Episode 313 – Pioneering In Digital Indie Publishing with Peter M. Ball

Mark interviews author, publisher and RPG gamer Peter M. Ball who has been engaged in experimental and digital publishing since the very beginning of its appearance in the book industry.

Prior to the interview, Mark shares a word about this episode’s sponsor.

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

In the interview, Mark and Peter talk about:

  • Peter being a night owl who is most comfortable starting to write at about 10 PM at night and working through the night
  • How, through necessity with a regular life schedule, Peter will get the writing done first thing in the morning
  • Peter having wanted to be a writer since he was quite young
  • The way that most of the work he has taken on in his life has been somehow affiliated with the writing world
  • Describing the Gold Coast of Australia as Miami with slightly less charm
  • The undergraduate degree focus which mostly avoided genre fiction
  • How you can never escape poetry once you’ve done it, even years later being introgued as “Peter the Poet”
  • How in the early 2000s Dungeons and Dragons open-sourced their rules, allowing people to provide material within their realm
  • Getting involved in DriveThruFiction back in 2005
  • The hunger for content that came out in that time period
  • How changes in the RPG industry that happened were later echoed a few years later in the eBook fiction publishing space
  • The issues Peter recognized in 2006 in creating role playing game material where somebody else held the licensce for it
  • Challenges of submitting fiction to markets from a country like Australia
  • Spending six weeks at an Australian branch of the Clarion Writers Workshop and how that dramatically changed the perspective forced on him from his university education
  • Continuing to submit his fiction to the traditional markets but paying attention to what was going on in the self-publishing, digital publishing, and indie publishing space
  • Launching Brain Jar Press in 2017 largely as a vehicle for publishing his backlist
  • Why cutting your teeth in short fiction can be great
  • Having a plan to indie publish his own books for about ten years, make all the mistake on his own books, rather than someone elses, and getting solid learning and experience from it to benefit his press
  • Working with Kathleen Jennings on a poetry collection right at about the time her first book with Tor went huge
  • The idea for a series of short chapbooks with four or five essays per writer in order to bring these remarkable articles the authors had already written back into availability
  • Borrowing the cultural capital of all the people they’re publishing so that they can grow and eventually launch new writers
  • How Peter fell in love with print quite accidentally
  • The requirement of having to have an online store for the press
  • The joke that it’s cheaper to get things to Narnia than it is to get them to Australia
  • The thought exercise Peter does regarding how many books he has to sell to make it to $100
  • Understanding the market base that you’re likely selling to as a small specialized indie press
  • Peter’s impatience for just replicating what midlist are publishing is doing in the face of such wonderful, free, and dynamic digital tools when one can be breaking the model, expanding, and forming new ideas and new products
  • ether Peter has been doing much of his own writing since launching Brain Jar Press 2.0
  • The flash fiction writing Peter has been able to do during a few 8 minute breaks at work
  • What Peter is most optimistic about with what’s happening in the publishing world now
  • And more…

After the interview Mark reflects on Peter working in publishing and writing related realms, the value of connecting with others in the industry, and Peter’s thirst for innovation and experimentation within digital publishing.

Links of Interest:

Peter M. Ball is an author, publisher, and RPG gamer whose love of speculative fiction emerged after exposure to The Hobbit, Star Wars, David Lynch’s Dune, and far too many games of Dungeons and Dragons before the age of 7. He’s spent the bulk of his life working as a creative writing tutor, with brief stints as a performance poet, gaming convention organiser, online content developer, non-profit arts manager, and d20 RPG publisher.

Peter’s three biggest passions are fiction, gaming, and honing the way aspiring writers think about the business and craft of writing, which led to a five-year period working for Queensland Writers Centre as manager of the Australian Writers Marketplace and convenor of the GenreCon writing conference. He is now pursuing a PhD in Writing at the University of Queensland, exploring the poetics of series fiction and their response to emerging publishing technologies.

He’s the author of the Miriam Aster series and the Keith Murphy Urban Fantasy Thrillers, three short story collections, and more stories, articles, poems, and RPG material than he’d care to count. He’s one-half of Brain Jar Press with his partner, Sarah, publishes his own work under the Eclectic Projects imprint, and resides in Brisbane, Australia, with his wife and two very affectionate cats.

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

2 thoughts on “Episode 313 – Pioneering In Digital Indie Publishing with Peter M. Ball”

  1. Your announcement you’re backing away from Twitter had me a little dizzy at first. With so much happening on the platform I’m beginning to see people I want to communicate with disappear at an accelerating rate.

    I admit this had the look of one of those episodes where I didn’t know what I’d get out of it. Instead, you gave us an incredible talk about keeping our eyes and options open even as the landscape is in a constant state of change. Very encouraging.

    1. Thanks Edwin. I’ve been on Twitter since the earliest days, prior to smart phones. I’ve always enjoyed it. My comment about Twitter was more related to two things worrying me. Not being able to actually SEE things there any longer (due to the throttling back of how many tweets one can view without having to pay), and whatever else might happen to the platform. Heck, the way things are going I’m not sure I’ll be able to maintain an account there without having to pay an exorbitant amount of money. Also, I recently upgraded to the new Tweetdeck (which is a much crappier version than the one I’d been using for years – and I’ve lost more of my visibility on Twitter to the things I’ve enjoyed following/watching there.

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