Publish & Prosper

In the Studio with Author Nation’s Joe Solari

June 05, 2024 Matt Briel & Lauren Vassallo Season 1 Episode 28
In the Studio with Author Nation’s Joe Solari
Publish & Prosper
More Info
Publish & Prosper
In the Studio with Author Nation’s Joe Solari
Jun 05, 2024 Season 1 Episode 28
Matt Briel & Lauren Vassallo

In this episode, Lauren is joined by Joe Solari, Managing Director of Author Nation, for our first-ever Publish & Prosper interview!

Get excited for the Author Nation event coming to Las Vegas this November, take an inside look at CEX 2024, and hear Joe’s thoughts on the future of indie publishing. 


Dive Deeper

💡 Learn more about Author Nation

💡 Listen to Author Nation’s State of the Nation podcast

💡 Catch what you missed at CEX 2024 with our Digital Pass


Sound Bites From This Episode

🎙️ [10:29] “That's part of the journey is doing all that to have that ownership and to know that while it might not be a fast path, everything there is yours.

🎙️ [15:07] “This whole thing about going direct and doing things that this way isn't about what I think people think it's about. I think it's a bigger… a bigger, more strategic plan to make sure your business is hardened against what might be a really logical decision for Amazon and its shareholders.”

🎙️ [27:41] “So as a person that creates content, it's not just about what you can do today. It's about what we're going to be able to do in the future.”


Send us a Text Message.

💀 Can’t wait for our next episode? Check out our Resources page for links to our blog,
our YouTube channel, and more.
💀 Find us on Facebook, X, Instagram, and LinkedIn at luludotcom!
💀 Email us at podcast@lulu.com
💀 Sign up for our mailing list.


Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, Lauren is joined by Joe Solari, Managing Director of Author Nation, for our first-ever Publish & Prosper interview!

Get excited for the Author Nation event coming to Las Vegas this November, take an inside look at CEX 2024, and hear Joe’s thoughts on the future of indie publishing. 


Dive Deeper

💡 Learn more about Author Nation

💡 Listen to Author Nation’s State of the Nation podcast

💡 Catch what you missed at CEX 2024 with our Digital Pass


Sound Bites From This Episode

🎙️ [10:29] “That's part of the journey is doing all that to have that ownership and to know that while it might not be a fast path, everything there is yours.

🎙️ [15:07] “This whole thing about going direct and doing things that this way isn't about what I think people think it's about. I think it's a bigger… a bigger, more strategic plan to make sure your business is hardened against what might be a really logical decision for Amazon and its shareholders.”

🎙️ [27:41] “So as a person that creates content, it's not just about what you can do today. It's about what we're going to be able to do in the future.”


Send us a Text Message.

💀 Can’t wait for our next episode? Check out our Resources page for links to our blog,
our YouTube channel, and more.
💀 Find us on Facebook, X, Instagram, and LinkedIn at luludotcom!
💀 Email us at podcast@lulu.com
💀 Sign up for our mailing list.


Lauren: Hey everyone, welcome to Publish & Prosper. We're doing something brand new today. Matt is not here with us today, and instead I'm sitting in the podcast studio with our very first guest, Joe Solari. Welcome, thank you so much for joining us today. 

Joe: Thanks for having me here, this is great, yeah. 

Lauren: Do you wanna tell us a little bit about who you are, what you do, what you're doing here?

Joe: Sure, sure, so we're in town to meet with the folks at Lulu to talk about our plans at Author Nation. So I'm the managing director of Author Nation, which is the largest fiction conference in the United States. It's a five day event that has… mainly its education component. But we also do have a reader event that is part of the show. And of course, you guys are important part of it, because you're sponsoring the show. 

Lauren: It sounds like an incredible show. It's a show that I'm so excited for. 

Joe: Yeah. 

Lauren: So. 

Joe: Well, you've also got inside the secret vault, you know, some of the stuff we got -  

Lauren: Oh, yeah.

Joe: - cooked up, so. 

Lauren: Oh, yeah. No, I mean, I just say in that whole conversation that we just had that was, you know, planning and kind of talking through some of the things that we're doing. And I was like chin in hands - 

Joe: Yeah. 

Lauren: Like just so excited for everything that was coming. And it just sounds so exciting. So if you're not familiar with the Author Nation event, you should definitely check it out. 

Joe: Yeah. Well, and I think what was interesting about that conversation, for the folks that are listening, is that you're an avid reader and you go to signing events and you're kind of like our ideal customer for what we're trying to do on the event side - 

Lauren: Yeah. 

Joe: Called RAVE, which is really to create this community for readers where they can have that connection with their favorite authors and do fun stuff together and really celebrate the hobby of reading and understand that there's more to this experience than just sitting on your own reading a book, right? It's hanging out with people that like the same genres as you and are into the nerdery of the whole thing, so yeah.

Lauren: Yeah, absolutely. I think that's, you know, one of the things that we've talked about a lot on this podcast actually is that we love creator events. We love going to these like content entrepreneur events like CEX. 

Joe: Yeah. 

Lauren: Which you were at recently and we'll talk about in a little bit. But for me, this kind of event is the perfect union of it's an author event, a reader event, and has that marketing element to it, too, where it's speaking to authors about how to grow their brand and really make the most of owning their brand.

Joe: Yeah. 

Lauren: I was looking at some of the sessions that you have lined up - 

Joe: Yeah. 

Lauren: and it looks like there's a lot of that going on too. 

Joe: So I think like if you trying to like kind of frame out where CEX positions itself and what Author Nation does, you know, Author Nation does have nonfiction authors that come to it. We have a significant amount and we do have content around that. But CEX is probably like more tilted the other way where if it's like 80 - we're 80% fiction authors at Author Nation, you guys are 80% content, maybe higher. And going to CEX, which, you know, Author Nation, we, we sponsored the publishing track and we brought our whole team out to, you know, have as a, an opportunity to see how you guys run a show because you run a great show. 

Lauren: Thanks.

Joe: We came away with like, we believe that we have a lot to offer into that community of content creators to help them see how publishing and specifically print publishing and print-on-demand can be a really powerful tool. 

Lauren: Yeah, absolutely. 


[3:59]

Lauren: So you were the sponsors for the publishing track - 

Joe: Yep.

Lauren: - at CEX. One of the really cool things about getting to host an event, which I'm sure you're familiar with, is, is that you get to be involved in everything and you get to be all over the place and you get to go everywhere. One of the downsides of being… hosting and involved at an event is that you kind of don't get to go anywhere because you're busy. Like you don't get to commit to really spending time in one place or at one session or anything like that. So I didn't get a whole lot of time to hang out in that publishing track session room where there were the different events happening. Did you? Did you get the opportunity to connect with any of the speakers or any of the people that were kind of hanging out taking notes that were attendees there?

Joe: Yeah, so I'll kind of give you my take on it, what I got out of it. And I think more importantly is what my team got out of it. 

Lauren: Love it. 

Joe: And so from my perspective, it shows for me are always about networking. The reality is, is the break room or the hangout space is where I probably spend most of my time. I, I do set time to go see different sessions. And there were some great sessions there that I did take value from. But it's really about relationships and spending time and whether that's with the Lulu folks that we don't get that much time to connect. But also the vendors you've had there and some of the speakers, you know, it's not much of a secret, we were scouting for speakers at your show. That's what we do. 

Lauren: Well, we had some great speakers there. 

Joe: You did, you did. 

Lauren: And some great attendees that weren't speakers. So there's worse places to scout for speakers. 

Joe: Yeah, and then, then the next piece is so for my team, like - and this really ties into your question well. It was, like for most of those folks, they'd never been to an event that they weren't running, right? So there was a couple of different conversations. There was some of the folks that were really getting into your logistics and talking to your staff about planning things. But the other side of it was being able to be in a session and learn from others and not having to be worried about the AV equipment, or if the coffee was going to be turned on time. So I think for them to have that, it was for us a really great team building exercise. So, and they really appreciated the opportunity to see that. And it also helped us really elevate what our expectations are for the content we're planning on providing. You know, not just the speakers, but like, how we think speaking should be done. And so there's things that we all talked about after that. It was like, yeah, these were the things that worked well, and these were the things that we didn't think worked. 

Lauren: That's a really good perspective on that, honestly. And that's a great opportunity to have. I'm so glad we were able to -

Joe: Yeah. 

Lauren: Let your team have that opportunity. 

Joe: Yeah. 

Lauren: Because that is something. We talk about that a lot with conferences for us, because Team Lulu will attend conferences as exhibitors a lot of the time. But I think some of the most valuable experiences we have as exhibitors are going to one or two events every year as attendees and getting to see like, okay, as an attendee, this is the swag that I wish that I had picked up from somebody. So next time we're giving or like coming up with swag to give out at a conference, we can say like, okay, I don't need another tote bag, but maybe there is something else that would come in handy at this event. 

Or even just okay, like, we've learned that when we're attending conferences, the most valuable time for us to speak to exhibitors is actually during the sessions when you're like, oh, you know, there's no really important session that I want to go to right now. So I'm going to take this quiet time to go walk through the exhibitor hall. So now we always make sure that we have people at the boots during that time. 

Joe: Yeah. 

Lauren: Cause you want to make sure that there's always somebody available to talk to anybody who's wandering around looking for that. So I think that's super valuable to have that perspective. And I'm really glad that your team was able to have that. 

Joe: Yeah. And I think staying on that, specifically with CEX and the whole publishing track, the thing that I think where there was, yeah, there was a lot of great sessions, but the fact that we had our team, we had six or seven people there. Two of us, myself and Bonnie Paulson were speakers, but the others were there just attending. They're all authors, they're all published authors. And a lot of times where the magic was happening was like at lunch or coffee, where their conversation would kick up with another attendee. And there would be like, oh yeah, publishing a book. Like this is how you do it. Like this is, and I know I had a couple of those where getting somebody to understand that, they'd come to see CEX because they're thinking, well, you know, I'm thinking about this content thing and, you know, maybe I'll have a blog, maybe I'll do a, you know, YouTube channel. And saying to that new person also think about how you can really assert your authority with the more comprehensive thing, like a book. On the flip side of that is some of the people that, you know, we were talking before about some of the folks that are serial content providers. In our mind, it's like, you've got the content. Let's just give you some processes that turn that content into this other cool product that can be used in your audience, either servicing them in another way, right?

I know for something that I do, you know, I have a, an email subscription and it's a, it's a paid email subscription. Like I have this flow to kind of just have this constant content coming out, but there's people that will pay me additional money to get those emails compiled into a book. There's not a whole lot more that I have to do. I mean, because I want it to be good, like I go get a cover made and I get the formatted. But most of the heavy lifting has already been done in the previous year writing that content. 

Lauren: That's such a great idea. And that's such a great use of your content and repurposing your content. And it's something that we've talked about kind of abstractly on this show before. So it's great to hear from somebody saying, I put that into practice. 


[9:50]

Joe: Yeah. Oh yeah. Yeah. So like, um, one of the things that I'm a big believer in this concept of, you know, it's said almost as a cliche now, the, you know, don't build on rented land. 

Lauren: Matt loves that phrase.

Joe: Right, right. 

Lauren: He says it all the time. 

Joe: But it’s like, okay. So what do I do? It's like, well, I call that digital homesteading, right? And if you know anything about homesteading, there's the homesteading that you see, that's on Instagram, that's all looks fun and cool and easy. And then there's the actual thing, right? Where you're out there, like scraping bark off logs and pounding the dirt on the floor to make it even. You have to do the work to have that right? You have to - that's part of the journey is doing all that to have that ownership and to know that while it might not be a fast path, everything there is yours. So like what I've done is with working with, you know, like all in one marketing tools and connecting them up to Lulu. There's certain books that I've made the decision that I'm only selling them on my platform, right? Earlier I was talking about Amazon as a search engine. So, like I play both games. There's a reason to have both of those things. 

Lauren: Yeah, for sure. 

Joe: But there's certain things that I want to get my audience to understand that if you want like the really you know the really core stuff, the glengarry leads, you got to have that on my site. You have to come here, and you have to buy it. And so you know with my one book, Attention, I've got it set up where - well actually both books, but in the case of Attention it's only on my website - when somebody buys that book, I don't do anything. Like that, that gets sent through, you know, a Zapier link into Lulu and you guys print it and ship it. 

Lauren: That's the ideal setup - 

Joe: Yeah. 

Lauren: When you're using Lulu. I think that's also, you know, Matt and I go back and forth about this a lot, because Matt is very much not a fan of Amazon at all. And I recognize Amazon as… I don't want to say necessary evil, because I don't necessarily think it's a necessary evil. But it is an important part of the publishing industry, whether we like it or not. And we were talking recently actually about the Kindle Unlimited model as a lead magnet and about this idea of having like as somebody who reads a lot of indie published books, a lot of self-published books, a lot of books on Kindle Unlimited. I will use that as my gateway into - I’m gonna, this is a new author. I'm not familiar with their work. I'm not sure if I want to commit myself to buying it. So I read a couple of their books on Kindle Unlimited. And then if I do like them, then I'm much more willing to go out and purchase their content that they have directly from them on their own website and giving the money to them directly. 

Joe: Yeah. 

Lauren: So I think that's such an important model for authors, for sure. 

Joe: Yeah, there's certainly, I'll give you another way to think about this. If you're, if you're somebody that's contemplating and I do want to circle back on something else with Amazon, but Amazon serves a - specifically Kindle Unlimited - serves a specific purpose. It's a subscription service that a lot of people like to use. You as a content creator get to decide when your stuff goes in there. Now, certainly there's some genres that it's the easiest lift, like go there first, build your audience, but there's nothing to stop you from saying, hey, I'm going to start with my books on Kickstarter or Direct, and then I'm going to go wide. And then down the road, when I feel my books are worth what Amazon's telling me they think a book is worth, I'll put them in there. 

It’s hard for folks that have started in KU because they have this audience that’s like, oh, when’s the book coming. I need it - it's like, we know they're being taken care of there. They're okay. Go find new people. Go find the ones because there's so many people that are outside the industry have no idea what Kindle Unlimited is. 

Lauren: That's a great point. 

Joe: Right? 

Lauren: Yeah. 

Joe: Right. Now, one thing I want people to think about that are heavy into publishing and that this is their thing is we tend to think about artificial intelligence as a concern from the perspective of, oh, people are going to make cheap content fast and that could hurt me as a content producer. I'm going to give you a different scenario, another alternative universe that might turn out how AI could really torpedo publishing. And that is Amazon is a software service company that happens to have a big retail piece. And if you went and looked at their last report. Andy Jassy was talking about their investments in AI. That's where they're going to be spending billions and billions of dollars. He needs to make that - first up, that's where he started. Like that's where he made his money, right? That's his thing, right? So he's going to make sure that his baby gets taken care of. But it's also where 80% of their operating profits come from. So if they decide to just get out of retail, what does that do? 

Lauren: Wow. What a thought.

Joe: People aren't like… it's the most problematic part of their business, right? That's where you have to deal with all the bots. They have to deal with all the people doing counterfeit goods, all the IP issues. They never have made money other than on the data they get from retail. So like, I'm just like this whole thing about going direct and doing things that this way isn't about what I think people think it's about. I think it's a bigger, a bigger, more strategic plan to make sure your business is hardened against what might be a really logical decision for Amazon and its shareholders. 

Lauren: I think you just broke my brain. Honestly, that is such a… like it never occurred to me that that is a possibility, but it's so easy to see how it is a possibility and how it could be a very smart business move for them. 

Joe: Especially if the if the government really decides to grind on them with a lot of stuff. And let's just be realistic, like the evidence of them doing predatory stuff like, it's not a smoking gun like it's them standing over the body. It's not it's not gonna be a hard lift for the government to do that. So, I mean just thinking that scenario through why? Why wouldn't you spin off retail? Why wouldn't you sell it to somebody and then go double down on what is the next generation of AWS, because that business is mature now, right? Like they're kind of behind the eight ball with this AI thing. And if they're going to be protecting their market share there, they're going to invest a lot of money in a lot of human capital there and not be looking to what they need to do for their customer experience. And as a customer of Amazon, how many of our decisions to buy from them now is just sheer convenience? It's just purely laziness. 

Lauren: Wow. I mean, I need to like, recover from this.No, because I can't disagree with any of that. That's such a great point. Wow. I need to go home and like, reevaluate all of my Amazon use now. And also like, figure out, oh no, what's going to happen to… cause you know, as much as, as much as I don't want all of my content to come from there, I am a Kindle Unlimited subscriber. I am an Audible subscriber. We were talking earlier off mic about, an audio book project and audio book narrator that you were talking about for Author Nation. 

Joe: Yeah. 

Lauren: And the first thing I did in the middle of that conversation was pulled it up on the Audible app and added it to my wishlist so that I remember to go back and look at it later. And, you know, it's - even Goodreads. I've mentioned in the past on this podcast about how I'm a frequent Goodreads user. That's where I get a lot of my book recommendations. That's where I keep up with a lot of what my friends are reading and stuff like that. Goodreads is owned by Amazon. 

Joe: Yeah. 

Lauren: All of this is Amazon products and Amazon. Oh man, I've always been up on my high horse about not relying on Amazon for publishing or for book stuff. And yet here I am. 

Joe: Yeah. Well, let's, let's, you know, we, we're not going to talk about what we were talking about in the boardroom before. 

Lauren: Nope. 

Joe: But the thing that people that are might be like, all this is gloom and doom. It's not, it's just informing decisions that are being made. And, and guess what? The indie community and companies like Lulu are more nimble and we're thinking through like what's going to happen here, because we're - I think we're really at a momentous point in our history with what's happening with AI. I fundamentally believe that how search and how we interact digitally is going to change in a very big way. And I think that, frankly, the indie community is going to be better at adapting to that than these other guys will. 

They’re, you know, Amazon is going to be in a massive arms race. It's going to cost them billions of dollars and they're going to be focusing on their fight with Google and Microsoft over that whole landscape. Now, one thing could be you are collateral damage to that, or you can think about, okay, the way this plays out, I can do some things to make myself better suited for how the tools are going to be in the future. And if you're building a place that, that digital homestead, it's the authentic truth about your brand, about your story world, about the genre. I think that AI is going to learn that, and know that, and it's going to be what suggests it. If you're, you're thinking through and building a business that way, that's kind of designed to teach that thing that you're the real deal, you're going to be more successful in the future. You're going to be the one that it suggests when it finds people that are your customer. But you have to build that stuff, right? Like that's the part that gets, you know, a little daunting. 

Lauren: I think that's probably the best takeaway or perspective, I guess, on this is the reality that there are plenty of people in this industry that are thinking ahead on stuff like this. 

Joe: Yeah. 

Lauren: So where, you know, there are already so many people that are, that are sitting here and saying like, okay, how do we pivot around this? Like you said, indie publishing is much better positioned to be more nimble with reacting to stuff like this -

Joe: Yeah. 

Lauren: and moving forward. 

Joe: We were talking earlier, and at some point, we'll probably be on here in later episodes, revealing this stuff, but we are building this, the platforms and the resources to make sure that the indie community remains relevant. 

Lauren: Yes. And we'll leave it at that. And the excitement in my voice because I was so just enthusiastic to hear about all of this. 

Joe: Yeah. 

Lauren: I'm really excited and really looking forward to a point where both Author Nation and Lulu can share - 

Joe: Yeah. 

Lauren: - more details because that's gonna be really cool, for sure. 

Joe: Let’s get through some testing here first. 

Lauren: Yeah. We've got time but there's some really cool exciting stuff coming. 


[20:28]

Lauren: You mentioned something earlier that I wanted to circle back on because I thought it was really interesting when you said you brought your whole team to CEX and that your whole team are all published authors, including you. 

Joe: Yep. 

Lauren: So how does that impact the decisions that you make, whether it's for events or anything else that you're doing with your team? Like it gives you a perspective that I feel like a lot of people that work for companies in the publishing industry don't necessarily have. 

Joe: Yeah, I think that - and this goes to the spirit of Author Nation and a lot of the staff that came, that working on this, have been around for a while. And the reason why they're still involved in the show and doing this work is because they want to give back, right? They have a deep understanding of what it means to get started from zero and work their way up. And in a lot of cases, why they feel they were successful is because somebody else stopped and took the time to tell them how to get up that learning curve faster, right? And this it's just, you know, they want to give back, right? So I think that, you know, when you see those folks that are, they understand that for that, to be around for them to get back, they have to do that work. They have to build the show out. We have to be thinking through that stuff. 

I also think it helps a lot in, so we have a content committee and most shows don't, they just have somebody, maybe one person, and they get submissions and they pick stuff. I think that deliberate decision to build out such a big committee and to include so many different communities helps us to get a better content structure for the show because people are, you know, they just have more network, right? Like it's just that simple sometimes it's like, okay. And I'll give you a perfect example why I brought people to CEX, is because I had seen some of the speakers you guys had. They are not people that speak in the fiction publishing industry. I believe they have really powerful messages and can help us think outside of our bubble. And too much of what's going on inside indie publishing is the bubble, right? It's ‘these are the people that are the experts. These are the people that are seen as the ones that know are the gurus.’ And that's just not true. And they, they may know how to do what they know how to do than what has worked. But how do we get prepared for a paradigm shift in the industry? How do I help you put pieces together that makes you think of some new way that you never, that no one's ever thought of that works for you? That's what comes out of bringing those people to a show like CEX. And them hearing and being like, oh, we really need to have this person come in. Well, that dude's a YouTuber. Why would you have him? He doesn't - he's not published. No, but he knows how to build an audience in a really amazing way. 

Lauren: No, I think that's actually such a great point. And I think it's one of the reasons that we've been able to develop this great relationship between Lulu and Author Nation is because we all kind of feel the same way about that, where it is trying to figure out, like - I was the social media manager here at Lulu for the last four years before I shifted over to doing this podcast with Matt. And that was something that we would talk about a lot with trying to figure out our social content, and specifically how to continue to speak to the existing audience that we had that was primarily authors that were following us on our different social platforms, but then also trying to bridge that gap between the content creators and the content entrepreneurs and people that we'd been meeting at conferences and events and wanted to speak more to. And how to help both of these audiences understand that there was just so much opportunity for them to learn from each other. 

Joe: Oh, yeah. 

Lauren: There's so much opportunity for them to learn from each other, and I think that is definitely what we're trying to do - the royal we - 

Joe: Yeah, yeah. 

Lauren: Are trying to do with events like CEX and Author Nation. And even this podcast, like that's kind of where this came from, was me and Matt being like, okay, Matt's the content entrepreneur side of things. I'm the author side of things. Let's figure out how to put it together and speak to both of these audiences in a way that kind of bridges that gap. 

Joe: Well, and I think that we were talking before about like Author Nation is fully committed to CEX, however it manifests next year as being involved in that publishing track, we want to take a stronger hand in that. Because from our perspective, right, like it's it's all about your viewpoint. 

We see somebody that's doing a bunch of serialized content and might have three years of YouTube videos or blog posts or Twitter, whatever their thing is that they've developed and they've got a great audience. And we look at that and we're like, Oh my God, this guy's probably got three to four books under his belt that we could get all pounded out really quickly. He's got everything that every author would ever kill for when it comes to the, the pieces to do an amazing launch, right? Just doesn't know how to do it. 

Lauren: Right. 

Joe: And then for like, my crew, the ones that were there, this is like, they can do this in their sleep, like they probably are running a launch on a book while they're there, right. But for this other person, it's like they're teaching them how to make fire. And it's like, that's the beauty is if we bring these people together, there's opportunities across the board for authors to learn how to build community and how to use social media in different ways. Think about how they're going to serve their audience in those types of channels. And then on the other side, we can help folks to see like, okay, you have this whole nother river of cash you can create that brings in and maybe even a bigger audience to your other ways, right? Because now you're on Amazon, which even though we're kind of painting some doomsday scenarios, they the, they are one of the largest search engines on the planet.

Lauren: I think that’s a really important thing moving forward - as we’re talking about how we move forward and how we stay nimble within this ever-evolving industry and everything that goes along with it - is by understanding that there is this connection and overlap between these different kinds of communities. The author communities and the creator economy communities and all these kinds of things. And understanding how we can learn from each other and how we can grow from each other is so important. 


[26:30]

Joe: Oh, for sure, for sure. I mean, I'll give it one one other example of… we have to be ready for what's coming next. Like there - not daunting doomsday stuff, but - somebody is going to invent some new media format that your content will be valuable in, right? 

Lauren: Yeah. 

Joe: And, you know, a great example of this is that's played out for the author, the fiction author community - and I would say even to a greater extent, nonfiction - is audiobooks, right? 

That used to be a massively expensive enterprise. Distribution was hard. There's all kinds of reasons why it was a massive obstacle. But you look at certain genres of fiction, authors are making more money in audiobooks than they are in print. When all of a sudden authors could go into audio and do that, it's like, oh my god, now there's it's like a whole ‘nother business. Like now - and I've seen this in clients where their print sales go from being 80% their ebook, whatever you want to call it, go from 80% down to 50%. Not because of anything other than they've added in more sales from audio and it's just equalized out. There's going to be media like that we don't know about that's coming. So as a person that creates content, it's not just about what you can do today. It's about what we're going to be able to do in the future. 

Lauren: That's such a great point. And that's also so interesting. The revenue shift on that. I'm a huge audiobook listener. I love audiobooks. They are these days kind of my primary source - 

Joe: Yeah. 

Lauren: - of consuming books. But I've actually never really thought about how that shift must have… because they are, they have become so much more accessible, both to authors hoping to create them and to readers hoping to listen to them. 

Joe: Yeah, yeah. 

Lauren: So that's - what an interesting point. 

Joe: And you think, so think about this is, um, we're in a world today where somebody that's listening to this podcast that has, you know, Shopify or WooCommerce or - I use Kartra and I got it hooked up, but you, you could do a deal where somebody could come on your website and they could order a print book that you've created. And you could easily say to them, hey, as an upsell for another five bucks, you can have my audiobook. And you can, the old days when you have to go record it yourself, or you have to hire somebody now with things like Eleven Labs, you can do it in your own voice.

And the part that's so important to me about that is if you're really, let's say your thing is, is where you really make money is in some type of engagement, some type of consulting or some type of membership, them listening to your voice creates a parasocial relationship. Like they start to connect with you and they start to understand, oh, this person knows what they're talking about. And the book comes up, if they're kind of reading along while they're listening or they use it as a reference, like they start to get a deeper understanding of that. It's an experience, right? It's not just a book or an audio, it's this experience that will get them to be more certain that you're the right person to solve that problem. That's purely a nonfiction situation, right?

Lauren: Sure. And that makes perfect sense. I mean, we are doing this on a podcast - 

Joe: Right. 

Lauren: - right now. People - I'm assuming anyone listening to this listens to other podcasts, too. I joke all the time about how my favorite podcasts, I'm friends with all the hosts. 

Joe: Right. 

Lauren: They don't know it. 

Joe: Right, right, right.  

Lauren: But they're my friends because, yeah, they've just been that voice in my ear that has become this expert voice, this trusted voice. Absolutely. The person you're going to think of the people, the voice you're going to think of when you're thinking of this specific topic. So sure, that makes a lot of sense to have the audiobook then. 

Joe: Yeah. 

Lauren: Great idea. 

Joe: And especially if you're not really keen on being on video, you know, and some of the people that are great YouTubers, it's like, well, the guy just has a good presence and he's got this great setup and he's got the mood light and not everybody can draw pictures all over their wall like here. And, you know, so like, what, what do we - well, I you know, I don't even think I'm a good reader. Well, you don't have to be, right. You can do that with some of the tools that are coming out and have the opportunity. And I've said this to a lot of people, especially ones that are - the book is a channel to them doing something else. It's like, well, did you think about an audiobook? And they're like… it's like, well, you should because people are going to connect with you. 

Lauren: That's great. I love it. And I also love this is just more - Matt and I are working on building out an episode that's going to be format wars. And I'm going to be the audiobook champion. And anything that I can use that I can just be like, adding this to my argument for why audiobooks are great. Might cut that clip out.

Joe: Yeah, yeah. 

Lauren: And save it for myself for later, but. 

Joe: That might come up on your performance review. You do understand you work for a print company, don’t you?

Lauren: Well, just because we don't offer audiobooks now doesn't mean that we never will. 

Joe: Well, and I think it's - I hope what folks are taking away from this is that you're part of the equation, right? Like there there's great tools out there for doing delivery of your audiobooks direct, where you don't have to be sending people files and worry about them loading them into apps and all that stuff. Just like Lulu's resolved the print solution, right? So it's like, you know, you can be selling swag, print books electronic products on your website today and never touch a product. 

Lauren: Yeah. Yeah. You know, that's, that's what we're trying to do here for sure. 

Joe: Yeah. 

Lauren: Is trying to streamline that for everyone. And I know we're not alone in that game. 

Joe: Yeah. No, it's, it's a good world to be in right now, if you're trying to build yourself a business. There's so many opportunities, so many tools. Is it a lot of work? This gets back to that homesteading thing. It's like, yeah, there's like, you know, agonizing hours of trying to figure out email sequences and building pages and all that stuff. Especially when you're new and you don't have a budget. But that results, you know, that first result is what gets you your first sale. And then over time as you build up, you can get some more money. Maybe you can hire somebody to do it better. But the fact that you can do it so cheap and deliver with high certainty, right? Now you've said it earlier, but like if their quality isn't there, then it's not going to be a long relationship with the client. We're assuming that people are delivering high quality content. 

Lauren: I like to think so. But yeah, you know, I always like to think of it as using your homesteading example. It's building the foundation. Is it a lot of work up front? Is it, is it a lot of time commitment to figuring out how you're going to do this and putting in the work to do it? Yes. But if it means that you're building that solid foundation for yourself, for you to grow your business on long term? Sounds worth it to me. 

Joe: Oh, for sure, for sure. 

Lauren: You don't want the house to collapse, right? 

Joe: No, no. 

Lauren: For sure. 


[33:01]

Lauren: So thank you so much for joining me today. This has been incredible. As we wind it down, we've talked a lot about the future. Is there anything that you want to talk about upcoming with Author Nation that you want to tease for our audience or just tell them to go learn more about it as it's coming out? 

Joe: Yeah, you know, go to AuthorNation.live. You'll see what we're doing there for our ticket sales. That's where you'll get the most information about our speaker list. It's extensive. We have 120 sessions over three days. You'll see some of the keynotes we have and some of the different things we're doing, like Story Wars, where we're having a live competition for kind of story improv. It's pretty amazing. We've got a live a variety show by Soundbooth Theater where they're going to be acting out different stories. So we've got a lot of different things, even if you're familiar with a lot of other shows and you're kind of a hardened author conference person, we're, you know, like we were talking about earlier, the team is not approaching this the way a lot of people think they are. It's for me, I'll say this - it's been really interesting at being on social media and kind of lurking and seeing what folks think is going on versus what I know is going on. 

Lauren: That’s awesome. I know it's something that the more that I learn about it, just the more excited that I get. And I don't want to rush the year ahead because we've got a lot of really cool things coming. 

Joe: No, no, we need every day. No rushing. 

Lauren: I know, I know. I totally understand that feeling, but also can't wait for November.

Joe: Awesome. 

Lauren: So yeah. Thank you so much for being here with me today, especially with Matt not being here. 

Joe: Yeah, yeah. 

Lauren: So this was great. Thank you so much. 

Joe: Anytime. 

Lauren: And I guess thanks to everyone for listening too.