Episode 16 – Crowd Funding and Audience Engagement with Natasha Bajema

Mark interviews Natasha Bajema, a fiction author who lives in Washington, D.C. and has been an expert on national security issues for over 18 years, specializing in weapons of mass destruction (WMD), nuclear proliferation, terrorism and emerging technologies.

In the introduction, Mark takes a couple of minutes go off on a rant about how much time and energy authors waste worrying about Amazon’s latest “scandal.”

Mark then dips into the commonly used analogy of KDP Select’s exclusivity program as being like the “abusive boyfriend” that authors continue to return back to based on the ebbs and flows of their rocky relationship with the massive online bookstore. But, after examining that analogy, which he has been guilty of cheekily referencing over the years, he suggests that they, perhaps, aren’t like that at all, and digs into another analogy for what he feels is more likely the case.

The Terrible Tongue Twister segment (AKA “Twisting by the Fool” is sponsored by Findaway Voices, who provide all the tools that an independent author or small publisher needs in order to get into the digital audiobook market.

Check them out at

In the interview, Mark and Natasha discuss:

  • Natasha’s background working for the United States Department of Defense in National Security for 18 years, specializing in Weapons of Mass Destruction and how recent research into emerging technologies has inspired some of the concepts in her new trilogy
  • The original nuclear conspiracy trilogy she had originally been working on before she followed a whim to pursue the ideas behind the novel Bionic Bug
  • The challenge that a new writer faces when attempting to build up their audience and how Natasha faced that fear of “publishing to crickets” by engaging in crowd funding
  • Nanowrimo and the roll it has played in her life as a writer
  • The conversation Natasha had with Mark at the Smarter Artist Summit in Austin in the spring of 2017, and how that chat played a role in the turning point she was stuck at
  • The Kickstarter Project that Natasha launched and her reasoning behind it
  • The decision behind various rewards offered, including the “uber” limited edition idea Natasha was inspired about from listening to Joanna Penn’s The Creative Penn podcast
  • Where in her life as a full-time employee she finds/makes the time to write (which works out to about 10 hours per week)
  • The book launch party at Wicked Bloom (an actual setting from a scene early in BIONIC BUG) taking place on April 18th and how she is dealing with that as an introvert

  • Why Natasha is publishing the book, as part of a soft launch strategy, only on Kobo and the five-star reviews the book has already received there
  • Why Natasha is going to wait much longer before releasing the books on Amazon
  • The difficulty putting aside a huge passion project Natasha had been investing in (at least emotionally) since 2010 in order to pursue the BIONIC BUG trilogy (The Lara Kingsley Series)
  • The importance of patience and discipline in Natasha’s long-term strategy as an author, and the family traits that she believes she inherited
  • Natasha’s passion with the intersection of what is technologically possible and what society will accept and adopt (such as wondering whether or not Americans will ever accept a technology like self-driving cars)
  • The love Natasha has for the works of Michael Crichton and similar styled techno-thrillers that rely on speculation about near real-time science and technology
  • Natasha’s new podcast where she will be talking about emerging technologies similar to the things that she likes to write about and then include an excerpt from her novel as well as insights into the inspiration behind the writing of that chapter








After the interview, Mark reflects on the importance of the investment that Natasha made into every single decision as she gathered information for her publishing journey and the choices she made related to not looking for short-term gain, but, instead, with a focus on the long-term strategy.

He reflects on how this speaks directly to advice he admires from an author friend, James A. Owen, and shares a short audio clip from James’ Drawing Out The Dragons book that further illustrates this point, which is:

“Never, ever, sacrifice what you want the most, for what you want the most at that moment.”

– James A. Owen

Mark speculates that Natasha’s diligence and patience are going to lead to a greater long term success as an author and applauds her for taking this important and difficult long-term view.

Links of Interest:

Natasha Bajema is a fiction author and lives in Washington, D.C. with her two dogs, Malachi and Charlie. She has been an expert on national security issues for over 18 years, specializing in weapons of mass destruction (WMD), nuclear proliferation, terrorism and emerging technologies. She works for the National Defense University where she teaches an elective course to senior military officers on WMD and film and leads a research project on the impact of emerging technologies on WMD. Her past work experience includes extended assignments in the Pentagon, the Department of Energy and the United Nations. Her publications include two co-edited volumes entitled Terrorism and Counterterrorism and Weapons of Mass Destruction and Terrorism, both of which were published by McGraw Hill. Natasha holds an M.A. in international policy from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies and a Ph.D. in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

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

RSS options for this podcast: Mark Leslie at Libsyn or Feedburner

5 thoughts on “Episode 16 – Crowd Funding and Audience Engagement with Natasha Bajema”

  1. I am pursuing a similar strategy, in that although i’m wide on all platforms (2 books so far) I’m not doing any paid promotion or launch activity until i have 5 or 6 books up. I hope to get some modest sales and start building a list from organic content marketing as i go along, but I figure its better to wait until decent earn through is possible before hitting the big red button

    1. That’s great, Pete. Thanks for sharing, and do let me know how it goes! I like the organic build of readers while you prep for the “lots of stock / lots of back-list” push. It allows you a bit of the best of both worlds.

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