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Stark Reflections on Writing and Publishing

May 25, 2018

This episode includes clips of interviews that Mark conducted on a tour through the Findaway offices in Cleveland, Ohio that took place on Tuesday May 22nd. Mark chats with folks from the Findaway Voices team (Will, Wes and Eric) as well as Findaway CEO Mitch Kroll.

In the introduction, Mark shares a few updates, including an update of the latest video for Patreon supporters and then explains the three levels of support that include ($1 - Plot Outline (Bronze), $3 - First Draft (Silver) and $5 - Completed Manuscript (Gold). He thanks new and existing Patreon supporters.

Mark also shares some details about the percentage share of his eBook retail sales for 2017, revealing that 77% of his eBook earnings came from Kindle with Kobo coming in second at 17%. He also noted that Google started to make a return in terms of his eBook sales in 2017 and has already well surpassed his iBooks sales in 2018.

Mark shares his own experiences with publishing exclusively to Kindle via KDP Select to try to leverage the Kindle Unlimited reading income opportunities) and why, strategically, he has been a part of the program since it first launched, even when he was in charge of Kobo’s self-publishing platform. He also discusses a short story series “Nocturnal Screams” that he originally rolled out in KDP Select a year ago, but is now releasing wide.

For this episode’s tongue twisters, Mark turns the tables on Will Dages from Findaway Voices (sponsor of the Tongue Twister segment) and gets HIM to read the tongue twister.

In the episode’s central interview with Mitch Kroll, Findaway Co-Founder and CEO, Mark and Mitch talk about:

  • The interesting origin of the name Findaway and how the term “Findawayer” and a misplaced thumb late one night led to the spark of inspiration
  • The atmosphere and spirit of the entire Findaway company’s culture
  • How, independent of audio or the product set in general, it was all about building a place where a bunch of dynamic people (with Findawayer DNA) who could do great work
  • The little quotes and core value slogans that appear in small font text on walls throughout the Findaway offices
  • How the entire company was originally built on the Playaway devices, which introduced disruption and innovation to the industry
  • The manner by which a talk by Steve Jobs is something Mitch and his co-founders derived inspiration from when building the first Playaway devices
  • How, after selling more than 6 Million Playaway devices, the simple yet effective innovation remains a growth business
  • The balance that Findaway plays in serving the needs of content producers (publishers and authors), curators of audio (retailers and libraries) and consumers/readers
  • The origin of the name “Findaway Voices” and how it relates to the voice and the freedom that it gives back to independent authors

Mark then speaks with Will Dages about

  • One of his favourite elements of working at Findaway Voices and Findaway (the amazing people)
  • The Nebula Awards and Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America conference Will recently returned from where he shared information about the “pay for circulation” library purchasing model that raised a number of eyebrows

Mark chats with Wes from the audio quality team at Findaway Voices about:

  • One of the most common issue that he regularly has to deal with, related to specification issues
  • The education and resources that Wes regularly shares with audio producers and authors in his daily work
  • The importance of fixing things at the source (ie, when the audio is being recorded)

Mark then speaks with Eric from the Business Development team at Findaway Voices about:

  • The role that Eric plays in helping the Voices publishing arm in the creation of audiobooks through partnerships
  • The importance of strategic partnerships for the creation of high quality audiobook solutions
  • A side-conversation carry-over from lunch about Marvel superheroes and how this connects Venom with Captain America

After the interviews, Mark reflects on the day spent at Findaway, how Findaway Voices was a remarkable turning point for indie authors and the things he learned from looking at his Findaway Voices sales reports, and a few new strategies he intends on implementing based on this experience.


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