My ALLi author guest this episode is Katlyn Duncan, an author who juggles many roles. She's a mother, a full-time worker, a writer of thrillers and nonfiction advice books for other indie authors. She is also both a traditional and self-published author. How does she keep up with her many roles? I'll let Katlyn Duncan tell her story.
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Inspirational Indie Author Interview: Katlyn Duncan. About the Author
Katlyn Duncan, an award-winning author known for her thrilling works under the name Katlyn L. Duncan, has a diverse background in the publishing industry as a hybrid author and ghostwriter. With over a decade of experience, she's accumulated a wealth of knowledge and loves to share this information with authors on YouTube. Beyond her writing endeavors, Katlyn is dedicated to empowering author moms. Understanding the unique challenges they face while juggling motherhood and a writing career, she has created the “From Chaos to Control Method” course and community. Drawing from her own experiences as a mother and writer, Katlyn shares practical strategies and time-management techniques to help other author parents streamline their daily routines, overcome obstacles, and maximize their creative output. You can find her on the Web and YouTube.
About the Host
Howard Lovy has been a journalist for more than 35 years, and now amplifies the voices of independent author-publishers and works with authors as a developmental editor. Find Howard at howardlovy.com, LinkedIn and Twitter.
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Read the Transcripts — Inspirational Indie Author Interview: Katlyn Duncan
Howard Lovy: My guest this episode is Katlyn Duncan, an author who juggles many roles. She's a mother, a full-time worker, a writer of thrillers and non-fiction advice books for other indie authors.
She is also both a traditional and self-published author. How does she keep up with her many roles? I'll let Katlyn Duncan tell her story.
Katlyn Duncan: My name is Katlyn Duncan. I have been publishing since 2013. I started off traditional publishing with HarperCollins with a digital-first imprint. I did some ghost writing in between, and now I am exclusively self-published, and I write thrillers, psychological thrillers, and books for authors.
So, I've written a book about rights reversion called Take Back Your Book, and also The Successful Hybrid Author, where I chronicle my journey through going from traditional to being a hybrid author.
I grew up in New England in Massachusetts, and reading was always a big part of my life. My mom is a huge reader, she still is. She reads like a book every day or every other day. It's really a lot, and I used to be like that as well. I found that family has gotten in the way and all the things I do, but I definitely still love to read. The storytelling was more, as a child, it was more movies, television, things like that. Whereas starting to write, I never really thought I could be an author. I grew up in one of those families where that really wasn't accepted in a way that they wanted to make sure I made money and had a living, and things like that, and at the time it didn't seem possible.
Howard Lovy: What stimulated Katlyn's imagination when she was a kid were the Twilight books.
Katlyn Duncan: Then Twilight came out, and at the time, with my age, I skipped from Goosebumps books to James Patterson, and we really didn't have that YA genre at the time, so I absolutely gobbled it up, and then all these other YA books came out, and then that sort of got my brain interested in writing again.
I was writing mostly movie scripts when I was a kid and plays, but I really dove in, in that Twilight era.
Howard Lovy: At first, Katlyn followed a career path in science.
Katlyn Duncan: I did go to college. I have a dual degree in forensic science and biology, and a minor in chemistry and criminal justice, that sort of all intertwined.
So, initially, I really liked watching CSI at the time and I really wanted to be a scientist, a detective, possibly, but then I went more toward the science. I got a job right after college at a fertility lab, and I did that for about ten years before I left the workforce.
Howard Lovy: All along, Katlyn was doing some writing on the side, and began to think that maybe she'd like to see her work published.
Katlyn Duncan: So, I finished a manuscript, and I was a big proponent of NaNoWriMo. So, NaNoWriMo, I started in 2009 and then I just did it again in 2010. I didn't really write in between because I found it really encouraging to be within that community, and as I enmeshed myself in that community, I started researching how to get published and still keeping my job, because I heard that you really couldn't make a living off a traditional contract, but I started to get really into the how to of publishing.
Howard Lovy: At first, Katlyn found a traditional publisher.
Katlyn Duncan: So, I went in a non-traditional way through traditional publishing. There was a call for submissions near the end of 2012 for a new digital-first imprint of, this was Harlequin at the time, Carina UK, and I contacted an editor, and they loved the story, they wanted to turn it into a series. So, that's how I got into publishing. I've never had an agent, but that's where I started.
At the time, it was YA, I was very heavily influenced by that sort of era. It was a young adult paranormal.
Howard Lovy: But there came a time when Katlyn wanted to do things her own way. That's when she decided to go the indie route.
Katlyn Duncan: So, with a digital-first imprint, there are certain requirements to have your book outside of just an eBook, and for a long time, most of my books were not in paperback or audio. It wasn't until 2019 that I had my first paperback and audiobook for my women's fiction.
I jumped genres a lot, which I really don't recommend. I'm trying to course correct, but I learned a lot throughout the process.
When 2020 came around, I really had to take a serious look at my life, because things were what they were at the time, and I wasn't quite happy being traditionally published anymore. I was being pushed in a direction I didn't want to go in, and they weren't forcing me to do it, I was writing the books, things like that, but I thought about what I really wanted to write, and going back to my first books, which really have a suspenseful mystery to it, I wanted to write thrillers. I really enjoy them, and I wanted to do it on my own terms for a little bit.
So that book, Her Buried Lives, which came out in 2022, I actually did query it again. I was very interested in getting an agent for that to try to get it traditionally published, but in a different space. So, then I went through the whole process again with trad and trying to get an agent. It was so frustrating, so disheartening, and this was the book of my heart, more than any other books, because I poured so much of myself into it, and trad, at least the agents that I queried, and I queried a lot, probably close to 70 agents, they couldn't see the core of the story I was trying to tell. So, that helped me solidify myself within self-publishing, and right before that I had published, Take Back Your Book, which was my process of rights reversion, and that was my first from start to finish self-published book, and I loved the process.
I loved every bit of it, and I just caught the bug, and I haven't looked back since.
Howard Lovy: Next, Katlyn took on the biggest challenge for self-publishers, finding her audience. She discovered that a lot of her readers can be found in her own local community.
Katlyn Duncan: So, I had a little bit of an audience from my other books, but this one, I did an experiment, which I enjoyed doing with being a self-published author. I positioned it like a trad book. I did market research on covers and what books were selling. I had a big bookstore and library campaign, and I connected a lot with my local bookstore. So, that was very much my outreach for that one, and that's how I built my list.
I have to say, a lot of, at least from my statistics, paperback in thriller books has really done well for me, and I think that has to do with that campaign specifically being very much, boots to the ground, trying to make local connections.
Howard Lovy: When Katlyn isn't working on her fiction, she is writing how-to books for other indie authors, including Take Back Your Book and The Successful Hybrid Author.
Katlyn Duncan: When I was leaving traditional publishing, I knew I wanted to do self-publishing. I looked back at my contracts and saw that the first book, Soul Taken, was available for reversion.
So, I did a little bit of research. There really wasn't a lot out there about rights reversion. It was this backdoor conversation that a lot of trad authors were having, but no one was talking about it. So, I was like, I don't know how to do this.
This book chronicles my process. So, I talk about looking at your contracts, making sure you're within the stipulations of rights reversion, how to ask for rights reversion, some sample ways that you can do that if your book is still within the reversion period or out of it, because some authors do ask for sub-rights back, so this is for the paperback or hardcover.
So, I'd spoke with a lot of authors who had done this process, and I realized it was common, it was very common, is what I'm trying to say and just no one was talking about it. So, I figured why not talk about it? I interviewed, I have a bunch of case studies of successful reversions, and in my book, there was an unsuccessful reversion story. So, I think it's nice to see both points of view.
It's a very niche topic, but the people who have read it, I get emails and DM every week, that say, oh, thank you so much for writing that, I didn't know how to do this, I got my rights back, and now I'm self-publishing. It's so great to feel like we could be authors first, because I know a lot of times with trad publishing, we are not first on the list for a lot of things, it's usually the publisher. So, I like to inspire where I can.
Howard Lovy: Meanwhile, Katlyn still keeps her day job. She says she isn't sure she wants to write full time every day.
Katlyn Duncan: Right now, I do have a day job. So, when I had my daughter in 2015, I was fortunate enough to stay home, and that is where I started ghostwriting, because it was something I could do and something I really enjoyed. I have a full-time job now as a project manager, and I still keep to my early hours in my author business, because right now it's not making that full time income.
So I just have that practical hat on, and I am also the type of person that I don't think I would, I say it now but it could change, go full-time because I like experiencing life outside of writing, and I think if I did it all day, I don't know if I'm the type of person who would still love it at the end of the day. I just, I do it, and then I work my day job.
Howard Lovy: So, how does Katlyn juggle her roles as a mother, author, and worker? She does it like a scientist, creating systems for herself.
Katlyn Duncan: A couple of years ago, through the pandemic and everything, I found myself thinking about things, and that's when I decided to leave traditional publishing. I was so overwhelmed with everything.
Typically, in a family the mother is a primary caregiver, and we have a lot of responsibilities, and we oftentimes don't put our lives first, like our passions and our mental health, our physical health. So, I wanted to reach that part of me.
Typically, with my non-fiction, I look at myself, at different parts of my life, and I speak to her, and I haven't written the book yet for this part, but through my scientific background, being a project manager, and being an author and juggling all of these things, I create systems for myself. I also have ADHD. So, I struggle with executive function and things like that, and I've found that the mothers in my life who are also authors, often come to me and ask, how do you do it all? You look like you're doing all these things!
I broke down how to do that in my, From Chaos to Control Method course. So, basically, we talk about looking at your schedule, time blocking. That tends to be something that works for a lot of people. I've coached people one-on-one as well. So, I think the primary thing is looking at your schedule and understanding what fits, what doesn't, understanding your personal values. So, if you value family, that needs to appear on your schedule. Typically, we just look at things I need to do, but you have to look at your values. So, what do you value? Put those things first on your schedule.
I talk about boundaries a lot, which is something that I had to learn myself, saying no, and then that sort of encompasses your personal values. So, if something doesn't work towards that, then you just say no. So yeah, I'd say time management, boundaries, and your personal values is really the basis of doing that.
Howard Lovy: And that's not the only juggling she does. In Katlyn's book, The Successful Hybrid Author, she discusses how to manage a career as both a traditional and self-published author.
Katlyn Duncan: So, within the scope of The Successful Hybrid Author, it's more about being one foot in traditional and one foot in self-publishing, and it can go many different ways. For me, I was traditional, I still have traditional books out. Now, I'm self-publishing, so I'm a hybrid.
Some people sell their sub-rights, so some indie authors sell their sub-rights for audiobooks or foreign rights. That is being a hybrid author, because you're working with the traditional space along with being a self-published author.
To juggle the two roles, like I said, I fell into that role, leaving traditional publishing and self-publishing, on my own, but authors who are traditionally published, you can go through rights reversion which I talk about in my other book. That's usually the main step for trad authors who want to look at going indie, or they can write outside of the traditional books if they want to self-publish in a different genre.
When it comes to indies or self-publishing authors, like I said, the sub rights, so you can look at different publishing companies who just do audiobooks or special editions, and either get an agent, because some agents will take on sub rights, or you can, look for these opportunities on your own as well.
Or the flip of going from traditional to indie, if you write books that are primarily selling well for traditional publishers, you can always query them as well and try to get a publishing deal through that.
Through the book, I talk about the pros and cons of both, because I didn't want the book to come off as very self-publishing focused. I look at a balance of both.
Traditional publishers, they can give you a lot of opportunities that you might not be able to get on your own. So, I wouldn't say never go for it, but you do have to understand the process, the landscape, and that your control is taken away for a set period of time based on your contract.
Howard Lovy: Katlyn's advice to other authors who try to juggle many roles, keep a schedule.
Katlyn Duncan: The scheduling is key. Like I talk about in the course, the understanding your values and scheduling things out, because as a mom, I have so many things I'm doing full-time, working, being an author, taking care of a home, taking care of a child, and then I have myself. So, that's a lot of things to juggle.
I suppose if I could give one piece of advice, it would be to take care of yourself. Make sure you schedule that time for yourself. Give yourself space to be creative, to think, and that'll definitely go a long way for your mental and physical health, and then the scheduling and values and things come in after that.