Hi everyone! I have another interview for you today! Please welcome author and YouTuber Kristen Martin, who will be talking about time management, self-publishing, and a sneak-peek of her upcoming novel SHADOW CROWN! Let's get started...
Hi Kristen! Welcome! You have self-published three young adult novels, with your fourth, SHADOW CROWN, releasing this fall. Did you ever consider traditional publication, or did you know that self-publication is what you wanted for your writing career?
I was originally very drawn to traditional publishing and wanted to go that route, but after a few rounds of the querying process, and starting a couple of conversations with literary agents, I realized that maybe it wasn't the right path for what I had envisioned for The Alpha Drive series. I was really drawn to self-publishing because I could essentially be my own boss, set my own deadlines, and have full creative control. I'm still open to traditional publishing (given the right timing and the right agent/publisher), but for now, I am extremely proud of what I've accomplished and everything I've learned as a self-published author. I wouldn’t change a thing!
What are a few tips for writers pursuing/interested in self-publishing?
Do. Your. Research. I cannot stress this enough. Self-publishing is not for the lighthearted, and the costs can definitely pile up when you consider hiring cover designers, editors, formatters, and marketers. Outside of writing, I have a full-time career that allows me to pay for these publishing-related expenses. Of course, the dream is to become a full-time author and YouTuber, but I’m really grateful for the space I’m currently in. Another piece of advice when it comes to self-publishing is to make sure you’re putting quality work out there. Indie publishing gets a bad reputation sometimes for sub-par books, so make sure yours isn’t one of them!
You crank out books in record time (a first draft in 2-3 months)! What are a few tips and tricks to stick to a writing schedule and finish?
It’s all about discipline. When I say I’m going to do something, I do it, no matter what. I don’t believe any obstacle, hurdle, or challenge is too great for me to overcome. I’ve been through a lot in my life and here I am, still standing, still driving toward my goals. Truthfully, a large part of it is mindset. I’d attribute my level of discipline to my taekwondo training when I was a teenager. It takes an insane amount of discipline to become a black belt and, to my instructor, Mr. David Bravo (if you’re reading this), I want to say thank you for instilling such a profound level of confidence and perseverance in not only me, but all of your students. When it comes to anything in life, including writing a book, there’s nothing to it, but to do it.
You are known in the YouTube/writer community as a “time management wizard”. Have you always been a good time-manager/multi-tasker, or is it something you’ve trained yourself towards over time?
Oh, this nickname gets me every time! I love it. My family has always told me that I’ve been freakishly weird at getting things done ever since I was a kid. My fiancé has also mentioned that while he’s really good at getting things done at his job, I just seem to be really good at life, in all aspects. I’m very Type-A, a perfectionist, and definitely an overachiever. I dream big and I have tons of things I want to do and experience, so I really push myself. Trust me, it’s a blessing and a curse because I truly do not know how to relax. I’ll finish doing something and sit down for three minutes, thinking it’s been at least a half hour, and then get right back up to work on something else. I’ve been this way ever since I can remember, but I do believe over the years, I’ve improved my time management skills to the point where I have it down to a science.
What is one particular weakness or struggle that you’ve had to overcome in becoming a good time-manager? How did you conquer it?
My biggest weakness when it comes to managing my time is starting on something else before I’ve finished the current project I’m on. This still happens to me quite often. I tend to have tons of ideas coming to me throughout the day, which can make it difficult to focus on one single thing. I always keep a notebook by me so that I can capture the thoughts or ideas, but I consciously have to remind myself not to expand on them just yet. I’ll set a timer on my phone for a certain amount of time (however long I think it’ll take for me to finish whatever it is I’m working on), and once the timer’s up, I’ll go back to that notebook and expand upon those thoughts and ideas. I wouldn’t say I’ve fully conquered this because it’s something I consciously have to remind myself of on a daily basis, but I do have a sort of “action plan” at the ready in order to keep my mind from bouncing all over the place.
Very briefly, what does a typical day look like for you? From your videos/vlogs, I know you typically wake up around 6:30, exercise, then write (on a weekend). Can you share a tip or two on getting up early and sticking to a healthy/productive routine?
On weekdays, I tend to wake up at 5:45AM, exercise, shower, journal while I have some coffee, then hit the road to drive to work. Once I’m at work, it’s a hodge-podge of meetings, conference calls, emails, and account management-related activities. I always take my full hour for lunch, where I’ll drive to the Starbucks across the street and work on one of my writing projects. Then it’s back to the office until it’s time to leave. I listen to entrepreneur-related podcasts on my drive home and once I’m there, my fiancé and I will cook dinner, pick out a show to watch, and after that, separate for a couple of hours to work on our passions (he does graphic design and I write). A lot of the time, we’ll end up bringing our laptops to bed and working a little later, but I always try to read for at least 30 minutes before it’s lights out. Weekends are obviously a little more relaxed, but I still tend to wake up around 6:30 or 7AM at the latest. I’ve found that once you make something a habit, like waking up early and exercising, it becomes easier to stick to it. I like to set my workout clothes out on the bathroom counter so that it’s the first thing I see in the morning. It sends a reminder to my brain to go workout. I also recommend taking at least 10 minutes for yourself in the morning to journal, meditate, read, do yoga, watch a funny video, or do something that puts you in a positive headspace. You’re much more likely to continue on with your productive/healthy day when you feel like you’ve taken a little time to nourish and feed your soul by doing something you love.
Speaking of healthy routines, one thing you stress besides productivity is a balanced lifestyle. You juggle so many things – full-time job, writing, YouTube, Hustle Smarter, in addition to your personal life. To put it simply, how do you do it all?!
Oh yes, balance is absolutely key if you want to get anything done and enjoy yourself in the process. I get asked “How do you do it all?” all the time, which is exactly why I created the Hustle Smarter, Not Harder webinar series. If you’re struggling with time management, the biggest piece of advice I can give is this: know where you’re spending your time. You can’t fix the problem (managing your time) if you haven’t yet identified where that time is currently being spent. And (shameless self-promo here!), I give very specific exercises and activities on this topic to help you figure this out in my webinar series. You can sign up at thatsmarthustle.com =)
Let’s chat a little about Hustle Smarter, Not Harder – your new webinar series! Can you tell readers a little about it, and how it came to be?
Absolutely! So I was getting hundreds of emails a day asking how I manage to do so much in a day, a week, a month (exactly like the question you just asked above J), and I realized very quickly that there was a need for something, a sort of tool that would guide people to manage their time better so they could ultimately cultivate their dream lives. And 7 months later, that something, was launched in the form of a mini webinar series and supplemental 50-page workbook called Hustle Smarter, Not Harder. To date, I’ve received phenomenal feedback on the webinar series and workbook, so it feels great knowing that I accomplished exactly what I’d set out to do!
You now have over 15,000 subscribers to your YouTube channel! What has that journey been like, and how have you grown your platform so quickly in the last several years? What are a few tips for other writers starting a platform or interested in diving into the writing community?
Every time I open my YouTube page, I still can’t fully process the amount of people who actually watch my videos and like them enough to subscribe to my channel. Of course, with every endeavor, it’s slow to start, but if you keep at it and create quality content that people are searching for, your platform has no choice but to grow. My biggest piece of advice for growing your author platform, especially if you’re starting a YouTube channel, is to stay true to yourself. Don’t try to imitate what someone else is doing – if it’s already being done, then there’s no reason to try to copy it because it’s already out there and it’s probably being done really well. Let them do them, and you do you. People can spot inauthenticity almost immediately, and they won’t stick around for long, if at all. Identify what you stand for, what your “brand” is, and stay true to that throughout your entire journey. My brand, so to speak, is all about living a happy, healthy, positive lifestyle and going after your dreams no matter how many people may doubt you, reject you, or tell you no. I want people everywhere to know that they too can create a life they love, no matter what stage they’re at in life.
Finally, for a little fun, what has been one of your most memorable writing journey moments (whether book, event, or platform related)?
I have so many, but if I had to choose one, it would be attending BookCon as an author for the first time, which was just this past June! I was blown away by how many people knew who I was, had read my books, and/or watched my YouTube videos. It was such a surreal feeling to meet and take pictures with people and to realize that I actually have a fan base! So crazy and so awesome.
Sneak Peek: Your next novel, SHADOW CROWN, is hopefully releasing this October. Yay! Can you share one of your favorite lines from the book?
I’ll do you one better! I’ll share my favorite paragraph =)
The darkness. It’s here.
My gaze travels up from my arm. A figure in a crimson cloak stands before me.
“Hello, old friend,” I say, the voice not my own.
The whispers begin to urge. Come with us.
They begin to plead. You’re not one of them.
They won’t stop. Join us.
Slowly, I rise and take a step forward. Dark energy circles round and round my mind. I can feel it in my veins.
That’s it, the cloaked figure whispers. Keep walking.
I do as it says, but my mind is not my own. I feel a tether binding us, something otherworldly. The darkness is pulling me in . . . and there’s nothing I can do to stop it.
Wow, that excerpt is amazing! I can't wait for the SHADOW CROWN release in October! Thank you so much for stopping by, Kristen =)
K: Thank you so much for having me!
Kristen Martin is the author of THE ALPHA DRIVE trilogy and the SHADOW CROWN series. She lives in Southeast Texas and loves all things young adult, science fiction, and fantasy. An avid YouTuber, Kristen joined the BookTube community in March 2015 and films weekly videos offering aspiring authors writing advice, inspiration, ways to live a balanced lifestyle, and behind-the-scenes footage at author events and writing conferences. As a graduate of both Arizona State and Texas A&M (and proud DZ alum), she jump-started her career in supply chain in the chemical industry and has quickly worked her way up the corporate ladder. She is still employed full-time at her day job and writes in the evenings and on weekends. When she's not writing, you can find her reading or relaxing on the lake with her fiancé. Kristen loves connecting with writers and readers via social media, so be sure to reach out!
Here’s where you can find me on social media:
YouTube: www.youtube.com/authorkristenmartinbooks Twitter: www.twitter.com/authorkristenm Instagram: www.instagram.com/authorkristenmartin Facebook: www.facebook.com/authorkristenmartin Snapchat: @authorkristenm
And here are the links to learn more about/purchase my books!
Shadow Crown (Available for Pre-Order)