About the Episode
For Kevin King, pursuing his publishing dreams soon became a 3-year nightmarish challenge to get his novel into the hands of a reader. Today, he’s sharing his journey not to bash the publisher or to complain but to offer lessons learned for writers new to this publishing world.
****CHECK OUT KEVIN’S NOVEL, Song of the Adoël
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About My Guest
Kevin King lives with his wife in the greater Seattle area. He enjoys reading, and the outdoors in small doses to give his eyes a rest between books.By day he works as a software developer. On the weekends he volunteers as an ASL interpreter, and participates in a local (currently by Zoom) critique group.
Kevin’s Newest Release
Click for Transcript
Kevin: [00:00:00] I waited months and months to hear anything, and finally when I wrote, she would send back a one sentence reply of, it’s fine, I’ll let you know. Two years went by of that.
Rachel: Oh my goodness. And you can’t get out of it cuz you’re in a contract. Right?
Kevin: Right. Well, in my contract it was if the book’s not published within 12 months, I had the right to get out of the contract.
Rachel: So why did you choose to stay in it?
Kevin: Because I thought maybe it’s just this one person. Mm. So I wrote to the, the head of the publishing company and she immediately wrote, Oh, I’m so sorry. And she did start to get things moving right away. And so then I was like, okay, that was it. It’s fine. The problem is it didn’t last long.
[00:01:00] Title Slide
Rachel: I’m so excited to have my friend Kevin on today on the podcast. He is a fantasy writer, and I’m excited to talk to him about his experience with being published with a smaller Christian publisher. And so, I’m just, I’m so excited to get into the conversation with you, Kevin.
Thank you for being here.
Thank you. Thank you for having me.
Before we dive in too deep, Can you just share with our listeners a little bit more about yourself? I know this is not your day job. You actually have another full-time gig, so if you wanna talk a little bit about that and who you are and whatever else we need to know about you.
Kevin: Sure. Um, so I actually got my idea from my first novel while I was working, um, as an interpreter in a school in Texas. Okay. And yeah, there were times like when the students were testing or something where they were doing some work on at their desks, and there was do long periods of time where I had nothing to do and, but I couldn’t leave either.
Right. And so I would just sit there and [00:02:00] daydream. And so I came up with the idea while I was daydreaming.
Rachel: Oh, that’s so fun.
Kevin: And, well, that’s really cool. I’d like to read that story. I should write it right.
Rachel: So are you like naturally like a writer or are you, um, are you, like, would you consider yourself a writer or you’re like, oh, I got this idea. Let me write it down.
Kevin: Um, I have come to think of myself as a writer, but I originally didn’t. I actually hated writing in school.
Rachel: Okay. Well, that’s interesting. Yes. So you found yourself sitting here going, oh, I like the story idea. Let me write it. Did it flow out of you naturally or was that part of your journey?
Kevin: That was part of the journey? Okay. Um, it, I started. And I started badly. Mm-hmm. , I had no clue what I was doing. Um, so the first thing I did, I just, I, the first idea I had was for kind of the climax of the story, how it was gonna end, and I kind of engineered it [00:03:00] backwards from there. Okay. Who are the characters involved?
How did they get to this point? And so on. So I got to a starting point, and then I just started writing. Mm-hmm. My first mistake was that I tried to edit each chapter as I wrote it. Mm-hmm. and I got so bogged down.
Rachel: Perfectionism. Will perfectionism will kill creativity any day.
Kevin: Absolutely. Absolutely.
I got through chapter seven and then I just gave up on it. Mm-hmm. and like for 10 years I didn’t even think about it. Wow. Okay. Yeah. 10 years later I was cleaning up an old computer and found it on the hard drive. Found the file on the hard. This old slow,
Rachel: like you just put it down and you completely forgot about it.
Kevin: Totally. Oh my goodness. Totally. Okay. And, and I opened it up and like, I should finish this. Mm. So then I just said, okay, I’m just gonna write it until I’m finished. So that’s what I did. I wrote it until I finished. And of course it was a mess. Um, anytime you [00:04:00] pants something all the way through, it’s gonna be a mess.
You’re gonna have story guilty threads that they go nowhere. So you have to go and clean it up. Yep. The problem is I had no idea how to clean it up. I had never studied writing.
Rachel: You were interpreting, is that what you do now or what do you, what’s your job?
Kevin: Interpreting is a hobby. Now, I started out, my career went all over the place.
I actually went to seminary and while I was at seminary, there were deaf students there and interpreting in the chapel every morning. I thought, that’s so beautiful. I’d like to learn that.
So I learned to interpret. And then I was gonna be a missionary, but my support fell through, so then I started interpreting instead in public schools for deaf students. But that didn’t pay very much. Yeah. And so eventually I came into some debt through medical bills, and I needed some more income. And computers had always been a hobby of mine.
And a friend of mine said, Hey, my company’s hiring software developers. [00:05:00] Okay. And they just give you a basic aptitude test, and if you pass that, they’ll train you for everything you need to know. So then I got into software development, and that’s actually what I do now.
Rachel: Okay. So you, you definitely did not have any kind of experience of writing before this?
Absolutely none. Okay. Other than maybe a paper or two in seminary school, right? .
Kevin: Right, exactly. Which I hated. The writing part.
Rachel: Okay. So after you decided I needed, I need to do something with this, this is a mess. How did you go about getting it to where now it’s published and it’s behind you on your bookshelf?
I can see it, so, yeah, exactly. How did you get there?
Kevin: Okay, so first I tried self-editing. Mm-hmm. and I, I really had no idea about developmental editing or story flow or any of those things. I just did technical line editing. Mm-hmm. and then I hired an editor to look at it for me. The problem is, this is, was at a time when I was still very poor and I couldn’t afford to pay for [00:06:00] full services, so I, I paid her what I could.
Mm-hmm. , and she looked at it and she sent it back and she said, You didn’t pay me enough to fix this, she said it very nicely. She, she phrased it a lot better than, but basically it was, you didn’t pay me enough to fix this. But she, gotta love the honesty. Yes. She very kindly gave me an overview of some of the major issues to work.
The problem is I didn’t know enough to be able to use her advice effectively. Mm-hmm. So where that really came into play was just, um, six or seven years ago when I moved to Seattle. Um, I wanted to continue my writing, but I knew I needed to learn more.
I searched on on meetup.com for local critique groups. And I found one that was specifically sci-fi Fantasy Critique Group. So I joined that group and it was amazing.
Oh, good. I [00:07:00] You get all kinds of things when you do critique groups. You know, some groups are great and some groups are not really helpful.
Rachel: True. It really depends on the, like the focus, or not the focus, but the um, the commitment of the people who are in the group to Yes. Improving craft. Yes. Like if you get a group of writers who are committed to improving their craft, you, it’s amazing what can come out of that.
Kevin: Absolutely. So, so the lady that, that kind of led this. Was very dedicated and she not only would give feedback, she would link resources. That’s right. So here’s some books, here’s some articles, here’s some, you know, YouTube videos mm-hmm. that talk about how to strengthen these parts that I’m commenting on that you need work on.
Mm-hmm. , that was so helpful. Right. I, I didn’t even submit very much of my book to the group. Okay. I, I submitted a couple of chapters. Um, there was a limited word count that you could submit because mm-hmm. you don’t have so much [00:08:00] time. Right. Um, but I learned so much just from hearing them critique each other.
Kevin: Yes. And reading their work and seeing, okay, here’s what other people are saying about this work and I can see I do this or, you know, things like that. And, right. Yeah. Started, and then I started looking up some of the resources. She had given you to us. Yes. And really started learning craft that way.
And then I basically redid the whole, rewrote the whole book.
Rachel: Well, I mean, you gotta, you gotta, um, admire your tenacity that you are, like, you continued to keep going at like, you are committed to this story, you’re willing to put in the work. Like, that’s, that’s really impressive. Yeah.
Kevin: I really, I love the story.
from the first time I thought of it. I, I fell in love with the story and I like, I have to write this, but I wanna write it in a way that other people enjoy it. Mm. The way I enjoy it.
Rachel: Yes. Oh, that’s so key right there. You [00:09:00] wanted to write it in a way that other people could enjoy it, and like that shift from, oh, I’m just gonna write this story down because I enjoy it too.
Mm-hmm. , there’s somebody that’s gonna be reading this and I wanna make sure that it’s an experience that they can fully immerse themselves into, not just get distracted by poor crafting of the story. Right. You really wanted to make it it a true experience for them, the way that you were experiencing it in your own creative mind..
Kevin: Yes, absolutely. And, and it helped. I’m sure it helped that I am an avid reader and always have been. Mm-hmm. , um, nobody even knows when I started reading it was sometime when I was two or three years old. Wow. Okay. My, my mother would read to me all the time. She would sit with me in a book and she would follow it with her finger as she read.
And I just picked it up. Mm. One day she came in and I was sitting there with a book and she’s Kevin, are you reading that ? Yes. She pointed to her, what’s that word? And I told her what the word was. Picked another, what’s that word? And I told her what it was. [00:10:00] Wow. He’s really reading this.
Rachel: That’s awesome.
Kevin: So, and I always loved, uh, fantasy and sci-fi.
Mm-hmm. I read The Lord of the Rings. I don’t even remember very, very early. It was, yeah. Now Lord of the Rings, Narnia, all of the, the big classic fantasy.
Rachel: I love those books. They’re so good. They’re just so good, and they just have such a depth to imagery, symbolism, and character development.
Yes. It’s they that, they’re just so good in the way that the authors convey all three of those. So I love the fact that you’re committed to doing the same in your own novel, that’s just so great. So once you kind of nailed down that craft, like obviously you must feel like you got to the point where you were gonna, that you had accomplished that in the story. Once you got to that point, what was your next step?
Kevin: The next step was letting a few people read it. Mm-hmm. [00:11:00] kind of like beta readers, whatever test reader. Get their responses to it, see if there was anything I missed. Obviously, I did show it to some people in my group who had time to look over it. And, I started working on pitch.
Okay. And yeah. I signed up for a conference where I could meet with publishers and editors, and I looked up which ones I wanted to meet with and what they were were looking for, and, you know, prepared all my material and summary.
Rachel: Did, did you have, did you have guidance in all that? Did you know what to do, like as far as like book proposal and how to pitch to an editor?
Did you get guidance about that before you, or were you kind of going into it blind?
Kevin: I got guidance for that through Hope Writers. Okay. Okay. I, I basically just, whenever I had something that I wasn’t familiar with, posted a general question of help somebody explain this to me. Yeah.
Rachel: And Hope writers, for those who are listening who don’t, aren’t familiar with it.
It’s an online writing community. So, and that’s another thing that I [00:12:00] always tell people, like, get yourself in a writing community like that where you have access to people who’ve gone down the road before you, and you can ask them questions like, like you’re saying, like, I don’t understand what this is.
What is it that they’re expecting from me? You know? And so then you can be prepared for an editor meeting or an agent meeting. Yes. So you decided. to meet these, you decided who you’re gonna meet at this conference. And so were you meeting with a literary agent or an editor?
Kevin: I met with an acquisitions editor.
Okay. Um, in fact, she’s the only one I met with and she asked me to send a copy of the manuscript to their board. Mm-hmm. which is the board that does acceptance, accepts or rejects a manuscript, the pub board. Yeah, the pub board. Okay. So I did that and sometime later they sent back an offer for a contract. Oh wow.
Okay. So I was amazingly fortunate [00:13:00] to get something that soon,
Rachel: yeah. To not have to query more than one.
Kevin: Yes. I had done some querying before, but it was much earlier in the process where the writing was still not good. Mm-hmm. and I got no responses.
Rachel: which makes sense. Yeah. Yeah. Because it wasn’t ready yet.
Right, exactly. I had to figure that out.
I know you and I have talked prior to this conversation, so I know that it’s a smaller publisher, and did you do that on purpose? Did you meet with a smaller publisher? Like was that an intentional decision or were you just more like, oh, I like kind of what other books they publish or like what was your thought process behind who you picked to pitch two.
Kevin: Um, basically, oh, and I, I actually did send my manuscript, I did send a query to an agent. Okay. About this same time, um, and didn’t hear back from them. Um, but this particular publisher, [00:14:00] I just looked through the list of who was gonna be available at, to conference. It was a, it was a Seattle conference.
Mm-hmm. That I picked because it was local and I could go to it easily. Yeah. and it, you know, it was gonna be my first conference, my first time pitching. I figured I’ll just go and practice. I don’t expect anything to come of it really, but I’ll work on it and see how it goes and learn from it. So
Rachel: that’s a great attitude to have going into a conference.
Kevin: Yes, yes. Because you can always learn from it. Yes, you can. So I, I read basically the bio of, of each person that I could apply to get an interview with and what they were looking for. Mm-hmm. and what kind of stuff they published and I found of the ones on the list, there were two there were looking for what I had to offer.
Rachel: And was that specifically fiction and fantasy? Is that
Kevin: specifically Yes. Okay. Fantasy. Um, young adult. [00:15:00] Mm. And although I didn’t necessarily have to pitch it as young adult, it just, it kind of fits because the main characters are, are young adults and it’s clean. Yes. So it’s kind of, it’s kind of a bridge.
Rachel: Between, let’s be honest, young adult fiction or fantasy fiction is starting to get less and less clean these days.
Kevin: It’s true. It’s true. More about that later than one of the other questions. Yes. , um. Yeah. So between the two, then I went and looked at their websites and other things they had published, and one of them, the cover art looked cheap Mm.
On all of their books. And I don’t want cheap cover art on my book, right? Mm-hmm. The other one, the cover art didn’t blow me away, but it was nice. Yeah.
Rachel: And when it, especially when it comes to fantasy. There’s a certain look to a fantasy novel that you [00:16:00] just have to kind of hit. Mm-hmm. you know, it just, it’s expected.
And so I understand why that would be so important to you.
Kevin: Yes, yes. So it was a combination of it’s what was available and of what, of what was available. This looked like the best option.
Rachel: Which is kind of sad to say that that’s how it goes, but I mean, that’s true for a lot of conferences that people go to with the purpose to pitch to an agent or an editor. And oftentimes they find that when it comes to fiction, the options are very limited. And then you narrow it down to genre, like not every agent is willing to take on certain genres. That’s not to say a negative thing about agents or editors not being willing to take certain genres. That’s a business decision that they have to make. But when it comes to having, you know, limited options to pitch to it, just, it can be really discouraging as a fiction writer. Yes. Yeah. So I do have, I do think that was good that you walked into that with an attitude of [00:17:00] wanting to just learn from it and practice, because it could be discouraging. Like, oh, these are my only two options. Hopefully something happens, you know? Um, so that’s good that you walked into it. So you got the book contract. How long did it take them to publish it? Like how long was the turnaround time from contract to publication?
Kevin: It was about three years.
Rachel: Okay. That’s a long time.
Kevin: That is a long time. I had a lot of issues with timing and communication. Okay. And a big part of it was probably that it happened right at the pandemic.
Rachel: Oh yes. Your poor book, . Yes,
Kevin: it was.
Rachel: It’s one of those
Kevin: terrible timing. Yes. Terrible timing. And so being a very small publisher, they had very small staff. Several of their staff were sick. [00:18:00] Yes.
Rachel: At various
Kevin: times. Yeah. Inconvenient times.
Rachel: Inconvenient times. Yep. Exactly. Yeah. Oh, man.
Kevin: But the other problem is they didn’t really do well at the scheduling and, and handling those situations. The, the, the person who was my initial contact did not communicate at all.
I waited months and months to hear anything, and finally when I wrote, she would send back a one sentence reply of, it’s fine, I’ll let you know. Yeah, it’s fine. I’ll let you know. Mm-hmm. Two years went by of that.
Rachel: Oh my goodness. And you can’t get out of it cuz you’re in a contract. Right?
Well, in my contract it was if the book’s not published within 12 months, I had the right to get out of the contract.
Rachel: So why did you choose to stay in it? [00:19:00]
Kevin: Because I thought maybe it’s just this one person. Mm. So I wrote to the, the head of the publishing company and explained to her the situation, this is what’s going on. Mm-hmm. can you tell me what’s going on? Can you give me more information?
Right. And she immediately wrote, Oh, I’m so sorry. This is the first I’m hearing of this. I’ll get on it myself. I’ll get things moving. And she did start to get things moving right away. And so then I was like, okay, that was it. It’s fine. The problem is it didn’t last long.
Rachel: yes. As oftentimes those situations, that’s what happens, right?
The, yeah. Boss kind of says something, the person puts eyes on it for a little bit more, via is a little bit more attentive to it, and then it starts to fizzle out again because probably she Had too much on her plate and couldn’t handle the demand. And then you throw in all the various nuances of the, you know, challenges that [00:20:00] the pandemic brings along.
That is a drawback of working with a smaller publisher, is that they, they just don’t have the same level of staff or the same level to handle when those disruptions come.
Kevin: Yeah, and, and I was, I tried to be very understanding with the, with the delays and the setbacks.
My, my biggest frustration was with the communication because the communication never improved. They told me over and over and over again, they would promise me, here, I’ll get you this information tomorrow. Mm. And then that never came and they would never follow up on it. Yeah. They would never get back to me and say, I’m sorry, we’re working on it.
I would wait a week, two weeks, and then finally I’d contact them and then they would say, oh yeah, yeah. Sorry about that. We’ll get it. I’ll get it to you in the next couple of days. Yeah. And you know, and they still wouldn’t.
Rachel: To be honest, you’re not the only person that I’ve heard that kind of, um, From as far as like working with different publishers like, or agents even like I sent an email but nobody responded to [00:21:00] me.
And I think especially for us as writers who like. that, you know, we’re in this whole world of writing and communication. So then to not have somebody communicate what’s going, even just to say like, this is a situation. This is when I’ll get it to you and then deliver on that. Like it feels weird. Yeah.
Come on. We’re all like, we’re in this writing industry. We are in the whole industry of communication. Why is the communication so bad? Like it should, it shouldn’t be this way, so, right. It’s just such a frustration. , but it comes down to people being overworked and under-resourced and you know Yeah. All the things that always, but it shouldn’t be that way.
It shouldn’t be that way. Especially when a publisher is working with a, a writer and they’re saying like, oh, we’re in this partnership together. You’re not an employee of the publisher. Right. You are. Right. You’re in a partnership with them. They should be communicating to you.
Kevin: Yes. And, and the worst part is they ended up sabotaging the book launch. Sabotaging themselves and me at the same time [00:22:00] because of the lack of communication. Of the lack of communication because they, they told me, they promised me they would give me information about getting advanced reader copies to get out to people. Yeah, they never did. I never got access to advanced reader copies, and they did not give me a release date until two weeks before.
Rachel: Oh my gosh. Okay. Like what are you supposed to do with that time?
Kevin: Yeah. I had no time to set up anything, so.
Rachel: Okay. I, I vaguely remember, like I knew you were had been working on a book, cuz I’ve been following you for a while now. Mm-hmm. , I mean, we met, met in Hope writers and I’ve been like following you on Instagram and I had like known, like I knew you were working on a book and then I knew you had gotten the book deal, but then all of a sudden it seemed like, to me it seemed like, oh, the book’s coming out.
And I was like, wait, how did I miss all of that. But you’re saying that it was like that for you too, like Yes, it was. Oh gosh, it’s coming. What do we do? Yeah. Yeah. Oh my goodness. How awful. Yeah. Especially cause of that. Especially after like this [00:23:00] is something that has been, you have been working on for years and years and years.
Mm-hmm. And to not give it, it’s fanfare that it deserved. That had to be really tough.
Kevin: Yeah. So there were like a dozen people who had, who had read it as beta readers and, and if some of them pre-ordered, I don’t know how many of them, but it’s just a very small number. And I had like three or four reviews on launch day, which is terrible.
You want to get a bunch of Yeah pre-orders and reviews on launch data really get rolling on the mm-hmm. Amazon algorithm and Right. Got nothing.
Rachel: Is it a true traditional publisher in that like they acquired you, they gave you an advance, they did all the production costs and everything. It’s not a hybrid, right? Like is it true traditional?
Kevin: It’s a true traditional. Okay. They, they paid the, I didn’t pay for any of it. Okay. They paid all the costs. They did not send me in advance, but that’s actually common with small publishers.
Rachel: Okay. So then it, it’s more based off of royalties then?
Kevin: Yes. [00:24:00] As a matter of fact, advances are also based off of royalties. Yes. They just expected royalties.
Rachel: Yes, exactly. They’re prepaying you, your share of the profit. Yes, exactly. Yeah. It’s not a con. Yes, I have a whole, it’s not a bonus, a whole opinion on all of that, but conversation for another time.
Did they do any projected, um, book sales with you? Did they say like, oh, this is what we were thinking? Anything like that, did they give you any kind of guidance in that area?
Kevin: Um, two times they said they tried to arrange a phone call with me to discuss marketing publicity business side of things didn’t happen either.
Okay. Um, and then two or three times they said, well, after each failed call mm-hmm. and once or twice, otherwise, when I asked about it, they said, oh, I’ll send you something. I’ll get. Get you together the information and, and answer [00:25:00] all your questions in an email. Mm-hmm. Never, that never came either,
Rachel: man. You just really did not have a good, like when you say you did not have a good experience with working with this small and publisher, you really mean you did not have a good experience.
Nothing. I’m so sorry. I feel so bad for you cuz I’m like, that’s not how it’s supposed to be. Right. Right. Oh man. With your contract? Like are you able to do anything on your end to like kind of relaunch it and rework it? And like, as far as the marketing side goes?
Kevin: I’m sure if I wanted to put the effort in, I could put together some kind of post publication launch.
Rachel: Okay. You do have the freedom to do something like that then? Yes. Oh, well that’s good though. Do you? That kind of brings me to one of my questions I wanna ask you, like, we’re entrepreneurs really, when we’re writers, we’re these, we’re in this online entrepreneurial space, even though we don’t realize it when we first go in.
I mean, we’re [00:26:00] oftentimes novelists are like you. They’re like, Ooh. Fun idea. I wanna share it with the world. And then they get into this world and they’re like, oh my gosh, what did I get myself into? Like, I didn’t know how to learn all this stuff. Like, I just wanted to tell a story. Um, is that, has that been the case for you?
Are you like, oh my goodness, I don’t know if I have like the, like, I don’t know if I wanna put on this entrepreneurial hat, or are you like, I’m okay. I think I’m getting my feet underneath me with it.
Kevin: I absolutely want nothing to do with that side.
Rachel: You’re, I appreciate your honesty. Cause not everybody does.
Kevin: I would be perfectly happy to sit back and just stay in my cave and do nothing but write and Yeah. You know, but happened what will only outside. Yes.
Rachel: So has your book sold, like how do you know how many copies your book has? .
Kevin: There’s another ongoing issue is of course it’s, it’s on [00:27:00] Amazon, but I can’t, it’s through the publisher’s account, so I can’t look at the numbers directly.
Rachel: Yeah, I’ve heard that too from other friends of mine who mm-hmm. , same thing. They’re like, I, I don’t, getting information on analytics is so tough.
Kevin: Oh yeah. So they, they get, they get a quarterly report and payment from Amazon. Mm-hmm. , which they then summarize and send me my part. Okay. So far I’ve had one quarterly report.
Rachel: Okay. How long has the book been out? Came out in February. So you should have had at least like two Yes. Right.
Rachel: Kevin, I’m like, oh, my heart is breaking for you. I totally understand what you mean. So where do you think you’re gonna go from here? Like you had this kind of tough experience. Do you feel like you have another story in you. Do you feel like you need to do more with the one that you have currently? Like do you feel [00:28:00] like you need to do more to get it out in front of more people or are you like, it’s here, it’s available. I have this other one that I’m gonna go towards and maybe as people learn about this one, they’ll learn about that one.
It like, where are you at and you’re kind of overarching writing journey. ,
Kevin: I am tired is where I’m at.
Yeah, don’t blame you.
You know, I would like to have a way to get it out in front of people. Um, I still, I have a box of books that I carry around in the car with me, and just yesterday I sold two copies in person.
I have an idea for another novel. Mm-hmm. said in the same world that actually would be a prequel. Okay. Which is a funny story. Mia because it, it, it came from a misunderstanding.
Rachel: Oh, okay.
Kevin: Yes. When I, when I first, one of the early [00:29:00] additions of my book, some of the first, one of the first test readers I gave it to, part of her feedback was, well, there’s all this, these magical abilities that are just coming out of nowhere.
And so I was like, oh, well I should give more of the backstory of the magic and how it was developed. And what she meant was it needed more foreshadowing. Oh. She didn’t know how to express that. But that I, yeah, I eventually figured out that that’s what she meant. But by then I had already thought of, because there is a backstory.
Mm. Um, with the main plot point is that there’s this curse that’s been on these people for generations. Mm-hmm. and there’s one scene that’s kind of a, a, one of the characters has a vision of how the curse was of when the curse was put on these people, on his ancestors. [00:30:00] Okay. So you get this little snippet of flashback showing the, just the few minutes around the curse happening.
Mm-hmm. , but there’s a lot more to the, that, that part of the story that you never see. Okay. And so I decided I would go back and write that story.
Rachel: So that’s the one that you have in mind?
Kevin: It is. Okay. And I actually started it, um, I did a whole, um, outline. Okay. And started writing.
Rachel: Because you’re not gonna pants it this time.
Kevin: Exactly. ? Not totally. No. Totally. It’s
Rachel: not a, I think people are, I think people sometimes misunderstand, like when, when people are saying like, oh, you need to actually plot out the, the story. They’re not saying like, you can’t come with a premise or come with an idea or that even you can explore as you’re, but to at least have some sort of structure in which cuz creativity thrives in structure as much as we hate it.
As you know, creatives, we tend to be more [00:31:00] like free spirited, but like we need structure for our creativity to really flourish. And that’s what you’re giving your story when you plot it out a little bit?
Kevin: Yes. Yes. The, the trouble I’m having with it is I haven’t fallen in love with it like I did the first one.
Rachel: Do you think that’s from your experience with the publisher? I don’t think like a little bit of, oh, no. Okay. No. You just think
Kevin: it’s, I think it’s just the story isn’t as exciting to me. Mm. Um, I, there’s not as much action and adventure in it, and that’s the part I really love.
Rachel: Oh, cuz it’s more of an explanation of how it all came about. Exactly.
Kevin: Yeah. And there, there is some action and there, but there’s not as much, um,
Rachel: like not as much at stake. Yeah. So it almost seems like you need to bring this story earlier, even maybe that the stake is, can we avoid this curse or not?[00:32:00]
Kevin: I actually am starting before the, the curse happens near the end of the.
Rachel: Well, there you go. This will be interesting. I’m like, now I’m all intrigued, like, how are you gonna, how are you gonna, how are you going to, um, uh, resolve this little quandary you find yourself in, of not being in love with the story?
Like how can you raise the stakes a little bit so you’re invested in it? And I think that’s like, if you’re not invested in it, is the reader going to be invested in it?
Kevin: Right? Yeah. Right. Because I mean, there are stakes. That are pretty high, but you don’t see them. It doesn’t feel as immediate and intense.
Right. And the characters aren’t put in life-threatening situations
Rachel: like they are in your current novel. Yeah. Yeah. Makes sense. Well, this is, I think, a good time for us to kind of, um, dive into the question about the fact that your book is, not technically a Christian novel, right? It’s not overtly Christian, it doesn’t [00:33:00] mention God.
Was that an intentional decision? Is that just how the story unfolded for you? Um, kinda where do you land in that whole, like if I’m a Christian writing this, should it say God in it, you know what? How did you make that decision for this novel?
Kevin: Um, I just wanted to write this story that came into my head.
Okay. And, and the story was just this fantasy world and these people. Mm-hmm. Um, I’ve always had some mild distaste and not, not my preference to read stories that seem to preach at me. Mm-hmm. , you know, even take a, a fiction story and if it’s clearly the whole thing modeled around a point they’re trying to make.
Yep. It kills the story.
It does completely.
And I did not want that.
Rachel: I mean, you mentioned CS Lewis and Tolkin and, and these people who are [00:34:00] able to give a world that reflected their worldview mm-hmm. Their Christian worldview without being preachy, but that pointed back to the creator. And so it sounds like you were trying to do the same thing in this novel. You were just trying to let the story unfold and let your worldview influence it as you wrote, instead of trying to create a Christian novel or Christian story or a story for Christians, however you wanna phrase it.
Kevin: Right, right. And well, it’s my firm belief that you can’t avoid putting your worldview into the story. I agree. Whenever we write from who we. And so I’m a believer I have certain strong values and that absolutely comes out in my story, but it comes out naturally because I didn’t put it there artificially. If you insert it artificially, it’s gonna read artificial. If you just write the characters how you think the characters are. [00:35:00] Then it’s gonna come out naturally. So the characters have a religion and so they worship, uh, God that I call the God of light. And there are, but there are specific reasons for that in the, in the plot, in the storyline that you discover as the story unfolds and you learn more about the nature of their magic. Okay. Because their, their magic is strongly based in their religion. Okay. Yeah. I put that in because it naturally fit. That’s who they are. Mm-hmm. and yeah. It’s, it’s a part of their world. As much as, um, the magic system and the politics and everything else, it’s part of the world building. It’s not something I inserted with a purpose if I want it to look like this. It just, yes, everything kind of grew organically to fit the story.
Rachel: I love that and I love how you describe that about if we.
Artificially insert it, it’s gonna read [00:36:00] artificially. But if we naturally let it develop in the story, it will feel natural to the reader and they will receive it and experience it that way as well. Mm-hmm. , I love how you said that, and that’s very wise in the way that you approached that.
Not being overtly Christian or overtly secular did that make it difficult to find a publisher?
Kevin: That’s actually difficult to know, I think. Okay. Because there are so many hurdles and barriers.
Um, I think the bigger barrier was just. Figuring out how to, to pitch it, to make it sound like what they’re looking for. there are some Christian publishers that look for overtly Christian things. Mm-hmm and I didn’t fit those. Right. And that’s okay. Mm-hmm. I don’t think it excluded me from any of the secular publishers automatically.
Okay. Because [00:37:00] I didn’t have to present it as Christian. True. True. This is an action adventure novel. Mm. That’s clean enough for young readers. Got it. And so if that’s what they wanted, there would be nothing in the way of them picking it up, I think.
Rachel: so your book is a fantasy novel. What kind of challenges did you, what kind of challenges do you face as a fantasy? As far as marketing and promotion and all that goes, what kind of challenges do you come up against, especially since it’s ya fantasy.
Kevin: The fantasy stories that I fell in love with were the classic old school fantasies and a, but a lot of them had issues. Mm. With chauvinism cultural things that just hadn’t been worked out yet. And they all tended to have these strong male leaders as the MA main charact.[00:38:00]
If there was any romance, it was kind of on the sideline and sometimes it wasn’t treated very well. Right. So, but I loved the action and adventure side of it. Mm-hmm. and that it did so well. Yes. Well, in modern young adult in particular. Mm-hmm. has, the pendulum has swung so far the other way, it’s mostly.
It’s mostly romance. Yes. To the point where all the genres, all the sub-genres of young adult. If it’s contemporary, it’s contemporary romance. Mm-hmm. , if it’s science fiction, it’s romance. In a science fiction setting, if it’s fantasy, it’s romance in a fantasy setting. And that’s interesting. I don’t wanna read that.
So, so what the story I wrote is the kind of story I love, but updated to kind of resolve some of the issues of the classic ones. Okay. So I have some strong female point of view [00:39:00] characters and so on and, but the romance is way toned down. There is a little sideline of romance. Okay. But it’s not the main focus.
It’s mainly action adventure.
Rachel: Okay, that makes sense.
Kevin: The problem is the readers who like that, I think a lot of them have given up on young adults. I think you’re right. And when they see young adult, they, oh, I don’t wanna read another one of those. That’s
Rachel: interesting and a really good point that just adds another layer of difficulty to marketing.
Yes. If your reader doesn’t know that, that is what you’re gonna pick up and get, because that’s not what the current market has for them. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. you have to like double down in explaining it. That is really interesting. Yes. It’s really tough.
Kevin: A friend of mine got the book for her teenage son and after I talked to her and she figured he would lie and he, like on their, they had a drive all day drive and he read it in one day in that drive, went all the way through it and then said, [00:40:00] mom, can I loan this to my friend?
Rachel: love it. Oh my gosh. I hope you got it. I hope you got a testimonial from him and put it on your. And No, I
Kevin: don’t, unfortunately I shouldn’t , I should. You’ll get that.
Rachel: It’s that testimonial and be like even teenage boys like this book.
Kevin: I think especially teenage boys. That’s a really tough
Kevin: That’s a tough sell.
It’s, it is. That’s the group that has mainly given up. I think there, yeah. A lot of teenage boys don’t read because they’re not finding books that they enjoy. Yes. Anybody will read if they find books they enjoy. I agree 100%. But the market is so heavily marketed toward girls right now.
Mm-hmm. especially in the YA because the boys are being left out. Especially in the YA.
Rachel: That’s interesting.
I know you’re still kind of in the beginning phase of it, but are you thinking that you’re going to pitch to another, um, publisher in the future?
Does your current publisher have like first right of refusal? Like where are you at with that whole, the contract side of things?
Kevin: They do have right of first refusal, [00:41:00] which from what I understand means I have to offer it to them first. I don’t have to accept the contract.
Rachel: Oh, okay. If they try to get me, that’s good to know.
Kevin: They, they have the right to say yes or no first, but even if they say yes, I can still say no, I’m not
Rachel: a good fit. Me. Okay. Yes. That’s good to know because then it, it doesn’t feel like you’re trapped.
Kevin: Right, exactly. So, so I think I might try self-publishing on my next one. Mm-hmm. If I get to that point.
Rachel: Yeah. Because first you gotta fall in love with the story. Right,
Kevin: exactly. First, I gotta fall in love with the story. But now that I’ve been through the process with a small publisher, and I kind of have seen just the bare nuts and bolts of what is required to get it out there. Mm-hmm. I think everything they did for me, I could have done Yeah. 10 times faster.
Rachel: Yes. . Yeah. It, there is something empowering once you get through the whole, you know, the whole um, [00:42:00] process that you are then like, okay, I’ve seen it all the way through. I can actually maybe just replicate this on my own and it might be better for me. So we’re, as we wrap up, I wanna just ask you a couple more questions. Okay. As a writer who’s a few, a little bit further down the road than some of those who are listening, what advice would you give to, um, a brand new fantasy writer who’s trying to navigate this?
Kevin: I would say, first of all, hold on to your love for the story. Hmm. Whatever it takes for you to do that. If you can hold on to your love for the story, you can figure out everything else. Mm-hmm. . Um, and I think a big part of that is keep on reading stories that you enjoy.
Rachel: Okay. Yeah. That’s solid. That’s good.
Kevin: Because I mean, not only is that gonna keep you [00:43:00] encouraged and motivated and and kind of fill your well, you’re also picking up things that you don’t even maybe consciously realize about craft and what makes the stories good.
Especially as you start to learn about craft. If you’re also reading, then you’ll start seeing it in application. True. And it will really.
Rachel: True. So true. Is there any kind of resource or tool that you’re like, okay, if you are a fantasy writer, you need to know about this?
Kevin: I really think part of it depends on your natural strengths and weaknesses mm-hmm. Um, so for me, I had to get the emotion thesarus.
Rachel: Mm. Yeah. It’s like a series, right? Or is it just one?
Kevin: It is, it’s, it’s a series. Like there’s the emotions thesaurus, the emotional wound thesaurus, the, yeah.
Rachel: And you can find those on Amazon. Amazon, right? Yeah. Yes. Okay. I just, somebody just recommended one to me the other day and I was like, I’ve never heard of these before, but I could see how they’re very [00:44:00] beneficial to have
Kevin: Yes. I mean, it’s just, it’s like a, a dictionary where you can look up an emotion. And it will give you, here are our different ways of expressing that emotion. Here’s how that emotion comes out in these situations. Mm-hmm. here’s some facial expressions and body language that express it. Just all these different ways of, of showing the emotion rather than just saying he was very angry.
Rachel: I could see how that would come in handy, especially. Okay, so your novel is around, how many words?
Kevin: It’s around 80,000.
Rachel: Okay. Yeah. Typically fantasy tend to be on the longer side. Um mm-hmm. even though that’s a little bit shorter than I think I’ve heard, like up to like a hundred thousand.
Yes. Words kind of somewhere between 80 and a hundred thousand is kind of, The camp you wanna land in if you’re writing fantasy. Um, right.
Kevin: And, and there’s different factors like the, the fact that it’s more ya tends to be on the lower end of the range.
Rachel: Okay. That makes sense.[00:45:00] Well, Kevin, I have appre, I have so appreciated just hearing your story, hearing your journey.
I think that, um, it’ll be really beneficial for brand new writers who are trying navigate this whole publishing world, navigate this whole business side of, of publishing a story, of having this story that you love and wanting to share it with readers and not knowing where to begin or where to start. And it just kind of gives a little bit of warning, like know what you’re getting yourself into.
Mm-hmm. , um, know that when you’re working with a smaller publisher, it has its benefits, but it also has its challenges. You might get picked up really quickly but then you might have some problems once you get picked up. And so just going into it with open eyes and, and um, that level of wisdom that you know, it is a business and you can stick up for yourself and you can advocate and just keep saying like, Hey, I need this information.
I need you to communicate better to me. Like that is your, you know, as a writer, you deserve to be able to be communicated with [00:46:00] when it’s your story that you’ve put so much time and energy into. And so I appreciate you being so open and honest about this journey and the challenges. I hope that you are entering into a period of rest and restoration when it comes to writing and that, um, you’ll be able to not only maybe craft your next novel, fall in love with it and craft that next novel, but also that your current novel and it’s called song the Adele adult, I, I asked you earlier, and I’ve already forgotten. How do you say it again? Ael. Ael. Which it’s a lovely, I was reading the description. I’m like, I, this is definitely on my, um, my next to read, uh, from fiction. Uh, that must get so long, doesn’t it? My to be red? Yes. So long. But it’s such a, it has, it seems like such a lovely story and so I’m really excited to dive into it.
but I just really hope for you that you’re entering into a, a time where people begin to hear about your story and it gets picked up and, and passed [00:47:00] along to others, and that it makes the impact that you really hope that people get to experience this story that you so love so dearly. And so I hope that this podcast is helps in doing that and getting the word out about your, your book.
And I’ll definitely link to it in the show notes. And how else can listeners stay connected with you, especially for future publications, how can they stay connected with you?
Kevin: I have a website, which is Kevin King author.com. I have a Facebook author page, which is Kevin King, author. and I have an Instagram account, which is Kevin King, author.
Rachel: And you do flash fiction on your Instagram??
Kevin: I do. Flash fiction, yes. They’re
Rachel: very good. They’re very good. I read them .
Kevin: Thank you. That, that is what has kept me writing because on my, the other novel that I’m working on, I’m stuck. I haven’t gotten anything new, but I keep writing the flash fiction to keep flowing cuz [00:48:00] I have to.
You do practice, it’s, and it’s just fun. It gives me a variety of things.
Rachel: Well, thank you again for coming and sharing your journey with us. I appreciate it. And for those of you who are listening, make sure you come back next week as we continue this conversation about the business of Christian Fiction.
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Hey! I'm Rachel and I'm so glad you're here today!
I help Christian fiction writers figure out how they can make an impact and an income from their storytelling while keeping rest a priority.
You can learn more about how I’m in your corner here.
And you can learn more about my personal journey here.
One last thing, if you’re looking for a bit more rest in your life, be sure to check out the Rest & Reflect guided journal.