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Stark Reflections on Writing and Publishing

Dec 11, 2020

In this episode, Mark interviews author and bookseller Laura Hayden, who is the co-founder and owner of Author-Author an experimental retail bookshop that deals in online sales, special events, books for writers and books for authors.

Prior to the interview, Mark shares a word from this episode's sponsor . . .

You can learn more about how you can get your work distributed to retailers and library systems around the world at

Mark also welcomes new Patron Melissa Yi and shares a personal update that includes a couple of talks he gave to library groups in the past week, as well as a few Kobo promotions he is participating in.

Mark reminds listeners they can get the following books via Kobo until the end of 2020 by using the coupon code NANO2020 at checkout:

In their conversation, Mark and Laura talk about:

  • Laura's introduction to books by being an early avid reader
  • The librarian who took Laura by the hand and guided her through the incredible journey through reading
  • The effect of a constant travel life of being a military family on maintaining a reliable career
  • Laura's initial entry into bookselling by walking into a bookstore and offering to help part-time
  • Laura's return to bookselling by offering to volunteer in a bookstore and fixing two of their sections that she saw could use some help
  • Learning about the Harlequin Intrigue imprint and how Laura sold her first novel to them on her very first submission
  • The steps Laura took by spotting opportunities related to books, bookselling, and bookstores
  • The origin of opening up her first physical bookstore
  • How the bookstore only lasted 2 years and went into significant debt because there wasn't a cash-for-trade option
  • How Laura has accounts with 18 larger publishers and 44 small publishers, not to mention Ingram, the world's largest wholesale book distributor
  • The non-returnable account Laura has with most publishers, which allows her to offer authors a deep discount on book purchases
  • How Laura works within a 6 to 9% margin in her business and that she's been doing it since 2007
  • The way that Laura works with conferences and other organizations for selling authors books at events
  • The fact that Laura works 1:1 with all of her clients
  • The impact of running this bookstore on Laura's career as a writer
  • Working as a ghost writer
  • The Laurence Saunders ghost writer scandal
  • The Ella Vaughn pseudonym that Laura is co-authoring with another writer
  • The discounts that a bookstore sees when you set different discounts via Ingram Spark or other print on demand services
  • The insights Laura has into some "publishers" that writers are considering working with
  • What you get with a paid listing in Ingram's monthly ADVANCE magazine
  • Something that Laura wishes all authors would understand about bookstores when considering carrying their books
  • The way a successful indie publishing author has worked successfully with a large indie bookstore


After the interview Mark reflects on some of the insights Laura shared but also on how her personal writing took a back-seat to the business she operates in helping writers.


Links of Interest:


Born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, Laura started reading at the age of four and in six short years, exhausted the children's section of the local branch library. She switched to adult mysteries and science fiction and never looked back. Trained as an engineer, she continued to write "for fun" until one day, she decided to write "for real."

Since. as a kid, when she wasn’t reading, she was watching TV, her seventeen books and short stories straddle multiple fiction genres and include vivid characters with action, suspense and humor.

Her latest book, DARKWOOD CROSSING: Bailey, the Critter Sitter, is a middle grade collaboration written with Yvonne Jocks under the pseudonym of Ella Vaughn. Laura's latest short story under her own name is "The Ghost of Dogwood," the 10th entry in the popular multi-author "Dogwood Series."

Having traveled across the US as a military spouse, Laura now resides (permanently!) in Colorado with her husband and two dogs. She's one of the founders of Pikes Peak Writers, its first president and has been the director of its conference an unprecedented eight times. To learn more about Laura, the writer, visit her at To learn more about Author, Author!, visit

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