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Stark Reflections on Writing and Publishing

Aug 29, 2019

Mark interviews M. L. "Matt" Buchman about his writing journey and the importance of ensuring that an author's legacy and earning potential can be maintained for 70 years after an author's death, which is the subject of his book: Estate Planning for Authors: Your Final Letter (and why you need to write it now).

Prior to the interview, Mark welcomes new patron Kathy Mac and lets patrons know that they can all download a digital version of Matt's book for free.

Listeners to the podcast can comment on this episode at for a chance to win one of two print copies of Matt's book.

Mark also shares a personal update about a fall he took the previous week (and how that made him think the topic of this episode was quite pertinent).

This episode is sponsored by Findaway Voices...

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

In their discussion, Mark and Matt discuss:

  • Matt's first novel, which he sold to a small traditional publisher in 1993
  • The 2010 romance novel sale to a larger publisher that led to a series of books
  • What Matt calls "Transition by terror" moving from losing his job to writing full time
  • How a shorter indie-published novel was the one that "popped" and led to the gamble of writing full time by moving from the large dream house and moving into a crappy smaller home and working diligently at writing in order to put out 8 or 10 books a year for six years
  • The first three years of that process, which involved loosing money the first year, then losing slightly less the second, and then, finally, in the third year, breaking even
  • The clause in Matt's traditional publishing contract that allowed him to keep the rights to anything in the world that was under 60,000 words (and how that led to the still best-selling 40,000 word Daniel's Christmas and a huge career in indie publishing
  • Matt's enjoyment of telling the "side story" and how that led to having 11 simultaneous series going at the same time
  • The idea of creating a map for what Matt calls the Emily Beale Universe of stories
  • The use of initials in Matt's author brand (M.L. Buchman) because "American wasn't ready for a male romance author" and the volume of fan mail that said if they'd known he was a man, they never would have picked up one of his novels
  • Matt's catch phrase for his writing: "Strong women and the men they deserve!"
  • The approach that Matt took to get into audiobooks and how that made him a huge fan of "read by author" audiobooks
  • The new straight up thriller series that Matt will be launching shortly which is a military techno thriller with not an ounce of romance in it
  • The process of creating a word cloud from Matt's existing reviews to reveal particular terms/phrases that came up a lot
  • Tracking how every work hour in the last 7 years has been spent (ie, writing, versus admin, marketing, etc)
  • The importance of understanding how a writer's IP (Intellectual Property) can earn money for up to 70 years after their death
  • The process of trying to find out how to explain, in common English, what a person can do when they inherit a author's estate
  • How Jane Austin's family sold her novels for a tiny amount of money because they didn't understand the true value of her books
  • Octavia Butler, one of the most seminal female science fiction authors ever whose books are now mostly all out of print just a little over a decade after her death
  • The process of taking a full day to arrange and organize where all of his writing related assets are stored and filed (all documented in a single spreadsheet)
  • The existence and importance of the 35 year reversion date for writer contracts
  • CCR (Creedence Clearwater Revival) and the rights that they signed away and no longer own (but which can change as it has been 35 years since they signed it away
  • Limiting his writing travel to two different conferences per year and how this year it was RWA and NINC
  • The value of being in a mastermind, which replaces the twice weekly hour long walks Matt used to do with Dean Wesley Smith when they both lived on the Oregon coast

After the interview, Mark reflects on the approach Matt took in using a word cloud from reviews to look for patterns in reader response and how beneficial mining such data can be.

He then shares detailed on how listeners who comment will automatically be entered into a chance to win one of two print copies of Matt's book with a deadline of Sept 27, 2019 to leave a comment.

Links of Interest:



M.L. "Matt" Buchman started the first of over 60 novels, 100 short stories, and a fast-growing pile of audiobooks while flying from South Korea to ride his bicycle across the Australian Outback. Part of a solo around the world trip that ultimately launched his writing career in: thrillers, SF/F, and romance.

His titles have been named Barnes & Noble and NPR “Top 5 of the year” and 3-time Booklist “Top 10 of the Year” as well as being a “Top 20 Modern Masterpiece” in romantic suspense. As a 30-year project manager with a geophysics degree who has: designed and built houses, flown and jumped out of planes, and solo-sailed a 50’ ketch, he is awed by what's possible. More at:


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