Episode Summary

Ever thought about creating your own universe? As authors, it doesn’t take omnipotence to pull off. It just takes patience, hard work, and partnerships with great authors. And nobody knows that better than Robyn Peterman, the powerhouse author behind Magic & Mayhem. In this episode of Self Publishing Insiders, we’re chatting with Robyn about how she keeps the magic straight, and the mayhem to a minimum.

Episode Notes

The Magic & Mayhem novels blast off twice a year filled with smexy, witchy, shifty, magical fun! Funny, fast-paced, and laugh-out-loud dialogue.

NYT and USA Today best selling author, Robyn Peterman writes because the people inside her head won’t leave her alone until she gives them life on paper. She writes snarky, sexy, funny paranormal and snarky, sexy, funny contemporaries.

And with her Magic & Mayhem Universe, Robyn and a team of fantabulous authors produce side splitting books that readers around the world are loving.

Robyn will be in conversation with Draft2Digital’s Mark Leslie Lefebvre talking about her writing, the original series that started it all and how she leverages the Draft2Digital Universes platform to allow other world-class authors to write in her universe.

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Mark Lefebvre  00:01

Hello and welcome to Self-Publishing Insiders. This is Mark Leslie Lefevbre. I am the Director of Business Development with Draft2Digital and I’m honored to have in the virtual studio with me Robyn Peterman of the Magic and Mayhem Universe. Robyn, welcome. 

Robyn Peterman  00:20

Thank you. It’s nice to be here, Mark. 

Mark Lefebvre  00:21

It is awesome to get to chat with you. Now I want to get into the Magic and Mayhem Universe and all of the amazing things you’re doing. But I first want to get into—so Robyn Peterman, as a writer, when did this all start for you? How did you get into writing?

Robyn Peterman  00:37

With a lie. Most of my grownup life, I was an actress, I was a professional actress. I’ve done Broadway, television, film. And after I had my kids, it didn’t make as much sense to me anymore. So I had to kind of refigure out what I wanted to do. And I’d always written. I used to do, I used to punch up jokes when I was an actor, which means … punch up scripts, which means write jokes. And I did some for television, for film, for … and so, but I’d never finished a book ever. And I decided in my late 40s that I was going to try. I was going to write a book. I told my husband I was gonna write a book. He was like, go on with your bad self. And I did. And I sent it out everywhere and nobody wanted it. Nobody wanted it. So I joined a writers’ group and went to a con, a romance convention. It was RT, which doesn’t exist anymore.

Mark Lefebvre  01:35

Romantic Times, right? 

Robyn Peterman  01:37

Yeah. I loved that one. Anyway, I was there. I was unpublished with a couple girlfriends from Kentucky in my writing group. And there was a thing called Pitchapalooza. And it’s agents and publishers. And it’s a big room and you’ve got like, three minutes to sit down and then the bell rings, then you go to another table and you pitch. And they were looking for contemporary romance, which is not what I wrote at all. But I thought, what do I have to lose? So I made up a book. 

Mark Lefebvre  02:10

Wait, on the spot you made it up? 

Robyn Peterman  02:12

Well, no, I made it up right before it all happened. So I had something in my head. And I lied, basically, and everybody was laughing and like, I would say 12 or 14 different people asked for the full manuscript. So I lied some more, and I was like, freaking out on the inside. I’m like, well, okay, I said, I have to go home and get it professionally edited—which meant write it—and then I’ll send it to you in three weeks. So I went home, and I wrote a 95k book in three weeks. I got the shingles after that, which … I don’t recommend my method. If unfortunately I had to do it again. But, and then I got offers from several different places. And I went with a three-book deal with Kensington. So I started out traditional. So my entry into publishing was based on a lie, a big, fat, hairy lie. But as an actress, I was good, you know, I was good at talking to people, pitching. I was like, wow, you know! Yes, so that is literally how I started. 

Mark Lefebvre  03:27

I love that. So I’ve got to ask for the parallel between going to an audition or pitching the book. Was it a very similar experience?

Robyn Peterman  03:36

Yeah, sure. I mean, I don’t really … Look, if somebody told me when I was young that I wouldn’t be an actress my entire life, I would have told them they were insane. I, to me, I write very dialogue heavy to start with. To me, writing is not much different than acting, except I don’t have to like get Botox and stuff like that. I feel like it’s about becoming somebody else, which was what acting was to me. Writing is the same thing. Diving into people, understanding motivations, situations. So it’s, for me, I think I’m happier being a writer than I ever was as an actress and I can wear sweatpants and Ugg boots and profane t-shirts and sit on my back porch, no makeup and, you know, write books. And it’s, it was a great job being a mom, too. I mean, I wrote a lot of books sitting at lacrosse practice, soccer practice, outside of the dance school. I mean, when I get stuck too, sometimes … I don’t really have writer’s block to say because I pants. So if I, if nothing’s coming, I know I took a left turn and I should have taken a right, but I’ll go sit in my car in the driveway and write. Because there’s something, I don’t know, magical about a car to me and writing. There you go. That’s how I started. And so I started traditionally, and then I went indie.

Mark Lefebvre  05:10

That is fascinating. I love the concept. Because when you’re acting, if you’re in a theatrical production, then obviously you’ve got to be at a specific space for rehearsals, for all of those things. When you’re doing other kinds of acting, where you have to be on set. But then all of a sudden, you’re on your own. And you can set your own schedule. You can be creative when you want to, or when you need to, right? Sitting at practice trying to fill in some space. I love that, I love the parallel, but it certainly gives you more control. And then I wonder, so I’m curious about, so you were with a major publisher, obviously very successful at pitching and writing the books that they wanted. But then you moved to indie. So was it that additional control that you were looking for? What was it that led you to explore the the indie author community?

Robyn Peterman  06:01

I’ll be extremely blunt. Financially speaking. I had a fantastic artistic experience traditionally. Loved my editor, loved the process, learned a whole lot. But the money was bad. I was, you know, an unpublished author, my contracts weren’t great. Also, my passion is paranormal. And at that point, traditional publishing was saying vampires are dead, no pun intended there. You know, and that’s what I wanted to write. And I was like, alright, screw this. I’ll put it up myself. And I was also in this group of amazing women, my writer’s group in Kentucky. I can’t stress enough for authors, having a group of people is invaluable. And I thought, and they were strong, supportive, amazing women who I’m still very good friends with, and would not be where I am without those friends. And I thought all female writers were like that. I was wrong. However, this group in particular had started going indie. So I was learning about this and watching it, and I thought, well, hell, I’m going to do it too. But I had this group of support, where we kind of went together, and it was fantastic. And I don’t regret it at all. I never burned bridges. I’ll never say I won’t ever write traditional again. I’ve been offered traditional contracts again, but quite honestly, financially speaking, that would be a stupid move on my part. But again, I never say never, you know? Diversification is not a bad thing. And in the landscape of publishing, which is forever changing and changes on a dime, you have to go with it. It’s like a puzzle. And so that’s where I am right now. I would call myself 100% indie right now. But, you know, if something came along …

Mark Lefebvre  08:13

So that leads me to want to ask the question, inquiring minds want to know. What would it, what kind of contract, what kind of offer would be something you would actually take seriously?

Robyn Peterman  08:28

Hmm, I don’t want to say numbers.

Mark Lefebvre  08:32

I was even thinking it’d be certain clauses, or what rights you get to keep maybe? That’s what I would be thinking.

Robyn Peterman  08:37

Well I, look, I did my traditional contract with an entertainment lawyer initially, and not an agent. And so I kept my film rights. My first book that I ever wrote got optioned for a film. Now, it’s sitting on a shelf somewhere. But it’s still under option, I’m still getting paid for that. It’s probably never gonna see the light of day as a film. However, I would want to keep my film rights, I’d want to keep my audio rights. And I would want an advance that shows that they have great faith in the book. I mean, an advance is a loan for the most part, if you really think about stuff, or can be. So that is an indication of how serious someone would take wanting to promote your writing. I really, I don’t care if my books are in … I got offered a very bad deal at a place where they kept pushing that my books would be in Walmart, and that would be great. But I also don’t care. I mean, I can make a lot more doing what I’m doing. So does that kind of answer that question?

Mark Lefebvre  09:54

Yeah, see, I was thinking it would be a thing where, you know, you keep you keep the film rights, keep the audio rights, keep the ebook rights. And you say, well, if you want the mass market rights, I’ll give you those.

Robyn Peterman  10:04

You know what, nobody’s gonna do that.

Mark Lefebvre  10:06

I know. Not yet.

Robyn Peterman  10:08

Yeah. No, not with me. So and I am, I’m doing pretty good.

Mark Lefebvre  10:14

Awesome. Awesome. So let’s talk about that. I’m really excited about that. So you had this deal of three books with a major publisher, decided to go indie. What was the first move you took, in order to, obviously listening to this wonderful group. Was it a local writers’ group, or … ?

Robyn Peterman  10:35

They were originally a group of Romance Writers of America. It was one of the chapters. But at that time, back in around 2013-ish or so. And it’s changed. It’s definitely changed over time. But the feelings about indie writers were not positive. They were thought of as lesser-than. So this group left the Romance Writers of America and just formed their own thing. So that’s how it initially, that’s how I found it. I just went online. Because I promised myself once I read finished something, I would join a group of writers. But that was my, I always do that, I have lists. I’m a list maker. I never finished any of my lists, but I have ton of them. But that was on my list. If you finish this book, you can go join a group of other women. And that’s what I did. And that’s how all that started.

Mark Lefebvre  11:33

Okay, cool. Cool. Now I have to, I know we’re gonna take questions from the live audience a little bit later. But I have to, this comment from Lexi Green says, “All you pantsers. Share this magic, please.” Now, I think Lexi is referring to you going in to pitch the book, going, okay, I gotta come up with something and pitch it to them. So that also begs the question, pantser or plotter?

Robyn Peterman  11:56

100% pantser. Because …

Mark Lefebvre  12:01

But you’re a list maker.

Robyn Peterman  12:03

No, I’m a list maker of like, stuff—I almost said a bad word—I have to do. If I plot a book, I won’t write it. The hardest part of a book for me to write is the end because I already know what has to happen. There’s a magic for me that happens in not knowing what comes next. And then, you know, as you write, when things click, and you realize, oh my god, in chapter three, I left myself some enormous present that paid off in chapter 10. And it’s, I’ll just say, it’s like almost as good as an orgasm, is when like, puzzle pieces click, there’s so … that for me is the joy. I mean, I know who the characters are. I know, when I start a book, it’s not like I sit down and have no effing idea what I’m doing. I know probably what will happen, generally speaking, but I’ll tell you, as I write, that 360s itself several times during the process, and it surprises even me, which, you know, then I have to write more to see what the heck happens. So it’s not for everybody, everybody’s writing process is what it is, and whatever works for you is fantastic. But that’s what works for me. If I had something down where I knew what I had to write in each chapter, it would feel like an assignment for me, and the magic would go away. And I still am always shocked, I’m always shocked when it clicks together. And it does, somehow it has. Knock on some wood for God’s sakes. But that’s, yeah, that’s my process. And that’s why, and then it seems, that’s why it doesn’t seem much different than acting, because it’s, you discover all this stuff as you go. And that’s where I find my joy and it’s why I still do it passionately.

Mark Lefebvre  13:59

Did you enjoy improv when you did stage?

Robyn Peterman  14:01

I did. I loved it. Loved it. Did a lot of it.

Mark Lefebvre  14:05

I can imagine. And that resonates with me, because again, I very rarely know what I’m going to write other than a high level view. And then yeah, magic happens right? You sit down and it happens. For some reason, thank goodness, it happens.

Robyn Peterman  14:19

Thank God. I keep thinking oh my God, is this the last one I’m ever gonna have? Every time I write a book I’m like, oh my God, is this the last one? But there’s something about that fear that lights a fire under your butt too. Yeah, that’s probably not the healthiest way to live. But that’s how I live. So yeah.

Mark Lefebvre  14:41

So are you driven by deadline? So you, for example, like hey, I will take a look at your book that you’ve just pitched. Okay, I’ve got three weeks to write it. Are you driven by deadline? Do you hire your editors in advance and all of that stuff to make sure that you can stick to that plan?

Robyn Peterman  14:55

Okay, my list that I make is always way overly ambitious, like if I make out what I’d like to do for this year. I have lately, more this year and last year been driven by deadlines, because I put, and I don’t always do this because I don’t like to put myself in a hole. But I’ve done pre-orders of the next book. And so that in itself is a deadline of when you have to get it done. Plus, I have a deal for audio where the audio comes out with it. So the book has to be done even earlier. So those deadlines have not been the most enjoyable things. I’d rather write what I want to write when I want to write it. However, the series that I have ongoing, I still feel great passion for so it’s easy to jump. But yeah, so generally. Yeah. Yes, I can be very driven by a deadline. I’m very, I am a prolific person. And I do write very fast. 

Mark Lefebvre  16:03

Okay, so we’ve talked about the magic that happens in the creative process for you. We’ve talked about humor, because you do leverage humor, obviously, in this interview, and you talked about doing that in your pitch for example. You write magic and humor a lot. I mean, a lot of that, right? So is that something that just comes natural to you is writing in that genre?

Robyn Peterman  16:24

I like the lack of rules. I like all the tropes. I think they’re interesting. But then I like to turn a trope to fit me and my imagination. So my vampires, you know, don’t necessarily burn in the sun. They, you know, I like to play with what’s there and make it mine. Whatever’s in my imagination, so, and the lack of … Because when I, the traditional series I wrote was contemporary. And, but they were still searching for Bigfoot in one of them. I mean, I can’t help myself. I have an obsession with Bigfoot. So there’s, um, yeah, I think it’s the lack of rules and that you can do anything you want is extremely, that appeals to me. I think that’s why I feel passion for paranormal.

Mark Lefebvre  17:21

Awesome. Awesome. So you launched your original series, Magic and Mayhem. That was a standalone Robyn Peterman series of books. And then what happened that allowed you to want to open it up to other writers and work with other writers in the Magic and Mayhem Universe?

Robyn Peterman  17:45

Okay, I already had, I don’t know, four or five books in that series. There are 10 now. And Amazon approached me, they had a program called Kindle Worlds at the time. And they approached me about that specific series, and it becoming a Kindle World. And I was like, mmm. And so we talked a whole bunch. And I did that, I did the Kindle Worlds. And I think maybe for two years, it was a Kindle World. And then all of a sudden, and I heard about this on social media, Kindle Worlds ended. And so that was a surprise. And so there were all these books that had my IP in them still, written by other people, because what a Kindle world was, and it’s the same thing as with Universes, to a certain degree. It’s similar to fan fiction. They’re taking their own stories and putting elements of, the town that my series takes place in is called Ass Jacket, West Virginia. So they’re taking either the town or some of my characters, and they’re weaving it into their stories. Some are very, very connected, some are loosely connected. So that ended and I told all the women and some men who had written in my Kindle World, that if you want to take your books back, please do. Just remove my IP, I will help you promote it. I said, or, if you want to hang on, hold them. I’m in talks with Draft2Digital. And I said, I’m going to continue in a different way with a contract for you guys. And but if you’ll hang on, and then I was talking with Dan, and I started with all you guys, and we actually helped you guys develop the contract that we would use. And then I have my own contract, and it’s much better for the authors who do this. And I have people who have written series within the series. Some people are up to 11 books, 16 books, people have stayed with me because I make it really fun, I work really hard, and it’s been, I kind of run a really well-oiled militaristic marketing machine for it. But on the same note, we also provide them with everything. They write their book, they do their cover, they get it edited. Everything else is provided. And then because you guys are my partner, it has made it very, very doable. Very easy. I will say, Tara, my best yet Draft2Digital, is a goddess, a goddess. So that’s how I continued and it became wide, the price point was higher. What the authors got was more, they are with me, after a three-year stint, they’re welcome to take their book back if they want to, take out my IP, republish on their own. Nobody’s done that. Because we, I also work really hard on making sure their backlist continues to sell. And I make money off of this too, and it helps sell my original series. So it’s a large undertaking, and I almost feel like I have a publishing company, in partnership with you guys, aside from my own series, that I write on my own. However, I enjoy the heck out of it, because, and it’s invite only. I invite people and people have approached me. And if it’s a great fit, I welcome them into my sandbox. And luckily so, and I say this with humility, even though it might not sound humble, but I have a long waiting list of people who have asked to join it and you can’t let it get out of control or it ceases to be special. So that’s kind of what it is. And we come out twice a year, every June, every October, every April, once women and men have a certain amount of books we put out collections of, there’s three books. We are doing something brand new that I’ve told you about. But I’m gonna still keep it a secret Mark for a little bit, come next August, because you and I might do a docu-podcast about it. And it might blow up in my face in a really skanky, ugly way. But we’ll see. it’ll be funny.

Mark Lefebvre  22:25

That increases the ratings. 

Robyn Peterman  22:27

Yeah. Watch this. Watch this become a show. But yeah, so that’s what it is. I take it very seriously. I take people’s participation very seriously. And I make sure they’re treated like I would want to be treated.

Mark Lefebvre  22:42

Right. Awesome. And so again, I’m gonna pop up another comment. This is from Ronnie who says, “It’s always fun with you, Robyn.” Because that is one of the other things is, it is a fun process. It’s very organized. It’s very strategic. But it’s also fun, right?

Robyn Peterman  22:55

Yeah, yeah, it’s me, I don’t have other people run my stuff. I do it. And I have relationships. I, my God, I have so many relationships with … and see, you can’t pay for cross promotion. Cross promotion is one of the most valuable things an author can have, especially if it’s same similar genre. And those are things you can’t pay for. And that’s what this does. There have been friendships that have been developed between people who are writing my universe that didn’t know each other that then go on. I mean, they’re all, it’s a positive experience. You know, I make sure, if I feel bitchy about something, nobody hears about it. Except my husband. You know, I treat people like I would want to be treated.

Mark Lefebvre  23:40

And so the way that this works is, for people who work in your universe, when they go to set up a book, in Draft2Digital, they’ve already been granted the ability to be part of the Magic and Mayhem Universe. So when they go to publish a book, they identify it as a Magic and Mayhem Universe book. And then what happens, just so people can understand who have never participated in this, which would probably be most authors. Because it’s in your universe, you keep a portion of the sales of that author’s book, the author gets paid directly by D2D, you get paid directly by D2D. And that way you don’t need to worry about getting these spreadsheets from 16 different libraries and retailers and then going okay.

Robyn Peterman  24:25

That’s the only way I would have done it. It’s the only that was something that wouldn’t take up my entire life. Having you guys as a partner that you guys do the royalty divide, you do the tax paperwork, you do the distribution. We’re all making money. And that was the only way I would do this. There were some people that took their Kindle Worlds and did it completely on their own. But that means hiring tax people, that means hiring payroll, so to me, that was a no-go, which is why I wanted so much for it to work out with us in being able to go forward, which it did. In such an open, I will say that, because I didn’t want a contract that looked anything like what we had had before with Kindle Worlds. Because I didn’t, it wasn’t good. There was no, the fact that I got so many people to write for me while it was a Kindle World kind of surprised me because it wasn’t a great deal. And you didn’t own your stuff. And so I wanted all that different. And that’s actually, the person who wrote my personal contract writes in my universe. And she’s a mentor, Renee Michael, she’s a huge mentor to me. And when I gave her the bullet points of what I wanted my personal contract for the writers to be, she goes, okay, this is fantastic for the people writing in your universe, and it kind of sucks for you. Let’s fix this. I was like, okay. So, you know, so everything’s out front, the contract was actually written by someone who’s having to abide by it. So it’s it all, it feels comfortable to everybody. I wanted that to be clear.

Mark Lefebvre  26:12

And I have to say, also, you’re not the only one who loves Tara. She’s very well regarded inside and outside the company. But also, you know, thank you as well, because it’s feedback and details like that, from authors, you know, strategic business partners like yourself, that help Draft2Digital create things. Because you know, you had an issue, you had a problem, you had something that you needed to do. And we kind of collaborated together to come up with that. So thank you, because that has also helped other authors in a similar situation to yourself and people who wanted to write in other universes. 

Robyn Peterman  26:50

Dan was instrumental in that. And he was way open to hearing everything. And we went through several versions of stuff before we all thought it was good. And he was great. It was great.

Mark Lefebvre  27:03

Which is why he just continually rises up in the ranks of Draft2Digital. And why I always buy him beer when we’re together. But so I have to ask, so you’re writing, you enjoy the writing, you have a lot of fun with the stories, you have a lot of fun with the collaborations, the partnerships. Where I would worry or I’m worried for you is running this business and managing this empire, this Magic and Mayhem Universe for so many different authors. How and where does Robyn find the time for her own writing?

Robyn Peterman  27:41

Dude, if you talk to anyone in my family, I have a balance problem. I write all the time. I write all the time. I also have, I don’t even like the word assistant. I like, there’s a gal who works with me, her name is Wanda. I call her my magic Wanda. She does all of my graphic material. And so we work our asses off around when the, you know, the universes are coming out, because we provide preorder material, release material, we do that work all year round. I am a good multitasker, I would say. And I also, I’ve been doing the universe for a while now. So we, Wanda and I and also Tara and I, we have developed what works. Because we, you know, boo-boos happen. We’ve had people upload the wrong book. We’ve had people upload the wrong cover. And so we have a system now where they give them to me first. And then Wanda goes through them to make sure that’s what it’s supposed to be. We check their back matter, their front matter. So it all looks very professional. And then Tara and I spend a day together and Tara uploads. So we have worked out what works for us, which is why Tara also gets an Edible Arrangement after every universe launch, because she can backdoor boo-boos. And so yeah, so you know what, Mark? Because I’ve been doing it for a while, I know what has to be done. But then I’m always trying to think of one new thing per, and that’s what I do with my own career too is, what has nobody done yet? And I don’t have, I have zero fear of failing. Look, if you fear failure, you’re not going to do anything. If something doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. So what? I’ll do something else. My dad, who’s hilarious and a real renegade, told my brothers and myself, he goes, make them love you, make them hate you, don’t let them forget you. And so that’s just kind of my motto in life. I mean, my work, my business, I have people that are rabid. I have people that can’t stand me, but rarely would they forget it. So that’s what I do. So anyway, yeah, I don’t know how I do everything. I joke that I run a corporation on my back porch in sweatpants with crappy internet, which is the truth. And yeah, sometimes do I feel overwhelmed? Absolutely, absolutely. But um, I can’t think of a better job than what I have. I love it. As much as I love acting.

Mark Lefebvre  30:37

That’s fantastic. So, you release, you do two major releases in this universe every year. One of them is …

Robyn Peterman  30:44

Right now. This Monday. 

Mark Lefebvre  30:48

Yeah. Monday, you launched how many books? Can you talk a little bit about what’s out there now? 

Robyn Peterman  30:52

Yeah, 14 came out. And I actually have started releasing with my universe now, because I have several other series going. And we have 14 books out. If you look at any of my social media, it’s all over it. We have our own website, magicandmayhemuniverse.com. And, yeah, it’s kicking, and I don’t know. I mean, I’m in the middle of it. I mean, I was laughing. I was like, oh my God, this week is the hairiest week I have this year so far. But um, what do you want to know? They’re hilarious. It’s amazing women. We’re all over the place. You can check out Magic and Mayhem Universe on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram, on Pinterest. Our social media is fantastic and heavy. And I don’t know, we’re having fun. We’re still, there’s a feature on each of those authors every day now on Facebook, where you can get to know everybody. We had a massive release day in my fan room, where all my authors did takeovers, and it was nuts, and there were prizes, and it was crazy. It’s just fun. It’s fun. Everybody’s having fun. It’s easy. And the books are great, so read them.

Mark Lefebvre  32:11

I love that. I love that. Now I’m gonna start to pop up some comments and questions from the live audience. So this is what Lynn just wanted to share. “Hi, so excited to hear your voice and see your face.”

Robyn Peterman  32:25

Lynn has a book. Lynn is in England. And we haven’t spoken spoken. We talk all the time via this. And she’s a doll, she’s a terrific writer, and she should be checked out. Definitely.

Mark Lefebvre  32:38

Awesome. Comment from Virginia is that, “‘Vanity’ is what they used to call us, back before indie was taken seriously.”

Robyn Peterman  32:47

Virginia is correct. And Virginia also writes for the Universe. She’s not in this particular launch. But she is a repeat writer in there, she’s a fabulous human. And she’s right, it was called vanity press. But that’s when you would get print books ordered and sell them out of the trunk of your car. But no, independent publishing are real authors. They’re some fabulous authors. And it’s a real business.

Mark Lefebvre  33:13

Awesome, awesome. Now I do have a question from our very own Elyssa at Draft2Digital. She says, “I have to respect the hustle. I want to hear more about this well-oiled marketing machine. Can you share some secret sauce, Robyn?”

Robyn Peterman  33:28

I will say, nobody’s gonna want to hear this part. But it’s the person who’s running it actually being involved. Seriously, hands on is very important. Because then I think that it creates an atmosphere where people feel cared about, willing to go the extra mile. I mean, the authors who write for me, it’s me. And they know it’s me, and I make a plan, I am anally clear with directions. We do coordinated newsletter blasts, coordinated preorder newsletter blasts. We have, I mean, I give them dates, days that things are to be used, you know, we do … I think that clear directions and a hands on approach. And see, there are tons of things that Wanda and I do that they don’t see. Wanda and I spend days figuring out color schemes and backgrounds and we do puzzle covers and we do gifs and we do trailers, you know, and we pick out together, I mean Wanda does that physical work because I don’t have any desire to learn it, but I know what I like. It’s like, I will never be a cover artist because that’s not my forte, but I see very clearly what I want things to look like, I just can’t physically do it. So there’s a buttload of work that goes into it. But I would say, hands on. And I would also say branding is a very important part. If you look at something that we put out, it is really clear, really clear. And I don’t require the gals who write, gals and guys who write in my universe, to use a certain cover artist. They can use whoever they want. I have a list of suggestions if they need help. But they know, just taking a look at our website, they can say, okay, it’s in this flavor, or look at the original series and know the flavor that these kind of books look like. But then as far as like, the branding on my side goes, for what our materials look like, that’s extremely important too.

Mark Lefebvre  35:49

Right. So the branding is, that’s not just the look and feel, like the recommended artists. It’s the logo, you’ve got the Magic and Mayhem logo.

Robyn Peterman  35:58

Yeah, and we put that on, so it doesn’t end up warped, or, like, you know. They have a cover template that knows, this corner’s open. So, you know, I mean, those are like the little inner underneath things that you wouldn’t really think about. But since we’ve been doing it for a while, we know all that, you know? We use the links from our website when we promote so that you go to the website. So then if a reader is there for a certain author, and they go oh, wait a minute, look, that looks really cute. So that’s another way of cross promotion. You know, it’s, I think this through.

Mark Lefebvre  36:41

Cool. Awesome. I love that. So I guess I’m curious about the communication. So you had had 14 books that were released this month. Obviously there was a lot of work leading up to that, a lot of different moving parts. Are you using, how are you communicating? You said you weren’t talking to Lynn by email, or by phone? Is it mostly email? How do you coordinate all this? 

Robyn Peterman  37:03

Facebook, baby. Yeah, private rooms on Facebook. And I do one per launch. So it’s just us in there. It’s not an ongoing from prior. It’s just us. All the information is in there. We sing happy, you know, it’s happy birthday when it’s somebody’s birthday. And people can put whatever they want to put in there. But that’s the cleanest way. And then I use email and stuff as well, because Facebook warps, you know, graphics. But yeah, it’s a Facebook room.

Mark Lefebvre  37:36

Awesome. Awesome. We have a question, a creative question from Virginia. Virginia asks you, “What triggers a story for you? For example, what bites you and makes you want to tell a particular story?”

Robyn Peterman  37:50

That’s a good question. My brain is really crowded. And if I didn’t write I would probably need to be institutionalized. There’s so much, and I have a folder on the computer, but it’s like the start of a kajillion different things and it’s thoughts. And so I don’t … you know, I can’t, there’s no one thing. I mean, you know, I have on-running series. I have the Hot Damn series, I have Magic and Mayhem series, I have Good to the Last Death, and I have Magical Midlife series. So I have four on-running series. So I kind of know that I’m going to hit each of those, at least in semi the kind of order. So it’s just me, I guess it’s just being back with those characters. I always reread the last book from that series before I start a new one. Because my worlds have so many different rules, I have to get back into that head and that voice. And then I just usually get excited and go okay, what’s gonna happen to them? Let’s see.

Mark Lefebvre  39:00

Awesome. I love that. So you had mentioned earlier, sometimes you needed that change of atmosphere, change of pace. Sometimes you did the car you found is a really great place for inspiration. So I need to ask, is the actual mechanical process of writing, is it on a keyboard? Do you do notepad and pen, dictation? How do you do it?

Robyn Peterman  39:20

I don’t do dictation. I tried that and that was a hot mess. I write on the computer and I also handwrite. Like if something is like not working, there’s something about a really sharp, and I use Ticonderoga. It’s not a commercial for them but those are the pencils I like, really sharp, and a yellow legal pad. Okay, here’s a scary story. When I pitched, when I was an actor, I was very fortunate. I was never a household name, but I was always a working actor. I didn’t know how to type. I never took typing in high school like a dumbass. When I was in college, you could pay your, you know, suitemate five bucks to type your term papers. And that’s what I did. And so I also learned how to type. When I wrote that book, I hand wrote that 95k word book, and then I sat down and I typed it, which was probably why I got the shingles. But, um, and shingles suck. But, yes, so, yes, I type now. My kids laugh because I do not type correctly. But I’m like, you know what, you’re going to college, so shut up.

Mark Lefebvre  40:35

Are you a single finger typer?

Robyn Peterman  40:38

No, I’m more than one finger, but I have to look at the keyboard. And so but sometimes, if it’s not happening, there’s something about holding a pencil. And there’s something about a connection to paper that will sometimes break something for me, break through something for me. And so that makes sense. So those are the two ways that I write.

Mark Lefebvre  41:03

Awesome, awesome, thank you so much. So Lexi’s asking a question about the Universes. So, “With multiple writers creating in your universe, are there ways that they can specifically interact with or not interact with together to affect the greater universe as a whole?” Like, I guess the rules?

Robyn Peterman  41:21

Yeah, you can’t kill my characters. They see that right up front. You can’t kill my characters. Um, you know, what a lot of people, some of the people that have been extremely successful, I would say, with sales, because I think you’re successful if you write a book, quite honestly. It’s not an easy thing to do. They have mixed their own series characters that are already popular with their people, and brought them in, and mixed them up with mine. And then for a lot of those people, it’s turned into a running little series within the series. Yeah, I have a rule you don’t kill my characters. And that has been fine. I mean, don’t go make anybody pregnant or this or that or anything. And a lot of people too, there’s a character, Zelda is the main heroine. She actually started as a very selfish, you know, magic abusing, in a funny way, witch, and then she’s got her friend Sassy, who has been working on learning to speak Canadian for a couple of books. She’s working on the languages of the world. Yeah, Canadian and British she’s having trouble with. But there are a couple characters that, she has three cats: Fat Bastard, Jango Fett, and Boba Fett, who were cats of mine, who I immortalized in this book. They’re no longer here, but they “yous guys,” they talk like this. And they lick the bowls. And they, you know, they’re, so those guys get used in a lot of people’s books. And then there’s the head witch Baba Yaga, who dresses from, you know, Madonna era, cone bras and rubber bracelets. And she’s a hoot. So those are kind of my characters that tend to get dropped into other people’s stories. Or they’ll use Ass Jacket, West Virginia, and something will go on there. So yeah, the only rule I have is you can’t kill my characters. And then the second part of that question, how these women are communicating with each other, is in the Facebook group. And a lot of them, actually a lot of people that write in my universe are actually good friends of mine, who are just amazing authors. And then some of the newer people, newer friends that I have, have been recommendations from other people, or they’ve approached me themselves, with a really, usually hilarious pitch. That’s like, I really want to write and here’s why. But then I look at them in the genre that they write. Because if somebody writes, you know, horror, and has a following that way, that doesn’t really fit. You know, there are a couple rules, it’s not erotica. I don’t erotica is great. You know, that’s, but that’s not what the series is. They need to read my series and make sure they connect to it, and can write enough fun. It doesn’t have to match my stuff. But it has to be a fun, comedic, paranormal. Happily ever after at the end. Like, another rule, there’s no menage in this, in these particular series. Menage books are great. It’s not what the Magic and Mayhem that I write is about. So those are some of the rules.

Mark Lefebvre  44:27

Awesome, thank you. So we have less than a minute left. But I did want to pop this up from Ace Adams who asks, “Do you ever feel overwhelmed and wonder which project to pull out of the pile to work on?” And I guess maybe the question there is, do you ever feel overwhelmed and how do you deal with that? Like, how do you, what do you pull out first?

Robyn Peterman  44:45

Yes, I do feel overwhelmed and the first thing that I pull out is laundry, and the second thing … No, um, yeah, but like I said, I’m really lucky to get to do what I do and to be able to do it. Being overwhelmed is nothing new. It’s in my personality anyway. And then I will just make my lists and check stuff off. If I don’t get to everything, I don’t get to everything. I’ll get to it to the next day.

Mark Lefebvre  45:20

Awesome. Well, Robyn, you know what? Oh my god, that felt like two minutes. 

Robyn Peterman  45:26

It did, that went really fast.

Mark Lefebvre  45:27

I know that was a such a fantastic conversation. Thank you so much for such an entertaining time that we got to spend this afternoon and answering questions from folks. I guess, where can people find out more about you?

Robyn Peterman  45:39

They can go to robynpeterman.com. They can go to magicandmayhemuniverse.com. I’m on Facebook. I’m on Instagram, but I’m not. I had to pick my social media. So Facebook is probably the best. There’s an author page, a personal page. There you go.

Mark Lefebvre  45:57

Awesome. Thanks so much, Robyn. And thank you, dear listener, for tuning into Self-Publishing Insiders. This is Mark Leslie Lefevbre. I am the Director of Business Development for Draft2Digital. My privilege is I get to talk to wonderful folks like Robyn. And if you’re looking for more, feel free to subscribe to us over on our YouTube channel. You can follow us over on Facebook as well. And again, Robyn, thank you so much.

Robyn Peterman  46:23

Thank you for having me. And I want you to write my universe. I’m just putting it out there on social.

Mark Lefebvre  46:28

Oh my god, the honor continues and gets bigger and bigger. 

Robyn Peterman  46:30

We’re gonna talk.

Mark Lefebvre  46:32

Thanks Robyn, have a good afternoon.