#259 – Clubhouse for Authors with Fatima Fayez and Jenn Falls

Authors and co-founders of the The Author Conference club Jenn Falls and Fatima Fayez join us on the podcast this week to talk about all things Clubhouse. Jenn and Fatima tell us how they got their start in indie publishing, what drew them to Clubhouse in the first place, and how they use the audio-only app to connect with other writers and host an author conference.  Learn more about this episode!

Authors and co-founders of the The Author Conference Club Jenn Falls and Fatima Fayez join us on the podcast this week to talk about all things Clubhouse. Jenn and Fatima tell us how they got their start in indie publishing, what drew them to Clubhouse in the first place, and how they use the audio-only app to connect with other writers and even host an author conference. 

  • Jenn and Fatima tell us about their careers as indie authors and how they found their writing niches
  • They give us an explanation of the app Clubhouse and how authors can join the audio-only platform, and they tell us how they use the platform to host engaging conversations and encourage people to speak up
  • Fatima and Jenn explain what inspired them to start using Clubhouse with authors, how their club The Author Conference Club came to be, and how they manage to have daily conversations with their global community
  • They share their advice for new Clubhouse users, including how to overcome any shyness in order to ask questions during a conversation and proper Clubhouse etiquette 
  • Jenn and Fatima tell us about the conference they hosted on Clubhouse, what they learned from the experience, and what they have planned next
  • They talk about the future of the app, how the monetization of Clubhouse will play into their future plans, and they give us their predictions of the future of indie publishing

Clubhouse Clubs Mentioned

The Author Conference
Clubhouse Authors
Level Up Romance
Author Arena Writing
Writers on the Storm

Useful Links

Fatima’s website
Jenn’s website
Follow Fatima on Twitter and Clubhouse
Follow Jenn on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Clubhouse
Fate Interrupted
Harry Potter Audiobooks
The Iron Druid Audiobook
The Dresden Files Audiobook
The Unhoneymooners
American Gods
Enid Blyton

Episode Transcript

Transcript Provided by Speechpad

Joni: Hey, writers, you’re listening to the “Kobo Writing Life Podcast,” where we bring you insights and inspiration for growing your self-publishing business. We’re your hosts. I’m Joni, author engagement specialist at Kobo Writing Life.

Rachel: And I’m Rachel, author engagement coordinator at Kobo Writing Life. On today’s episode, Tara and Joni sat down with Jenn Falls and Fatima Fayez to talk about Clubhouse which is an audio-only social media app. Joni and I both have Clubhouse but we’re both kind of scared to use it out of fear of barging in on a conversation we’re not supposed to be a part of. Joni, did you learn a lot to kind of quell those fears during this interview?

Joni: You know what, I did. And I told Jenn and Fatima that I find the app terrifying. And they were very, very reassuring. And honestly, the way that they use it, it’s actually really cool. They’ve built a great author community with it. They have a bunch of author groups, they’ve run conferences via Clubhouse. And it sounds like they’ve created this really warm, and inviting, and inclusive, community. And one thing that is cool about it is that they’re able to have these conferences kind of like the way that we’ve all been doing these virtual conferences, but they are able to include authors from all over the world who might not be able to attend in person. So I think it’s really grown the indie author community even more, so it was a great episode. We hope you enjoy the chat as much as we did, and go download Clubhouse and let us know what you think.

Tara: I’m really happy this week to have both Fatima and Jenn that I connected with through Clubhouse. So welcome to the Kobo Writing Life podcast, ladies.

Jenn: Thank you. I’m glad to be here.

Fatima: Thank you. So am I.

Tara: So you’re both writers, and you help writers connect on Clubhouse. So can you tell us both how you began as an author, and just what is your experience in the indie publishing space been so far?

Jenn: I got into writing as a kid, but did one of those things were in college, I was too afraid to do creative writing so I went into literature and eventually became a high school English teacher. And so spent over a decade teaching high school students literature that already existed. But my husband is military, we moved all over the world, and keeping in a teaching job or having to switch teaching jobs over and over became burdensome because you end up in the pile of what classes you get. So eventually, I said, “You know, I wanna switch over to trying to write again,” and I tried pitching and querying for a couple of years because I was writing young adult fiction, fantasy fiction. And that’s where I felt like young adult fiction was a better sphere was in traditional publishing.

But then I got on KBoards, which at the time was this big indie author, forum space, and got really involved in the indie author world. So my journey to where I am now is kind of odd because I started off researching and then I became a virtual assistant. So once again, I put my writing aside and helped out writers. And then I thought I’d put my skills to use so I became a freelance editor and then I was editing people’s work and then thought, “Why am I editing when I could be writing instead?” So then I got into writing, but I was very, very scared to put out my own work. I’m a perfectionist, and I didn’t wanna be imperfect. So it took me many years, and many different genres until I found what I love to do, which is Paranormal Cozy Mysteries. And now I’m a full-time writer.

Tara: Nice. Did you learn a lot as a virtual assistant? I think that’s kind of an interesting way to get into independent publishing.

Jenn: It was fascinating because this was in the day where there really weren’t any virtual assistants. So I say I was a virtual assistant but the reality is that I messaged an author that I admired and I said, “Hey, just to let you know, I’m a high school English teacher and a writer. I really appreciate what you’ve built in your world, and how you’ve done it and how you build your plot,” basically, kind of deconstructing her writing. And she said, “Hey, you’re really articulate, would you mind taking over writing my emails and representing me on Facebook?” This was early days of Facebook groups. And so I basically learned the ropes of how do you attract readers? How do you keep them in there? What to do in order to keep this rabid readership. It was a huge, huge lesson to me. And so when I was ready and came back around, there are still things…and this was 2012. We call it the golden age of indie authors when you just put a book out and could launch hugely. So I learned a lot that I still use today.

Tara: Awesome. That sounds like a really good start. Fatima, Have you always been a writer? I know you don’t love to talk about your writing, but we won’t dwell on it too much. But I just wanna get your experience with coming into indie.

Fatima: Well, yeah, I’ve been a writer since I was in school. And I always had, like, these after-school projects where I’d, like, write little books, you know, co-write them with my friends and create little comic books. So it was something that was always part of my life. But like Jenn, like, I discovered these online forums and would read about it. And then I experimented. So like I self-published under pen names trying to figure out, like, I self-published, like, young adult and then I was like, “No, but I like contemporary.” The contemporary fantasy, put that out, eventually landed on urban fantasy, and finally decided to take the plunge this year to write under my actual name. But like you said, Tara, I don’t like to talk about it and that’s a hurdle I need to overcome, so.

Tara: I find it so fascinating when you’re on a platform like Clubhouse, which is just talking, like, there’s no visual, I think that’s really interesting that you’re more about the business, I guess.

Fatima: I’m good at asking questions and eliciting answers from people. And then people enjoy talking about themselves. So they don’t realize that they haven’t asked you anything about yourself. There’s only like a few insightful people that go, “Hold on a second, aren’t you an author?” and I kind of brush away the answer. So that’s been fun. And it’s been interesting to see who picks up on it and who doesn’t. But it’s been such a fun platform because you meet so many awesome authors and you learn so much.

Joni: Can you give us a little bit of an explanation as to what Clubhouse is for those of us that are less familiar?

Jenn: Clubhouse is an app that first started as an iOS app. So for Apple phones only originally, it is now on both Android and Apple phones. But it is an app that basically takes what’s good about Zoom in terms of communicating but takes away the visual. So for those of us who like to be in our PJs all day long, it was great because you can hear each other’s inflections and intentions. And so it makes getting a little deeper easier. So having real conversations about things I think happens more organically over the app than necessarily in Zoom. It’s very interesting when you take away the visual, it’s interesting how much more people actually will share.

Joni: So one of the things with the internet, in general, is if anyone from anywhere in the world can participate and say anything they want, I feel like a lot of sites get a bit shouty and people will all kind of yell over each other. Does that happen on Clubhouse or not so much?

Fatima: Well, when we first joined Clubhouse, there were a lot of interesting bios, because you can write whatever bio you want. So there were plenty of experts all over the place trying to teach people how to sell books, and a lot of “New York Times” bestsellers. And, of course, a lot of people will not look up that information, you know, you’ll read the bio, be impressed, and buy what this person was selling you. So at the beginning, Jenn and I kind of like looked around, went into these rooms, and decided we like having these conversations with people where we don’t talk over each other, we give space for people to talk. We’re not talking from a platform talking down to people or trying to sell them something. We’re encouraging people to speak up and use their voices because that’s what the platform is.

Tara: Is that what inspired you to start using it with authors in general, just seeing how other people were maybe not doing a great job? Like, is that what led you guys to, kind of, connect and organize for authors?

Jenn: I think we connected partially because we needed that connection after a year of not being able to go anywhere…and I’m a conference-goer, so I go to at least two or three writer conferences in a year. Well, that might be generous, probably two. And we didn’t have that last year. And the ones that were offered were like, you could watch it after the fact. So it wasn’t interactive. It literally started me finding the room that Fatima and Tyler were in. And it was in the morning. And it was very casual. And I guess there was like only 8 to 10 of us on a regular basis. And we started having it every morning. And I told a couple of my author friends who told a couple of their author friends who you know, and on, and on, it went.

And when it first started, it was just you know, we didn’t even have any structure. It was literally whatever you wanna talk about, let’s talk about. And we had just spent a year not really talking to each other about this kind of stuff. And not really talking any kind of author anything. You know, even though you feel like you have, we’ve had Zooms. But all of a sudden these organic conversations started happening. And it didn’t take long for us to get a regular following of authors. And then all of a sudden, I was finding myself taking notes every single day because there was a gem or a nugget of information that was being dropped every single day. So it’s interesting because we didn’t plan on it being every day. It just happened that way because we wanted to continue getting this good information.

Fatima: So I will give a big shout out to the coordinators, like a group of friends who got me onto the platform, and they directed me to Clubhouse Authors, a Facebook group that Monica Leonelle started. And that’s how I discovered other indie authors. And Sara Macbeth had started a group and I joined that group. And Tyler and I were chatting in those groups. And so when you start a room in a club, it will send a ping out to whoever’s part of the club, and people will join. And slowly your circle started expanding and expanding. And you met people who you may have seen on Facebook, you may have seen their name, some panel somewhere, but suddenly, you were talking to them on this platform. And it was like, all these barriers that came down. And like, sometimes you’d go to a conference and you want to talk to somebody, but your nerves would get ahold of you or you wouldn’t be able to because they’re surrounded by their friends, you know, you tried to figure out how to talk to them, suddenly, they were in the room with you.

And it’s fantastic because, at that point, we all had Zoom fatigue. I don’t know if you got that. But I know my group of friends, we all got Zoom fatigue. And so it was nice to have that platform where you could just pop into a room. I remember I would go for my daily walks because I had a curfew and I had to be home by 3 p.m. And we’d start a room and then we’d be like, we’d end it with, “We’ll see you tomorrow.” And slowly became it habit like we kind of made each other show up the next day, which was fantastic.

Joni: Really great.

Tara: Yeah, that’s awesome. So you do every morning as you kind of talk…well, you’re all over the world. So you juggle time zones very well. So you talk every day and then on Tuesdays, you have, sort of, expert speaker? Is that kind of accurate?

Jenn: We have. Prior to the…So our club is actually The Author Conference Club. So that is funny because I said the word conference once, one room, I said, “Hey, you know what, I think Clubhouse would be a very interesting place to do an author conference.” Once, I said it once, and Fatima every day after that said, “Okay, so when are we planning the author conference? When are we planning the author conference?” And she wore me down. And so for part of building to actually having an author conference was me hosting what I call Tuesday Talks. And we would ask different people coming in. We’re on a break at the moment because we just did our author conference. So we are actually kind of regrouping, Fatima, Tyler, and I are regrouping to kind of figure out, “Okay, this went really well. What do we want it to look from here on out?”

Because we’re all also authors. And I mean, we could potentially have rooms every single day. But as Fatima loves to remind me, “Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Don’t forget to take care of your business.” So yes, I was so happy to have you on, Tara, and to talk about Kobo and learn so much, and everybody loved your talk. But it was also a great way to say, “And if you love her talk, come to The Author Conference.”

Tara: Really great having something that was just audio because like you were saying about the Zoom fatigue, it just felt kind of nice to just be talking into something, you know, I don’t know why, it just feels different.

Jenn: It does, it feels more casual. So I had said at the beginning, at a lot of conferences, you’ll have the panels and stuff but then you’ll go out, there’ll be an area at one of the conferences I go to, the NINC conference in Florida, we have the tiki bar area where it’s just, you know, big tables, and you just get to sit outside and you talk. And I said Clubhouse feels like the tiki bar area where it’s casual talk, but you get these huge pieces of information that actually help you level up as an author. And I felt like that was actually more effective sometimes than going in the panels. But we wanted to offer, kind of, both aspects for authors. I’ve been giving back to authors and helping authors for so long, it’s natural for me, especially being a former teacher. So it’s very natural for me to come in and do things. And I think that Fatima, Tyler, and I are a great trio in doing this because Fatima is the organizer, I’m the one who runs the room, and Tyler is the one that just is so laid back and chill that he just brings a very good atmosphere to it. So we’re a really good team to help run rooms together.

Joni: And can you tell us…So you do have a little bit of structure and you have organized events. Can you let our listeners know what’s available for an indie author who’s maybe not downloaded the app yet, is just getting into it?

Jenn: Fatima, you know a lot of the different clubs and stuff.

Fatima: Well, I’m gonna shout out to this club, The Author Conference, we have a daily room. It is a morning group. I believe it’s 8 a.m. Eastern. It is 3 p.m. in Kuwait where I am so it’s convenient for me. It’s not quite a morning group. And there are some fantastic other clubs like there’s the Level Up Romance, which is an offshoot of their Facebook group. And they have great Monday talks by Adia Warden and Dylann Crush. Those are fantastic. I recommend them even if you don’t write romance, go and listen and learn. My advice is Clubhouse will be a time suck at the beginning, but once you learn to navigate the platform, it can be rewarding in terms of productivity because there are a lot of people who are joining writing sprints. One club I recommend for that is Author Arena Writing, there are sprints. Like, you can join, be made a member, and you can open a sprint at any time, and people will join you. The sprints can be as long as you want. I know people who have completed books really quickly because they were encouraged by the other people there. People do their edits, if you have admin tasks, it’s just encouraging because being an author can be a lonely experience, ao it’s nice to have that community vibe around you and people encouraging you.

So a lot of people go there, they sprint, they’ll chat about what they’re working on. And they’ll have this conversation and you feel like you get to meet people. I don’t know, I’m a people person, and it’s nice to be able to meet people even if, you know, sometimes they’re in your genre, they’re not in your genre, but we all have a shared commonality, we all write. You know, we all write, we all try to sell our book, we all try to advertise, market, whatever it is. So I would say join, get to know people, follow those people, and then follow the clubs that they’re following, see what’s the right fit for you. I try to participate in everything because I’m curious, I have a curiosity. And I know Jenn does, too. We love to learn. You know, because it may not be relevant to our careers now, but somebody might ask us a question, we’re like, “Oh, I heard about that. Oh, I know somebody who did that.” So that would be my advice. Come in, see the other rooms. There’s so many fantastic rooms, Jennifer Bailey runs fantastic rooms. I can’t quite remember the clubs per see, but…

Jenn: “Writers on the Storm” is Jennifer Bailey’s.

Fatima: Yes, “Writers on the Storm.” She has a great collection of people.

Jenn: They have these amazing talks about author issues. There was one that just blew my mind and it was all about author tools. So all the tools out there that you can use for plotting, for writing, for publishing, what have you. And it was just amazing because I’m a tech person and I thought I knew all the author tools that were out there and had chosen my right ones, and I found two or three that I’m like, “I’ve never heard of that. What is that?” And it’s just fascinating because you tend to think, “Oh, this is my author family. These are all the people that I’m gonna know.” My author family has grown so much now because of Clubhouse. And to the point now where we’ve made a thread on a Facebook group called Clubhouse Authors so that everybody could write down where they were from. So that if anybody wants to get together and do an in-person meeting that they would know who was nearby them, and maybe they could arrange seeing each other in the real world

Joni: This sounds like just a great community.

Tara: That’s just like so great.

Joni: Yeah. Can I ask though. Okay, this is the introverts’ questions. Because I think a lot of authors are introverts. And for me like Clubhouse sounds a bit scary. So, like, is there any etiquette? Can you just join a room? Like, will you be asked to speak? Like, how does it work?

Fatima: So once you join a room, the moderator sometimes will invite you to speak and you can choose to dismiss that. And people are very kind because they’ll know that either you’re in a busy environment, you know, there’s sounds around you that you don’t wanna disrupt the conversation, or maybe you just can’t for whatever reason. So there’s no compulsion, like, “Come up and talk,” unless you’re in one of my rooms. Not the daily rooms, but we do have quick chats occasionally in The Author Conference. And that’s when we try to get the introverts to speak up because a lot of people want to speak, but are shy. And so one nudge, two nudges, and eventually, we’ll get you speaking, we’ll get you speaking.

But don’t feel pressured to talk, you can stay in the audience. You can be a lurker, listener, like, that is absolutely fine. That goes alongside the culture of Clubhouse. Not everybody, like, wants to be a speaker. So feel free to come in, listen. Just remember, if you’re invited on the stage to mute your mic immediately. Otherwise, we can hear you. People forget about that, and I try to remind them. But come in and just listen, listen, listen, and that’s fine. And if you wanna speak, come and join the conversation because it’s a lot of fun.

Tara: Do you still have to get invited to join Clubhouse? You used to have to know someone, right? Like, it was like the secret group.

Fatima: Right now, you can share a link that will invite you to Clubhouse. However, I have had people who’ve had difficulty using it. So I would say things are a little still up in the air because it’s still a new platform. It’s open to Android now but still got its little glitches so to speak.

Tara: Yeah. So you’d probably advise authors to join the Facebook group with the best advice, how to connect and get onto Clubhouse, perhaps?

Fatima: You can download the app and register your name. And then if somebody you know can invite you in. If somebody doesn’t invite you in, that’s when you can join Clubhouse Authors on Facebook and somebody will have an invite. But most likely by now, you will know somebody in the real world who has an invite for you.

Jenn: And the developers have what they call a town hall every Sunday, which is at noon Eastern Standard Time. And they have been talking ever since the beginning, “This is what’s going on. These are the changes we wanna see.” You can message them all during the week, and they pick different questions to actually answer that will go to what your updates are. And we’ve seen it change since the beginning and including, you know, originally it was, “Well, we think the Android app is gonna be live at such and such a time.” We were banking on the Android app going live before our conference because we didn’t wanna leave anybody out. So that’s why we picked the conference to be in June because we wanted to give as much time as possible for authors with Android phones to be able to join as well.

Joni: I love that you’re able to include people all over the world. And like, even in a year where we could travel, these conferences aren’t accessible to everyone. So I think this is a very, very cool part of it. Is there any space for non-English language authors, do you know, or in…?

Fatima: Yes. I speak four languages. So based on the people you follow, you will see those rooms. So I see the Arabic-speaking rooms, I see the French rooms, and all the rest. I’ve seen some rooms where I can’t identify the languages. But my suggestion to anybody listening, if you do not find what you’re searching for, create it. I’m sure there’s an audience for it. Like, just go out there and you’ll find your tribe, you know. That’s awesome.

Tara: That’s great advice. So let’s circle back to the conference that you mentioned. I kind of think it’s so interesting that you decided to do it on Clubhouse because like you were saying, I kind of like that Clubhouse is almost like the hallway or the conference bar where you have a little chat. And there’s something about the fact that it’s also not recorded. So like you said, you take a lot of notes because you have to, these things only exist live. It’s like olden-day radio. So I wanna know, how did the conference go? And what did you guys learn from it? And is it something that you think you’ll do again?

Jenn: I think I was the only optimist who thought it was gonna be great from the get-go. So I figured if we get a lot of really powerful speakers and we covered a multitude of different subjects that I know authors want to hear about, and we know this because we run a room every morning. So we were very versed in knowing what got the conversation going every single morning. It was great. We made the decision…there were lots of planning sessions, lots of planning sessions. And we made the decision, we did not wanna have it recorded, even though there was some people that had requested it. But we wanted it to feel like a live conference, you’re either there in the room, or you’re not. And if you’re not gonna be there, that’s fine, you can ask a friend who’s gonna be there to take notes for you, much like a regular conference. We really wanted to give that feel of being in a conference to the point where we actually set it up where we would have three panels, and then we would have one of Fatima’s quick chats. So there would be this silly moment where we would ask non-author questions like, “If you were a flavor of ice cream, what would you be?” Totally silly, but also…

Fatima: Vanilla, totally vanilla over here.

Jenn: You know, but that’s the thing is you get to know each other. And you can look at people’s faces. And we have a culture where you have to introduce yourself. So if I’m talking, I’d say, “This is Jenn. And I would be salted caramel.” But that way people get to know people’s voice with their names, we’re polite, we try not to talk over each other. But Fatima would get people during the quick chat who were just listening to actually speak up. And it’s amazing because those people will then go into a panel room and feel free to raise their hand to ask questions. And so it was a great way to empower people, we see you, we see that you’re here, we’re so happy that you’re a part of this. Because none of that conference was gonna happen if we didn’t have people who wanted to be a part of it. I mean, it would have just been me, Tyler, and Fatima sitting there talking, you know, which would have been fine, but it would have been kind of sad, too.

So it was just a great community-building event. Like I said, I think I was the optimist. I think Fatima expected the technology to glitch at some point in time. And we all three were talking to each other behind the scenes to make…you know, we were observing just like we do in the mornings, making sure, “Hey, did you see so and so is there? Did you see that person raise their hand?” You know, just trying to make it smooth for everybody that was participating. So we did our very, very best to give the best conferences that we could. But again, that conference would have been nothing without the people who attended.

Fatima: I will say, that conference would have been nothing without the people that spoke.

Jenn: Oh, yes.

Fatima: We had an amazing lineup of speakers. I mean, that’s what made it easy for us. Like, I personally, like my mandate going into this was, “Jenn, Tyler, I want this to be stress-free, fun, casual the way Clubhouse is. Like, let’s not make it stressful. Like, we get on Clubhouse to have fun, to have an enjoyable conversation, and that’s the experience I want other people to have, like, they shouldn’t come in and feel overwhelmed.” And because the speakers we asked were such eloquent speakers, and they were so great at controlling a room and knowing their source…Like Tara, you are fantastic. The Tuesday room, like the way…like, your confidence when speaking, like, not everybody has that, and it’s amazing. Like when you speak, people perk up. And we have had so many comments about your great talk.

And so, like, we wanted people like that who had that energy to be part of the conference. And people like you were the ones that actually elevated the conference because it wouldn’t have gone as smoothly had we had people who were nervous, who were embarrassed to talk, or shy. Everybody that spoke was, like, so gracious and accepting, so gracious and, like, going with the flow because it couldn’t have been easy just to, like, drop everything and just show up and talk. And sometimes I know, it’s a weird experience talking into your mic without hearing replay from people, like there’s zero reaction because everybody’s in the audience listening to you. And so you have to have that self-confidence to keep it going, and know that source material to know where you want to direct the conversation and be able to get random people on the stage, take their questions, and then continue the conversation, the flow of the conversation.

If we hadn’t had those talented speakers, it wouldn’t have worked out the way it would have. And so because they were experienced speakers, I think that’s what made it such a tremendous success. And the fact that everybody listening had a chance to get on the stage at one point on the other and ask their question, they felt included, that gave it another element. And to us, it was…like, the fact that we didn’t have any glitches, that was a gift that we are grateful for. But overall, I think all those little elements, that’s what made it successful. But honestly, like, I’m grateful to the speakers, like, every single day for taking a chance on the three of us and saying, “Yes, we’ll show up and talk at the conference.” Like, that alone is fantastic.

Tara: Yeah, I found it a very engaged crowd for sure because it’s nice just doing Q&As a lot of the time. Yeah, there was a lot of great questions coming through. And I know that it’s only…like, it wasn’t that long ago that you just finished this. So do you have plans to do something else? Or am I asking you far too early?

Jenn: We needed to take a break this month just because we emotionally and mentally kind of needed that break. But the three of us have been talking because we wanted to know what were we gonna do with this? How do we wanna build it? And we had such a good time with the actual conference days. So what we are going to experiment with a little bit is I think we’re gonna do a first Friday in August, which is going to be just a single day. So instead of a whole weekend, because that was a lot, we’re gonna do first Friday in August and kind of build a regular conference day like we had. So you know, several speakers, I hope that we can find some speakers that will come, and just do it once and see how that works and see if that works for our community because it is hard for people to take time off or to schedule to be there. And so we figured the conference itself was an experiment. So we kind of wanna see how that works on a smaller scale. Whether or not we’ll do another large-scale conference, again, I think remains to be seen, and it remains to be seen how effective and popular Clubhouse continues to be.

Tara: Yeah, I know that, as you said, like, the developers are pretty open on Clubhouse where they’re saying about when they’re releasing things. I was reading about the, kind of, moving into the…it being monetized. Do you know much about that? Like, I kind of almost see it similar to, like, Patreon or something along those lines where you can pay to follow certain things. But I just wanted to pick your brain on that.

Fatima: So for some people, they have the ability in their platform to add monetization. So they haven’t opened that up for everybody yet. They’ve opened it up to a select few. And they actually have some programs where they’re focusing on creator projects, and you’ll see those rooms pop up. In terms of monetization for ourselves and our conference, we plan on keeping it free because we want it to be accessible to everybody. But, Jenn, do you know more about the monetization?

Jenn: I mean, the idea behind it is, so they’ve always said that they wanna be creator first. So those who create the club, those are the creators and they want to reward those people who are creating content for Clubhouse through monetization. So they are playing with the idea of you can have a club, which is essentially private, you have to pay an amount to be able to see certain events, will be private only. So only if you’re a paying member of this club, will you see those events. The club can offer free events, again, kind of like, you know, “This is what we do, now pay to be a part of it.”

We’ve had conversations, the three of us have had conversations would we want to monetize and charge a minimal amount for people to attend the conference? And unanimously, between the three of us, it was, “We don’t ever wanna charge people for this conference because that’s not the author community that we love. It’s not the author community that we wanna keep building.” I mean, I am where I am because a lot of information has been shared with me over the years, most of it free. And I would hate to put a dollar sign on top of that for other people. I wanna see other people succeed the way that I’ve been able to succeed, the way that I’ve seen my friends succeed. So as of right now, we don’t have any plans to monetize it.

Joni: It sounds really great. And as someone that was kind of scared of Clubhouse, like I really do thank you guys you’ve done such a great job explaining it and making it sound really appealing. So thank you for going through all of that. And we wanted to ask also, as people that are very in tune with the publishing industry who have been in the indie space for a while, where do you think that indie publishing is going in the next five years or so, any predictions?

Jenn: Interesting, you say that because we had a couple speakers cover this during the conference. There’s a couple ways that we see indie publishing, an interesting way is the more episodic and even interactive fiction. There’s lots of different platforms that seem to be springing up and a lot of authors are very interested in it. We had somebody who is in the process of creating an app specifically for episodic interactive fiction. And that was incredibly interesting to hear about because it’s like, for those of us who are a little older, choose your own adventure, but on your phone. So that’s very interesting to hear about.

And then also, we had a room for audiobook narrators. And we’ve known for a while the audiobook is where a lot of the…there’s been a lot of progress. But to hear the actual percentages of how it has grown over the past three years is an insane amount of growth that you just…we haven’t seen since the first boom of e-readers. And so these are two areas that we are now as an author group starting to kind of consider that things do evolve and change. So we are trying to figure out those spaces where it is changing. But Clubhouse is really cool because it’s bringing us one-to-one with these people that are involved in actually experimenting, and researching, and discussing where those changes are gonna occur.

Joni: Yeah, I think we definitely agree on the audio side of things. We’ve definitely seen growth in audio, and I think it’s gonna keep growing more and more. So, excited to see that. And where can people find you online, as well as Clubhouse?

Fatima: You can find me at fatimafayez.com that’s where I am when I’m not on Clubhouse, but I’m on Clubhouse a little too much according to Jenn.

Jenn: I get my most notifications because Fatima is in a room during the day to the point where I have to turn my notifications off because my phone just keeps pinging me to let me know that she’s in a room. You can find me on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook under Bella Falls Books. That’s my pen name for my Paranormal Cozy Mysteries. But mostly you can also find me under my real name, Jenn Falls. Thanks to Monica Leonelle, I’m one of the admins of the Clubhouse Authors Facebook group now. So I try to make sure that we have good content that is relevant to what we’ve been talking about is on there along with Monica Leonelle and Becca Syme.

Tara: And the Facebook group is just called Clubhouse Authors?

Jenn: Ironically, we had to create a space not on the Clubhouse app where we could actually put relevant information whether it’s a list of good podcasts to listen to, or sometimes like in the early days, I was taking notes, and I would just share them in that group because we had nowhere else to go. Clubhouse does not provide a place to post that kind of stuff. So interesting that we had to go to that social media platform but it is a place that people can go and search and find information that has been shared.

Tara: All right. Well, thanks so much for coming and chatting to us about Clubhouse, this has been super interesting. And hopefully, Joni won’t be scared because she will not talk, but just lurks. Perhaps you can do some speaking now.

Joni: No, I really do think…I love what you guys have created. I think this sounds amazing. The future…

Fatima: Join us, we’ll be kind. We’ll be kind, unless you see the room title saying Quick Chat. There’s a dungeon in that room, don’t go into that room.

Tara: Oh, well, we like to end the podcast with…we have a quickfire book round. So just some…couple of book questions for you each. So I’ll start us off and then Joni, you wanna do…we can rotate them?

Tara: So Fatima, the most recent book you’ve enjoyed?

Fatima: The most recent was…oh, I’m awful at titles. It’s the latest Muderbot book by Martha Wells.

Joni: We’ll find that.

Tara: We’ll find it. Yes. Jenn, what about you?

Jenn: “Fate Interrupted” by Elizabeth Hunter. It’s the third book in her Moonstone Cove paranormal women’s fiction series.

Joni: Awesome. And Fatima, since Clubhouse is all about listening, what is your favorite book to either read aloud or to listen to on audio?

Fatima: “Harry Potter,” and there are rooms on Clubhouse where people read “Harry Potter.”

Joni: No way.

Fatima: Those are some of the notifications that Jenn gets that “Fatima’s listening to a Harry Potter readathon.”

Tara: Oh, that’s so cool. And Jenn, what about you?

Jenn: I am a huge fan of two urban fantasy series, and mostly because of the narrators, “The Iron Druid” series because Luke Daniels is the fantastic narrator of it, and then “The Dresden Files” series because it’s James Marsters, and I absolutely love those books and the way the narrators bring them alive.

Tara: Thanks. The next one, I don’t know if this is, like, a hard question. I came up with this, but your favorite book club read because Clubhouse books…you can see what I was trying to do. But is there anything that comes to mind that you’ve read as part of a book club? Joni is just shaking her head at me. Yeah.

Joni: I just got this.

Fatima: Okay, so we’ve been getting a lot of recommendations because of Clubhouse. And one that people said was hilarious and fantastic was “The Unhoneymooners.” And I love…

Jenn: That’s my choice.

Fatima: It’s a fantastic book. You’ll laugh out loud. It’s hilarious.

Jenn: Christina Lauren, what a great co-writing team. And I liked “The Unhoneymooners,” so much that I went ahead and purchased “Soulmate Equation,” which I haven’t gotten to yet.

Fatima: Me too.

Joni: That’s a strong recommendation then. Awesome. And our final question is, is there a book or an author that has inspired you to write?

Jenn: My inspiration is and always will be Neil Gaiman. I read his “American Gods” and “Neverwhere” back-to-back and I thought, “Oh my gosh, he writes what he wants to write and it’s weird and it’s wonderful. And that means I can write whatever I wanna write.” And so I absolutely adore, I have my own little collection up there with signed copies that I keep. And I have met him in person briefly. But he’s my big inspiration that I can continue writing what I wanna write and I can be weird and wonderful too.

Fatima: For myself, Enid Blyton, like when I was a kid, those are the books, “The Famous Five,” “The Secret Seven, “The Twins at Mallory Towers,” like I’ve been wanting to write ever since I was a kid because of those books and wanting to go on adventures with all of them.

Joni: I was also an Enid Blyton kid. Awesome. Well, that is the end of our book run. Thank you so much for doing this. This has been really, really great.

Fatima: Thank you for having us. This has been fun. And Joni, I wanna see you in a Clubhouse. And Tara, welcome back anytime. We love having you.

Tara: Well, call us the next time you guys have one.

Fatima: I will. I’ll definitely venture back on. I’ll ping you.

Tara: Yes.

Fatima: That’s Clubhouse lingo, Joni.

Rachel: Thank you for listening to the “Kobo Writing Life Podcast.” If you’re interested in learning more about Jenn, Fatima, or their Clubhouse group, we will have the links in our show notes. If you’re enjoying this podcast, please be sure to rate, review, and subscribe. And if you’re looking for more tips on growing your self-publishing business, you can find us at kobowritinglife.com. And on socials, we are at Kobo Writing Life on Facebook and Twitter, and @kobo.writing.life on Instagram.

Joni: This episode was produced by Rachel Wharton and Joni Di Placido. Tara Cremin was the co-host. Editing is by Kelly Rowbotham. Our theme music is provided by Tearjerker. And big thanks to Jenn and Fatima for being our guests today. If you’re ready to start your self-publishing journey, sign up today at kobo.com/writinglife. Until next time, happy writing.

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