#272 – Building Your Beta Reader Team with Marni Mann

Bestselling author Marni Mann joins us on the podcast this week to talk about how she built her team of beta readers and why having this trusted team has been so important to her success as an author. Marni also talks to us about her writing journey and finding her audience as an author who writes across multiple genres.  Learn more about this episode!

Bestselling author Marni Mann joins us on the podcast this week to talk about how she built her team of beta readers and why having this trusted team has been so important to her success as an author. Marni also talks to us about her writing journey and finding her audience as an author who writes across multiple genres. 

  • Marni tells us about career as a writer, how her journey evolved from writing chick lit to exploring darker romance, and she explains how her background in journalism has served her writing career 
  • She talks to us about mixing genres in her books and the fun and challenges of balancing multiple genres within a single title, and she discusses how she has built a loyal readership across these various genres 
  • Marni tells us about her publishing journey, from working with a small press to publishing independently, and she shares what she learned from her time working with a trad publisher that she brings into her indie publishing career 
  • She discusses her team of beta readers, how this team of trusted readers came about, and she explains the importance of getting a (sometimes brutally honest) second opinion of your work 
  • Marni creates public playlists for each of her titles and she tells us how these playlists come about, and how the music influences her writing 
  • She tells us about the changes she has seen in indie publishing throughout her career, including the advent and popularization of subscription services and serialized fiction, and she gives us her predictions on the future of indie publishing 

Marni’s Website 
Follow Marni on Facebook and Instagram
Marni’s Playlists on Spotify
The Lawyer 
When Darkness Ends 
The Memoir Series
Daisy Jones and the Six 
The Idea of You 
Tampa Bay Lightning Winning the Stanley Cup 

USA Today best-selling author Marni Mann knew she was going to be a writer since middle school. While other girls her age were daydreaming about teenage pop stars, Marni was fantasizing about penning her first novel. She crafts unique stories that weave together her love of darkness, mystery, passion, and human emotions. A New Englander at heart, she now lives in Sarasota, Florida, with her husband and their two dogs. When she’s not nose deep in her laptop, working on her next novel, she’s scouring for chocolate, sipping wine, traveling, or devouring fabulous books.

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, Author Engagement Specialist.

Rachel: And I’m Rachel, Author Engagement Coordinator.

Rachel: On today’s episode, we spoke to USA Today Bestselling author Marni Mann, who crafts unique stories that weave together her love of darkness, mystery, passion, and human emotions.

Joni: Yeah, this was a great conversation. I thought it was really interesting talking to Marni because she writes across a few different genres and some books that maybe don’t fit into one genre. So she started out in literary fiction, now she writes dark romance. She does some psychological thrillers, that kind of thing. So she chatted to us about finding your audience, about using beta readers, that was really interesting, and we love that she makes playlists for all of her books. It’s a great interview, we hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Joni: So we’re here today with Marni Mann. Thank you so much for joining us, Marni.

Marni: Thanks so much for having me.

Joni: Would you mind starting by introducing yourself for our listeners?

Marni: Sure. My name is Marni, as she said, I’ve been writing since 2011. I have 28 books published and several more that live on my computer that just haven’t been published yet. I have been married to my high school sweetheart for 15 years, and we live in Florida, and we have a yellow lab.

Joni: I didn’t realize you had so many books published. How often do you release books?

Marni: Typically, every three to four months. COVID sort of screwed that up a little bit, but, that’s usually the track.

Joni: Right. So you’ve always wanted to be a writer, is that right?

Marni: It’s true, yes.

Joni: And how does it feel having turned this passion that you’ve had since you were small into a successful career now?

Marni: Wild. I don’t even know how else to describe it. I never thought that this would ever happen. I published my first book under my real name because I just never thought that I would even have a book published or that anyone would ever read it. And now all these years later, I’ve written all these books, and I have readers who follow me and it’s just a journey that I honestly, this sounds so cliché, but like when you pinch yourself every morning when you wake up like I really truly do that because I’m just really blessed with this journey.

Rachel: And you went to school for journalism, correct?

Marni: I did, yeah.

Rachel: How did that progress, like wanting to be a writer, studying journalism, and now you are a best-selling author?

Marni: Books were always the thing, I just never thought that that was going to happen. So my second idea was to work for a newspaper. So that’s where the journalism came in. And actually my first book, I used my journalistic background, and it’s a book on heroin addiction. So I went on, not being an addict to myself, I went on the streets and interviewed addicts while they were shooting up just like I did when I interned for the newspaper in high school and college. So it was almost like an easy transition, honestly. The writing styles are very different, but at the end of the day, it’s all just writing. So and that’s where my passion was. So for me, it was honestly a simple transition.

Joni: With the journalism training and with that being the first topic that you wanted to explore, did you ever consider writing nonfiction, or was it always something that you wanted to write a novel?

Marni: Well, I thought I was Carrie Bradshaw growing up, which I feel like most writers say that, but I truly was. I mean, “Sex and the City” was a huge part of my life in college. So I saw myself writing “chick lit,” that’s really where I thought it was gonna be. And so, in college, and right after college, I wrote several chick lit novels, and I knew almost immediately, like within the first couple chapters, that that just wasn’t my voice. I lost a really good friend of mine to an overdose almost right after I graduated college and her story, which is not my first book, it was just the inspiration behind it. So her story just inspired me. And I’ve always written my feelings instead of spoken them, so when I lost her, I just started writing and it turned into a book. So I didn’t intend on writing a book about heroin addiction, or mainstream fiction, I always thought that some type of romance was always in the cards for me. But, you have to go with where you’re inspired, and that’s where it started. So…

Rachel: And just kind of touching on that, so you have written both in literary fiction and in romance, what kind of made you make the shift from the Memoirs Series into more romance books?

Marni: So I was with a small publisher at the time, and there is sex in the two literary books. And they said to me, and this is like when “50 Shades” first came out, and they said to me, “You know, you have this knack for writing sex, like, would you consider trying it?” And I’m like, erotica was not the plan, it was more just like contemporary romance. So I said, “Sure. I can do this.” And so my next two novels were erotic romance, and it just happened to come out the same time around “50 Shades.” So, again, I was super lucky with just everyone started reading erotica, even though they had been for years and just never talked about it. Now, erotica was more mainstream. And then once I started writing erotica, I loved it. It’s just fun for me. So I, you know, parlayed that into a new adult, and then more contemporary and then throughout the years, I’ve dabbled in like psychological thrillers and I’m currently writing a psychological thriller, but it has a lot of romance factors into it. So, I think romance will always be part of my writing journey. It just, I might dabble in other sub-genres at the same time.

Rachel: Do you find it difficult at all kind of balancing the psychological thriller aspects with the romance aspect in your new book?

Marni: No, actually, it’s really easy for me. So I love mystery, and I love psychological thrillers. Like that’s, I love that whole aspect. So being able to incorporate romance is almost like a bonus for me because romance is a language that I speak, I guess, well, on the page. I understand it, it comes easy to me, and the psychological part is nothing but a challenge. So when I’m writing the psychological elements, those are challenging, and then I get to the romance and I’m like, “Yes,” I know what I’m doing here. Like, this is the fun part. And I don’t mean to say that the psychological isn’t fun. It’s very fun. It’s a challenging part of my job, just like, you know, math would be a challenging part of my job. So, I like the balance.

Joni: So you said you were with a small publisher when the “Memoir Series” came out originally, but now I believe that they’re published independently, is that right?

Marni: They are, yes.

Joni: So how did your journey to independent publishing come about? Was that something that you planned or?

Marni: Not at the time, like I said, I was with a small press, and they had like six or seven of my books. And I don’t know, I just got to a point where I was like, I think I can do this on my own. And I want to have full control of covers, and editing, and titles, and so I left them. And since I left them, they ended up closing their doors. But right before they closed their doors, I bought all my rights back. So, I was able to get full control and change covers and add the editing that some of the books needed and stuff like that. So, I love this self-publishing journey, I would encourage everyone to try it. There’s also hybrid, which is really great too, and that’s something that I’m also pursuing.

Joni: That sounds like a really smart move. Sounds like you got in there just in time.

Marni: Yes, I did. I did.

Joni: And is there anything that you took from your journey with a publisher that you now use in the indie world, or any particular things that you’ve learned that you still do?

Marni: Their approach to marketing, I still do just the way that they sort of dissect books, and how they approached each audience so differently, whether it was like a new adult or a steamy romance, there is a lot of crossover, of course, but the approach to the different readership really matters, especially when it comes to marketing. So those are elements that I’ll never forget, and also how they titled, you know, they would always have input as far as titles of the books, and they would always, again, speak to the audience, just because the title in your head is a good idea doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to resonate with readers. And all that matters when it comes to marketing books. So those are things that I’ll never forget.

Rachel: Is there one marketing tip that you would give to newer indie authors, just based on your experience?

Marni: I would say get a second opinion. And you like, really, really trust and who’s not afraid to tell you that your idea is horrible. So you know, you like and the same goes for like beta readers, you don’t want someone to just gonna be like, yes, it’s beautiful. Yes, you’re the best writer in the world. Like, yes, this chapter was the best thing you’ve ever written. Like, that’s not what you’re looking for. You need someone to dissect your work, you need someone to tell you that title is horrible. You need someone to look at that cover and say, “You just got it all wrong,” and you need that person in your life. And sometimes, it’s good to have a group of those people. You know, when I first started, I had like a whole entire team of beta readers who were basically just there to tell me how awful things were, you know, and you need that because readers are going to do it to you anyway. So you might as well get all the kinks out before you publish the book. So that would be my biggest advice. Like, honestly, have a person who you trust who can tell you how much you suck because you need that at the beginning. And you need that, you know, I’m 10 years into it, I still need it. So you always need that person.

Joni: Something that I’ve been getting from a lot of authors we’ve talked to on the podcast is that a lot of them feel like a part of the reason that they like indie is because they do cross genres or their books are maybe dipping into more than one genre. Is that how you feel? Do you feel like it’s easier not to be pigeonholed the way that traditional sometimes does?

Marni: Definitely, you know, I write a lot of dark romance, too. I have my newest release is a dark romance. And so being able to sort of go across multiple genres, like people will ask me often like, “What is the exact genre of your book?” And like, I honestly can’t give them an answer. And so I think that’s where indie comes in that we don’t have to have an answer. We don’t have to have an exact classification where our books fall, it’s okay if they cross genres. It’s okay if we break rules. Traditional doesn’t allow that flexibility as much as indie does. And same with the readers. Readers are entirely different who read traditional versus indie. I think readers who read indie are a little bit more accepting of us crossing boundaries and coming out of our boxes. They expect us to, you know, be non-traditional, where the traditional readers don’t necessarily expect that, they know what they want and they’re going after it so it’s different readership too.

Joni: And how does it impact you find in your audience, like if we imagine that readers kind of go into these genre boxes, like how do you find that people read across like you have one reader and they’ll read all your different genres? Or do you have different groups?

Marni: Yes, I both. So I have readers who really enjoy my dark fiction. And that’s what they ask for. And that’s what they want. I have readers who like my contemporary stuff, and my twisty books and my angsty romance, and they don’t really like the erotic stuff. They don’t want to read detailed sex scenes and you know, less plotlines, you know, more erotic. Then I have readers who strictly just want to read erotic, they don’t want to cry in books, and I understand too, you know, and then I just have readers who read all of it. And they, you know, they’re just the most supportive people in the world. And they’ll read a phone book if I wrote it, and that blows my mind. So it really it depends on the reader. And also, I think people are mood readers. I’m a mood writer. So I understand that completely. You know, my last romance was so angsty, I tell people that they need tissues nearby at all times. We just got over like a horrific 18 months. Not everybody wants to read that. And so that’s okay. So that’s another thing like people are mood and their moods change, and you just have to adapt to that.

Joni: I know that that’s true. I definitely feel like I’m not reading anything hard to read at all right now, because of what’s going on, you think we’d have all this extra time to read, but now it’s like, my brain is mush.

Marni: Yep, it’s true.

Rachel: But speaking of not light things, we touched on your memoir series that does deal with addiction issues, but you also touch on a lot of darker topics throughout your romance books. Do you do a lot of research to learn more about these topics? Or how does your writing process work?

Marni: I do. So PTSD is one of the mental illnesses that I just kind of overcame in one of my books, it’s the first book in so I just released “When Darkness Ends.” It’s the third book of a series, but the first book in the series, and they’re all standalones, deals with PTSD. And I mostly that’s where my journalistic background comes in. I interview people, I put a call out and I ask people if they have suffered from anything that I’m going to be describing in the books, or any type of disease or illness, or a mental illness or tragedy that I come up with, like, if anyone’s ever experienced it, I need to know everything. So I interview the heck out of them. I asked them every question, I probably make them extremely uncomfortable. It’s the awful part of my job. But it’s like I when I say that I morph into these characters, I literally morph into them. So I need to know what it feels like, what it smells like, what it tastes like, what they do on a daily basis, I have to feel all of it in order for the readers to believe the experience that I’m providing. So you know, I have to ask those uncomfortable questions, and I have to dig deep. So that’s just part of my process.

Joni: Well, yeah, it’s like journalism in that it’s a huge responsibility to talk about these things and represent them.

Marni: You want to get it right.

Joni: Yeah.

Marni: And so it with that comes research. So it takes a huge part. I mean, I come up with the ideas, probably two years before I write the books, and I’m researching. So they just take time, the books don’t necessarily take as much time as they used to to write, but the research is a huge part of it.

Rachel: Do you also use sensitivity readers, when you’re tackling these topics?

Marni: I don’t. I have in the past, I don’t currently, I do have a team of betas who I right now I have three who like read everything that I write. They are like all different versions of the spectrum, like as far as you know, what their likes are, what their beliefs are, like, I don’t want three people who are common in any way, shape, or form. So they are all looking for completely different things when they read. And I feel like even though they’re not sensitivity readers, they’re probably the best team I could ever have. And like I said, they read everything that I write and they tear it apart. And they offer suggestions. And they’re brutally honest, sometimes too honest. And but that’s what I want. That’s what they’re there for. So that’s what I use.

Rachel: How did you go about finding your team of beta readers? Did you put out a call? Did they come to you?

Marni: It’s been a long time. Honestly, when I first started, I used a lot. I used eight. And it’s a lot of voices, you know, you can’t please everyone. It’s impossible, no matter how hard you try. So when I first started, like that was my goal, I wanted to please everybody. And so I thought if I have a large team, it will help me and it did, of course, and I, you know, people who use a large team like I’m not trying to say anything bad about that process. It’s just it’s a lot of voices and a lot of opinions. And so throughout the years, like team members have come and gone and like I’ve looked for other things in people and so this particular team are three, like really good friends of mine, and one is my publicist who reads everything from like a marketing standpoint. The other two are just really good friends, and they’ve just sort of been part of the journey for a while and they’re just I think the biggest thing is that they’re two people that I really, really, really…or three people that I really trust. I trust them with my words, my creativity, my brain, and that’s something that is not easily given to people. So I can’t say I never put a call out they just sort of like they became my people and I don’t know how to like how that happens. It’s just like an organic process.

Joni: Was there a point, especially earlier on when you were working with a bigger team, and you were a newer writer where all those voices can become a little bit overwhelming, because really, like, it’s great to get the feedback, but the readers can’t write your book? So where do you draw the line? Or how did you learn to figure out like, what’s good advice and what you’re not going to use?

Marni: When I was with my publisher, this is when I had the eight people on my team. And I remember, so we were assigned, like, they called it a manager, but it was more of like a publicist. And so I was having a conversation. I was like, this is my third book in and I’m having a conversation with my manager. And she were talking about, like, several chunk of chapters that I just sent to her. She came back and she was like, “Okay, this is what I’m thinking.” And so I replied, and I said, “Well, this is what this person said, this person said, this person said,” and I realized, like, what I was saying. I wasn’t giving her what I was exactly looking for in that moment. I was telling her what everyone else saw. And so that’s exactly what she said to me. She’s like,” Marni, you are looking at this entirely wrong like you have all their voices in your head. And really, I don’t think that that’s a decision you probably would have made as a writer.” And she was absolutely right. So from that point, I started like whittling away at my team members, I don’t mean like, I just lost them. But it’s just, I’ve written a lot of books since then. And so they’ve just sort of, I don’t know, we’ve just parted ways in a sense of them beta reading like they’ve, they’re still part of my life. And they still read all my books. But as far as them picking the content apart, I don’t necessarily have them on my team anymore. But it was that it was like that turning moment where I was like, she’s absolutely right. Like, these voices are weighing into my creativity. And it’s not helping me, I almost think it’s hindering me in the sense where I’m thinking what they want. And I’m not thinking of what… I’m not using my writer brain, and that’s the brain that I trust the most. So that was like a turning point.

Joni: What about reviews? Do you read your own reviews?

Marni: No, I cannot, they are traumatizing in every way, shape, or form. And, you know, sometimes they’re sent to you like through email, and you have no choice but to read them. They, you know, someone always said to me, at the very beginning of my career, the good ones you’ll never remember. And the bad ones will stick with you forever. And they were so right about that. I mean, I have a lot of books, I’ve had a lot of bad reviews, they come in the shape of emails sometimes. They come in the shape of direct messages sometimes. Readers when they want you to know their message, they make sure that you hear their message. And so I would encourage any new writer to run as far as they can for from reviews because they don’t help you. They, in the sense where yes, you can grow as a writer by listening to their feedback, but you can’t change the book at this point. So I mean, can you learn plot-wise, can you learn things that you shouldn’t concentrate on for new books? Can you learn how to slow things down, maybe not end the book so quickly? Yes, of course, it’s all a learning process. But as far as you know, like, I don’t want to say their attacks because that’s not the correct verbiage. But as far as things that come at you as a person, and as a writer, and your story and your message, those things aren’t usually that beneficial as a writer. It really messes with your mojo at times, so I don’t read them. And I would encourage everyone not to read theirs.

Joni: So switching it around, is there any really great feedback or response that you’ve had? Because I know that that exists too.

Marni: Of course yeah, and it happens with every book, you know, “Memoirs Aren’t Fairytales” is a book I go back to that’s the first book about heroin addiction. I go back to that a lot. You know, just because that was, it was my baby. And it’s like my first book and such a personal journey. So I mean, I’ve had inmates reach out to me where they’ve read the book in prison, and they’ve stayed sober because of the book. I’ve had moms read the book who have lost their children and have said that now they understand the disease of addiction more so because they read it through an addict’s eyes, and they weren’t able, to interview their kids more or less to understand what they were going through before they passed away from an overdose. You know, I’ve had schools reach out to me and they’re teaching their kids in classrooms, like some of the content that’s in the books, I mean, some of the most life-changing amazing things have happened to me as far as you know, feedback from all my books, especially that one so much positive like I and I don’t mean to have that previous question like be a downer on this conversation.

Joni: Oh, no, not at all. I think most writers don’t like to read their reviews. I don’t think I would either. But touching on what you were saying about going into schools, I read that you had those books adapted for YA audience can you tell us what does that involve?

Marni: So that was hard. So it was really hard because I’m…so I’m not a parent. We just have the yellow lab. And so I don’t know what is acceptable for kids to necessarily… Like my parents were very easy with me as far as I was watching rated R movies when I was a kid and there was no rules as far as what I could read and what I could see, like they were just very open with me and I feel like that helped me as an adult. And I feel like it helped me with my creativity. But I don’t know how I would feel if I had a child and what that would look like. So, you know, deciding what to keep and what to take out of those books was really, really challenging. So we totally… I say “we,” when I was part of the publisher, the small press, this is something that we did together. And so I toned down the sex, we took it down almost completely. The cursing, we took most of that out unless it was absolutely necessary for the plot. But we kept almost everything, everything else as far as content and like messaging, because all of it we felt was really important. The books actually don’t exist anymore. I have them on my computer, I did not republish them when I bought the rights back, I have them. It’s a project that I’ve thought about doing for a really long time, but they need new covers and all of that. So they exist, but they’re not online.

Joni: Do you remember what year this was? I’m just thinking about how YA has changed, like even since since we were reading YA, I think it is grittier. And I think you can get away with more now.

Marni: But it’s probably 2012, 2013.

Joni: Yeah, I just I would be interested to know how the market’s changed since then in terms of how we’re selling things to younger readers.

Marni: A lot of parents have said that they’ve given them, like the adult versions of the books, they felt like it was the message was important enough in order for them to read it, especially 18, 17-year-olds. I don’t know about a 12-year-old, but I feel, you know, like high school, they see it. So I don’t, you know, I don’t think anything at that age surprises them. And I think it didn’t when I was in high school. And it’s only worse now. So…

Rachel: I’m gonna switch gears slightly. So I saw that you have playlists on Spotify for I only saw them on Spotify. I don’t know if they’re on Apple Music, but I saw them on Spotify for your books. And I was just curious, are these songs that you listened to while you were writing the book? Are they songs that you find kind of encapsulate the mood of the book? How do these come together? Because they are excellent.

Marni: Thank you. So I put a lot of time into the playlist. To answer your question, both. I’ll be driving down the road, and I will be listening to a song and all of a sudden, I’m like, this is perfect. This is the mood that I need for this scene. There are songs sometimes that I’ve just known, I’ve known or I’ve known my whole life, or I will start digging through music. I’ll ask people for some of their favorite songs. I’ll go on my reader group, and I’ll say, “This is my mood, tell me, give me some suggestions.” So I picked them very specifically for the books. There’s usually no crossover. I mean, if it works for this book, it does not work for this book. And what’s so crazy is I’ll be driving down the road and like one of the songs will be playing. And it could be from like eight books ago. And I’m like, all of a sudden, like a mood will come over me. And I’ll remember writing that scene and like where I was and what it looked like. And so they mean a lot to me, the music aspect of the books.

Joni: I think that’s such a cool idea to get to be able to get into a writer’s head as well as sort of be able to immerse yourself in something like that. I love it.

Rachel: Yeah, the playlist for “When Darkness Ends” looks like it was lifted right from my Spotify. So I don’t know what that says about me, because that book is quite angsty. But there it is.

Marni: It’s a good playlist, though.

Rachel: It’s a great playlist. I would just listen to also. So I will be linking to it in the show notes.

Joni: So is there anything that you’ve seen change in the indie landscape since you’ve started your publishing career, because you’ve been in it a good amount of time, and it’s a very young industry.

Marni: KU is like a really big change. Like when I first started, that didn’t exist. I mean, and I really think the KU changed the whole publishing industry, not just trad, but indie also, you know, I think that readers are looking at books entirely different now. Like as far as binging I’m a Netflix binger. So I don’t like waiting, like, a week for an episode now. I want to just binge the entire season like from start to finish during that day. So I understand how readers can look at it the same way. Kindle Unlimited makes that possible. You know, it’s a very affordable way to read. And so that’s probably been one of the biggest changes, I would say, just being in the industry for so long. And seeing. I’m not a Kindle Unlimited author, I do have two co written books that are in Kindle Unlimited. But aside from that, obviously, I’m on this podcast, I’m completely wide. So yeah, so that’s been a big change.

Joni: How do you feel about subscription services in general, with regards to reading at least?

Marni: I think they’re great for readers. Absolutely. You know, there’s also a lot of apps that are coming into the industry that I feel like, maybe they existed for a long time, but for at least for me, they’re very new. And being like a wide author, I’m able to take advantage of them as far as uploading my books on like Radish and Kiss. These are all sort of newish ways of reading. And it’s also like a very interesting way to read. They’re not reading book by book by book. They’re reading episode by episode. And so as an author, it’s almost like an entirely different way to write because we write the book and we don’t necessarily think, “Oh, let’s write a cliffhanger at the end of every chapter,” or episode as they call it, to get the reader to purchase the next chapter. We are writing it all in a book form, where these apps are… It’s entirely different now. We are writing cliffhangers for the end of every episode so they go on to the next episode. So that’s another, like very interesting shift in the market that like newer younger readers are reading more on their phones, they’re not reading paperbacks, they’re not reading on tablets, you know, they’re part of these apps, subscription services, which are, like, you guys know, so different than what even I feel like our generation is. I mean, we’re probably all close to the same age, I feel like, we don’t necessarily read that way. It’s more like a younger generation. So it’s just very interesting to see like this whole shift of publishing and how it’s constantly changing.

Joni: That is interesting. I’m curious to hear more about some of your… So you use Radish and Kiss. And is it? Am I right in thinking that readers, they’ll read one part, and then they pay to read the next and so on? Is that how it works?

Marni: It is. So and iReader’s another really big one, too. And so they have, I believe, they can buy like so many coin packages, and then it’s so many coins per episode, or what we call chapter or I think they can have, I think with Kiss may have just done this. And Radish also, almost like a Kindle Unlimited switch, where it’s like a certain amount of coins to read, like so many books, or it’s, they pay so much a month, and then they can read unlimited books. So I think they’re also kind of going towards that unlimited service as well.

Joni: So when you’re writing, it’s a completely different, different content that you’re doing for these things, right? But do they link into your book worlds or anything? Or is it just completely new?

Marni: So they do both, they will do exclusive or non-exclusive content. And I’ve also done both. So I have… I’m going to be uploading on one that’s exclusive content that will be on no other retailers, other apps or other retailers. And then I’ve uploaded like my entire backlist on most of the retailers also. So yeah, it’s going to be both and it’s going to be very interesting to see like the I’ve never written…this is my first time writing exclusive content. So I’ve never written this like cliffhanger at the end of every chapter. So that’s like another very interesting sort of challenge, I guess. Because it’s just an audience that I don’t necessarily know as well as I know the audience that I typically write for. So whole new process.

Joni: That’s pretty cool. And do you have any… This is the big question. Do you have any predictions or ideas about the next 5 to 10 years in publishing? Anything you see coming up, getting bigger?

Marni: Gosh, I wish I knew. This is like a million dollar question. Exactly. I do feel like the visual aspect is possibly becoming more popular with reading, I feel like readers, even though they love the written word more than anything, I feel like if there was a visual aspect that went along with reading that I think that they could… it would be like so encompassing where they could almost do everything but feel and taste. So I’m very curious if there’s going to be like a, I don’t know, like books being almost made into like mini movies where these apps are creating, I don’t know if it’s like cartoonish like, I can’t visualize what that would look like. But it would change the reading experience where maybe there’s characters involved with what they’re reading. So somehow they can switch back and forth. Like there’s audio books, maybe this is more of like a visual book, where they’re not reading words, they’re seeing story and they can go back and forth. It’s just guess I have absolutely no idea. I wish I knew, but I feel like we’re becoming more visual creatures. So maybe that’s just an organic switch.

Joni: That’s interesting. I’m, I’m kind of thinking of the way that plays into social media and how that’s becoming like Instagram, I think is bigger than the other ones generally, or like we are getting more visual, TikTok as well. Like, we’ve got a lot of more visual than verbal. No, no. It’s an interesting thought, though. Should we head into some rapid fire reading questions? Rachel, do you want to kick us off?

Rachel: Sure.We’ll start relatively easy. The last book that you read and loved. It doesn’t have to be recent. Just the last book you read and remember loving.

Marni: Daisy Jones. That book owned every inch of me.

Rachel: That’s very good.

Joni: And do you have a favorite romance trope to read or write?

Marni: To read? I would say dark, to write I would say suspense. Psychological.

Rachel: Do you have a book that you recommend the most often?

Marni: “The Idea of You” by Robinne Lee, I tell everybody about that book. And I just saw that Amazon is making… I don’t know if it’s like a mini series or a movie out of it. And I will literally be the first person in line to watch it.

Joni: I think Nina, from Valentine PR also recommended that very highly. It’s on my list.

Marni: It’s our favorite. Nina and I talk about it all the time. I’ve reread that book like 15 times. It’s not normal. I love it. So it’s one of my favorite romances.

Rachel: We have to read it now, Joni.

Joni: Yeah I’ll move it up the list. This is a Rachel question.

Rachel: I’ll take this last one. So I heard on another podcast that you were on that you are a very big Tampa Bay Lightning fan. Do you think the Lightning have what it takes to be repeat Stanley Cup champions this year?

Marni: There is no question. They’re phenomenal, you guys. And I am a huge hockey fan. We have season tickets. And I’m from Maine. And so all we have is hockey in that state. And so we live and die by the Lightning. And so yes, absolutely. They’re phenomenal. They’re going to be Stanley Cup champions,

Rachel: I’m cheering for them as well. I’m a Leafs fan so I only know pain and torture, but sorry to all of our colleagues that are Habs fans. I cannot watch the Canadiens win the cup. So go Lightning. I may get fired.

Joni: It’s okay. It’s just me. I know nothing about this.

Rachel: That’s true. Don’t let Laura listen to this.

Joni: No, she won’t. And finally, can you tell our listeners where they can find you online and what you’ve got coming up next?

Marni: Sure. So I’m a wide author, so you can find me on all retailers, especially Kobo. I’m on Instagram as Marni Mann, Facebook as Marni Mann. And that’s actually my real name. I don’t have a pending. So I’m all over social media, not Twitter. I’m on Twitter, but don’t tweet me, I probably won’t see it. And my next book is called “The Lawyer.” It is on pre order now. I took a break from the angst and I headed back to some steamy erotic contemporary romance. So it is just a super fun, steamy office romance, some Hollywood thrown in, and that’s coming out September 28th.

Joni: Perfect. We’ll link to the pre-order in the notes and to all your other online stuff.

Marni: Thank you so much. This was great. It was awesome. Thanks for having me.

Rachel: Thank you for listening to the “Kobo Writing Life Podcast.” If you’re interested in picking up Marni’s books or checking out her playlists, we will have links to both those in the show notes. If you’re enjoying this podcast, please be sure to rate, review, and subscribe. And if you’re looking for more tips on growing your self publishing business, you can find us at kobowritinglife.com, and be sure to follow us on socials. We are @KoboWritingLife on Facebook and Twitter, and @kobo.writing.life on Instagram.

Joni: This episode was produced by Joni Di Placido and Rachel Warden. Our theme music is provided by Tear Jerker. Editing is by Kelly Robottom. And huge thanks to Marni for being our guest today.

Rachel: If you’re ready to start your self-publishing journey, sign up today at kobo.com/writinglife. Until next time, happy writing.