Spotlight 28: Kevin Potter
Mark Dawson: I’m Mark Dawson from the Self-Publishing Show and this is Self-Publishing Spotlight where we shine a light on the indie authors who are changing the world of publishing one book at a time.
Tom Ashford: Hello and welcome to the self-publishing spotlight. We meet indie authors at all stages of their careers and ask them a series of five questions. Five questions about their process, their mistakes and their successes. Five answers that will help you level up your own author career.
My name is Tom Ashford and I’m part of the self-publishing formula. Don’t forget that you can get your self-publishing resource kit at selfpublishingformula.com/starterkit.
This week’s guest is Kevin Potter. He’s written seven books in the Fantasy genre and he lives in Oklahoma. Welcome Kevin.
Kevin Potter: Thank you. It’s good to be here.
Tom Ashford: Would you like to start by maybe talking about the different sort of sub genres of fantasy that you write in?
Kevin Potter: My work treads the line between Heroic Fantasy, Dark Fantasy and Epic fantasy. I do a lot of in depth world-building sort of stuff, which is where the Epic side of that comes in. But I tend to write darker worlds with a little bit more grittier content, which I don’t know Heroic might be a bit of an exaggeration cause it’s not like the Conan Heroic Fantasy kind of stuff. But that’s sort of how I think of it.
Tom Ashford: Nice. Okay.
If we dive into the questions, question number one is why do you write?
Kevin Potter: Oh, because I can’t not write is the best answer to that. I’ve been writing since I was nine. It started with a school assignment that I wrote about seven times what they wanted me to write. And from there I just sort of fell in love with it and couldn’t stop.
Tom Ashford: Was there a particular reason that you drifted towards publishing as an adult?
Kevin Potter: It’s something that had been on my mind since I was, I don’t know, 12 or 13 and at that time it literally everybody I talked to was like, “No, you can’t make money doing that. There’s no way that can be a career. You need to find something else”.
And being the impressionable teenager that I was, I sort of put it on the back burner for a while. Then around 2010 some things happened in my life. Things kind of went down the drain and I finally came back to this point where writing is what I love, this is what I want to do. So it’s time to start doing something and try and make this happen.
Tom Ashford: Was there a particular reason that you chose Fantasy or is that just your favorite genre to read?
Kevin Potter: It’s mostly a matter of favorite. I was introduced to Epic Fantasy when I was 13 and for a long time the one series I was introduced to, it was all I would read. And then eventually I opened up to other things. But it’s still mostly Fantasy. I venture off a little bit, but not much.
Tom Ashford: Are you entirely indie or have you had a traditional contract or hybrid or whatever?
Kevin Potter: There was a period of maybe a month or two where I actually wanted to go traditional, but then purely by chance I encountered, I think it was a spot on the news or something about this indie published author. And from there the light bulb just kind of went off on my head, was like, “Hey, this is something I can do”. And then the more I looked into it, the more I really prefer the indie method over the traditional method.
Tom Ashford: Do you remember who the indie author was?
Kevin Potter: I don’t.
Tom Ashford: I was hoping it might be Mark.
Kevin Potter: No, no, I was introduced to Mark shortly after I made that decision, but not before that.
Tom Ashford: Question number two is how do you write? Do you tend to plot your stories out or pants them?
Kevin Potter: I would call myself a plantser. I do a tiny bit of plotting always just in my head. I never actually write anything down, so I don’t outline or anything like that. But when I sit down and come up with a general story premise that I want to go with, I almost always have at least an idea of how it’s going to end. That often changes, but I have something.
And then I usually have at least two or three plot points throughout the book that I want this to happen and I want this to happen. And other than that, it’s just a solid idea of who my character is and where they’re at in life and just run with it.
Tom Ashford: Is there a particular piece of software that you use?
Kevin Potter: I actually do my first drafts, I write by hand and then I go into Scrivener from there, do my first sort of content edit and then I transfer into Word for the rest of my editing.
Tom Ashford: What do you use for formatting?
Kevin Potter: I actually do the majority of my formatting just from Word and then over into an app called Kolibri.
Tom Ashford: Yep. Cool.
Is there a particular time and place that you prefer writing?
Kevin Potter: I used to have an office in the upstairs of my house and that was where I would do most of it. We’ve since moved and had to downsize so I don’t have that anymore. So these days it’s usually in my living room, unfortunately.
Tom Ashford: Fair. Well that kind of leads into question number three, which is:
Are you a full time author? If you are, how did you get there? And if you aren’t, what steps are you taking to make it happen?
Kevin Potter: I’m not a full time author. I wish I was. At this point, I’ve kind of gotten my head around the advertising bit. I proved with my last release that I can do the ads and I can make it work at reasonable return. At this point, it’s just a matter of getting my life squared away so that I have the means to do that advertising and get things to where I want to be.
Tom Ashford: Are your books all in a series or are they more standalone?
Kevin Potter: It’s definitely series. I’ve got two separate series that actually meet in the middle. Chronologically, it doesn’t make a lot of sense yet because I haven’t gotten to the ending of the first one yet. But they do all lead one into the other.
Tom Ashford: Question number four is what mistakes do you think you’ve made and what have you got right?
Kevin Potter: Oh I’ve probably made every mistake under the sun, honestly. I started out being very precious about my writing. I wasn’t really willing to give anything away. So my mailing list suffered for that. I tried to just do a sample of the very first novella I wrote when I first started my mailing list. And while that produced generally more engaged subscribers then the freebie does, it didn’t get very many of them.
Then I had this period where I didn’t really want to advertise because I just felt kind of sleazy doing it. I’ve gone through various phases where I’m just doing the complete wrong thing. Just because I have this idea in my head that’s how it should be.
It’s taken me, gosh, about three years now actually to sort of get my head around all this and figure out that’s not the best approach.
I think primarily in what I’ve done right is probably with the writing itself. So I see a lot of authors that make the mistake of skimping on the editing or skimping on the cover. It’s something that I’ve always determined from the very beginning; I want to put out the best quality product that I can.
So from the very beginning, even when I had to scrounge pennies at a time, I always made sure I had the best possible cover art I could get on my books. I got the best possible editor I could afford to make sure that I’m really just putting out the best product.
Tom Ashford: Question number five is what’s your final piece of advice for authors starting out in indie publishing?
Kevin Potter: I think my number one piece of advice is; do your research. Make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into and be prepared for setbacks.
Tom Ashford: Yeah. Cause they will come.
Kevin Potter: Oh yes.
Tom Ashford: No matter who you are, they will come.
Kevin Potter: Oh yeah.
Tom Ashford: Well those are your five questions, but some of our listeners may recognize your name from the SPF Facebook group because each week you put up a brag of the week.
Kevin Potter: Yes.
Tom Ashford: Yes. How did that come about?
Kevin Potter: It actually was started by someone else. It was Scott Nelson who started that and I was a participant in that for a good long while. Then he came to a point where he had to make some sacrifices to his schedule and he just in order to have writing time, he had to cut that off. And he was looking for somebody to take that over.
There was a little bit of vague interest from a couple of other people, but at the time I decided I’ve got a little bit of time in my schedule, I can devote to this every week, so let’s take this over. I want it to continue. It’s something that I feel is really beneficial to the community as a whole. It’s very uplifting to be able to read through that and see this awesome stuff that people are able to get done every week and I didn’t want that to disappear.
Tom Ashford: Yeah, it’s much appreciated.
Kevin Potter: Definitely.
Tom Ashford: Awesome. Well, thank you very much for coming on, for answering the questions.
Kevin Potter: Not a problem. I was happy to be here.
Tom Ashford: That’s it for this week self-publishing spotlight.
Don’t forget that you can get your free self-publishing resource [email protected]/starterkit.
And if you want to appear as a guest on the show, send us brief details about yourself and your writing at selfpublishingformula.com/spotlight-guest.
I’m Tom Ashford and I’ll see you again next week.
Grab Your SPF Freebies!
Sign up to receive your SPF starter package, which includes a free 3 part video series on getting started with FB ads, and inspirational and educational weekly emails.