Best-selling indie author Kristen Martin first came to my attention for her insightful YouTube channel. She then went on to launch her equally inspiring podcast ‘That Smart Hustle’. Now, a four-times self-published author and writing coach, we chat to her about individuality in the creative process, incorporating book marketing into your daily routine and her top tips for reaching more readers.
Please give us a brief overview of yourself and your work.
My name is Kristen Martin and I am the bestselling author of 4 books in the YA science fiction/fantasy genre, as well as a Writing Coach, YouTuber, and Podcaster. When I’m not writing or building my author platform, I enjoy going for long runs outdoors, taking my husky to the dog park, practicing yoga, traveling the world, and spending quality time with family and friends.
What made you want to be a writer?
I’ve been writing short stories ever since I was 6 years old. I loved books growing up, and the first book I ever memorized and used to recall from memory every night before bed was Rainbow Brite and The Big Color Mix-up by Leslie McGuire. Writing sort of fell off my radar in high school and college, but English classes (whenever I actually got to write something) were always my favorite. After graduating from college and getting a corporate job, I realized just how unfulfilling that type of work was for me. And so began my author and entrepreneur journey to find a way to support myself financially while doing what I love. Hands down, pursuing my passion for writing was the best decision I’ve ever made.
What inspires you to write?
I get inspired by the smallest things, whether it’s an idea that just pops into my head, or after watching a really creative movie, or a really well-written book. Inspiration can strike almost anywhere, and it’s important to be open to it when it does!
Is there any particular incident that has happened along your writing journey that you’d like to share?
This is a great question, and one that I’ve never been asked before! I aim to be as transparent as possible in my YouTube videos and podcast episodes, so I share a lot on those platforms. I’m trying to think of something I haven’t shared before . . . oh! When I attended BookCon as an author for the very first time in 2017, I was shaking from nerves before they opened the doors. I was so nervous and excited to meet people, but I remember having to sit on the floor, put on my headphones, and open the Headspace app and try to meditate for 5 minutes. It worked . . . sorta. And yet, even with all of the nerves, BookCon was the best experience I’ve had as an author thus far!
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
To start somewhere. Everyone has to start somewhere. Even if you feel ill-prepared or like you have no idea what you’re doing, just start. We were all beginners once, and to be honest, I feel like we all just make it up as we go along! There’s truly no one “right” way to write a book. Everyone’s creative process is different. It’s all about finding what works best for you and adjusting your process until it just flows.
What do you think is the biggest marketing challenge for new authors?
Getting your book seen amidst the hundreds of thousands of books out there. According to Forbes, anywhere from 600,000 books to 1,000,000 books are published every single year. And with the rise of print-on-demand companies (yay indies!), I have no doubt that that number is steadily growing. Being an author doesn’t just mean writing and publishing a book. It also means putting yourself out there on social media, sharing your story, connecting with like-minded writers, readers, and fans. Building an author platform is a must nowadays!
What methods of book marketing do you find the most effective?
I find ebook price promotions to be most effective, as well as cross-promotions and/or collaborating with other writers/AuthorTubers. Not only are you spreading the word to your audience, but you’re also gaining a potential new audience! Cross-promotion and collaborating are two great ways to grow your platform – for free!
How do you make time for your book marketing?
Book marketing has become ingrained in my routine now. Waking up, writing chapters of my books, posting on social media, answering emails, and filming YouTube videos is just part of my daily routine. This is why it’s so important to love what you do. None of this feels like work to me because I love to do it – including marketing my book! If you’re just starting out on your author journey, and book marketing feels really foreign to you, take an hour a day for one or two weeks to study what other authors are doing, as well as what the industry recommends. Make an action item list of the types of marketing tactics you want to try. Then write down the tools you’ll need (if any) to make them happen (like graphics using Canva/PicMonkey, email subscription services for newsletters, text/blurbs for ad campaigns). Finally, schedule them into your planner. As a beginner, I recommend trying at least two new marketing tactics a month, see what works and what doesn’t, reassess if needed, and then build out from there.
Any advice for approaching publishers?
Do your research upfront. From my experience, many publishers prefer to be approached by literary agents and not the authors themselves. Research who you want to work with, send a professional email (follow their guidelines, if they have any), and be patient when it comes to hearing back. Don’t harass them or bog down their inboxes with follow-up emails. It’s important to remember that we’re all human beings, and all good things take time!
How do you handle rejection as a writer?
To be completely honest, rejection never gets easier. Anytime I receive a rejection, I still get that sinking pit in my stomach where I feel like I’m not good enough. I allow myself to feel that “feeling”, then take a deep breath, and write back a courteous and polite email thanking them for their time. I constantly remind myself that it just wasn’t the opportunity for me and that my open door will be just around the corner – and it’ll be bigger and better. If you can view it as opening 1 of 3 doors, where only 1 door is the “right” door, it makes rejection feel a little less harsh – at least for me, anyway.
How do you deal with isolation?
I definitely have feelings of isolation at times, especially when I was at the beginning of my writing journey. I hadn’t really taken the time or made a real effort to build my community of like-minded writers, so I used to call or Skype with my friends and family a lot, but they never quite understood what I was going through with my writing. They’ve always been so supportive, but it’s hard when you can’t talk about your “writer probs”. Finding my #soultribe of writers this past year has been everything. I feel like I have 15 writers in my inner circle that I can reach out to when I need support, or just need to bounce an idea off of them. I honestly don’t know how I survived without them for so long!
Is there anything else you’d like to share with aspiring writers?
Besides growing your author platform and your community of like-minded writers early on, I would also recommend not playing the “comparison game”. It’s so easy to get caught up in everyone’s highlight reels on social media and to feel like you’re not good enough, you’re not doing enough, you should be marketing more, you should be writing more, you should be editing more . . . Trust me when I say that YOU ARE DOING ENOUGH. YOU ARE ENOUGH. Don’t compare your journey with anyone else’s because it’s supposed to be unique and beautiful to you. Don’t rob yourself of that experience. Please. It’s one of the best ones you’ll ever have, I promise.
You can find out more about Kristen Martin via her website and social media channels: Instagram, Snapchat (@authorkristenm), YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and the That Smart Hustle podcast. The Alpha Drive series & Shadow Crown series are available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, The Book Depository & Books-A-Million.