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Stark Reflections on Writing and Publishing

Dec 28, 2023

In this episode Mark interviews bestselling author Bobby Hutchinson about her unique journey through traditional publishing and self-publishing.

Prior to the interview, Mark shares comments from recent episodes, a personal update, welcomes new Patron Skye MacKinnon and a word about this episode's sponsor.

This episode is sponsored by patrons of the Stark Reflections Podcast.

Learn more at:

In their conversation, Mark and Bobby talk about:

  • What prompted Bobby to start writing in 1980 at the age of 40
  • Leveraging her training for the Vancouver Marathon in order to use that time in her head to decide what to do
  • Her experience winning a Chatelaine short story writing contest
  • Researching which books were selling by purchasing and reading 100 Harlequin novels before sending her first manuscript in which sold right away
  • Selling 17 more of her books after those first two
  • Signing with a New York agent who was recommended to her by her agent
  • Writing and selling 40 more novels to Harlequin, and realizing that since she already had the relationship with them prior to signing with her agent, all her agent was doing for her was taking 10% of her cut of those sales
  • Realizing that her agent was more interested in selling myself than selling Bobby's novels
  • Giving up writing for a while to start a Bed and Breakfast in Vancouver - which led to a book she ended up writing called How Not to Run a B&B
  • Hiring a vanity publisher prior to exploring the possibility of DIY self-publishing
  • Getting the rights back to many of the novels she was written for Harlequin and self-publishing those books directly to Amazon
  • The importance of writing the stories that she was super-involved in and passionate about writing
  • "Going Wide" with her publishing through Smashwords in the beginning, but then being drawn into the world of Kindle Unlimited
  • Accidentally getting screwed over by Amazon and having all of her books taken down from the platform because of a lone title that was still published in some obscure country
  • Reading Mark's book WIDE FOR THE WIN about a year or so ago, at about the time her Amazon sales were starting to go down
  • Bobby's recommendation to not take all your books down from KDP Select/Kindle Unlimited overnight
  • Realizing that at an older age (Bobby is now 83), a person doesn't need nearly as much money as they used to
  • The Public Lending Right registration (for Canadian authors) that Bobby has registered for
  • The question, when re-publishing older books, on whether or not an author should update them to include more modern setting, such as adding cell phones, etc into them
  • Being excited about Artificial Intelligence as a marvelous tool that authors can use
  • How it's really hard to properly predict what is going to happen with a book when it is published
  • The way that Harlequin was a fantastic training ground for Bobby
  • Writing a book about living and traveling in a van (How Not to Vanagon)
  • Discovering her love of camping and the new memoir (Me and Calamity Jane)
  • Advice Bobby would offer to authors who want to get started
  • The value of pretending to be a famous writer in whatever genre you're writing
  • Why Bobby thinks that writing fast can make you a better writer
  • And more . . .


After the interview Mark reflects on a few things that came up in the conversation with Bobby.


Links of Interest:


Best-selling writer Bobby Hutchinson writes stories about almost everything, as long as everything involves romance, quirky people, outrageous kids, deafness, time travel, or medicine, most of which she's familiar with. (Well, maybe not time travel. But who knows?)

She started writing by making up a short story while training for the Vancouver marathon and reading a book called How To Write Short Stories.

She was celebrating being 50.

Chatelaine magazine was having a contest for the best short fiction in Canada, and she won first prize, $5000 for a 5000-word story called "Pheidippides Was Not A Family Man." She then wrote a romance for Harlequin Superromance, sold it and went on to write about 60 more.

With no real qualifications, she taught night school classes in Romance and Creativity at Okanagan College and a correspondence course at the University of Saskatchewan.

Bored with writing only for Harlequin, she wrote three long romantic comedies and sold them to Dorchester Publishing. She also sold romantic time travel to Avon.

In 2014, she began self-publishing, at first using a ridiculously expensive vanity service and then learning about Amazon.

If there’s a mistake to be made in writing and publishing, Bobby has made it.

She published wide with Smashwords, and when KU started, she withdrew her wide books and became exclusive, accidentally leaving one solitary book up in maybe Angola. Amazon took all her books down. A begging letter to Jeff Bezos got them reinstated. She should have stopped while she was ahead and gone wide again.

A year ago, she came to her senses after reading Wide For The Win, took everything off of KU and began the tedious process of putting 50+ books up everywhere else.

She lives alone in a funky little cottage in Cranbrook, B.C., a small city in the Canadian Rockies. In the summer, she hauls her very small travel trailer, Calamity Jane, to campgrounds. In the winter, she hibernates.

She faints at the sight of blood, although her best-selling medical romance series, Emergency, does have the occasional scene involving bodily fluids.

These days, she still writes mostly romance, with a few short stories and memoirs tossed in for fun. How Not To Run A B&B, a memoir set in Vancouver, was chosen by the Kootenay Library Association as Best Book of the Year, and is now being made into a film. Slowly.

She lives in the land of possibility. And she's writing faster than ever because at 83, who knows when she'll head off to seek the Great Perhaps?

She needs to finish that last book on the last day; as any writer knows, that deadline’s tricky!



The introductory, end, and bumper music for this podcast (“Laser Groove”) was composed and produced by Kevin MacLeod of and is Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0