Episode Summary

The mastermind behind the Author Alchemy Summit, Jessie Kwak, joins us for a deep dive into the importance of finding a supportive author community.

Episode Notes

Jessie Kwak is an author, business book ghostwriter, and the mastermind behind the Author Alchemy Summit in Portland, Oregon. In this episode we dive deep into why having a supportive author community is one of the most powerful things an author can cultivate. 

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Kevin Tumlinson [00:00:01]:

You just tuned in to the hippest way to start and grow your indie author career. Learn the ins, the outs, and all the all arounds of self publishing with the team from D2D and their industry influencing guests. You’re listening to self publishing the insiders with Draft2Digital. Well, hello, everybody out there in Internet land. Welcome to everyone watching on YouTube in Facebook. And if you happen to be listening to this after the fact, welcome from whatever your favorite podcast platform happens to be, And we’re glad you’re here. Today’s guest, this is a good follow on from last week’s show, actually. We’re talking with Jessie Kwak, who’s an author, a business book ghostwriter, and the mastermind find something we’re gonna be discussing today, which is the author alchemy summit coming up in Portland, Oregon.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:00:51]:

So welcome to the show, Jessie.

Jessie Kwak [00:00:53]:

Thanks for having me. This is fun.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:00:55]:

Yeah. We always enjoy I mean, I love talking to people who organize conferences because you guys have, like, a special, like, hardened soul. Because, you know, being an author is tough enough, but going through the whole process of putting together a conference and making it go off without a hitch is, it’s an admirable quality, and I don’t want it. I don’t wanna do it. So

Jessie Kwak [00:01:20]:

Yeah. It’s definitely it’s a complete different set of skills than, I’m used to. So it’s it’s been a good learning experience. This is gonna be the 1st year for the summer.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:01:30]:

This is your 1st year. Okay. Yeah. That that explains why you you’re still, like, You know? You still have that look of freshness about you. You’re not dragging. You’re not you’re not holding anybody at gunpoint or anything yet.

Jessie Kwak [00:01:43]:

Yeah. Let’s see what they look like in February. We’ll find out.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:01:46]:

Yes. Yeah. It’s always after after the conferencing. So you’re either you’re gonna follow 1 or 2 camps. You’re either gonna be like, that was that was hard, but I can’t wait for next year. We’re already planning next year, or that was impossible, and I’m never doing that again.

Jessie Kwak [00:02:01]:


Kevin Tumlinson [00:02:02]:

Those are the 2 people I come across most. So let’s let’s let’s open up a let’s talk about your writing. What sort of books do you actually write?

Jessie Kwak [00:02:12]:

Yeah. So I write, fiction and nonfiction and then ghostwrite business books. So my fiction is, science fiction, kind of space shenanigans, lots of adventure shoot them up sort of stuff. And then My nonfiction, I write books about kind of creativity and productivity in the writing process, that are kind of aimed at At writers and artists and people who are trying to make more time for their art but have more of, like, that creative brain as opposed to, like, The business Yeah. You know, the kind of business productivity books that are out there. Yeah. And then, yeah, I also go straight business books, Which are mostly for kind of thought leaders and coaches and consultants and that sort of thing. So it’s a wide range of Writing.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:02:59]:

Yeah. You cover the whole spread. Yeah. Ghost writing is one of the thing. I’ve done some ghost writing in my career. It’s kinda fascinating in a way because you’re, I don’t know. You’re you’re still engaging that part of you, the author part of you, but there’s something about it because you know that you’re you’re speaking someone else’s words. You know? Yeah.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:03:19]:

What’s been your experience with that?

Jessie Kwak [00:03:22]:

I love it, and I I think it’s really It’s really interesting to work with one of my clients and help them kinda shape their ideas and Come up with, I I guess I’ve worked with everyone from, like you know, somebody’s come with to me with an outline of Exactly what they wanna say and what’s gonna be in every chapter. And then, you know, the current project I’m working on right now is a guy with just a really cool story and philosophy, But I’m helping him shape that from the very beginning of, like, okay. Here’s what the book will look like. Yeah. And it’s It’s just a really fun collaborative process. I love interviewing. I love teasing out people’s stories. So it’s Yeah.

Jessie Kwak [00:04:08]:

It’s enjoyable.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:04:10]:

Yeah. Yeah. Does that is that your your secret sauce as you interview and then, Yeah. Everyone has kind of a different method when it comes to stuff. Like, I interview too. I, you know, I do basically, I do what we’re doing here. Like, I just, about 10 or 20 times over the course of a couple of months, I sit down and you know? So tell me tell me your story.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:04:31]:

You know? We agreed to, like, an outline or something, and then we run. But, yeah, that’s the fun part of the process. So, But this is and all this stuff is fascinating. I’m sure we could talk about this and we can, some more. But the topic of today is one that I think A lot of our authors are very interested in, because they hear about this kind of thing all the time, but the art of building author community. What let’s start with that. Like, what what is it when you say author community, what do you mean specifically?

Jessie Kwak [00:05:04]:

I mean Kind of the your colleagues who will be there, to help promote your books, to be there at your shoulder to cry on when your books aren’t doing well or when the writing process is going poorly. Right. Every Everyone just kind of who is in your network Yeah. I so I’ve been a freelance writer for Over 10 years now, and I learned very, very quickly that networking was the best way to build my business. You know, it all came from referrals, and it came from people I met at networking events and things like that. And as I transitioned more of my business to Writing fiction, I quickly realized the same thing. Like, you know, newsletter swaps and people boosting you on social media, like, that’s That is what’s gonna help you sell books. Yeah.

Jessie Kwak [00:05:57]:

But then as you’re writing the books and you need to be like, oh my gosh. This isn’t working. Like, You need those people that you can have that group text of like, oh my gosh. My character’s going off the rails or Yeah. Or whatever it is. Like, they’re the people that sustain you when things aren’t going well and can celebrate when things are going well. And, yeah, it’s just been a really vital part of My journey for sure.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:06:19]:

I imagine because, you know, being this whole writer business is such a lonely, endeavor sometimes. You know? And I did this whole thing about writing with the door open, recently, and and people really resonated with that. I thought I was Pitching something everyone was going to resist, but that idea of, you know, right where the where life is happening. You know? So having people as part of a community you can turn to, I That seems invaluable to me. Like so where do you where do you start with building that?

Jessie Kwak [00:06:50]:

I think I let’s see. Online definitely helps. I mean, I’m already as I’m kinda looking at the comments on the side, people are Having little conversations. Like, that’s where I think a lot of my very first writing community folks came from was online groups that I was part of. When I started, excuse me, started doing more you know, trying to go to conferences and local events and meeting people that way. And as we moved to Portland, Oregon about, I guess, 7 years ago now, 8 years ago, and the Portland writing community has been incredibly welcoming. I actually the 1st people I met was because, like you said, kinda writing in public places. I was Writing in a coffee shop, and somebody walked behind me and was like, hey.

Jessie Kwak [00:07:42]:

You’re using Scrivener. Are you a writer? Are you writing fiction? And I was like, Yes. I am. And he said, oh, well, I do this regular write in at a local library every, you know, 1st Saturday of every month, you should come. And so I went and, like, met met some amazing people, one of whom I had dinner with last night. And I was like, man, I’ve known you for 7 years because purely because Yeah. This guy walked behind me and was like, hey. You’re using Scrivener.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:08:07]:

Yeah. It’s amazing how often that happens. I know a story from, one of our people, good friend of mine, Nick Thacker here, that’s how he met Kevin Eikenberry, was in a coffee shop in Colorado Springs and just saw that he was using Scrivener. Like, Scrivener is a great icebreaker for authors.

Jessie Kwak [00:08:23]:


Kevin Tumlinson [00:08:23]:

Like, because you recognize it. I mean, you instantly know, oh, that’s Scrivener. I know out. And then, that gives you a total opening to interrupt their writing and, and talk to them for a bit. So what There’s You Go ahead.

Jessie Kwak [00:08:36]:

Oh, there’s nothing that writers want more than to be interrupted so we don’t have to write, so we can talk to somebody about writing.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:08:42]:

Yeah. It is true. And I’m gonna say I’m just gonna go out on a limb and say We wouldn’t be out writing in public if we weren’t hoping that somebody would interrupt us.

Jessie Kwak [00:08:51]:


Kevin Tumlinson [00:08:53]:

So for at least a bit. So me. You, you mentioned online communities. What’s what sort of, groups and communities have you been a part of?

Jessie Kwak [00:09:05]:

Early on, I joined a group. I think it was called Critters. Oh, wow. I don’t even know if they’re still around, but they it was kind of an online critique group where you could submit things, then then you could, You know, critique other people’s things and kinda get to know people that way. Yeah. And then—

Kevin Tumlinson [00:09:24]:

I get it now. Creators, I can get it. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yep. Yeah. Facebook groups.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:09:29]:


Jessie Kwak [00:09:29]:

Yeah. So I think those are the the first two places that I really started meeting people, and Twitter, rest in peace.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:09:35]:

Whatever’s happening. I mean, you know, in comics, In old comics, if if someone died, they their eyes were replaced with x’s. Just gonna point that out there. So, Facebook groups, are there any Facebook groups that you’re actively a part of now that you would recommend people?

Jessie Kwak [00:09:55]:

I actually am not really on Facebook a lot these days. Yeah. I’ve Kind of moved more towards Instagram and but, yeah, I guess you don’t have the same group vibe there, but the, you know, following different hashtags or following people that I other writers that are suggested to me and then kind of starting to creep into their comments and meeting people that way.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:10:16]:

Yeah. Yeah. And and do you have, like, a little clutch of authors? I mean, you’ve basically said that you did, but, I mean, how do you how do you all interact? Are you meeting in person, or you do you have, like, a Discord server? I mean, how how do you, keep in touch with all these people?

Jessie Kwak [00:10:31]:

Yeah. So I, About maybe 5 years ago, inherited a in person meetup group from somebody else who’d been running it in Portland. And so we meet up in, basically, in my backyard now about once a month. And because we’ve been You know, it’d been going on for a couple years, and then when COVID hit, I was like, well, we’re not meeting up at my house this month, but here’s Slack. Can we do a Slack group? And so That has been a really great way to keep in touch with keep in touch with the kinda local writers. And then, you know, people are like, hey. Can I invite this friend? And so the the group has been the Slack group has been growing and growing of this local writing, Local Portland writers.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:11:19]:


Jessie Kwak [00:11:19]:

But, yeah, I’m also in a couple other different Slacks and Discords that I’ve been, invited in by other people, And that’s been a a great way to kinda keep in touch.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:11:28]:

How how active are you in those?

Jessie Kwak [00:11:31]:

It depends. Some of them I’ve I I have Slack open almost every day. So the Discord, I I barely remember to check, but Yeah. Slack, I’m I’m almost always there.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:11:42]:

Yeah. I Slack is that’s how All of us d to d folk communicate. That’s pretty much our default mode of communication, so that’s always going. But Mhmm. Then do you ever feel like though because I sometimes feel overwhelmed by all of it. I’m in I get invited to, like, a 100 different groups, and Everyone’s got a different, Slack channel or a different Discord or a different, you know, something else entirely, and I I wanna be a part of all of it, but I, How do you pick and choose what you should be a part of?

Jessie Kwak [00:12:15]:

Yeah. I you really can’t be a part of all of the different groups, and I think that’s, that’s part of my stepping away from Facebook just and just saying, hey. This is a thing. This is too overwhelming for me. I will join your Slack group, but I will not join your Facebook group. Sorry. Like, I just kind of made that platform differentiation for myself. And, yeah, as as I’ve gotten kind of more invites from people around even the Slack groups, I’m like, okay.

Jessie Kwak [00:12:45]:

Well, I will maybe join, but I’m not gonna be as active in this one because it’s not meeting my, you know, whatever goals I’m looking for right now. And so, I guess, for me personally, I’m looking for networking, for, Like, different business opportunities and so specifically, I’m I wanna be in groups with people who write in the same genre with me, as opposed to somebody who might not have the same, the same readership and be able to do different, you know, newsletter swaps and things like that. Yeah. And and the same you know, kind of if somebody’s gonna be if I’m gonna be in more of a mastermind, Like, let’s talk business group. It needs to be with people who are in a similar a similar line of business. You know?

Kevin Tumlinson [00:13:33]:

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Before we go on, I wanna remind everybody, if you want your questions answered, the only way we’re gonna be able to do that is if you ask them in the comments. So make sure you drop a questionnaire. And do me a favor and hit the like button and possibly a subscribe button if you see 1, because that that helps us out. But let us know you’re liking the content, by clicking like.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:13:55]:

I see a couple of people have done that already, so thank you for that. So when it comes to the groups, and you apparently are a member of several, my condolences. But do you do you do you use these like, do you silo each one? Like, okay. This is my group that’s all about ghostwriting, or is all about business, or whatever. And this is my fiction group, and then this is something else entirely, or because it all end up kinda meshing together.

Jessie Kwak [00:14:27]:

I think there’s a there’s a fair amount of overlap. Like, I have, You know, 1 kinda smaller group, there’s, I think, 4, 5 of us in the Slack that it’s all Yeah. It’s all business. And so we We write in similar genres, but not all of us are in a similar enough that it would be, you know, networking for promotion stuff. But it’s really a business mastermind, so I’ll go in there and I’ll be like, hey. I’ve got a problem with, my Facebook ads or I’m frustrated with this thing or Has anyone tried using ConvertKit instead of MailerLite? And so I’ve got 1 group that’s smaller like that and then a bigger group that also kind of has Some of that vibe to it. Yeah. And then I have, like, another group that is really more just complaining about writing together.

Jessie Kwak [00:15:16]:

Yeah. It’s the group that you can just go in and be like, oh my gosh, you guys. Like, I’m having such a rough day with the plot or I can’t figure this out or I’m unmotivated. Somebody send me cat photos until I get motivated again. Yeah. So it’s really the more, like, social group. Yeah. So, yeah, they are a little a little siloed or every group has kind of a different flavor.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:15:35]:

Yeah. Yeah. Do you do you ever use these, you know, do groups strictly for, like, research? I mean, Are there groups that have people in them that are not authors that you you go to for, some of the research you have to do?

Jessie Kwak [00:15:50]:

I haven’t really done that. I I think I for research, I tend to, like, snoop on the Internet and see what people have Yeah. Have said. And then if I need to dive deeper, kind of get in touch with, like, you know, if I saw somebody on Reddit that had an answer to a question I’d been trying to figure out about, like, you know, Like, character or a bit of science. Not that to be fair, my books are pretty science light. So if I can’t if I have to do too much explaining, I’ll Generally, just cut it and throw in another gunfight. But, you know, I’ll I’ll kind of do their Internet research and then reach out to people if I have more questions.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:16:28]:

I mean, that seems like a solid way to handle that sort of thing. Yeah. I I I do a little research, and then I just make up the stuff that I that I needed to be. So, you know, just bonus for being a fiction author.

Jessie Kwak [00:16:40]:


Kevin Tumlinson [00:16:42]:

So, we’re gonna talk we’re Coming up, we’re gonna talk about, the author alchemy summit. But we do have a couple of questions we can, Kinda toss around real quick. Karen Ladybug Richardson on Facebook, asked, what do people like to read more about, nonfiction or fiction books?

Jessie Kwak [00:17:04]:

I think it depends on the person.

Jessie Kwak [00:17:06]:

Like, I I tend to read more fiction. My dad only reads nonfiction. I think he’s read a couple of my books because I wrote them.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:17:15]:

Because you yes haha.

Jessie Kwak [00:17:18]:

But yeah. I I don’t know. I feel like it’s 5050 when I when I talk to people. And I do actually a lot of, street fairs as well. And so people will come up to our our booth and there’s, you know, a few of us sharing a table, and it’s really 5050 of people that are like, Oh, yeah. I love fiction. Tell me more about your books. Or, oh, I only read nonfiction.

Jessie Kwak [00:17:38]:

Who here writes nonfiction? And most of us are fiction authors. But Yeah. Yeah.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:17:43]:

Yeah. That’s interesting. It does depend on where you are. The context matters. But What I’ve noticed is when I’m when I’m at author conferences, I think most authors primarily read nonfiction. Lots of them read plenty of fiction. Don’t get me wrong. But seems like the authors I meet who are I guess, let me put it a different way.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:18:04]:

The authors who are hitting, like, a certain level in the business seem to all read nonfiction primarily. And I do think that we should all be reading both because, you know, language, and you you learn how to play with that language.

Jessie Kwak [00:18:17]:


Kevin Tumlinson [00:18:18]:

That’s a good way to go. Actually, I don’t think I ever actually showed Karen’s question, but there’s there’s Karen. Hi, Karen. Sorry about that. And this question from, oh, I’m not even gonna try this. Mister Maurice, we’re gonna say. Question, I would like to join a writing community, but can’t find 1. How can I find 1? I write fiction only, main genre erotic comedy. I’ve also written nonerotica. You got any tips for finding a community?

Jessie Kwak [00:18:47]:

Yeah. I would say, Social media can be a really great place to start meeting people and form either forming that community around yourself or, If you’ve if you have met somebody who’s like, oh, you know, I I’m also on this Slack or this Discord with other people who write similar stuff. So I would I would start off in, you know, the Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, finding those people and connecting with them and making those kind of individual connections and then Seeing where they’re hanging out in a group setting because that’s it seems like the it used to be easier to to find, Like, an online group that was dedicated to things, but now because so much of us had moved to, like, Slack and Discord, it’s not—

Kevin Tumlinson [00:19:35]:


Jessie Kwak [00:19:36]:

As public. So Yeah. Although Facebook, there’s still a lot of Facebook groups dedicated to certain genres, so that might be a really good place to start too.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:19:44]:

Yeah. And there’s some really the thing about the Facebook groups though is they get massive, and so it’s it gets to a point where you’re just You know, you’re it’s just all noise. Yeah. You know, it’s hard it’s hard to kinda pick out an actual community because you’re, I mean, lots of people do, but, I mean, man, some some of these communities, several 1,000 people. How am I supposed to keep up with all that?

Jessie Kwak [00:20:06]:

Yeah. It really is about, like, making those individual connections within that bigger community. But that It’s hard to do online. I mean, it’s hard to do in real life too. It’s but I think both ways is just a practice of reaching out, saying hello, You know, those kind of the the things that you do to make friends. Yeah.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:20:27]:

Yeah. You know what there needs to be. You know, there’s there’s, meetup.org, I think, which is, you know, if you’re not familiar with it, listeners and viewers, it’s a site that allows you to find groups based on your interests, and you can meet with those people. And they may actually have something that’s aimed towards virtual meetups. I’m not sure, but it it there needs to be something like that. It’s looks like here are is a list of Slack groups and Discord groups, Mhmm. Of writers, and you can get invited by clicking here. You know? There needs to be something like that.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:21:00]:

Perhaps it’s a business idea we can.

Jessie Kwak [00:21:02]:

Oh, totally.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:21:03]:

So let’s let’s talk a little bit because, this is coming up. You’ll I don’t know the dates. You can tell us when, but the, the author alchemy summit, coming up in Portland. When when is that gonna happen?

Jessie Kwak [00:21:16]:

Yeah. So that’ll be, February 22nd through 25th of next year.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:21:21]:

Okay. 2024 for those listings. So if you get real excited and it’s, like, you know, 2035, It may not be at that time, but, but hopefully, it will. You know? Good 10 or 15 years, run. That’s a good run for our conference. So what’s the, what’s the sort of gist behind this this particular summit? What’s your goal?

Jessie Kwak [00:21:42]:

Yeah. So it’s kind of a A two twofold goal. It’s gonna be a fairly small conference. I think the venue the venue is capped at about a 150 people. So the idea is, you know, getting a smallish amount of people in the room with a bunch of experts So that you’re getting more 1 on 1 time with experts. You’re getting you know, you’ll you won’t be at the end of a 20 person line for a q and a. Like, you’ll actually be having lunch with One of the experts, that sort of thing, but also building that community. Right? So, you know, you’re not Wandering into a hall every morning being like, I don’t recognize anyone.

Jessie Kwak [00:22:22]:

You’ll be like, I saw I sat next to that person yesterday and this person and

Kevin Tumlinson [00:22:25]:


Jessie Kwak [00:22:26]:

That sort of thing. So kind of to that end, like, we’re catering breakfast and lunch so people don’t have to wander off and figure out what what to eat and where to go. Ends. We’re gonna be hosting different, kind of mixers and networking events, have a karaoke night, that sort of thing. So, it’s really around that building community on the one hand, and then on the other hand, I really wanted to focus it down on there’s so many aspects of the writing business. And so I really wanna just keep it focused on kind of the business side of writing, But specifically on connecting with readers, which I guess is another kind of part of the community question. So the Everything all the presentations are focused around the question of how do we connect with readers.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:23:14]:

So That’s yeah. I mean, that arguably, that’s the most important thing when it comes to if you’re gonna be successful in this business, you need readers. Mhmm.

Jessie Kwak [00:23:27]:


Kevin Tumlinson [00:23:27]:

That’s cool. Yeah. So, you got some, big names coming. You said some experts. Right?

Jessie Kwak [00:23:34]:

Yeah. So we’ve got Tammy Labrack from Newsletter Ninja. She’s gonna be there. Charlie Gilkey, who runs Productive Flourishing, he’ll be there as well. Kevin j Anderson. Hi. Susan DeFriedis. She is a a book coach who used to live here in Portland, and is now in Santa Fe.

Jessie Kwak [00:23:52]:

And, Claire Taylor will also be there.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:23:56]:


Jessie Kwak [00:23:58]:

Also, Joe, Jobiel and Ellie Blue, who run Microcosm Publishing here in Portland, they’re kind of a really cool small press that not a lot of people have heard of, but they published my nonfiction books. And they started publishing zines, like, 25 or 30 years ago now, I think, And now we’re, like, one of the fastest growing small presses in, I think, in the US, maybe in the world. I’m not sure.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:24:22]:

Wow. But Might as well be the world.

Jessie Kwak [00:24:24]:


Kevin Tumlinson [00:24:25]:

If you’re if you’re the biggest in the US, then you’re the biggest in the world. I understand.

Jessie Kwak [00:24:29]:

But they’re just, like, super business smart and super marketing smart and In very have a very unique model for a more traditional press.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:24:39]:


Jessie Kwak [00:24:39]:

So they’re gonna be there as well. I’ve got, Joanne McCall, who’s a Yeah. Publicist a book publicist. She’ll be there as well. She’s got this great book called Media Darling, all about, like, getting out in front of, You know, the cameras and how to build up your kind of maybe speaking career or getting on podcasts and that sort of thing. Like, she’s got a lot of great stuff to say about that.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:25:02]:

That’s fantastic. Good. Alright. That’s a that sounds like quite a lineup. A lot of familiar names in in that. People that people who, you know, People who watch this show or listen to this show will recognize some of those, especially Kevin J. Anderson, who has been really big. I’ve I’ve I’ve known him for a few years now, and, he’s he’s actually sort of headlined in a lot of little conferences that we’ve done.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:25:26]:

And, he’s surprisingly very indie for somebody so traditionally published. You know?

Jessie Kwak [00:25:34]:

Yeah. Yeah. Totally.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:25:36]:

Is that, is is this conference, is there, like, an orientation there, like, more indie and more additional, or is it just sorta a free for all?

Jessie Kwak [00:25:46]:

It’ll definitely be more indie vibe, and but I I’m trying to Make it so it’s not how how am I phrasing this? I don’t want to exclude people who are traditionally published. I won’t Yeah. I want That I want it to be something that has tools that we can all use. Yeah. But that said, indie authors are There’s a lot more tools that are available to us in terms of connecting directly with our readers.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:26:14]:


Jessie Kwak [00:26:14]:

And so I think if you’re at a certain stage in your traditional career, This might not be a great fit. Like, if you’re acquiring agents right now and that’s and you don’t have any books out, like, learning About the marketing side of things is maybe not gonna it might be putting cart before the horse a little bit. So, I mean, I I think it’s there will be things that are valuable for everybody at every stage, but I I am aware, like, if you’re on the agent hunt or, You know, on a really solid traditional path and you’re hoping your publishing company is gonna do most of the marketing for you, then you might not get As much out of this conference as you would going to a more more traditional conference.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:26:54]:

I don’t know. I think I think it should it I think it could actually to be very beneficial because they’re going to be sadly disappointed if they think that the publisher’s gonna do all the marketing. Yes. But True. Check. You know, there’s an argument to be made that that getting yourself noticed by an agent or publisher, there’s a bit of marketing to happen that can happen in that as well. I think that’s a it’s a tool every author needs, really. But that’s a whole other podcast, and we we can do that in a future podcast.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:27:23]:

That’s great. I mean, it you know, that’s the thing. I I I really think I feel very strongly at this point that, You know, there’s there’s less of a line between self publishing and traditional publishing. And, I think you’re You’re slowly starting to see the trad pub world recognize that and start making some changes. So Maybe your summit will be the pivot point, upon which the entire industry shifts. What we can only hope.

Jessie Kwak [00:27:55]:

Yeah. I’d love I’d love to see that, and it’s you know, I online, I’m mostly in indie communities because that’s That’s, you know, that’s the business I’m running. Yeah. But in person, I would say, like, half my friends here in Portland who are authors are kinda half and half and more, I guess, leaning towards Trad at first, but now I’m having so many conversations with friends that are like, So tell me more about how did how how are you doing the book thing? Like, how are you getting the books on the internets and

Kevin Tumlinson [00:28:27]:

Yeah. Yeah.

Jessie Kwak [00:28:27]:

People’s hands? Like, I I wanna know how to do that because I’ve been querying agents for 45 years, and I’m not sure.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:28:33]:

Interesting. That’s interesting that you’re I mean, I I am I’m starting to hear that too. I was at a conference this past weekend, and, It still had, you know, agent tracks and and pitch sessions and things. And, I ended up, consulting with somebody who’s she just wanted to know, like, what? I’m like, I’m not an agent. I I I’ve had agents, but I don’t currently have an agent. So I’m not the best to give you advice on pitching, but if it were me, I would do this. In turn, she got a deal, so I guess my advice worked.

Jessie Kwak [00:29:04]:


Kevin Tumlinson [00:29:04]:

Let that be a lesson, everybody. Come ask me your for advice, I guess. So alright. Well, it sounds it sounds great, and I February is a good time to have, conferences in my opinion. It just so it’s almost the start of the year, but not you’re not embroiled in the, you know, New Year’s stuff and, you know, the holiday stuff has past, and everybody’s ready for a break from having breaks.

Jessie Kwak [00:29:31]:

Exactly. Yeah. You’re still in that, like, forward momentum of your, you know, and the year I’ve got all these goals.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:29:38]:

Yes. Absolutely. Yeah. It’s a good time for a conference. So what’s the endgame goal here, though? Are you plan are you trying to build something that you think will will grow over the next few years, or is this you’re more aiming for, like, a one off?

Jessie Kwak [00:29:51]:

Yeah. I would love to have this be a yearly event. Like you were saying at the beginning, we’ll we’ll see at the end of February if I am If I fall into the camp of, oh my gosh, never again, or it was hard, but I wanna keep doing it.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:30:03]:

I I suspect you will be, in the 2nd group because you’re you you have that energy that, you know, you’ve already you’re already gung ho. I I suspect that there’ll be at least 1 more of these for you. It’s only after, like, the third one that you’re like, no. I give up on life. I’m done.

Jessie Kwak [00:30:20]:

Totally. Well and, yeah, like, the the monthly meetup that I do, you know, in person. Like, I love that energy, and I like, that’s that’s as simple as, like, Sending an email and then making sure I have some beers and sodas, like Yeah. By the time people start showing up. So this is definitely a much larger organization effort, but I’m I just I’m loving, like, the excitement, the people that the early attendees are having and, like, yeah, this is gonna be fun, I think.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:30:51]:

Yeah. I agree. I think it sounds fun. Couple of questions. Let’s let’s pop these up. This one’s from Melissa. Have you ever started your own author community from ground 0 or any advice on where to start?

Jessie Kwak [00:31:06]:

Yeah. I would I mean, this is kind of, I think, piggybacking off of the advice of how to connect with people originally. Like, You know, if you’re finding people online to start kinda building that community around or, whether you’re Bothering people using Scrivener in a coffee shop, I guess, is how you meet people in real life.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:31:27]:

That’s how I’m building all my author communities going forward.

Jessie Kwak [00:31:31]:

But I would say, Begin thinking think of it more like building a friend group than, like, starting a a thing at first, and, you know, start to figure out, like, do I like this person? Do we seem compatible? Do we write similar things? Would we, you know, how would we interact? And just start gathering those people and maybe Keeping a list yourself and then reaching out at some point and being like, hey. I’m starting a mastermind of people who are, You know, all writing x genre or people who are living in this geographic location or whatever it is. And I think I mean, I’ve gotten those emails from people before, and it’s always like, oh, how cool. Thanks for organizing this. Yeah. I think the thing that A lot of us authors forget is that we’re most of us are introverts. Right? And Mhmm. The people who are willing to go out and, Like, take the 1st step to make those connections.

Jessie Kwak [00:32:34]:

We all appreciate that so much. You know? If somebody reaches out to you and says, Hey. I’m starting a group. Will you be in it? Like, you’re generally not bothering them. You probably made you probably just made their day, so I would Yeah. Keep that in mind.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:32:48]:

Yeah. Yeah. That’s interesting. Do you, do you let me figure out. Okay. One of the things that I am interested in for myself I want a group of writers, but I don’t necessarily want us to talk about writing all the time. Like, I want a group of writers who who, like, let’s go camping or let’s go get coffee or let’s, you know, hang out and chat about, you know, the latest episode of Show X. Is Is that anything like what you’ve, experienced, or is it always like, how focused does everybody have to be on writing and to be a part of these communities.

Jessie Kwak [00:33:23]:

Oh, I I think it’s so important to have, like, the other hobbies as well. Like

Kevin Tumlinson [00:33:28]:


Jessie Kwak [00:33:29]:

In the the local Slack group, we broke out a bunch of different channels like writers who run, writers who cook, things like that. And so, I mean, there’s a bunch of us who I was like, Hey. You guys all are into running, and I’m starting to get into it. So I’m gonna put you all into this side channel because I wanna pick your brains, and now I’m going, like, You know, to races with a bunch of other writers, and we’re not talking about writing. We’re talking about running and that sort of thing. So I think You can very well just be like, hey. Writers who can’t. Let’s get together.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:34:01]:

There you go. I tried to start 1, before we got on the road full time for a while, that was, like, just coffee. Writers having coffee.

Jessie Kwak [00:34:09]:


Kevin Tumlinson [00:34:10]:

Actually, I think I’ve played on the, comedians in cars getting coffee. I think I’d played on that. Like, writers in in coffee shops just drinking coffee. And, it didn’t it didn’t I think People were kind of excited about the idea of there being a writer’s group, but they were very hung up on, like, you know, they brought their manuscript, and they wanna read it, and they wanna get critiques. And that wasn’t what I was going for, but Yeah. Maybe if I was been had been more clear.

Jessie Kwak [00:34:38]:

I think, yeah, I think being clear is important. Like, the in person meetup that I do when I invite new people, they’re like, should I bring something to read? Do I need to submit something? It’s like, no. No. No. We are just having a beer in my backyard and talking about absolutely anything. Yeah. And we often talk about writing because it’s a group of writers, you know, so it happens.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:34:56]:

What you got in common. Right.

Jessie Kwak [00:34:57]:

Stop us Talking talking about writing. But Yeah.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:35:00]:

But that’s when all those the the best conversations happen. That’s one of the things I like about going to actual writing conferences because you do you’re there for a common theme. Mhmm. But and you are going to have those conversations, but not every conversation is about, well, what do you think? What What should I do about my cover? Or, you know, should I hire a developmental editor? You know, you don’t it’s not all about that. It’s things like, you know, well, I was I took this trip to Mexico, and I went to the you know, to this landmark or whatever. And then you you grow from that. Like, that’s the conversations you wanna have.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:35:33]:

that’s where you grow. Yeah. Yeah. Jim Jim had had actually posted a very similar question to, Elyssa, but let me pop that up anyway. It says, hi, Jesse. How would you go about, building community from scratch if you’re a new author? Is there a step by step approach. The similar to what Alyssa asked, but what I wanna know is have you written down anywhere a step by step guide for building an author community.

Jessie Kwak [00:36:01]:

I have

Kevin Tumlinson [00:36:02]:

See how I turned that around? I made that work.

Jessie Kwak [00:36:05]:

Yeah. I should. I should write up a an article. You should.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:36:08]:

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. You absolutely should. So maybe that’s a topic you can cover at the conference. I can do it. You know? Yeah. Anyway, thanks, Jim, for For, popping in.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:36:21]:

So yeah. You I’m, this is a this is an ongoing thing because I I I go back and work because there’s a part of me that really likes connecting with author. I really do. I mean, I I I have met hundreds of thousands of authors at this point, and, and some of them have met me. But they’re it’s always, there’s that line. Sir, I can see it. When I go to certain conferences, it’s like everyone there is hyper focused on. They just wanna know how to sell more books.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:36:51]:

And then there’s a there’s this line. And then there’s another group that’s like, I wanna sell more books, but I also wanna get drunk. And then there’s the the line that’s sort of like the I don’t know how to describe them. They’re the ones who make tons and tons of money, and they know everything about the business. And they also just wanna kinda hang out and party a little, but they’re they’re willing to impart. Like, that’s what I that’s when you wanna do bar con with these folks. Like, they’re willing to impart these they just drop these casual gyms that can redefine your whole career, while also ordering another round of, Jagermeister or something. So, you know, what there’s a question probably in there somewhere, but, what what kind of conference do you think? Where in that spectrum do you hope that that, that this summit’s gonna be?

Jessie Kwak [00:37:42]:

I would say the middle part of the spectrum. So not Yeah. I mean, I Yeah. Yeah. I’m seeing it as an extension of the backyard social, but with A bunch of experts that we’ve flown into to draw casually drop that knowledge while they order another round of hopefully not Jagermeister.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:38:03]:

I don’t have sophisticated taste, I guess. I just do the 1st alcohol the 1st partier alcohol I could come up with.

Jessie Kwak [00:38:10]:


Kevin Tumlinson [00:38:11]:

So, Yeah.

Jessie Kwak [00:38:13]:

And yeah. Very more social, obviously, talking a lot about writing, and with, you know, a a defined track of presentations, which will be about writing, but I’m really hoping that there you know, we can facilitate conversations that are much more personal and getting to know each other and Not just constantly talking about writing the whole time. So that’s that’s a big focus for me. It’s like, alright. Let’s Let’s get to know each other, and we don’t do that by only talking about cover design.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:38:42]:


Jessie Kwak [00:38:43]:

Yeah. But it’s fun. We can talk about cover design too.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:38:45]:

We can too. Yeah. You can do that too, but you rarely bond with people over discussing cover design. That’s Yep. That’s my experience. Very cool. Alright. Well, I mean, we’re I think we’re getting close to having to wrap up.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:38:59]:

Now I know that if people wanna see find you, they can visit your website at jessiequack.com. For the listener, that’s let me spell that out for listeners. That’s jessiekwak.com. You’ll probably find links to it in the show notes of the episode as well. Where what if they wanna find out more about the, author alchemy summit? Where can they find more of that?

Jessie Kwak [00:39:24]:

Yeah. So there will be a link from jessiekwak.com as well, but, it is at authoralchemysummit.com.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:39:32]:

I should have created a a banner for that. Maybe I can real quick. Author nope. It’s not letting me type. Okay. Author alchemy.com. Correct?

Jessie Kwak [00:39:42]:


Kevin Tumlinson [00:39:44]:

Summit.com. I almost did it wrong. So if you’re watching this and you need a reference, it’s on your it should be on your screen right now. Did I spell everything correctly?

Jessie Kwak [00:39:55]:

I think I did. And depending on when you’re listening to this, I mean, live people, obviously, right now, but, early bird pricing will end in the end of October, so We’re still an early bird right now.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:40:06]:

Early bird pricing. What’s the, what what pricing can people expect?

Jessie Kwak [00:40:10]:


Kevin Tumlinson [00:40:11]:

  1. $6.99, everybody. Exactly. Hurry in here. $699 is not bad for and how many days is the summit?

Jessie Kwak [00:40:21]:

It’ll be 2 days 2 full days of programming. There’s like a

Kevin Tumlinson [00:40:24]:

With meals.

Jessie Kwak [00:40:25]:

Happy hour yeah. Happy hour meet and greet Thursday night, and then Friday, Saturday is programming with, like I said, breakfast and lunch, and then, karaoke party Saturday night. And then Sunday, we’ll probably have more kind of If you’re staying in town and yeah. Some some events, but it won’t be as formal.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:40:45]:

Excellent. Alright. Well, that’s fantastic. So thank you, for dropping in and helping us figure out this whole author community thing. It’s something I you know, when I talk to authors, I mean, we don’t always realize it. We are all part of a community as it is, but it’s that human connection. We kinda sometimes forget we need humans, in the business. Like, you know, sometimes it just becomes us and Scrivener and, or whatever your writing, tool preference happens to be, and we forget that it’s equally important.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:41:18]:

As important as putting the words down, as important as doing the marketing is bonding with other people that share this, extremely app. So thank you so much for being a part of helping people learn how to do that.

Jessie Kwak [00:41:30]:

Yeah. Thank you for having me. This is really, really fun to be able to talk about this.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:41:34]:

Yeah. Well, we’ll have to have you around again sometime. I wanna hear how things go with the, the summit.

Jessie Kwak [00:41:41]:

Oh, for sure.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:41:42]:

For now, we’re gonna go ahead and wrap up. Everybody, watching this, thank you for being a part of the show, and I thank our Wonderful guest for being part of the show as well. If you are, looking for a way to kinda keep up with what’s going on with D2D Live or with the Self Publishing Insiders podcast. Make sure you go to dddlive.com. You bookmark that, and you get a countdown. Every single week, we have an episode, So you get a countdown to what’s coming up live. Sometimes we’ll have some special stuff in there like webinars. We got a webinar coming up soon.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:42:15]:

We’re gonna be going to NINC in a in a couple of weeks. So you’re gonna see all kinds of crazy stuff happening on the channel. So make sure you’re, you go and sign up for those alerts. You’ve, of course, you wanna get started, go to draft2digital.com to get started on your own indie author publishing career. And we’re gonna do one quick thing. Jesse, you hang out, but everybody else, we’re gonna play a little spot here, and then we will see you all next week. Thank you so much for being a part of Self Publishing Insiders live.

Kevin Tumlinson [00:42:55]:

Ebooks are great, but there’s just something about having your words in print, something you can hold in your hands, put on a shelf signed for a reader. That’s why we created D2D print, a print on demand service that was built or you we have free beautiful templates to give your book a pro look, and we can even convert your ebook cover into a full wrap around cover for print. So many options for you and your books. And you can get started right now at trap to digital .com. That’s it for this week’s self publishing insiders with Draft2Digital. Be sure to subscribe to us wherever you listen to podcasts, and share the show with your will be author friends, and start, build, and grow your own self publishing career right now at draft2digital.com.