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Stark Reflections on Writing and Publishing

Jun 8, 2023

Mark interviews Paul Austin Ardoin about his new book From Zero to Four Figures: Making $1,000 a Month Self-Publishing Fiction.

Prior to the interview, Mark welcomes new patrons, shares comments from recent episodes and a word from this episode's sponsor.

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During their conversation Mark and Paul talk about:

  • How Paul has wanted to be a novelist since he was six years old
  • University being all about literary fiction, and never finishing that "great American novel" he kept trying to write
  • The way that writing a genre he was passionate about (mystery) was what made the major difference for Paul
  • Paul's wife giving him a great idea for a main character, a former nurse who becomes a county coroner
  • The fact that there are distinct seasons in Milwaukee
  • Paul being a pantser, or discovery writer
  • How literary fiction didn't gell with Paul's writing style
  • What is really meant by the "write what you know" advice from writing
  • Some mistakes that can be made related to missing some of the important tropes in one's writing
  • How Paul always approaches writing mysteries as a "pantser" or "discovery writer"
  • One of the pitfalls of "pantsing" a mystery novel
  • Making a lot of mistakes in the past five years, and being sure to include that in his new book for writers
  • The definite plan that Paul believes that many authors can put into place to get to $1000 a month
  • How Paul approached writing this book as something that just didn't seem to exist for writers, offering them a way they could approach it, including an important mindset shift
  • The value of series to a reader not having to go through the process of "finding something to read next"
  • The importance of setting a more reachable goal such as $1000 a month rather than the commonly shared much higher revenue goals often pushed on writers
  • Reader expectations and why it's such an important element for writers to pay attention to
  • The marketing pitfall authors can fall into when they believe their book is unique and "defies" genre
  • Sharing the many mistakes Paul has made as an author in this book
  • The important question about how readers are going to find your books
  • Paul's "Costco" analogy of book marketing
  • Focusing on the entry point novel
  • How the "freebee seekers" are a part of the business
  • The timeline that Paul lays out for this author journey
  • Thinking about your first book as an advertisement rather than as your baby
  • A few of the elements that are a part of this book that are mostly lacking in many of the books out there for writers
  • The power of being able to make changes
  • Advice Paul wish he'd had when he was first starting out
  • And more . . .

After the interview Mark shares a few reflections about things that came up in the conversation.


Links of Interest:



Paul Austin Ardoin is the USA TODAY bestselling indie author of The Fenway Stevenson Mysteries and The Woodhead & Becker Mysteries. He holds a B.A. in creative writing from the University of California, Santa Barbara and an M.B.A. in marketing from the University of Phoenix. His book Zero to Four Figures: Making $1,000 a Month Self-Publishing Fiction was published in June 2023.


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