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SPS-312: The Indie Author Magazine – with Chelle Honiker & Alice Briggs

As the business of being an indie author has finished its first decade, Chelle Honiker and Alice Briggs have decided to work with other indies to create the world’s first magazine about the industry. James talks to them about the inspiration for this idea, the work that’s being done behind the scenes, and what they see coming in the future.

Show Notes

  • On bringing objectivity to the indie publishing industry
  • How digital and POD distribution, and syndication, works for the magazine
  • Working with staff and freelance writers to produce a magazine each month
  • What the future business plan for the magazine looks like
  • On why the magazine is an important step for the industry
  • What the future might hold for the magazine

Resources mentioned in this episode:

PATREON: Self Publishing Formula Show’s Patreon page

MERCH: Are you a ligneous beetle or a yawning hippopotamus? Get your SPF hoodies and t-shirts in the brand new SPF Store.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT:

SPS-312: The Indie Author Magazine - with Chelle Honiker & Alice Briggs
Speaker 1: On this edition of The Self-Publishing Show.

Chelle Honiker: What we try and focus on is the journalistic integrity of each article and the perspectives. It can be challenging, but it's not impossible. And I think our writers do an amazing job and our editors do an amazing job each month of keeping one another accountable and balanced.

Speaker 1: Publishing is changing. No more gatekeepers, no more barriers, no one standing between you and your readers. Do you want to make a living from your writing?

Join indie bestseller, Mark Dawson, and first-time author, James Blatch, as they shine a light on the secrets of self-publishing success. This is The Self-Publishing Show. There's never been a better time to be a writer.

James Blatch: Hello and welcome. It is The Self-Publishing show with me, James Blatch.

Mark Dawson: And me, Mark Dawson. Happy new year.

James Blatch: Happy new year. 2022. And isn't a brilliant year, so far? He says recording this on December the 15th, 2021, but I'm sure it's fine. I'm sure everything's cleared up.

Mark Dawson: New data from the Unicron variation is-

James Blatch: Unicron?

Mark Dawson: That's why I'm calling it.

James Blatch: Oh, the Unicron.

Mark Dawson: The Unicron is the bad guy in Transformers.

James Blatch: Oh yes. Okay.

Mark Dawson: My son is eight years old, so yeah, he knows all about Unicron.

James Blatch: I like the fact we're all learning the Greek alphabet now-

Mark Dawson: We're missing some of them out, aren't we? You know the ones we missed out?

James Blatch: Well, I did look through the alphabet and I imagine that there probably were variants, but they just didn't really take off.

Mark Dawson: Do you know, we've missed out one that we would've used?

James Blatch: Yes.

Mark Dawson: Chi.

James Blatch: Yes, because the president, I think I told you that, the Chinese president.

Mark Dawson: You may have done. Yeah.

James Blatch: Mind you, there's an airline called Delta, they didn't get a free pass.

Mark Dawson: Well, I don't think anyone has suggested that the virus was developed on a Delta aeroplane, but it has been suggested that it might have been in a Chinese lab. So there's other considerations here. But anyway, yes.

James Blatch: Okay. Look, the TikTok challenge is well underway if you're taking part in that. I hope you've enjoyed it, are enjoying it.

The Ads for Authors Course opens next week on Wednesday the 12th of January and brand new in there will be a TikTok module. Where I'm standing now with a big mountain of editing in front of me might be added at the beginning of February, but nonetheless, it will be part of your purchase. Or if you're already an Ads for Authors student, of course it'll be absolutely part of what you already have access to.

But the TikTok for Authors Course is very comprehensive, very detailed, goes into do a lot more than we could have done in that challenge of course about how to actually leverage the platform and move the needle. I think it's a no brainer in some of the big popular genres, which are very well represented on TikTok, but we're also seeing people in all sorts of niche areas finding themselves doing really well with that platform.

Ads for Authors, of course everything else is in there as well. Facebook Ads for Authors, which is a key driver for me and my sales and Fuse Books, Amazon Ads for Authors presented by Janet Margo, who was on the inside helping to develop the platform for Amazon, so we had to really, I think without question, and I would say this I suppose, the most comprehensive one stop shop for self-publishing authors.

Mark Dawson: Oh, it's not even close. I mean it is so big now. I mean, it's big but in a way that shouldn't be daunting because you can jump in and out to whichever bits you want to learn about. So if it's Facebook ads, you can do the Facebook Ads course. If it's copywriting, you can do that course. TikTok now, YouTubes in it now, all the various content that we've got in there. It is hours and hours. I wonder how many hours it is, must be 50, 60 hours now.

James Blatch: Yeah, we'll have to tally it up at some point. We haven't counted up the hours for a long time, but you do get a lot. And of course it changes from time to time.

Mark Dawson: Oh, we'll retire things that aren't working anymore.

James Blatch: ... shelve things, yeah, or retire courses if they're not working anymore. We don't want to waste your time with that, so Twitter is long gone. But TikTok is definitely on its way up. Okay. So the usual place to go for that, selfpublishingformula.com/adsforauthors.

Mark Dawson: Ads for orphans.

James Blatch: Authors, if you want to know any more about that. Right.

We have two interviewees today, two interviewees in the same interview. This is Chelle Honiker and Alice Briggs, who are the owners, editors, and team leaders of the Indie Author Magazine. Now I saw this lying around, the physical version of it in Las Vegas and it's a very impressive, glossy magazine. It looks brilliant. The production's done really well.

They have a lot of integrity and business, you'll see in this interview, how business savvy they are and how this is not a project that's going to fail. It's being driven really properly by them. I'm very impressed with the magazine indeed. We can't wait to be more involved with it, which I'm going to have a chat hopefully with them next week about that. But I think it's a magazine that's going to do our burgeoning fledgling industry, it's going to give it a professional gloss and introduce us to people outside of indie publishing. So that's, I hope, the aim for that. So here are Chelle and Alice and Mark and I will be back for a quick chat.

Speaker 1: This is The Self-Publishing Show. There's never been a better time to be a writer.

James Blatch: Alice and Chelle, welcome to The Self-Publishing Show, Indie Author Magazine. Very excited. I've seen it, looks beautiful by the way, beautiful production that you put together there. So I want to hear all about it, but why don't we start with a little bit about the two of you. Who would like to go first and give us their elevator pitch of who they are?

Chelle Honiker: Elevator.

James Blatch: You look ready, Chelle.

Chelle Honiker: I'm always ready. I'm usually the one that gets shoved forward to say things, so I will go. I'm Chelle Honiker. I'm the publisher and co-founder of Indie Author Magazine. My background is technology and training. I've worked as the Editor in Chief of a few magazines before.

Alice and I came back from Scotland from the 20 Books Edinburgh Conference and became accountability partners, and then somewhere about the end of last year after going through COVID and spending time sprinting with a group of writers, we all decided to, "Hey, let's start a magazine. We're not doing anything else." Which is funny if you know us, we're both real business-

James Blatch: Yes. The million other things that you are doing.

Chelle Honiker: Yeah, exactly.

James Blatch: Okay. And Alice?

Alice Briggs: So, I'm Alice, also one of the co-founders of Indie Author Magazine and my background is in art and design and the medical field actually. So, I'm a licensed occupational therapist.

James Blatch: And a writer as well, Alice?

Alice Briggs: Yes. I've published more than 30 books. Mostly non-fiction.

James Blatch: Oh, mostly non-fic. I was going to ask what genres you write in. How about you Chelle?

Chelle Honiker: So, non-fiction but also some romance, dabbled in romance.

James Blatch: So you decided to start a magazine and what was the reason for that? Did you see a gap in the market or is it a commercial decision? What was it?

Chelle Honiker: Well, we saw a gap in the market. So what was so funny was we came to SPF Live last year in March of 2020 and I was supposed to continue onto Ireland to Larne to spend some time with a couple of other writer friends. Then onto Scotland to spend a month, and then I was supposed to come back to the States. Well, we went in lockdown on the very last night of London, and so I ended up in Ireland for about four months.

James Blatch: Wow.

Chelle Honiker: Stuck in Ireland, I say stuck, "stuck" in Ireland, right? In air quotes. "I was stuck in Ireland. It was so terrible." I ended up in a village called Carnlough and had a little seaside cottage there that I had connected with a friend that was, now a friend, that was in an Airbnb group.

While I was there, I threw my hand up and said, "Hey, who wants to sprint? I'm alone. I'm kind of bored." And so the group of us that had hung out together at SPF and the group of us that had met at 20 Books in Edinburgh and a few others that had met in Vegas all started to sprint together twice a day. So we would get on Zoom and we would sit and talk for about two hours and get words twice a day.

And between those 20 minute Pomodoro sprints where we were all just writing furiously, we would chat. We would chat about the tools. We would chat about courses. We would chat about tips and tricks and things. And so we started a spreadsheet to keep track of all of those and collaborate on things.

Then the chats went to six days a week and then seven days a week because we started to go through our social media together and we started to do our marketing plans together and we started talking about launch plans together.

It sprung from that because we created a website called indieauthortools.com, which is just like a crowdsource database, which the spreadsheet got too big so we built a website. And then we started sharing more stuff and we thought, "Well, how can we help more people?" And so that was where the magazine got started.

It was sprung organically from this group of working indie authors that were sharing stuff with each other and we decided to share it with a broader audience. So, it was organic. It was not a commercial decision by any stretch of the imagination. It was just a collaboration that overflowed.

James Blatch: Alice, let me ask you a question, this might sound like an odd question, but in this day and age, what is a magazine?

Chelle Honiker: So for us, we have multiple ways that we distribute it. So, it's a contextual, from the indie author's perspective, view of the information that's presented in an unbiased way. So for example, there's technology tools, there's resources, there's methodologies, there's tips, there's tricks.

What we do is try and bring some context to it from the perspective of working in the authors, what works for us, what works for us right now, what works for us in the future, what works per genre, what works for people in the UK versus the US. So, that's what we're trying to do is take all the information that's presented, distil it down into what's helpful for a working indie author right now.

James Blatch: Okay. And Alice, let me bring you into the discussion here. So there was an interesting little note that Chelle said there about objective and the way the magazine's presented, it does look to me like there's an editorial difference between reading that magazine and perhaps reading somebody's blog or somebody's own promotional page.

Do you bring a bit of old fashioned, I mean it's the industry I used to work in, newsroom editorial objectivity to stories?

Alice Briggs: Yes. That's been our intention from the first. We wanted to, because there are a lot of blogs and there are a lot of ones that are very helpful and we didn't want to necessarily duplicate what they were doing. So we wanted to bring in, not just so that the authors or the writers are not just saying what their experience is and how they're doing things, but they're also interviewing people, they're bringing them in so that we're hopefully presenting as many of the sides, the ways up that mountain to tackle whatever task it is for every single issue.

So that way, we've got the variety of perspectives and hopefully every reader who picks it up, either digitally or in print, will be able to find a technique that they can try and find successful for them. We've been very intentional about not making it so personal, but making it more of an editorial and, like you said, more of an old-fashioned journalistic production.

James Blatch: Yeah, which is the sort of thing that is a little bit rare to find, particularly in emerging industries which are dominated by, video games is the same, dominated by voices, individual voices that come from a certain perspective, maybe they've got something to peddle, maybe they've just got an opinion, but it is a mark away from what I used to do in a newsroom. You'd get ticked off by my colleagues sometimes if you weren't adhering to those values of news objectivity. So I think that's quite an interesting aspect to this.

Is that hard, Chelle, being objective in an industry that you work in?

Chelle Honiker: It can be, but what we try and focus on is the journalistic integrity of each article and the perspectives. And we have a really great team of people that can bounce things off of one another. It can be challenging, but it's not impossible. And I think our writers do an amazing job and our editors do an amazing job each month of keeping one another accountable and balanced to be sure we're presenting the best.

Alice Briggs: And we have such a wide diversity of opinions and ways of doing things just within our staff of writers that I think that in a sense makes it easier because we can say, "Oh hey, check with so and so. They do this differently than you do," so we can definitely collaborate across and we all respect one another. That's just inherent in our core values is to respect other people's ways of doing things.

James Blatch: And just tell me about the distribution again. Chelle, you mentioned the different formats that people can have it in.

What's the split, and how does it work, particularly with the physical magazine? How does that work? Is that available to everyone everywhere or is it a print on demand thing in certain territories?

Chelle Honiker: It is print on demand. When we first went into production, we met with a bunch of distributors and they said, "We've got everything on hold right now." COVID, there were some things. So what we did intentionally was we set it up as a digital distribution through our website. We also have the articles that are replicated on every article in audio version. We wanted to have the broadest distribution.

Every issue is available via audio. We also have the print now, which is print on demand through Amazon. We can print for free and distribute for free to the US and the UK.

We have our podcast, which are replicated articles that are introduced by our sassy avatar, our representative. Her name is Indie Annie. She is our advice columnist and she's everybody's favourite aunt. Her voice is actually the voice that you hear for the audio versions.

We also have syndication. We're able to take all of the content on our sites, and if someone wants to have that content on their site, we can syndicate it to other people's websites and we can translate it into 12 different languages.

And then of course, we have two apps. We have our iOS app and our Android app. And so both of those are available in the app stores. So, we went big. It was go big or go home. We're from Texas, we don't do anything by half.

James Blatch: Everything's big in Texas. So I have a couple of questions from that.

The Indie Annie avatar, caricature, is this an AI voice, is it an actual person's voice? How does that work?

Chelle Honiker: She's an AI voice, the actual voice, but there is a person behind it who has chosen to remain anonymous. So she actually writes the Indie Annie column and she writes the emails for all of our email sequences and she writes our newsletter. But if you hear her voice, you will hear a little British aunt speaking.

James Blatch: Intriguing, that is. And the audio version... Sorry, go on.

Chelle Honiker: So, sorry. I was also going to say, and Alice actually, as a fine artist, drew the avatar. So what you see is a representation of it, but it's Alice's handy work as the Creative Director.

James Blatch: You're Goddess in Indie Annie's universe, aren't you? Created her on the third day.

And the audio version, sorry, how does that work? Is that, again, the AI voice or is there somebody reading out each week recording it?

Chelle Honiker: Yes. The AI voice. We use Amazon AWS to generate that. So the articles are generated on the website via that and then we use an app behind the scenes to write her scripts and they're generated and edited out of the Amazon AWS.

James Blatch: Great. Oh, well that all sounds intriguing. And there's stuff you're doing that I've not heard of or realised was a thing. So, groundbreaking at least as far as I'm concerned.

Let's talk about process and stories a little bit. So Alice, maybe I could bring you in again here.

How does the editorial process work? In my day, it used to be a newsroom meeting every morning and you all had to bring in stories every now and again. Do you have a similar kind of online process?

Alice Briggs: Our main process is we decide what the theme of the issue is going to be and then we have all the different sections of the magazine. And so we'll sit down periodically and go through and plan out what we might want to cover in that. So we've been working through February is going to be formats, so we're working on getting those issues out and things.

What we've found very helpful, again coming back to that this is more of a collaborative process, I think than probably most traditional magazines are run, we want to cover hardbacks or we want to cover audiobooks or whatever. And then we're sending emails out to the staff writers and saying, "What would you like to write? And do you have an idea for an approach or do you have experience in this area or whatever? Send that back to us." We've gotten just some remarkable content that way, just allowing them to explore their creative ideas on different subject matters.

James Blatch: Do the people who work in the team, are they effectively staff writers? Are they the ones who ultimately submit the copy or do you take copy from other people?

Alice Briggs: Yeah, both. We have contributing writers as well as... And in fact, we've kind of eliminated... One of our core values since we all came into this as indie authors, we wanted to make sure that this was more like a side hustle for everyone and that we understood that, that if they had a launch coming up or they had a deadline, that they would feel free to say, "No, we can't write this month."

So we've increased our stable, so that line between staff writer and contributor writer has gotten very blurred. Because people are able to tell us what their availability is, and then we're always seeking additional contributing writers so that way we've got a large pool of authors to pull from to create the content each month.

Chelle Honiker: We also pulled in what we call our insider insights, which are industry experts. So we've leaned on Craig Martel and Kevin McLaughlin and Susie O'Connell and Monica Lionelle to write less op-eds, it's less opinion, but more of insider think pieces, their opinion on a specific and particular subject that they're experts in.

We have a stable of 24 writers that are continually pitching and writing for us. But then we also are going to other folks that have insider insights and asking them what they think and they're writing for us.

James Blatch: And this is quite a challenge, this is a monthly magazine, right? You do it every month? And it's not small either. How much content do you have in a magazine?

Alice Briggs: There are 14 regular features, 14 or 15.

Chelle Honiker: Which translates to about 90 print pages and that's without ads, right?

James Blatch: 90?

Chelle Honiker: 90 pages of content every month.

James Blatch: Wow.

Chelle Honiker: Yeah.

James Blatch: Wow. Okay. So you've got 24 people-

Alice Briggs: We're all very tired. We jumped in with both feet.

James Blatch: Yes, you have. And you said this wasn't a commercial venture like most things we start in this kind of area, but it can't lose you money forever, can it?

I don't know where you are now commercially with it, is it something that's going to be sustainable do you think commercially? Who wants to take that?

Alice Briggs: Go ahead.

Chelle Honiker: I think we both say absolutely. So we went out with nominal subscriptions. And we went out with what we had replicated in other magazine ventures, both Alice and I had magazine experience before. And so it's a monthly membership is $5.99 cents US for the digital subscription. Print is a little bit more, it's like $14.99 per copy US. We've hit our critical mass. We've got about 18,000 on circulation, our circulation number. And so now we are actually ready to go out and start asking vendors if they want to reach this audience.

We had a strategy, the crawl, walk, run strategy, where we wanted to produce the good content. We wanted the MVP, the minimum viable product. We wanted to be sure that it was adopted and I think our metric for how well it's been adopted is 90% of people sign up for our year, our annual membership, as opposed to the monthly membership. So that's gratifying for us, that was kind of a surprise for both of us, that people would just read it and go, "Yep. I'm in right now. Let's do it." And so now we're ready to go out with a stronger connection hopefully between vetted vendors and advertisers.

James Blatch: Exciting,

Chelle Honiker: Not commercial, but there's opportunities to grow it.

James Blatch: And is there a business-like pathway you have? You have a couple of years planned out with some targets to reach in terms of where it's going to end up?

Chelle Honiker: Absolutely. We have numbers both for the membership circulation, our ad server. We keep track of all of this. I'm kind of a numbers nerd, that's my background is numbers. So I obsess over those a lot. And Alice puts the pretty spreadsheets together and makes sure all the numbers are right, so we work very closely together on those kinds of things.

James Blatch: And in terms of your contributions at the moment, are you paying staff or is this...

Chelle Honiker: Yeah, we do.

James Blatch: Is this voluntary for some people?

Chelle Honiker: No, we pay everybody. Every staff, editors, copy editors, line editors. It's fully paid.

James Blatch: Full functioning magazine. I keep saying, because I saw a couple of copies at, I've only seen it digitally up until 20 Books, but there were some, I guess you guys were there at Vegas.

Chelle Honiker: We were.

James Blatch: I couldn't really tell because everyone was wearing a mask who was there and who wasn't there, but anyway. I saw the copies and something about being in a fledgling industry, and it is still, I feel a fledgling industry to have something, because it's all ephemeral. Is that the right word? It's all in the ether kind of blogs here and some things come and go, but to have that traditional looking magazine in your hand, it brought for me, felt like it brought a bit of status, a bit of acceptance, lifted us up a little bit to the next level where we need to be. And I think for outsiders looking in, thinking, "Ah," this is not just here today, gone tomorrow movement.

This is the changing face of publishing. I think for me it feels quite important this step.

Chelle Honiker: Thank you. We thought so too. We cried a little bit when we held the first print copy in our hands, it was really gratifying. When we laid it out, we laid out the very first year, the first year iteratively, loosely followed what an author would do to start, and from start to finish, from outlining all the way to publication.

And now Alice and I have planned out years two and three, which seems a little bit surreal, but because we've got everybody signing up for an annual subscription, we're like, "Oh, okay, well now we have to do another year. They signed up today."

James Blatch: And when you say you've planned out the years, are you talking editorially?

Chelle Honiker: Yes.

Alice Briggs: Yeah, for what the theme of the issue will be.

Chelle Honiker: Each issue has a theme, and then within that, there are three topical articles that cover that theme. So for example, when we did outlining, we have software to use for outlining, outlining methodologies and techniques, pros and cons, how somebody would get started. We tried to gear it towards a beginning, intermediate, and advanced user so that someone would find something within every issue.

Then we've got a technology article, which we're actually transitioning a bit to video because we're doing more how to videos, and it seems a little bit easier to follow along in a video rather than reading an article.

We've tried to fire on all cylinders for folks, so if they're tactile and they have a print version in their hands, they can do that. But then we've also got video for those that want to follow along, and the audio versions of course, for those that want to follow along. So our mission is to present the best information in the best format at the best time.

And we've actually gone back and revised some, which is why we've got the digital and the print. We try and make the print as evergreen as we possibly can, but then if we need to update or revise things, we have the digital that we can refer back to and have people look at that so that they get the best information that's available at that time.

We went out with Vella and talked about topical issues. And now we're revisiting Vella now that it's been out for a little bit and made sure that it's there. We've got a section called Devil in the Details, which are what some authors might get wrong about a certain subject. So this month we just came out with winter weather and how you need to write something in the winter so that it doesn't pull the reader out of the story and they go, "That's totally wrong. That is completely false. That would never happen."

We've also got health and wellness sections in the magazine, because we feel like that's a really important part of being an indie author is not sitting at your desk. So we're covering stories about standing desks and wrist exercise and how to use technology to take breaks and how to fool your body into drinking more water. We talk about, of course we've got the advice column from Indie Annie every month where she has a little sassy edge to how to answer a question about pushing back on editors and things like that. So we really have tried to be as inclusive and collaborative as we can. And you're absolutely right, it is a fledgling industry. I think we're kind of in the toddlerhood of things.

James Blatch: Just on our two feet now. And what about the controversies, Alice? Because when you publish a magazine, you take an editorial stance. At some point you're going to end up in a controversy, I imagine because we've had Cockygate, we've had RWA collapsing, we've had stories that I imagine that you will want to cover in this magazine. Feels to me like you have quite a strong team there that you've got that foundation that can ride some of those storms.

They're the tricky bits I remember from being in the media is suddenly dealing with the controversy which will happen, I think, for you.

Alice Briggs: I think we have made a decision that we're not going to be the gotcha journalistic. We're here to help and we're here to help everyone. So I think as of yet, we've avoided wading into any of those waters, and I think that'll be something that as a team we'll come together and decide, "Okay, how are we going to be able to just basically present the facts and stay away from any of the more salacious type, click-baity things so that we're still providing a service to other authors and making them aware of what they need to do well in this industry for as long as they would like to stay, but not getting involved in all the drama." So that'll be a tight walk. So, if and when it ever comes to that.

James Blatch: And so the other side of that Chelle, I suppose, there's controversy, potentially I think it sounds like you've got a very mature and experienced attitude to navigating those waters. The other thing that I guess you can do is become a bit like an advocate for us as authors.

If Amazon decide that they're going to change some things that we feel as an industry is unfair, you could be the one at the very least as king the questions.

Chelle Honiker: Absolutely. I think the other thing is that we want to partner with people that are already doing good things and good work and already are a voice. We don't want to be an echo, but we do want to support and point to the voices that are already doing those things.

For example, ALLi and other groups that do a good job already. So we want to partner with them, it's why we didn't start a separate clubhouse room for example. We wanted to partner with people that were already doing that and to bring some levity and ask good questions and act just, as you said, like an advocate.

We feel our role is to point to who's doing good work as opposed to pointing out bad, right? That's kind of the Streisand Effect, where if you're pointing to the bad then everybody knows that and they don't necessarily stay away from it. So, we want to advocate and ally for the good people that are doing good things,

James Blatch: But do you think you'll touch subjects, I'm trying to think of an example and one might be the Audible experience that people had where readers could refund and basically listen to a book and not pay the author for it, which did feel demonstrably unfair and I think has been fixed. I think it's been fixed.

Chelle Honiker: Sure.

James Blatch: Is that the sort of thing that you would cover or would you stay away from that?

Chelle Honiker: I don't know that we would cover it. I think we would partner with whoever is... We might feature some of those things on our social platform for a more immediate conversation, as opposed to having something in the magazine that highlights something like that. We're more interested in the education process of things. And so I don't think we would necessarily cover the controversy.

James Blatch: Alice, is this going to be a full-time job at some point for you guys? Because it sounds like it's going to, in the end, be quite a monster if it continues to grow?

Alice Briggs: Just given, both Chelle and I are serial entrepreneurs, so I don't anticipate, I think it could be, but I don't anticipate just knowing our personalities. I think we'll raise up enough people around us that we'll still be dabbling in all the other things that we do. But we both definitely see this growing to where we want it to be a major global force for good in the author industry and that require scale, that requires size.

James Blatch: Chelle, for a serial entrepreneur, you must also be thinking about the possibility of a sale at some point, because this becomes an asset that will be of value.

Chelle Honiker: Always. The tech stack that we've built is, I think, second to none. It's world class. We have an entire website strategy. We have a podcast strategy. We have distribution strategy. We have the apps built. So yeah, absolutely.

I live near Austin, I've been in Austin for a long time, so we're the startup capital of the world. And I'm in a lot of startup groups, which that is the exit strategy for a lot of them is to build something, scale it, and then sell it. I don't know that we would ever sell it to the extent that it would lose its heart, which is 24 indie authors that came together to build something to help the industry.

We would always want to be sure that that was baked into whatever end result that happened, but sure we're open to whatever helps the indie authors' community the most is what we would be interested in. So if it's not us growing it, we're certainly open to whoever could grow it bigger and wider and brighter than we could.

James Blatch: Well, good luck with that for sure. Now, how do people get in touch?

First of all, let's do from a reader's point of view, what's the best way of getting hold of a copy, Alice?

Alice Briggs: Indieauthormagazine.com is the best way you can find all of the ways to read it, to explore it. Everything is there on the homepage.

James Blatch: Do you distribute in territories outside the US, the physical side?

Alice Briggs: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

James Blatch: So I can get a physical copy here in the UK?

Chelle Honiker: You can. We did print on demand through Amazon.

James Blatch: Oh, okay.

Chelle Honiker: In IngramSpark, and so it's available in bookstores and libraries through IngramSpark. We also went wide, so we have ebook, we have the article-only ebook version, which is the stripped down version, just the information only that you can buy through any major retailer. And then the podcast is available on Spotify, Amazon, Google Books, all the players. We have, I think we counted, we have 37 distribution points.

James Blatch: Wow.

Chelle Honiker: Yeah, monthly. We're tired.

James Blatch: Yes. I could see that. A lot of balls being juggled there.

And from an advertiser point of view, what are the options and how do people get in touch?

Chelle Honiker: We have our rate card and our media kit on our websites in indieauthormagazine.com. We have a few places that you can actually run banner ads. So we have a top level banner ad, we have a skyscraper ad, we've got leaderboard ads, and we distribute both, you can run ads both on the website, in the print version of the magazine, on our apps, on our sister site, indieauthortools.com, which actually has a huge readership in and of itself. So we've got multiple distribution channels for banner and print ads, digital and print ads.

And then we also, of course, have our email that goes out once a week to our subscriber base so we can send separate emails, sponsored emails. We're also looking for a nice list of technology vendors because we plan to have a technology summit in 2022 so that we can interview and have product tours of all of our vendors. And that's kind of a new thing that we wake up and decide to do things in the morning, and by the afternoon we've got a project plan and an entire list and a team ready to make that happen.

James Blatch: That's what happened before breakfast.

Chelle Honiker: Pretty much. Well, and it's funny too because we're on different time zones. So what we decide at 10:00 PM Texas time is already happening in the UK.

James Blatch: Yes, exactly. We're in the future here. So is that, and in person? Is this a live event you're talking about?

Chelle Honiker: No, it's going to be a virtual event. We have 140 technology vendors that we've identified that we would like to talk to and have video interviews of. It's called Author Tech Summit. We named it. We're still in the planning stages of it, but what we'd like to do is product tours from the indie author perspective. So that it's less of a commercial for a vendor and more of an in-depth, "Hey, I'm an indie author and how does this work?" Or, "How can I tweak this? How can I make this better?"

And then they'll be up in evergreen, so that there's one central repository for technology that's available to indie authors to use. So we're talking to Adobe, for example, and we want to get InDesign to come in and talk to us. We want to have Spotify come in and talk. We want to have the non-traditional, non-exclusive indie author centric technology and we want to talk to vendors that can help the indie author world in general do that.

I think that's really our mission and our vision is to bring the tool set and the skillset into the indie author world in collaboration with the magazine, so it's sponsored by the magazine, but it really just covers the tech and the how to's.

James Blatch: That sounds great. Spotify will be an interesting one because obviously moving into this space, having just acquired Findaway Voices, so good. Well, I think you've done an amazing job.

I think I said that at the beginning, it just looks like a really well put together product and I remember Elaine sending me the first copy and I was a bit kind of, "Whoa. Oh, so that's what they were talking about here. This does look good." So you've obviously got experience behind you, and sounds to me like you've barely put a foot wrong. I'm sure there's been some stuff under the bonnet, under the hood as you say in America. No waters flow quite that smoothly, but yeah. Well done. Thank you for stepping up and representing our industry and I'm very excited to see how far you can go.

Chelle Honiker: Thank you. We are too.

Alice Briggs: Thank you.

Chelle Honiker: We really appreciate it. And a lot of our team, the ideas came from SPF, from a lot of the conversations we had and people we met at the live conference.

James Blatch: Yeah. Well, we've got lots. I'm sure we're going to collaborate. I'm certain. We'll have a chat immediately off air about that. I chatted several times to Elaine, but it's just one of these things in my massive list of things to do, but I haven't chased up at some point, but yeah, we definitely need to be involved with each other. It should be great. So, yeah. Big supporters. Good. Thank you so much indeed for coming on today and yeah, we'll see you in person at some point, hopefully. And yeah, good luck.

Chelle Honiker: Thanks James.

Alice Briggs: Thank you so much.

James Blatch: There we go, Chelle and Alice, very impressive job that they've done. And they're a bit like me and you in that they've got fingers in lots of pies, lots of businesses going on. They're serial entrepreneurs, but they work really professionally at it. I'm very impressed with the magazine. I feel that we need it as well, Mark, because there is, quite rightly, an image of people in their pyjamas running most of self-publishing, but the reality is it's a billion dollar turnover business.

Who knows how much we turn over because it's all done from bedrooms? It needs a polished front for people to understand how serious and important this industry is, and this is a sort of helpful thing on that road I think.

Mark Dawson: Yeah, I think it's helpful. I think they've done a good job. It looks good. Distribution is going to be the challenge I think for them, getting them into the right places, but it's a nice product. So they've won half the battle on that, so good luck to them. I think it's a good thing.

James Blatch: Yeah. You can subscribe and get the physical copy delivered to your door here in the UK and across in America and quite a few other places as we discovered. And I think it's a fun thing to have. It'd be lovely to walk into my local news agent and see a copy on the shelf one day. We'll see.

Mark Dawson: Yeah.

James Blatch: Alongside my golf magazine. Right, Mark, we have a course to open and to get going on and I've got a lot of editing to do to make sure this TikTok module is in fine shape. It's a module, when you do the course, you'll realise that obviously we present a lot of information in courses and we're careful how we do that, make it as bite sized as possible, easy to digest.

TikTok's much more of a visual presentation. There's quite a lot of green screen editing going on bringing it to you as well, which I'm quite enjoying, very fun site departure for us and the two women who produced it, Lila and Jane have done an absolutely fantastic job putting it together. So, I'm off to do that editing. You can go and walk Scout.

Mark Dawson: Yes. I've got walk to Scout as well because he's getting quite agitated. So, before he tears the house to bits.

James Blatch: Yes, indeed. Okay. Thank you very much indeed to our guests, Alice and Chelle. All the remains for me to say is it's a goodbye from him.

Mark Dawson: And a goodbye from me. Goodbye.

James Blatch: Goodbye.

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