As much as we try to plan for things, sometimes life happens and we have to adapt to a new situation. Jessie Kwak talks about adapting to life as a freelance writer and author after being injured, and her tips for managing work and energy.
In the intro, I mention Accessibility for All, the interview I did with Jeff Adams about how we can make our content more accessible to people with injuries and disabilities. You can also check out KWL Podcast episode on Accessibility for Authors. Plus, Writing the Shadow: Turn Your Inner Darkness Into Words is launching soon on Kickstarter, register your interest in the launch here.
This podcast is sponsored by Kobo Writing Life, which helps authors self-publish and reach readers in global markets through the Kobo eco-system. You can also subscribe to the Kobo Writing Life podcast for interviews with successful indie authors.
Jessie Kwak is the author of gangster sci-fi supernatural thrillers and nonfiction for creatives. She’s also a ghostwriter and freelance marketing copywriter, and her books include From Big Idea to Book and From Chaos to Creativity.
You can listen above or on your favorite podcast app or read the notes and links below. Here are the highlights and the full transcript is below.
- Adapting to changing circumstances
- When medical situations affect your author business
- How changing appearances affects us at a deeper level
- The importance of accessibility tools for authors
- Prioritizing your use of energy when you only have a finite amount
- Ways to future-proof your business
- Healthcare costs for freelancers
- The Author Alchemy Summit hosted by Jessie Kwak
Transcript of Interview with Jessie Kwak
Joanna: Jessie Kwak is the author of gangster sci-fi supernatural thrillers and nonfiction for creatives. She’s also a ghostwriter and freelance marketing copywriter, and her books include From Big Idea to Book and From Chaos to Creativity. So welcome back to the show, Jessie.
Jessie: Thank you for having me.
Joanna: It’s good to talk to you again. Now, you were last on the show in 2022, and this is just over a year later. So we’re gonna jump straight into the topic today, which is adapting to change even when it’s outside of your control.
Tell us what happened to you back in July?
Jessie: It’s been kind of a wild few months.
Back in July, I was selling books at a street fair with my friend Mark, and as we were leaving the fair, the car in front of us open fired into the street, and a bullet ricocheted through the windshield and into my eye.
So fortunately, we were super close to the hospital, so Mark was able to get me there really quick. For a writer, he was an amazing getaway driver.
Since then, I have had a couple of surgeries to reconstruct the eye and remove the bullet fragment, and it’s been a lot of healing since then.
I’m on a really good trajectory. My energy is mostly back and my right eye I can see perfectly well out of now, that was a little touch and go for a minute. But yeah, it brought everything to a screeching halt. We’ll just say that.
Joanna: I’m on your Facebook page, and your husband put a thing up, and it was so shocking. I know, obviously, you’re used to telling the story now. But there are people listening who are like, what you got shot?
And being in England, this is not very usual. I mean, we hear the news about America, and there always seems to be a lot of shooting, but this is a really big deal over here. It’s like holy crap, that is just crazy. I mean, so it’s a couple of months now, and there’s healing and everything, but the immediate shock and injury and trauma of this.
Did everything stop in your life?
Jessie: Yeah, of course.
I am always a go-go-go person, so it took me a minute to internalize that I wasn’t going to be able to go, go, go.
I do a monthly writers’ social at my house, and that was coming up on that Tuesday, this was a Saturday, and I remember being like, “Oh, this is going to be a crazy story to tell everyone on Tuesday.” Then my husband’s like, “You’re not hosting a social in a few days, what are you thinking? We have to cancel that.” And I was like, oh, you’re right, I’m going to have to cancel a lot of things. So it just took a while for that to sink in.
Joanna: And then of course, you’re a freelance writer and an author, and your sight is a necessary part of this.
I think this really freaked me out big time because I do have some risk factors for macular degeneration. So I thought a lot about what would happen if I lose my sight suddenly because that’s kind of how it how it happens.
How did you deal with the immediate effect of thinking, ‘how is this going to affect my business?’
Jessie: Yeah, well, so I have actually been dictating for quite a few years. So that’s a big part of my writing process now.
I was like, okay, I can keep dictating things. Editing is going to be a little harder, you know, you can get your computer to read to you, but it’s a different skill set, I guess.
I had a really good friend in college who was completely blind, and she was also an English major. So I was like, I know these tools are out there. Even 20 years ago, Erin was doing all this amazing stuff and completely able to read and write and do everything that I do for my job, but I hadn’t really used them.
So I was going from, okay, I have one eye that can look at the screen for just long enough to try to figure out how the screen reader works, and then I’d close my eyes and listen for a minute and be like, wait, where was that? How do I edit that?
The adaptability stuff was really kind of tough to access even though I had been dictating, so at least I had that skill set.
So I dictated a lot of emails and texts and stuff at first, especially on my phone. I have a Mac and an iPhone, and I found that the dictation software on iOS was a lot easier to work with than the dictation software just on the Mac.
So I ended up just mostly working on my phone, which wasn’t great for looking at the small screen. Of course, I bumped up all the text. I put it in like old lady mode. I just turned 40 this year and I’m like, well, I guess we’re doing old lady mode on the phone.
Joanna: Well, that’s really interesting. A few things to come back on here.
I mean, we’ve known each other quite a long time now, I guess since we met over in Oregon probably like a decade ago now. You’ve always been calm. When I think of you, I think of you as this calm person. But, I mean, was there any freaking out or were you afraid? Or—
Have you just been this calm person throughout?
Jessie: I have been, I guess, shockingly calm. I say shockingly, because even in my own mind, I feel like I could have been a little more freaked out.
But I knew almost immediately what had happened and that I’ve lost vision in that eye, and so my brain was almost immediately like, okay, well, you can’t go back from that, so what’s the next step? The next step is we drive to the hospital. The next step is we lay here nicely while people stitch us up.
So my brain was just like, okay, let’s just do the next thing, next thing, taking deep breaths. I remember at one point, I was asking—because there was the writer part of my brain that was like, “Oh, interesting, this is what it’s like to be in a hospital, this is what an emergency room was like,” and I was like, ‘shut up, I just got shot, I don’t need you cataloguing details.’
I was talking to one of the nurses as I was waiting to get a CAT scan, and I asked her what the beeping was. I thought it was probably the heart rate, but it seemed really slow. And she’s like, yeah, that’s your heart rate monitor, and it’s very slow, it’s very calm, that’s good.
And I was like, oh, that meditation I’ve been doing lately must be working. I had already told them that I was an author and had been selling books at the street fair, and she was like, well, if your book is about meditation, I’ll read it because I can’t believe you’re lying there so quietly.
Joanna: That is so interesting. And I mean, I have had laser eye surgery, and obviously completely different, but I was lying under the machine.
I’ll never forget it, I was lying under the machine and you look up at a laser, and there’s a smell of sort of burning, and I wrote a story about it, With A Demon’s Eye, and I put that kind of in that story.
But I know that sensation of being there, going with that writer half of your brain, going, “Oh, oh, this is going to be part of a book someday!” So I mean, but this is the thing, you must have been in shock. I mean, you had head trauma. You’ve been shot.
Was your husband freaking out far more than you, do you think?
Jessie: He was. So we only live about 10 minutes away from this hospital, so my friend called him as soon as he dropped me off, and Rob was there almost immediately. I remember just trying to tell the doctors, they’re like, “Your husband’s outside. Do you want him to come in?”
And I was like, “Yes. Tell him I’m okay. Make sure he knows I’m okay,” because I knew I was just covered in blood, but I also knew that I was okay, and I felt like I was still thinking very clearly.
At that point, they’d done the CAT scan, and they were like, okay, the bullet stopped in your eye, it didn’t go into your brain. I was like, thank god, because that could have been so much worse.
But I knew I did not look like I was okay, so I kept just being like, let him know I’m fine. But, of course, I couldn’t see what it looked like. My parents showed up later, and they live three hours away, so they drove down so they could be there before my surgery the next morning. The same thing, like my dad walked in the room and he was just like, “Do you mind if we cry?”
Joanna: Oh, I was gonna say they would’ve burst into tears to see you hurt.
Jessie: Yeah, and so then later, I finally saw myself in the mirror. I was like, oh, yeah, I look way worse than I thought I did even.
Joanna: I mean, I’m laughing about it in a kind of nervous way here. I mean, I know people listening are like why are you joking around? This is really serious. But I mean, are you wearing like an eyepatch? Do you have to wear anything specific now? Do you have like cool scars? Because we’re not on video here, we’re just doing audio. I mean—
Is it something that has changed your appearance?
Jessie: Yeah, so I mean, the pirate jokes started immediately.
My family has a long history of laughing our way through illnesses and injuries, so I come by that honestly.
Within days, I had gone on Etsy and found myself the coolest leather eyepatch that I could. Actually, it’s now a new hobby. I bought a bunch of leather working supplies, and I’ve made myself several more like really cool eye patches.
Ultimately, so they weren’t able to save my left eye. It’s healing up, so it does look a little more normal, but it’s like the iris doesn’t work anymore.
David Bowie had the two different colored eyes, but they weren’t different colored, it was just that he had an eye injury, and the darker one, it was just all pupil. So that’s essentially what I’ve got going on right now.
I’ll be able to get, theoretically, a prosthetic shell that they could paint to look like my other eye. Or they can paint them to look like whatever you want, so as a sci fi writer, I could have a galaxy, or a cat, or gold flake, or all sorts of fun stuff.
Joanna: It’s interesting. I mean, so how is that? Because all of this is adapting, like we’re talking about adapting to change. So I mean, this is an alteration of a really important part of your body. How do you feel about it?
Are you going to make it a feature or is it something that you will hide?
Jessie: It’s something that I can’t really hide at this point. And at this point, because I’m so—I don’t want to say I’m a public figure, but I’ve got readers and I have friends on the internet.
I knew immediately, I was like, well, I can’t pretend this didn’t happen, otherwise, every time I see somebody for the next year or so they’re gonna see me and they’ll be like, “Oh my gosh, why are you wearing an eyepatch?” Or, “Why does your eye look weird?” And I’m gonna have to tell the story over and over.
So immediately, I was like, well, I need to get out in front of this and talk about it. I’ve also gone back and forth with wearing an eyepatch versus letting people see my weird eye, is what I started calling it.
I did post a picture on Instagram, finally, because I imagined people are seeing me with an eyepatch and thinking like, oh, it’s a ruined crater of monstrousness underneath that.
And I was like, it’s not actually that bad, but I look at myself without it, and it seems kind of sad and makes me feel almost like a victim. I guess I am a victim of gun violence, as we were talking about a little bit in the US, that is a label that more and more of us get.
Fortunately, I am one of the few that made it through to the other side and can tell that story. But wearing an eyepatch makes me feel like a badass, so that’s kind of where I’m falling, a little bit more on that spectrum right now.
Joanna: I have gone on your Instagram, and for people, it’s @KwakJessie. I’ll put a link in the show notes. I mean, I’ve always looked at you as someone who already looks like a badass, as in you’ve always been pretty funky in terms of your hair and everything. I’m looking at it now, and I can see what you mean. You do look just super badass.
Jessie: Thank you.
Joanna: Well, yeah, I mean, you look great, whatever. You always have. I find this interesting because —
As writers, we self-define by what’s in our mind and our brains, so much more than our physical bodies.
Do you know what I mean? It’s like we want people to read our books, and if people read our books, they almost know us a lot more than if they look at us.
This is something I’ve been thinking about—and it’s completely not at all in your area at all—but I’ve got a white streak now in my hair because my hair is going white, and I’m heading to 50.
I’ve been dyeing my hair dark for so long, and then there was just a day and I was like, you know what, I think I just have to let it be. It’s very strange, and I know it doesn’t compare at all, but it was that moment of—
How are people going to see me now, and does that matter?
I mean, does it? I don’t know. It’s really hard.
Jessie: Well, I think when your physical appearance starts to change, you do have to really reconcile it with how you see yourself and how you perceive other people seeing you. Which, of course, we never know. We’re always projecting what we think other people see.
I do a monthly giveaway in my newsletter where it’s normally books that are on my shelf that I’m like, oh, I loved this, and I want to give it away to somebody, and I always have done a selfie with the book in my newsletter and sent that out.
So the first one I did after the shooting was with me and an eyepatch, and I was just like, oh my gosh —
My life is divided now between selfies that are old normal Jessie and new pirate mode Jessie. It was just this weird moment of like, oh my gosh.
So I talked about that a little bit in my newsletter, and I was like I am having some really deep feelings in regards to the selfie that I’m posting, but I’m posting it anyways. I got a lot of people responding and saying, “You look great. I love the eyepatch.”
I also should tell this story. So I’ve been to more street fairs since this happened and been selling my books at more street fairs, and the last one that I was at, this guy came up and he was like—one of my books is called Ghost Pirate Gambit—and he’s like, “Well, I have to get the sci-fi pirate book. Obviously, you write about pirates because you wear an eyepatch.” I was like, no, the eyepatch is actually really new.
Joanna: Yeah, I mean, maybe people think it’s a prop, but now it’s not a prop. So I mean, this is so interesting. Coming back, you mentioned the iOS dictation app.
Can you just talk a bit more about the importance of accessibility?
Because there’ll be people listening who have problems with vision or hearing, and accessibility is so important for so many people. Everyone’s on a sort of spectrum of what they need in terms of accessibility.
Tell us a bit more about any other tips, like your tips for dictation, or how you’re managing the level of energy and that kind of thing.
Jessie: So, in terms of dictation, yeah, I really found that dictating to my phone was so much simpler.
I use Evernote, and I would just dictate drafts of things into Evernote and then copy them to whatever it was I was doing on my laptop, if I needed to send an email or if I was working on a newsletter or something like that.
Before this, I guess, I did a lot of going for a long walk and dictate a draft of something, whether it’s fiction or client project into my phone, just as a recorded file, and then upload it.
There’s a couple different programs that I’ve used. One is otter.ai, which is great, especially for transcribing interviews or things that have multiple people because it will say, oh, this was so and so speaking, this was so and so speaking, and so it kind of makes a really nice transcript.
Then the other one is a tool called writersvoice.ai, and it’s actually just in beta testing right now, a friend of mine is working on it. So I’ve been kind of using those two tools to transcribe these drafts.
Yeah, as I said, you have to edit your dictated texts because it can be all over the place sometimes. That was the part that I really struggled with because I just couldn’t look at a screen for very long.
I was extremely light-sensitive at first, and so I have a pair of blue light glasses which helped a little bit.
Then I would make sure all my screens were kind of yellow-shifted, so at least that light was a little bit easier to look at.
But I was in Scrivener having it read a draft of a story to me that was pretty funny because there were a lot of swear words in it and ridiculous things, and having kind of the woman read it to you in her really flat voice was pretty hilarious. I found that was really helpful because I could follow along and be like, oh, no, that words wrong, stop it, and go in. So those were the two main accessibility things that I was using.
In terms of energy, that has been the hardest part for me.
I’m almost back up to normal, but I tire out pretty easily in the afternoons. So I was just listening to audiobooks, listening to audiobooks and taking naps, and just thinking, okay, what needs to get done?
What absolutely needs to get done? What is a nice to have? What is the most important thing?
So a lot of it for the last few months has been like administration and kind of triaging emails. I’m only just now kind of getting back to, alright, I’m going to write a story for fun.
Joanna: I think this is really interesting, the ‘what needs to get done.’
My only experience of this was when I had COVID, and there were a couple of weeks and then a couple of months where I just couldn’t do what I can normally do.
And it was the same, it was, okay, if I’ve only got an hour, what do I really have to do? I mean, obviously, as a freelance writer, you have to prioritize working for other clients.
Have you been able to continue doing [freelance writing] through this?
Jessie: Yeah, I’m at a really lucky stage of my business, where for years I was making my money mostly as a blogger and I had multiple clients that I had constant deadlines throughout the week, and I’ve slowly over the last couple of years moved to where I am ghostwriting business books for thought leader and coach types.
So I only work on one of those projects at a time. So I had just literally the day before signed a new client, he paid my deposit, and it was like great, we’ll set up a bunch of times next week to start the interview process So I had to email him and be like, “This is what happened…”
Joanna: I assume he let you off the hook there!
Jessie: Yeah, well, I was like, I am still really excited about this project, but I can’t start right yet.
But fortunately, being in the interview phase, I just was trying to get his story. So I could just turn the phone on, and record it, and talk to him for an hour and a half or whatever. I didn’t have to do much screen staring, so that that was easier to do. So it turned out to be really fortunate timing.
But yeah, it was just like, oh my gosh, okay, who do I need to send an email to? I need to talk to this person, tell them crazy things happened, like your project is going to be pushed back a little bit.
I just had hired a virtual assistant like a week before because I was like, okay, I definitely need help with more things in my business. So that was also really good timing, except that you have to get a VA up to speed on everything.
She’d sent me some stuff on that Friday, and I was like, great, I’ll get you set up on this email account over the weekend, and I’ll send you these details over the weekend, and all this stuff. So I had to email her to and be like, so I’m gonna need you to be really proactive for a minute.
Joanna: I think it’s interesting. One of my Clifton Strengths is futurist, so I am always playing out scenarios in my head as to what I need to have in place for when things happen.
And again, when COVID hit, I mean, I could stop working, or if I died right now, things will carry on, I’ll still make money. I mean, it’s kind of crazy to think that way, and yet, when these things do happen, we worry.
So we’ve talked about dictation, a virtual assistant, you’ve got different streams of income, the audiobooks.
If you were winding back time to try and prepare for something like this happening, or things that people need to have in place, what are things that people should even think about to kind of future-proof?
Because at some point, we all are going to have to work less, or there might be an injury, or an illness, or something else in the family.
What do you think people should think about and have in place, just in case anything happens?
Jessie: I think documenting your systems and the ways that you do things. I really, really wish that I had done any of that because there were several times I was trying to do something in my newsletter program, and my husband’s like, “You have a VA now, can’t she do that?”
And I was like, I would need to explain I do this, then this, then this, and I should be writing it down now, but I’m not because I’m too tired.
So to be able to just like hand off like, here’s how I build out a new newsletter. Then I could have dictated the draft of something and just sent her the unedited file and be like, great, please make that happen. But yeah, I don’t have any of that documented. I’m slowly working on that. We are working on it together. She’s great.
That would be one of my number one tips for people is:
If you’re doing things over and over, write down all the steps.
Yeah, it’s in your head, and yeah, you’re the only one doing it right now, but what if you need to ask your husband to send an email for you, and he’s like, wait, where do I find this thing? Well, it’s if you go in this file, but over here on that file, which is not intuitive, it doesn’t make any sense, but it’s just how my brain has left it these years.
Joanna: I mean, I haven’t documented mine either. What’s so funny, it’s like you say, it’s on the list, but it always gets moved down the list because I’d much rather be doing something more interesting.
Jessie: It’s not that fun.
Joanna: No, exactly. I’m like, oh, no, I really just can’t do that. I mean, I still don’t even have like a book launch checklist or like a self-publishing checklist. Like seriously, I think I am quite chaotic.
I mean, you’ve got this book, From Chaos to Creativity, I think I’m creative and chaotic. I get things done. I mean, but yeah, exactly, you’re right. I mean, when things do happen, and you can’t do it, that’s when you need that list. So I’m sure lots of people listening haven’t done that yet.
Let’s also talk about health care because obviously you’re in the USA, you’re a freelancer, and that’s what a lot of people in the US worry about.
Now, your husband put up a GoFundMe to help with the immediate healthcare costs, and your community and your family obviously rallied around, but, you know, you don’t know what the healthcare costs are going to be over time.
So a lot of people listening are in the US. Any thoughts on that or tips, or is that just something that everyone has to find for themselves, some kind of healthcare situation?
Jessie: Yeah, I mean, the weird thing about the US healthcare system, I read an article recently about how GoFundMe is being used so much for healthcare, and the founder of GoFundMe was like, I really wish we weren’t. I mean, I’m glad we’re here as a service for people, but it was something like 70% of GoFundMe’s went towards health care. And the guy was like, yeah, that’s a statistic I wish was not associated with us, but I’m happy that we’re here to help.
It’s just, I mean, it’s such a mystery. The costs are such a mystery. You go in, and like, I was in one hospital, and then they took me by ambulance to another hospital that had the eye care center.
I’ve seen some really incredible specialists who know all sorts of things about all different parts of the eye over the last few months, and you’re like, I really want these people to be getting paid well. I have no idea what the overall cost is going to be, or how much is actually going to the awesome nurses who are taking care of me because, you know, especially in the US, nurses are so underpaid and overwhelmed. I have several friends who are nurses.
I know, in the end, this is probably going to be maybe $150,000-$200,000. Like, in my mind in the hospital, I was like, that could be the total amount of this. And is this person who’s making my life way more comfortable right now, is she getting a minimum wage and working 80 hours? Like, where’s that money going?
We do have health insurance. My husband has an employer that has a pretty good package. Fortunately, I’m able to get on that.
But yeah, I think the frustrating thing is the mystery of it all, where you just don’t know where things are going to end. You’re like, what’s the final bill going to be to me? How am I going to manage that?
So it is nice to have that GoFundMe safety net of like, okay, that’ll take care of whatever random hopefully out-of-pocket costs that we’re gonna have, whatever insurance decides not to cover. I’ve been going back and forth with the insurance company, like sending them documentation to prove that the procedures were medically necessary, because it was medically necessary to remove a bullet for my eye!
Joanna: Yeah, you would have thought so!
Jessie: You would’ve thought so. That seems self-explanatory, but…
Joanna: Goodness. I mean, you’re used to it now, like talking about it, but I know people listening, and I’m just sitting here going, oh, my goodness, this is just so shocking.
And I mean, in a way, it could have been a lot worse, as we were saying before we started recording, I mean, if that bullet was just what a millimeter or two different, you’d have been dead, or you’d have been severely brain damaged, or that bullet could have stuck in your head. I mean—
Do you wake up in the middle of the night having like, ‘oh my god’ moments?
Jessie: Yeah, I mean, I definitely do.
I think because it could have been so much worse, and because I still have one perfectly good eye—well, I mean, it’s not a perfectly good eye, I’ve been wearing glasses since I was in third grade, but it’s a perfectly serviceable—it’s almost like it’s not like the glass is half full or half empty. It’s like maybe a tiny bit splashed out of the glass when I think about what could have happened.
So it’s been really, on that end, it’s been kind of easy to stay positive, and think, well, all right, I feel incredibly, incredibly lucky. I mean, yes, this was unlucky, but in the scheme of things all right.
Joanna: Yeah, like a close call.
For many people, it is a kind of clarion call to, okay, new life, going to just rev it up, and go ahead. And I mean, that’s what you’re doing.
You are running an Author Alchemy Summit in February 2024. Tell us about that.
Like, why the hell are you doing a summit? Where is it? And who might find it useful?
Jessie: Yeah, so the Author Alchemy Summit is a small conference that I’m running in Portland, Oregon, at the end of February 2024.
Essentially, I wanted to gather together a lot of smart brains in the industry and colleagues and other writers and have kind of education and conversation around how to connect with our readers, but also build connections and community as part of this conference.
We talked really briefly before we got started about why am I still putting it on. I know a lot of people when I reached out to them, and I was like, “Hey, this is still happening, just wanted to let you know. I hope you’re still on board to be my speakers.” They were like, okay, great, because they didn’t think it would once they heard the news.
To me, building community is just so important, and providing space for a community to gather and make those connections.
I mean, every good thing that has happened in my writing career has been because of people that I have met at different conferences and people that I’ve built relationships with over the years.
So I was kind of weighing in my mind, like, I know I’m only going to have the time and energy for, you know, maybe one big project through the next six months. How does it feel to me to say no to the conference but yes to writing the next book, versus if I don’t get that next book written but I do put on the conference?
There’s just so much more loving and happiness and joy around the idea of putting my energy into building this community and giving back. So many people rallied around me when this happened, like, I really wanted to continue this conference where I was trying to give back to that community. You know, books will get written, but these relationships I just think are so important.
Joanna: So I mean, on the landing page for the Author Alchemy Summit, you say “the playbook is changing.”
And obviously, I mean, I’ve been talking a lot about this. But what do you mean by that?
“The playbook is changing.” What do you feel is changing in the industry?
Jessie: Well, I have a lot of friends that are indie, and a lot of friends who are trad, and I feel like it’s changing kind of on both sides.
In indie publishing, I guess the market is maturing more. It’s not that you can put a bunch of books out and that’s what makes you successful. You have to, for better words, try harder to make those connections with readers because the discoverability is just not as simple as it used to be.
It’s not a matter of putting a book out, readers are just inundated with more choice. Social media is just noisier, less effective, more dispersed. We used to all kind of go to one or two social media sites, and now it’s like everybody’s got their own Discord that you have to get invited to, or there’s 18 different new Twitter clones.
Then on the traditional side of things, publishers are merging, and it’s a lot harder for midlist authors, who a lot of my friends either are or kind of would end up being once they get their agents, it’s a lot harder for them to actually make a living at writing, whereas they used to be able to.
So I mean, I end up having a lot more conversations lately with traditionally published friends who have maybe have three or four books out, and they’re like, “Hey, so my publisher, like I’m getting my rights back to this. And I have other stories that I want to tell in this universe, and they don’t want them. How do you do the self-publish thing?” I’m like, yes, I would love to talk to you about that.
So I think those are kind of the things. The discoverability, you can’t just write a book and expect that it will get out there and get noticed. That’s never really been true, I don’t think, but I feel like it’s becoming more and more about owning your own channels, in a way. You know, your own newsletter and your direct sales and things like that, which is why the conference is focused around this question of like, how do we connect directly with our readers?
Joanna: I mean, it’s a huge topic in a way because I feel like that it’s fragmented so much.
You know, when we first met, I even think that might have been before KU, before Kindle Unlimited.
In the early days, there was a very clear way to self-publish. There were only a few options for marketing.
Now, there are so many ways to self-publish, so many ways to market, and you have to find your way through that to what works for you.
That is why it’s great that you’re doing this, and it will be focused more on your angle of things, and other people will focus on other angles. Is it for new authors? Is it for experienced authors?
Who is the target market for this conference?
Jessie: I would say for authors who probably have a couple books out at least. Or if you are newer, if you’re kind of more of that marketing businessy mindset and you’re looking for, okay, I’m gonna start off, I’ve got a book that I’m about to publish, and I’m really thinking about how can I connect directly with my readers.
We’re not gonna be focusing at all on craft, or how to finish your book, or the agent hunt, or any of those sorts of things. If you’re really in that category, this might not be a great fit for you. But if you’re a business-minded author who is really trying to figure out, okay, I’ve got a book, it’s either published or ready to publish, and I want to figure out how to build a long-term sustainable career, as opposed to how am I going to make money off my first book, then this would definitely be for you.
Where can people find the Author Alchemy Summit, and also you and everything you do online?
Joanna: Brilliant. Well, thanks so much for your time, Jessie. That was great.
Jessie: Yeah. Thank you, Joanna.
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Author: Joanna Penn