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SPS-343: The Non-Fiction Publishing Plan – with Stephanie Chandler

After quitting her Silicon Valley job, Stephanie Chandler saw a need to support non-fiction writers who were being underserved. So she started the Nonfiction Authors’ Association and hasn’t looked back.

Show Notes

  • Setting up a community and association for underserved non-fiction authors
  • Knowing what the objective is when writing a non-fiction book: profit, credibility or something else?
  • How to write a book that’s going to help your business
  • The value of publishing in multiple formats

Resources mentioned in this episode:

SELL MORE BOOKS: The Ads for Authors course is open for a short time

PATREON: Self Publishing Formula Show’s Patreon page

TIPS FOR NON-FICTION AUTHORS: Download Stephanie’s resource for planning your book

MERCH: Check out our new 2022 hoodies and t-shirts in the SPF Store.

FREE AUTHOR TRAINING on AMAZON ADS: Sign up here

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT:

SPS-343: The Non-Fiction Publishing Plan - with Stephanie Chandler
Speaker 1: On this edition of The Self-Publishing Show ...

Stephanie Chandler: It's easier than ever to be a self-publisher. It's also easier than ever to be a poorly produced self-publisher. So, you really want to make sure, especially if it's a professional book, you want it to represent you well and make sure you have the highest production quality.

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 to The Self-Publishing Show with me, James Blatch ...

Mark Dawson: And me, Mark Dawson.

James Blatch: Mark, we're back in the swing of things. We did some batch recording before, but this is the Friday before the week of release, so it's exactly seven days ahead of this going out. I'm back from an epic trip to the U.S. and Mexico. You're back from your swimming pool, I guess.

Mark Dawson: Well, no. I've been on child patrol for the last five days. We've got summer holidays now, so we've got both my son and my daughter, and our Ukrainian refugee, Rowen, are all off at the moment. So, Lucy has been juggling them almost literally. Just got a message. I'm sure lots of parents can relate to this. They've gone to a place called Go Ape today, which is ...

James Blatch: Oh, yeah. I know that.

Mark Dawson: ... climbing, and nets, and that kind of stuff in the trees. 30 minutes in, Rowen fell on his face and has a net mark on his cheek. Oliver heat-butted a wooden step and has a cut and a bump on his head, and is with the medics. Sam has just been kicked in the nuts. I do feel for Lucy, so I think when she gets back, she's going to need a stiff drink, I think.

James Blatch: Yeah, and more importantly, you to look after the kids for a bit.

Mark Dawson: Well, yes. I did offer this morning, but they played quite well this morning. Lucy's riding all day on Sunday, so I'll have everyone on Sunday.

James Blatch: There you go.

Mark Dawson: Hooray. I love summer holidays.

James Blatch: Yes. Good. Well, you'll get away at some point. Look, we have some Patreon supporters to welcome to the fold. Have you got those in front of you?

Mark Dawson: No, of course not. That would involve me being organised.

James Blatch: I do have them, if you'd like me to do them.

Mark Dawson: Yes, I think you should, James, absolutely.

James Blatch: There is a tricky one in here. We have a very warm welcome to Riannon Hart, to Sarah Reece from Bournemouth, and Michael John Grist from London, and here we go, Vlad, which is such a great, Vlad Bustiuc. I'm going to go for Bustiuc, B-U-S-T-I-U-C. What do you reckon?

Mark Dawson: I think it's probably Bustiuc.

James Blatch: Bustiuc. Bustiuc.

Mark Dawson: I would imagine.

James Blatch: Vlad anyway, you're very welcome indeed. Riannon, Vlad, Sarah, and Michael, thank you so much for going to Patreon.com/selfpublishingshow and getting yourself some goodies, and also supporting this show for indie authors in the process.

Mark, we should also say that Mark Dawson's Advertising for the Authors, the course that has added rocket fuel to so many authors and turned them into people who can quit their day jobs and sell their books is open for enrollment.

The whole course is huge now. There's lots of modules. It's easy to follow, because it's modulized, but there's a lot to it, including of course TikTok, the latest module that got added to it, an excellent module indeed, something I've benefited from massively. If you want to check out all the details of what's in the course, you can go to Selfpublishingformula.com/adsforauthors, A-D-S-F-O-R authors, adsforauthors, all one word. Your flagship course, Mark, your mug is all over it.

Mark Dawson: My mug's everywhere, isn't it? Yeah, so it's a good course. It's the 14th time we've released that, isn't it?

James Blatch: Yes, it is.

Mark Dawson: So, twice a year for not quite seven years. I don't think we've been doing it that long, but I don't know how that's worked, really.

James Blatch: No.

Mark Dawson: I'll have to think about that. I think John has made a mistake and it's actually eight.

James Blatch: We probably are in our seventh year, though. We started in 2015.

Mark Dawson: Yeah, that's true.

James Blatch: There you go. It does add up. John hasn't made a mistake.

Mark Dawson: No.

James Blatch: I can't believe you think so poorly of him.

Mark Dawson: Why would I have come to that conclusion? Yeah, so it's a good course. It's always been popular, and it does well every time. So, we're looking forward to getting new students in. We've already had some emails from people setting alarms in Canada. I had one person saying she didn't want to miss it. It won't sell out on the first day. You don't need to worry about that. Open for three weeks and probably not until next year. One later in the year? I don't remember.

James Blatch: Probably not, no. We'll see.

Mark Dawson: We'll see.

James Blatch: You will not want to open it this year, and I will. That's how it works behind the scenes, because of various mechanics, but we'll have that discussion off air.

Now, we should also say that the live version of the Self Publishing Show, let's just talk about the show for a second, is available now. We've had quite a lot of support emails, and there's usually a high spike of support emails of people not being able to access, or not quite understanding the system. So, I should just say, if you went to the show, you will get the live show recordings as part of your ticket. You don't need to do anything. There'll be an email sent to you. You will have an email already.

Mark Dawson: Not you will get. You have got.

James Blatch: You have got.

Mark Dawson: You've already got that.

James Blatch: The show is contained at our Teachable school, which is Learn.selfpublishingformula.com. Basically, it'll be set up under the email address you used to register for the show. I think that's what's confusing some people, because they already have, for instance, they've got the 101 course or the Ads for the Authors course under a different email address. So, we're getting quite a lot of support queries about that, but it is there under that original email address, and you can get it moved over.

Mark Dawson: And if you have any trouble, just email [email protected] Catherine has been handling that, I don't know, lots and lots. She's very good at fixing the problems now. So yeah, do that. We know it's not been quite as quite as slick as we normally are, so we'll certainly have that improved for next time, which I suppose that's ... I think we probably already have announced it, but there will be a next time. I think we're looking at June again next year. I've actually booked someone already to speak at the conference, I shan't mention. He used to work in a nuclear submarine.

James Blatch: I think I know who that is.

Mark Dawson: See, you know who it is, but yeah, so we enjoyed it a lot. It was really successful this year. We had a really good time, and we're going to do it next year, I think.

James Blatch: Yes. We have dates. They're in a very thick pencil and about to go into ink with the company who we can't negotiate with at the moment, so we'll announce the dates probably in the next couple of week. I would imagine in September, we'll offer tickets, probably ... We're going to start with the people who came this time. They get first preference and probably preferential price points, which is an encouragement for people to come in the future, because that will roll onto next year.

Okay, right. All that doings out of the way, we can start with our interview. We're talking today about writing nonfiction books. Mark, you actually are an author of nonfiction books, as am I, I suppose. In SPF, we produce quite a few of them, although more editing them than writing them. But books are an important part of nonfiction business, of which we have SPF. If you are somebody who speaks at shows, a motivational speaker, or you are teaching people how to do real estate selling, or whatever it is, books can be an important part of that.

Mark Dawson: They can, yeah. I'm not sure where you want me to go with that obvious statement. There's lots of ways that a nonfiction book can be useful. As you say, as a speaker, it's very useful to book gigs if you have a nonfiction book that you've got behind you. We've got plenty of authors in the community who are doing well just as nonfiction authors. Marc Reklau, for example, who we trot out for things like this, but he's doing really well with nonfiction. Steve Scott, another one, and Mark I think followed Steve Scott's example from 10 years ago probably now. So, he's done pretty well too. There's a lot of scope and opportunity for people to write and do well with nonfiction.

James Blatch: Our guest to talk about this in some detail is somebody who's found herself very naturally adept at this, and is a big advocate for it, and there's a giveaway as well. The guest is Stephanie Chandler, and the giveaway, I'll give you the link now, I'll give it again at the end of the interview, is Selfpublishingformula.com/nonfiction for very, very useful guide. Okay. Let's hear from Stephanie.

Stephanie Chandler, welcome to The Self-Publishing Show. We talk to fiction authors all the time, but we do talk nonfiction from time to time. As Mark, and I, and John run a nonfiction business, so you're going to speak our language, but this interview is going to be about nonfiction, which I think you've made this kind of your zone, right, your tribe?

Stephanie Chandler: It is. It's my community. I love it. I couldn't believe nobody was really serving nonfiction authors. I'm really proud of the community we've built.

James Blatch: When did that start for you? When did you realise that books were an important part of the ecosystem of being a speaker these days?

Stephanie Chandler: Oh my goodness. It was back in 2003 that I quit my Silicon Valley job, and I thought I was going to write novels. I opened a brick and mortar bookstore, James, here in Northern California ...

James Blatch: Wow.

Stephanie Chandler: ... and thought I was going to write novels in the back office, and then discovered I was a terrible fiction writer. Meanwhile, my Silicon Valley friends were coming up to see what I had done, and they couldn't believe I left a six figure job to sell $6 paperbacks. I wrote my first book for them, and it was a business startup guide. I discovered, oh my goodness, nonfiction blends my all-time love of teaching and my skill of writing.

Then, I was speaking at writers conferences, and nobody was talking to nonfiction writers. There was a conference I attended. There were 300 people. I was the only one there with a business book. I thought, "Something has to change." So, in 2010, I held the first nonfiction writers conference online, and that's been the trajectory ever since.

James Blatch: In your tribe, do you talk to nonfiction authors who do business books, self-help books, or kind of like their calling card books, or do you also ... because nonfiction is broad, right? Memoir, biography, autobiography, I mean, do you cover that as well?

Stephanie Chandler: Absolutely. Business, self-help, spiritual books tend to be our top genres, and then also the memoir writers. Then, mixed in there, we have science and history writers. We have some academics. We have a lot of business professionals in our community. So yeah, we kind of cover the gamut.

James Blatch: How do you do that, then? You had this moment where you wrote your own nonfiction book back in the very old days, 2003. That was almost before the internet. Well, 10 years afterwards.

When did you then migrate into this being your full-time gig?

Stephanie Chandler: Well, after the 2010 conference, I held a three day event with 18 live speakers, had no idea if anyone would come. I'm sure you remember Dan Pointer. He was our opening keynote speaker. They loved it. So, we started doing that each year, and this was a teleconference, right? This was before Zoom. So, we were doing these audio events, and then each year, the attendees were saying, "How do we keep in touch when this is over?" I couldn't believe there wasn't a community for us. So, I created the Nonfiction Authors Association in 2013 and we've just continued to thrive ever since then.

James Blatch: When you say a teleconference, is it basically like a conference call conference?

Stephanie Chandler: Yes. We were dialling into a conference line using Instant Teleseminar, and people would listen by phone, or they'd get the recordings, or do both. Eventually, thankfully, we evolved into Zoom, I don't know, six or seven years ago before Zoom became a thing too. It was a little bit of a learning curve for our audience to learn Zoom, and we've done live events ever since.

James Blatch: Yeah. Well, COVID did well for Zoom, didn't it?

Stephanie Chandler: Yeah.

James Blatch: I wouldn't have minded being a stockholder just before the pandemic.

Stephanie Chandler: Right?

James Blatch: Now, just talk about the conference and the organisation then. What size and scale are we talking about?

Stephanie Chandler: We have about 1,000 subscribing members, and then we're at about 25,000 in our overall community. We do all kinds of monthly webinars. We have a weekly podcast. We have just a huge archive of educational content for our members. So, there are templates, worksheets. We had attorneys create legal documents for members to use. We've got discounts with IngramSpark, and Lulu, and Office Depot, and Constant Contact.

One of my favourite things we're doing most recently, we started doing these author brainstorm exchange. Every first Wednesday of the month, we get on Zoom, and the members go into breakout groups and basically have mini Mastermind groups, where they discuss their issues and their challenges in groups of six or seven. Those have been really fun and popular. I'm really enjoying hosting those.

James Blatch: Is the group primarily a place, like the SPF community, to come and learn, and soak up knowledge, or is it a representation body? Do you feel that you are advocating for your members?

Stephanie Chandler: Yeah. I think there's other groups that are more advocate-oriented, like Authors Guild and things like that. So, we really are more of an educational support community. Also, of course, we have a private Facebook group. We have a lot of connection with our community, and the community members support each other, so there's more of that going on.

James Blatch: All right, so let's get into nonfiction writing, then.

As I say, quite a broad brush here, so I imagine the preparation and skills needed to write a history book or biography, quite different from writing a business book. How do you serve both those audiences?

Stephanie Chandler: Well, we do separate events, kind of like you're doing here. We'll do specific events for the memoir and creative nonfiction writers. We do specific events for how-to writers. Right now, we're hosting a critique workshop, so people are in small groups, but we're blending the genres because there's crossover, right?

You want to tell stories even in your prescriptive nonfiction book. Then, the memoir writers that are especially people who are, maybe this is their first book, they need to have a focus. Prescriptive memoir has become a really popular genre. So, there's a lot of blending and crossover, and I think they're able to learn from each other, as well.

James Blatch: Remind me, or tell me what prescriptive memoir is.

Stephanie Chandler: Prescriptive memoir means that, a memoir, first of all, is a period of time. It's not your full story. That's an autobiography, is your full life story. A memoir is a period in time. Prescriptive memoir would mean that you're giving some sort of advice. Maybe at the end of each chapter, you've gone through a divorce, and maybe you're giving tips on how to proceed with your divorce, or how to get healthy, or whatever the message is from the memoir.

James Blatch: Okay. Well, the storytelling was what I was going to ask you about, because in a former life, we used to work in PR, and we used to talk to people all the time that you need to tell a story in whatever you're doing. So, they'd say, "We want a video, and we want X, Y, and Z to be in it." We'd say, "What's the story?" Some people would just look at you blankly saying, "Well, we're a pharmaceutical industry. We don't tell stories." But of course, storytelling, that's got to occupy a lot of the time that you are talking to people.

Do you find this is always received properly, or do people still not understand that you need to be telling stories?

Stephanie Chandler: That is definitely one of the educational points we try to drive home, but the other part of that, James, I think is knowing your audience. What is the message of your book, and who is the intended audience? It gets back to, a lot of authors think, "Well, everyone will love my book." Well, that's not true, right? I'm not a World War II historian or somebody who's interested in that, but there's a definite population of people who are.

You want to get really clear about the audience, and then your writing should speak to the audience. So, that's a thing we really try to drive home. I'm a huge believer in niche it down. Get really clear about who it is you're wanting to reach.

James Blatch: I suppose the other thing you need to know is what your book is going to do, what your expectations are for it. Self-book, something that Mark Reklau writes in our community, does very well from it, he expects to be making profit from his books, but another businessperson who might be a thought leader might see their book not necessarily making an immediate profit there but being something that gives them kudos and credibility.

Is that a fair assessment of two different ways of looking at it?

Stephanie Chandler: Absolutely, James. We have a lot of writers who are doing it for credibility, to get speaking engagements, to boost their consulting business. I worked with a former Microsoft executive who, he's sending out 50 copies of his book every month to his prospective consulting clients, and it's blown up his business. Your book can still be a phenomenal tool for business owners, for sure.

James Blatch: Let's talk about someone like that then. Somebody might be listening to this and think, "Well, I can teach an aspect of publishing," or whatever their other life experience is.

How do they go about creating a book that's going to help them get some business?

Stephanie Chandler: I think it starts with the concept of the book. Right now, there's so many millions of book titles out. I think it's really important that you want to stand out and separate your book from the herd. Try to find a unique hook and tie it in with that unique maybe a niche target audience.

Books are getting shorter, so thank you, Seth Godin, for writing short books, because it's become a trend in the nonfiction community. So, you no longer have to target 60 to 80,000 words. Maybe your book is 30,000 or 40,000 words, which is a lot more achievable, especially if it's your first book.

I like to say, set a goal of daily writing. If you write 1,000 words a day, which is about three typed pages, in 40 days, you'd have a 40,000 word first manuscript. So, those are all the steps to really get it done in a fairly quick timeline. Oh, I should've said, I love an outline, by the way. I think it's important to outline your book before you write it. I use the story board method, where I dump all the topics out on 3x5 cards, and I organise them on the floor. I've got rows, and I start to form my chapters. That works really, really well.

Then, publishing options, as you well know, there are so many today. It's easier than ever to be a self-publisher. It's also easier than ever to be a poorly produced self-publisher. So, you really want to make sure, especially if it's a professional book, you want it to represent you well and make sure you have the highest production quality. I'm not an editor. I'm a big believer in editing. My books usually go through about four rounds. So, those are some of the key parts of that path.

James Blatch: We talk about plotting and pantsing in the fiction world, or discovery writing, or plotting. Is there such a thing as pantsing a nonfiction book, of just writing it on the fly and seeing what happens?

Stephanie Chandler: I wouldn't recommend it.

James Blatch: No, so have some structure to it, and as you say, decide what it's going to be about first.

When somebody has a book like that, is it the physical copy is more useful than the eBook? Is physical copy still a big thing for nonfiction authors?

Stephanie Chandler: What we see is 40 to 60% of sales are going to be the physical, and then the other part of that is going to be your eBooks. So, if you do one or the other, you're missing out on sales, so we definitely recommend both.

James Blatch: Okay, so that's the businessperson, and they can physically send them out. Your Microsoft guy is doing that. That acts as a kind of sales tool in its own right. Memoir is something else. Now, we get a lot of emails. People come into the group, and they post. They often say, "My grandma had this incredible life. I want to write her story," or very often, "I've been through a traumatic experience, and I believe I can write a book that's going to help others."

Any tips for people who are doing that, who often are perhaps writing for the first time?

Stephanie Chandler: We hear so much of this too, and I'm a reader of memoir. I love memoir. It gets back to, who's the audience going to be? What is the purpose of your memoir? Because we all have history. We all have baggage, and have survived trauma. If you've lived to be over 40 or 50 years old, you've had some baggage in your life. So, I would say, think about who it is you want to help with your story, and who is going to relate to your story?

One of our community members recently wrote a story about his life growing up on a farm. I met with him one on one, and I said, "Who's the audience going to be for this?" It turned out that his story was largely about living with an alcoholic father and some child abuse. I said, "Do you know how many people can relate to that, to growing up in a dysfunctional family?" So, that really helped shape the audience for his book and how he wrote the book with those people in mind. I love to have a muse in mind when I'm writing, as well.

James Blatch: Yeah. That was a phase, wasn't it? I can remember I think when I was working as a reporter reading quite a lot of books that were people who had gone through alcoholism or abuse as children. I think it was called mis lit for a while.

Is that something that still something that does well, people trying to navigate their own lives, I guess, through other people's writing?

Stephanie Chandler: It does. I interviewed an author for our podcast a couple years ago. She had written a story about her own horrific childhood abuse, and she did not edit it. James, she made her own cover. She uploaded it to Kindle, and it went wild. It sold like crazy. So, there's something about the rawness of this storytelling and these tragic histories that people relate to. They want to know that others have survived it, I think. Plus, there's that just voyeuristic factor of wanting to look at how other people's lives have lived and how they've overcome it.

James Blatch: There's a reason why we turn our necks at car crashes and stuff, amongst the reason we watch horror films, some people say, because it's not happening to us, or we think it will help us. At some base level, it's going to help us avoid us getting into that situation. I guess there's something to that.

Stephanie Chandler: I really think there is. I mean, look at true crime. It's just taken over on Netflix, and Dateline, and all the shows are all about these true crime stories. I think because the truth is stranger than fiction, and it's interesting, right?

James Blatch: Yeah.

Stephanie Chandler: It's interesting to learn people's stories. I will say memoirs are harder to sell if you're not famous and you're not on your own reality show. So, that's something to think about. But we're seeing a lot of success with Amazon ads for memoir writers.

One of our community members, in fact Mark Paul, wrote a memoir called The Greatest Gambling Story Ever Told. He bet on a filly to win the Kentucky Derby back in the '80s. She ends up winning, and then he has to go collect his million dollar prize, but he did not realise he had bet against the Mexican drug cartel.

So, that's an example of a memoir that reads like a novel. It's a really great book. He doesn't have a platform. He's a real estate investor. He said, "I'm going to go all in on Amazon Ads." He did that, and James, he sold over 30,000 copies of that book in under two years.

James Blatch: Wow. Well, that's a good tip when we're going back to talking about story. People do talk about writing memoir or whatever it is they want to write about in their life. In fact, I think those true crime documentaries, the very best ones, the Making a Murderer, and The Staircase and so on that have been on Netflix, I would always say to people, watch those carefully, and watch how they develop characters.

The Staircase, if people have watched that, which I think has now been made into a fiction series as well, but the original documentary, that is like watching a feature film, the way the characters develop and change through it.

Stephanie Chandler: For sure. That's a wonderful example. It's so compelling. It's just so unbelievable. I would say that's a great place to start doing your research. Also, read other memoirs, right? I think it was Stephen King who said, if you want to be a good writer, you need to be a good reader. You need to be out reading your genre and finding out what makes good books really good, and what makes people want to tell others about them?

Because I think about that too. What makes me want to jump out and tell three friends that I loved James Clear's Atomic Habits? Because it's a really well written book. It's not a new topic, but he's got a new spin on an old topic. So, I always think about, what is going to make your book buzz-worthy? What's going to make other people want to talk about it?

James Blatch: Yeah. What's its selling point?

Okay, so your conference, going back to the conference, which is now on Zoom, is this open to anybody, or do you have to be a member of the organisation?

Stephanie Chandler: It's open to everybody. We do it every May. We've had the most incredible speakers. We've had Seth Godin and Guy Kawasaki, and Gretchen Rubin, and The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz, and Martha Beck, and this year, we had Anna Quindlen, a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer. So, we've had some phenomenal speakers, and the mission really is to take the traditional writers conference and deliver it online.

We have a live Pitch the Agent session. We have Ask a Pros, where you can schedule 15 minute phone consultations with a bunch of industry experts. We do virtual networking. It's a tonne of fun to host it, and it lasts three days every May. We just had our most recent event a couple months ago, and it's just an absolute blast.

James Blatch: And you're already planning 2023.

Stephanie Chandler: Yes. I'm already making my speaker wish list. I work really hard to cultivate a list. It's not about name recognition. It's about the value that's going to be delivered. That's really important to us.

James Blatch: I know you've put something together for our audience to help them navigate the nonfiction world called Build Your Tribe of Influence. What are people going to get out of this PDF, this handout?

Stephanie Chandler: Yeah, and by the way, I think this would help fiction writers too. It's all about figuring out your community. I like to tell writers, your audience is probably bigger than you realise. If you think about who you know, they are your earliest readers. They are the people who most want to support you. By that I mean, who do you know that could bring you in to speak at the company that they work for, or that could refer you to a book club, or a bulk sale opportunity?

So, if you really sit down and think about it, go back into your past, people you went to school with who maybe now are executives at a tech company, or a nonprofit that would buy your books in bulk in give them away. I love this exercise. I do it every time I release a book myself. It's all detailed in that PDF, and it's very doable. I think it'll be eye-opening for a lot of people.

James Blatch: Okay, so we'll give that away at Selfpublishingformula.com/nonfiction all one word. The market for nonfiction work, it's vibrant and growing in the same way that the genre and subgenre market is growing for fiction?

Stephanie Chandler: James, you'd be surprised to know that nonfiction actually outsells fiction every year. It just doesn't get the love that fiction gets. So, the nonfiction genres combined are massive, as you said. There's a lot of them. So yes, it's thriving. It's growing. Memoir, self-help, business books, those are always your evergreen topics that are going to do pretty well, and health and wellness, and spirituality.

James Blatch: The marketing side of that, I guess that's got to be similar to ... you've mentioned Amazon Ads already, but Facebook Ads, Amazon Ads are important parts of the nonfiction marketing world?

Stephanie Chandler: Yeah, to a point. I think BookBub and some of those book promotion sites are really catered to fiction, and there's a little bit of a slice for nonfiction writers. We do things more like podcast interviews. That's a huge focus for nonfiction writers. They tend to have some area of expertise. We send out media leads every Friday, so they're getting podcast media leads. So, I'm a huge fan of that.

The ads, the content marketing online and building their audience, building a community online, I think that people underutilize things like Facebook groups and LinkedIn groups. If your target audience is spending time there, go find the groups. Maybe you wrote a book about caring for your ageing dog. There are so many dog lover communities. You could be doing a book giveaway in there, or inviting people to contribute interviews for your blog. I think it's actually easier for nonfiction writers to promote books than it is for fiction. We do have an advantage there.

James Blatch: I think we've always said that, as well, because you can answer a question with your advert. You can look for people who are searching specifically to find the answers that you might have. In terms of the writing, just finally talking about the writing, we talk craft occasionally on the podcast.

That's not my specialty to teach, but I understand that you need to do quite a lot of writing. They used to say a million words to find your voice. I don't think it's that many, but a few hundred thousand words of draught and redrafting.

Is it the same with nonfiction? Is the learning curve of understanding the structure of a book, which goes on in fiction, feels to me like it might be a little bit easier because it's closer to the way that we interact normally anyway.

Stephanie Chandler: I think you're spot on, that writing nonfiction, it is a lot easier in a lot of ways. Plus, great editors can fix just about anything in nonfiction. So, we find that a lot of people who don't think of themselves as writers, maybe they're out of their comfort zone, they hire a good developmental editor, that can make a book really shine. That's harder to do with fiction, I think, because voice is so important. But with nonfiction, maybe your goal is only to write this one book, and that's going to be your book for the next 20 years. Then, investing in a good developmental editor makes a lot of sense.

James Blatch: You're a big advocate of having a book properly professionally edited. You mentioned that earlier.

Stephanie Chandler: I am, and not everybody needs developmental editing. That's kind of more of like performing surgery on a manuscript. But there's copy editing, where they go through line by line, and they might say, "Oh, this is repetitive. You talked about this earlier," or, "This isn't clear. You need to clarify." Then, I always recommend at least one round of copy editing, and multiple rounds of proofreading, which is that final check for grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

James Blatch: Yeah. Great. Well, we'll say once again, you can get the PDF giveaway at Selfpublishingformula.com/nonfiction. I can see that the links are in there.

Why don't you tell us also where people can find the association and the conference, if they want to join or go?

Stephanie Chandler: Thanks so much. It's Nonfictionauthorsassociation.com and Nonfictionwritersconference.com. I'd love to see all there.

James Blatch: Yeah, sounds good. Well, look Stephanie, thank you so much indeed for joining us from sunny California, where I'm told we're about to go to, although I have to say, it's nice and sunny in England today, but that's fine.

Stephanie Chandler: You're going to love it.

James Blatch: Yeah. Looking forward to it. Thank you so much indeed, Stephanie.

Stephanie Chandler: Thank you again, James. I really enjoyed it.

James Blatch: There you go, and once more, that link, Selfpublishingformula.com/nonfiction. There is Stephanie. Thank you very much indeed to Stephanie Chandler, our guest this week. Mark, you've got children to go and corral.

Mark Dawson: Not yet, because it's quiet, but they're on their way back, so yeah, I think in about a half an hour's time, I won't be able to work anymore.

James Blatch: No.

Mark Dawson: Oh, dear.

James Blatch: When does it all get done?

Mark Dawson: I'm going to work on Sunday this week. I think Lucy's going riding.. I'm also going to cook for the first time, I've got a Green Egg, a Kamodo oven.

James Blatch: Isn't that a toilet? That's a commode.

Mark Dawson: That's a commode. A Komodo dragon, I think you might be thinking of. Yeah. It's a long and slow cooked, so I'm going to be doing some pulled pork. I've bought two and a half kilogrammes of pork shoulder today. God, this is boring. Nobody's listening. It doesn't matter.

James Blatch: Thanks for the invite.

Mark Dawson: Well actually, I'm inviting the builders who have been working on the barn. They're coming over for a thank you party.

James Blatch: Oh, okay. I immediately got that scene with Alan Partridge in my head. You know Alan Partridge. Okay, look. I'm going to let you go off, because I think probably people are less interested in our cooking than we think they are.

Mark Dawson: Ah, well. Possibly.

James Blatch: I'm going to go off and pick up my son, and I might even get round to do some writing today, getting on with that at the moment. Okay. Thank you very much indeed. Thank you to our guest, and thank you to the SPF team behind the scenes for producing this podcast every week. Thank you to you for listening. All that 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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