You can achieve your writing goals … but you have to decide what you will give up in order to achieve them.
It may be a few hours sleep, TV time, another hobby or some of your social activities. Or it may be downsizing your life entirely to free up resources and remove financial risk as you move into writing full-time.
In today’s interview, Kevin Tumlinson talks about what he’s giving up to achieve his writing goals, and I also talk about how I downsized back in 2011.
As I’m currently taking a break, there’s just a short intro this week 🙂 I’ll do a more substantial intro for the first show in 2016 next week!
- How Kevin got started as a copywriter but loves writing fiction
- The decision to downsize and declutter in order to move into an RV, although currently, Kevin and his wife are in the interim stage after moving from a 4-bed to a 1-bed place. [A move I know well as it’s what we did in 2011 to enable to me to become a full-time author entrepreneur.]
- How travel and actually living life inspires writing books, plus enables a healthier, happier life
- Downsizing and changing your life alongside a spouse/partner and tips for those difficult discussions
- The practicalities and decisions involved in de-cluttering, getting rid of stuff and deciding when emotional connection is worth holding onto physical objects
- Tips for finding out about the RV life including Escapees RV Club and Workamper, plus some of the hacks that Kevin is putting into place to live an increasingly online life
- How the world is changing so it’s easier to be more mobile. We discuss miniturization, as covered in Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think by Peter Diamandis, one of my top book recommendations!
- Tackling the fears that come along with life change – fear of failure, of not making enough money, of being penniless in an RV lot. Plus how to mitigate those fears. “We’re writing the story of our lives by rethinking what we have.”
- Kevin’s various podcasts and the part they play in his author life: Wordslingers, Self-Publishing Answers and Creative Writing Career. Plus, his recommendations on when a podcast works for authors and when it’s worth the effort.
Transcription of interview with Kevin Tumlinson
Joanna: Hi everyone. I’m Joanna Penn from thecreativepenn.com. And today I’m here with Kevin Tumlinson. Hi, Kevin.
Kevin: Hi, Joanna. How are you?
Joanna: I’m good. Great to have you on the show. Just a little introduction, Kevin is a speculative fiction author, blogger, and host of several podcasts including The Wordslingers, Creative Writing Career, and Self Publishing Answers. We’re going to come back to that in a minute.
Just start by telling us a bit more about you and your writing background.
Kevin: Well, I’ve actually been writing professionally since I was 12 years old, which is a fancy way of saying I got paid to write. It doesn’t mean I made a living.
Joanna: What did you get paid to write at 12 years old?
Kevin: I was writing an editorial for our local paper, sort of a Teen Beat kind of thing. So I went and covered events, and I’d talk to other teens in the area and got their opinions on things. It didn’t pay much. It was like $10 a column. That was my first step into being paid as a writer, so I count it.
I went from doing that sort of thing all through school, all through high school and everything. In college, I got involved in the newspaper arena there. Started writing fiction, I’ve written fiction my whole life, really. The joke is I wrote my first book when I was five years old. That’s what I tell everybody. It was five pages of notebook paper, front and back, and I hand-drew a cover and everything. So I was my own cover designer even back then.
Fiction was that thing that I always loved the most.
I started writing short stories, trying to market those and sell those, didn’t really have a lot of success. I hit a few magazines and got a few things published. That was encouraging, but it wasn’t all that lucrative. So I drifted into copywriting as a career for a while, because you can make money as a copywriter. A lot of people don’t want to pay you to just sit around and write fiction, I guess.
Joanna: So copywriting has been your main paid job?
Kevin: For a long time. I’m finally getting to a point where I’m starting to retire from that. My client list has been culled down quite a bit. Those who do hire me, they expect to pay a little more if they want me to write. So it’s getting a little better. I’m working on closing that door, maybe just taking on the rare, occasional client every now and then. But I’m mostly really happy to move away from copywriting as a career.
Joanna: Yeah, it’s funny. Of course, Sean Platt is, to me, the big guy who moved from copywriting, and Johnny B. Truant, of course. If people don’t know, copywriting is the more business focused writing where people take action. You can often write quite boring stuff, I guess. But there are a lot of skills that can transfer.
Is it hard to change your mindset between the copywriting guy and the fiction guy?
Kevin: You know it really wasn’t. A lot of copywriting I do is pretty boring, or did was pretty boring. I wrote annual reports and white papers and that sort of thing. And actually, I became known as that guy you go to when you want something that has a little bit of zip to it, instead of just this straight, boring, you know. I wrote annual reports for companies and contributed to a few annual reports to some big name companies that had a little bit of flare to them. So, at least I got to be creative in that way. Most of the copywriting I did was for marketing and advertising. So I got to be pretty creative. A lot of it was Business to Business, so you had to be careful about how you were creative.
But switching mindsets was never really a problem for me. The skills that transfer really, just the discipline of sitting down each day and hitting a deadline is the biggest skill. And also, I do credit my copywriting career with improving the general quality of my writing, because everyone thinks they’re a good writer until they get notes back from the editors and publishers and that sort of thing. No one’s a bigger critic than the person who paid you to write. So you learn a lot.
Joanna: And of course, it helps with writing sales descriptions, I suppose.
Kevin: Right, exactly. I find that one of the things that a lot of authors, indie authors in particular, struggle with is writing their pitch, or some people call it their blurb or their back cover matter or whatever they call it. But a lot of people struggle with that kind of thing.
They struggle with writing an ad or just a basic description of their book. I don’t really have that struggle because I’ve done that for other people for so long. I’m not saying they’re perfect. They need improvement. Every now and then, I go back and look and cringe and say, “Well I can do that better.” But at least I know. I can look at that and say, “This is where it’s weak. This is where it’s strong. This is where I was just being lazy and trying to get it published.”
Joanna: That’s definitely something on my list for next year, because we always go back over the books, don’t we, that we’ve done in the past?
But what we’re talking about today and one of the critical aspects about making a living as a writer or with books in particular as opposed to copywriting is deciding what you’re going to give up in order to achieve the things you want to achieve.
Back in 2011, I did a massive downsize and shift from a four-bedroom house to a one-bedroom flat and changed a lot of stuff. And now you’re going through something right now, aren’t you?
Joanna: So I want to talk to you about that.
Tell us about these big changes that you’re making and why.
Kevin: Well, the first thing I want to point out is the parallel there because we literally, in November, which at the time of you and I chatting, it’s mid-December, in November, towards the end of November, we sold our four-bedroom house and we crammed everything into a one-bedroom apartment. That’s like the interim step. But we’re actually moving into a sort of RV lifestyle. It’s something my wife and I talked about for years.
And in the past couple years in particular, we’ve become very interested in it, and that’s required us to start thinking in terms of what do we have that’s weighing us down, that takes up more space than it should?
What do we need to get rid of in order to fit? I don’t know if you’ve looked at RVs lately, but they’re not big mansions on wheels, typically. You’re not going to be able to cram four bedrooms in there. So we were having to make some tough decisions.
As we said before the call, we’re kind of in phase one where we’ve already gotten rid of a lot of our stuff. We’ve already started thinking in terms of how we do the things we do with fewer resources, I guess. And the apartment was kind of that interim step between the house and jumping directly into an RV. So we’re buying, actually, a camper this weekend, actually. We’ve already picked it out. We’ve already put down deposits. It’s a small camper. It’s not the one we’ll live in fulltime. But it’s the run about, in terms of Star Trek. It’s the one we’re taking away from the mothership for a while and branching out. And then we’d move on from there.
It’s been adventurous we’ll say.
Joanna: So let’s get into that in more detail. So why did you decide to do this?
Kevin: A big part of it is, literally, every time we’ve traveled, we made a big deal of travel, I guess. We’ve gone overseas together. We’ve traveled to various places in the US. I’ve literally sat down and written a book while we were there. It’s kind of uncanny.
It’s not that I don’t write books while at home, it’s just that the stuff I’m turning out when we’re out and traveling has this flavor to it that is just remarkable. And so really, the decision kind of came around in part because it adds flavor to my work. It adds a whole new dimension to the work.
But we’re also very sedentary. I sit in front of the computer all day long, so does my wife. And we, every now and then, look up and notice the tint of the sky has changed or something. We just want to put ourselves in a position where it’s far more likely that we’re going to get out and live and experience things than we are going to watch them on TV or something. That was a big motivator, actually.
Joanna: That is so funny because on my wall I have — I have a lot of things on my wall, so I say this quite a lot on the show. There’s always something new.
This one thing says,
“Write to live. What is living today?”
And travel is the same for me. I have to travel, not all the time, I get itchy foot syndrome, my husband calls it. All my writing comes from travel, actually. I really get that and that living more is so important, because we can get so obsessed with whatever the next thing is … And it will never stop, will it? As writers, this won’t stop until the day we die.
Kevin: No, and in fact, something interesting happened recently, because I pinged my mailing list to just sort of ask, “What would you like to see next?” Because there are passion projects I want to pursue. One of those was I want to start writing more narrative nonfiction. And my list likes that idea, but they overwhelmingly, they asked for a sequel to Evergreen, which is fine. Evergreen is definitely my favorite book of whatever I’ve written.
But the narrative nonfiction has a place in my heart because I love authors like Malcolm Gladwell and Bill Bryson and Elizabeth Gilbert. I love those writers and I love what they do. And I wanted to do something in that vein. I have literally sat down a hundred times to start something I thought was going to be that book, and ultimately, I realized I hit bottom very quickly. And it’s not because I don’t have the experiences already, it’s more that I don’t have anything…There’s no passion behind it, because I’m too distanced from those experiences.
And I feel like getting out and experiencing more of the world around us as we travel will energize me and push me to write that kind of thing. I can draw on my past experiences using the energy of the present moment. That’s the idea.
Joanna: Oh no, I think that would be great. I think it’s a brilliant idea. Of course, everyone’s now going,
“What about your wife?” So what does your wife do, and how did that difficult conversation go?
Because my husband also obviously downsized with me and I get emails from people who say, “This is a difficult conversation to have.” So how did you do that, and how is she adapting?
Kevin: Here’s where I’m phenomenally lucky. Well actually, it’s interesting, because I’ve pitched this idea over the years. The first time I ever mentioned living in an RV was shortly after we got married, and my wife’s exact words were, “Wow, that’s really attractive.” And so, she wasn’t on board with that for a long time.
But it just seems that the longer we know each other, the more in tune we get. She loves to travel too. She grew up overseas. She was an expat. She was used to living in places like Singapore and areas like that. So, she kind of misses that too. So it wasn’t tough to talk her into it.
As far as her work and that sort of thing, we’re still figuring out what she’s going to do when we’re on the road. We feel like we’ll probably be able to support ourselves just fine from my income. I don’t think that’s going to be an issue. It’s just that no one wants to be the tag along.
Where she’s coming in on this is she is a big fan of history, and so we’re looking at ways that she can use that passion while we’re moving around. She’s a project manager by trade right now. There are opportunities for her to continue working on the go. We’re looking into some of that. It wasn’t tough actually.
She’s kind of talked me into it more than anything, recently. I kind of got to a point where I was more or less resigned to this is where we live and we’ll just travel every now and then. I had given up on that. But she got on fire for this, about not nearly year ago now, and it’s led to us selling our home and we’re buying a camper and we’ve taking steps. Yeah, it’s moving quick.
Joanna: I think that’s really interesting. Just on the history, do you know Dan Carlin’s Hard Core History Podcast?
Kevin: Yes, yes.
Joanna: For the listeners, my husband loves it. It’s four hours long, eight hours long, some of these shows. They’re absolutely amazing. But what’s so interesting now is you can say something like, “Oh, my wife’s interested in history,” and I immediately think of someone who’s making a full time living out of history.
Kevin: That’s right.
Joanna: You can make a full-time living from an RV and I can make one from my laptop wherever I am as well. And this is what’s so exciting about the world we live in!
But I wanted to ask you some more about the downsizing. I found it incredibly liberating, and I don’t get very attached to things in general. I don’t like things, I like experiences. I don’t really like presents.
One of the big things we did, I guess, was we got rid of nearly two-and-a-half thousand print books and we moved to digital.
So what are some of the big shifts in terms of stuff and what has surprised you?
Kevin: We did that and we cried.
I was in no way prepared for the emotional impact of seeing these books go. I don’t know if they have this in the UK, we have half-priced books in my area. It’s a bookstore that will buy back your books at a discounted price. I shop there all the time, but taking my little babies in and handing them these boxes of books and having to do it in…What was worse was it was exhausting to carry everything in, hurt me physically to carry everything in. And then I had to sit and watch them paw through my books.
Joanna: And throw some aside because they’re not worth anything.
Kevin: Yeah, you just know that’s going to the dumpster, you know? Like, “No!” So that was a challenge.
The things that kind of hit us, nostalgia has been our biggest enemy in this, actually. It’s tough to overcome. We had three separate garage sales and made quite of bit of money. We sold quite a few things. We had the house all staged and people were coming through and looking and we thought, “We’re ready. This stuff, this is nothing. This is a few rooms worth of stuff and we can compact this down to a storage unit.”
But it turned out it was a lot more that we thought. Where we thought we had really culled down our physical footprint, we’re still pretty big, which is why we changed the plans slightly. Because originally, it was sell house, walk into an RV, start driving. And we realized pretty quickly we couldn’t do that.
So now we have a storage unit. We have this apartment. This apartment contains a lot of items all in its own.
But we’re spending some time…We signed a year lease. So we’re just spending the next year going through the things that we have, selling things, giving things to family. And what it all comes down to is you’ve got to make that emotional separation.
And what we’re finding is I get rid of something I’ve held onto — books, a piece of furniture, and it’s ridiculous what we hold on to. My wife is holding on to her grandmother’s bed. Not the cool headboard sleigh bed frame or any of that, but a box spring and a mattress. It’s just ridiculous, like stuff you can buy at any given Walmart she’s holding onto out of nostalgia.
The trick there is to make that emotional separation. And then suddenly, you discover, you’ve tapped into this whole well of energy. It’s almost like magic. Like suddenly, I get rid of this armoire or something that I have no real emotional attachment to, it was just handed to me by a family member, and I asked around and no one wants it. And I started to realize I’m paying money to hold on to something that no one else in my family wanted. And I feel bad about giving it away. So those are the things that are very challenging.
The real challenges are yet to come, I believe.
Because there are things we are figuring out, and I’ve got some tips for people, if you’re interested. We’re learning a lot about how we’re going to manage our actual lives while we’re on the road. But downsizing has been challenging and it continues to be a challenge. I guess my advice is you’re going to have to ask yourself some hard questions about what is the purpose of this thing. And am I using it for that purpose or am I just holding onto it?
I grew up in a household that came through The Depression, so it was always save everything. My grandfather had a rubber band ball the size of my head. None of the rubber bands were any good anymore, but we have this giant rubber band ball. Those emotional attachments will kill you.
Joanna: Yeah, and I know some people are thinking, “But I like my emotional attachments.” And we’re, of course, not saying everyone should do this type of life. But I found, and I guess going back to the reason why, in order to make a fulltime living with books, it’s better to define your full-time living as less than it would be if you have a four-bedroom house and a mortgage. We had two cars and we had an investment property.
There were so many things that were stopping me from doing this full-time, and they were all financial ties.
Then you build up a life to fit into what you’re expected to be.
Once you own a four-bedroom house, you have to fill it with stuff, whereas now, you’ve got a one-bedroom flat, you have to say no to how much stuff. Now that emotional attachment over time is really interesting, because what we ended up doing was we got rid of the house, we put everything in storage, and left for a year.
So we actually came back to England at the time and our storage unit was in Australia. By the time we went back a year later, we were like, “What the hell? Why did we keep this?” And you realize that you just need that bit of distance. So the stuff you put in that storage unit, even when you get the RV, eventually you’ll go back to it and just be over it.
Kevin: Oh yeah.
Joanna: I agree with you. It takes a number of steps to get that. And of course, I still have a couple of boxes here in my room of stuff I will never get rid of, but it literally is a couple of boxes, as opposed to…And all my diaries which are behind me. I do have increasingly more diaries.
Kevin: Yeah, and I do too.
Joanna: They’re heavy.
Kevin: It’s the cost of being a writer. And they are heavy. Try as I might, I’m only just now starting to journal on an app rather than a book.
Joanna: Yeah, see, I won’t do that. I just won’t do that because of technology. It will fail at some point.
Kevin: I know it doesn’t feel right. I still have my Moleskines. I still have my collection of those. I’ll always have that, because I have a love affair with ink and paper. But yes, there are going to be things that you not only will want to hold on to, you should hold onto. You definitely shouldn’t get rid of journals. You definitely shouldn’t get rid of something priceless that reminds you of someone you love.
Joanna: But not a bed. I agree with that.
Kevin: But not a bed, no.
If it were a comforter or even if it was some bargain-basement garage sale purchase that her grandmother had made, fine. I could live with certain things, but a box spring…
Joanna: That’s good. You mentioned some of the ways that you’re going to change things and the way you’re going to work. So tell us some of these things you’ve been thinking.
Kevin: So some of the problems you come across when you’re thinking about going completely mobile are you always get asked questions, “How are you going to get your mail?” And “How are you going to get prescription drugs and things like that?” We have to deal with those. My wife has a couple of prescriptions we have to keep up with. But there are a lot of services out there.
We’re about to become members of a group called Escapees RV Club, which I don’t know if they’re international or not, but I love the name. They have a lot of benefits for members, things like you can use them as a permanent mailing address. They have a job center. So if you are an author for example, and you’re not quite making a living at it, or your spouse wants to do some work, you can find jobs through their job board. They can be full-time or they can be part time or seasonal, whatever. There’s a lot out there.
Another group that does that is Workamper, and that’s W-O-R-K-A-M-P-E-R, and they are…that’s kind of a movement more than anything, but Workamper News is all about connecting you with possible job opportunities, like jobs you can do in exchange for RV lots, things like that. You have a lot of services out there like this and they’ll do things like scan your mail for you or forward your prescription drugs to wherever you happen to be, that sort of thing. So there’s a lot of that stuff we’re discovering.
And to be honest, that’s the fun of this is hey, I’m going through and discovering all these apps and websites and clubs and things. The cost to these things is really fairly low when you start thinking about what you’re getting out of it. It almost like having a VA to go through your mail. I mean come on, that’s just cool, you know?
Joanna: That is good. And of course, you just increasingly go more and more digital. That’s just the benefit of it as well. You scan everything and you have everything on Dropbox or whatever.
Joanna: Yeah, I think that’s true whether you’re going to move into an RV or if you’re just kind of de-cluttering. This will be going out end December and Even if people don’t want to move into an RV, now’s a really good time to be looking at what’s really important, isn’t it?
Joanna: And what you’re doing is you’re examining what’s important in your life.
Kevin: In the end, I think that’s really…It just sort of comes down to that as the point. We tend to hold on to things. Humans in general, we tend to hold on to things and things we don’t necessarily need.
I used to have a huge DVD collection, thousands of them. At one point, my wife and I realized that we hadn’t watched a DVD in almost the entire 10 years we’ve been married. Books, I owned hundreds maybe thousands of books. And most of the ones that I love and reread, I have on my Kindle, so I can do that. So there is that sort of reducing…What’s the term?
I read a book recently called Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think.
Joanna: Yeah, that is one of my favorite books.
Kevin: Absolutely, right?
Joanna: Peter Diamandis.
Kevin: Yes. And one of the principles he talked about was miniaturization, which is that idea of “I don’t need a bookshelf full of books, I’ve got a device.” Actually, I just read off my iPhone. I have a 6 Plus, so it’s a big screen. My wife reads off of her iPad. I don’t need a bookshelf crammed full of books. I might have it because I enjoy that. There’s always that tactile experience.
I’m getting more comfortable, by the way, with buying a physical book and reading it, and then giving it away, or selling it sometimes. But I prefer to give them away. I want to give that book to somebody who’s going to enjoy it. So I’m becoming more comfortable with that. And through that act, by the way, there’s something that happens to your soul.
You get a little more free, but you also get a little stronger. You realize that all this stuff is not what defines you.
And I think that’s why we hold on to things, because we have this erroneous conception that these things define us. I know I do. I mean I hold on to stuff. I constantly find myself regretting little things that I lost or gave away or stolen or whatever. I kick myself over that and there’s no reason to. That wasn’t a part of me. It was just a part of my story for a time and now it’s gone.
Joanna: I actually really love Print on Demand. And I wish all authors had Print on Demand, because sometimes I want to give a book to people as a gift or whatever, and I go to order it and it’s literally out of print. Now who would have thought in the days of Print on Demand that any book would be out of print? It’s crazy.
But what I love about our books, you and I, as indies, if we need our books at any point in your journey, you just order it online and it will be delivered. So that’s the thing, it’s really not a big deal.
I wanted to ask you just one more thing on the downsizing and the changing things is the fear aspect.
What are the fears that you’ve had and how are you tackling those?
Kevin: So there’s always the big ones. The biggest is always income. Is my income stable? Am I going to have money? Am I going to find myself broke and living on the streets? Of course I won’t because I’ll have an RV.
Joanna: You’d just be parked up somewhere.
Kevin: So that’s a fear. The other fear is that we’ll get out in the wilderness somewhere and something will happen and we don’t have a way to find help. We’re distanced from family and something happens to family, there’s all those fears. The trouble with that thinking though is that stuff could happen anyway. If I take a trip to Europe next month just for the heck of it, I could get a phone call. In midair, something bad could happen. That just happens. It’s just life. That’s what life is.
The way we’re mitigating fears about our finances, we’ve sold some properties. We have some assets that we’re liquidating and that’s becoming sort of a backup fund. We’re paying down any debts we have. That helps. Our monthly overhead is being dramatically reduced as a part of this, which was very important to us. I have the writing as a stream of income. I have little trickles from other ventures that I’m involved in that help with income. And it’s not like I’m going to cease to do entrepreneurial things when I step out of this apartment. We’re constantly looking at ways that we can boost that income stream. So that’s the biggest fear.
Another fear is of course, will we be at each other’s throats or something along those lines. I have talked to a number of people who have done this, who have stepped out and gone into a fulltime RV lifestyle, and overwhelmingly, the response I get from those people is that far from putting each other at each other’s throats, they actually get along much better.
They learn to adapt to each other. It’s a little but like…I’m sure you’ve read 4-Hour Workweek and there’s a bit in there where he talks about this woman who travels with her kids and they were always bickering and fighting. Suddenly they’re on a sailboat, they’ve got nothing to do but get along. So it’s kind of that idea. I think that you grow closer.
There are these little fears but as we come up with a fear, my response is generally go find the solution and figure out how you deal with that. I have a pacemaker because of a birth defect in my heart. I have a pacemaker. I had to answer questions like what do I do when I need checkups for that? And what happens if something goes wrong with it? I don’t have my cardiologist down the street, you know? So those questions need to be answered, but they don’t have to dictate what you do next. If they dictate what you do next, they don’t have to stop you from doing the thing that you’re trying to do.
Joanna: Exactly, and I’m glad you mentioned eliminating debt, because we eliminated our debt by changing the structure. As soon as you restructure anything…So if people listening are like, “But I’m not going to do that.”
If you look at what you want to achieve and then you restructure things. It doesn’t have to be your fulltime income like we do. It could be a percentage.
Seriously, I remember the day when I realized that the only thing stopping me was the way that I had created my life and built up all these expectations.
And if I just changed my own expectations of what was important and what life I could live, then everything would be different. And it was just an amazing turnaround. That day changed my life.
Kevin: What we keep finding is we keep sort of panicking over things. You get into this tendency of thinking the life you have right now and the way your life works right now is exactly how it has to continue. So we start thinking of things like…I’m struggling to come up with a really good example. You think about how you make dinner, for example. We have lots of kitchen gadgets. We have lots of pots and pans. But we’re not going to have room for all that in the RV. What do we do? How do we eat? We’re going to starve to death.
Joanna: Who’s going to cook dinner?
Kevin: And the reality of it is…For example, we have an outdoor kitchen for the RV. The world becomes our kitchen at that point. I don’t need every kitchen gadget that I have in order to prepare a meal. So you figure it out. You figure out how to substitute. We’re in a process now of downsizing the amount of kitchen gadgets we actually have to like here are three gadgets that do the job of these 25 gadgets. So you start thinking a little differently. I love this whole tiny house movement.
Joanna: I love the tiny house thing too. It’s very American. We don’t really have it so much in Europe, but I love the tiny house porn, you know, all the little pictures. They’re so cute.
Kevin: Yes, and I don’t know what it is about that that appeals to me in particular, or anyone in general, but there is something to be said for reducing your footprint and not in the sort of hippy way. Not in the green sense, although there is an impact there. That’s wonderful, don’t get me wrong. What it does for you personally, first of all, there’s less for you to worry about. I don’t have to worry about what happens if there’s a fire and all these things are destroyed. If that did happen, I would just start over exactly the way we’re doing.
Joanna: Just walk out your tiny door.
Kevin: Exactly. And how much space do you really need?
One thing I miss is my sound booth, in my little studio from my home. I honestly thought I was going to really regret that. I do these podcasts. I have to have quiet. I have to have a certain level of quality. And what I’ve discovered was I actually had alternate equipment that I could set up very easily. You’re seeing one of those pieces right now in this video. I have this whole miniaturized set up that replicates what I was doing in my big studio setting. And I love that. I love rethinking.
I think that’s important as an author, to be able to take those disparate ideas and pieces and rethink them and put them back together again. That’s really what we’re doing.
We’re writing the story of our lives by rethinking what we have.
Joanna: The biggest thing for me is the internet. Basically, if you’ve got a laptop, a phone, internet access, your world is actually huge. The expanse is in your mind and it’s on the internet. So I always think…
Kevin: That’s that miniaturization.
Joanna: That’s the difference, isn’t it? You can have your social life. There are lots of things you can do through the internet. So that’s very, very cool. Before we finish up, because you and I could clearly talk about this forever.
Joanna: Just tell us about the podcasts you have, and why do you have so many podcasts?
Kevin: I started with Wordslinger Podcast, and I literally started that, so that I’d have an opportunity to talk to people like you and a few others, Jonathan Maberry, who you mentioned you really like. And the reason was I needed an excuse to be able to ask these people the questions that were most pressing for me, and I thought I should be generous with this information and share it. So that was podcast number one.
At a time where I was considering adding coaching to my business, which I did for a time, and I still do occasionally, I started talking to a lot of different author coaches. And I came across Nick Thacker. You’ve been on his show, actually. You were on his show before he and I connected. But in my conversation with him, we really hit it off. He was doing Self Publishing Answers Podcast, and on a whim, one day I just asked him, “Hey, are you looking for a second host? Have you ever considered that?” Nick’s an amicable guy. He’s like, “Sure, come on.” So he literally, just on a whim, added me to his show. And we did great. Now we’ve added Justin Sloan, who is the author of Creative Writing Career.
And then Justin, every time he gets an idea, he starts a podcast for it. He has a couple of his own, but he created the Creative Writing Career Podcast. And that’s me and Justin and Stephan Bugaj who is formerly from Pixar, those two guys know each other from their…They write games for a living, which is cool.
Self Publishing Answers is sort of in your vein. It’s talking to the self publishing industry and we’re trying to answer the questions we have, really, when it comes down to it. We want to know things, and so we talk about it, we investigate and we interview people. It’s an open format.
Creative Writing Career was really Justin’s brainchild. It was more about there’s more to creative writing as a career than just self publishing. There’s game writing, there’s films, there’s TV, there’s a crazy list of jobs you can get into, comic books, that sort of thing. So we wanted to create something that spoke to that and opened up these channels to people to discover new ways to make a living being creative. So it’s been a blast. That show actually by far, has become much more popular I believe, that the others. That doesn’t hurt my feelings at all. It might hurt Nick’s feelings. I don’t know. Nick’s a good guy. He’s pretty laidback, so he’ll be just fine.
Joanna: That’s a lot of time that you’re spending podcasting, how does that fit into your business model?
Joanna: Sideways, yeah.
Who would you recommend start a podcast, because it does take so much time?
Kevin: It does take time. The way it fits in my business model, it helps with promoting my work. I do like that aspect of it, helps me build a following. I think that a lot of my readers are listeners, and enjoy, at least, the Wordslinger Podcast. A lot of my readers aren’t all that interested in self publishing. So in that aspect, it didn’t help boost my book sales. But I focus on story in the Wordslinger Podcast. It’s like a behind the scenes look at everyone else’s life. So as it fits my business model, really, it’s a means of personal growth more than anything. I do get a small trickle of income from it, so it is handy as an additional stream of income, but that’s fairly rare.
In my experience, podcasts don’t make money very often.
So unless that’s really a passion project for you, I’d recommend not starting a podcast and instead concentrating on something else. However, if you are, say, someone like Justin Sloan who is very passionate about what he does and wants to share, I would say the reason to get into it is not so much for you, but for the listener. I continue to do these podcasts even though at times I kind of wonder what am I getting out of it, because I don’t always get much out of it.
But the fact is I love the fact that I’m sharing these stories with people I interview, that I’m sharing information I learn, that I’m sharing the expertise of others.
I love the fact that I’m helping a community larger than my immediate surrounding. It sounds so lame. I do it for the listener, and if you’re interested in podcasting, that has to be the heart of what you do. You’re going to run out of steam if you’re just…I’m really just interested in, pick a topic…I’m really interested in RV life, so I’m going to do an RV podcast. Great, and that’s going to last you for a while. It’s an endless source of material, but how much energy do you want to put into it, and how passionate are you about it? Your passion will run out. But if you’re doing it because you want to keep feeding the needs of others, then that passion kind of renews itself.
So, that’s what I’d recommend. It’s more abstract than practical of course.
Joanna: I think I’m going into year six now of my podcast.
Kevin: Yeah, you’ve been around for a while.
Joanna: I know. It’s kind of crazy. Yeah, it definitely didn’t make any money for five years, and that was never the aim. The aim was not that. It was always to learn, as you’ve said, and talk to people I want to talk to. So it was great to talk to you today.
So where can people find you and your books and your shows online?
Kevin: You can find all of those if you go to KevinTumlinson.com and of course I’m on Twitter and Facebook.
Joanna: Fantastic. Well, thanks so much for your time, Kevin. That was great.
Kevin: Thank you so much. I loved talking to you.