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Episode 11 – The Power of AI Automation with Chelle Honiker from Indie Author Magazine


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Welcome to another insightful episode of Brave New Bookshelf, where we delve into the dynamic intersection of AI and authorship. In this episode, hosts Steph Pajonas and Danica Favorite are joined by the multi-talented Chelle Honiker, an expert in AI productivity and automation. Chelle wears many hats, including publisher of Indie Author Magazine, director of programming for Author Nation, and co-founder of This blog post distills the rich discussion from the podcast, highlighting Chelle’s unique approach to leveraging AI and automation in the publishing industry.

Introduction to Chelle Honiker

Chelle Honiker is a powerhouse in the indie author community, juggling multiple roles with finesse. She is the co-founder and publisher of Indie Author Magazine, director of programming for Author Nation, and co-founder of Her expertise in automation and AI has made her a sought-after figure in the industry, and she shares her insights on how these tools can revolutionize the workflow for authors.

The Power of Automation

Chelle’s journey with automation began during her time as a travel agent, where she learned the value of automating repetitive tasks to focus on customer interactions. This mindset has stayed with her, and she now employs a vast array of automations to streamline her work processes.

Key Automations

  • Email Management: Chelle uses automations to triage her email, allowing her to focus on critical tasks without getting bogged down by constant email checking.
  • Task Management: By leveraging tools like Zapier, Chelle automates her task list, ensuring that important tasks are highlighted and addressed promptly.
  • Content Creation: Automations help Chelle generate blog posts, social media content, and even manage her newsletter, freeing up more time for creative endeavors.

AI in Publishing

Chelle and her team at Indie Author Magazine use AI extensively but thoughtfully. They maintain a balance between human creativity and AI efficiency, ensuring that the unique voice of their writers remains intact.

AI Applications

  • Content Assistance: While all articles are written by humans, AI tools like ProWritingAid and custom GPT models assist in refining and optimizing the content.
  • Social Media and Marketing: AI generates blurbs, keywords, and social media posts, which are then personalized by the team to maintain a human touch.
  • Audio Versions: To enhance accessibility, AI-generated audio versions of articles are provided, catering to neurodiverse readers and those who prefer listening over reading.

The Ethical Use of AI

Chelle emphasizes the importance of using AI responsibly. She advocates for understanding the technology and making informed decisions about its use. This balanced approach ensures that AI serves as a tool for enhancement rather than a replacement for human creativity.

Direct to Readers: A New Approach

One of the most exciting projects Chelle discussed is, a closed large language model (LLM) designed to help readers find books based on specific, often obscure criteria. This innovative tool connects readers directly with authors, bypassing traditional algorithms and enhancing discoverability for indie authors.

The Future of AI and Automation

Chelle’s insights underscore the potential of AI and automation to transform the publishing industry. By automating mundane tasks, authors can reclaim their time and focus on what they do best—writing. The key takeaway is to approach these tools with an open mind and a clear understanding of their capabilities and limitations.

Chelle Honiker’s expertise in AI and automation offers valuable lessons for authors looking to optimize their workflows. By embracing these technologies, authors can enhance their productivity, reach new audiences, and ultimately, create better content.

For more information, you can visit:

Join us at Author Nation from November 11th to 15th in Las Vegas to learn more about these exciting developments in person!

Full Transcript

[00:00:00] Welcome to Brave New Bookshelf, a podcast that explores the fascinating intersection of AI and authorship. Join hosts, Steph Pajonas and Danica Favorite, as they dive into thought provoking discussions, debunk myths, and highlight the transformative role of AI in the publishing industry.

Steph Pajonas: Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Brave New Bookshelf. I’m your co host Steph Pajonas. I’m the CTO and COO of the Future Fiction Academy, where we’re teaching authors how to use AI, in any part of their process. I’m joined by my lovely co host, as always, Danica Favorite. How are you doing today, Danica?

Danica Favorite: I’m good. I’m good. I’m excited. So I’m Danica Favorite and I’m the Community Manager at PublishDrive. And we help authors and publishers distribute their books to a worldwide audience. And by the time this episode airs, you will all be able to use our super cool new Metadata tool. We’ve got a lot of cool AI [00:01:00] stuff that we do. And between me and Steph and our work with AI, we’re so excited to be here to get to share with you someone else who is another really cool, AI Productivity expert Chelle Honiker and Chelle is she’s a woman of many hats.

I cannot even begin to list all the many things that she does. She’s the publisher of Indie Author Magazine. She helps with AuthorNation doing their programming. All that to say, she also does a million other things and her automation stuff and the things that Chelle does with technology is so amazing.

We had to have her here because I know the stuff that she’s going to talk about today is going to help so many authors. So Chelle, I’m going to let you introduce yourself a little better than I just did and tell us about all of these amazing hats that you wear and what you do,

because I think that it’s Just fascinating how you manage it [00:02:00] all.

Chelle Honiker: I manage it all with the help of caffeine, a strong team and a lot of automation. I mean, that’s the secrets of my success. So thanks for having me. Bye. No, I, I am the co founder and publisher of Indie Author Magazine. We founded about three years ago. So we just exited our like startup mode. We say now we also founded the IndieAuthorTraining, which was, it’s, it’s an agnostic training platform that’s done from the journalistic perspective.

So IndieAuthorTraining. com is our new baby, where we’ve got tech product tours and a community that you can ask stupid questions of, because there is no such thing as a stupid question. And we’ve got webinars and all kinds of things there for folks. And then we also founded Indie Author T ools, which is just a crowdsourced list of all the cool stuff that we find that we stick somewhere, right? It was getting to be too long for a spreadsheet. So we built a website for it.

And then this year, my one of my biggest, biggest passions is the author nation conference. [00:03:00] And so I am the director of programming for Author Nation and could not be more excited about it. I’m just so excited to see just the depth and breadth of sessions that we’ve got and the way that we’ve tried to keep all the best things from what it was when it was 20 Books. And now all the new cool things that it’s going to be now that it’s Author Nation and just the care and the craft and concern that this team has.

It’s just, I’m blown away by, I mean, I’m always blown away by the generosity of this industry, but I’m especially blown away whenever you come to conferences and you get to hang out, it’s like a family reunion, right? So very, very cool. So there’s more, but we’ll stop there.

Danica Favorite: I think that’s a lot. And I know you said you’ve got caffeine, your staff and your automation, but like, I think that really is the key. You’ve got those three things in place that work for you.

And that is super awesome. So tell us a little bit about your automations, because I know that’s really where people didn’t get to hear us before we started recording, but we were geeking out on some of your [00:04:00] automation stuff.

I’d love to hear just a little bit about the automation process that you have and things you do with that.

Chelle Honiker: Sure. I mean, I have a lot of automations. I have probably, 500 to 1000 things that are automated. But I think the most helpful place to start is where I started, which is what are the pain points that people experience in their businesses, right? What is stressing them out? What takes the most time?

What do they hate to do? I call It the suck. What’s the suck? What do you hate? And for me, there were things that I specifically hated like, writing blurbs and writing keywords. You really just have to think about what it is that you hate to do, and then there is a way to automate it.

And so I use a lot of different tools to do that. And I do things as small and simple as getting somebody from a web. page form to my email service provider. All the way to, if I tell Google that my granddaughter’s here, it will play the princess theme and twinkle lights. Like I have [00:05:00] automations for literally everything. So they’re weird and they’re fun and they’re all over the map, but I started with, What do I hate to do? What takes the most time? What’s the worst? What keeps me from writing? That’s the key for everything is what is it that I want to be doing? And how can I automate it so that I can get back to that? How can I get back to writing?

So I have Zapier, which I likened to the one ring to rule them all. That’s my one thing that I have automations for authors that start with, for example getting somebody on your email list and validating that it’s a true email address and making sure that it can be sent to them before it goes on to your email service provider.

That way you’re not paying for dead weight on your ESP. I have emails that will automate blog posting from a Google spreadsheet it runs out to Chat GPT and creates a model for that and then writes the blog post and then that blog post gets sent over to your newsletter by way of WordPress.

I mean, I can tell you like a thousand different [00:06:00] ways to do things, but yeah, you can automate literally anything, honestly.

Steph Pajonas: It seems to me that this might be a Clifton Strength that I don’t know a lot about.

Chelle Honiker: Number one activator.

Steph Pajonas: what is it?

Chelle Honiker: Number one activator.

Steph Pajonas: Activator. Activator. That’s what it is.

Chelle Honiker: You see the spaghetti and then you want to streamline it and put it all into sense. Makes sense. Yeah. Number one activator.

Steph Pajonas: Excellent. Love this fact that you’re using automations for so many things along the way in the process.

What was your light bulb moment when you were just like, Oh, I can automate this. I can just make this so much easier on myself.

Chelle Honiker: So to be honest, I’ve always used automations and it started when I was working as a travel agent back, back, back, back in the day. And we had a boss who really had the right mindset and his mindset was, How do we automate as much of it as possible so that you can get back to talking to people on the phones.

And he always wanted to be sure that we were focused on the right thing, which was [00:07:00] the people part. That’s the part that we couldn’t automate. So everything else we could automate.

And he gave us permission as a team. We were called the Process Improvement Action Team. He gave us permission to just. Think outside the box and break things and think outside of silos. And I mean, there was a whole, Malcolm Baldrige award chasing process that went into that. Cause he really did want that award which is an award for process improvement. It’s very prestigious in corporate, which almost none of us are in corporate anymore. And we don’t care about that anymore.

But at the time I had a boss that cared about it. And he gave us as a team and me in particular permission, because I was the director of it and training for this travel agency. He’s like, break it, build it, buy it, whatever we need to do so that we can get people focused on the thing that they do best. And so that mindset was always ingrained in me. It all, it started and ended there. And so everything that I did from then on, I started to see how could we shave four seconds off of a transaction? How could [00:08:00] we quality control something so that we didn’t have things?

So, so the mindset was what came first and it was baked in. It’s in my DNA now. And I wish it weren’t because now sometimes I go, Solve problems that aren’t really problems. I go make solutions that things aren’t really problems.

I told this story to Russell Nohelty. I said, Yeah, one time I spent an entire weekend automating a process for the magazine so people could one click and change their subscription from monthly to annual or annual to monthly. And then I went into the meeting all excited on Monday and Alice looked at me and she said, We’ve had three people ask for that in three years, Chelle.

You spend an entire weekend on the wrong thing. So I talk a lot about, don’t, don’t automate it for the sake of automation. Right. Make sure that it’s actually a time suck or something that you actually need. And, and don’t worry about automating. Absolutely. Like, don’t, don’t be me is I guess the best advice I can give you. Don’t be me. So that was the light bulb moment, honestly. [00:09:00] It was saving us time. It was saving us money. It was putting money back into the pockets of the company and therefore my pocket. So I’ve always had that kind of eye for it.

Danica Favorite: So, what I love about what you’re saying with the automation and everything is that idea of making it personal and making it, what you need for what your writing business is because personally I like the idea of being able to switch from yearly to monthly, but you’re right, like how many people want that feature.

As authors, we see all these new and shiny tools and it’s like, okay, wait, do we actually need this new and shiny tool? So I think that’s a good approach and. One of the things I like about automation is a lot of that kind of goes a little bit hand in hand with AI.

You mentioned using Chat GPT for some of the things. I would love to hear how are you approaching AI in publishing?

Chelle Honiker: So we have a couple of things that are sacred. We have our writers write articles. So we actually have a human write every single article [00:10:00] that comes out in the magazine. And I don’t see that changing for a few reasons. One is we really love our writers and they bring a unique slant to their writing that can’t be replicated or automated, right?

That’s not in a database. It’s in their head.

And so the writing of the articles for the magazine always starts and ends with the writer, but we do use tools along the way. So we will run it, of course, through ProWritingAid for every article and we accept a lot of the suggestions that come in because I think it does make us better writers. And I think it also helps teach us things, which I, that’s one of the things that I love about AI is that it’s not there to change what you’re doing. It’s there to educate and help you do the thing that you do better.

It’s not going to replace you. It’s there to help you do better work. And so we do that.

The other thing that we do is we’ve written a custom GPT. So we upload the PDF of the final magazine to our custom GPT and it spits out our blurb, it spits out our keywords, it spits out our social media, it spits out our [00:11:00] social media imagery. It crafts, of the ancillary things around it in our voice, knowing who we are, knowing what we do, knowing what the magazine is about so that it’s consistent and cohesive.

And then we give that back to our team. So we have someone that does our social media that schedules it. And she does that because she’s doing the engagement and the interaction. It streamlines what she does. So she can copy and paste the blurbs and upload the blurbs to our social scheduling app. But she puts in, her little take and her little nuances and things. So they, we keep the humanity in there. So it gets us probably 75 percent of the way, but then the other 25 percent is definitely done by a human.

The other thing is that we have a fantastic editor in chief that edits. Every single thing. So we don’t take that out of the mix. But she will sometimes use AI to rephrase things or to look at things. Although I doubt she does much of that because she’s very much a journalist, but we edit to the Chicago Manual of Style. So we want to be sure that when we run things through, it understands that we edit to the Chicago [00:12:00] Manual of Style.

We’ll sometimes make sure that the sources are cited. And so we’ll just double check these things. We have a checklist for things. So we work in concert with AI a lot, but it hasn’t replaced anybody on our team. In fact, we’ve grown by three people on our team because we want to expand our, all of our audio versions of the articles on the website are done with AI. We produce a podcast. That’s a synopsis of every article in the magazine, and we need people that actually do that. It’s not to the point where we can just turn and let something loose. And we also don’t wanna lose the humanity in the middle of that. So we work very, very closely with a lot of different apps.

We use ChatGPT, we use Claude, we use Zapier to connect with those apps. We use Gemini in some of our email systems. So I have Gemini go in and rewrite some of the things that I’ve written for articles and newsletters and different things. but I load up my voice in it so that it knows that it’s me and that I’m quirky and weird.

And I say off the wall stuff, and sometimes [00:13:00] it’ll say in brackets, insert weird thing here. So I know to go in and insert the weird thing there.

The other thing that we do is we produce a lot of audio, right? For every one of our, I’ve mentioned that we would not have been able to do that. So for folks that were mad at us for using AI generated audio for articles, that was cost prohibitive and too time critical for us to do it. And we did it because it was an accessibility issue. We did it because we wanted people who are neuro spicy to be able to listen to articles instead of read articles.

We wanted to be sure that everybody had the information that they needed without any barriers. And so generative AI let us do that three years ago, right? Before all of this other stuff, ChatGPT and everything changed. People’s it’s always been there, right? It’s just people’s perception of what it is changed. So that’s how we use it. We use it for almost everything we do. We also automate the crap out of all kinds of stuff on the production side, so that it’s streamlined and simple. And AI helps [00:14:00] us do that too.

Danica Favorite: I love the point you make here because I think that there is this fear of, Oh no, we’re going to lose our jobs. And what I really love you saying here is that it’s allowed you. To do more of what you love and give more to people. And I didn’t know this, that AI enabled you to actually hire more people,

Chelle Honiker: Oh yeah, it did.

Danica Favorite: I think that is fantastic because again, you hear people. Oh, no, we’re all these people are going to lose their jobs. And no, it just created 2 new jobs, which is amazing.

Chelle Honiker: It actually created three. So one of the jobs that we have, we have a series of webinars at IndieAuthorTraining. com and on the series of webinars if we were going to do one a week that’s one person doing all of that work and that heavy lifting and we could not get them edited and get them out quickly enough. So what we’ve done is Karen is responsible for going out and meeting with the people and she’s liaison with all of our folks.

And then we have a automated [00:15:00] system that, shoots things off to people. We take a box that says ready to promote, it generates all the stuff. And then Terry picks up and, runs with all the social. We would not have been able to do that many webinars. We wouldn’t have had the need for that person to do that if we were just doing one a month, right? So it’s allowed us not only to move faster. And more nimbly, but it’s also allowed us to expand into things that we didn’t think we would be able to do for 18 months to 2 years.

That was on our roadmap for a long time in advance. We’re able to do it now.

The other thing that we have, which again, We have so many things. We created an a website that’s in beta right now called direct to readers. com. It’s direct the number two readers. com. And that was born out of a a chat that we were having with Damon Courtney of book funnel, where he said, I just want somebody to tell me what books to read next. And we thought that’s interesting because, we have all these algorithms and searches that are supposed to know what we’re searching for and what we’re doing. But it’s not very predictive. It doesn’t really [00:16:00] predict things very well.

And so what we built was an LLM. It’s our own closed LLM where we’ve loaded in indie authors, books, and we’ve created a chat bot so you can go to the chat bot and you can say, I’m looking for a steampunk with a female main character. Who pretends to be a pirate sometimes, right? So obscure stuff, just obscure stuff, and it will find it.

Two things about it. It’s a closed LLM, so it’s not feeding any of the other LLMs. So if people are concerned, they don’t have to be, it is very closed and it’s all in there. We’ve also blocked the major LLMs from crawling the site. So if folks have concerns about that, that’s should not be a concern. But it is a way for us to connect authors with readers.

Now, the one difference, the other model that we did, that’s a little bit different is it’s not a bookstore. We’re not selling the book, it’s a directory. And so when someone [00:17:00] finds that weird, obscure. Pirate chasing steampunk chick book. We’re connecting the person with the author and the author chooses how to sell it.

If they want to sell it direct on their website. Great. If they want to send them to one of the retailers, great. However they want to sell that book. It’s great. We don’t take a cut of that. We’re just the conduit for connecting people and connecting that. And so we’ve used AI to build the website and scale and get it ready. For prime time.

We’re really, really excited about that because it’s not like a keyword search and it’s not like it’s an interactive search. You can actually just sit there and say, that sounds fun. I’ve read these authors. It’ll remember that you’ve read those authors and then you don’t have to repeat yourself and you don’t have to start all over and you don’t have to drill down.

You just ask it. What you want and, like Damon Courtney, it’ll just tell you what to read next. So that’s AI in the wild. But also with guardrails, I think AI should be. We need to watch it. We need to be sure that we’re not inadvertently causing harm [00:18:00] to friends or, colleagues that that’s our commitment to it.

Steph Pajonas: I’ve said the same thing as Damon Courtney. In fact, probably pretty recently, within the last year. I would finish a book and be like, Oh, this was a great book and I want to read something like this next. And, but then going and actually finding that book somewhere, whether you’re looking around at Goodreads, or you’re just looking at the Also Boughts on Amazon or Kobo or wherever you may be? It’s impossible. It is so impossible to find the stuff that you want, right? I love this idea. I think it’s great. Did you load it up with blurbs of all the books so that it could understand keywords and stuff like that?

Chelle Honiker: We’ve loaded it up with blurbs and so other authors are able to control how much is in there, right? So it’s garbage in garbage out, right? So we’ve encouraged the authors that are in beta to upload as much of the books as they want. We’re not selling the book. And we have it closed, so it can’t be pirated. So if you upload your entire PDF, you’re going to show up in more results naturally because you’re giving it more information, but if you only want to load the blurb, that’s fine, right? [00:19:00] The chat will only do with it what it can, but it’ll do much better than drilling down into different categories and trying to figure out.

And then also navigating the dungeons. And, there’s all these things that people don’t really understand that we have as indie authors. We have the supreme privilege of making our book available to absolutely everyone. And then the supreme responsibility of figuring out how to do that. It’s just, it’s the worst. It’s the best and the worst job ever.

Danica Favorite: it’s it’s so true. I actually when I was working for Harlequin, we used to get people all the time. Oh, I read this book 20 years ago with this, this, and this. Can you help me find it? And obviously this is for newer books, but wow, that would like, that would help so many readers because I do, I have a book.

I read it like 30 years ago. There’s one line from the book that sticks in my head. I know it’s out of print, so someday will I find it? I don’t know, but it would be cool to have a search engine like that where we could say, Hey, remember [00:20:00] that book? Oh, boom. There it is. There it is. So

Chelle Honiker: It’s And I, and I think, as from the marketing perspective, putting on my marketer hat for a second, it has always been poll, right. We’re, or, or, or, sorry, a push where we’re showing also bots and we’re advertising to people and we’re pushing our message to people. And what we’ve tried to do is switch it so that it’s pulling right.

So that readers can go there and pull what they want. And they’re not bombarded with all this other stuff that other people think that they should have. And an algorithm that has trying to, sell them something. So you can’t really buy your way to the top of the

results in search engine, which is going to be a little bit different.

And I even hesitate to call it a search engine because it really is, it’s a large language model. That’s a closed LLM with a chat interface. I don’t know. I got to figure out a word for that. I don’t know what that is. Right. So like. All the good names are chosen. I’ll ask chat [00:21:00] GPT later what I should call

it. should, you should.

Steph Pajonas: Yeah. Just ask chat. Just ask chat.

Danica Favorite: also love like the point that you make, because I know this is a pain point for a lot of indie authors that you can’t buy your way to the top. Because I think that we’re all spending so much money with ads and things like that to try to get our book in front of readers and get those ads to convert.

And sometimes it is a money game. and to know that it really is, what’s the reader actually looking for? I think that’s super cool.

Chelle Honiker: And we talk a lot about this, especially, as we’ve crafted like with Author Nation and some of the conversations we’ve been having around that. This industry is especially unique. We are not competing to sell a single blue pen, right? In a lot of other industries, you are selling a widget and you are competing and it is a zero sum game for one company, one manufacturer, one seller to sell that blue pen.

And then maybe in six months you can convert them. And maybe in six months you can flip them or what, whatever the timeline is. But in our [00:22:00] industry, it is completely unique in that our product, our end result is a satisfied reader. And so we have lots of different places that we can satisfy that reader.

We can refer them to other authors that we know like and trust. We can refer them to transmedia, so people might have webisodes or they might have serials or they might have something, but it’s all in the service of that satisfied reader over and over and over again.

I came to this epiphany like earlier this year. We’re not really dealing with a sales funnel anymore. We’re dealing with a fly wheel. Because we are selling continuously over and over and over to them. And some of those touch points on that flywheel are not us. It might be someone else. It might be, someone else. For example, we work a lot with Alli with Orna Ross and her team at Alli. We’re constantly referring people over to them for webinars and they send people back to us for webinars. It’s all in service of that person that needs knowledge and we’re not competing at all. In the author realm, it’s the same thing. We’re not really [00:23:00] competing with one another.

Now there is an overlap event diagram of competition when it comes to, I’m bidding against this person for ads, or I’m bidding against this person for, space in the Book Bub or whatever. Yes. those are realities. We get that, but you can lean into the co op petition and succeed far more quickly. If you embrace that mindset and think of what you’re actually selling. You’re not selling your book, right? You’re selling an experience and there’s multiple people that can come in and help satisfy that. I will

step down off my soapbox

Danica Favorite: Oh, yeah. Yeah. I think it was a good soapbox be on because the reality is you look behind me, look at what is behind me books. I am an avid reader and, and granted the one shelf is all the books I’ve written, but the other shelf is all books that I’ve read that someone has recommended to me or I found somehow.

And so when I’m done with one, I need the next one. And none of us can write fast [00:24:00] enough to satisfy that need for the next one. We have to be able to help each other out and share that next book. So I’m totally good with that soapbox because I think we have to stop thinking of it as a competition. And I, what did you call it?

A cooperation or

Chelle Honiker: Coop. Coop. Coopetition.

Coopetition. It’s cooperation.

Yeah, it’s cooperation and competition. It’s a

Danica Favorite: Yeah, but, what it


Chelle Honiker: It really is.

Because in the strictest sense, I’m not going to share my email list with people. That’s my IP. And it’s, I’m not all, hearts and flowers and we need to open up our businesses and just be one great big business. There are business realities, obviously. But. There’s that saying that proverb that says, if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

Danica Favorite: Yeah, absolutely. And I’m going to say, I don’t want your email list, but I, when you were talking about your workflow for your webinars. I was sitting there going, Oh, Steph and I need to get that from her.

Chelle Honiker: We power a lot of our business with Notion [00:25:00] and automation within Notion and then automation within Zapier. So we created a Notion template that has all the stuff that we need in there. And then when we tick a certain box, whoever’s ready for it to go to the next person, it’s like a, like a Kanban board, but really just with tick boxes It fires off different automations and sets things up.

And then we write stuff back into Notion. It’s, it’s pretty slick.

Danica Favorite: Sounds cool. Yeah.

Chelle Honiker: Yeah. it’s very cool. And, part of the challenge that we had when we first started this business was we were building a business and a magazine. And so, I’m very, very lucky that I had a business partner that has as much business acumen.

She’s the creative director, Alice Briggs.

We divided this pie up. She took the creative pie and ran with it. I took the ops and the business side of it and ran with it. And then we had the content piece that we had two managing editors that started with us that just took it and ran with it. And we didn’t have to think about what was going to be in there. And then I was just busy automating everything. So we’ve been [00:26:00] very lean. We’ve grown from, four people to now 68 people in our entire. So that includes all of our writers who are all part time and, but Yeah.

we were able to grow a business and a publication and, and, and because of automation and also just because we’ve had the right people in the right jobs. That was a big thing.

Danica Favorite: So that is the great segue to the next question, which is what does your workflow with AI look like? We talk a lot about workflow and automation. I don’t know if you could give us something in answer to that, because I know you have multiple workflows and lot of it.

Chelle Honiker: Yeah. So I will say, I’ll talk about my personal workflow. Cause I think that’s probably the best place to start. So my personal workflow is I get up in the morning and I triage my email. And if I star my email, it goes onto my task list automatically. So that’s my first automation of the day is that I have a list. I try and keep my task list to five key things for the day. I try not to [00:27:00] do more than five things that I have to check off. Sometimes I will put drink coffee on my checklist so I can check it off and feel accomplished. I also allow Chat GPT access to my email and so it will triage my email throughout the day and it will surface up anything that needs to be looked at. It’ll send me a Slack.

So I have a zap that monitors my email and then it reads my email. If it needs to be surfaced up, it’ll send me a Slack that says, Hey, go check your email. But I only check email twice a day. If I can so that’s great.

I’ve also in the past use. I don’t now because the team is too big and this didn’t work for the entire team, but there’s a calendaring app and a project management app called Use Motion and Use Motion will watch what you’re doing and you put all of your projects in there and it uses AI to generate your weekly calendar so that you are working in blocks of time maker versus manager schedules.

So you can tell it. I’m more creative in the morning from 6 to 8. So it’ll like protect [00:28:00] that six to eight time for you on your calendar. So people can’t sneak on and break up your day and break up your workflow. That was interesting too, to see how AI could monitor what I was doing over the course of a couple of weeks and figure out when I worked best on what things, and then it would smartly schedule things when I was free available and caffeinated enough to deal with.

I also do a lot of time blocking. So my zaps and automations help me know what I’m going to do when I’m going to do it in my automation. One of the other things that I do is I follow David Allen’s Getting Things Done methodology where he tags things with certain locations. And so I know if I’m sitting at a doctor’s office, I can pull up my scheduler, or I will get a text or a Slack that says, Hey, it looks like you’re more than 10 miles away from your house. Is this a good time to read these articles that you wanted to read? When you had some downtime. I leveraged tags and automation a lot to help me maximize tasks and timelines and [00:29:00] things like that.

I also have like, smart things where when I leave the house, it’ll change my thermostat. And when I get within a certain radius, it’ll turn my air conditioning down. Cause I live in Texas and it’s hot. I don’t want to pay 700 a month for air conditioning, but I also want air conditioning. So I leverage that, smart timers to, to do that.

Yeah, I wear a smart watch, so it tracks all of my sleep and tracks all of my time and tells me things. I really lean into a lot of things. I look at it as buying my time back for a lot of things. I subscribe to food delivery. every week so that I don’t cook. I buy my time back so that I can focus on the thing that I want to focus on, which is writing and teaching and speaking and training. Anything that I can automate to do that, I will pretty much try or do.

Danica Favorite: I love that concept of buying your time back because that is our most precious commodity.

Chelle Honiker: It is. And, I was a consultant for a long, long time. I started my consulting business 25 years ago, this year, which ouch, that hurts, but also. That’s cool. [00:30:00] And I read a book very early on that talked about how to calculate your hourly value. And what can you do with that precious hour? Honestly, it was a great way for me to tell my then husband, I’m worth too much to clean the houses. I can’t clean our house. Because it’s not cost effective for me to clean. It’s cheaper for us to hire someone to clean our kitchen than it is for me to do it. I used it to strong arm him into getting a housekeeper, which was fantastic, but also it was true, right?

My hourly rate was a hundred dollars an hour. And so anything that was under that threshold, anything that I was paying for it made more sense to automate it or outsource it. That’s really the philosophy that I’ve tried to keep throughout my life is how can I automate or outsource anything that doesn’t make me money so that I can do the thing that makes me money and not scroll on TikTok.

That’s the trick.

Steph Pajonas: Yeah. I probably end up, like laying in bed and, scrolling through Facebook instead. I’m super impressed because I find that I’m extremely disciplined and [00:31:00] I’m very careful about the kinds of stuff that I put on my calendar . But then hearing all the stuff that you’re automating, you are on a whole other level. And I’m a little, Ooh, Ooh, maybe I could do that too. So I’m going to be paying more attention to all you’ll be automating.

Chelle Honiker: I was gonna say, you know what you could do Steph is if that is a concern, if that is a pain point for you to like, do that, I know you love your Peloton, you can set up an automation so that you can only scroll Facebook when you’re on your Peloton, right, you can set up a box yourself in for things so that you have to, be in a certain location or do a certain thing or tap a QR code.

And that boxes you in to certain things or unlocks it for you. Sometimes it’s just looking at the things that we are unconsciously doing or unconsciously wasting time on .

For example, I used to come back and check my email all day. And I was obsessive about checking my email all day. And what happened was I was then at the mercy of anybody that sent me an email. I was going to stop and do whatever it was. And I gave them too much power [00:32:00] inadvertently. They weren’t asking for it, but I did that. And so now I only triage my email twice a day and I try and get to inbox zero.

It is a little bit more challenging now that I have like, 750 people emailing me a day for other stuff. But it’s breaking those habits so that you’re not constantly creating that stress and that cortisol boost for yourself. So you’re not staying in fight or flight all the time and you’re working with intentionality.

And that’s what automation can do that’s genius is it can be your buffer around your sacred time and protect it so that you’re just working on the thing that you know, you want to work on.

Steph Pajonas: Smart, smart. I’m going to start thinking about that. I’ll probably put in some automations very soon.

Danica Favorite: Yeah. I’m looking forward to it. I actually, I’m sitting here thinking, okay, wait, I’m supposed to be teaching on AI tools and stuff at Author Nation. And I’ve got Chelle here who is like way more of the expert, but I love it because it just shows how much we all can learn from each other.

Chelle Honiker: And that’s the key to it too, is that there are [00:33:00] so many people. I firmly believe that AI, you have to make your own personal, ethical and moral decisions where that is. And then keep that to yourself, right? Don’t go hollering at people about what they’re doing. It’s none of your business.

Let them do what they’re going to do. Right? And if you’re afraid of it, Learn about it, and then if you still don’t wanna use it, no problem. No harm, no foul.

From the journalistic perspective in the magazine, we’ve never taken a pro or con stance on AI. I will say I personally use AI. I will say Alice uses AI. But we have some people that absolutely will not touch it. We respect that. We’re not forcing anybody to do anything, but we want you to make the decision out of a place of understanding and not ignorance, right? And don’t shake your head and tell AI to get off your lawn. If you don’t understand it. Come and understand it and then make a decision for yourself, right?

It’s not that it’s inevitable. There are lots of people that will never use AI and I respect that. [00:34:00] That’s fine. You have to make your decision for your business and then, let other people’s decisions be other people’s decisions. I say this all the time. What people think of me as none of my business. What people think of me is absolutely none of my business. I don’t care. So if people are mad that I use AI. I’m sorry. Be mad. That’s fine. I’m not going to tell you how to run your business. You don’t pay my visa bill. Don’t tell me how to run mine.

Danica Favorite: Yes. I love that. I say that a version of that too, where I’m like, Hey, are you paying my mortgage? I don’t But I really love what you say there about people making informed decisions because that’s why Steph and I are here. That’s why we started this is we want people to have the information to make the right decision for them.

And not everyone is going to make the same decision and that’s okay. But at least have the information so you understand what you’re doing and why, and then leave everyone else alone. Unless you want to pay their mortgage.

Chelle Honiker: I, well, I laugh because there does seem to [00:35:00] be so much drama in our industry sometimes. And one day I just went to Alice. I was so exasperated. I was like, Why is there so much drama? And she looked at me and she goes, we work in an industry where people get paid to make stuff up for a living Chelle.

Like, why are you surprised by this? I was like, oh yeah, that’s true. We get paid to lie. Cool. So if you come at it from that perspective, it’s fine.

We have a lot of groups that we have discussions with in Indie Author Training and different things. And we put out that caveat very early on. It’s like, you’re not going to change anyone’s mind about it with hate speech or, calling people names or, saying that they’re going to hasten the demise of the world and the apocalypse is going to, be ushered in because of no, one’s going to change their mind based on that.

Chelle Honiker: But if you do carefully say like, I, I do watch the court cases. I do think that there have been some missteps by some of these companies. And I do think we need guardrails. And I do think we need to pay attention to those things. That is a reality. I’m not going to say that it’s all hearts [00:36:00] and flowers and sunshine and roses, and we should all embrace it.

We should be careful. We should be careful with everything. All tech should be that way. If we come at it from a careful consideration and a conversation we’re all going to learn more and we’re all going to do better based on that. And people might change their minds about certain things or not.

We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing and we’re going to keep trying to inform people. And I will say this, we did an entire issue on AI last year. And I told Alice, I said, this is either going to be the greatest thing because we’re bringing a lot of information to people or we’re going to have to fake our deaths and go work at Waffle House like that.

There was just two paths I saw in front of us and and we had nine people publicly canceled their subscriptions to the magazine and they were very vocal and they were very upset that we even talked about it. Like we talked about it and they were mad and we had 300 people subscribe to the magazine.

So a lot of this is a very vocal minority of people and we don’t pay attention to it.

Steph Pajonas: I enjoyed writing my article for that issue was it was fun. It gave me a [00:37:00] chance to think hard about the way that this is going to affect our industry. And I think that you guys did a really good job too, of presenting all sides for that issue. So it was very, very helpful.

Chelle Honiker: I appreciate that because one of the things that we try very hard to do is get it right. And one of the things that we did was we had Kevin McLaughlin come in as the managing editor, the guest editor for that issue to be sure that we were filtering things right and looking for resources. And we presented pros and cons of things.

And your article in particular was very striking because you were very vulnerable and talking about how it assisted you post long COVID. And how you were locked in this, and you couldn’t do anything until it unlocked the door for you.

I get so frustrated by people that have such a negative opinion about it when they don’t realize how hard it is for folks to do some things without assisstive devices and AI can absolutely be used as a tool and as an assisted device. I will beat that drum all day long. And, especially at author nation, we’re not afraid of having those [00:38:00] conversations. I’ve booked some talks that are, Hey, I’m fearful, what are some things I need to pay attention to? So we want to have the fullest depth and breadth of information that’s out there.

And again, you make your own personal decision by it, but I was so moved by your story because it really is so frustrating to have a story in you that you can’t get out. It’s just, I can’t imagine. There’s so many of us that suffer from that.

Steph Pajonas: Yeah, I’m really glad that I found it as an assistive device when I did. It really helped.

Chelle Honiker: I’m really grateful that you are taking charge along with, FFA and Danica and Elizabeth Ann West and the others to lead the charge and help people understand what the capabilities are and what the pitfalls are. Right? You don’t gloss it over for everybody. It’s, it is what it is.

Danica Favorite: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that’s one of my personal missions in terms of everyone’s has a story that matters. Your story matters. And if we can make it easier for someone who has previously not had access to tell their story, that’s a [00:39:00] huge win. And I am so excited because there are so many people who have beautiful stories and inspirational stories and things the world needs to hear that aren’t going to be heard otherwise.

So I think that is so important. And I just love having this community of people. Like you who are willing to come on and help share their experiences and their perspectives, because there’s going to be things that people are going to listen to this podcast and say, Nope, not doing that.

Don’t agree with that. But if there is a little thing that somebody can get from this and be helped by, we’ve done our job.

And I know like Steph and I are both afterwards going to be like, okay, here’s how we’re going to do this and this and this to make our workflow more efficient because we do want more time for other things. We’re really grateful for you. So that’ll give me our last question is what is your favorite AI tool?

Chelle Honiker: Oh, I’m so old school. It’s Chat GPT. We’re just best friends, we’re besties. All day, every day. I ride or [00:40:00] die with the old GPT. I’ve tried all of them. I’ve tried Claude. I mean, I’ve tried writing with Sudowrite, different blog posts and different things. And I just, I come back to chat GPT. I feel like it knows me, I feel like, we’re friends.

Danica Favorite: I think you’re right. I think that is true. Is that Chat GPT is the O. G. So it’s the O. G. Love affair. I know I have previously talked about my love of Gemini and now that Gemini is more publicly released and publicly accessible, for whatever reason, I feel like the quality has gone down. So I’m a little saddened by that.

My love is apparently it was just a fleeting crush because sometimes you just go back to the OG. So, but yeah, I’m like you, I try them all and I love that there are so many tools because if one isn’t right for one person. There’s something else out there that might help you.

Chelle Honiker: Exactly. And I think, again, there’s a personal story about your preference, all baked in there. And it’s funny too, because, I’m always an early adopter. And then I got really excited [00:41:00] about plugins with GPT and now they’re gone.

They’re like, but I have written all of these custom GPTs to power and manage our business in lots of different ways. It’s the first that hooked up with Zapier. So again, like you dance with the one that brung ya. That’s a Texas colloquialism for you dance with the one that brung you.

Danica Favorite: I think that’s good. And like I was saying earlier I’ve heard you talk about Zapier. I love the things that you can do with Zapier. I’ve been a little hesitant because the stuff I want to do is the paid plan. But the more I talk to you, the more I’m like, I’m all in. I’m going to go ahead. I’m going to pay for the paid version of Zapier.

I’m going to do it. And again, what you’re saying with ChatGPT being the one that plugs so seamlessly into Zapier, I’m like, okay, Me and chat. We’re back together.

Chelle Honiker: I’m just going to say there is no one cheaper than me. I am cheap and I’m cheap and lazy. Those are the two fundamental driving values in my life. So if I pay for something, it has to be, it has to earn itself back. And it earns itself back well [00:42:00] beyond what I spend every month.

And I spend a good chunk with Chat GPT and Zapier. I mean, I do, I spend a good amount, but it, again, it powers so much of our business and our company. So I’ve started a paid newsletter on Substack called Author Automations. If you go to authorautomations. com, I give away zaps all the time. So go there and you can steal my zaps.

Danica Favorite: I have your unpaid version, so I think I’m going to have to go and upgrade as I start setting myself up for more zaps because I think for me, I, and I talk a lot about efficiency to different writers groups and things, because that’s one of the things I do for the day job at PublishDrive is how do we make things more efficient?

And the thing we have to remember, and I love this about you coming out and saying that you’re a very cheap person in terms of spending money. Because we have to get out of that mindset of thinking, Oh, it’s another expense. No, this is an investment in your business to buy back the time you need to do the things that only you can do.

Like you were saying with the house cleaner. I’m going to use that [00:43:00] argument someday of Wait Why am I scrubbing my toilet when I can pay someone to do this? Because my time is worth more than a time it takes to scrub my toilet. I like that idea because it’s so important to remember we’re investing in our businesses and these costs of things like Zapier and Chat GPT and upgrading to paid versions.

Those are investments and those help you be more efficient with your time and get you doing the things you really love. So I’m really glad you pointed that out.

Chelle Honiker: I think it’s important. I did a time study of my business and myself where I wrote down everything that I was doing and it comes back to figuring out what I don’t like to do and what I do like to do. And I want to do more of the things that I like to do. So like I said, I have someone, I live alone, but I still have someone that come and cleans my house once a month and I don’t cook.

So I have food delivery and I utilize all the delivery apps for groceries and prescriptions and things [00:44:00] because there’s a cost to task switching. Right? So it’s not just going to the pharmacy and back. It is stopping what I’m doing, getting dressed, putting on, like, there’s extra time with all of that. And so. If I can just have it delivered and it costs me 5 dollars, that is a no brainer to me because it’s going to cost me 105 dollars in time versus the 5 dollars.

So you have to figure out what your time is worth. And there’s sometimes when it makes sense for you to do your own stuff, but most of the time you’re going to find it’s not, especially once you start doing more things that make you happy or make you more money. You’ll never go back. You’ll never go back.

Steph Pajonas: 100%. I feel that especially as a mom and I’ve got teenagers and I’m running around and I’m taking care of them all the time. Yeah. I find that I could really use some, I could use a chauffeur and a housekeeper and all that kind of stuff because definitely my time is valuable. Just like yours.

Chelle Honiker: It is. It is. I mean, we have the same number of hours that Britney Spears and Beyonce and Taylor Swift have. So, we [00:45:00] should use them the same way they do, which is to buy back their time to do the cool things.

Steph Pajonas: Excellent. I’m so glad you came here to talk to us about this today. Because I learned a whole bunch about automations, and I’m just going to quickly plug another podcast on here, which is Marketing Against the Grain. The CMO for Zapier Kieran Flanagan is on there all the time, talking about all the cool stuff, all the zaps that can be hooked up to Chat GPT and whatnot, so if people are interested in that, especially after hearing Chelle talk about it, they might want to go check out that as well, because they talk a lot of AI on there.

So, where should we have our listeners and readers come and find you and Indie Author Magazine and anything else you want to tell us about?

Chelle Honiker: Sure. So, IndieAuthorMagazine. com is the main website. If you go there, you can obviously check out the magazine. IndieAuthorTraining. com is where we have our webinars and our product tours and our community. And then AuthorAutomations. com is where I blog and write my paid newsletter. It’s free, but paid [00:46:00] substack if you want extra, extra stuff. At AuthorAutomations. com. And then, of course, come see me at AuthorNation, November 11th through the 15th in Las Vegas.

Steph Pajonas: I will be there. I think Danica will be there too.

Danica Favorite: I’ll be there talking about AI so it will be fantastic so yeah, if any of you guys are going to Author Nation, buy your tickets. I think by the time this airs ticket prices will have gone up, but still buy your tickets. Come and also be sure to come say hi to me and Steph, because we definitely want to meet you and chat with you and get to know more authors who are using AI and how you’re using them.

If you have questions, we’re here to answer them as well. Just don’t be mean. I will say thank you to everyone who listens because so far no one has thrown tomatoes at us. So thank you for that.

right. Bye.

Thanks for joining us on the Brave New Bookshelf. Be sure to like and subscribe to us on YouTube and your favorite podcast [00:47:00] app. You can also visit us at BraveNewBookshelf. com, sign up for our newsletter, and get all the show notes.

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