Three years since she published her first short story, romance writer Kathryn O’Halloran has gone digital nomad, opting out of her expensive home base in Australia to travel the world. This week I caught up with Kathryn in Toyko, Japan, via Skype, to talk about the value of writing series, travel, and shooting AK47s in Prague.
In 2012, Kathryn was living in Australia and working in IT when she decided she’d publish to Amazon a few previously published literary erotic short stories and a drawer novel. It was a slow first year — less than $100 a month — but it was encouraging. She discovered KBoards during this time, and noted the advice of going permafree on first books in a series, but didn’t feel like that advice would work for her.
A year later, Kathryn decided she’d give the series thing a try. She started a contemporary romance pen name and started a three-book series. Her efforts push her firmly into the over-$100 monthly income.
January 2014, her IT contract ended, and she decided to try writing full-time. She spent four months each writing Books 2 and 3. As soon as she published Book 3, she immediately went wide across other etailer platforms, making Book 1 permafree, and saw her monthly income jump into the thousands.
By the end of 2014, Kathryn had an epiphany: she didn’t need to live in Australia, where cost-of-living is high, to write. She started reading the blogs of digital nomads and researching long-term travel. She figured $3,000 a month was the sweet spot she’d need to live a decent lifestyle in just about any city.
So she spent the first half of 2015 writing and releasing another three-book series, then headed overseas in June.
“I really feel like I’ve gone from tentative steps to living the life of my dreams. I’ve done it while having a very balanced work-life balance and without earning piles of cash.”
A Modest Living
While Kathryn hasn’t “broke out” in the bestselling lists yet, she has made $70,000 off her first series so far, and her income averages $6,000 a month. She writes in a post on KBoards, “Listen to the advice of those more successful than you are. I used to think, ‘Well, that’s okay for them, but my circumstances are different,’ which is a very self-defeating attitude. Now I look at others and think, ‘How I can apply what they do to my circumstances?’ Conventional wisdom exists for a reason. That doesn’t mean you should follow it slavishly, but if you don’t, do it for the right reasons, not because of lame excuses.”
At first Kathryn didn’t think writing series or making the first book free would apply to her, but she notes in her KBoards post that her two big jumps in income came when she made her first book permafree, taking her from three figures a month to four, and when she published wide across etailers, bringing her income from the low four figures to higher.
The Next Big Thing:
Kathryn is busy at work on her next romance series that will feature interconnected stories of different couples instead of following just one couple throughout their relationship. When she finishes, her reward will be karaoke…and more travel!
On shooting guns in Prague: “It’s something you need to know if you’re a writer, how to shoot a gun.”
On writing in cafes: “I’m always eavesdropping on conversations to pick things up and that kind of thing.”
What’s the best advice you’ve followed in your own indie author career?
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