An Interview with Sir Fob W. Pot

As we near publication of Sir Fob W. Pot’s Journey to Katahdin, Volume 2, Mob (the Mother of Boy) sat down with Fob for an interview…

Mob: “So, Fob, you are about to publish the second and final volume of your AT journey. Tell us how you feel?”

Fob: “I feel a sense of joy, relief, and excitement…like giving birth.”

Mob: “Believe me, you know nothing about giving birth.”

Fob: “Valid point, Mob. But from what I’ve observed, both processes are messy, with hopefully a good outcome.”

Mob: “How does the second volume differ from the first?”

Fob: “I think Vol 2 paints a more realistic picture of how physically difficult an AT hike is. In the first half of my journey, everything was new, exciting, and mostly fun. In the second half, we get down to business. The White Mountains and southern Maine opened a jar of whoopin’ on Fob. It was really tough at times, and I hope I captured that in this latest volume.”

Mob: “Anything else?”

Fob: “It’s longer…60 pages and 27,000 words longer. Longer doesn’t necessarily mean better, but in this case, I hope it does. I think I dug deeper and had more ground to cover.”

Mob: “You decided to self-publish both books. Why did you choose that route?”

Fob: “Three reasons. First, I wanted to get both books written and published relatively quickly…within a year of completing my hike. I’m told it can take months to even hear back from publishers (if at all), and years to see the books in print (if at all). Second, I wanted complete control over content. I didn’t want a nature-based publisher telling me to take out all the “God stuff,” nor did I want a religious-oriented publisher telling me to take out the embarrassing stuff related to bodily functions. I happen to be a Christian who had bodily functions and other embarrassing incidents happen on the trail. That was all part of my journey…my story…and I wanted to tell all of it.”

Mob: “And your third reason?”

Fob: “Writing, to me, is a creative outlet, a ministry at times, and a hobby. Like a teenager who considers working on cars his hobby, I wanted to learn the process from A to Z. Can I go from a blank sheet of paper (screen) to a published book? Can I (well, we) edit the manuscript, design the cover, create an author Facebook page, market the book, and the rest of the process? All that has been a challenge…an opportunity to learn and grow. Like that teenager, I wanted to do my own oil change and change my own spark plugs. I also want to become proficient enough to help others self-publish their books.”

Mob: “But are there downsides to that approach?”

Fob: “Absolutely. I don’t have a team of professionals doing the editing, designing and marketing for me. I also don’t get to take advantage of the distribution and marketing channels of big publishing houses. I remember walking into Powell’s Book Store in Portland, Oregon…the largest independent new and used bookstore in the world…with 68,000 square feet of books…and my book wasn’t there. Pretty humbling. If I want it there, it’s all on me.”

Mob: “And your friends and family.”

Fob: “Exactly. I rely on the word of mouth of family and friends who believe in me. They tell a friend about my book, or buy the book as a gift for someone, or order the book for their local library. I suppose if my goal was to be a “professional writer” and make a living doing it, I might have gone with a publisher. Instead, I’m a hobbyist. My goal is to encourage people…to make them laugh, to make them think, to let them experience a trail they may never get a chance to thru-hike. I love the idea that someday, my great, great, great grandchild will be able read these tales. I would love to have something…anything…that my great, great, great grandfather or grandmother wrote about his/her life and adventures.”

Mob: “For those who might be interested in self-publishing, how much does it cost?”

Fob: “Aside from hundreds, no, thousands of hours of time, it cost me $139 per book. $99 for an ISBN (which can be gotten for free but there are downsides which I won’t get into), $30 for a Facebook boosted post (also optional), and $10 to order two proof copies of the book to review (also optional). So, literally, using Amazon’s CreateSpace, I could have published both books without spending a dime. By not having to pay an editor, book cover designer, web/Facebook page designer, etc., I recouped my investment on the day of publication. That was kind of important for a fixed income couple like ourselves.”

Mob: “So, for someone who wants to write a book, they can self-publish and not spend any money?”

Fob: “That’s true. The much bigger hurdle is having the time. And having a story worth telling. There are a lot of great stories out there still waiting to be told.”

Mob: “Without giving away too many details, what else can you tell readers about Volume 2?”

Fob: “Well, Fob dies at the end…just kidding! Let’s see…I can tell you there will be some new characters…I think readers will enjoy meeting Allan from Colorado, Cousteau from Louisiana and Li, my Chinese hiking buddy. I still laugh thinking about Li. There are more flashbacks to my life…what it was like growing up a Johnson. And a few more short, historical lessons on places I hiked through.”

Mob: “And more Fob Fundamentals.”

Fob: “Of course! I learned, or was reminded of, so many lessons during my hike. So, once again, I’ve captured them as Fob Fundamentals. I got really good feedback from readers on them from Vol 1…along with one guy who thought the book was well-written but too religious for his taste. Anytime you put your creative work out there for the world to see…especially personal beliefs related to matters of faith, you can expect some pushback. I’m okay with that. Not everyone sees the world from a Christian worldview. But I’ll continue to write from that perspective, because that’s who I am.”

Mob: “Any surprises in the book?”

Fob: “If I told you, they wouldn’t be surprises. But readers may be surprised to hear my re-writes of songs from artists ranging from John Lennon to the Ooompa-Loompas. I also take on a Billy Joel classic, which I renamed, “We Didn’t Start the Campfire.” It’s amazing what enters the mind when one is alone in the wilderness for long periods of time.”

Mob: “So when does your book tour begin?”

Fob: “There’s not really a book tour, per se. But, I’ve accepted invitations to speak about my AT journey to various groups and churches in Texas, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Florida, beginning in October. If we’re in the vicinity of a group interested in hearing about my tale in person, I’ll do my best to visit.”

Mob: “With all our travels, how would someone know what vicinity you’re in?”

Fob: “On our web page,, there’s a link called “Current RV Travel Map” at the top. I try to keep that updated.”

Mob: “Last question. Now that you’ve completed your second and final AT book, do you have other writing projects in mind?”

Fob: “I actually have 5 or 6 book ideas swirling around in my head. The most compelling is an interesting and unique approach to a 365-Day daily devotional book. I’ve been thinking and praying about that. If I think long enough about something, the book tends to write itself.”

Mob: “One more thing…earlier, you mentioned oil changes on a car. I don’t remember you ever doing one of those.”

Fob: “Now hon, that was just an analogy. You know cars aren’t my hobby!”


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