The Next Strategic Step On Your Author Journey And Author Nation With Joe Solari

Wherever you are on the author journey, there are some important questions to consider along the way. Joe Solari outlines a strategic step forward for new authors, midlist indies, and those with ambitious financial goals. Plus, what is Author Nation?

In the intro, Top 10 trends for publishing [Written Word Media]; Indie author predictions for 2024 [ALLi]; Book publishing predictions [Kathleen Schmidt]; AI in 2024 [MIT Technology Review]; Chat to the JoBot on ChatGPT; Midjourney and video creation [Decrypt]; Business as usual is not an option [TNPS]; Beneath the Zoo in audio and ebook; The Comfort Crisis by Michael Easter.

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. 

Joe Solari helps authors build great businesses through books, courses, and podcasting, as well as strategy and operations consulting. He’s also the managing partner of Author Ventures, which organizes Author Nation, coming to Las Vegas in November 2024.

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. 

Show Notes

  • Business strategies for authors at different stages
  • Allocating time and money as a new author
  • Branding for a midlist indie author
  • Financial freedom vs. business expansion. What do you really want?
  • What to expect from Author Nation 2024
  • Why getting out of your comfort zone is the way to success

You can find Joe and Author Nation at or

Transcript of Interview with Joe Solari

Joanna: Joe Solari helps authors build great businesses through books, courses, and podcasting, as well as strategy and operations consulting. He’s also the managing partner of Author Ventures, which organizes Author Nation, coming to Las Vegas in November 2024. So welcome back to the show, Joe.

Joe: Thanks for having me back, Joanna. This is awesome.

Joanna: I’m excited to talk to you. This is going out as the first interview episode of 2024, so we’re going to start with business strategy for authors who want to have a successful year because you’re so good at this. There’s always so much to do as an author, so we’re going to break it down.

First of all, for a new author who is just starting out, maybe they have one or two books, they might just even be writing their first book—

What are your tips for authors just starting out?

Joe: Sure, sure. So I think there’s also those that haven’t even written a book. This may be the year that first book comes out.

I think that for all those people, having a budget is really critical. Understanding the money it’s going to cost and time, what it’s going to be to get you to that first book and to the point of profitability. So that might be thinking all the way through, say, the next three years.

It’s a plan, it’s not carved in stone. Just by doing that, you’re going to have a better idea of your overall costs that you’re gonna need to have, and you’re going to have something to measure yourself off of.

So, I’ve never had a plan go 100% right. It’s really for when you do find that things aren’t going the way you thought they were, you can go back and look at that and figure out how far off the rails are you, what could be causing that, and get yourself adjusted.

Sometimes that adjustment is, oh, there’s this really great opportunity that’s presented itself that is better than my plan, and when I evaluate this opportunity against my plan, I should adjust to this.

If you don’t have that plan, then you could go all over the place. Everything looks better than your non-existent plan.

Joanna: I love that, actually, because a lot of people ask me this question.

I think understanding it in terms of budget of money and time, and time, in particular, at this point in an author journey.

I feel like so many people will have all their questions about how do I get published, or how do I publish a book, and how do I market a book. Then you’re like, so have you finished a book? And often they haven’t.

So, I mean, people only have a certain amount of time to budget for this whole year.

What are the things that they should put into that time bucket?

And also, I guess, that money bucket, when they’re just starting out?

Joe: I think the two are intertwined.

You know, you’ve been around this a while, so you’ve seen it, there tends to be the sense of urgency to get the books published. Like, if I get them out in the market, then they’re gonna sell and I’m gonna know something, which is true, but you could publish too quickly.

You know, if you’re writing certain genres where part of what you have to deliver to the market is a reliability of production, right. So certain genres, it’s not just about putting out a book, it’s about putting out books in a series. If you don’t do that, then you’re going to be disappointed in the results. You’ll be like, I put this first book out, and nothing happened. Well, you’re writing an epic fantasy. I’ve actually had this conversation with authors writing epic fantasy, and they’ll be like, “As a reader, I don’t even pick up a series until I know there’s three books in it.”

Joanna: Yes.

Joe: Yet, their series is going to be different, it’s going to be magical. Everyone’s gonna start buying book one, so they have the money to do book two. And it’s like, no.

Understanding that this is a startup business with an unproven product or a recently brought-to-market product, and you have to build up trust with your audience that you are going to deliver.

Unfortunately, authors have brought this upon themselves in that a lot of unfinished series have left readers cautious.

Either that’s because you’re taking longer to write than you expected, or from a financial perspective.

I’ll be one of the first people to say, “Hey, listen, this series is a dud. Cut your losses and move onto the next thing.” Well, what happens when we do that? Well, you cut your financial losses, but you’ve just left some people that have bought those books with an unfinished product. There’s a cost to that and we have to understand those are the conditions in the market.

So back to the question, being like, make sure you’ve planned through those things that need to happen, and you understand the time and money component.

Maybe what it means is that you take a little longer to publish. Like maybe you don’t drop that first book as soon as you thought because you’re waiting to save up money to do this, or you’re waiting to get more of those books done, so that when they do come out, they’re coming out closer together.

Joanna: Also, in those earlier days, I spent much more on editors, several different types of editors, because I was learning so much. Even if you’re good at one genre, or say, you can write nonfiction, and then you decide to get into fiction or a specific genre.

I spent more of my time and money in those early books on the quality side and the craft side.

Funnily enough, even though, I have no patience, I did publish my first novel after finishing it, although that did take 14 months.

Then after three books, I did rewrite them. So you can do these things in different ways, but I think you’re right about that. Thinking about money, and time, and a budget from day one, I don’t know, do you think that’s normal?

I feel like many new authors, they’re not even thinking that way.

New authors might still have the mindset of, “If I just write one book, I can sell it, get a massive deal, and retire.”

Joe: Yeah, I think that this is kind of a small business thing, right?

I think a lot of entrepreneurs come into this with a lot of passion and a lot of grit, and they’re just gonna do it. Like, I’m gonna make this happen. They never stop to think about like, okay, what can I do? You know, there’s millions of people before me that have done this and have succeeded and failed, right?

What are the things that the people that have succeeded done?

Well, they’ve been a little more thoughtful. They’ve planned better. You brought up a really great point about in that beginning book, that time that you need to kind of get your developmental edits and find your voice and really get an understanding of the craft.

You know, that’s important, and if that takes 14 months in that first book, that you embrace that, right. You think about, like, hey, I’m spending a lot of money on this developmental editor, I want two things to come out of it. I want a really good book to come out of it, and I want to learn so that next time, I don’t have to have that level of coaching, that it becomes part of my skill set. 

When you start to think about how all those parts become business processes, right, for the product that’s coming out.

How can I, as the creator, be more efficient in my book production?

I think when you start thinking things that way, you start to be a little more gentle with yourself and not put yourself under that pressure that comes with that impatience of wanting to see the book in the market.

Now, the flip side is, you can’t do that for 10 years. You have to understand that you need to get a book into the market. You need to, at some point, get those first products out there.

I’ve yet to meet an author who’s like, “Yeah, I got it right the first time.”

Most of us go back and read those books, you know, our future selves go back and read those books and we’re like, “Oh, boy. What was I thinking?”

Joanna: They’re such an important part of the process, and you only learn by doing that.

So I know some people listening will be like, oh, well, then I can’t publish until everything is perfect. And like you said, if you wait 10 years, you’re gonna miss out on learning from each book. So yes, definitely thinking about quality, taking a bit more time. 

Let’s move on to the midlist, I suppose, the midlist indie author who might be making, let’s say, around $1,000 a month, which is fine, but it’s not going to necessarily change anyone’s life.

That author is often frustrated by not being able to make a dent in the market, or sell enough books, or move to the next level.

What should the midlist indie author focus on in 2024?

Joe: Yeah, I think that the great thing is they’ve proven that there is a market out there for their books, right, like the product is tested.

Now, I think what it becomes is—and this is hard for a lot of authors—is focusing in on the audience and building a community.

You know, if you’ve looked at any of the stuff that I focus on with my books, Advantage or Attention, it’s that there’s this really important function of readers connecting their identity with your story world and your characters.

That takes effort, and it’s not just by running ads. It’s about really understanding what your brand represents in the marketplace, what it feels are. Like, what is it that makes someone want to read this book and be in that world? 

The more you think about that, and you start to bleed your imagination and your creativity that’s going into the books into your marketing to represent that, it becomes easier for a potential reader to see that. If more of your marketing feels like your books, then it’s like, oh, well, I like the way this ad reads, it makes me think this would be a good book. If I land on your website and get some really good confirmation of that, then it’s going to make it so it’s easier for me to trust your brand and pick that book up.

Joanna: And, of course —

Brand is really, really hard!

Joe: It is. It’s super hard.

Here’s the crazy thing is, is that there’s a lot of people that buy your book and never read it because the real cost that we have to understand is that precious reading time.

Everyone’s got limited amount of time in their life, and when they decide that they are going to take that reading, what do they choose to do?

Do they choose to go back to a book they’ve already read because they know how it feels? Or do they take the risk on reading your book? And we’re in a world now, this kind of Netflix world, where if you don’t get me right away, well, then I’ll just stop and go do something else.

Joanna: Yes, and I think the branding thing is interesting in that it’s almost like the promise to the reader.

And you do get a couple of chances, like there are authors who I’m a fan of the author, and I will try their book. I mean, like I came to you through, I guess, probably through an interview on the podcast, and then I bought one of your books direct, Advantage, I think, and then I got on your email list, and now I’ve obviously heard you speak in person, we’ve met. And for all these things, I get a sense of who Joe Solari is. So as a nonfiction author, I will trust you enough to buy your next book under that name.

I feel like building that trust, we do that, like you mentioned, through these different ways, and then people will trust that we will deliver on that promise next time. So I guess that’s another thing about brand is it does all have to resonate with the reader.

Joe: Yes, you’ve really put that in a succinct way, using me as an example. It’s just shifting it a bit for fiction.

Like nonfiction, I think you’ve really laid it out cleanly, and I practice those principles.

In essence, what it boils down to —

I don’t want to have to sell you, I want you to buy when you’re ready.

If that’s the minute you see an ad, and you click through, and you’re like, it all makes sense, and you want to buy, God bless, do it. If it takes you nine months, I need to have a place in a way for you to sell yourself.

I think that we’re living in a world today where people are curious, and if you give them a way to do that that’s fun and on brand, a lot of your customers will nurture themselves to that point of trust and like, but most book marketing that I observe today doesn’t do that.

Joanna: Yes, and it focuses on the short term, whereas I know what you teach, and also, I guess what I do too, is the more long-term perspective.

I guess for that midlist author who’s making their $1,000 a month, what they need to do is — 

Focus on building the brand, building out their ecosystem with more products that are related to their brand and their promise to the reader.

I feel like so many of those authors are just like, “Oh, I must just do more ads,” but that’s not necessarily the answer.

Joe: No, because advertisement is about discovery and visibility, right? So what do I want them to discover? What do I want them to have visibility on?

And I talk about this quite a bit, 15% of the market is that one-click voracious buyer. That means the other 85% of the market, if I don’t have a system in place, if my ads just go to a sales page, and my expectation is your only choice is for you to buy my book or leave, then I’m leaving 85% of the market underserved or not served.

So how do I serve that?

Well, what if a portion of your advertising budget was just bringing somebody to your website and going, like, “Hey, let’s get to know each other.”

Right, like an ad that makes them curious about, “Oh, if you like urban fantasy, I’d like to talk to you about urban fantasy.” And you’re like, I do like urban fantasy. So I go there and it’s like, oh, this is an author I haven’t heard of and there’s some really interesting things here that seem to be kind of the books that I like, and they’re giving me some easy ways to access their writing right there on the page.

It’s not opt in or any of that stuff, it’s really like, how are you giving them your story and your reading voice as easy as possible so that they can start to form an opinion on whether you’re right or not.

Now, some people are going to be like, nope, this isn’t my thing. That’s okay. That was the purpose is to sort out the ones that are and those that aren’t. So that’s a different type of marketing, and you don’t hear about that—I think you’re hearing about it more and more now, but certainly a few years ago, nobody was talking about that.

Joanna: Okay, so that’s that midlist author. I guess we’re saying, build the brand and learn to nurture audiences more. So let’s move into the six-figure author who wants to get to multi-six figures and take that next jump.

So this is the ambitious author, they’re already doing well, but they want to move to the next level. What about that?

What should the six-figure author be doing if they want to make an ambitious jump in their business?

Joe: Yeah, so first thing I would do is I would challenge them with this question: what is their best life through writing?

Like, put the numbers aside, what does your best life look like in writing? What are you doing? What’s happening on days? Who are you spending your time with? What’s going on in your life?

The reason I ask that question of them is because more often than not, the money you need to have that best life is a lot less than you think it is.

It doesn’t have to be seven figures, it doesn’t have to be eight figures. I do this because I’ve worked with a lot of authors that have chased those monetary goals, and they tend to be pretty hollow. 

It doesn’t get better, right?

You grow your business to seven figures, and now you have a larger, more demanding audience, you have probably more staff now to do things that you’re now responsible for making that payroll, and there becomes a lot more pressure on you as an author. Is that really your best life?

Because I’ve observed that people that have gotten to that point, a lot of times they tend to tone it down, and they go to a lower number. It’s probably still multiple six figures, but they’re tuning their career into what they want it to be, and they’re not becoming a slave to their business.

Joanna: I knew I liked you!

I mean, I totally agree with this. I actually have on my wall, “I want to write the books I want when I want, and travel where I want when I want.”

And there’s pictures of me with my husband traveling in different places. It’s like, there’s no number on my wall.

Joe: What you just described is true financial freedom, and that’s the difference.

People think that financial freedom comes from having a bunch of money in your bank account. It’s true to some extent, right, but to be at a point where it’s like, you know what, I’ve got this book, it’s going to be a really good book, and I could write it or I don’t have to write it, it doesn’t matter.

That’s versus maybe earlier in your career, because the way you were building your career, it was like, well, I have to put out a book every five weeks because that’s how I’m building my career. You’re not financially free, you’re building a business.

You’re doing the things the business demands of you, the things that the market demands of you. 

When you get to a point of where you do have financial freedom, you can say, you know what, I’ve been crafting my business in a way, where now after a couple years, I write two books a year.

My fans are happy with that, and I produce a better book, and I get to do the things I want my life. That could be just hiking with your dogs or traveling with your husband.

Joanna: Yes, I mean, you’re right.

I mean, this is at the point where I am pretty secure in my career. But a few years ago, I did look at this, and I did some research into stepping up to a seven-figure business from a multi-six-figure business, and it was like, I need staff.

You mentioned staff, and this is a huge thing that I don’t know if people really realize, which is to get to a certain number, you need people to help you and a much bigger team, and like you said, do payroll and all that. I decided, for me, that was not the business I wanted.

I’m a solopreneur. I’m the only employee in my business. I’m a creative first. I don’t want to run a big company, and that is a mindset I decided on.

Whereas, I mean, you are an entrepreneur, in that you start businesses, you work with people, you do collaborations, you have employees, you do much bigger projects. So I feel like they’re quite different mindsets.

Do you think that’s like a personality difference or just a choice?

Joe: I think it’s a choice.

I think, and I can just speak for myself, before getting into the book publishing business, I was in the oil and gas industry—we’ve talked about this—and we had 35 employees and we had HR.

I make a lot of like, “I swear I’m never going to do things” statements that come back and bite me later. And this was another one of them was like, I’m never having any more employees, like anything I do from this point forward, it’s just gonna be me and Suze. Like, that’s it, I’m done with people.

And now I’m getting into a new venture where I’m going to be managing a team because I know having a team makes the difference.

So I think it has to be like — 

When you decide you’re going to do something, you have to understand the ramifications of that decision.

I’ve seen several successful authors transition where they’re like, “Hey, I started out as a solo author. I made a decision I wanted to get into publishing other authors.”

So they scaled that up, and they dealt with serving other authors, as well as having a team that they had to manage. Then they got to another point in their life where they’re like, “Hey, this is good, and it’s successful, and I’m making money, but this isn’t my best life. I would like to write more books and manage less people.” And they transition out of that. As long as you do all of those things well, it doesn’t matter which one.

This is one thing I know for sure —

Your business is going to change because you’re going to change, the needs are going to change.

You know, if you think things are immutable, and this is rigid and how things are going to be, then you won’t adapt.

So I think when you’re up at that level of this kind of success we’re talking, multiple six figures, it’s like, you got a brand, you’ve got customers, as long as you keep delivering product to those people and serving those customers, you’re going to have a good business. How you do that, like if you decide, oh, I want to co-write, and you shift to do that, and that doesn’t necessarily work out and you shift to something else, that’s okay.

Be gentle with yourself around that stuff. There isn’t one way to do this. And understand that over time, you’re going to mature, and what used to be fun and interesting and cool, you decide I don’t want to do anymore. It’s okay. Like, again, that gets back to financial freedom.

Joanna: I think that’s good.

So I think what we’re saying is —

When you’re deciding on your next step, really look at what it’s going take to get to that next level, and whether you really want that.

And then if you do really want that, maybe find some people to model in terms of how different businesses are going.

That’s the other thing, like you said, some people publish others, some people get into co-writing, some people start author services, businesses, training.

There are all kinds of other ways to make money and to scale things, but you have to decide what you really want, basically.

Joe: Yes, and one other thing is, if you are emulating somebody else, if you think somebody has it working a certain way, get time with that person and ask them, “Is it really working? Like, help me understand.”

Because we tend to think the grass is always greener, and you don’t understand that, oh, well, this person is running a publishing business.

And you think, oh, it’s got to be easier because they have all those other people writing. It’s like, well, when those work out there’s that extra revenue, but you’re also choosing to manage authors. Like, is that a skill set you have, project management and running a publishing company? It’s not easy. It’s really hard.

Joanna: And authors are a nightmare! I mean, come on!

Joe: Yeah. Like, they’re creatives, right. So you’re getting into a whole other thing, where you’re risking your money on other people’s creative abilities. That’s almost speculation, right?

Joanna: Yes, definitely. Definitely. So for all of these different authors, I mean, you mentioned change there. So change is a big thing that’s happening.

Also, I think, community and learning new things are really important. Let’s come to Author Nation because one of the big changes for you this year in 2024 is Author Nation.

Tell us what Author Nation is and why you have taken on this challenge.

Joe: Sure. So Author Nation is the largest indie author conference in the world.

What I did is I took over the financial liability of contracts from Caesars Palace from Craig Martelle, Incorporated. So those contracts used to be what 20Books Vegas was using for where they were holding their show. Michael and Craig chose to end the 20Books Vegas show, and those contracts, Craig was still on the hook for the next three years. So I took over those contracts and have designed a new conference with our team.

So part of why I explain it that way is I want there to be clarity that this isn’t 20Books 2.0. Do we have some of our DNA from that show? Yes, we do, but it’s not the same management company, it’s a completely different thing.

Now, why did I do this?

Well, some of the most important relationships in my life today, certainly some of my business relationships today, all stemmed from that show and the networking that happened around it.

It was important for me to make sure that that continued on into the future, that there would be a place for authors that are just getting started to come and connect with their tribe, and have a place where they could get information to get them up the learning curve faster.

Joanna: Yes, and it’s really funny because I came to 20Books Vegas in 2023, as the last 20Books Vegas, and I was like, I’ll never come to this city again! and I was determined.

Then I was watching the final session, which of course, you were on stage, and I was like, “I’m not coming again, I’m not coming again,” and then you unveiled Author Nation and the lovely logo.

And I was just like, oh, my goodness, it’s genius. I mean, talk about branding. And you totally got me because then I was like, ‘hell yeah, I want to be part of Author Nation.’

It spoke to me as an individual. I mean, you are very good at branding. So tell us like, how did you come up with that? Because it was not what we expected.

What is the vision for Author Nation? Because it is a big brand.

Joe: So part of this thing for me, this gets back to your best life, and that comes in two facets.

Me and Suze, my wife, she’s half owner of this thing, right, we made this decision at this point in our life to do this.

I consider myself a creative, and my medium is businesses.

And this, to me, seemed like a really fun, exciting thing to do with cool people, and it really fit something I wanted to do right now. So from a selfish perspective, while this is going to consume a lot of time, it already has consumed a lot of time, I love doing this kind of stuff. I feel like I’m really good at it, so this brings me joy.

The next part of this thing was seeing what the community needs. I think we’re at a point where it was a natural thing to have happen is a show like 20 Books Vegas to stop happening, and there being something new that kind of came to replace it.

It shows that I think the whole industry is in a massive transition. There’s a lot of things that are happening that are disrupting it. 

For me, the core of all of this, like what makes the magic happen when there is all these crazy things pulling us in different directions? How do we have a community?

Like how do we connect with the people that we serve, whether that’s our readers, or with our network of support of other authors? Well, I think that makes it really simple to understand what Author Nation is about, it’s that we’re going to create a physical live presence for that to happen.

Joanna: What can people expect then? Because I guess there’s speculation around whether it will still have author training. So will people be able to go to seminars and have training?

Or is it also going to have sort of a focus on readers? Give us a bit of an idea of what might happen.

Joe: Sure, sure. So first off, whenever I look at this, I like to have key performance indicators or KPIs. So we have three KPIs that we’re going to be focusing on at the show.

Number one is, if we take the authors that come to Author Nation, the demographics are about 12% have never published. So if we take those people, and we survey them nine months after attending, what percentage is published, right? So how can we help the people at that step that we all have to go through, which is get a book into the marketplace, how do we help them do that? And how do we measure it to show that we’re actually doing our job? So that’s one thing.

The next thing is, and this kind of gets back to your initial kind of business questions too, like this is how I think, it’s like, how many people come to the show that aren’t making money? Like they published, but they haven’t become profitable yet. How many, after nine months, can we get to break even?

Then I’ll get to the third KPI later, but on those two, then we say, okay, well, how do we structure that show in a way that does these things? So we’re still going to follow a similar structure in the sense of, Monday will be an industry expo day where we’re going to be exposing authors to all the people that service the industry.

We’re going to have a table set up, and we’re gonna be doing a little bit differently, but the idea is the same. This is where people are going to get more exposure to those folks that are there to serve us.

Tuesday through Thursday will be the author education piece, where you’re going to be around your tribe of authors, you can let your hair down, there’s not going to be readers there.

We’re going to be focusing on tracks and across domains to help people do the two things that I have a KPI on. 

Then the third one is this, how to figure out what your best life is and live it. Rather than in the past, you know, a lot of shows, and particularly 20Books, really celebrated monetary success, we’re going to be very focused on what’s your best life. And that can be done in several ways and doesn’t necessarily have to be about a financial number. So those are gonna be how those tracks are laid out.

Joanna: So for the people who do want to take it up a level—so for me, for example, it’s very rare for me to go to conferences and feel like I’ve really learned a lot in terms of author specific conferences.

And yet, when I came to 20Books Vegas, I was like, oh, it’s worth it for me just to learn from these other people about these other things.

Will there be enough for people like me who are kind of more advanced in the author business?

Joe: Yeah, I think that that’s one of the things that has been a struggle, and it’s a struggle for most shows, because it’s just the curve of the market.

There’s always going to be a larger amount of people that are not making as much money or just getting started, as there is this group of people that are successful and are looking for what to do next. So how do we do that?

One thing that we’ve done is we’ve created a programming committee. The chairperson is Chelle Honiker, who is the publisher of Indie Author Magazine and an author.

And we’ve purposely built out a team with people that are not focused just on KU and Amazon.

So you’re friends with J Thorn, J’s first time ever being at 20Books was this year. J and I have known each other for years, and J is coming on. You know J enough to know that he kind of is goes to the beat of his own drum. He hasn’t been somebody focused on any of the hyped up things. We brought in people from the Wide for the Win group.

So the idea is, is that —

We have to create an environment where we’re the facilitator for conversations, sometimes really difficult conversations.

We are going to provide, within that track system, very clear delineation. Now, it’s your money. If you come here, and you decide to go, for lack of better terms, off track and do other stuff, go ahead.

But there’s going to be a clarity for somebody like you, like what are the things you’re looking to make decisions about going forward?

Are you trying to explore a Kickstarter strategy? Well, then go to these four sessions. Are you trying to think through how you get into merchandising? Well, go to this session. So the idea being, is we know that we have to be providing content across all of those levels of success.

Joanna: I think that’s great. I mean, this year—I say this year, we’re recording it at the end of the year—but the 2023 20Books I enjoyed, as you mentioned, Kickstarter. Also, I went to sessions on print book sales. I went to, as well as spoke at, sessions on AI and those types of things. So I feel like there was definitely enough.

Like you said, I mean, I’ve been doing this for 15 years now, but what I’m learning, I’m learning from people who’ve been doing things differently. I think that’s what I valued a lot about it.

I did want to ask you, specifically on the AI side, will there be sessions? I mean, it’s very hard to say because it’s a while away and things change every week, but—

Will AI be incorporated into the various tracks?

Because I know some people are AI positive, most of my listeners are, but some people are not.

Joe: Sure. So before I get into that topic specifically, let me touch on one of the other things that we’ve changed. That is that we have a professional conduct committee that’s headed up by Nora Phoenix, and we have a diverse team there that’s really helping us to guide the community in professional conduct.

And why I bring this up now is that it’s also for our speakers as well. Authors need to understand that this isn’t summer camp, you’re coming to a professional conference where you’re representing your brand, and you’re hanging out with other people that are representing their brand.

When speakers come, they need to understand that they’re there to help the community think through ideas.

So they should be prepared to as easily argue the opposing viewpoint as to the one that they hold. They should be able to think about how they are helping the community become better informed and make wiser choices, not necessarily focus on owning somebody else on the panel.

So I say that because we are going to continue to address controversial issues, and we want to be the place where people can come and get the straight dope, pros and cons, on everything because that’s the reality of it.

You should be thinking, if you are looking at going on Kickstarter, what’s the pros and cons? If you’re looking at subscriptions as a methodology, what’s the pros and cons? If you’re thinking of integrating AI into your business, what’s the pros and cons?

I think that when you start doing that, then from our perspective—Author Nation doesn’t endorse or oppose any particular thing—we’re just going to be a place for civil discourse. That’s a long way of saying, yeah, we’re gonna take on a lot of issues.

Joanna: I mean, we have to, because in November 2024, goodness knows where we’re going to be in terms of a lot of these things and how the industry has changed.

Like you said, we’re in a transition, we’re in a disruption, and I’m finding I’m changing so much about my business. So I’m really looking forward to it.

Now, also, as we haven’t got too much time left, I want to address the fact that it is in Las Vegas. I mean, I hesitated to come because it’s difficult city for mostly introverted, quiet book people. So I wondered—

What are your tips on surviving Vegas, as a city?

I think you thought this way at some point as well.

Joe: Yeah, so I’m kind of the opposite in the sense that I used to spend a lot of time in Las Vegas, and it wore me out. I was like, again, “I’m never coming back here again,” and now I’m gonna run a conference there.

So first off, for the next three years, it is going to contractually remain in Las Vegas, so the show will be there. How we go forward beyond that, we haven’t really thought about yet. I do believe that Vegas is, for a lot of people, a great destination city. It’s easy to get into, air travel is low cost, and it has a lot of connecting flights. So it’s one of the cities in the United States that can be easy for everybody to get to.

Now, to your point about introverted folks, I think that, first off, this conference anywhere could be overwhelming for folks, because we had 1860 people there. It is a lot of people. It’s scaled up. So I think there’s some things that if you’re introverted, you just need to be prepared for a little bit of FOMO, missing out on some things for the sake of recharging when you need to recharge.

I know a lot of people that are introverted, where while they’re engaged in the community, you wouldn’t think that they are introverted, but they just need that time to chill and recharge the batteries.

So one thing we are going to do is we’re going to continue to record the sessions, so if you do decide to go back to your room and just chill, you’ll be able to get those and watch them later.

We’re going to have writing space, I think a really good place for most authors to go recharge at the conference will be to kind of get out of the fray and get into a quiet space where they can put some words down, even if those words are just going through their notes and kind of consolidating their thinking around what they’ve just been exposed to at the conference.

I think the other thing that we really have to think about is that —

Success comes from an uncomfortable place. This isn’t going to be easy for a lot of people, and it shouldn’t be, because great things come out of that uncomfortability.

So like you challenging yourself to go to a conference like this, and it not being something that is your status quo, helps you to become the person you want to be, and build that network.

The beautiful thing about it is, is when you go there and you start connecting with people, like, we’re all self-centered, right, we’re all coming from our own point of view, pretty much everybody in that room’s self-conscious and thinking that everyone’s looking at them.

We’re all thinking about ourselves, we’re not thinking about the other. So just embracing that, that you’re in a safe place, and that you’re going to be with your tribe, and they’re gonna help.

Also, stay more focused on the conference. I mean, Vegas, if that’s not your vibe, then you can steer clear of it. Like you can come get an Uber, go to the hotel, stay in that hotel and never leave, just go to those conference sessions, and hang out with your people.

Now, if you do want to get outside of the place, like it’s a pretty raucous environment, like that’s how it is. So I hope that answered your question.

Joanna: Yeah, yeah. I think it’s just good to say, like you said, success is often outside our comfort zone. I certainly had a pretty intense week, like everybody else, and yet, it was super worth it for me to come to 20 Books Vegas.

I will absolutely be at Author Nation, unless, obviously, something happens that prevents me. But yes, I’m absolutely intending to come. I feel like, especially from the UK and Europe and other countries, people do travel from all around the world. I mean, obviously it’s in the US, so it is a bit cheaper for people in the US, but it was worth it for me. So, yeah. Why don’t you—

Tell people where they can find out more, where they can sign up, where they can get tickets, and also if they want to speak, is there a process for that?

Joe: Sure. So there’s a couple links. First off, tickets go on sale on January 6 at 9am Central. Go to So that’s, and if tickets are open, you can sign up for tickets because there’ll be the sales page there. If not, there’ll be a forum for you to sign up and get more information, which will send you an email about when tickets release.

For those that are looking to participate in the show either as a speaker, or want to volunteer, any of that other stuff, there’s a different site called

Go there, and there’s a whole series of links you can go to to fill out a form, either to suggest yourself as a speaker, suggest somebody else as a speaker, to sign up as a volunteer. We have a pretty robust community of people that are helping us to run this thing. It takes a lot to make the show go off. So there’s all kinds of opportunities for you to help out with the show as well.

Joanna: Brilliant. Well, I just checked, and the tickets will be available when this goes out, so people can go over there and have a look. Well, thanks so much for your time, Joe. That was great. I will see you in Vegas.

Joe: See you there.

The post The Next Strategic Step On Your Author Journey And Author Nation With Joe Solari first appeared on The Creative Penn.

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Author: Joanna Penn

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  • January 7, 2024