are all email service providers. That was just one example.
Launchpad will tell you that you need a mailing list, a newsletter you send out to your readers every few weeks or whatever frequency you want. And in the course we explain why that’s so important to you. And it is very important for things like launching your books.
But what do you put in the emails? You know, you have an email sequence that you send out to new readers who’ve joined your list because they’ve read a link in the back of your book. What do you say to them? That’s what our course really focuses on — that relationship building, about turning a reader into a fan and a fan into a super fan and that sort of structure.
So in the end, your choice of whether you use MailChimp or ConvertKit or MailerLite is irrelevant. Almost. You can use any of them to be honest. There’s a tech library which I mainly do, and that is nuts and bolts of how to actually do that and put the email together.
But the key information that you are paying for really in this course is the purpose behind it.
So I think once you understand that, I think that choice about what mail service provider use, what domain registration service you use, even if you don’t know what I’m talking about now, those choices become easier when you understand why you are making them.
Joanna Penn: And I guess, it’s kind of a bigger question.
People say, Oh, self-publishing is really hard and complicated. There are all these things I have to know.
I have to know what an ePub file is so I can upload it to Amazon, for example. And, and I feel like there’s this big barrier that a lot of people feel. And I guess I always say to people, Look, you at least have to be willing to give these things a go.
I mean, have you noticed any particular points that are important for people coming into this?
James Blatch: I mean, I don’t what an ePub file is, by the way. I mean, I know I have to spit one out of my formatting program and I upload it to KDP, who knows what it is.
Yes. I think you get a couple of types of people who approach this. I often meet people and I’m thinking now people like Deborah Holland is a sweet romance writer and Andrea d Mansky who also writes Contemporary Romance. Those two told me that they’re just not technical at all. But the reason the course worked for them is they paused, it, pressed the buttons that Mark said, ran it a bit longer. Pressed the other buttons, created that first email, and just followed it very much like the way Mark described it. And they did it like that. They literally followed it bit by bit.
Whereas other people, I think, come at it from a much more sort of hands on and techy point of view of perhaps don’t need a lot of that handholding.
In terms of your question, I mean, have I noticed a particular way that people go with this?
I mean, is it more technical now than it used to be? I don’t know. I think one thing I’ll say is when I first joined Mark and started getting into this world, it took me 12 months, a year, just to kind of catch up with the language that you and Mark spoke.
I didn’t really understand what you were talking about most of the time, and I got ticked off by Mark a few times, so not when we started a podcast.
I didn’t understand the purpose of the podcast or how you marketed a podcast. And it took a year of just being around, of just having conversations, of being in the Facebook groups for it to seep in, to get under my skin a little bit, to understand the culture in which indie publishing operates, and I think that’s an important thing to do.
I think if you come in cold from traditional publishing or wherever and you do our course by itself, it’s probably not enough. There’s got to be some amount of involvement in the Facebook groups and the discussions and paying attention to the environment and let it all soak in.
Joanna Penn: Mm. Language is really important.
And it’s funny because we’ve all done this in different arenas, right? Like, I remember when, it was probably about a decade ago now, and I was like, I really need to get to grips with my finances and pensions and things like that, like superannuation and investing. And like I wanted to understand shares and all that stuff.
And so I started reading and listening to financial podcasts and reading financial magazines and books and Money Week and the Financial Times, and I literally did not understand so much of the stuff.
But then little by little you learn how to do these things and then it’s not complicated anymore. The decision behind it is the important thing — and your attitude to learning.
That’s the main thing, isn’t it? None of this stuff is rocket science. Really, it is creative work reaching readers. And I mean, at the end of the day, the writing the book is still the challenge, and the marketing I think is a challenge.
But you can learn all this stuff. It is just a language.
And what’s great now, of course is there are lots of courses. Obviously I’ve been podcasting way longer than you but you have a popular podcast. There are lots of ways for authors to learn things, but I think courses and investing in education is definitely something that both of us have done over the years.
But I did want to ask about marketing. We’ve mentioned a few things for marketing.
Given that you know so many authors, what are some of the things that you consider to be most important around marketing?
You’ve mentioned email lists, but I know you particularly care about TikTok, but is it actually working?
James Blatch: Yeah, TikTok is definitely actually working. I mean, obviously it’s like all these things. For some people, it’s going great guns and for other people it’s not working at all. And for most of us, we’re sort of in between that point.
When I put time and effort into TikTok, it works for me. I sell books organically and I can prove that with the nuts and bolts. I do a lot of benchmarking with my sales and I know people who’ve been selling books, well, who’ve got to number one in the entire store because people have picked up their books on TikTok and started moving, you know, pushing them. So TikTok is definitely working, but that’s kind of its own thing at the moment.
In terms of the other sort of fundamentals I’ve learnt, I think probably the biggest single thing is once you’ve got the rest of your platform, right? And by platform I sort of mean your cover, your blurb, your formatting of your book, your price, your mailing list, you’ve got all those bits and pieces in place.
I think the free days you get with KU or putting a book to free and using list services, like Freebooksy, or Hello Books which we run and BookBub and having a sort of cycle based around those is critical is the word, I suppose. I think it’s absolutely part and parcel of the way that I sell my books and sell books for Fuse.
So understanding that I think is a really number one thing. Perhaps we don’t talk about it enough, but it’s a part of the ecosystem you really need to understand. But yeah, I can talk about TikTok if you want more. I can talk about TikTok for about an hour.
Joanna Penn: Well, as much as I would love to hear about TikTok (!) I have been very clear on this show that I am not a fan of TikTok.
So go and listen to the Self-Publishing Show to find out more about that.
But I do think one of the most important things with marketing is choosing what works for you.
So it’s really good that you mentioned there using your KU free days or having a permafree book.
So my mum writes, well, she did write, she’s stopped now, as Penny Appleton, so there’s five books in her Summerfield Village Sweet Romance series and I manage them for her, but all, I literally do every 90 days is put another five free days on every single one of those books. That’s literally what I do and it gives her a couple of hundred bucks every month just from doing that.
And that actually doesn’t cost any money. Obviously, if you want to use Freebooksy or Hello Books, that does cost a little bit of money, but not too much.
And of course permanently free if you are a wide author. I’ve had permanently free Stone of Fire, the first in my ARKANE series for almost a decade now. And I do exactly the same thing. I just have a Freebooksy a couple of times a year, maybe three times a year, and I just do that.
So you don’t have to do TikTok, it’s a very active form of marketing, whereas there are I guess more relaxed forms of marketing where you can just almost set and forget these things or just pop in every few months.
James Blatch: Yeah, just have a calendar and I’ve got quite a few books I look after now with Fuse as well as mine. And one of the things I’m trying to do is be better about having the calendar together so we know when they’re coming around.
But there’s one book series in particular that I market that only really makes money through those periods of sales and in between, the sales tail off. So when we can force it in front of readers, readers love it and immediately buy the other books.
So for that series, this method of putting the book out for free is crucial. And the book I’m writing now, I am writing to be a permafree book. And the idea is that maybe in 10 years’ time when I’m back on here, if you’re still doing the podcast, we can say, I’ve got books been free for 10 years,
Joanna Penn: Oh goodness. I just can’t imagine that at the moment, to be honest.
We’ve both mentioned some examples and we only mentioned romance and thrillers.
The question that many people often ask is, does all this self-publishing stuff only work for the big genres in fiction?
Like, fantasy, sci-fi, thrillers, romance, it just doesn’t work for anyone else, right?!
James Blatch: Well, we always have examples when somebody says to us does it work for my genre? Like does it work for children’s books? We know it does because we have examples of children’s authors who go great guns using the methodology that we teach.
We call ourselves self publishing formula, like we’ve got some secret formula, like the Colonel’s secret recipe. But we don’t have that. We just know the nuts and bolts of the ecosystem and put that all together in one place for you.
Nonfiction as well. I mean, often, I think you’ll say this as well, I think nonfiction is easier to market. It’s easier to advertise than fiction because you are basically answering a question most of the time and advertising, when you’re putting keywords together by posing that question is easier to find your readers when they, or your potential readers, when they type in, How do I do X and your thing pops up, you’re answering that.
So I think that is easier and it’s absolutely necessary to get all this stuff right for nonfiction in the same way. Having said that, Jo, clearly, and this is the conversation I’ve had today with one of our authors and Fuse, if you write a book that looks and feels like Jack Reacher and fits neatly into a big selling genre, life is a bit easier for you.
And then if you write, in my case, historical military fiction, you’ve got a smaller potential audience. But the great thing about the internet, it’s better than the old days of putting billboards up in London on a busy thoroughfare.
You can much more easily target your advertising spend on people who are at least likely to be in your niche, but you’ve got to understand how to do that. And that’s where we come in.
Joanna Penn: We are at a point where a lot of traditionally published authors are getting their rights back and some people might be coming into self-publishing.
Now they’ve maybe heard about the indie way, or maybe someone like me who did this more than a decade ago and wants to relaunch. And I do think that relaunching and using the stuff from Launchpad can really help. But what have you seen work in terms of people coming in with books that might have been more than a decade old, for example?
What are the types of things that people are doing to relaunch older books?
James Blatch: Well, the obvious things are to re-cover them, re-blurb them because language changes in advertising. But I think when you’ve got a series re-covered in modern looking covers, you effectively treat it as a new series, but you’ll be advertising to people.
You don’t have to put any reference to it being 10 years old because to that person, it’ll be new to them. Right, and so I think it’s really important to do that because not only during our lifetime, but actually after we’ve died as well, these books potentially can make money for us and for our estates.
But again, the mistake people perhaps make is if they’ve changed genres over time, their ecosystem — I hate using these kind of buzz words, but I can’t think of a better one at the moment — the sort of ecosystem you’ve created might be working for one genre and you actually need a different set, not a different set of tools, but a different version of those tools for a different genre.
So what I mean by that, to give you an example and make it clearer, if you’ve got a Facebook page and you run adverts and you’ve been selling your thriller series on that, if you then go back to the sci-fi series you wrote 10 years ago, which you want to dust off and relaunch, you need a new Facebook page to do that because you can’t re-target the people who are connecting with your thriller audience.
And you are going to weaken your ad spend there and probably not get such good results. That’s the sort of thing that we go into in Launchpad. It does become a bit of a pain that’s sort of multi-genre advertising. But if your series is the same genre over the years, then I think it’s a coat of paint, isn’t it?
Joanna Penn: What was funny when I re-edited my book one, which I had written in 2009 and we are recording this in 2022, and I had old language. Like I was trying to explain what a flying mini helicopter was, with an arm that would reach out and do something.
And I’d done this really long, complicated thing and then now of course you just say drone. And people know what a drone is. But back in 2009, this was not a mainstream word. And I had this whole sort of virtual reality thing, but I didn’t use the term virtual reality because again, it just wasn’t known. So it is quite funny to read back how things have changed.
So I mean you mentioned re-covering re-blurbing, but I do think a light re-edit can go a long way. I had words around, it was the early days of smartphones and I used the word ‘smartphone,’ and of course who uses that anymore?
James Blatch: So that’s one of the advantages of writing historical fiction is that it tends not to date in the same way.
That’s interesting. At what point does something become historical? And in its own right become quite interesting and fun to read. I quite like reading old books where they describe something and you think, Well, that’s a sat nav. There is a satnav in a Bond book.
He describes this moving map, which of course people are reading think, Wow, that’s ridiculous, how would that even work? Now we’ve all got it in our back pockets but I wouldn’t want that Bond book re-edited.
Joanna Penn: I think you are right. And that is a good question. Like when does something become historical — in the same way, like will Stephen King only be considered one of the finest writers of the generation once he’s dead?
Like I feel like while he’s still alive, I wonder whether he’ll get a Pulitzer or I don’t know, whatever, something, when he’s gone, because in his lifetime he hasn’t been appreciated so much. But it’s so interesting how history changes things. But that’s a completely different conversation!
So we’ve mentioned the course, Launchpad. But it’s not open all the time. So tell us when it’s open and then also I guess how often it will be.
James Blatch: So we’re going to open it twice a year and what we tend to do is we take on students, however many, it’s few, always a few hundred, and they basically go through the course as newbies together in the Facebook group with all the older people.
So we experienced self-publishing veterans in there already, and we feel that works really well. We tend to do it in the autumn and the summer. So it’s going to open on Wednesday 9 November and it’ll stay open until the end of the month, probably December the first, I think might be the day it closes up, and then it’ll open again in June next year.
Joanna Penn: Okay. So to the end of November 2022 and then the next time June, 2023.
James Blatch: It might be earlier, it might be May. We should be better at fixing these release dates, but to be honest about it, we run our company a little bit on the fly the whole time, and I think that suits us.
None of us want to feel like we’re running a nine-to-five job, being slaves to timetables. , so, but the downside is we can’t firmly say to you what our release dates are next year. And I think if I was in a corporate environment, that would’ve all been nailed down by now, but we’re not, thank goodness, I don’t want to be in a corporate environment, but there is something to be said for some organization.
Joanna Penn: And as I said, I have had a look at the course and I am a very happy affiliate of the course.
So my affiliate link, if people want to have a look, is www.TheCreativePenn.com/launchpad
If people want to find out more about you, the podcast and everything, where can they find you and the podcast online?
You’ll find links to the courses there as well. We have a blog every week and so on. I’m at JamesBlatch.com should you be interested in very exciting tales of jet aviation in the 1960s. It’s got to be jet aviation, I don’t do propellers very often.
Joanna Penn: Oh, fantastic. Well, thanks so much for your time, James.
That was great.
James Blatch: Loved it. Thanks Jo.
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Author: Joanna Penn