In this episode we’re focused on reflection and evolution. We’re celebrating six months of weekly podcast recording, talking about how doing this podcast has impacted out author careers, and reflecting on our indie publishing careers as a whole.

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Curious Jar Question to answer:

Why do you write the kind of books/stories you write?

(Got a question we should add to the Curious Jar? Email


Complete Episode Transcripts

This site contains affiliate links to products that we have used and love, and that we think may be of help to you on your authorpreneur journey. We may receive a commission on sales of these products, which is how this podcast stays independent and free of advertising. Thanks for your support! Click here for a full list of recommended tools and resources. 

Transcript for Strategic Authorpreneur Episode 027: The Power of Reflection and Evolution

Crystal: Hey there, strategic authorpreneurs. I’m Crystal Hunt.

Michele: And I’m Michele Amitrani. We’re here to help you save time, money and energy as you level up your writing career.

Crystal: Welcome to episode 27 of the strategic authorpreneur podcast. On today’s show we’re talking about reflection and evolution, and this is our halfway through the year podcast, we have officially made it through six months worth of weekly recording episodes, which woo victory dance for us.

We’re pretty excited about that. And so we’re going to do a little reflecting on the last six months of doing the podcast and what the process of making the show has changed about us and how it is helping us evolve as authors. We’re also going to do a little looking back over our author career and talk about how we are going to evolve over the next six months so that we are setting some intentions, setting some specific goals and making sure that we are not just creating a cool thing, but moving also to words, that next level for both of us in our careers, because just like you, we are on an authorpreneur journey. So we are growing things just like you guys are. Now, before we dig in, you know, how important reviews are in the book world and the power of a personal recommendation can go a long way. So your mission this week is to share this podcast with a friend who you think might enjoy what we have going on here.

And also if you haven’t yet done, so if you can leave us a review, wherever you’re listening to this podcast, we will be eternally grateful. And now my Italian friend, what have you been up to this past week?

What has happened since the last episode?

Michele: Since this is a moment when we reflect on the past, I have also been investing sometimes in reflecting on, what’s laying ahead, for me authorpreneur wise. And so I spoke with Crystal a couple of times in our coaching times. And I realized I really, from my 12 by 20, challenge, that I really want to write more fantasy. So I’m going to make the focus of the next months to really be a bit more strategic in how to think of releasing my works from this moment on.

And in order to do that, this is important because, this is the first time I did not present a book as the first thing, but there is a reason why, since I have made up my mind to release a lot of fantasy books what I’m going to do now is reading a lot of those. So there are some that I already read and that I will suggest to people that are interested in fantasy.

One is Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind, this is really a really cool book written in a very poetic way. And I’m up probably going to re-read passage of that because I really find it speaking with me. The other one that I really enjoy is this one, I read it twice: The Eye of the World is the very first one of a 14 part series of The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan. So this is another one of my favorites. You can see like how he’s basically destroyed the edges because I’ve read it many times. Then there is another one that I’m almost done reading. And I suggested this already it’s Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings, which is another one that I’m really enjoying and is informing a lot the way I think of the fantasy worlds and I’m thinking a lot about world building, this one it’s very useful for that sense. And the last one that today I want to recommend is Red Sister by Mark Lawrence. This one is fairly smaller and it’s been a long time that I wanted to read this author here, and I didn’t dip it in him, but reviews are amazing. And I’m honest, very interesting in knowing what this author did. And it’s another fantasy. It’s more on the dark side, with respect to the others.

But, this is basically what I’m doing right now. These are today’s recommendation, which is way more than I usually do. But because it’s a special episode that just wants to give you, you know, a special recommendation in quantity too. And what about you, Crystal? What is your special thing that you’re going to share with us today?

Crystal: Well, I have also been reflecting it’s basically back to school time. So we are the end of August, beginning of September and I love that back to school kind of feeling and I think the weather starts to shift a little bit here and the focus shifts from being outside summertime. There’s sort of a slower pace in the summer.

And lots of sunshine and hot, which means my sluggish Irish blood does not care for the heat. So I tend to do a lot better in the fall. So for me, when the summer is coming to an end and things are getting cooler out all is my favorite time and it’s also when everything kind of goes crazy in the book world for me. People are getting back inside, they’re reading, there’s all the good holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas break and all that stuff. So I have been doing a cleanup of AMS ads and stuff. Actually, I just have rereleased my MacAllisters series box sets with new covers and have been overhauling all the keywords and making sure that everything is ready to go because it’s going to be great for Christmas, but it takes a few months to get your AMS ads really ramped up and to get some consistent track record with all of that stuff.

And you really want to do that before when you’re going to want it. So on the business side of things, I’ve been doing that while also writing some more of the shorter stories and keeping moving forward with my word production factory for my fall releases, which is great. And then what I’m reading right now is a book called Atomic Habits by James Clear, which I am holding up.

If you’re watching us on YouTube and I find seasonally my habits really changed. So as the weather changes, as my focus changes, it’s nice to just dip back into a book that talks all about how you put together habit strings, and how you choose what’s going in your daily schedule and how you help trick yourself into getting done the things that you want to get done.

So I do really like James Clear, he’s got an interesting blog and website and all of that stuff. And I also really enjoyed this book in the past. So I’ve brought it out again to revisit it and just make sure that I am setting myself up for success as we go into the busy season of this year. That’s what I’ve been up to now.

Now, we are going to talk about what we’ve been up doing a longer scale of things. So a bit of reflection of what are we doing with the podcast and, how has that been impacting our author careers and our own author evolution? So let’s start maybe with just looking back at, why did you say yes to doing this podcast?

What was it that you wanted out of being part of this?

Why we started this podcast

Michele: I would say there are two or three reasons, but I need to be very honest with you. There was, for me the possibility to work for the first time with a person that I would say had an experience that I really wanted to do have. So she was at that point in her career that I wanted to be in the near future.

Of course, spoiler alerts that person is Crystal. But that… you can call it … I’m going to call it this way: a selfish reason. But at the same time, it’s just because I really wanted to better myself as an author. And I saw that as a great opportunity for me to humbling allow this other person to teach me through her things, but also our guests, because I’ve learned so much with every single interview that we did in the past months with the different writers and authors.

And there was something that I really learned and I was focused on that part on the potential that this podcast could have, not only for the listeners, but also for me, your co-host. It’s really, for me, it was a possibility to better myself and at the same time, try to help with my mistakes that I made and my experience, other people that are at a point today that’s more similar to mine.

And at the same time also, in some way, Crystal, I feel to represent people that try to win this game, the game of the publishing, the self-publishing, but English is not their first language. So in some way I also feel to be kind of a herald for these people that are maybe struggling a bit more because of this thing.

But yes, really, I would say that the reason that made me say yes, it was because of these possibilities of getting better and also the chances that I will have to share my experience with other people. And actually I’ve never asked you why, because we discussed about this Crystal, like before it was a project that you wanted to undergo.

Maybe by yourself, but then you propose to me: would you be interested in doing this at the beginning? It was like a sharing of knowledge. You were coaching me on that side. I was telling what I knew about, my experience with podcasting, because small parenthesis, I’ve been doing podcasting for three years, before Crystal proposed me this adventure together.

And so I’ve never actually asked you what made you pull away so many projects that you have and shut them off and really dedicate yourself 100% to this. So what was the reason?

Crystal: There’s a few reasons. One is that I am well, I’m a terrible procrastinator if it’s just me, who’s involved in a thing. So I find it very easy to put my commitments to other people before my commitments to myself.

And so I had been thinking about doing a podcast for three years. I think it had been something that was on my radar. I wasn’t a hundred percent sure where to start, which you know, was part of our original conversation around working together because I like working with somebody who knows what they’re doing.

That’s very handy and I did want just a way to kind of package and share some of the knowledge that I had been doing one on one coaching with a lot of people and just finding myself answering the same questions over and over and over and over again. And so I thought it would be a lot more efficient to kind of package that up in a way that anybody who wanted it could access it without needing access to me personally, on a one on one kind of basis.

So I thought that was a great idea and that it would be also, from a selfish perspective, great promotion for The Creative Academy Guides for Writers and the books that I’ve written in that series as well. Because a lot of what we talk about is the stuff that I’m excited about, which is the same things I write those books about as well.

So there was that, but why you? So there’s a couple of reasons why it was Michele that I wanted to work with. And one of them was because I think there’s a huge value in having a different perspective on things. And so for me, I’ve been fully immersed in the romance world for several years, which is interesting, but very different than the experience in other genres.

And so I really wanted to have that co-host experience so that I would be accountable, but somebody who was going to bring a different point of view to it. And you’re also a different generation. I am a decade older, so there’s a certain amount of age difference there. And also I think the gender difference is an interesting difference in perspective and energy as well that we bring to it.

So I think those are all the sort of ways that we’re different, but I think even more important are the ways that we are the same, which was that I think we both come at things from a respectful point of view to the world at large, and that we both have a focus on just sharing what we can and being very honest and open about what that looks like. And so that sense of humor and the ability to do what we’re doing over the next four episodes, which is like, here’s how we screwed this up. Here’s how you can avoid that. I think not everybody is willing to be transparent about the process and to be honest about what kinds of things they’re going through and so that to me was a really good opportunity just to blend all of that together in a way that would be interesting. And I think having someone who asks you questions, you wouldn’t necessarily think to ask yourself, it draws information out of you that you wouldn’t I necessarily think to share with other people.

So when it comes to the author journey I’ve been in the industry three for 15 years now. And when you get really deep in you forget how much of what you know, or say or do has all this lingo and we use acronyms and we shorten the titles for things. And we toss off names of things as though everybody knows what we’re talking about.

And of course they don’t. So it’s really good to have, I think that balance and that reflecting back at each other, from those different points of view along the author journey is really valuable. So, the most important thing is that it’s fun. Cause I really have no interest in doing anything that isn’t fun anymore.

So it is very much a privilege to get to the point where you can pick and choose a little bit the projects that you work on and how you’re going to spend your time. And this is high up on my list because I look forward to Tuesday cause it’s fun to show up. And that’s when we do our recording and to be able to just have a conversation that feels very natural and relaxed and comfortable and also is a good time to do so.

I think all of that is really, it’s what I love about it. And also what I was hoping to get out of it when we started was really that. And of course, with guests, the opportunity to call people that you maybe don’t have an excuse to call otherwise and say, hey, can we chat for an hour about really cool stuff?

And so while we started with a lot of people that I know really well, just in case I screwed anything up, cause I was learning how to podcast, we also get to branch out now and have guests that we don’t necessarily know already and really give some people a platform to share about their work and the writing industry and the publishing industry.

So I’m really excited to do that next bit of evolution with the podcast and broaden our horizons as far as guests and who we get to talk to, which is very cool. So I’m curious for you, like, how do you feel that doing the podcast, do you think it’s changed anything about how you are approaching your author journey?

How doing the podcast has changed our approaches

Michele: Yeah, absolutely. 100%. I think every experience that you put yourself into is going to change you in a degree. This podcast changed me in many ways. Some of these ways I don’t need even grasp them now. I think I will ask to look back and see, Oh, okay, so the way I was approaching that proud problem, or I was focusing on that subject actually was influenced or was informed by the way I spoke with Crystal about that episode, that date on that moment, or when I listen to that conversation with one of our guests.

So there are some things that I can’t give you an answer because I don’t know yet. I think it’s going to happen in the future when my body and my mind, when I wrap my hand around that idea, but for sure there are some things that I can tell you that again, feel that changed. I feel myself to be more of a person that is in control of his business.

I’m thinking of my all my books, like assets, more than pieces of arts. That’s not necessarily to say that is something bad, but there is a book that we have, I think we have mentioned that book at nauseum, so many times it’s really, it’s almost weird, but the when Steven Pressfield say in The War of Art, that really, it’s a question of you believing that you can do the shift from an amateur to a professional, I think this podcast did that to me to a degree.

And I would like to share with you this experience, because I do believe that the way I’m making podcast and I’m being, keeping myself accountable, but of course also Crystal accountable it’s a way for me to see this whole thing of the authorpreneurship as something real, as something as sturdy as the ground that I am walking on.

It’s something achievable. It’s not an idea in the clouds. There are so many people that are doing this for a living, but it’s not about the money, again. It’s about the belief that you can really make it, with your stories. You can live by making up characters that lives all in your head. And that’s amazing.

We have already compared this experience to magic, and Crystal, I do believe these to be magic. And I think this podcast, the Strategic Authorpreneur, enabled me to really see this as a business and of course I can’t mention this, I can say this or spell this without mentioning your name. Like you made possible for me to see that there was something beyond the horizon and not just a very far away line that I can’t even see if I can get there or not.

So I think the word that I’m looking for here is empowering. The podcast has empowered me to see this as something, not farfetched, but something that I can believe, not in the cheesy way, strategically I can get this done and I can really make this work. So I think that that’s the best thing that I can think of, about what this podcast has done for me, shifting completely my view and helped me hopefully, with some of the blabbering that I’m doing now, enabling me to help you in, in your own, in your own way. And I do know that it did something to you, not only on the accountability side, and I want, if you can, to share a bit more on that regards, we have been talking a lot about being more forthcoming and be very genuine with ourselves.

A couple of times we shared pretty deep stories about ourselves. Like when there was the jar questions, that’s one of the reason I’m telling you we are talking about us and are letting people seeing us through us, inside us. So I would like you to elaborate a bit more on the way this podcast changed you that is not related to accountability.

Crystal: Take away the easy answers. That’s what co-hosts are for, challenging us. Get outside our comfort zone. There’s a couple very distinct and different ways that it’s been really helpful. I think for me, so one of them is just around getting more comfortable about sharing the personal stories and the sort of the journey, I think it’s easy to forget, once you get to the point where things are building up some momentum and, you know, you get put in this slot as a teacher or somebody who knows what they’re talking about, and then you sort of forget about a lot of the stages along the journey.

And there is a certain pressure to just always know what’s going on and how things work. And so it is really valuable to have, like, I love the curious jar questions, because those are so random, no idea what’s coming and it does really spark discussion in a way that’s deeper than what we would normally have, because I think we asked each other publicly very safe questions. All of us, as creators, as people who are very conscious of what it’s like to live publicly right now and then that there’s a certain risk attached to being real and vulnerable and telling the truth about stuff. And so I think there is a lot of value in that little bit of unexpected connection.

And we really do love hearing back from any of you as well about those pieces, because it really is about that connection bit. So I think just that and the acceptance that we, we basically record these live and we put them out, we do a tiny bit of it if we really screw something up and then you get the blooper reels at the end.

So I think that’s a really valuable exercise for us just in remembering we don’t have to be perfect and our work doesn’t have to be perfect and our writing doesn’t have to be perfect. And the only way we’re going to get good at anything is by practicing. And so it has been a really important journey of, you know, starting in the middle of a really terrible timing, with the pandemic basically started, we were, went on lockdown, I think the week, before the party I got started airing. So, you know, it was a really kind of everything shifting and changing time. So to have a bit of stability, in the mix was really nice and something that we can count on that we show up every week and we do this thing, which has been really good for us.

The other way that I think it’s really been good for my author career side of things, not just me as a person and my personal development stuff, is in that when you are, when I teach something, I can’t teach it if I feel like I’m not doing it myself, then it creates this totally inauthentic, like, just a disconnect.

And so by reviewing the steps involved in something and reviewing the best practices, it just prompts me every week we finished recording the podcast or when I’m prepping for the podcast and I’m thinking, oh, I can’t hold that up as an example of this thing, because you know, I haven’t looked at it in five years I need to refresh this and make sure this is reflecting current best practices because it’s easy as we publish things and put them out in the world and all set in our publishing ways, as the cranky old people of the publishing, and so I think it’s easy to forget to review, you know, the current stuff and to go back and apply that to your back catalog and to make sure that you’re not just ignoring your older titles as you’re always pushing on to the new things. So it has been a really great exercise that every week when we distill some topic, I use that as a focus for my stuff that I’m going to do in my own book of business to make sure that I feel comforted with my newsletter being an example of what we’re supposed to be doing with newsletters or that my website looks polished and follows the rules of what we say you should be doing.

So it is a really good mirror to reflect back on ourselves and make sure that what we are saying is also what we’re doing. So that has been a great opportunity to just make sure that everything is getting the attention it needs, and I have seen the results of that because I had things on pause for most of the last year and just kind of in a maintenance cycle as I was writing new books and I didn’t, didn’t really focus in as much as I could on tracking the data and paying attention to all those details. So, it has been a really good way to just do a bit of a book sales make-over and a refresh on my own stuff as we go as well. So, okay. So on that vein, in the looking back over time and looking back at our own publishing careers, if you could get in a time machine and you could go back in time, what would you do differently now that you know the things that you know, from like a publishing career overall kind of a timeline.

Anything you would do differently?

Michele: Yeah, I’m going to give you the very short story because you don’t want to hear everything, but I will say there was a time three, maybe four years ago in which I was spreading my resources thin and wide, I was doing everything, except the thing that really counted because I wasn’t asking myself the right question.

One of the things that the podcast helped me figure that out, it really did help me figure that out because my problem was that I didn’t know what to do in order to make my stories as successful as possible to reach their audience. So to just give you a simple example, I would probably take that time machine, go back to, four or five years ago and not necessarily create a YouTube channel, a blog. I wouldn’t say not the podcasts because I’ve learned a lot and without the podcasts, I’d probably not be here because Crystal wouldn’t really need my experience in that, but there are so many things, I’m telling you this, because there are so many things that I found to bleed out my time.

I don’t know if that even makes any sense, but I do believe time is more important than other resources. And for a few years, I really bleed those resources out, spreading myself thin. So I will take that time machine and I will focus on the three things the now I know make a real difference for what I really want to be, to make it as a novelist, as an author, which is, write a book, finish it, and ship it, and then start with the next one. All the rest it’s like something you can learn, but you can’t possibly be an author without that foundation, which is so simple. You create the product, you make sure it’s the best you possibly can and we discuss about Cover, editing, that stuff, you need that.

And then ship that and shipping the product in this case can be pushing the publish button on Amazon. It’s hard and doing it consistently I think it’s even more hard than the thoughts of creating the product, but it needs to be done if you want to make that as your career for a living. If you want to make a lifestyle of that.

So I would definitely take that time machine, I would go back and have a conversation with myself about these three things. The other thing that I now know is that having the platform doesn’t necessarily mean spreading yourself thin and being everywhere. What you need really, to succeed on a degree on this business is having your website that broadcast you and your products and a strong, fostered mailing list.

A mailing list is something I really never worked on until this podcast basically. That’s the truth Crystal like before that, I really had a couple of mailing lists, but I was more on social media than anything else because we have that sparkle of energy every single time there was a like and stuff, and that’s dangerous because it’s keeping you from the things that are important to you, which is again, create more products, ship them, make sure you have your website and that you have a main list of people that are genuinely interested in you. So that’s probably the conversation I will have with the past Michele, then probably the past Michele will do exactly the same mistake because he and I am are stubborn on that regard. But, you know, I think we learn from our mistakes, a lot.

And one thing that I should also say is that I’m working five time more as I was because I now know of all that time that I wasted, bleed out. So never worked this much on my writing I’ve never brought for like 20 to 25 hours per week, sometimes even more consistently for now, it’s been 55, 56 weeks, and I’m keeping the data, so I can back this up. So I will say this is definitely one of the things I will do to go back. if I could go back in time. I am curious to know what you will do. I kind of know a couple of things that you would probably do now that I get, you know, a bit better, but don’t, there is no spoiler alert here.

I just want you to relate that to the audience. What would you do if could, you know, push down the lever and go back?

Crystal: Yeah, I mean, I am effectively turning back the clock and starting over at the moment after kind of pausing. I totally focused on nonfiction for the last year and like stockpiling things.

So from a sales momentum perspective, I am effectively starting at the beginning again, using all of my smarts this time around. So what I learned and what I am changing is that I would make sure that I had a little bit of water in the tank. We talked about the fire hose approach a few episodes ago, and that is really important to remember when I started, I really, I was just putting books out as I was finishing them.

I was finished writing it, it would go into the editing pathway, and then it would come back, and I would release it. And I was doing that in real time as I went along, which meant I didn’t have anything stockpiled, which meant that when life happens there’s a big gap because there was nothing already there to fill that.

And it also meant there was a lot of time pressure on everything I was doing because I would set a release date for the next thing I would be working towards that there would be editing, there would be all of these things that were very, very time tied and specific. And so I did that to help prevent myself from procrastinating because I am definitely deadline driven, and the queen of making things work at the last minute, but I really don’t love the constant pressure when it comes to creativity, the businessy organizational side and the productivity management, all of that, it doesn’t pair fabulously well with the creative soul who needs space and time to develop ideas and think about things and really just follow the inspiration in those ways. And so I think what happens when you’re writing and releasing in real time without any kind of buffer, is that you, you really are being pulled back and forth between your creative self and your business self too much and a little bit too violently. So it’s like being caught in a tug of war between two of your personalities who are just fighting over who gets control of your brain.

And it doesn’t do great things for you. I have to say it is, is pretty stressful and it’s really frustrating for readers because you know, you’re trying to get the next book out and you can’t necessarily give them a firm date because you don’t know when it’s going to be. So I think if I could go back, I would hold off on the first couple of books until I had the next couple ready.

So I would just stockpile a bit more before I started releasing and the other thing is similar to yours in that once you get a few products out opportunities stars finding you, which is great, but there was an opportunity to be part of a beta program for Findaway Voices and do audio books and with each format of each product, it gets produced it just creates that much more work and that much more stuff to manage. So I had, you know, almost 40 products. Which was great and started generating income, but it’s also super distracting and it’s a lot to manage by yourself when you’re trying to okay, schedule promos and you’re juggling everything and, you know, and then the Christmas season sales exploded and it was super exciting and that was fantastic, but wow is it hard to stay in creative mode when all of that is going on? So I think just decreasing the number of things, as Michele said that you’re trying to manage, I was trying to do all the social media and, you know, with each format you add that’s different set of Facebook groups you have to be part of the audio book world is completely different, so if you’re trying to promote to audio listeners, it’s all just layers exponentially on top of each other. So it was just too much stuff. And so going back and simplifying and just picking, okay, I’m going to have a BookBub profile.

I’m going to be have my Amazon author profile and I’m going to have my newsletter list and that’s really it, and I’m just gonna roll from there and keep it really simple. My interactions totally focused on my mailing list with my readers and not so much worried about all of the other places. So that’s what I’ve been doing over the last couple months is actually streamline down and eliminating a lot of the stuff that I had built, which is really hard to cut it out after you’ve been doing it for a while cause you feel like you’re being irresponsible or whatever, but as you said, the only thing that actually matters is having time and energy to get the stories written because without them you have nothing. So I think really focusing on that, and is there anything that I would keep, even though it was a mistake?

I think it was definitely, and some of that is around cover design and some of the stuff that we’re going to talk about and then next episode. So I won’t go too deep into that, but I think the biggest mistake that I actually think wasn’t a mistake was that I gave myself permission to just focus on the writing for like an eight month period.

And I said, okay, I’m not going to worry about the marketing and I’m not going to worry about any of the other stuff. I’m just going to write stuff and release it and then see what people have to say and then adapt my writing based on the feedback I got from the readers. So even though that’s not maybe super strategically smart and it had negative consequences in terms of not having stuff in the tank to release later, it was really helpful in terms of learning my readers and learning how people were responding to what I was writing and it let me get good at starting and finishing projects, whole bunch in a row.

So that was really helpful and I, I think I would keep that mistake, the writing short, which a lot of people said is not the smartest way to go because you don’t make as much money from page reads and, you know, you develop all your characters in your world and it’s a ton of work and then your story is just over quickly.

And so a lot of people would call that a mistake in terms of a lost opportunity to generate revenue. But for me, that just felt like the right thing to do, because I needed to learn how to do stories from start to finish in a new genre after doing a couple of other genre, over the last 15 years.

So yeah, it was, it was an interesting experiment. How about you? Is there anything you would keep?

Michele: There’s actually something, I’ve never said this before, so I’m just going to share that. When I published, now the book was published in 2017, so, wow. It’s really three years. When I published my Omnilogos series in Italian, for science fiction book, guess that, I thought that series would make me enough income to live comfortably as a self published author.

Which if I think about that now, I just laugh. There were so many mistakes embedded in that presumption. One of the mistakes was, and this is the biggest thing that I, when I think of that, I feel like myself shaking because it’s so stupid that, I really, I really wish this story stops you for doing the same thing that I did, which was like, my story will be discovered by itself, just like that.

And so for years I just released it and did absolutely nothing to promote it because I had that belief. I actually believed that if I started promoting it, I would cheat. I would cheat the system in some way. And those books would actually not be worthy. When I didn’t see around. And every single person is doing that, not because they’re cheating, but because of the nature of the industry. You can have written the best book in this world, but if nobody can see it, nobody’s going to read it, and there is something David Gaughran said once that he compared in one of his YouTube videos this industry to salmons going up and up and up.

Every single time that there are authors that are doing book promotion or re releasing new things. So you always go down if you don’t release new things. So you don’t do something to keep yourself up. I was on the bottom and I didn’t even know that this is super powerful for me, but it’s also an eye opener because you bet I am never going to do that again, either, I’m studying now advertisements, how to make sure that my products are as polished as possible. I make sure that I’m writing and releasing content with my 12 by 20 challenge on a monthly basis even something that I never even thought I could even do.

So that’s the mistake that I will keep: my presumption that I would be famous just because I published some books. I’m not calling it stupid, but I’m calling it a good lesson that the universe gave me so that now I can see how flawed that line of reason was. And I don’t want you to do the same mistake because I know your book it’s out there and maybe you believe it’s good and strong, but without your will of making it available to other people it’s very difficult that is going to found. And I think Crystal, there is so much noise about the few gems that really sparkle and happen almost magically, for example, J.K. Rowling, with Harry Potter, we know that was more of a word of mouth kind of thing, but you can’t point out to more than 5 of 10 of these examples, exactly because they are the exception. They are not the rule. The exception, they are not the rule. So I would just say the mistake that I made was that, and I feel stupid in telling you that, but at the same time, it’s something that I really want to share with you because I do believe it makes me better and now thanks to that the way I approach everything in my publishing business it has been informed by that flawed way of seeing things book-related wise. And, if there is something that I bring with me with this experience, something that I learned that helped me shape, what we can call the next phase of my writing career is, this is another thing that I really didn’t do before, which is: shut up and listen to people that know more than you.

And I’m just trying to surround myself with people that really know a lot about the industry. More than once in these podcasts, I mentioned three or four different names of people that I follow and those really have me people that know more than me and there are at the point that I would like to be, those are really the people, and people that you respect, of course, those are really the people that should inform the way you act. And probably that’s the most important thing, just listening to what other people in the industry are saying and never, ever believe that you just have reached a point and you now don’t need anything else to grow because that’s death plain and simple.

And I want to know what’s death for you in that regard, Crystal? What are the things that you bring with you from what you’ve learned?

Crystal: When I look back over the last five years and I look at when things went the best, when you know, sales ramped up the most when I was enjoying the process of everything, when I was regularly releasing things, it’s interesting that the thing that those periods had in common was that I wasn’t focused on the business side actually. I was reasonably smart about how I was approaching the business side and I wasn’t ignoring it, but I was focused on the writing. And so that I think remembering why is it’s fun?

You know, we’ve talked about this before that when something becomes your job, you have a very different feeling towards it. And when it no longer is the side hustle or the thing you do when you’re not working, because you love it so much. And now your income is depending on the choices you make in that field, it really does shift the way that you are approaching things.

And so I think for me, what I’ve learned is that it’s okay not to do all the things that people tell you should be doing when you’re doing this as a business, you can’t ignore all of it, but you can pick a head full of the things that resonate for you and you feel comfortable doing and, you know, there was a few things that really people were saying I should be doing that. I wasn’t really comfortable with. They just didn’t feel like me. And they, they didn’t sit well with my audience. And it was like, yeah, this might be the advice from the experts and from people who are really killing it, which is great but if I can’t feel comfortable doing it, I’m going to not do it.

And then it’s going to happen zero good impact on what’s going on. So for me, the biggest thing that I am taking forward is that sense of simplicity where really first priority is always on the new words. And then the second priority is getting those words out into the world. And the third priority is focusing on advertising and things like that.

So, but none of that stuff can happen first. The writing has to happen first. And so I think that’s the biggest lesson and the remembering that it’s fun is the next lesson that it’s okay to play a bit in your work. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t rewarded for it financially, just because you’re enjoying what you do.

It’s hard and you can work hard, but it doesn’t have to be hard work. If that makes sense. So I think that is key and what I will be taking with me as we dive into this fall and this exciting release season, I think for both of us, we have some pretty big plans for the next few months. So it will be exciting to keep you all apprised of how that all goes.

Why do you write the kinds of stories that you write?

And now it is time for our curious jar to make an appearance. And I will rifle around in here. You will tell me when to stop.

Michele: Go now.

Crystal: Okay. A yellow one. Okay. Here’s a good one. Why do you write the kinds of stories that you write?

Michele: Okay. Why do you ride the kind of stories that you write? Okay. Okay. I think I have an answer to this question. Do you mind if I go first? Okay.

Crystal: Go nuts.

Michele: The kind of reading that I’ve been doing since I can basically remember, it’s when I stop at the last page I am bringing something with me. Can be an emotion or something that I’m learning. Usually when I pick up the book, I don’t necessarily decide it over to the reviews. I do decided by the feeling that I think that book is going to have.

And if there is some concept that there is embedded in the book that is like profound. Now, profound it’s something that varies. It’s different from person to person. But for example, the kind of book I write now are like science fiction, dark fantasy, mythological fantasy. I mean in the past months I started writing those, every single time I write some of these stories, if you think about that, even with Lord of Time, there isn’t a lot of action, like action, like, I’m thinking exploding and battles, which I could definitely do because science fiction and fantasy, amazing, star ship that destroy each other in the space with blasts of power gods that can annihilate each other with the blink of an eye. I could use that. It’s something like you are, you’re doing a movie why are not using the special effects? Why you’re not using the blasts? I usually don’t use the blasts, at least at this stage of my career, in my books the reviews that I usually got and the feedback that I got is like, as a person saying, okay, I didn’t expect this to happen in this book. And some of the reviews and feedbacks are telling me that they did not enjoy the book because of that reason. But I think the reason why I’m writing this kind of book is because I couldn’t enjoy writing something that is way different than those. That’s the reason why I don’t want to say exactly that probably I will never really able to write specifically for the market as we intended.

If I would be not lucky enough, I will create a market for my stories, which I think it’s way more difficult to do. And I don’t even know now I’m 33 if I can learn that skill of writing for a specific set of people that are enjoying in a specific timeframe, a specific genre. Say that three times faster, with so many specifics, but what I’m doing now is I’m just trying to explore what I can do and what I write is, I know dark fantasy, science fiction, mythological fantasy, and that’s because I can convey those kinds of stories, that usually don’t implies special effects. And again, that might be a deficiency, that might be something that I’m being wrong, but that’s the only way I know how to do it. I don’t know if that makes any sense for you, but, that’s basically who I am, that’s what I can do with the instruments and tools that I’ve been given, and that I am mastering with my craft. Maybe in 10 years, 20 years, you will see me writing a new Expanse series or something very heavy on the battle front. I’m not sure I’m just answering that question that has been given to me now. I kind of know the answer to your question Crystal. I’m not going to spoil it at least I know a part of it, but I do want you to share your experience on that regard. Why are you writing the book that you’re writing and, this is going to be more difficult because you, as you said, more than once you shifted your focus more than once. So fiction and nonfiction, romance, children’s book.

Why at specific stage of your life, you are writing a kind of book and now you are shifting to another. What is keeping you moving?

Crystal: Well, I would be curious to hear why you think I write the kinds of books because I wonder if it lines up with what I think. But yeah, it is interesting having shifted over time in terms of what I’m focused on. I think when I started writing my, my official, I’m going to be a writer career really started after I finished my master’s degree and came home and my daughter at that point was eight.

And so it was nice to write something that she could read, because honestly, I had visions of like my grandma and my kid and my mom, you know, reading these romance novels and me being like, no, I can’t go into school and talk about the sex scenes I’m writing. That’s just not going to fly. So I thought it would be nice to be writing something that she could also kind of be part of and. So that was part of it.

Part of it was also just straight up fear because I had always loved reading romance. I went through phases of reading horror and sci-fi and fantasy. The Robert Jordan book that you talked about at the beginning, that was one of my favorite books. I read it in high school. And then I read, I think 10 or 11 out of the, I haven’t got all the way to the end I gave up, but, I did make it to about book 10 in that cycle.

So, you know, I I’ve dabbled in all kinds of different areas, but for me, it comes down to the happy ending part where I think there’s a certain power in believing that things can be okay. And that things can have a happy ending. And also just the feeling of reading the books is actually a chemical high.

So there’s that there’s the, the whole, dopamine hit that you get when you read about those fluttery butterfly moments in our relationship and people taking risks, but it turning out okay. It’s the same reason people watch so many hallmark movies at Christmas it’s we need to feel good about things.

And so for me, that’s part of the fun and I mean, why do I set them in small towns? And why is there a bit of magic? I think that’s partly because I come from a small town I have come from and lived more, mostly in smaller places for my formative years, we’ll say, which is the first half of my life.

And the second half has been spent in cities, but still with that feeling of creating communities and that’s something that I’m really passionate about. So I’m sprinkling in the magic and the intrigue is all that, you know, I used to take a lot of criminology courses and was fascinated with, you know, serial killers and strange scientific experiments that go awry and the sort of darkness that’s in people. I find really interesting to see how that comes out into the world. And so combining that with also the lighter kind of magic and, ability of people, usually women, to have a little something extra, whether it’s intuition or psychic stuff, or an ability to influence the elements or use what nature has.

All of those things together it’s basically just my own kind of belief system. And I write it because I need to read it and that’s what I need to keep myself balanced. And so I think it’s selfish as much as generous in that I first write it for me and then I share it with others people who get to come play in my world as well.

So as far as romance goes, that’s why I write that. And I think actually similar with the nonfiction is really, I write that because I figured things out, usually the hard way and the expensive way. And I would love if people don’t have to go through all of that and they can start, you know, we talk about standing on the shoulders of giants and we, if we can start where someone else got to, we can go way further than we could on our own.

So for me that’s why I write the nonfiction is so that I can share what I know. And still have time for my own writing because doing one on one coaching, everybody who wants it does not work. It uses up all of the hours in the day. So that just seemed like a smart way to do that. And I do really enjoy writing nonfiction.

I’ve always loved blogging that I’ve always been a teacher in some capacity or other, so kind of combining all of the things that I love in one place just makes sense. Now, does that line up with what you thought was going to be the case?

Michele: There is a couple of things that, I will say you did not mention, but again, just my 5 cents, if you want it again.

Crystal: Bring it.

Michele: Well, you told me a story once. And I think that along with what you said explaining a bit more of the answer. So you have a, I think a fundamental need, not only to connect with people, but to make sure that your story are remembered after you. So in one of the previous episode you told me and you told the audience that you really would go where thrill of the idea that when you know pass on, like your story would be there after you, and you are thrilled of the idea that your family, but even a circle of bigger people enjoy those.

And there’s something that you said that I think you left out and that I want to bring up because I think it’s important. And you said I would love for other people to even expand that and keeping leaving in these stories, making them alive, because that’s the way I can through your eyes still be alive. And in a way being immortal. And so I think that’s something that is defining you and it’s defining me and it’s something that we really want to achieve in a way or in the other. So, and when I use the word legacy, you want the legacy for your works and well, I just, I just gave you that because I, I think that’s important that other people know.

Maybe you would want to keep a low profile, but it’s something I don’t think anybody should be ashamed of. I think it’s something that defines you. And I think you shouldn’t, you shouldn’t put it on the side, you should just put it in front of us and and we enjoy, we enjoy that. We want your stories to survive you.

Crystal: Yeah, so it is, I think we are creating something that’s going to live on past us. So that is, that is a very cool reason just to tell stories at all, is that it is something that will kind of be out there in the world that takes on a life of its own, which is very cool when the readers step in and own a piece of that world.

It’s a place where we can connect with everybody else. So that is very cool. We would love to hear your answer to the curious jar question, which is: why do you write the kinds of stories that you do? And so you can share that in the comments below this episode, wherever you’re watching, and you can also email it to us at if you like.

Michele: And for show notes and links to resources that we mentioned in this episode and for coupons and discounts on the tool we love, please visit us at

Crystal: Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss out on our next episode. We are going to dig into what not to do when it comes to cover design, which is going to be interesting and you can learn from all of our glorious mistakes that we’ve made.

And we’re also going to share what we have learned, doing it the hard way so that you can stand on our shoulders and do better than we did and right out of the gate getting started. So until then, happy writing and we’ll see you next week.

Michele: We’ll see you later. Bye bye.

Crystal: Bye.