Some of the greatest stories come from the world around us! Stephanie Chandler talks to us about the Nonfiction Authors Association and the supportive community for people whose books are rooted in the real world.
The Nonfiction Authors Association is a supportive community for writers to connect, exchange ideas, and learn how to write, publish, promote, and profit with nonfiction books. Learn more at https://nonfictionauthorsassociation.com
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Kevin Tumlinson 00:01
Hello world. Thanks for tuning in. Well, it’s good to see all of you again. Right now we’ve got zero viewers, but I promise more are coming, oh there they are. They’re starting to pop in right now. So hello everybody, thank you for tuning in live. This is Kevin Tumlinson with Draft2Digital. You are watching and/or listening to Self-Publishing Insiders. This is the live stream. You may be listening on the podcast, and if so welcome. But we have a very special guest. Somebody that I have, we were discussing this before the show Stephanie, but like we’ve passed in the night several times at different conferences and different events. I’ve always wanted to meet you, I’m a big fan of what you do and how you help the author community. But we’re talking to Stephanie Chandler about, among other things, her nonfiction author association, which I can’t wait to dive into. But first, welcome Stephanie, thank you for being a part of the show.
Stephanie Chandler 00:56
Kevin, it’s silly we haven’t met before this, but I’m so thrilled to be with you today.
Kevin Tumlinson 01:00
It’s crazy, how have we not? And I was actually on your, I don’t know if it’s considered a podcast, I don’t know what you consider that. But I was interviewed by Carla King, who is a very special friend of mine. I really like her a lot. And I’m grateful to her because she’s actually part of the reason that I keep coming back to San Francisco for that conference. She was part of the organization on that for a long while, so I get to be part of your world briefly. So thanks for that.
Stephanie Chandler 01:31
Yeah, the San Francisco Writers’ Conference is unlike any other, it’s a pretty special event. I’ve been going there for 10 plus years. I was on the planning committee for a long time, just this year I stepped down just because I have so much going on. But it’s a wonderful event.
Kevin Tumlinson 01:46
Yeah. And I’ve met so many incredible people at that conference. One thing I’ve noticed, and we don’t have to make this the San Francisco Writers’ Conference podcast. But one thing I’ve noticed about that conference is that it has shifted suddenly, over the past few years. I started going in 2017, and it was very heavily traditional. It’s still pretty traditional with like the agent speed dating and things like that. But what I noticed this year was that it was very heavily leaning towards indie publishing, like everyone I talked to was very excited about the prospects of that. Did you notice anything like that? Or is that even something you care to notice?
Stephanie Chandler 02:29
Absolutely. I mean, I get more enthusiastic seeing people more interested in self-publishing each year at that event. I mean, it’s getting harder and harder to traditionally publish. And people like me, I left traditional publishing because I hated the lack of control. So there’s lots of pros and cons on both sides. But I love seeing the trend towards self-publishing.
Kevin Tumlinson 02:54
Me too. Big fan. And of course, I would be, so I’m very biased in that. Real quick, I want to know who, those of you who are watching live, make sure you ask your questions in the comments, because we’ll get to those as we go through the show. If you’re listening to the podcast, you missed out on the live answers, but you can still ask in comments on YouTube and Facebook, and possibly even in some form of comment section on whatever podcast app you use. But just pop in and let us know what you got, and we’ll try to help you out. So Stephanie, primarily, we decided we would chat with you about the Nonfiction Authors Association. So why don’t you give me kind of a breakdown of what that is and what its origins are?
Stephanie Chandler 03:42
Yeah, I mean, it started Kevin because I was speaking at writers’ conferences, and I was frustrated by the lack of attention paid to nonfiction writers. So in 2010, we held our first three-day online conference. Dan Pointer was our opening keynote speaker that year. And he was such a wonderful mentor to so many people. And he said, online is going to be your thing, stay with it. And so we did this online conference, I had no idea if anyone would attend. Because 2010 was way before anybody was doing that. But they did, and each year people came back and they would say, how do we keep in touch when the conference is over? So I thought, why is nobody talking to nonfiction writers? We’re in a community all by ourselves. That led to the Nonfiction Authors Association launch in 2013. And we have been going and blowing ever since and I’m just super proud of this community and the authors that we serve.
Kevin Tumlinson 04:39
Yeah, it’s a proud community. I mean, I’m a sort of visceral part of that community. I’ve only got a couple of nonfiction, two or three nonfiction books. Why do you think it is that no one addresses the nonfiction crowd?
Stephanie Chandler 04:54
I honestly can’t figure it out. I mean, I’m grateful. It’s a wonderful opportunity for me because this is where my passion is. I mean, I left Silicon Valley in 2003 and opened a brick and mortar bookstore here in San Mateo. And thought I would write novels in the back office, because when you grow up wanting to write, that’s what you think you’re supposed to do, right? But I was a terrible fiction writer. And I fell in love with nonfiction because of the element of teaching, I’ve always wanted to teach. That’s what I set out to do in college, but I took this u-turn and ended up in Silicon Valley. So I love this blend of teaching. And I don’t understand why nobody’s talking to nonfiction writers, but I am so happy to be the shepherd for this community.
Kevin Tumlinson 05:35
That’s what they were waiting for actually, they were waiting for you. That’s a philosophy I actually have is that, when you look out into the world, and you see a gap, it’s probably shaped like you. So yeah, that is your space there, Stephanie. You claimed it.
Stephanie Chandler 05:55
And you pay attention, right Kevin, to the path, because I opened this bookstore, and honestly six weeks in I went, oh, my gosh, what have I done? A retail store is not nearly as romantic as it sounds, right? And then it turned out, I was terrible at writing fiction. And I thought, oh, my gosh, I’ve imploded my whole life, right? And then all these authors were coming in with their self-published books, and they were so poorly produced. And I thought, I’m going to help you. And I self-published my first book, and then I signed with an agent that I met at San Francisco Writers’ Conference. And we sold some books. And along the way, I sold that bookstore, and I realized nonfiction is just, I have so much heart, because a lot of people who are writing nonfiction want to make an impact in the world. They want to share their story and help others, they want to teach you something. So there’s a lot of mission behind nonfiction. So I’ve come to decide my mission is to help other people live their mission.
Kevin Tumlinson 06:49
That is glorious. I love that mission. I have a very similar mission, so I’m always happy to hear that. Do you still have the bookstore?
Stephanie Chandler 07:01
I sold the bookstore three years later, I was barely there. I put a staff in and disappeared and started consulting and publishing and all the other good stuff.
Kevin Tumlinson 07:10
Yeah, yeah. I think most authors make … I don’t know, you tell me. But I think secretly, we all want to own a bookstore. And we all have the idea wrong.
Stephanie Chandler 07:22
For sure. Don’t do it. I can just tell you, don’t do it. It’s, it was so much work. It’s so many headaches.
Kevin Tumlinson 07:27
I live in Austin. And there are so many authors here. This has become like a huge focal point for authors, especially indie authors. But there’s so many here and half of them have opened bookstores. And I just legitimately want to sit down and talk to him and ask them like, how’s it going?
Stephanie Chandler 07:49
Yeah, if you get them like in honest mode, they’re going to tell you it’s so much harder than you think it’s going to be.
Kevin Tumlinson 07:55
I bet. So alright, you go through all that. And you found this association. What makes something an association, by the way? Why not a different name for it?
Stephanie Chandler 08:07
I mean, I just liked that sense of community that creates, I guess, so that’s really … And it tied in nicely with … And by the way, Kevin, what are the odds that nonfictionwritersconference.com was available? Nonfictionauthorsassociation.com was available. Nonfictionbookawards.com was available. We have those as well. I mean, it was meant to be.
Kevin Tumlinson 08:33
Yeah, those little synchronicities and things, man, that’s how you know you’re on the right track. There’s a dream in your heart that fits the shape of that idea, and all the resources are available. I mean, that’s fantastic.
Stephanie Chandler 08:46
Yeah, I registered each domain for $9.
Kevin Tumlinson 08:49
Wow. I just paid a lot of money for a domain that I have had my eye on for a long time, so I can appreciate the beauty of buying it early and getting the one you want. So what are some of the perks of membership in the association?
Stephanie Chandler 09:09
So I really thought long and hard about membership perks, because of course, I’ve been a member of a million organizations over the years, and I wanted it to be really high in value. So first and foremost, we have so much content, educational content. We have legal agreements and templates that authors can use, we’ve got reports and checklists, and it goes on and on and on. One of the things people love most is every Friday, we send out media leads. So we have a list of media leads, primarily for podcasts and blogs looking for guest posts, and I hear from members all the time, they’re getting interviews from those media leads. They have to then take action, right? They have to pitch the podcast or the blog. We have a really wonderful members-only Facebook group. We have membership discounts also with partners. We should probably talk to Draft2Digital. But we have Lulu, Office Depot, Ingram Spark, Findaway Voices, and on and on.
Kevin Tumlinson 10:10
Why are we not in there? We don’t even charge anything. We should totally be in there.
Stephanie Chandler 10:13
Well, we recommend you guys. We certainly recommend you. So yeah, exactly. So we just have a ton of benefits. Members get discounts off the conference, off our master courses. So it’s such a powerful community. Oh, and our newest thing, which I love so much. Once a month, we are doing what we call the Author Brainstorm Exchange. We bring authors into Zoom, and we put them into Zoom breakout rooms in groups of six, and each person gets 10 minutes to share a question or challenge that they’re having and get feedback from the group. It’s like a mini mastermind, it is 100% free to members, and they are loving it. And they’re super, super fun to do.
Kevin Tumlinson 11:00
That is so so vital, by the way. One of the things that I love about conferences, and this past conference, I got to do this a couple of times. But like, I would just sort of hold court in the bar. And all these authors would come around and ask questions, and we could talk and share. I’d share what I knew, and then everyone else could kind of pipe up and share what they knew. And so any question that got asked got, you know, 20 different answers, but they were all relevant. So having an organized way to do that on a regular basis, that’s just gotta be huge for authors.
Stephanie Chandler 11:36
Yeah. And it’s amazing what some authors know that they don’t even realize they know, right? Because they’ve already done it, they’ve already been through editing, or they’ve already started their social media, or whatever it is. So I always say, you have something to contribute, whether you realize it or not.
Kevin Tumlinson 11:51
Yes, absolutely. And from the lowest level to the highest level, everyone’s got a little something to contribute. So what’s the, I don’t want to like pin you down and get you locked in on like prices and stuff if they tend to change or anything, but like what can an author expect to pay to be a part of the association?
Stephanie Chandler 12:11
No, that’s totally fair, our prices haven’t changed in a long time. So it’s $29 a month for authority membership, or $290 for the year. And that gives you all the things I just talked about. Then we also have a VIP level that’s $690 a year but they get free access to the conference, the recordings and transcripts, they get access to a special course, they get access to all of our author toolkits, which are incredible. So yeah, we have both levels.
Kevin Tumlinson 12:37
All that sounds like a bargain actually. That’s reasonable, $29 a month is, I think, in the range of what most authors could probably afford to pay. So that sounds very fair.
Stephanie Chandler 12:50
It is fair, and honestly in the discounts and things like that, really, it pays for itself.
Kevin Tumlinson 12:54
I should mention, by the way, that we’re not like sponsored by you or anything. So I’m under no obligation to promote that. But I actually think that that is quite fair for everything that you get. Because before the call, before we went live, you actually ran down a nice little list of past speakers at your conference. Do you want to share some of those?
Stephanie Chandler 13:19
Yeah, I mean, we’ve had Julia Cameron, Anna Quindlen, Gretchen Rubin, Seth Godin, Guy Kawasaki, Don Miguel Ruiz, Martha Beck, I mean, we’ve just had a phenomenal, we’ve been very fortunate.
Kevin Tumlinson 13:31
That’s like, one full bookshelf over to my left. That is really incredible.
Stephanie Chandler 13:38
They’re my favorite speakers, my favorite authors, I reach out and I ask, it’s that simple.
Kevin Tumlinson 13:43
Yeah. Well, there you go. I mean, that’s the best way, you’re paying attention to your audience. I think we did half this interview before the thing went live. So forgive me for bringing some of this up. And if we already covered it, remind me, but I can’t remember what happened before and after the red dot. So you brought on Carla King. I did want to mention her, because she is, like I said, I love her. And she’s been very responsible, I mentioned this on air, I’m sure, but very responsible for getting me involved with San Francisco Writers’ Conference in particular, but what is her role there? Like, what’s she doing with you?
Stephanie Chandler 14:29
So Carla King is our VP of Business Development. And I’m super thrilled to have her. I’ve known her for a decade as well, Kevin, she’s known for teaching self-publishing boot camps and things like that. And when I sat down to think about the help I needed, we have a good team we do a lot of customer support and things like that. I thought, I need somebody to do the stuff I’m procrastinating on. Because, you know, I’m the CEO and we’ve grown, and so she took over recording our podcast. I have been talking for years about, we need to be on YouTube. So now we finally have a YouTube channel, we’re streaming with StreamYard like you’re doing. So she’s moving us forward. She’s great with tech as well. And she and I share that, we both love technology. So it’s been a perfect mix. She’s also way more sociable than I am. I mean, I am a hardcore introvert. People don’t believe me, but it’s true. And she’s the opposite. She picks up the phone and calls people, she networks at conferences. And when I’m done with my session at the conference, I’m hiding in my room going, oh my gosh, too much people. We just complement each other really, really well.
Kevin Tumlinson 15:41
That’s good. It’s good to find partners, you know, it’s good to find at every level, no matter what you’re doing, it’s good to find people who resonate with you and can kind of fill in the gaps of what you’re doing. So, I had a question, and it just blew out of my head. But we’ll move on. I was trying to kind of keep it because I’m like, oh, that’s a good question. But anyway, so in terms of Carla, you know, I was recently on your show, I accidentally stumbled onto that, while I was searching. Someone asked me to make a pitch for speaking. And so I did, and they wanted links to stuff I’ve done recently, and I just did a quick search. And that was like the first result. So thank you for that. So in terms of nonfiction, one of the things that you and I did talk about was how the marketing for nonfiction, in your words, is actually a little easier than for fiction. Why is that?
Stephanie Chandler 16:38
Because you really step into the role of expert in your topic. And that’s true, by the way, for memoir writers as well. I know memoir writers say that doesn’t apply to me. But it does. It does, especially for focus on your marketing. I’m a big believer in carve out a niche for yourself, and figure out how are you going to serve your audience. So, you know, is it another general financial planning book? Or is it financial planning for single moms, or planning for kids’ college, or starting late in life? You know, if you can narrow your focus, it really does make the marketing for nonfiction so much easier, because you can be perceived as an expert and authority in your field and do interviews and get all kinds of attention.
Kevin Tumlinson 17:27
Yes, actually, speaking of areas, like I have a good friend who’s working on a nonfiction book who was a little stuck. And I had actually suggested, like, well why not just reach out to influencers in that subject, and ask them if they’ll do like a 10 or 20 question email interview? And so that was a way to dislodge and get his material and actually come up with content for the book. So free tip for people who are out there struggling with what to do.
Stephanie Chandler 18:00
Kevin, I gotta tell you, it’s funny that you said that, because I have done that for every book I have written, all the chapters always end with an interview. And I have done those as written interviews. I did it for my very first book, and people raved about the interviews. They love the real-life story. So it’s become a signature part of my books. And I love that. And who can’t fill out a written interview?
Kevin Tumlinson 18:25
Exactly. You can make it very easy. You know, he’s sending them a Word document. I’m like, I’ve done this before, I’ve done things like create a Google form that has the questions, you know, so that I don’t have to replicate work. And yeah, that stuff is really useful. So what is your like primary, this is the question I was trying to remember earlier. By the way, what’s your primary target, when you’re writing nonfiction? What do you typically write about?
Stephanie Chandler 18:53
Well, now it’s nonfiction authors, right? Nonfiction Book Publishing Plan was my last widely released book. I have a workbook that will be coming out soon, I’ve been using it to teach the Book Marketing Master Course. And I’ve just been kind of honestly procrastinating. But I don’t think there’s anything like it out there. I set out to hit 100 pages, and it ended up being like 230, or something like that. You know how that goes too. So, but I’m really proud of it. So that’ll be out soon. So mostly right now, I’m writing for my target audience. Because, as you probably also know, it’s really tricky to switch lanes. Certainly, I have other interests and topics I intend to touch on some day, but you know, that’s really creating a separate audience. And that’s a lot of work.
Kevin Tumlinson 19:45
Yes, yeah. Yeah. People don’t necessarily think about this, authors don’t necessarily think about it, but when you shift genres or shift topics, you essentially have to start from zero on the marketing. Not necessarily. There may be crossover. But you probably don’t have a well-refined mailing list and a platform that talks to that, you know, that people are looking for you more than they’re having to be found.
Stephanie Chandler 20:14
It’s so true. And I hear it over and over from authors, because, you know, we’re creative beings, right? And so we have multiple interests. And maybe you have a book on parenting and a memoir about your dog. And that’s all great. If you can merge them, wonderful. But if not, my advice is, pick a lane and focus on that, and then if you can add another, great. And you know, now today, there’s other options too, like we’re seeing really good results with Amazon ads for nonfiction. There’s other ways you can bring attention to a book. But if you really want to own your space and be seen as an expert in your field, I think it’s important to put all those key pieces into place.
Kevin Tumlinson 20:55
Yeah, I agree. So you bring up an interesting topic. Because most of the services that are out there for helping authors market and promote their books are aimed at fiction. So what are resources, and I know that you’re becoming a central resource in and of yourself, for that kind of thing, helping people connect, and you can talk a little bit about that. But, you know, what are ways that nonfiction authors can promote themselves?
Stephanie Chandler 21:27
Well, one of the things I recommend all the time, and you and I talked about this before we went live. Virtual assistants. I think every author needs a virtual assistant. I will tell you, no totally successful author does it all alone, right, we have help. So a virtual assistant, for those who aren’t familiar, is a contracted worker who does administrative tasks, right? So you can hire someone for as few as five hours a month, for $20, $30, $40 an hour, who maybe does your research to find the podcasts you want to be on and sends out your pitches and helps with your blog posts and your social media. So I’m a huge advocate of hiring help, whenever you can. And then a lot of those services, as you said, Kevin, are fiction-centric, but there is a place to be carved out in BookBub for nonfiction. Software I really like is Book Review Targeter. That’s a great tool. But mostly I push authors to go get a virtual assistant who has experience working with authors.
Kevin Tumlinson 22:30
Yeah, that is very good advice. It’s challenging, because there is a cost involved. And there’s management involved. But you know, you can start small. There are lots of VAs out there who will work for, you know, not a lot of money per hour, and even if you’re just getting three to five hours a week out of them for something, that can be a huge shift for you.
Stephanie Chandler 22:54
Completely. For a couple hundred dollars a month, to be able to deal with the stuff you’re procrastinating on and focus on the things you like to do and do well, to me that’s worth it. And you can also hire overseas talent as well, they tend to be a lot less. But if you want somebody who’s customer facing and things like that, you know, you’re going to pay more for that.
Kevin Tumlinson 23:15
I have slacked off on all that. But back in the days when I first read four-hour workweek, Tim Ferriss’s book, I’m like, oh yeah, there’s a whole list of virtual assistant services in there. And that’s what I was doing for a long time. But then I dialed back and maybe I shouldn’t have. Maybe that’s the secret. But you have some links to some of these resources and stuff as part of the association, right?
Stephanie Chandler 23:42
We do. So we have recommended resources on the site. And we have curated a list of virtual assistants who work with authors. And then we also now have a certification program. So we’re putting book coaches and assistants and things like that are taking our book marketing course, our publicity course, our book publishing course. And those folks are also listed in there. And they’ve passed tests to qualify to be listed in the directory.
Kevin Tumlinson 24:10
Good. Yeah. So these are all qualified leads. Not you know, they paid you and you put them in a list. That’s good. It’s hard to find … reliability is something that’s a challenge in this business. We talked about predatory services before the call. We talked about a lot before the call. We should have just shut up and held all that in. But I don’t know, have you had experiences having to deal with like these predatory services out there?
Stephanie Chandler 24:42
Absolutely. And I get asked about them constantly. Our members will forward emails saying, is this legitimate? And 9.5 times out of 10 it’s not legitimate. I get them as well, because as an author, I get voicemails. “We want to acquire your book,” and so yeah, it’s just really unfortunate. A quick Google search, please, if you get these offers, do a quick Google search. I’ve seen these issues with speakers too. I got one on LinkedIn this week. “Can you come to Germany and speak to 1000 people?” And it’s not legit. I’m not going to even respond.
Kevin Tumlinson 25:20
Yeah. I always kind of wonder, if I’m going to if I do that, am I going to come back with both kidneys? Or what’s going to be my cost there?
Stephanie Chandler 25:30
Well, the hitch is, oh, but you need to pay in advance. Yeah, no, it’s …
Kevin Tumlinson 25:34
Yeah, you can pretty much start spotting these things. I think a good rule of thumb is, if they ask for money immediately, then they’re probably a scam. Not all. But I mean, you wouldn’t go wrong by turning down like literally everyone who asked you to pay them before you saw any benefit.
Stephanie Chandler 25:53
Like literary agents, podcast interviews, like all that should be free. You should not be asked to pay for them.
Kevin Tumlinson 26:02
So are there are resources, when you’re part of the association, that kind of help educate you at least on that sort of thing?
Stephanie Chandler 26:08
For sure. Plus, we have the community on Facebook. So people will ask questions. “Have you worked with this provider? Who do you recommend for this?” And you know, word of mouth is always to me one of the best ways to get a recommendation as well. That works out really nicely.
Kevin Tumlinson 26:23
Yeah. Word of mouth is still the most economical of marketing.
Stephanie Chandler 26:30
And I think one of the most reliable, right? If you want to go to a restaurant, you ask your friend, what do you recommend? If you want to read a book, what are you reading? Right? Word of mouth is so key and getting raving fans, readers to talk about your books, I just did a little a little swerve on that topic. But yeah, getting readers to talk about your books is important too.
Kevin Tumlinson 26:52
Yeah. Real quick, I just want to remind everybody watching live, be sure to ask your questions in the comments. I’ve seen some interesting comments float by, but we’re here to answer questions. So if you got something for D2D, or you got something for our guest, Stephanie here, just pop it in the comments. And we’ll be happy to read and answer that on there. So yeah, you have a certification system. What all does that cover?
Stephanie Chandler 27:22
So last, I think it was the end of the prior year, we launched our first Book Marketing Master Course. And I created the course, it took me like a whole year to create that course, I wanted it to be really intensive course. And throughout that process, I thought, nobody is creating consistent practices in this industry for marketing, for publishing, for publicity. So I thought it was the perfect time to create a certification program. We have a lot of publishing industry pros in our community. And so people can either take the course by itself or the course with the certification. The certification program requires taking a quiz after each weekly module that are delivered live, by the way, and then passing with 80% or better. And then they get listed in our directory, they get a certification badge, we interview them, we give them lots of love. And it’s been going so well, because I was having a hard time recommending book consultants, you know, because I don’t know. I don’t know the advice they’re giving. And as you know, there’s lots of bad advice out there, too. So it gives me comfort to know that we are providing a consistent methodology for each of these, that we know people are delivering. And that’s been just super fun and very popular.
Kevin Tumlinson 28:52
And what I like about that, by the way, is again, I’m starting to get a bead on you, Stephanie. You saw an opening, you saw a gap out there, and you figured out how to fill it. And in this case, it was, there’s not very many reliable service providers for XYZ. And so you just created a system to make sure that these people were available. And they’re in your system. That’s beautiful.
Stephanie Chandler 29:23
Thank you. I mean, thank you. Just know that integrity is one of my core values. And so I think some of the stuff that’s out there right now, we talked about this briefly before we went live too, you know, there’s a lot of unsavory things happening in the publishing world and the advice that people are given, and so it really feels good to me that Carla King, by the way, teaches our publishing course, Joanne McCall teaches our publicity course, it actually starts next week. And I teach marketing. So it’s important to me that we’re creating some level of standards that aren’t shady snake oil tactics.
Kevin Tumlinson 30:04
The world definitely needs more of that. You know, you want to build the fiction version of that, too? We have a lot of people who could use that.
Stephanie Chandler 30:15
Well 90% of our stuff applies to fiction as well. And I would argue that fiction writers should be following the nonfiction model, because you should find a core topic or niche audience to carve out and get known for that and cultivate that community, and that’s what we do as nonfiction. So fiction writers could really learn a lot from the way nonfiction writers are approaching our own marketing.
Kevin Tumlinson 30:44
I absolutely agree with that. I’m a big advocate, I always have been a big advocate of the idea that you should be looking outside your box for inspiration, for information, you know, to educate yourself, because there’s a whole world of people who have figured out how to do certain things that would translate very easily over to the world of fiction writing and publishing. I saw it all the time. That was the whole point of the Wordslinger podcast. I was trying to make sure people knew that, you know, because the biggest thing for us is that entrepreneur world that’s out there, the internet entrepreneur and the hustle crowd, the stuff they’re doing is easily applicable to our world, both fiction and nonfiction.
Stephanie Chandler 31:30
Yeah, the hustle culture is really getting out of control, too. And, yeah, we could have a whole other conversation about that. But it doesn’t have to be that hard. Is marketing books hard? Yes. Is selling them hard? Yes. And I’ll say that every day all day, because I want people to understand the realistic challenges that lie ahead. But you know, I like to think of it as gardening, Kevin. So I hate gardening. I hate it. But I do it. Because I like the end result, I like to have a really pretty yard to spend time in. And some people feel that way about marketing, right? It’s like the last thing they want to do. But you know, if I walk out into my garden and plant three seeds every day, over time that garden grows. And if you do that with your book marketing, and you plant three seeds every day, you pitch yourself to a podcast, you write a blog post, you record an interview. That adds up with time. And that doesn’t need to, you know, and by the way, none of us have eight hours a day to focus on marketing. Most indie authors have day jobs, right?
Kevin Tumlinson 32:37
Well, and I think I think people put too much stress on themselves about that sort of thing. It’s just like you said, I mean, if you committed to just, I’m gonna do three things this week that are meant to promote my books, that will have a huge impact. So we got a couple of things I wanted to pop up. First of all, Andy Jones, who is just a wonderful human being in and of himself. He says, all of us do own a bookstore. This was referring to our bookstore comment earlier. All of us do own a bookstore of mostly digital and audio books, we just don’t sell our books. So hey, speak for yourself, man. And this is one of my crew, Jim Azevedo. You know Jim, he absolutely tried to hunt you down at the … “If you’re considering a celebrity interview, not huge, but still famous, is it best to target their publicists or agents or attempt to go directly to the person?”
Stephanie Chandler 33:36
Great question, Jim. And the answer really is all of the above. So you know, I mentioned a bunch of big name authors we’ve had at the conference every year. And usually, I start out trying to find contact information through their website, through LinkedIn. I might DM them through their social media, a lot of times they read their own DMs. This past year, we had Anna Quindlen, I really, really wanted Anna Quindlen and I went to her publisher. There’s nowhere anywhere to contact her anywhere, and I knew she wasn’t doing her own social media. So I contacted the publisher, and said, hey, we have this event. We’d love to have her speak, we’ll donate some books to attendees. And, you know, that got attention. So that’s another thing, if you can throw in a little added incentive.
Kevin Tumlinson 34:23
I was gonna say, you need to always approach the, I’ve interviewed some really big names in my career, and all of them came to me that way. You know, it was the, what can I offer them? If you go in with that attitude, your chances of success are much higher.
Stephanie Chandler 34:39
Yeah, we ended up buying I think 150 copies of her book and giving them to the first 150 people who registered for the conference. And we worked with a local bookstore to ship them out. So it was a win for everybody all around, and such a fun experience.
Kevin Tumlinson 34:55
Yeah, yeah. I love when those come together. It’s always great to get those guests, you know. But I think people underestimate how much of a kick those folks can sometimes get out of these appearances too. Has that been your experience?
Stephanie Chandler 35:15
Yes, I mean, Anna Quindlen. So here she is. She’s a Pulitzer Prize winning author. And I never know what to expect. I had no conversation with her prior. And we did it as an interview for the opening session. And sometimes these big authors are kind of cold or blocked or, you know, just hard to connect with. She could not have been warmer or kinder. She was self-deprecating, she was honest. So you know, I appreciate that authenticity. And you really never know what you’re gonna get. Because let me tell you, we’ve had some speakers that were challenging as well. But I so appreciate, especially the well-known writers who’ve done the work that we’re all trying to do, and to come along and be humble and kind is really awesome.
Kevin Tumlinson 36:08
I’m a challenging speaker. I demand a trailer, M&Ms. Green M&Ms only. That’s the standard cliche diva thing there, is the green M&Ms. I made that joke earlier today. So yeah, so that’s actually, we bring that up. But that’s actually probably something we should bring up. Because if you’re a nonfiction author in particular, chances are you’re going to be doing PR, you’re going to be going on podcasts and maybe even bigger media. Like do you guys offer any sort of coaching for media appearances or anything like that?
Stephanie Chandler 36:44
So I’m glad you asked that. Actually, after this interview, we have a webinar at noon Pacific on how to locate media contacts. This is all in part to tie in with the course, it’s our six week book publicity course. But yeah, it’s that database of content, Kevin. We have recordings, we have templates, media tips, media training, all kinds of resources available.
Kevin Tumlinson 37:13
At some point, maybe you and I can talk about this later. But at some point, I have thought about this for a long time, I would like to do some kind of content or a talk or something around how to be a good interview. Because I’ve interviewed thousands of people at this point, you know, and some of them have been great, and some have not. And I’ve got my own take on what that looks like. Do you have like, what are suggestions you might have for how to be good in an interview? You’re doing great here.
Stephanie Chandler 37:44
Well, thank you. And I love the topic because I also did podcast interviews for our program for years until Carla took it over. I think that you should match the pace of your host and it should be a back and forth. It should be a game of volleyball and you’re passing the ball back and forth and keeping it real. Not overpreparing. I’ve had people read answers on these interviews. But you don’t want to be underprepared either, you want to have your talking points down. So you know, I think practice. That’s what I tell new authors, say yes to everything, even a podcast with two listeners. Because if you don’t have that experience, it takes time to get comfortable. I used to be awful on camera, Kevin, I looked like a deer in headlights. And I have a friend, I have a longtime friend, a business owner locally. And he sent me a webcam, a Logitech webcam, like six years ago with a note that said, if I have to do it, so do you. So it’s like, dang it. Carl’s gonna make me get over my fear of the camera. And sure enough, you know, and then the pandemic happened. We were already doing Zoom and running our conference with it and all of that. But I mean, everyone had to get comfortable on camera.
Kevin Tumlinson 39:06
Yeah, there’s a nonfiction title for you. Then the Pandemic Happened. I was going to, for a while there, early in the pandemic, I was going to start taking photos of the various signs that people were taping to their doors of their businesses, and I was going to do a photo book called Signs of the Apocalypse. So those are great. This is all great by the way. I have a particular love for, I think most … actually, I’m not gonna say, I’m not gonna speak for all authors on this. Maybe this is just folks like you and me. We have a weird passion for nonfiction. What’s the sort of most popular nonfiction that you see come through your group? Like is it mostly memoirs or are people going on deep dives on specific topics?
Stephanie Chandler 40:05
Yeah, when we do surveys, off the top of my head, our most popular genres are self-help, self-development, health and wellness, business. And did I say spiritual? I would say those are the top five. And then of course, we’ve got science and history and textbooks and cookbooks, outlying things like that. But those are probably our most popular genres.
Kevin Tumlinson 40:30
Do you know what does better in the marketplace?
Stephanie Chandler 40:34
Not off the top of my head, and it keeps changing. But did you know nonfiction outsells fiction every year?
Kevin Tumlinson 40:40
I can believe it. I can absolutely believe it.
Stephanie Chandler 40:43
There’s such a wide variety of topics. And you know, yet again, why is nobody talking to this audience?
Kevin Tumlinson 40:47
Well, it’s much broader than people probably suspect. I mean, you know, for example, because I have engaged recently in on this topic, Jack Canfield’s Chicken Soup for the Soul books are nonfiction. Right? But they’re, like, inspirational, possibly spiritual, but he’s got them divided up among topics. Like, that’s a much bigger category than people suspect, you know? But you don’t necessarily think of that when you think of nonfiction. You think of Walter Isaacson, you know? Or at least I do, I think of the biographies and autobiographies and that sort of stuff, mostly, and self-help.
Stephanie Chandler 41:32
And I think you’re seeing the type of people that we attract because of that. When we do our member surveys every couple of years, I’m always astounded by the percentage of people with advanced degrees. I mean, it’s like 60%, it’s so high. So we have therapists and executives and physicians and attorneys and consultants and speakers. And it’s really incredible. And then memoir tends to be people, often, who wait until they’re retired to write, because they finally have the time, which I totally get. Someday I would like to write one as well. So it’s just, and a lot of those are professionals, and then some of them aren’t, and that’s great. But it just fascinates me because when I want to learn something new, I go look for a book. That’s how I run my entire life, is find the book on how to do it. And then if the book doesn’t exist, that goes on the list of well, I better figure that out, and then write that book.
Kevin Tumlinson 42:32
See, this is what I’m telling you. This is your pattern. There’s a gap there, I better fill it.
Stephanie Chandler 42:40
And really, yeah, that is how I have taken this.
Kevin Tumlinson 42:43
But that is exactly what people should do. You should look for the gap and fill it. That’s how you, you’re meeting a need, especially if there’s a demand for it. When you were looking around, how did you determine that there was a demand for something oriented on nonfiction authors?
Stephanie Chandler 43:01
I think because I was, so at the time, I was running a meetup group in Sacramento called the Sacramento Speakers Network. So I started that group because I just wanted to network with other speakers. And we were three people in a Starbucks. And then the next month, we were five, and the next month, we were 10. We ended up being the largest business meetup in Sacramento. And we had, it was like over 2000 members, we were getting 100 people at our monthly meetings. And I realized, these are all local professionals. And a lot of them were asking me how to write their books. And I didn’t have a resource to send them to, because every writer’s group is fiction-centric, and I would hear that complaint over and over. And I would go to our local writers’ groups and be like, I don’t fit here. These aren’t my people, specifically writing the nonfiction.
Kevin Tumlinson 43:52
Can I just say, I hate to say it, and I apologize to everyone who has a novel writing group out there. But I find them to be the most useless thing for me to be a part of. I mean, there’s a kind of encouragement that happens. But then when you hand over your work, the critiques you’re getting are from people who haven’t actually published or anything, so there’s a kind of, I don’t know … I think they’re great if you are meeting up to do anything but talk about your specific work. If you just want to encourage each other to write, that’s a great exercise.
Stephanie Chandler 44:28
That’s a good point. I’ve never been in that situation. I did have a writing critique group at my bookstore, which is how I discovered I was a horrible fiction writer, but it was mostly because other people would read their work and I would think, oh my gosh, it’s so much better than mine.
Kevin Tumlinson 44:45
Alright, I’m gonna pop this comment from Lexi up, also one of my crew. “Fiction is bought by fiction readers, but nonfiction can target people who don’t even consider themselves readers.” Also, the overlap between nonfiction and fiction readers, fiction readers will likely read nonfiction as well. But you know, you’ve got a nice crossover there. But if you love nonfiction, you may not read fiction at all. But I know plenty of fiction readers who will read nonfiction.
Stephanie Chandler 45:19
Absolutely. And Jim Azevedo may be able to speak to this, but I just … In fact, I just pulled up the data on this recently that Smashwords did a survey about book pricing, or did their research and published a report on price sensitivity with fiction buyers are expecting lower prices compared to nonfiction buyers where the sweet spot I think was like $5.99 to $7.99 for nonfiction. So people are paying because there’s a perceived value, and they’re interested in the topic, where fiction readers tend to consume high volumes and therefore expect a lower price so they can get more books.
Kevin Tumlinson 46:01
Yeah, I can attest to that. So, okay, we’re at the end, unfortunately Stephanie. It was wonderful to chat with you. And I’m glad we finally finally got a chance to connect. Maybe next time, we’ll do it in three dimensions.
Stephanie Chandler 46:19
Oh, I’d love it. That would be great, Kevin. I’m so glad to finally meet you. This was really, really fun.
Kevin Tumlinson 46:24
Well, for everyone who is interested in finding out more about you and what you’re doing, they can visit nonfictionauthorsassociation.com. Is that right? You need a short version of that. Like NAA? We’ll work on that. We’ll work on that. Nonfictionauthorsassociation.com, where they can track you down, find out your resources, that sort of thing. Anything else they need to know when they’re popping in there?
Stephanie Chandler 46:55
Everything’s there, our upcoming events, courses, membership, all that stuff. And the Recommended Resources area is really popular.
Kevin Tumlinson 47:04
I’m sad to say I’m not yet a member. But I think that’s going to change by the end of the afternoon. So we’ll take a look. All right, everybody, because frankly, I never think of myself as a nonfiction author. That’s I think the problem. But that’s part of my life, too. So everyone, thank you for tuning in to Self-Publishing Insiders live. Make sure that you’re bookmarking us at D2Dlive.com. That’s where you’ll find a little countdown to each week’s episode. We do have a brand new live stream every single week, sometimes we throw in a webinar. But there’s also other live stuff that we will push there. So make sure you’re on there, you can find an archive of past episodes. And we’ve got a brand new thing that we’re kind of pushing. If you want some industry insights, we’ve got D2D.tips/insight. That’s our list of blog posts and webinars and other things that we think are just absolutely essential 101 stuff for indie authors of all types. Mostly fiction, I’ll tell you. No, I’m just kidding. It’s actually just aimed at indie authors in general. So you can go check that out. Make sure that you bookmark that, because we are adding new stuff all the time. No, that’s the insights, I’ve completely messed that up. That is the Industry insights, tells you how the industry is going. The thing that I was actually trying to promote was D2D.tips/essentials. And they’re gonna give me a hard time about this when I get out of the show. But that’s where you can find lots of stuff about all that, all those blog posts and everything that we were just talking about. So I’ve corrected myself and now we’ll move on. But Stephanie, thank you so much for being a part of Self-Publishing Insiders.
Stephanie Chandler 48:46
Thank you, Kevin. This was a great day and time flew by, I really appreciate it. Hope to talk to you soon.
Kevin Tumlinson 48:51
Yes, we will talk again soon. So thanks everybody for tuning in. And we’ll see you all next time.