Talk Wealth to Me

#016: Earning a Passive Income as a Self-Published Author with MK Williams

August 26, 2019 Felipe Arevalo, Chase Peckham, Katie Utterback, MK Williams Season 1 Episode 16
Talk Wealth to Me
#016: Earning a Passive Income as a Self-Published Author with MK Williams
Show Notes Transcript

Oftentimes, conversations about finances center around ways to slash or cut your budget. But what happens when you can't "cut" any more excess from your budget?

Luckily, there is no limit on how much money you can earn. While side hustles have increased in popularity as a way to add some cushion to the living paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle, not everyone wants to "hustle" to earn a dollar for the rest of their life.

One way to earn a passive income is to write a book and earn royalties each time someone buys your book. But even great writers are doubtful a traditional book publisher will give them the time of day. Enter self-publishing.

How Much Does It Cost to Publish a Book? The cost of publishing a book varies greatly but self-published authors can expect to spend anywhere from $100-$1500 to publish a book based on additional book production costs like editing, cover design, formatting, and more

In the latest episode of the Talk Wealth To Me podcast, self-publishing author MK Williams joins us to share why she turned to self-publishing, tips, and tricks she's learned along the way, as well as just how successful she's been using this passive income method to date!

About our guest:
MK Williams writes suspenseful literary fiction for the contemporary reader. Her first novel, Nailbiters, is an apocalyptic science-fiction thriller that has kept audiences up all night since its debut in 2015. Her latest novel, Enemies of Peace, was featured on several podcasts and continues to garner interest from fans of literary fiction and cautionary tales of the American Dream gone awry.

MK's work in the personal finance space includes co-authoring The Fiology Workbook: Your Guide to Financial Independence and helping other prominent blogs and podcasts in the space bring their message to print. Williams' writing influences include a lifetime of watching suspenseful mysteries and action movies and reading Stephen King, Margaret Atwood, Ian McEwan, Lauren Beukes, and J.K. Rowling.

MK joined Chase, Felipe, and Katie for a discussion on how you can start self-publishing to earn a passive income, as well as some tips and tricks MK's learned about the industry in the last four years.

For more information on MK Williams or to purchase one of her books, visit her website, check out MK's informational YouTube channel, or check out her books on Amazon

Comments, questions or suggestions for the show? Email us at [email protected]

To learn more about DebtWave Credit Counseling, visit our website or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

To learn more about the San Diego Financial Literacy Center, visit our website or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.




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Intro:

Welcome to Talk Wealth to Me, a safe space podcast where we chat about anything and everything related to personal finance.

Felipe Arevalo:

The information contained in this podcast is for educational and entertainment purposes only. It does not constitute as accounting, legal, tax or other professional advice.

Chase Peckham:

Hello and welcome to another edition of Talk Wealth to Me. Today's podcast is really, really interesting and the fact that we have talked about passive income before. However, in this case we are going to be talking to MK Williams. She has an Indiana-born, Philadelphia-raised, Florida transplant working as a novelist and author. She writes her own books and not only this, but she publishes herself and self publishing is becoming a thing. It's becoming a thing that you can bypass the normal way of going about getting signed, getting a three book deal, whatever it might be. In this case, she kind of handles it all and it becomes a, in her case, great source of income. So we sit down with MK and kind of find out what is it that she does and how she got there.

Katie Utterback:

After walking in he was like, oh my God, what are you doing? I was like, it's ok.

MK Williams:

Yeah you always have to close the screen door.

Katie Utterback:

Yeah. No , you don't have to do that here.

Chase Peckham:

You don't have to do that.

Katie Utterback:

It's kind of surreal. Um, but we didn't want to necessarily talk to you only about bugs and screen doors.

Chase Peckham:

and weather.

Katie Utterback:

and weather. I would love to , but um , I really, we really want to talk to you about self publishing for the purpose of earning a passive income because that seems like such a genius idea that you could write something and then for years and years you could be earning an income from it. And this is something that you've done, right, MK?

MK Williams:

correct. So I've been self-publishing for four years now. Um , and I left my full time job back at the end of May. So now I'm a full time author and independent publisher.

Katie Utterback:

Oh Wow. Congratulations.

MK Williams:

Thank you.

Katie Utterback:

So maybe just to start off, you could help us. Um, why did you start self-publishing? Why did you turn to that route? Um, in terms of being an author, why not try to pursue maybe a traditional publishing route? What was it about self publishing that you thought this is going to be the way to go?

MK Williams:

Yeah. Um , well, I've always been a big reader and I always had a dream of writing and when I was in college I took the safe and practical route and picked a major that was supposed to be able to get me a good job. And , uh, then I took creative writing electives so I could still kind of keep that passion for writing going. And I really fell in love with creative writing through those electives. So that was my free time activity. I would just write, other people would go and hang out or try new restaurants or any other number of things and I would just be writing. That was the thing that I love to do. Um, and I did actually pursue the traditional publishing route for my first two books, which will never see the light of day. Um, because they were my first two books. So they are , uh , much more amateur. Um, [inaudible].

Katie Utterback:

is that your decision to?

MK Williams:

Yeah. So looking back now , um, you know, I would say with each book that I write, they get better just because I'm really fine tuning my craft. I'm, I'm honing it. So when I've looked back on this first two books, I'm just like, Ooh, what was I thinking? Um, but you know, that's hindsight for you. Um, but I had tried to go the traditional route. I was reading blogs, I was listening to all the advice that I could of how to pitch agents going through the process, you know, every rejection. I was like, yeah, you know, every great author gets a thousand rejections. So this is great. Like I'm just building up this arsenal. And it was really still feeling empowered to keep going with it. Um, and there was a local author who was giving a presentation at the library near me and she was traditionally published and I thought, oh my gosh, this is my chance. I can talk to somebody and get their advice. And you know, just, even if it's support, you know, they don't have to hand me the name of their agent or email address. I just want to hear from them, like it's worth it. Keep going. That's so great. Um , just for some inspiration and they pretty much shut me down right away. It was really jarring just to feel like, whoa, like, okay. Um, I was hoping just for, oh that's so nice. You know? But they were very, yeah.

Katie Utterback:

Oh, so you're getting like a tight lipped, like I'm not really interested in helping you response?

MK Williams:

Yeah. So that was definitely really shocking to me and that I would say that is what actually turned me off to traditional publishing versus the whole process of querying agents and knowing everything that goes through it. So that, you know, really kind of threw me for a loop. Um , and at that time I had started my third novel, which is the first book that I published and I had a really great conversation with my husband and he kind of helped me realign my priorities and he said, well, are you looking to be traditionally published or you're looking to be published? Are you looking to write cause you love to write or are you looking to write so you can check off suck a list item that says I am validated by a traditional publisher? So it was a really a perfect time to really think about what those goals and objectives were and what I would define success as. Um, it was also around the same time that we found the fire movement. So there were a lot of very heavy conversations we were having about defining our goals, defining what we wanted to do, not just financially but with our lives. So , uh , it was a very good time to be having those conversations.

Katie Utterback:

And just for our listeners who maybe are not as familiar with FIRE, could you explain that a little bit to your , um, I guess your view or your perception of FIRE and how you and your husband try to live by the FIRE rules?

MK Williams:

um , yeah, so fire stands for financial independence, retire early. So we had unknowingly to us been kind of pursuing that route before we found it. We were both very debt averse, frugal people. We got out of debt pretty quickly. Um, I, he had a mortgage where he literally signed on the dotted line the day before the market crash in 2007. Um, so he was underwater for a while , um, but he was very determined to , um , get out of debt and pay off the mortgage. So he paid off a 30 year mortgage very quickly. Um, and I had my student loans and we were focused on paying it off. Um , and then once we found the FIRE movement after we were out of debt, you know, we had built up these very positive spending habits, or I should say lack of spending habits. You know, we focused on experiences over things. We focused on time together. We weren't wanting to just go out and try new restaurants just to try new restaurants. We actually enjoyed cooking at home together. So we had this very frugal lifestyle. And without the goal of getting out of debt, we were kind of at a loss for, well, what's next? And that was when we stumbled upon a different FIRE blogs, early retirement extreme, and Mr money mustache and thought, hey, that could be a great financial goal. Let's try to retire early, let's try to get ourselves out of the workforce earlier so we can do more of the things that we love together. So that's um , what we've been pursuing ever since. And that was a huge factor in my being able to pursue writing full time because we have enough cushion built up, we have enough savings built up that I can take this leap and take this chance to build my own business without fear of the lights going out or bills are not being paid.

Katie Utterback:

You know, we, we've interviewed a couple of people who've had interests kind of like you where they, they wanted to follow their passion instead of sitting at a desk from nine to five and they kind of took this passion project and this side Hustle and made it, they turned it into a full time job. But it sounds like you kind of did the opposite. You guys were financially independent first and that allowed you to kind of venture out and turn this side hustle into your full time job right away?

MK Williams:

Yeah, I would say both were , were concurrent projects. Um, you know, it took us a while to get from, okay , we're out of debt to feeling truly financially independent and it took me awhile to write the books that I have out. So , um , with each successive book I found more success , um, as far as royalties that are coming in, but also building on my audience, honing my craft. And as those books have been coming out, we have been building our , um, nice cushion , uh, through , uh, our fire goal.

Chase Peckham:

And that's interesting that you both kind of, you mentioned that you kind of had the FIRE movement within the two of you before you even knew there was a fire movement out there. So that just comes within that obviously is two people, like minded people coming together in a relationship, and we've talked in many of our other podcasts about the fire movement, but I think this is the first time where it seems like a couple of both very like-minded at the very beginning, at an earlier age that had this focus, which allowed you to then focus on your dreams and actually be , make them be a reality where if you're a little bit later in the game and when you're catching this, you might think twice about doing that.

MK Williams:

Yeah, I would say we both got really lucky. We were set up by a mutual friend, so he must've noticed that we were both declining to go out to the bars and restaurants and he was like, oh, those two , are frugal, they should definitely get together. So I , we got lucky in that regard to be able to find each other early. Um, and you know, and that was truly just the universe bringing us together. Um, but it was definitely a big factor in also reprioritizing how we spend our time. So that's one of the great things that I've found with the fire movement is that there's not just a focus on the financial side, but that it's okay, what are you going to do once you have this free time? And obviously I kind of had a built in goal of what I want to be a writer , um , but it allowed us to really prioritize how we spend our time, not just how we spend our money. So for me , um, I would always think to myself, oh, I could be doing this or it could be writing my book. I could be doing this or I could be writing my book. And the same thing kind of wealth . Any of those financial choices of, well, we could go ahead and, you know, go to dinner out or we could be doing these other things and spending money that maybe don't align with our values, but that's money that's going away from our other goals. Whether it was me being able to take this leap or a saving up for a trip. So we were able to really align both our financial strategy and our goal strategy as far as, is this moving me closer to what I truly want?

Chase Peckham:

That's crazy. And so you two live right now without a mortgage or rent for that matter?

MK Williams:

So we had , um , the house mortgage free for several years and then we moved , um, to be closer to my job and to cut his commute in half. Um, at which point we rented out the house and the rental income that we had paid for our condo that was across the street from where I worked. Um, and then it turns out that when you have an accidental rental , um, some things don't always work out. So within a year , uh , we decided to sell and we invested the profits from the sale. So we are now renting, but we have enough built up that we feel like when we are ready to have him leave the workforce full time, that we'll be able to just purchase a home flat out.

Chase Peckham:

Nice. That's a good way to go about things that you can do it. That's, that's great, it really is.

MK Williams:

Yeah, I will say we are on the far conservative end of the fire spectrum. We have some friends who are telling us you'd need to be doing this more or loosen up or you guys are already there. And we're like, no, we're going for fat FIRE. We're going, we're much more conservative. So

Chase Peckham:

well, I mean, and I think that's probably little bit of personality side too. You don't feel like you're missing out on anything by not going to dinner or going out with friends or doing those things. So that obviously is not within you anyway and you're perfectly fine just hanging out with your husband and doing what you're going to do. So that's, I mean that's within you anyway. So that really is going to help your goals and doing what you want to do. Cause a lot of people naturally are pulled in many different directions because they have, you know, maybe many different interests that unfortunately cost money. So you're lucky in that fact that it sounds like just from talking to you that you're very comfortable with who you are. Your husband's very comfortable with who he is and you're very comfortable together and what you're trying to accomplish. And that's really to be commended.

MK Williams:

Yeah, thank you. It's um, you know, it's not without its moments. I'll, I'll say that, you know, we are very secure in who we are at , you know, to your point. But there are times when you know, a coworker of his says, Hey, like we're all going out for happy hour , do you want to come? And he's like, oh no. And then he thinks, should I have gone, you know, should I loosen up a bit? So there's still those moments I feel like as much as , um , we think that we leave some of that middle school, you're afraid of how people think about you and you just wanna fit in behind 'em I think even as adults, that never really goes away. Thankfully. We've, yeah, thankfully we've found a lot of friends who have the same goals as us, and I think that's really important. I've heard it on so many podcasts. I talk about personal finance is that you are the , the collective of the five people you spend the most time with. And I think that really play plays into it. You know, I just found myself with people who are also creative entrepreneurs, also pursuing fire. And I don't ever feel the pressure to have to spend more money than I want to because we all have the same goals. And that really helps , um, to not be put in those situations where you're constantly having to say, no, no, no, no. Um, so I think that is a benefit as well

Chase Peckham:

so you just have happy hours at , at home with the, with the gang, and you just go to each other's places and do that instead of going to bars and that kind of thing?

MK Williams:

Absolutely. Aldi $3 wine can't beat it .

Felipe Arevalo:

Aldi has a $3 wine?!

MK Williams:

And it's really good! I'm not like a wine connoisseur by any means, but their wine is really great and they actually, cause they're a German brand, they've had like whiskeys that are like award-winning whiskeys and wines that have won awards. Like it is good quality wine. It's just inexpensive.

Felipe Arevalo:

We're new to all the out here in southern California.

MK Williams:

Oh, get on it.

Chase Peckham:

I think so new that I've never heard of it.

Felipe Arevalo:

Oh yeah, you're missing out cheese. It's good . I go there all the time, but I haven't ventured into the wine section. I mean the $3 wine might , I mean I got to go check it out.

MK Williams:

Yes. I would highly recommend that

Chase Peckham:

beyond Aldi, and I'm going to , as soon as we leave this podcast, I'm going to go find out what that is.

Katie Utterback:

Go see if there's a wine sale?

Chase Peckham:

Yeah. I'm going to go figure out what I'm missing. Two Buck Chuck I've heard of. I got that. All right . But kind of take us in because we've talked with bloggers, we know, you know, we, we blog for our , our websites and those kinds of things and a lot of people have done side hustle and that kind of thing. But the idea of you kinda writing novels , um, which can be very time consuming. Um, Kinda give us the , the lowdown on how did you start making money at, after your, obviously after your first published venture. Um, how does it , how do you go about doing that and what kind of, I think the right word I'm looking for is motivation. Did you have behind it?

MK Williams:

Well I will say it was definitely a labor of love for the first three bucks. Um, you know, I was writing because that was my dream. That was my goal. Um, and I also made sure I was trying to grow in my craft with each book. Um, I will say the first book did, you know , barely made anything. Um, it was truly a labor of love, but now that it's been around for several years, I still do get residual sales from it. Um, and just really seeing with each subsequent book that I released, the royalties that I earned would go up. Um, and so that was something where I could see the positive trend, the positive , um, momentum that I was getting. And also just realizing, you know, if I had expected, okay, the first book is released and I'm going to make all this money and walk out the door, well A, I probably wouldn't have written the book that I wrote. I would have written something that was much more focused on just high sales, high sales, high sales. Um , and I think there's something to be said for that. There are a lot of people out there who have made a lot of money on Amazon by saying, I have found a very niche keyword. I have optimized everything. I , um, have gamed the referrals. I, you know, all , all those things , um, to be able to make a lot of money with it. Um , because I had the desire in my soul to be an author and I knew I wanted to be in this for the long run. Um, I knew I wanted to focus on writing the books that I wanted to write. And I think really sticking to that quality now, I also had the benefit of doing that. I didn't have all this extra debt over my shoulders where I thought, okay, I need to make money to pay this off. Um , so being able to pay that off early helped me to make the decision that , um , was true to my craft. Um, but as I was able to continue to publish, I did have other people approach me and ask me to help them get their books released, to give them advice on what they should do , um, to help them write something because they were busy doing other ventures. So I was able to parlay my writing novels into helping other people , um , in the FI space and personal finance based to get their books out as well. Um, and that's where I realized, okay, so right now the novels are, you know, the main thing that's making me money, but if I can help others and they found value in it and they're willing to pay me a consulting fee. Okay, well that's great because I'm still talking about what I want to do and that means I may be able to leave my day job so I can focus on writing and helping others publish their books. So that was how I realized I had a business on my hands and not just a hobby. Um , and obviously as more books have been released, I've seen those , uh, royalties continued to grow and I will have another book coming out shortly. So that's just going to continue to help with that. Upward progression.

Chase Peckham:

Self-Publishing , walk us through it. I mean, how do you do it? How do you even run into it? Cause I wouldn't even have thought. I mean, it makes sense because of the, of the Internet and the landscape we live in, but yet you still think of being published as going about having a publisher, like you mentioned early on in this interview. How did you find this? So we'll go about it. Sorry. Yeah,

MK Williams:

so it was a lot of reading blogs. Um, I don't know why I wasn't turned on to podcasts earlier. Um, in my self publishing journey, it would've saved me a lot of time reading cause I could have just listened. Um, but I did a lot of research. I would constantly just say, okay, I finished my book, how do I format it? What's the best platform? And just literally starting by asking questions to Google and allowing the Internet to tell me , uh, what the consensus was. Um, so there are a lot of steps with it. The first step I would say to anybody listening who's like, yes, my dream is to write a book, write your book. Um, so the hardest part is getting the book written. And there are so many people that I talk to who say, I really want to write a book. And I would say maybe one in 10 have actually started it . So , um, I would say first get that part done. The second is trying to figure out what your goals are. Again, there are people out there who , um , are constantly turning out new books to go on Kindle's unlimited platform. They make a lot of money with that. And the way you go about publishing that book is very different than if you want, wide distribution - I want to go into Barnes and noble and see my book on the bookshelf. Um, and so it's really understanding for you as the author, what is the experience that you want? What is the , um, purpose, you know, if you're writing a book because you're a professional speaker and you want to be able to have another way for people to interact with you and you want to sell them when you're speaking, that's a very different trajectory versus somebody who's like, I want to write a 10 books SCI-FI series and one day hopefully it'll be made a film. Um, I can help with that second part cause I haven't even done that, but it's a very different landscape. So there's a lot of information out there. Um, and I've tried to synthesize it as best as I can. Um, I have a youtube channel where I give like three to five minutes of just one little topic, one little piece of information for authors because it is a lot when you are self publishing. Um, and Joanna Penn who has the creative Penn podcast, she is kind of the queen of all things self-publishing . She's amazing. But she talks about, she's like, I am my author and I am my publisher. And she's like, I will have meetings with myself to plan and say as my publisher, am I happy with my performance? Um , and researching things and understanding the industry trends. So I would say it's, I definitely have the, both the right brain and the left brain going and I enjoy that. So there's authors out there who might say, nope, I am creative brain. I don't want to deal with the logistics, in which case hiring somebody to perform author services for you to self publish for going the traditional route is probably gonna work best for you. But if you're like me and you want to dig into the details and understand how the cogs are turning in the backend , you may actually enjoy the self publishing process. Um, it's not without its moments, but , uh , now that I've done it several times, I do feel that the, the wheels are coming together in terms of who to publish with, the timelines, marketing, all those elements.

Chase Peckham:

So are we talking hardback books here or are we talking actual hold in your hands and turn the pages or is this all digital?

MK Williams:

Yup. So I have books out in both digital and paperback formats. My next book I'm going to release with a hard back as well. Um, they are more expensive to produce and they provide the least margin. Um, so I was a little hesitant to add that to my catalog, but the people want it, so that's what we can give them. Um, my first few books , um , when I released some were digital only and that was kind of me , uh , saying, well, it's least expensive and I wouldn't want to buy a more expensive books. So I'll just give people this option and it's better for the trees. And what I learned is that people don't like trees. They want paperback books, give them paperback books. Um , and not surprisingly, the paperback format is my best seller versus an audio or ebook because people don't like trees.

Felipe Arevalo:

It's funny as a reader and someone who has way too many books , um, or used to have time to read, I don't read that much these days. But there is something about holding the paper back, holding the paper and flipping the pages as opposed to the digital. And I, I like to say that I like trees, but you're right, it's so much easier for me to spend the money on a physical copy of a book as it is to buy a digital. I have the same issue with like CDs and music. Yeah. Kind of the opposite.

Chase Peckham:

Now you're getting yourself into the stone age books. I understand CD not too much.

Katie Utterback:

I do remember I took environmental psychology in college and they said that actually printing books is actually better for the environment because it reserves , um, land areas where it's dedicated to growing trees. Additionally , um , powering up servers, it probably to read e-books actually causes a lot of pollution in the ozone here . It's actually not so bad for the trees.

MK WIlliams:

Well good to know. I feel slightly better.

Chase Peckham:

They're replanting, I mean, we need trees for oxygen, right? Yeah . Need it. So you're really going, this is a multilayered process and , and, and I'm trying not to get way ahead of myself, but when you're self publishing, do you, how do you go about the editing process? Um, if you're your own, you're your own author. Um, my father has done this. He wrote his own book. It's a big picture book and, and it's, it's basically a coffee table book. But , um, it was a long time in doing it and obviously he was a complete novice and doesn't understand computers or anything like that, so he needed help. So this fascinates me in that, you know, he , he had a hard time being edited. Um, so how did you go about that process and do you have an editor or a series of editors that will help you streamline the book?

MK Williams:

Yes. So editing is , um, definitely the most difficult part because that's the first time you like, you've, you've crafted this book baby , and now you're letting somebody else hold it and you're like, don't drop it. Um, so I do have an editor, I've had the same editor for my first three books. She's helping me again with my forthcoming novel and I have added on additional editors , um, just because I do want that second look. Um, I do my best to self edit before I send anything to her. And that's just because I want her attention on the big picture things. Um , if I have a thousand mistakes or , or grammatical errors or anything that's off in the book , um, and she can catch 90%, well that's still leaves a hundred mistakes. Um, but if I can get through and make it maybe only 500 mistakes in there by self editing, then I make that a bit easier for her. So it's really taking the time to go through, read it through, read it out loud , uh, go through the editor's comments. Um, and now that I have an additional editor on board, they're even catching things as well. So , uh , I have built that team over time. I would say to anybody who's looking to get started who , um, is thinking this could be a passion project. This could be a side hustle for me. Um, there are inexpensive editors out there. You do not have to be dropping, you know, " g's" on this , um, to be able to get this done. And it is okay if for the first round, if you are self editing , um, I know a lot of people say no, it has to be professionally edited. I absolutely agree. I have an editor, but I also know that some people have those financial constraints that until they see a profit, they can't reinvest that. So there are editors out there, both developmental and proofreaders that people can hire. Um, and they definitely help with the process. I was very timid about being edited and then I found, nope , you know what? I want to hear it from this person that I trust and not from some mean person online. So, and that is one thing that I continue to reiterate to my editors is that I'd rather have their kind voice in private telling me, hey, this needs fixed. Hey, I keep seeing the same thing popping up versus having Joe123 on an Amazon review say, this stinks. Um , so that's been very beneficial to have that, a nice guidance and as I've helped other people publish and I've been on the other side of the editing phase, I think that's also helped to inform me , um, to be better as an author who's receiving those edits.

Katie Utterback:

Can you share too, where did you find your editing team and then , um , in terms of pricing, can you share maybe an estimate or how much you spent on having an editor look at one of your previous books or maybe the book that you're working on publishing later this year?

MK Williams:

So editors I have found through referrals. Um, so friend of a friend knows that I'm interested in writing. They also have an author friend. Here's a great recommendation for an editor. Um, you can go online and just search for people. I felt more comfortable going with somebody that I could talk to, chat with quickly. Okay. Get a good feel for them. Um, and when working with other parties to publish , help them publish their books , um, we use the same process. I would say anybody looking for an editor look in your genre. It's not gonna do you any good. If you're looking to write a book on personal finance and your editor has experience in romance novels, it's not gonna transfer as well. They can still catch things, but , um , if that's not their area of expertise , um, so publish, so when I've been publishing editors usually charge by the word , um, and sometimes that parlays into an hourly rate. They know they can get through so many words per hour, or it truly is by the word. Um, it really varies. Um, I worked on one book where we spent at least $3,000 on editing. Um, but this is a very professional book that's going to be coming out that I'm helping this larger organization get out versus what I would spend on my own. So it really depends. So I hate to put, you know , uh , a sticker item out there, but it depends. It also depends on the type of editing. So a developmental editor who's looking at the bigger picture, you want to be spending a bit more with them. Whereas a proofreader who is going line by line looking for grammatical errors, spelling errors , um, you tend to pay them a bit less.

Felipe Arevalo:

Interesting that there's two kinds of editors. I would probably need both but trust me, Katie and chase has seen my writing. Um, but do you have editors? I know you mentioned that it changes by genre. Is there a specific editors? Pretty much for every genre. Like for example, in kids' books, someone writes a Kid's book, there's a Kid's book editor?

Chase Peckham:

my wife Edits Kid Books.

Felipe Arevalo:

Oh yeah.

MK Williams:

Oh there you go.

Felipe Arevalo:

I'm going to shoot her an email.

Katie Utterback:

You found one.

Felipe Arevalo:

I found one. Yes.

Chase Peckham:

Yeah. That's funny. That's , it's interesting cause she does, she charges by the word which does turn into an hourly rate cause she knows pretty much exactly what she can do it in. Um, which brings me to overhead. I mean you, you, you're self publishing. What is, if you're a first time person in your , you're going to do a book, what would your typical overhead be to even before you ever get a royalty?

MK Williams:

So it really depends again on the editing process, how you decide to go with that. Also, how, what the purpose is. So there are platforms out there that say, Hey , uh , publish with us. There's absolutely no cost to put your book out and we'll give you an ISBN. So everything's free. And the ISBN is the identification number. It's like the social security number for your book. So that is , um, the number that's used to look it up on any website, retail libraries, anything that goes by ISBN number. So some of these platforms say, Hey, we'll give you a free ISBN and you think, awesome, my first book, I don't have to pay any money. But what that means is that that platform is the publisher of record. So you're doing all this work to self publish and turns out you're not even the publisher of record. So , um, there is a startup cost for buying ISBNs. Um, thankfully I have had several friends who are amazing at graphic design and they helped me with covers for the nice friend rate. Um, so I save some money there and then the editor . So, you know, it really depends on how much you're investing in it , um, to see how much you get back. And that's also going to inform your pricing. You know, if you go and spend a couple thousand dollars between design and editing and ISBNs before you even launch the book, you might be looking to charge a bit more so you can start to recoup that money faster. Versus somebody who is saying, you know what, I just want to get a proof of concept out there. I just want to have a book to validate, you know, this other work that I'm doing. Um , to get that out there and maybe you charge a lower amount because you didn't invest as much in it. So it does vary. Um, I feel like I keep saying, but it really does. There's a whole gamut of , um, options out there for people.

Chase Peckham:

Makes total sense. And I know that it's a , I am very intrigued, but , um, what , what kind of novels are you writing?

MK Williams:

Um, so I have written a Sci-Fi and suspense novels. Um, so I am just a big nerd and I really enjoy, I've always enjoyed reading , uh, thrillers and suspense. Um , so I enjoy writing them as well. Um, but I've have been able to combine my passion for personal finance and for helping others by helping people in that space get their own books out as well. So I've accumulated all this publishing knowledge and now I'm helping people to get that message out. So I do feel like , um , I'm starting to branch into nonfiction in that regard. Um, but the books that I write , uh , with just my name on it are Sci-Fi thriller.

Chase Peckham:

Sci-Fi thriller . So in the blade runner type genre?

MK Williams:

um, maybe not. Um, well, my first book would be a heavy sigh like that. The, my forthcoming book would be more light adventure Sci-Fi so yeah,

Chase Peckham:

I guess I'm not nerd enough. I don't know what light Sci-Fi so is I, if I can sit like star wars, like or aliens coming to earth type stuff.

MK Williams:

So Sci-Fi is really anything that is science-based fiction. Um, so for my first book, yes it was about aliens. My upcoming book is going to be about the multiverse. So anything that runs the gamut , um, I like to think about Michael Creighton . So you know, he had all these different books that had a base and then he turned them into an adventure. So a , you can kind of see from all the work that he's done, the wide array , um, that you can get in the science fiction spectrum.

Chase Peckham:

Okay, that makes sense. When you said Michael Creighton then that I kind of opened it up for me. So it , it can be reality based through this, through the lens of science.

MK Williams:

absolutely.

Chase Peckham:

So I guess, how long have you been doing it and what if you don't without a huge number, but this is a financial literacy podcast. What are we talking? Did you replace what your regular income was at this point now?

MK Williams:

So I've been publishing books for four years and I have not fully replaced my full time income with my writing. Um, and that's something where by adding on the consulting, I'm able to , um, compensate for that. I did have a very , um, I was very fortunate to have a high paying job in marketing. So I also knew that by setting the expectation of I have to completely replace my full time income with my books, that was going to be very difficult to do because again, I was fortunate to have those golden handcuffs , uh, so to speak. So I am projecting to be able to meet that though in the next two years. So by having, you know, that FI cushion by being really smart with my money , um, earlier on, that's allowing me to kind of get this gap for two years. I'm , I'm in the dip as Seth Godin would say. Um, and then working my way back up.

Chase Peckham:

And so you're, you're really being able to do this without the stress involved in having to try to catch up to the, to the paycheck.

MK Williams:

Yeah. And I would say , um, you know, I d I still feel that stress. I'm a very type a person. I want that validation of the money that I'm bringing in. But to a certain extent, yes, I, the stress has been taken away a bit or we've been able to mitigate the stress because we know that we have built our, our moneymaking engine , um, as far as our other passive investments that we can take the time to really build this up and do it , um, do it the way that we've dreamed of doing it.

Felipe Arevalo:

So when I hear self publishing, I automatically think Amazon. Um, is there an alternative? Is there many other ways to self publish or is that Kinda the dominant player in the game?

MK Williams:

Technically, yes, there are other platforms to self publish on. Um, so Amazon is definitely the king in the space. Um , most people go to Amazon to buy their books or audible. Um , they have cornered the market so to speak, but there are still brick and mortar retailers and other online retailers for books. Um, and so it's almost a double edged sword. So the more people who go to Amazon for books, the more authors know they have to be on Amazon. Um, and it kind of feeds the big engine of , of Amazon. So Amazon has been great to work with. Um, I have branched out to be able to get my books into other countries into other formats , um, and there, there are other platforms out there that will put your book on Amazon as well as on other websites. Um, so my books are all available on Barnes and nobles website. You can go to I books and get my books. So , um , that was again the choice that I made. Wanting to have a wide distribution for my books versus a hundred percent Amazon. I know people who are doing well with just Amazon. Um , but because the bulk of my business is books, if something ever happens to Amazon, I want to still be able to have a presence in the space. Whereas the people that I know are doing well with just Amazon, that is one leg of a multi-tiered business.

Chase Peckham:

I'm impressed with how much knowledge you have in such a short time of doing this four years is not really that long.

MK Williams:

It's not, and I'm still learning. There's still so much that I need to learn, but , um , I have found a much more supportive group with , uh , within self publishing. So going back to that initial interaction that I mentioned with that traditionally published author who is very closed off and not willing to just talk and, you know, share any ideas or encouragement. I have found that the self publishing community is very , um, supportive. Um, when people have questions, you know, everybody's willing to give their advice of like, no, don't do this. Oh, well, yeah, maybe that could work. So I think that has helped me to grow. And then I'm hoping to now turn around and share that knowledge with other people who are thinking that they want to self publish.

Chase Peckham:

So in this world , uh , is it kind of like musicians who, and I, and I think more , um, you know, the, the Seattle-based bands who were in this movement, they did things themselves and then a few of them became famous and they , they, they got, you know, wide distribution and they got called sellouts. And the reason I bring this up is I wonder if as you go on and let's say your books start to get a very big following and you have one of the big publishers come in and say, look, we'd like to give you a three book deal. Do you do that or do you just say, you know what, I'm going to keep on with what I'm doing.

MK Williams:

Yeah. I, I don't know. Um , you know, I don't wanna put anything out into the universe because never say never. Um, that would be an exciting opportunity to have. But um, I think there, there's a little bit of a, yeah, you know, you have your indie street cred . Um, but I feel like in music and in movies, indies have more street cred than in books still. I mean self publishing is like you said, it's the same thing. It's being an indie author. Um, but it's still in some ways looked down on , um, which gives me a bit of a chip on my shoulder. It makes me want to do better and work harder. And prove to people like, no , this is , these are still good books, these are great. Um, but I think, you know, if that opportunity came along I'd welcome it. It'd be another learning opportunity. Um , and I think there are some people out there who self published and then they want to go traditional. The publishing landscape is really changing. When I first started looking into self publishing, every place that I queried , um, for a trip as a traditional , um, for agents to be traditionally published site . If you've been self published, we don't even want to talk to you. Um, so it was very closed off. Whereas now you're seeing people who were traditional and then they went self published and some people who were self publishing went traditional. Um, so it's, it's an interesting time to be in this arena , um , and see what's happening. As it evolves. Um, yeah,

Chase Peckham:

you would have to , because talent is talent, you know, it doesn't make any sense to me that they would be closed off to any ideas like that. I mean, I think it's Kinda like the idea of musicians that have went the way of , uh , American idol and it was so frowned upon. And how dare you well carrie Underwood in a few of those other ones have blown the roof off that , um, talented talent, however you get noticed and get found. And if you can do it on your own and handle your own creativity, why not?

MK Williams:

Yeah. And I think I had some, you know, angst for a while wearing that. Okay, well what if I write this kind of book and people think that I am selling out, I'm just trying to make money off of it and then I realized nobody cares. So I think that has helped me to kind of get over some of my concerns about, well, what if I do this? Um, you know, I realize I , I ha it's my art. I have to be happy with it. At the end of the day. And that's really , um, that's really what it comes down to.

Felipe Arevalo:

So now that you've self published a few books , um, is there continual marketing for these books or do you just kind of put it out there, publish it and just kind of let it go?

MK Williams:

So I did always have a strong marketing plan for the launch of each of my books and now that I can focus my day on it, I will plan to do more marketing for the existing books. Um , before when I was working 40 to 60 even more hours a week plus the writing, it really just came down to I'm going to write the next book. I will market when I can. Um, so now that I have more time to dedicate to it, I do continue to market. But there's one saying that a lot of self published authors and even traditionally published authors will continue to say, and the biggest thing that sells more books is more books. Um, as you continue to publish more , um , people see, hey, this person has six books out. Oh, they have seven books out. Okay. They're legit. Um, so that seems to be one of the biggest trends in generating more book sales is to continue to write more books. So that is where I focus the majority of my time.

Felipe Arevalo:

And that's true because even for some bigger name authors, I'm thinking it's not like their first book that's a hit it , for example, let's throw out Dan Brown out there with the Davinci code, that wasn't his first book. He had several books, one of that series. And then I believe two others in a previous unrelated series. Um, the , I think of no one's ever, no one's ever heard of. I know, but the book was popular for them to start the movie. Yeah . And then I've actually read the books prior to only because everyone was talking about the movie. So I see how what sells books is more books like, yeah . It's very real.

Chase Peckham:

Yep . So through all this , um, your husband , uh , in your relationship, you guys are, I mean, you're both obviously on the, the same goals, the same plan , um, and he's very supportive and you know, that's very difficult with a lot of relationships, especially when it comes to finances. Um, did you guys discuss your passions both, you know, on creatively and financially before you got married and , and did you kind of have a good idea of where you guys wanted to go?

MK Williams:

Absolutely. And again, I think it was lucky that we were paired up, that we were both so frugal. We were just talking about our finances , uh , with some of the first few dates. Um, and I think one of the, one of the first conversations we had on our first date, I said, Oh, I've written a novel. Um, and he was like, OK , like , um, you know, I was in a book about soccer. So he definitely was able to come back. And I think that's one of the things that I really appreciate about him was that he was able to be supportive of my dreams. He didn't just dismiss it. Um, and I think in terms of finances, we realized pretty quickly that we had similar goals is, was paying off the mortgage. He was getting out of debt and we said, you know what? It's more important for us to do this then , uh , to keep going out or to do these other things. So I think we were very lucky that we were in the right mindset to be able to have those conversations early. Um , and that we were set up by somebody who saw that we had a similar mindset. So , um, yeah, we definitely have had these conversations and we've continued to have these conversations as our , um, as we've evolved together, we've been together for almost nine years now. So , uh , just having those conversations early isn't enough. It's continued to have these as , um, different opportunities come up as we continue to hit different markers on our goals. Um, so we are, we're always in communication

Chase Peckham:

Absolutely key. It's been a pleasure , uh , speaking with you today. And if people want to take a look at your books, where can they find them?

MK Williams:

Um , so they can find me on Amazon. Uh, any where great books are sold under MK Williams or you can just go to 1MKwilliams.com and all my books are listed there

Katie Utterback:

and we'll put all that in our show notes page too. And then MK Williams is the number one not spelled that one right? Correct. Yeah.

Chase Peckham:

Thank you so much. It's really been, it's been eye opening . You , you're the first person we've talked to , uh , who , who hWas taken this route, like literally written books. And I think that's a , that's impressive.

MK Williams:

Well thank you. It was really fun to talk to you guys. And it's interesting. I always feel like me, I don't know that much, but then once I start to talk to people about it I realize, oh, when you talk to people who aren't a book nerd, like you are like, okay. So , um, it's interesting. Um, but I had a lot of fun and you guys will all be at fin con, right?

Katie Utterback:

I will be.

Felipe Arevalo:

Katie will.

Katie Utterback:

I will.

MK Williams:

Okay.

Chase Peckham:

Did you, Do you do um , voiceovers for audio books for your book?

MK Williams:

Um, I am actually working on doing a voice over for my first book. So my, my second and my third book, I released audio books. I again, was very lucky to have talented friends who are , um, she was an actor and uh , the theme parks down here in Florida. So beautiful voice, beautiful projection. And she was like, I want to get into doing audio books. Can I narrate your book? And I was like, yeah. Um, so I got very lucky for those. Um, so pro tip have friends who are actors. Um, but I'm actually recording my first book as an audio book to a get the experience B. Um , provide some knowledge on my youtube channel. Um, continued to provide , uh , income as audio books take over the market. So it Kinda hits all the different checklist points there.

Chase Peckham:

That's fantastic. Well, good luck to you and uh, yeah , I can't wait to read your first book or to me, whichever book that would be. And now a little follow up with myself. Phil and Katie.

Katie Utterback:

they say that in order to have a truly happy life, your job should be your passion.

Chase Peckham:

Yeah. If we could all do that. I mean that's the hard part, right? There's a lot of jobs out there that I can imagine that people are doing that I don't think they grew up saying I want to do that.

Katie Utterback:

No, maybe they did . I don't know. But I appreciate her breaking down the journey that she's been on. Cause I think becoming an author is something that a lot of people maybe are interested in.

Chase Peckham:

because it's romantic.

Katie Utterback:

It is !

Felipe Arevalo:

there's the allure to it. Like, Ooh , what are you , I'm a writer. Um , and it's like, wow, that's cool. Um, yeah , it's it , I found it interesting that at first she kind of didn't get that support from people who are already writers and then she, that's what Kinda led her to kind of do her own thing.

Katie Utterback:

Yeah. I liked that she said the hardest part was getting the book written because that's something that I think when it comes to a lot of side hustles or like a lot of just accomplishing your goals, it's the doing it that like.

Felipe Arevalo:

actually getting into the process and completing it,

Katie Utterback:

getting into the nitty gritty and like pushing yourself. Cause especially when it comes to a side hustle, I don't think that there's really going to be a lot of people motivating you other than you.

Chase Peckham:

Yeah. Yeah. And she's lucky she has a spouse at a young age that, that they feel supported and so supportive. Cause I think that's really, really important in the fact that, you know, when life comes together, there's lots of decisions that have to be made based on what people want. And when you're coming from two separate places, you have had these ideas of what your life's going to be. You know, growing up and now you're pulling two lives together and they have to come up with this quote unquote a one life, which isn't totally totally right. You're still gonna be independent people. But when you're in one house and you're wanting to build a life together, there's compromise and figuring out where it is you want to go.

Katie Utterback:

Right. You're a part of a team now.

Chase Peckham:

Yeah. Right. 100%. So it typically the , um, the female counterpart just kind of says, this is where we're going and we just follow along. Right. Felipe?

Felipe Arevalo:

It's a winning strategy. Just kidding.

Katie Utterback:

It's not the strategy at my house that's why I'm kind of bummed on some level.

Chase Peckham:

Yeah. I mean it's , it's , I think that you're right, the romanticism of going into being an author, you can quickly be shot down if you were waiting for that three book deal like she talked about,

Katie Utterback:

you can shoot yourself down before you even get there though. I think that's , yeah , that's true. You know what I mean ? I think that that's, I think the most charming part of what she saying in that, you know, publishing one book yourself is maybe not gonna give you all of these New York Times bestseller awards and accolades and you're not necessarily going to be taking in like, I dunno, three comma checks or something, but it's a start and it will help you realize what you want to do. And like she's saying, she's taking different routes with writing different types of books. She hasn't, you know, put herself in a box. And I think that that's something that a lot of people could apply to their own lives. You can try different things and it doesn't, if you're not successful right away, that's okay.

Chase Peckham:

Trial and error. Yeah. Right. In anything you do.

Felipe Arevalo:

Yeah. You might find that you're better at a genre that you didn't even think you were good at and, or that's where your , you know, where your a hit and.

Chase Peckham:

right popularity. Yeah. Right. No , that's very, and then be able to stay with it because you really have to love it just to go there. I mean, she left a career , uh, in Marketing, right? Which from all accounts she was making a pretty decent living at it. So to leave that, to do what she really, really loves just says a lot about , um, one what's important to her two, let's not forget that the whole fire is coming back into play here. Right? Cause that's what she , you know, they are living that life, financial independence, retire early.

Katie Utterback:

You're right. So it does, it goes full circle. Back to our first podcast, there was a plan, there was a budget.

Chase Peckham:

Exactly. And I think we're seeing a theme over and over again in all the different podcasts that we have that what is the focal point that we're talking about, right? We're talking about making good financial decisions, different ways get there. But one thing is just figuring out how we want to live our lives independently, both for our families on our own and how many of those choices, how many different choices come into play. And MK is a very good example of somebody that saw what she wanted, tried it, kept working at it, getting her book out. Self-Publishing . Yeah. Didn't let that go. Didn't let the common thoughts, the fears get in her way. She had a very supportive spouse that said, you can do this. You want to do this for a living, why don't you [inaudible] it's really, really great to see that somebody can do that and be successful and there's probably going to be, she's going to be more success in her life. She might run into some struggles just like we all do in life, but persevere and keep going forward one step at a time.

Felipe Arevalo:

So have you guys started writing your books?

Chase Peckham:

I have no interest in writing.

Katie Utterback:

I Actually have.

Felipe Arevalo:

Yes. Good Job Katie.

Chase Peckham:

That's great. You're a good writer.

Katie Utterback:

Thank you.

Chase Peckham:

That's what you know, that's what my wife talks about all the time. She has her , her blog and, and her company that she would like to take to a different level. Um, and now I'm excited about that cause I really don't have an interest in writing a book or doing something like that. But I can see where my skills can really help her in what she wants to accomplish. So now it turns into a her baby that turns into a we project and now we're calling in that . And not only that, it fulfills me, it gets her company where she wants it to go. What really inspires her. And now we as a team who benefits from it. Well my family. So that in a nutshell is just kind of gives you excitement and a place to go.

Katie Utterback:

It does.

Chase Peckham:

Yeah. I think that's fun.

Felipe Arevalo:

I can't wait to read Katie's book,

Chase Peckham:

me either, we're going to interview you when this thing comes up for the first time.

Katie Utterback:

I hope so. I hope I can get on this podcast.

Chase Peckham:

You'll get on, I'm sure. I'm sure one of the , one of many you'll be able to get onto. But um , bottom line, MK Williams, you can find her stuff at amazon.com uh, enemies of peace and we'll put a link to nail biters. She's got a lot of, it's really kind of impressive. But again, yeah , Amazon, she has that fiology workbook too, and which was at the top of the list, by the way, right here. So go to Amazon, you can find MK Williams and read away [inaudible] .