Kevin Elliott: Finding the Focus to Self-Publish
At Freedom, we love our users – not just because they use our product, but because they’re cool – cool people working on cool stuff. Academy Award-nominated screenwriters, bestselling authors, editors, journalists, developers, illustrators, designers, academic researchers, explorers, and entrepreneurs – the Freedom community is packed with curious, creative, and efficient go-getters. We love to share their stories and advice, because how better to learn about productivity than from the productive?
Meet Kevin Elliott.
Kevin Elliott is an author and founder of the publishing company, Urban Lifestyle Press. He penned his first novel, Entangled, in 2003 and has since published thirty titles of his own and two more on behalf of authors signed to Urban Lifestyle Press. For one book, The Ski Mask Way, Elliott was selected to co-author with hip-hop superstar 50 Cent.
Throughout his career, he has continued to look for innovative ways to push his books to his fans while keeping down his overhead. Not wanting to keep what he learned to himself, Elliott did two things. First, in 2010 he forged his vision of low-cost publishing from his website kelliottonline.com an eBookstore to mirror a traditional bookstore – except without a publisher’s printing costs.
Second, Elliott created the Well-Fed Black Writer, a blog for authors to find life-hacking tips for more efficient, effective self-publishing. The Well-Fed Black Writer includes podcasts, video and blog posts, all aiming to help aspiring authors turn their manuscripts into publishing success stories.
With all of this experience under his belt, we decided to sit down with Kevin this week and learn a little more about how he finds the focus to do it all.
How did you know that you wanted to be an author and what were your first steps in making this your career?
I’d always loved writing and reading and I knew I would be writing in some capacity, but it wasn’t until I enrolled into community college, that I decided to pursue writing after a professor encouraged me. I think he meant journalism, but I have always loved fiction.
At what point did you realize that tech was taking a toll on your productivity, time, and relationships?
I’ve always had a problem with attention. I have ADD. Not ADHD but ADD, so I’m not hyper. But my mind always wonders, constantly trying to find the next shinier object. I don’t know why, but that’s the way I’ve always been. I’m a person that likes to search for things and I go down the rabbit hole very easily and as a result I would waste a lot of time. I knew I couldn’t be productive enough to be successful like this, so I looked for solutions like Freedom.
How do you prioritize what gets your time and attention each day?
My to-do list is very simple. I write down everything I want to accomplish during the week on Sunday and try to accomplish 4 things a day – that’s it. Writing is always one of them. I also workout most days. I don’t have children and I’m unmarried so I don’t have to set aside time for family, although I do run my father to his doctor’s appointments. But my to-do list always includes writing. I usually workout at 6am then I write from 8 am to 12 pm and if its really going well I might stop at 2 pm but no later than 2 pm.
How do you stay focused and motivated on a daily basis? Do you have a routine, ritual, or process that helps to get into a productive flow?
No real routine except gym at 6 am and then I’m at my desk by 8 am. My motivation wanes. There are a lot of days I don’t feel like doing anything but once I’m at my desk I’m good. But my only morning ritual is I start with a cup of coffee.
How do you optimize your environment for productivity and focus? How do you incorporate Freedom into your schedule?
I first block my time off with Freedom for 4 hours. I use something I learned about a few years ago called the Pomodoro Method and it is just a method where you are productive for 25 minutes then you get a five minute break. I use Alexa as a timer.
What is the most difficult/challenging aspect about your work or working process?
The biggest challenge I face is with my cell-phone. I have to fight the urge to check it or check Instagram. I’m going to have to kick this habit somehow. But I’m so proud that I can go 4-6 hours with my phone off. That was hard to do in the beginning. My goal is to have a dumb phone in a year.
What resources or tools do you use daily and have found most beneficial to your working process?
Freedom is my number one tool and just uninstalling my apps when I really need to accomplish something. I do meditate but only once a day. Nothing complex, just focusing on my breath. I found that this centers me.
What projects are you currently most excited about?
I have a series that I am super excited called the West Side Boys Series. And these books are written for preteen Urban Youth. Kids that don’t want to read about dragons. The books are written to inspire kids and let them know that it’s okay to be smart. And that there is always a way out of most bad situations. There is always a choice.
What do you do outside of your work routine that helps you stay healthy and productive?
I workout 4 days a week which is broken into two days of boxing and two days of strength training. I also meditate and I eat about 85 percent clean. Not Keto, but really low carbs and I’m in bed by 9.
Where are you currently based?
I’m based in Charlotte NC.
To learn more about Kevin Elliott or his work, you can visit his site at KElliottOnline.com.