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Stark Reflections on Writing and Publishing

Aug 16, 2019

Mark interviews bestselling science-fiction author Craig Martelle about his journey into and through writing, the 20Booksto50K group and conferences, and his new book Successful Indie Author Release Strategies.

Prior to the interview, Mark shares a personal update about his recent visit to Calgary, Alberta for the When Words Collide conference, where he sat on panels, did 1:1 author consultations, and gave a couple of presentations, including a new one on The 7 P's of Publishing Success based on his book of the same name.

Mark then shares comments on Episode 88 from Michelle Norry and Tracy Arial, discusses the comments, and reminds them that they are now entered into a chance to win a signed copy of David Wind's book The Indie Writer's Handbook. (Contest is over end of day Friday August 16, 2019 and winners will be announced in Episode 91).

He also thanks patrons of the show, and reminds them that they are all already entered in a chance to win the other one of two signed copies. This is one of the bonuses for patrons, which include the additional "Stark Reflections on other Podcasts" special episodes. Mark shares that he recently pushed out a special patron-only reflection on other podcasts for Episode 85 of The Career Author Podcast where hosts J. Thorn and Zach Bohannon talked about using pen names.

Mark then 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

In their chat, Mark and Craig talk about:

  • Craig's belief in working hard, putting in 12 to 14 hours a day for seven days a week
  • Being close to the epicenter of the origin of Dungeons and Dragons and the influence that had on Craig's reading and creative mind
  • The "Amateurs talk tactics and professionals talk logistics" philosophy from the Marine Corp that influences Craig's author business approach
  • Applying a business consultant approach to writing and the 100,000 word first novel that Craig wrote that took 61 days
  • The importance of practice
  • Craig's experience selling the rights to his first book to a traditional publisher (an imprint of Simon & Schuster)
  • How Craig uses data to help him make decisions, and how data that doesn't help a person make decisions isn't necessarily important data
  • Why he put an editor on salary early in his career so that the waiting period on an editor was as short as possible
  • The origin of the 20Booksto50K(TM) movement initiated by Michael Anderle and the in person writing conferences that Craig runs
  • Why the 20Booksto50K Facebook group is so locked down in terms of comments/self-promotional posts, etc.
  • How if you want to be carried that this business isn't for you
  • How writing his non-fiction books is mostly Craig's way of saving himself a lot of time answering the same questions repeatedly
  • Elements from Craig's book SUCCESSFUL INDIE AUTHOR RELEASE STRATEGIES, such as what is far more important than the volume of books you produce in a particular time period: consistency and establishing and keeping your promise to the reader
  • The recent overseas conference plus writing retreat that Craig ran which went well above his initial expectations
  • How this year's 20Booksto50K conference will have a significant number of live-streamed videos to the Facebook Group so that those authors unable to attend can benefit from it


After the interview, Mark talks about how Craig's experience playing Dungeons & Dragons reminded him of his own experience playing that game as a youth, and how it inspired the very first book he wrote at the age of 14.

Mark reflects on the cartoon to text process he used when imagining the story, changing the main character's name from Conan to Aaron (in recognition of copyright), and the struggle to sit at the typewriter over his summer vacation as a young teen instead of being outside and playing.

He reflects on how indie authors today can and often might release a book that isn't yet ready for prime time and what that impact can be; particularly in relation to a book he recently read. He is thankful that this first terribly written novel never saw the light of day because of when it was written.

In the midst of reflecting on this trunk novel, he fondly remembers the first young woman to truly capture his heart, and the important role that she played as a creative spirit and fellow writer, in helping to shape and guide him into a writing life. He thinks about how there are people in your life who likely never come to learn just how much of a positive impact they have had on you.

Mark then shares how listeners can win one of 4 copies of Craig's new book. Listeners can leave a comment or reflection on Episode 90 of the podcast at for a chance to win one or 2 copies. And all patrons will also be entered in a chance to win one of 2 other copies of the book.

Entrants will be collected until Sept 1, 2019 and the winners will be announced in the next week's episode.


Links of Interest:


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