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Stark Reflections on Writing and Publishing

Mar 23, 2018

In lucky episode 13, Mark interviews author T S Paul about not listening to people who told him he was “crazy” with the ideas he had for his writing plan. T S Paul (AKA, Scott) writes Science Fiction, Space Opera, Military, Cookbooks, and Paranormal Fiction. His books used to be exclusively available thru Amazon Kindle and Kindle Unlimited, but towards the tail end of 2017 he started to publish a number of his books wide to Kobo, iBooks, Nook and Google Play.

This episode’s Tongue Twister is sponsored by Findaway Voices. Mark attempts to do the tongue twisted in the voice of Brian’s Mum from the Monty Python movie, LIFE OF BRIAN. The tongue twister source is from a 2013 MIT research document (USA Today Article: World's Toughest Tongue Twister - no kidding)

In the interview, Mark and Scott discuss:

  • The fact that TS Paul is not a pseudonym. It’s his real name. The S is for Scott and the T stands for an undisclosed name. (Despite the fact that Mark tries to trick him into saying it)
  • The fact that Scott doesn’t have an author newsletter, nor has he worried about starting to build one, or a domain name for that matter. The majority of his relationship with his fans happen via his blogspot blog ( and his Facebook Author page
  • The fact that he has only been writing since February of 2016 and using the blog and Facebook page since then. (3500+ followers on Facebook – 300 to 600 hits a day on the blog)
  • The “Wilson Wednesday” free short story that Scott released on his blog every week. (with 45 short stories posted there in 2016)
  • The fact that he bundled the stories into single volume story collections [EDITORIAL NOTE: Scott uses the term “anthology” but I have always subscribed to the idea that an anthology is a curated collection of stories from multiple authors, so I’m inserting the term “collection” in place of “anthology”] – into two different ebook volumes for that time period
  • The Jack Dalton Monster Hunter series he started in Feb of 2018 and the release methodology he uses:
    • Each new book’s release (about 10,000 words) is on the first of the month
    • On the third Wed of that month, readers can read the entire book content on his blog for free (for a 24 hour period)
    • The fact there is also a buy button on that post for those who’d rather just read the ePub or mobi version on the retailer of their choice. And the fact that there’s a pre-order button for the next month’s release in the series
  • How Scott has heard the words “you’re out of your mind” many times before
  • The $1.99 price point he has used (which, historically, was considered a really poor price, possibly the WORST price for an eBook) – but it’s important to remember that those studies were related to full sized books (ie, 40,000 to 150,000 words) rather than shorter works (most of Scott’s ebooks are in the 10,000 word range)
    • Sales for Book One (from Feb 2018) – of more than 1500 units
    • Sales for Book Two (so far – mid March) are in the realm of a little over 500 copies
  • Scott’s background as a bookseller who previously worked at Waldenbooks
  • How Scott managed to use targeted ads to build up his Facebook followers, which started off with boosting a post on his author page of a picture of his cat, Merlin (and targeting science fiction readers who loved cats)
  • Scott’s theory about Facebook ads, which doesn’t include a direct ROI, but to keep the ads in front of people’s faces (using the old 7 touches/7 views methodology of marketing)
  • How Scott built a sales base for himself in the Netherlands on Kindle, building that market from 2 EUR a month to 50 EUR a month
  • The reason why this new series Scott is publishing was published wide to all eBook retailers (Kindle, Kobo, iBooks, Nook and Google, etc) rather than exclusive to Amazon using the KDP Select exclusivity option, which is how he started publishing
  • The reality that Scott is a six-figure author (in 2016 he earned $100,000 and in 2017 he earned a lot more than that), and so losing a couple of thousand dollars from not getting Kindle Unlimited reads wasn’t a big deal to him
  • Some of the real stats of Scott’s sales which include the Athena Lee series earning about $2500 to $3000 per month on Kindle (18 titles)
  • How, when he launched wide, he earned about $200 on Kobo in January 2018, but that, by Feb, he had earned $1000 and for March at the point of the interview (the 20th), he had earned $700 on Kobo
  • Scott’s cover designer, Heather Hamilton-Senter ( and the fact that he has ordered 18 new covers for his new series
  • How Scott went from being on partial disability, finding it difficult to find a job and being a whale reader and then moving on to becoming a writer based on a kick-in-the-pants he received from Michael Anderle (of 20Booksto50K fame)
  • How the 1970s movie Smokey and the Bandit was part of the inspiration for Scott’s latest marketing/publicity experiment: A van with a wrap that features artwork from his book covers
  • The fact that Scott is a “modified pantser” and that his pre-ordered book covers and titles are the high level “outline” that he uses to write his stories


After the interview, Mark talks about how this conversation with Scott and a recent listen of a speech by Arnold Schwarzenegger came together to inspire him.

He also introduces his new Patreon page for those interested in contributing monetary support to this podcast.


Links of Interest: