Latest News

Ep. 133 How this 9-5’er is able to earn extra income as a self-published author with Kay Kingsman

In this episode, I speak with Kay Kingsman who is a contemporary fiction author.

Kay is also a travel blogger who focuses on making travel more relatable, inclusive, and accessible with her blog theawkwardtraveler.com

Kay also founded a non-profit organization to sponsor passport fees and travel gear for young adults. 

Listen on to find out how Kay is able to become a successful self-published author while still working her 9-5. 


Listen Below:


Show Notes:

Debbie: 

Hey everyone, thank you so much for joining us. I’m so excited to be here with Kay. Hey Kay, how are you?

Kay:  

Hi. Thank you for having me.

Debbie:

I am really so excited to speak with you. Can you tell us a little bit more about you and why you live an offbeat life?

Kay:  

Sure. So, I’m Kay. I run The Awkward Traveler blog online and on social media and my offbeat life is basically everything. I went to school for pharmacy but now I work in technology and I am a fiction writer, but also a travel blogger and none of that really mixes too well.

Debbie:

As long as you love what you do, that’s all that matters, right?

Kay:

Yeah.

Debbie: 

So, Kay is very interesting because right now she’s still at her nine to five and I actually love speaking to people like you, Kay, because you’re still at that process where you are still trying to figure out where all of this fits. But you do have an audience already online, you have a travel blog, you’ve also self-published your own book. How are you able to fit all of this in, into your busy nine to five life right now to also travel the world and kind of live the life that you really want and get into that process?

Kay:

Right. It’s definitely a lot of work, like fitting everything in. But I guess one thing that helps is that my job isn’t exactly a nine to five. It’s more of a seven to seven. I work half the week but very long days. So I work about 48 hours a week, but then I have like Sunday, Monday, Tuesday off or Sunday, Monday, Wednesday off. So, usually I use my extended weekends to kind of cram everything else in.

Debbie: 

Well, it’s really good because then, you have all of this time and energy to put into the work that you really want to do. So what is your end goal?

Kay:

My end goal… I think ever since I was like in middle school I’ve always wanted to be like a self-sustaining fiction author, like someone who stayed at home, because I love being home, but also like I could sustain myself just from my writing and not necessarily needing a second job to help support myself financially.

Debbie:

I think a lot of people have a misconception for somebody who is location independent and that’s technically what you are trying to accomplish, but you don’t necessarily want to travel all over the world, but you want to have the freedom to work from home if you want to or maybe you want to travel around for a few months here and there. And it’s definitely two different things. And I think for me, personally, as I get older, I definitely want to stay home more. And for you that’s not really what you want to do either. You don’t want to constantly become a nomad and you’re also a writer. So, I feel like for you that’s going to be a huge thing to be able to stay in one place for a period amount of time to be able to focus as well.

Kay: 

Right. You made such a good point. Being a digital nomad and being location independent can definitely be two separate things. And as a home buddy, I’m definitely someone who’d rather be location independent but still have kind of like a stable home base. Because when I do travel I’m like not writing or being productive at all. So, that would definitely impact me financially if I was just always on the go and not writing.

Debbie: 

Yeah, that’s really true. I think we often see it online where people are always traveling and I can tell you firsthand that we batch all of these things or we’re not constantly traveling. I can say, for myself, I’m always in my PJ’s and at home doing work on my desk. So, what about you Kay? How do you create this balance? I know you spoke about really making sure that you have all of this time because you do have half of the week to be able to work. Do you always focus on writing? How do you create this type of lifestyle for yourself that it is actually sustainable for you and to work towards your goal, to be location independent later on and to become a full-time writer?

Kay:

For me, it’s all about priorities. And I think right now, I’m a little bit at a crossroads because my fiction writing is very different from my travel blogging. So, travel blogging for me is a lot quicker and I see results faster. It’s easier to focus on that and like do blog posts every week or even two times a week, posts on Instagram, engage with people online, whereas, like fiction writing, I need to hold myself up and then like write for days and see no results for months.

self-published author

But ultimately, I want fiction writing, like being an author to be my source of income. So, it’s always a struggle, like reminding myself, “okay, and goal, let’s get this book out, let’s turn out some chapters” instead of like, “oh, fun blog post on things to do in Mexico. So yeah, definitely priority. Prioritizing the end goal will also like using something lighter, like travel blogging or what else do I do with my time? Play video games to kind of like to break it up so it’s not just grind, grind, grind. Even though I guess it’s still productive grinding if I’m travel blogging, but you know what I mean?

Debbie: 

As long as it serves a purpose that you want it to because you’re still writing and sometimes you can be in a creative rut when you’re constantly doing the same thing over and over again. And with me, personally, I like to schedule different things in different parts of my days and even different days of the week because otherwise I get bored very easily. And I think that’s the beauty about being able to work for yourself in that instance is because you can change around your days with whatever tasks that you want to do. At that time. I mean, as long as you get your work done. Now, what about the setbacks that you’ve encountered while you’re trying to become a writer? Can you tell us about that and how you’re able to overcome them?

Kay: 

Yeah. I think all writers eventually come to realize that 90% of creative writing is rejection. And that’s usually the biggest and most constant obstacle. I mean, it’s rejection starting with yourself. You write something and then you’re just like, “oh, I hate this. It’s horrible” or you write something amazing and then you go back and read it and you’re like, “oh wow, I was really drunk when I wrote this. Makes no sense.”

And then once you finish, you just get rejected by so many pitches that you send like rejection from agents or publishing houses. And it’s pretty heartbreaking, especially because you put so much time and effort and like sweat, tears, blood, whatever into it. But on the chance that it does get published, then there’s rejection from the audience and people who don’t like your work. So, it’s just all around rejection, but also in a weird way, it’s very satisfying. It’s a very sadistic like love, hate, passion.

Debbie:

I love that you’re constantly being faced with rejection and failure and you’re still going right. And I think a lot of people are afraid of that, but you actually embrace it. How did you get to the point where you actually weren’t feeling bad? Whenever, well, I’m sure you still feel bad. We all feel bad when you get rejected. I don’t think we can take that out of ourselves, but to kind of just feel okay and just keep going and pick yourself up after another rejection and another one, because we all faced it. There’s always going to be a failure. But how did you go up from that?

Kay:  

Right. It depends on everyone’s personality, which is a bit different. But for me, I just have to be proud of my own work and then try not to take it personally when people don’t like it. Like for my recently published book, I had one of my good friends read it and she was like, “I think I hate everything about this.” It stung ’cause I’m like, “How could you say this about my baby?” But also I had to be like, “Okay, take a step back. She doesn’t usually read this kind of fiction. She has a different perspective. I guess. I can see where she’s coming from even though I don’t agree.” So, kind of to build yourself up from rejection is trying not to take it personally and also making sure that you’re okay with the work that you put out. Because if you’re kind of wishy-washy when you publish something, then when you get that feedback, it’s a lot harder to bounce back because you don’t have the confidence that at least you’re proud of it, you know?

Debbie:  

Absolutely. It’s just believing in yourself and the work that you’re doing. And you’re right, not everyone’s going to be your ideal audience. I think that’s the first thing that you have to learn, that everyone is gonna like you and your work. Well not necessarily. They don’t know you. Never take that personally. I think once you start taking it personally it becomes a lot harder because you feel like it’s you and not everyone is gonna like the work that you do. That’s not your ideal audience anyways so, you move on and you keep going. Kay, let’s go back to when you first knew you wanted to be an author and a writer. How did you figure this out and kind of tap into this market and become a published author?

Kay: 

Yeah. So, funny story, when I was growing up, I actually hated reading. Like little seven year old me, whenever I learned how to read, I was like, “This is so boring.” Like words on paper, I don’t get it. What’s the point? But then I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and then I spent a while in chemo and I was kinda just alone and sad in a hospital. And then, I remember there were like teenage volunteers. I don’t know how old they were, but at my age, they look like teenagers. And they would go around the halls and say “hi” to us and drop off books or whatever they needed to do for those volunteer hours. And one of them left, I don’t remember what book it was, but it was kind of just like sitting next to my table and I’m like, “Well, what else am I doing?”

So, then I started reading and then I liked it, which was really weird at that time. But then that’s all I did and I was like, “Hey mom, can you bring like books over?” So that’s what started it. Just me being alone and vulnerable and not having I guess any other avenue to entertain myself. So, that’s how I got into reading. And then, because I was so secluded from my peers, I was very socially awkward when I finally reentered the normal education system. Instead of paying attention to teachers, ’cause that’s boring, I would just write little stories that I thought of in my head. And then one day this guy next to me was like, “Hey, can I copy your notes?” and I’m like, “Ha! Jokes on you. I don’t have any notes. I just have this little story that I wrote about fairies.”

And he was like, “Oh, I want to read it.” So, then he read it and he thought it was really good. Then, he asked me to keep writing more of the story. So, then it became weekly like, “Oh, here’s the next chapter kind of thing.” And he would be like, “Oh my God, you’re so good.” And I’m like, “I know.” So I think that’s what kind of prompted me creatively writing one because I hated paying attention in school and second, like kind of just having that encouragement like, Hey, keep doing this thing. And I’m like, yeah, you’re right. So that’s how it started.

Debbie: 

I think it’s just having that one cheerleader to get you going, to keep you interested and to really get excited even more with the new passion that you have. So, I’m glad you found this guy to read this book that you had. And now here you are doing it.

Kay:   

Yeah. Yeah. It’s crazy how that works out. I wonder what he’s up to.

Debbie:  

You never know with social media now, you may be able to find him. That’s hilarious.

Debbie:

You also have a really awesome space on social media. You call yourself The Awkward Traveler and you have these really great captions on social media. How would you advise someone to be able to do that as well and be authentic? Because a lot of people now it’s just all about the numbers and how they can do that and just keep growing. But with you, there’s a lot more to it, right? There’s real substance to what you’re creating and you’re putting out there.

Kay:

Yeah. As far as tips for growing, I don’t have a lot, social media is a whole beast that requires a PhD level like dissertation to understand. I guess fulfilled in a way by your social media platform is to like really know why you’re doing it and what you want to get out of it. And also being true, I guess to those two things. So, I started travel blogging because I was actually delaying writing a book that I was writing. I was like, “Well, I guess I can write about something but does anything not related to this novel.” So, then I started travel blogging and from that I knew I wanted to do kind of like a fun, lighter version just to refresh myself from like cramming out creative writing.

That kind of morphed my travel brand to be like fun and light and silly and like awkward random travel stories. And the reason why I wanted originally set out to travel blog was just kind of like something fun and light for me. So, I still try to stick to that. And I think that’s why I’m not as bothered by my numbers or “oh, I’m getting really low engagement”, “no one’s sharing my content” because in the end it’s for me, it’s my productive procrastinating. Like it’s all right that I don’t have 5 million followers. It’s cool.

Debbie: 

And I think that’s when you start really enjoying what you’re doing on social media, when you’re not bothered by that and just doing what it is that you really want to do with your content. And I think a lot of people are looking at what’s going to get them the most likes or the most shares and all of the fun is taken out of it. And I think it’s so sad that we’ve come to that point in a lot of ways.

Kay: 

Yeah. And I feel like people resonate more when they feel like you’re being true to yourself. At least that’s what I’ve encountered. I know personally when I see someone who, I mean, you can be not vulnerable every single post and I would still like it. But it’s like when you try really hard to be vulnerable for dislikes, you can like tell the difference. S,o I feel like being true to yourself is what resonates with people. Whether you’re someone who wants to tackle social issues on social media, if you want to show the lighter side of travel, the luxury side of travel or even like budget travel. If you don’t try to be like someone else, then you stand out more. I guess that kind of makes sense when I say it out loud, but like it’s hard to internalize when you see other people being successful, but you’re like lagging.

Debbie: 

It’s definitely a lot of comparison within the community that it can get you down – it’s true. It can really get you done and honestly I’ve spoken to a lot of people who are up there who have the followers and they’re still feeling the impostor syndrome and they’re still comparing themselves and I don’t think you can become happy if you keep doing that to yourself. And I think we just have to learn to simmer down with that stuff and just to be yourself. That’s really what people want to see in the long run. Even if you don’t have millions of followers, the ones that are following you are the true people that are going to be there.

Kay: 

Yup. Success is not at all relative to how many followers you have. Some of my favorite bloggers or influencers don’t have even like 5,000 followers. I don’t what’s a lot of followers but relative to like popularity, they don’t have as many followers but their blog posts are like the best I’ve ever read. Like I always go to them if I have any questions or need suggestions and at least to me that’s success.

Debbie:

Yeah, I really agree with you on that one. I think when you are not big yet, I think you have more freedom and a lot of ways and when you are so that’s a really good point. Okay. I know you are trying to become location independent and to fully do writing. How are you able to save right before you get into this, are you currently doing that or what are the methods that you’re doing when it comes to your financials to be able to prepare for that lifestyle?

Kay:  

I am the worst person to talk about saving with – a terrible saver. I spend everything and it’s great – it’s not great. I’m joking, don’t do that kids. But I am saving… For me, saving is to put it away and not see it at all. I mean I do have a 401k and I have some lower stock that I’ve invested in that’s kind of like my rainy day fund. But long-term, I have a savings account that is in a totally separate bank and it earns interest and stuff, but I’m like not allowed to touch it at all. So, like the moment I’m like, “all right, location independent, let’s do it”, then, I have at least a couple months worth of savings to kind of buffer myself just in case, those are the royalty checks don’t start rolling in as fast as I think they will.

Debbie:  

I think that’s a good idea to always do that, to have a buffer and you’re not really desperate for money when you finally leave your nine to five. Because I think we have this dream that we’re just going to leave and then everything is going to be roses and you know your money’s going to start rolling in and then you realize once you get into that lifestyle that it’s so much harder than it is and you have to really grind and hustle in order to even get a little bit of it and it takes a long time to finally be able to live off of whatever it is that you’re doing for the most part. I can’t say that for everybody because there are those people that are able to do it right off the bat and I’m jealous, right? We are all jealous of that.

Kay:

I’m definitely not one.

Debbie:

You never know, you haven’t done it yet, hey!

Kay:   

That’s true. I’ve got to take the plunge, but I like a plunge with a safety net.

Debbie:   

Exactly. That’s what I like as well. A little safety never hurts anyone. So. Kay, let’s fast forward to 50 years from now and you’re looking back at your life. What legacy would you like to leave and what do you want to be remembered for?

Kay:

Well, hopefully, I’m a MILF, just kidding. Well, I mean that would be nice. But, I want to be remembered for writing thought-provoking pieces, whether that’s in a travel blog. I mean, my blog is pretty silly, I don’t know how thought-provoking it is. But at least my fiction writing, I hope that it sparks discussion and conversation, and hopefully, I’m lucky enough to get on a band list somewhere at a school. That would be awesome. I want to have a controversial book. I guess that’s kind of every writer’s dream to have some blockbuster novel that gets made into a movie and it’s like a pop culture icon. I don’t know if that’ll happen, but that’d be pretty sweet if it did.

Debbie: 

That would be awesome. And I hope to see that one of these days. You’re still very young, I’m sure you’ll get it done. So what are you working on currently that is really exciting to you?

self-published author

Kay:  

Well, I was working on a novel about my experience in France when I lived there as a study abroad student. It was going to be like a mix of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and A Series of Unfortunate Events. But then, I went to Iceland and my mind was blown on the scenery and like folklore. So, I actually set my previous novel aside to work on a new one that kind of brains Icelandic folklore into the modern era. I’m really excited, it’ll be my first Sci-Fi fantasy type piece. I’m interested to like develop a new skill.

Debbie: 

It’s going to be really exciting. And also Iceland is definitely a place where you can get so many different types of ideas and inspiration because it looks like it’s not even in this world, this country. It’s pretty incredible.

Debbie: 

It’s also really great because Kay and I co-wrote a book that was published by Blank Roof and it’s been so incredible to be a part of this amazing journey with you Kay. And the women that we were a part of with creating this book. So if you guys want to check it out…

Kay:    

It’s called Branding Quickies.

Debbie: 

That’s right. And you guys could find it on Amazon. So we’re really excited about that and we share a lot of our tips and tricks on how to brand yourself successfully. And also you’ll get to see a lot more of our behind the scenes stories and our journey. So, we’re really excited about that so make sure you guys check it out. Our listeners want to know more about you Kay, where can they find you?

Kay:  

They can find me online at TheAwkwardTraveller.com, there are tons of travel guides, travel tips, and also random travel stories that will hopefully make you laugh.

Debbie: 

Well, that is awesome. I’m definitely going to be excited to find you there and all of your new work, right? I can’t wait to hear about the Icelandic one.

Kay:  

Yes, you will definitely, probably be the first to know.

Kay:   

Thanks for having me again.

Debbie: 

Perfect. Thanks, Kay. I’ll talk to you soon.

GET THE EXTENDED INTERVIEW WITH KAY WHERE SHE SHARES HOW TO PREPARE FOR SELF PUBLICATION ONLINE. 


DID YOU ENJOY THIS POST? PIN IT FOR LATER.

 


FOLLOW KAY:

 

 


Show Credits:

Audio Engineer: Ben Smith

 

 

 

 

 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to top
shares