Episode Summary

If you write sci-fi, you know SFWA—Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. In this episode of Self Publishing Insiders, Mark Leslie Lefebvre talks with SFWA’s Jeffe Kennedy and J Scott Coatsworth about how indie authors factor into the long legacy of the organization, including its famous Nebula Award.

Episode Notes

Jeffe Kennedy is a multi-award-winning and best-selling author of romantic fantasy. She is the current President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) and is a member of Novelists, Inc. (NINC). She is best known for her RITA® Award-winning novel, The Pages of the Mind, the recent trilogy, The Forgotten Empires, and the wildly popular, Dark Wizard. Jeffe lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is represented by Sarah Younger of Nancy Yost Literary Agency.

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Mark Lefebvre, J Scott Coatsworth, Jeffe Kennedy

Mark Lefebvre 00:02

Hello, and welcome to Self-Publishing Insiders with Draft2Digital. My name is Mark Leslie Lefebvre. And I’m the Director of Business Development at Draft2Digital. And I am so honored to have in the virtual studios today with me, J. Scott Coatsworth and Jeffe Kennedy, welcome to the podcast. Welcome to the live stream.

Jeffe Kennedy 00:25

Thank you. It’s great to be here.

Mark Lefebvre 00:28

Now, science fiction writers, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Association, SFWA, or Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, I’m really excited because as the token Canadian from the Draft2Digital team, as the token non-American, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America was always a little, well, what about us Canadians? So, Jeffe, can you talk a little bit about … I mean, the organization, SFWA I’ll just say for short, because I’m always gonna miss all those syllables. It was founded in 1965. What propagated the change, just recently in the last few months, wasn’t it?

Jeffe Kennedy 01:08

Yes, yes. In fact, it’s only just now legal, because you have to post it for a certain amount of time to make sure that nobody objects and all of that sort of thing. It’s something we’ve been discussing for a very long time. When SFWA was founded, the world was much smaller. And even though the organization has long embraced international members, it still felt like and even articulated this way, which is sort of the bad old days, but that the US was the center of publishing. And that, you know, we needed to be of America, because we worked in those waters of American publishing. But you know, the world has grown, maybe I’d say in the wrong direction, we certainly are much more interconnected than we used to be. And our international members have repeatedly brought up the “of America” as being exclusive in a way that our mission statement is not. And also that, you know, we’re telling stories in so many different media now, in different places, it’s no longer that all of publishing exists within a few square miles in New York City, and nothing else. And so, we’ve been talking about it for a very long time. It wasn’t an easy change to make, because it has to do with our incorporation, our branding, all of these things that we’d have to look at, all the legalities of it, and then somebody proposed, why not just change it to doing business as, which was an infinitely easier change. And so we were able to do that. Now we are officially Association.

Mark Lefebvre 03:08

I love that. I absolutely, absolutely love that. Now, I want to get into more of the dynamic changes and the inclusivity of SFWA. But what I wanted to go back to first is to talk a little bit about you two as writers and getting into SFWA, etc. So Jeffe, you write more than science fiction and fantasy. You write other genres as well, is that true?

Jeffe Kennedy 03:32

Yes. I came up through romance, mostly because that’s what I sold first. But I’ve written a little bit of like contemporary romance, but most of what I write is fantasy and romance crossover. So I’ve always had paranormal stuff. You know, I basically write epic fantasy with consensual sex and kissing.

Mark Lefebvre 03:58

Okay. And then your role as SFWA president, how did you get involved in getting on the board and becoming president, etc? What was that path like?

Jeffe Kennedy 04:12

Um, well, I’ve always been part of, I grew up in a family with a strong volunteer ethic. I’ve always served on a lot of different boards and that sort of thing. Being a member of SFWA was a long-held dream. I was able to join RWA first, because RWA had lower requirements. But as soon as I was able to qualify for SFWA membership, I applied and joined. And we had a different kind of chat room then, but I got in chat with people and some of the more established members, particularly Michael Capobianco, who we call Capo, who was a former president and has been around for a long time. He encouraged me to run for the board. And so I served two terms, four years as a director at large. And then the previous president, Mary Robinette Kowal, asked me if I would run for president after the end of her term, mostly to continue the things that we had started under her administration and under the previous president Cat Rambo.

Mark Lefebvre 05:25

Excellent, thank you. So how does that, because you’re doing so much work for an organization and supporting other writers, how’s that impacted your writing itself? Do you still have time? Or is that a balance? You’re like, please don’t ask me that, I don’t write anymore.

Jeffe Kennedy 05:40

So there’s this saw. And I’ve heard it in other circles besides SFWA, that being president of the organization costs you a book a year, which doesn’t really make a lot of sense to me, because I don’t know, how do you scale that for different writers? Because we know there are writers who write six books a year, 10 books a year. There are writers who write one book every three years. If you’re Ted Chang, you do one every decade. You know, and all of those are legitimate, right? We all have our process, we all write at our own speed. And I think it’s really important to acknowledge and embrace that, that we all have our own process. So, is it like, okay, am I going to lose one book out of my usual output? And I pay the bills with my writing. So it’s like, I really don’t want to lose it. So that’s been a big focus for me, is trying to maintain my writing output, compartmentalize so that I don’t lose that to the office. It’s too early to tell, I haven’t been in office for a full year yet. There has been impact, but I’m hoping it won’t be like the mythical book a year cost.

Mark Lefebvre 06:56

Well, I’ve got my fingers crossed for you. So Scott, how did you get involved, before we talk about your awesome title and position, because that’s what I want to get into later. How did you get involved with SFWA, and what is it that you’re writing?

J Scott Coatsworth 07:13

So I write mostly sci fi fantasy, with diverse characters. It’s kind of funny Jeffe, because I hadn’t realized how parallel our stories were before you kind of spelled that out. I started in romance because it was the place I was able to get published initially. So I had a book, actually some short stories and novellas that were published in gay romance. And I had always wanted to be part of SFWA since I was a little kid, you know, my favorite authors were SFWA members. I used to say it S-F-W-A, and I was very early corrected that, no, it is SFWA. So I did get into RWA also, I was there for a year or two, I’m also connected with the LGBTQ branch of RWA. And then I had managed to sell enough through a BookBub sale and some other things on one of my books to qualify, I think at first I got in for a couple of short story sales at the associate level, and then was able to qualify for the full membership. I was asking, kind of, how do I get connected with folks here? And the thing I was told first was volunteer, you know, find some options to volunteer in the organization. So when the option came to join this particular panel, I jumped at it. And then shortly thereafter, the person that was the chair at the time left, and they were looking for a new chair. And I was like, same kind of thing as Jeffe, it’s like, what kind of toll is this going to take me? How much time is it going to take? I don’t even know if it cost me a book a year, but just how much time is going to eat out of my schedule, which is a super tight regimen. But I decided to go for it. And so it’s been about a year now that I’ve been the chair and started out with a bunch of things that Jeffe threw at me first day. And then now just getting past those and getting into some of our own ideas. So.

Mark Lefebvre 08:51

Good stuff. I want to get into specifically, so your title is Indie Authors Chair. And historically, SFWA was harder to get into. I know Jeffe talked about how RWA had a lower bar, or you were able to become a member of a certain standing with a different sort of experience as an author. Can you guys talk a little bit about that inclusivity for LGBTQ and also indie authors? That seems to have been a dramatic shift, for at least the SFWA of my past, the historic SFWA. Not that there was anything wrong with SFWA, but I love the fact that it’s just continued to grow, include Canadians and folks from other countries of the world. How did that change in terms of the indie author and in requirements for becoming a member?

Jeffe Kennedy 09:54

Well, historically, SFWA had set up their membership requirements based on the short fiction market, whether or not you had published your short fiction in what they called a qualifying marketplace, or what kind of book advance you got if you were a novelist. And again, this sort of comes back from that, you know, starting in 1965, that was the reality of the marketplace. And I should have looked up, we reframed the membership requirements to allow income from self-publishing authors, I think in 2015. It was around there. And because of, and this is a self-publishing audience, so they will understand this, obviously we don’t get book advances, right? And it took quite a bit of wrangling to alter the membership requirements in order to encompass whatever a self-publishing author might earn. And trying to make it roughly equivalent to the same professional level as someone who sold a novel to traditional publishing. And setting that dollar amount. This was before I was on the board. It just took a lot of wrangling, and especially wrangling for people who were mostly traditionally published authors, so they didn’t understand how it worked. So we’ve been allowing indie authors in for quite some time. But it was really interesting, with our recent membership requirement changes, how many people said, oh, hey, SFWA’s allowing in self-published authors now. It’s like, , yes, yes we are.

Mark Lefebvre 11:53

Well, you’ve made the requirements easier to measure, because previously, how do you measure things that aren’t measurable?

Jeffe Kennedy 12:00

Yes, yes. So this is something that we did under Mary Robinette’s administration. We had been, we’d made some other changes. When I was on the board, in the first couple of years, we had admitted game writers. And then we had people asking us, what about comics writers and graphic novelists writers. And we had wound into the membership requirements a word count, you know, and so with game writers we were like, how do you even figure out word count for a game writer? And we still had traditionalists saying, you know, if it’s not prose, that doesn’t count. And we’re saying no, no, no, we want to acknowledge the fact that storytelling can occur in all kinds of media. You know, now we have podcast storytelling and you know, in a graphic novel, you may not have many words at all. Does that make it less legit? The flash fiction writers were upset because they didn’t have, they got paid the money, but they didn’t have the word count. So we did this work session where we set aside like four hours to drill through this. How can we simplify the membership requirements? How can we account for not only the people we’re trying to admit now, but you know, like, what if somebody’s telling, like, holographic stories in the future? How can we handle this? And within like the first half an hour of conversation, we hit upon: catalogue of work, made a certain amount of money. So if you have made this much money from your catalogue of work, no matter what medium you’re working in, then you qualify for membership. And we were all astonished at how, dare I say, “elegantly simple” the solution was.

Mark Lefebvre 13:50

Okay, great. I love that. Thank you. When I think about requirements, and I think about levels, I always think about my time starting off in writing, when there was no internet, when there were no ebooks, when self-publishing was a completely different thing. It’s printing 5000 copies of a book and storing them in your basement.

Jeffe Kennedy 14:10

Selling them out of the trunk of your car.

Mark Lefebvre 14:12

Exactly, because that was the only option there. It was the short story. What constitutes a short story, like the different, and it was SFWA that was like, this is flash fiction, this is short fiction, this is a novelette, novella, etc. And I believe a lot of the industry follows the standard set by SFWA, but also even more importantly for me as a writer trying to work my way up through the regional magazines and the smaller presses, larger ones to what became pro rate. So the pro rates for fiction when I started were five cents US per word. And what are the pro rates now according to the SFWA bar?

Jeffe Kennedy 14:50

They have skyrocketed to eight cents a word.

Mark Lefebvre 14:53

And that was recently, because I think I remember it was a big deal when they went to six.

Jeffe Kennedy 14:58

Yeah, it was a big deal when we went to six, and then we’re like, and we started referring to it as minimum professional rate. Because we don’t want people to think that eight cents a word is actually something you could live on.

J Scott Coatsworth 15:16

I’m seeing a few comments or questions that go to the catalogue question about how it’s calculated. Who should people contact, Jeffe, if they have specific questions about whether something qualifies?

Mark Lefebvre 15:26

I’m gonna repeat the question for anyone listening in our podcast later on. So the question from dot c is, “Catalog revenue is for all books, correct? Do direct sales, like for example, selling at fairs, comic cons, conventions, do they count towards revenue on catalog?”

Jeffe Kennedy 15:42

The short answer is yes, they count. It doesn’t have to be books. It can be short stories. It can be your storytelling podcast. You can put it together any way you like. So, you know, it’s … For questions, you can email office@sfwa.org. But yeah, your catalogue of work. It’s done by affidavit. So we are going on the honor system. So if you tell us that you made 100 bucks selling your books out of the trunk of your car at the county fair, then great, that counts.

Mark Lefebvre 16:23

Okay, cool. And just for convenience for the video, I popped up office@sfwa.org. So people can see that. Thank you for answering that. I want to go back to Scott and Indie Author, the chair position. And what is your role specifically, in terms of what you do to support indie authors at SFWA?

J Scott Coatsworth 16:46

Sure, so when I was asked to take this thing on, it was one of those, well, there’s nobody else that really wants it. So I kind of jumped in and grabbed it. Jeffe did bring a few things to us that we worked on last year, so part of the answer to the question is, one of the things I’m most excited about is what we called the HART program, the heritage authors republication project. And the idea behind it initially was to be able to take works that are out of print, especially works that were maybe done even before e-publishing, but not necessary exclusively. And to help those authors that are still living to get those books back into print so that their works can be read and so that they can make a little bit of revenue. So that is something that we have been working on for the last year and just got approval a couple months ago. So we’re about to start a pilot program for that. But also, we kinda added into that authors with disabilities, folks that might need a little extra help kind of getting their books into print. We’re also doing a new section on the SFWA website, which is going to be for independent author publishing. It’s going to address all different aspects, from the formatting of the books, the uploading of them, the marketing, just a lot, I think there’s five or six major sections that’ll be on the site, and we’ll kind of update as we go. We’re also looking at ways to kind of forward SFWA’s educational mission. One of those is to provide a blog post for the newsletter once a month to kind of address a variety of topics of interest to indie authors. We’re also looking at doing both a nebula panel and an ongoing series of panels, maybe once every month or once a quarter. Kelly [inaudible] is in charge of that, and he’s been doing a great job kind of getting that started. The other big thing that we took over, but that has expanded a lot under Sherry Cronan’s leadership, is the story bundles. If you’re not familiar with story bundles, you basically get a certain small number of books for a set price. And if you want to pay a larger price, you get the entire bundle. And it’s a great way for independent authors to make a little money, because most of the money that’s made goes directly to those authors as a sum of however many total buyers. So Sherry is taking that from two a year, one fantasy and one sci fi, to four. So it’s opened up twice the number of opportunities for independent authors. So those are just kind of the concrete things we worked on in the last year. We have a few things in the works for this coming year. But I have been sworn to secrecy until I can get a proposal with Jeffe and get the okay for it. But we want to increase the ways that authors can reach out and get their books out there. One of the things that is not officially part of the committee, but is kind of related, is the Net Galley program. So Net Galley is a way that you can get reviews of your book. And normally to do that you have to either be a publisher, or buy a membership, which can cost up to $450 for six months. But SFWA has a subsidized program for SFWA and non-SFWA members, we are open to both. That cost is $40 bucks for a single book. So you can now get your book into Net Galley for a month and get some reviews for a very affordable price. And Jamie Lackey handles that one.

Mark Lefebvre 19:42

Excellent. I love, one of the things I’ve always loved about SFWA was the support offered to authors for running a professional author business. And historically, the professional author business was how to query, how to work with editors and publishers, how to research the market, etc. And now you’re expanding into how to be a professional publisher, right? Like all of those requirements seem to be geared towards how do you produce the best book possible by following all of the procedures? So I think an indie author who’s never self-published or an author who has never self-published could potentially leverage those resources to almost like a step-by-step process for them?

J Scott Coatsworth 20:25

Yeah, it’s basically going to be one for marketing, one for putting your books together themselves, one for finding professionals. We don’t want to go too deep into detail, because a lot of these sites change their processes on a regular basis. So it’ll be more kind of like, here’s what you need to know about each one. And then kind of go from there. I’d love to have some kind of process where people that had questions about it can then come to us directly and ask those for more specifics. That will sort of be part of the HART project itself, for helping folks that we’re working with directly, but to kind of have a resource where folks could ask this kind of questions when they need a little more detail than what we’re gonna provide.

Mark Lefebvre 21:00

Okay, great. Thank you very much. I have to share a couple more comments. Elyssa, who is actually part of the Draft2Digital team, says “Sworn to secrecy. What a tease.” And Lexi, who is also a part of the Draft2Digital team, has also made a comment about the inclusivity. Lexi says, “It’s great seeing awesome organizations grow and broaden their base and membership over time.” And that’s a fantastic thing to see with SFWA. But there is a comment from somebody who does not mean to be rude, but I think it’s fair that we ask this question here. And this comes from Jeffrey H. Haskell. Jeffrey says, “I don’t intend this to be rude as much, so much as blunt. I mean this from a place of genuine interest, because I grew up with the idea of SFWA. However, SFWA has been outright vindictive and cruel to indie authors in the past. So why should we think that this will change now?”

Jeffe Kennedy 22:00

You know, I think that things change. There’s certainly people in the organization still who look down on self-publishing, who think of it in terms of that those are the authors who couldn’t make it. And so they were forced into it. But I’m a hybrid author, I do both. And I would not be able to make my living as a writer if I wasn’t also an indie author. Scott is obviously an indie author as well. We have more and more indie authors in the organization all the time. So I think this is how things change, is that you get the people who are actually doing the thing and believe in the thing and embracing the thing, embodying the thing. And, you know, we basically infiltrate and take over. You know, I personally think that ultimately, all authors will probably end up being either indie authors or hybrid in some way. Just because, you know, unless you really hit the jackpot on traditional publishing, you can’t make a living that way. And SFWA is all about helping authors being able to be professionals, to have a career doing this. So, you know, if you join SFWA, will you occasionally meet somebody who sneers at self-publishing as being less-than? Probably, you know. You’re also going to meet people who think that anything that isn’t prose doesn’t count as storytelling, you’re gonna meet people, just as anywhere in life, you’re going to meet people with nasty attitudes about something or another. But overall, we think, you know, we’ve got a lot of really great people in the organization who think independent publishing is awesome.

Mark Lefebvre 23:54

Right. I mean, even within the boundaries of the genres of science fiction and fantasy, there may be people who think that this sub-genre is not real science fiction or not real fantasy, too, right? Yeah, that’s gonna happen.

Jeffe Kennedy 24:08

I’ve had to say to people in the organization that romance isn’t antimatter. The presence of it in a fantasy story doesn’t cancel out the fantasy. There’s always somebody who’s going to try to say that what you’re doing isn’t as good as what they’re doing. And, you know, whatever.

J Scott Coatsworth 24:31

I also want to jump in here. I think what Jeffe said is right, you know, there have been a lot of us that have been infiltrating the organization. And I don’t mean that in a bad way, but have been stepping up and becoming a part of it. I’m part of the LGBTQ community. I’m a gay man. I work with a couple of our sites that work with diversity, the whole LGBTQ spectrum, basically. And so when I got here, I know there had been some problems, some specific problems and some general problems with this in the past. I did make a point of doing some investigations. I knew I needed to educate myself about what those problems had been. I have not seen that kind of problem since I’ve been here. We’ve been very fortunate on the indie authors committee to have Jeffe as our direct supervisor, basically, our liaison on the board. And so basically, if I’ve had any questions or things, we’ve had a lot of leeway to set new programs and to kind of chart new directions here, which has made me really happy. Also want to say that if somebody does have that kind of trouble with SFWA, contact me. I will be glad to surface that and bring it up with my friend in the board Jeffe, and with the rest of the board members. And you know, the best way that we can change an organization like this is to become a part of it. So if it’s something that you’ve questioned in the past, I think it has become a lot more friendly, both structurally and just kind of temperamentally to indie authors. In fact, we used to be the self-pub committee, self-publication committee, when I first started. And a number of us talked that over, and self-pub has a kind of negative connotation from the days of vanity presses when, you know, literally, if you couldn’t get published, you know, you hired a publisher to publish 1000 books, you stuck them in the back of your car, and you drove around and tried to shove them into bookstores. So we decided to move the name as well, just as SFWA is changing his name, to change the author committee name to independent authors’ committee, or indie authors’ committee, to kind of get away from some of that bad perception. So I think people are welcome here now, and please let me know if you ever feel it’s not the case.

Mark Lefebvre 26:28

What I love is that you guys are saying, okay, if there have been issues, things that maybe didn’t work out so well in the past, we’re open to talking about these things, we’re open to bringing them to the surface, to putting them in the light, and actually sharing and communicating. I think that’s probably what you’re saying in general. So if people do have questions or worries or concerns, the best thing to do is reach out and ask, right?

Jeffe Kennedy 26:54

Yeah, I think that’s absolutely right. You know, we very much want this to be the very best organization it can be. And yeah, we’re actively working all the time to be more diverse, more inclusive, to embrace all of the paths for storytelling, whatever it may be, you know, we’re all trying to do the same thing.

Mark Lefebvre 27:22

I love that. I love that. And I love that there’s multiple points of entry for getting into SFWA and getting involved. But speaking of points of entry, I want to talk specifically, I want you to put your writer hats back on as we talk about this, is why is it important to be a member of an organization of writers who work collaboratively together. And I guess if you want to specifically get into why specifically is SFWA a good organization for writers of speculative, I’ll call it speculative fiction, or speculative literature, so we can be more inclusive of all of the different, you know, poetry and stuff like that.

Jeffe Kennedy 28:04

Well, one thing that I personally have always believed in is, if you are part of a profession, then one of the best things you can do to protect and defend and grow your profession is to be part of that profession’s organization, member organization, because that is where we are able to try to do the work to make it possible for people to be paid what they’re worth, what their work is worth. It’s where we can have the might to band together. And we do this with other writers’ organizations, too. You know, with like, our Disney Must Pay campaign. Disney doesn’t listen to one person. To be fair, they don’t really listen to us either. But we’re trying. When you’re facing big corporations, and I won’t name them all lest I get in trouble, but we all know who we’re talking about. They are so mighty, and they have such expensive lawyers, that it’s very difficult for one person to be heard. And so the more people that we can get together, the more leverage we have. So that’s one reason. And SFWA has a lot of different tools that we use. And we also have the legal fund. We also have the emergency medical fund to help writers who are sidelined by some kind of medical problem that keeps them from writing. We have a lot of informational venues, such as the ones that Scott mentioned and others. We have the new release newsletter for people. But I think at its core, one of things that Scott brought up early on is, you know, it’s being involved with other people. It’s meeting other people who are trying to do the same thing that you are, trading war stories, making friendships, networking, all of that just makes what can be a very lonely enterprise much less slowly.

J Scott Coatsworth 30:21

Yeah, I agree. I think there’s definitely the aspirational aspect of it. There’s that, you know, Jeffe and I mentioned that we always want to be a part of SFWA. I mean, literally when I was a kid, you know, I knew what SFWA was, and I wanted to be in it. It felt sort of like “making it,” like there’s an official recognition that I’m a real writer, you know? But there’s some practical things too. I think SFWA functions almost like a union, in that it does help to set work conditions for writers. And we talked about the amount the magazines at the professional level charge, or pay for their writing. But it also has a number of plans, and we’ve talked about some of these before. I’m a member of the Independent Book Publishers Association as well. And they do much more in the way of like, you know, co-op advertising and direct, you know, you send your stuff to conventions and things. SFWA’s more kind of working behind the scenes. But both organizations provide a lot of ways for authors to reach out, kind of in concert with each other, that you can’t do on your own. And I think those are super valuable for independent authors to try to have a way to reach their audience. So for me, it’s been a big boon. Plus meeting great people like Jeffe. I mean, you know, how would I have made this relationship before if I wasn’t part of SFWA?

Mark Lefebvre 31:34

It’s fantastic. It sounds like it’s not an either/or, right? When you’re a member of SFWA, it doesn’t mean you’re not a member of other groups. They can be complimentary.

Jeffe Kennedy 31:46

There can be only one. No, most of us are members of multiple organizations.

Mark Lefebvre 31:52

Okay. So I have to comment, I’m just going to call up a little comment from TheLadyWrites, who says that “Meeting other people is one of the many reasons I love the Twitch writing community.” And so let’s talk about SFWA. It was started in 1965, there was no internet. There was print and distribution through bookstores, etc. SFWA’s evolved and adapted. SFWA is, I mean, I think I tagged you guys on Twitter when I was sharing that we were about to start the live broadcast. But what platforms is SFWA involved in? And how do you manage all of these new media things as an organization?

Jeffe Kennedy 32:33

SFWA has, we do have a website and a members-only side to the website. And forums, which are just not heavily used these days, and the forums contributed to problems in the past. I don’t know, there’s something about the forum that allows for people to post angry screeds or just screeds in general. It’s not the same as having a live chat. And so we’ve moved through several different media over time. Now we have SFWA Slack channels that a lot of people hanging out on. And you guys are probably hearing this here first, we are moving to a Discord. We’re going to abandon the Slack channel and move to a Discord. The Discord is up and running. But there’s just like five of us on it so far as we kick the tires on it. You’re not one yet. It’s just a few of us. But I’m really excited for that opportunity for people to talk. We have a brilliant director of communications, Becca Gomez Farrell, and she runs our Twitter account and our Facebook posts and we’ve been moving into Instagram. Plus our newsletters and things like that.

Mark Lefebvre 33:51

Excellent. Excellent. Thank you. I’m going to pop up comment. Jeffrey did say, “Thank you for answering my question and letting me know what to expect.” And thanks for asking the question, Jeffrey. And thank you guys so much for answering the question, for actually taking it on. It’s not easy to be criticized live. But you’re demonstrating that there is open dialogue and there’s moving forward and there’s changing and there’s growing. And that’s a fantastic thing. So as somebody who’s maybe new to SFWA and just joined SFWA, you talked about there’s the online, the members only and things like that. Where do you recommend somebody who just joins, where do you recommend that they get started?

Jeffe Kennedy 34:41

Do you want to field that one Scott?

J Scott Coatsworth 34:43

Yeah, sure. Well, I think the advice that was given to me was really good. There are a lot of volunteer opportunities that come up and they can be like joining different boards and different on the site. We need screeners periodically for going through the story bundle stuff. There is stuff that is Nebula specific, there is always a need for volunteers for those kinds of things. So they’re a great way to actually meet a lot of other folks that are part of SFWA and make those connections. As Jeffe mentioned, we all live in our little writers’ caves. And so we don’t get to have that kind of contact all that much. So being a volunteer, although it can take you outside your comfort zone, can really put you in touch with a lot of folks and then start to make those kind of lifelong connections within the organization that will help you, especially if you want to, at some point, advance up and try to be part of the board or be a committee chair like myself. So I think that’s the biggest thing for me. If you can, also go to the Nebulas. It’s coming up in what, two months now Jeffe?

Jeffe Kennedy 35:40

Oh, I wish. A month. It’s May 19, or sorry. The 20th, 21st, 22nd.

J Scott Coatsworth 35:50

I’m looking forward to going to the virtual one, which is this year again, because of the ongoing concerns, but hoping that next year again, it’s going to be face to face if things work out. So there’s just something, I mean, the Starship Nebula thing has been like frickin awesome. You guys did an amazing job with that, putting it together. But there’s just something about meeting people face to face that I really miss. And I’m hoping that that can come back sometime soon.

Jeffe Kennedy 36:15

And to clarify, next year, we’re planning to do a hybrid conference where to the best of our ability, we’re going to try to have it be the same experience if you attend online as if you intend on person. And we know it’s a tall order. But we’re gonna try to live up to our mission of being as inclusive as possible. And we figure that counts.

Mark Lefebvre 36:35

Except I won’t be able to buy you a drink when you’re at home, not at the bar where the conference is being held.

Jeffe Kennedy 36:41

Maybe we can arrange for something where like people can call into the bar send a message into the bar, buy such and such a drink.

J Scott Coatsworth 36:48

There was a kind of, was it a Nebula or was it one of the other ones I went to where they actually had a virtual bar?

Jeffe Kennedy 36:53

Yes, we do have a virtual bar

Mark Lefebvre 36:57

Is it a BYOB kind of thing? Bring your own bar?

Jeffe Kennedy 36:59

There’s a bartender who like teaches you to make cocktails from the stuff you have at home if you want to do that.

Mark Lefebvre 37:04

Oh, I love that. That is really awesome. I just want to, I’m popping this up on the screen. SFWA.org if you’re looking to find out where the Nebulas are, how you can get involved, how you can join SFWA as well. And then I wanted to pop up a question from Elyssa. She asks, “Is there a discord link yet? Or is it not ready for primetime for the public yet?”

Jeffe Kennedy 37:25

It’s not quite ready, but it’ll be ready soon. And it’ll be for members only. But we will let the membership know when that’s ready for people to join in.

Mark Lefebvre 37:37

And I bet you find out at SFWA.org right? All righty. So I’m assuming Gerald might have been born in 1965, saying that it was a bloody good year. So TheLadyWrites asks, “How would one attend the Nebula events?”

Jeffe Kennedy 38:03

Yeah, if you go to sfwa.org, there is a link at the top menu for the Nebula conference. Registration is $150 to attend online, you get the weekend’s events plus a year afterwards you could still access, we’re gonna have ongoing education, there’ll be chat rooms, we have like a weekly writing date on Sunday afternoons. So there’ll be a lot of stuff going on afterwards. One of the great things, if I can tout our online conference, I am like Scott, I love hanging out in the bar with writers and I’ve missed it so much since the pandemic started. But our airship has all these breakout rooms, and you can go, and we named them fun things. And you can go hang out by the potted palm, you can look and see who’s hanging out there and then go and chat and it’s the closest that I’ve seen anybody come to replicating that, just getting casual conversations with people.

J Scott Coatsworth 39:09

Yeah, it was really cool. So you drop into this like, what was it? Not the control room.

Jeffe Kennedy 39:14

Yeah, I think it was called the control room. Yeah. And then they ask you where you want to go.

J Scott Coatsworth 39:18

And then they send you off, but from there you’re actually free to wander, unlike some of the Zoom stuff where you basically get stuck in a room and you’re stuck there until you leave. But you can just pop out of there and look for someone you want to talk with like Jeffe was saying, and find them somewhere else and drop in and talk to them.

Jeffe Kennedy 39:31

It’s really easy to stalk people, yeah.

J Scott Coatsworth 39:35

I wasn’t gonna say it that way, but it’s cool because you can actually kind of wander around like you would at a real conference and like look for folks that you want to talk to.

Mark Lefebvre 39:43

One of the things I’ve enjoyed about some of the virtual conferences is, particularly for introverted, and there happen to be a number of introverts among the writing community, is you can be in a room and just listen in and feel like you can hide. You can turn off your camera, you can do whatever it is that makes you feel comfortable, but also feel part of the group, which is, it can happen in person where you can just kind of cozy on up to a group and just listen in on what’s going on and feel like a part of it. But it’s a lot less intrusive. And even for somebody like me, a lot less intimidating to insert yourself into a group. But when it’s a, what do you call it, The Brady Bunch kind of window screen where you’re just kind of one of nine, you know, Hollywood Squares or whatever, it’s easier to sneak in and listen in to see, hey, this is an interesting conversation, I’m happy to listen and learn.

J Scott Coatsworth 40:36

It’s awesome that it’s going to be a hybrid con, because I’ve heard from a lot of writer friends that are disabled, or don’t have the funds to travel to conferences, and it’s been a godsend in this period to be able to go to these things in a way they never could before.

Mark Lefebvre 40:47

So yeah, that is amazing. There are some perks to what’s happened in the last couple years, we’ve learned different ways to be more inclusive. And then people getting an opportunity. So just for Jan, who just tuned in, what’s the date of the Nebula conference?

Jeffe Kennedy 41:01

It’s May 19 to the 22nd. Or the 20th to the 22nd.

J Scott Coatsworth 41:07

It’s in that time period.

Mark Lefebvre 41:10

2022, we’re talking. For you people in the future listening, we’re talking, this is 2022. If you’re looking for a future year, go to SFWA.org. So, are there other questions you guys were hoping that I would ask about either yourselves or about SFWA as we were having this conversation today?

Jeffe Kennedy 41:34

I don’t have an answer for you. Scott?

J Scott Coatsworth 41:35

I think you’ve done a pretty good job. I just did want to reiterate too that one of the things that we do as an organization and as a committee is to serve as a vendor liaison. And so if folks, especially SFWA members, but we’ve also worked with non-SFWA members, have an issue with one of the big vendors, we can try to contact them and see if we can make some leeway for them. I had a friend who had an issue with one of the audio vendors, and not being able to find her book on the site, because of the way that they had their algorithm set up, and SFWA was able to navigate that. So sometimes it’s big things, sometimes it’s little things. But you know, that’s one of the things that we do as an organization and as a committee.

Mark Lefebvre 42:10

That’s fantastic. It’s that advocacy, right? So you are collaborative, helping support authors. So if an author has an issue with a retailer, with a vendor, with a distributor perhaps, you guys are there to listen and talk about it and then bring that up, in a very polite and respectful and professional manner with the organization. Let’s say yes, yes. But forcefully, obviously, because you’re fighting for the rights of authors. And that’s the key thing. But again, you’re not going about it, you know, you’re not slandering and doing all kinds of things. You’re coming and presenting a professional united front on behalf of the author community, which I think is phenomenal. And I want to say thank you guys so much for all that you do to advocate for the author community in general.

Jeffe Kennedy 42:59

Well, thank you. We appreciate that. We have a lot of people working very hard to make that happen.

J Scott Coatsworth 43:05

Yeah, great staff at SFWA. Both the unpaid and paid staff are just amazing.

Mark Lefebvre 43:10

Awesome. So I want to thank you guys both for spending time to do this live chat, for answering so many of the great live questions from our awesome audience. As always, if people are looking for more information about SFWA, you can go check out SFWA.org. This video of course will be available over on our website. You can be sure if you don’t want to miss any future events, we tend to do them on Thursdays at 1pm Eastern, noon Central. Be sure to bookmark D2Dlive.com. You can of course subscribe to us on YouTube, youtube.com/draft2digital or facebook.com/draft2digital. As Kevin Tumlinson often says, just go to any social media site and slap in Draft2Digital after it and chances are you may find us there, including over on the TikTok. We are available there. And you can always get insider tips over at D2Dtips.insight where we’re going to update industry stats sharing what’s selling, particularly in the indie community. I want to thank you guys so much for representing SFWA here today and answering questions for our awesome audience. And until next time, Jeffe, Scott, thank you so much for hanging out with me today.

Jeffe Kennedy 44:26

Thanks for having us.

J Scott Coatsworth 44:28

Thank you