#233 – Building an Engaged Readership with Courtney Milan

New York Times bestselling author Courtney Milan joins us on the podcast this week. Courtney’s book The Duke Who Didn’t was on New York Times’ most notable books of 2020, and she tells us about her writing career, why she loves writing historical romances, and how to build a strong, engaged readership.

New York Times bestselling author Courtney Milan joins us on the podcast this week. Courtney’s book The Duke Who Didn’t was on New York Times’ most notable books of 2020, and she tells us about her writing career, why she loves writing historical romances, and how to build a strong, engaged readership. Courtney is also a strong advocate for diversity and inclusion in publishing, and she talks to us about activism within the romance community, Romancing the Runoff, and what she hopes the future of publishing will bring.

  • Courtney tells us about her writing career so far, how she sold her first book to a publisher, and why she decided to make the movie to indie publishing
  • She explains why she loves writing in the historical romance genre, why so many themes from that era ring true to readers today, and which authors she thinks are doing exciting new things for the genre
  • Courtney talks about striking a balance between writing for the market and writing for yourself, and she explains why you’re more likely to find your readership if you are passionate about what you’re writing
  • She discusses the importance of having coping mechanisms when dealing with mental health struggles, especially during difficult times, and she gives some great advice for tricking your executive function and finding productivity on hard days
  • Courtney talks to us about her ongoing activism for diversity and inclusion in publishing, including how the indie publishing industry fits in, what publishing can do to make the industry more accessible, and what she hopes to see in the future of publishing
  • Speaking of activism, Courtney explains how Romancing the Runoff –– a fundraiser she co-founded to help support the democratic candidates in the Georgia runoff elections –– came to be and she talks to us about the overwhelming positive response of the event

Useful Links
Courtney’s Website
Follow Courtney on Twitter and Facebook
The Devil Comes Courting
The Duke Who Didn’t
New York Times Most Notable Books of 2020
Alyssa Cole
The Loyal League
Beverly Jenkins
Vanessa Riley
Romancing the Runoff
Ann Aguirre
Neil Gaiman
Fair Fight
Selena Montgomery

A headshot of Courtney Milan

Courtney Milan writes books about carriages, corsets, and smartwatches. Her books have received starred reviews in Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Booklist. She is a New York Times and a USA Today Bestseller.
She lives in the Rocky Mountains with her husband and an exceptionally perfect dog.
Before she started writing romance, Courtney got a graduate degree in theoretical physical chemistry from UC Berkeley. After that, just to shake things up, she went to law school at the University of Michigan and graduated summa cum laude. Then she did a handful of clerkships. She was a law professor for a while. She now writes full-time.
Courtney is represented by Kristin Nelson of the Nelson Literary Agency.

Episode Transcript

Transcription provided by SpeechPad

Joni: Hey, writers. You’re listening to the “Kobo Writing Life Podcast,” where we bring you insights and inspiration for growing your self-publishing business. We’re your hosts, I’m Joni.

Stephanie: And I’m Stephanie. This week on the podcast, we are talking to Courtney Milan. Courtney Milan writes books about carriages, corsets, and smartwatches. Her books have received star reviews in “Publishers Weekly,” “Library Journal,” and “Booklist.” She’s also a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author.

Joni: And in addition to that, she was also listed on The New York Times’ 100 Notable Books of 2020 last year for her novel, “The Duke Who Didn’t.” And I believe she was the only romance author who’s represented on that list. So, it was a huge achievement and we were really excited to get to talk to her. Our interview covered a lot, everything from activism within the romance community to taking care of mental health, especially during COVID times, and also building a strong and engaged readership.

Stephanie: Yeah. It was really interesting to hear her say, you don’t need millions and millions of readers, but if you have a really strong core group of readers that are going to pick up anything you write, like that should be your focus rather than anything else. And also, we talk about figure skating, which is an excellent topic in my opinion, and she kind of gives hints on like what she would like to write in the future. It was a really great interview. We really enjoyed talking to her. So, here is the interview.

Joni: So, we are here today with Courtney Milan. Thank you so much for joining us.

Courtney: Thank you so much for having me.

Joni: Before we get into it, would you mind introducing yourself for any listeners who might not be familiar with you?

Courtney: Absolutely. My name is Courtney Milan. I write primarily historical romances set in the Victorian era.

Stephanie: I was just wondering if you could tell us a little bit more about your publishing career and how you got your start, because I think we read that you started in traditional and then you moved to Indie. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Courtney: Yeah. So, I sold my first book in, I want to say 2008, and that was just before Indie Publishing really took off so there wasn’t really a choice. It was like, you know, you had E publishers, you had traditional publishers, but there were no places. If you self-published, you were just selling books out of the back of your trunk, which is not really a very effective way to make money. You know, the choices were very few. So, I just, you know, wrote a book, I submitted it to an agent. I got an agent. She submitted it to publishers. We sold it. You know, that’s the way that things used to go. It used to be pretty much, you know, you might get other publisher then the agent first, but that’s pretty much how it used to go for everyone.

And so, I produced four books and a novella through a traditional publisher. And I turned in my last book, I want to say, near the end of 2010. And that’s around the time when Amanda Hocking started getting like really huge, she sold like a ton of copies on a variety of platforms all at once at the end of December. And I had been dissatisfied with my traditional publisher for a number of reasons, like fairly numerous, but a lot of it came down to I was just really stressed out because I felt like I wasn’t in control of my career and the things I wanted to write and the branding I wanted to have for my books and the confidence I wanted to have in my career just…I didn’t feel it from my traditional public publisher at that point. And when I thought about self-publishing, I was like, “Okay, this feels like a way to start. This feels like a way where I can be in control of what’s going on.” And so, that’s the point where I switched.

Joni: And was it a straight-up switch or were you still working with a publisher for some books?

Courtney: Well, you know, when I officially turned down the contract from them, it was like in February 2011. So, at that point, there was still a book…because traditional publishing the time lag is so long, there was still a book that was scheduled to come out in, you know, I may be getting my dates somewhat wrong on this, this may have been March or April. But at the point where I made the decision, I had basically handed in the book…no, it would have been in February. I had handed in the book and it wasn’t going to come out until October. So, I was still essentially working with them although what I was doing was more along the lines of promotion-type stuff for that final book and less along the lines of doing actually any writing or having anything to turn in.

So, at that point, I thought to myself…well, one of the things I didn’t like was that there was such a big lag between my third book and my fourth book. My third book came out in January and my fourth book came out in October, which is not actually that big a lag but, you know, when you’re new in your career and you can write a book every six months, it is a big lag. And so, I thought to myself, “You know what? I’m going to try and write a novella to come out between the two and to sort of bridge that gap and I’m going to self-publish that.” So, my first self-published work was a novella that went between book one and two of that traditionally published series. And it did amazingly well, like sold more copies of that than I had sold of like all my traditionally published books combined before.

Stephanie: Wow.

Courtney: So, that’s sort of…I was like, “Okay, well, that decision was right.”

Joni: You never looked back.

Courtney: No, I’ve never looked back. I mean, I have looked forward. I can’t say that I would never traditionally publish again, but it would have to be the right circumstances.

Joni: So, as well as your books, you’re also well-known for being an activist for diversity and inclusion in publishing, and especially within the romance community. This is something that I think self-publishing we have a lot of opportunity there. Where do you think that self-publishing fits into that?

Courtney: Well, one of the reasons I mentioned about wanting to leave my traditional published career, you know… And when I say this today, it’s going to sound ridiculous, but this is how people were talking back then. You know, I had written a book in which I had a hero that dealt with depression and that was too much. It was like, why do you have to write these people who…I mean, like, can’t you just write normal people doing normal things, right? And I had written a book where the hero was a virgin and they were like, that was too much. Like, why does he have to be a virgin? Nobody wants to read that. And so, it was like…you know, so we’re talking about diversity and inclusion, which obviously needs to expand to include things far beyond that.

But like at the time, the pushback I was getting was about like mental health issues that like affect tons of people across the world everywhere, and like being a virgin, which literally everyone has been at one point in their life, right? You know, and so that’s the pushback I was getting. And it was like, you know, trying to write someone like a person of color… You know, my mom is Chinese, like that would have been unthinkable. And, you know, for a while it was, it really was. And it’s just like, you know, I think it took me a while self-publishing, and by a while, I mean like a year and a half to really start thinking about the possibilities of what were opened up now that I didn’t feel like I had someone to be beholden to.

Joni: That’s huge. Like you mentioned depression and I feel like one of the things that maybe came out of 2020 is that I think now it’s more okay to not be okay and just say like, “I’m struggling” and people get it. Do you have any kind of insight into how you cope as a writer, like dealing with depression or anything that you’d advise other people who might’ve had a tough year or be finding it hard to write?

Courtney: Yeah. Well, you know, I mean, I have basically had waves of depression my entire life. And so, 2020 was sort of old hat for me in that sense. It was really interesting seeing some people be like, “How do you cope with this?” And I was like, “Oh, normalcy. Yay.” You know, the difference is that this time, instead of my brain lying to me about the world falling apart around me, it’s the truth. You know, so it was kind of weird in that sense, that I felt like I had a lot of coping skills from prior experiences. And for me, I think a big thing about dealing with depression, two things. One is, and this is something that I think writers should talk about more, financially. Like if you know you have times when you are depressed and, you know, executive function goes out the window…and I hope, you know, some people might not be familiar with this.

I just want to throw out the concept of executive function, which is like, you can want to do a thing and then not do it, which I think almost everyone in 2020 experienced at some point. Like, you’d be like, I know I should do this and I want to do it, and like the way we’ve been taught to process not doing things that you know need to be done is to label it as being lazy, but that’s not what it is. It is a failure in executive function. There’s a thing that your brain does that makes you able to execute stuff. And one of the impacts of depression very often is to not be able to execute. And so, having tricks to know what to do when you’re dealing with executive function lapses, they’re really important.

But one of those tricks is not really a trick, it’s just simply this. If you know that you’re going to have lapses in executive function at some point, for me the very most important thing is to not freak out about money, which I can’t do if I need to freak out about money because I don’t have enough. So, for me, and this is going to sound ridiculous but I think for me, and like I don’t know how it works for other people, when I have good years, I save a lot of money because I’m never going to assume that next year is going to be as good, because I may just have a point where it’s like, “Oh, I’m not putting out a book this year.” Right? And how am I going to deal with that financially? Well, I have to have savings, right?

So, for me the number one thing was setting myself up to be in a good position for not freaking out about like, “Am I going to pay my rent?” “Can I put food on the table?” “Can I pay my electric bill?” And I think one of the ways that 2020 was lucky for me, in comparison with like so many other people is that I had been able to in the past, because I had some great years self-publishing, sort of like ride out the worst of it. So, that’s thing number one. And then thing number two is just finding ways to trick your executive dysfunction. I am a big fan of a book called Mini, it’s about mini habits. But you don’t actually need to read the book, the book is quite short. I’m going to spoil it right now. The book basically says that one of the ways that you trick yourself is to tell yourself you’re going to do an extremely small amount of things.

Like, I’m going to sit down and write for one minute, right? Like, if you tell yourself I have to sit down and do eight hours of work today, like it’s too much. Your brain is like, “No, I can’t do eight hours.” But if you say, I’m going to sit down for one minute and after one minute is done, I can get up and do whatever I want, then you’re much more likely to sit down. And if you sit down for one minute, you’re much more likely to be there for 10 or 20 or 60. And getting 60 minutes of something done is a lot better than telling yourself you’re going to do eight hours of work and then doing zero. So, that’s one of the things I do to trick myself all the time is I give myself a super tiny goal and I give myself permission to stop after I’ve met it. And like 99% of the time, I don’t stop. But yeah…

Joni: But you can.

Courtney: But I can, yeah. Exactly.

Stephanie: Do you plan a year in advance or do you kind of just like…you’re more able to transition into something that you want to do instead, like, let’s say, like you said, you’re not going to be putting out books as frequently as you want to, but you’ve planned ahead in that way?

Courtney: Okay. So, I love planning and I never stick to my plan, right? Like on a weekly basis, I plan like two years in advance and I’ve never once met a single one of those plans. I’m not the person to talk to about it, I just think planning is like my emotional support thing that I do to like convince myself that the path I’m on makes sense, but I don’t actually stick to it.

Stephanie: That’s me every day. I make plans every day. In terms of…you were mentioning how you were having trouble getting a publisher to publish a book about depression or like a hero that was a virgin, do you have any advice for debut authors when they’re kind of juggling between, do I write for a commercial market or do I write what I want to read myself? Like, is there a balance between that or what’s your advice for them?

Courtney: You know, there’s always some kind of a balance, but I think the issue generally is not, do I write for a commercial? I just want to push back against that distinction. The idea that writing for yourself is not writing for a commercial market is wrong. And the reason it’s wrong is because there are a lot of people in this world and if there’s something you desperately want to read, somebody else does too, right? So, it is my very firm belief that, you know, you only need to make a living as an author. And not everyone wants to do that. Some people just want to write, you know, part-time. But if you want to make a living, you don’t need that many people to buy your book, right?

If you think about it, how many English-speaking people are there in the world? You know, quite a lot, like 500, 600, depending on how you count. Like, not everyone who speaks English wants to read in English. But like, you know, many, many, many, many, many hundreds of millions of people, right? And you don’t need 100 million people to buy your book to have an extraordinary career, right? You don’t even need a million people. You know, you might need maybe 10,000, right? If 10,000 people want to buy your book then, you know, you have a career. And the difficulty never is in writing a book that 100 million people want to read, it is in making sure that the 10,000 people who want to read your book know about it. And if you are writing a book that is true to you, it is a lot easier to reach those people than if you were writing something that feels like something that anyone could have written in the world. So, that’s my take on it.

Now, there’s a separate question of being able to pitch it commercially so that people can find it because that’s always a difficulty. And you know, that’s a harder problem but, you know, that’s a skill you can learn and [inaudible 00:14:13] are closest to your heart in a way that makes people think they want to read it is a skill.

Joni: It’s a practice makes perfect kind of thing or reading other books, I guess?

Courtney: I’m just literally never going to be good at it. I’m so bad at it. I have to like… I mean, like I can’t say practice makes perfect because I mean, I’m 12 years into a writing career, and literally every single book I’ve had to have somebody else like figure out what the hell I should be using to pitch this out. I’m not good at it, but I do have friends who are and they help.

Joni: But that’s a big part of doing it yourself. It is recognizing when you’re like, you know what? Maybe I need someone else to help me with this kind of thing.

Courtney: Yeah, exactly. It’s like I know I can’t put it out there because somebody is gonna be like, “Yeah, that doesn’t make any sense. And who is doing what?” So, yeah, I always have to run that by other people. I’m bad at it.

Joni: What is it about historical romance, in particular, that appeals to you?

Courtney: The thing I like about it is that it gives me a lot of room for play. I think there is so much about, especially the Victorian era, that I really feel sort of echoing in our time today. So, as an example, like during the Victorian era, we get trains, so that suddenly, things that were so far apart are really close together. We get the Telegraph. And so, suddenly, people who wouldn’t be able to talk to each other because they live thousands of miles apart can communicate, not quite in a blink of an eye because they were couriers and all that stuff but like, you know, over the space of an hour.

Suddenly, we have, you know, industrialization happening at a pace that we’ve never seen before and everything is changing and the world is getting smaller and people are leaving and all the things you know are being disturbed and you don’t know… Like, that’s happening to us today. And today, it kind of feels like we don’t know if it’s going to be okay. But the benefit of writing things in the past is that we know that it did kind of work out, you know? And so, for me, I think it allows me to take some of the things we most worry about today and transform them into something where you can kind of see it working out.

Stephanie: I asked this question in other interviews, so I’m going to switch it up for you, but I loved it. It was like, what authors do you find creating really great stories in historical romance, stuff that you haven’t seen before, or like new people or storylines that you haven’t read before?

Courtney: Yeah. Yeah. So, that’s a great question. I love…okay, so Alyssa Cole is probably one of my favorite authors ever. And I don’t know when we’re going to get another historical from her, but her…why am I blanking on the name of her series? The Civil War Historical Series.

Stephanie: The Loyal League?

Courtney: There you go. So, the “Loyal League Series” is so creative and it feels like we have had so many civil war books in historicals past, but you know, what she’s doing is writing it from the point of view of people who are seeking justice, racial justice. And that brings a real…like the degree to which it’s personal just brings such a spark to it. I just love those books. I really love those books. So, that’s person number one who I would say like, absolutely is doing something different. Beverly Jenkins has been around forever, but every single time I read her book, she’s doing something different. And just like the span of U.S. history, like, I feel like such a schlub writing books that are all set, like, you know, around the same time period, dealing with around the same issues.

And she’s like writing stuff like all over the place. It’s like this is going to be in the reconstruction south and this one’s going to be in Nevada and this one…it’s like such a Black history lesson every single time and something different. And it’s like, you learn something new and it’s always so grounded in what has happened. So, like she’s always doing something different. And I just, you know, like…so the book I’m editing right now is set in China and…you know, I have not read ever a historical romance set in sort of the Qing Dynasty in China, which is like the 1890s or 1870s.

And like, I am just so much more in awe of what Beverly Jenkins is doing with the research that she is to build a new world with every series instead of returning to the same one over and over again. That is just amazing. Vanessa Riley has a book out… I’m so bad at names. It’s like “A Duke, the Lady, and a Baby,” I think.

Stephanie: Yeah. That’s it.

Courtney: You know, I think it’s so important just to see what she’s doing with that and the degree, how do I put this, to which it’s necessary to sort of like open up these romance spaces that have been very white to non-white people. So, I love that.

Joni: Would you want to consider branching out and writing ins, like maybe researching an area that you didn’t know about before?

Courtney: I mean, I probably would at some point. I mean, okay, so a lot of the stuff that I have sort of on my plate is there and not getting knocked off my plate because I have so much research I need to do before I can get it done. And in most cases, the main component is that I have to learn to speak Mandarin better than I do now to be able to read stuff because I just can’t make do in English. Like, I’ve tried and English does not provide all the necessary components. That’s my like five-year project at this point.

Joni: For a five-year project, that’s still pretty ambitious. Pretty cool. We also wanted to ask you, and just like… Steph and I are based in Canada and we have listeners all over the world, but we did want to ask you about the Georgia runoff and the Romancing the Runoff and the work that you do with romance authors. Would you mind giving us a little bit of background on it?

Courtney: Yeah. So, as you may know, the U.S. election was a bit of a shit show this year. And so, after the date of the election, before they had called it, we knew at that point that the two Georgia Senate races were both going to runoffs. And so, for non-U.S. listeners, the U.S. has a bicameral legislative branch composed of the House and the Senate. Senators get six-year terms, every state gets two senators, okay? So, control of the House and control of the Senate gives you control of the legislative branch.

The Democrats currently hold control of the House. The control of the Senate is going to be decided by these two races in Georgia because there are currently 48 Democrats and 50 Republicans. So, if you get two Democrats to win the Georgia runoff elections, the tiebreaker is cast by the vice president who is going to be Kamala Harris, okay? So, this Senate race is going to determine what legislation can get done in Biden’s presidency. At that point, I think it was November 6th when we sort of started talking about it. We were all sitting around and the election results weren’t in, but it was looking better and better for Biden. And all we could do was just sort of sit there and watch numbers get bigger, and we thought, well, you know, we’ve got the Senate race coming up and it’s going to be crucial so let’s do something.

So, the people involved are me, Alyssa Cole, and my friends, Kit Rocha, who are composed of Bree Bridges and Donna Herren. And so, Bree and I were texting at like 10:00 at night and she said, you know, “What if we held an auction?” And I said, “Oh yeah.” And so, we like batted back and forth names. And I was like, “Well, I’ll just go get an email account if you get the Twitter account, and then we can talk about it in the morning.” And in the morning I woke up thinking about it and so I texted her and I was like, you know, I think we should do this to benefit and I gave her the list of voter’s rights organizations. She was like, okay. And then we just started making logos and what have you.

And at noon that day, we put something up. And, you know, just before we put something up, we were like, you know, we should probably put together an ActBlue page to get contributions just in case anyone wants to donate before the auction. And so, we put up the ActBlue page and, you know, within the first 12 hours we had $20,000. So, yeah, and none of us were expecting it. But I think that like the same thing that made us say, well, we want to do something, we’re just sitting here and we feel useless is exactly the same thing that made just everyone coalesce around it because everyone else wanted to do something. Everyone wanted a thing they could do that they could point to and say, “Okay, I’m making a difference. I’m doing this.” And I think we just, you know, I felt throughout the whole thing less than I was doing something and more than I was a conduit for the goodwill and good wishes of just so many people.

Stephanie: And particularly the people that donated stuff to bid on, there was like incredible prizes, like talking to showrunners and all that stuff.

Courtney: Yeah. I mean, really, we had some amazing things. Like, you know, Ann Aguirre, who is a romance author donated a year of mentorship, which is like a year of mentorship, like that’s so much, right? And we got this book from Neil Gaiman that he had had hand-printed and leather-bound and like not available for commercial sale. And it’s like, you know… I just think people were just delighted to be told here’s something you can do.

Joni: And Stacy Abrams, she was the candidate for governor in Georgia?

Courtney: She was a candidate for governor in 2018 and she lost to Brian Kemp very narrowly with some very shady decision that was made by the Georgia Secretary of State at the time to cull the voter’s list and so forth. And the Georgia Secretary of State at the time was also Brian Kemp who was running for office. And so, it was kind of shady. And she was like, yeah, this is shady, and you know what I’m going to do? I’m going to fight back. And so, I’m going to make… Fair Fight is her voter’s rights organization. And their goal was to register people to vote, to make sure that they stayed registered, and then to do their best to turn them out.

Joni: And also a romance writer.

Courtney: Also a romance writer under the pen name Selena Montgomery.

Joni: Yeah. That’s awesome. The romance community really came through on that one.

Courtney: Yeah.

Stephanie: So, speaking of like activism in the romance community, do you have any thoughts where you hope to see publishing, this is like the hardest question to ask, like in the next 5 to 10 years, stuff you hope to see or maybe change you’ve already seen in the last year?

Courtney: Well, I think one of the things I would like to see is equity in publishing at all levels. And I don’t just mean in terms of authors and I don’t just mean in terms of books, I mean, I would like to see, you know, diverse publishing stuff. If you look at the Lee & Low surveys, just the percentage of diversity on multiple axes is just sort of like, it’s embarrassing, you know? And it, you know… I think that that trickles down to everything, you know? If you don’t have diverse stuff, then the people who are picking the books, they may say, “Okay, well, I’m going to pick up authors of color.” But how are they going to…I mean, they’re not necessarily going to know if they’re just picking up a book because it feels like it’s the same narrative of they’re used to, and you’re not actually expanding the kind of stories that you could get on the shelves that people are really hungry for. So, yeah, I think we need diversity at all levels. I think publishers need to have parity in terms of how they pay authors. Yeah. I think that’s going to have to happen. We’ll see how it goes.

Joni: Like, I think a big part of that within the publishing industry is unpaid internships and like accessibility of getting in. But from an author’s perspective, if you have an author that’s interested but maybe doesn’t know how to go about it or isn’t sure if people want to hear their story, like self-publishing is available, but it’s still like a little intimidating, I guess, like how can we make it more accessible for people to go in and try publishing their story? The million-dollar question.

Courtney: I mean, that’s a huge question. And I think the thing I would say is, I think there are more diverse authors who are out there, who already know how things work because publishing has picked up so few of them and they’ve been trying for so long, right? So, I’m not sure that it’s a, you know, how do we help diverse authors question because I think there’s a lot of diverse authors who are really good writers, who are just getting slept on by publishing completely. So, I really think the ball’s in the other court at this point. If there’s a publisher out there who’s like, well, “I just don’t know how to find good writers.” Yeah, you do. Come on.

Joni: Read a book.

Courtney: Like seriously. Exactly. Like, they’re out there. Like, no excuses. You should have no excuses. I have multiple…no, I mean like…so my ideal list is so long and it’s…at this point like assume that any idea I have is going to take like four or five years to come to fruition, just because I don’t write super fast and I have such a backlog of things I want to get through. But yeah, I have figure skating, multiple figure skating things on my log.

Stephanie: Just like thinking about all the like possibilities for plot is incredible. There are so many.

Courtney: Yeah. So, one of the ideas I have is historical and the other one is set in the future.

Stephanie: I’m ready. I’m in. Joni, you’re like what’s going on? Joni needs to get into figure skating.

Joni: I know.

Stephanie: Do you follow figure skating, Joni? This is a…

Joni: No. I’m not Canadian enough, I’m sorry…

Stephanie: Just watch like one skate, you’ll be hooked in. The costumes, come on.

Joni: So, what can readers expect from you next, in your closer than five years plan?

Courtney: So, I have a book coming out February 9th. It’s called “The Devil Comes Courting.” And it’s about somebody who is laying a transpacific Telegraph line who needs somebody to come up with a telegraphic encoding for Chinese characters. So, that is my hero and my heroine. He’s very ambitious and she’s a complete genius disaster.

Stephanie: Love that. This may have been already taken up by figure skating, but like what have you been loving lately? Could be anything.

Courtney: Yeah. So, aside from figure skating, I spent the last two months basically sort of bunkered down editing. And so, like all the things that pop up to mind are like things from this book because I’m so like deep in research and all that fun stuff. Like I spent so long figuring out how you lay cable, how you lay submarine cable, and like trying to figure out how to make that happen because it’s not easy to go across the Pacific. It’s a very big ocean as compared to the Atlantic, which is quite small in comparison. So, yeah, like all the things I’m thinking about right now are like nobody wants to hear about gutta-percha.

Joni: You gave us some good romance facts too earlier on.

Courtney: It’s been that and user [inaudible 00:29:26]. Yeah.

Joni: Awesome. No, that’s great. And where can readers find you online or listeners find you online?

Courtney: I am at… my website is courtneymilan.com and I’m on Twitter @courtneymilan. And I technically have a Facebook page, but also technically like it’s mostly like 98% an import from Twitter because I don’t like Facebook.

Stephanie: Perfect. Thank you so much for joining us today.

Courtney: Thank you for having me. This was a lot of fun.

Stephanie: Thank you for listening to the “Kobo Writing Life Podcast.” If you’re interested in reading Courtney’s books, we will have a link to them on our blog. And if you’re interested in learning how to grow your sales, visit kobowritinglife.com.

This episode was produced by Joni Di Placido and Stephanie McGrath with assistance from Rachel Wharton. Editing is done by Kelly Rowbotham. Music is provided by Tear Jerker. And a huge thanks to Courtney Milan for being our guest today. If you’re ready to start your self-publishing journey today, sign up for free at kobo.com/writinglife. Until next time, happy writing.

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