Cameron Stutter, the creator of Plottr, talks with us about using the planning software to boost your productivity and inspiration as an author.
Plottr is the wildly popular visual planning software tool for books and stories of all kinds. Today we sit down with its creator, Cameron Stutter, to learn exactly how the tool helps authors turbocharge their productivity.
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Kevin Tumlinson, Cameron Sutter
Kevin Tumlinson 00:02
Well, hello, everybody. Thanks for tuning in to Self-Publishing Insiders with Draft2Digital. I’m looking forward to this chat because my guest today, Cameron Sutter, we’ve been in brief contact from time to time, I think. We’ve been to several conferences together now. And I take full credit for something your company does now. And we’re gonna get into a little bit of that. So, welcome to the show, Cameron.
Cameron Sutter 00:32
Thanks. Thanks for having me. I’m super excited to be here.
Kevin Tumlinson 00:33
Now, we’ve talked about Pottr on the show before, we had Ryan was on as a guest at one point, I think you may have been on as a guest at one point too.
Cameron Sutter 00:42
I think so, a couple years ago. Yeah.
Kevin Tumlinson 00:45
It’s good to do an update every now and then. So let’s say that you were on, let’s say two years ago. So what has changed with Pottr in the past? First of all, tell us what Plottr is, for those who may not know.
Cameron Sutter 00:59
Yeah, so Plottr is a visual story planning software tool that helps you to organize your series bible and visually plot out your stories and books of all kinds.
Kevin Tumlinson 01:13
Yeah, and I’ve played around with it, I like it. I’m not a plotter myself. I know that you have functionality intended to lure in the pantsers of the world.
Cameron Sutter 01:26
Yes, we will convert you yet. It’s great for pantsers as well.
Kevin Tumlinson 01:30
Yeah. How is it great for pantsers? How would a pantser use it?
Cameron Sutter 01:34
Yeah, so a couple different ways. It’s really great for the editing process. So after you write the first draft, going back and trying to rework things that aren’t working, and move things around visually, really great for that. It’s really great for the series bible. Because once you get to Book Three, Book 10, you’re not going to remember the details of those side characters, or the little details of your main characters even, in like book one. And so keeping track of all those kinds of things in one place for the whole series is super powerful, even for pantsers. It does take a little bit of work for them. But it’ll save you so much time and emails from readers saying, you changed his eye color. Why’d you do that?
Kevin Tumlinson 02:19
Yeah. See, those are the rough ones, man. Because you don’t always remember that stuff. And it doesn’t come up often enough to be notable. So having a way to reference that would be very handy, I’ll admit.
Cameron Sutter 02:34
I found that I’m not a hardcore plotter either. I’m definitely in the middle somewhere. And I found that I kind of plot a few steps ahead of where I’m writing. And so I’ve got like, I kind of pants it for a little bit, but I’ve got a plan as I go. And so it’s been really great for that, too.
Kevin Tumlinson 02:53
That’s an intriguing way to, to go about it. I mean, that sort of plan as you go kind of thing. So how would you use Plottr in that way?
Cameron Sutter 03:05
So what I do most of the time, and every book seems to be different. And the ideas come in different ways, different times. But I kind of, so I’ve got the whole thing on a Plottr timeline, and whatever I know at the moment I put on there. And then as I’m writing, more ideas are coming, and sometimes they’re for this scene, sometimes they’re for the previous scenes, and sometimes the future of the story. And so just as I get ideas, I’ve put them on there and I can drag and drop and move them around as they need to, but just usually wherever I’m writing I usually have a few ideas ahead of where I am and so I put those in Plottr before I forget them, before I write the next part of it, and then when I get there I have them.
Kevin Tumlinson 03:46
yeah, that is handy. One thing I kind of regret after being in this business for as many years as I have is that I don’t have like a series bible. You know, I don’t have a reference. I’ve been half tempted to ask my readers to contribute to a wiki, to kind of take the lazy man’s way out. I would love to do something like this, but man, I gotta go back to all those books? That’s a lot of books, man.
Cameron Sutter 04:22
I know. Well, so a couple of things about that, we’re thinking about having some sort of service where you can pay somebody to do that for you. I know that already exists out there, but maybe we could do it in house and I think a lot of people are in your same situation. And the other thing about that is, I’m in that situation with a series I started before I made Plottr, and so now just recently I reread book one to like put it in Plottr and try to remember all the details so I could keep going with the series. Yeah, I know the pain.
Kevin Tumlinson 04:54
Yeah. So that brings up a good point, like what was the original inspiration? Like what made you decide, okay, I’m in the software development industry now as well as being an author. What prompted that?
Cameron Sutter 05:10
Yeah, so shortly after taking a class by Brandon Sanderson. He teaches at BYU in Utah. And I’d taken his class my last year of college. And so I’d already graduated, got my first job. And I’ve been writing on and off my whole life, since like, first grade. And so I was back into writing, really excited about it, I’d written a couple models. And I’d made a writing group at my job. And about once a week, sometimes more during lunch, we’d get together and talk about writing, review each other’s stuff, and we’d talk about software tools. And so we were experimenting with different ones, I tried a ton of them. And nothing was exactly what we were hoping for. And I just saw in my head the threads of a story weaving together. And I thought there had to be some sort of way to represent that in software, you know, somebody’s got to have a tool. But I couldn’t find anything that was what I was thinking. And so I just started building it kind of as like a hack week project, you know, if you’re familiar with that term, it just means like, you just try and build something quick and dirty, as fast as you can, just for fun, and then worry about the important, like, is this stable and secure kind of stuff later. It’s kind of like a first draft, right? And I started sharing it with people in my writing group, they seemed to like it. And it was great for my own writing. It was really helpful. And then I put it on a couple forums, just to see what other people would think. And the forum owners didn’t really appreciate that, because they thought it was like, self promoting, you know. But it started spreading. And so I got a couple hundred beta testers from there. And then years later, I started charging for it. I’m like, man, this really has some value to it. And so yeah, I guess you didn’t really ask for the whole story. But then I met Ryan, and in 2020, we kind of relaunched it as like a full, like, I quit my job and started doing this full time. And it’s a real deal now. So not just a little side project.
Kevin Tumlinson 07:14
Yeah, it’s funny how that works out. Like all the best tools and software and resources for the indie author industry started pretty much that way. You know, like, somebody said, I wish I could do this, and no one’s doing it. So I’ll just make it. That’s how Draft2Digital started as well. So, okay, so you talked about connecting with Ryan. Like, what was the shift there? When you guys came together, like, what was the impetus of that? How did you guys end up connecting?
Cameron Sutter 07:50
Yeah, so I had been thinking for a while that I’m not a great marketer, you know, and like, this has value, but I’m not great at getting it out there. And my plan actually was to just leave my job and do it myself. And try and be a good marketer, and just hope it went well, and hope I could feed my family, we lived off savings for a few months, you know, and we used up all our savings. And, you know, I think I had five kids at the time. And so it was a little scary. But luckily, before that, I had been looking for kind of partners, but nobody I felt was a good fit. And then one day, I get a message from Ryan, that he had heard about Plottr from the 20Books Facebook group. And so he thought it was interesting, he thought he wanted to use it, and he thought it was a good tool. And the more he looked at it, the more we talked, he’s like, this has some real merit to it. I think we could make a go of this. And I think I’d be a good partner, I could really do good. And then I started seeing what he’s done in the the writer industry and how influential and how good of a marketer he is with authors. And we’re like, this is a good fit. This is a really good fit.
Kevin Tumlinson 09:03
Let’s test to see if Ryan is watching. He has to email me today using the phrase tuna sandwich. All right. So moving on.
Cameron Sutter 09:15
And correct anything that I said wrong.
Kevin Tumlinson 09:20
So, okay, that’s very cool. And I mean, that’s one of those, = we love to hear about the chocolate and peanut butter coming together. That’s how I think the greatest partnerships in this business evolve. You know, they all start like that.
Cameron Sutter 09:39
Yeah, it was perfect. It was great. We work really well together. And it’s been a really good fit. And at one point, he told me, and it’s not just him. You know, a lot of people say this, but like, it doesn’t matter how good your product is, if you can’t get it out there. And it’s so true, and like I was just hoping and praying that I would get it out there. And then it would spread, you know, and it wouldn’t have spread nearly as much if he hadn’t been involved, so.
Kevin Tumlinson 10:03
Yeah, you gotta have the right people. I’m gonna bring this up now, because I don’t want to forget about it, but you guys have a mascot.
Cameron Sutter 10:12
Yes. Is this what you’re going to take credit for?
Kevin Tumlinson 10:18
This is what I’m taking credit for. Yeah, Ryan was really opposed to, what was it, the platypus?
Cameron Sutter 10:28
The platypus. The Plottr platypus. Yeah. That was my original idea.
Kevin Tumlinson 10:32
I loved it, I wanted to see a Plottr platypus, but you landed on something else. I suggested something, humbly submitting. You guys landed on the Plottr otter, and you have one.
Cameron Sutter 10:51
The Plottr otter.
Kevin Tumlinson 10:54
Cameron Sutter 10:56
So this is one that somebody on our team, his 10 year old daughter crocheted for us. And it’s got a little, I don’t know if you can see, I’ll hold this up to the camera. It’s got a little tag that says Plottr on it and yeah, she made a bunch of these, and we were giving them away at 20Books last year. And it caused like a whole …. Were you there at 20Books?
Kevin Tumlinson 11:21
I didn’t get a Plottr otter.
Cameron Sutter 11:23
Oh man. How could the creator of the Plottr otter not get one? I’m pretty sure we have some extras and if not, I will ask her to make another one.
Kevin Tumlinson 11:35
It sounds like they’re a lot of work. Don’t put her out on my account.
Cameron Sutter 11:39
She made like 10 of them in two weeks or something, she did it super fast. But it started this whole this whole thing with my obsession with otters, and now we’ve got stickers and we’ve got some merchandise that we’re planning for the future, shirts and stuff with the Plottr otter. it’s gonna be fun. Thank you. They’re gonna have costumes, so there’s going to be the romance Plottr otter and the detective Plottr otter and the Sci Fi Plottr otter, things like that.
Kevin Tumlinson 12:15
Okay, well then you have to get like a life size costume to wear to one of the conferences. I think what we could do is buy, here in Texas they have Bucees, and they have one of the things they’ll sell from time to time is the full size Bucee beaver costume. I think we can modify the Bucee beaver costume to be a Plottr otter.
Cameron Sutter 12:36
All right, I’ll wear it during a presentation or something.
Kevin Tumlinson 12:43
Do it. All right, so you know I’ve had some comments and questions come through mostly from our staff, and I’m gonna pop some of these up if you don’t mind. Mark Leslie Lefebvre says, “I recently used Plottr for a recent novel I co-authored. My co-author is a detailed outliner and planner and she convinced me to start using it. I had an absolute blast. What a fantastic tool.” So you have fans. Here’s one from our own Lexi. “As a scatterbrain with a dodgy memory, I love visual organization tools to keep me honest when I write.” So that is handy, having something to just sort of glance over and keep track of everything. Lexi also said, “I need to know if Kevin remembers off the top of his head what Dan Kotler’s eye color is,” and the answer is brown. Because he’s named for Dan Brown. The eye color thing, I literally never thought about until this moment. So.
Cameron Sutter 13:47
It’s a good pneumonic device, I guess.
Kevin Tumlinson 13:49
It is a good mnemonic. Yeah, so you know, I know you’ve got some more things. I’ll pop these up here in a bit. But you’ve got fans going out there. What are some of the things that people seem to gravitate towards? Like what features seem to get everyone the most excited?
Cameron Sutter 14:08
Yeah, so the main screen is this visual timeline, we call it, where it’s kind of like a fun, friendly looking spreadsheet in a way. You’ve got your chapters across the top and your different plot lines down the side. And then at the intersection of each one, you’ve got a colorful scene card and you can drag and drop and move those things around to anywhere you want in the story. That is the big game changer right there, that timeline. Because so many people told us, finally there’s a tool that works the way my brain thinks. Just seeing it visually, seeing a story the threads of the story weave together visually, and being able to move them around. People love it as soon as they see it. It’s a game changer.
Kevin Tumlinson 14:48
Yeah. Do I want something that works the way my brain thinks though? That’s a question we’ll have to answer later.
Cameron Sutter 14:57
Yeah, well sooner than you want, because of all the AI things these days, but …
Kevin Tumlinson 15:02
You know, I keep thinking about that. I’m like, I’m waiting for you and Ryan to announce like, oh, yeah, we added an AI to the whole thing so you can just feed your book in and it will spit out your series bible. That’s what I’m looking for. Get on that.
Cameron Sutter 15:20
Okay. Give me a month.
Kevin Tumlinson 15:25
The way AI is trending, I’m sure a month would be actually more time than you need at this point. We’ve got at least one other, let’s see. Lynn Donovan says, “I’d be interested in a feature to have someone set up a series bible for previous books/series.” So she’s saying plus one on that feature.
Cameron Sutter 15:54
Yeah, we’ve been wondering what the feedback would be about something like that. So thank you so much, Lynn, for saying that.
Kevin Tumlinson 16:02
Well, here’s another plus one, I could use that feature. Even if it was just, you know, account sharing access kind of thing, with maybe a community forum, where you could pop in and meet someone willing to read your books and do that. You know, something like that would be pretty handy. Vicki says, “Love Plottr and use it for so much more than plotting my books.” Thanks, Vicki. So here’s, now we got some other questions coming in that will be answered in the comments. But so okay, what’s the future for this thing? What do you guys got on the board besides adding AI?
Cameron Sutter 16:51
As of two minutes ago, AI is definitely on the board now. Oh, I didn’t even notice that. There are all these comments over here. I was on the wrong like tab on that side.
Kevin Tumlinson 17:06
I’ll take care of the comments for you. You don’t have to worry about it, man.
Cameron Sutter 17:12
Yeah, so we’ve got so many things in the work that I’m excited about. The end of this month, we’re releasing X structure, which is our most requested feature for years now. And it was in beta for a while, but now it’s coming out as a as a big kid. And it’s really cool. There’s a few different ways you can visualize your story, seeing the different acts, so act, chapter, and scene. Or you can name it whatever you want. Part, book, whatever. We joke about pancakes a lot when we’re talking about this, for some reason. You could name it pancakes if you wanted to. But so you’re able to visualize that and see the scenes within the chapters and the chapters within the act. Or you can do kind of a focus mode and just see Act One, if you want, or just the Act Two. And that’s going to be really cool, I think for a lot of people. So that we’re super excited about later. I don’t know if you want me to pause in between telling you about these?
Kevin Tumlinson 18:15
Well, I mean, if people have questions, we’ll post them. I should mention to anyone tuning in right now live, if you do have questions, drop them in the comments. And if we can’t answer them on air, someone is lingering in the comments to help you out. And for those of you listening to the podcast in the future, you can always post your questions and comments in the comment section of wherever you’re listening, or email us or reach out on YouTube or whatever. And we will try to get those answered for you as well. So that said, back to our main program.
Cameron Sutter 18:54
Another thing I’m super excited about for this year is we’re doing a nonfiction mode. So you can write nonfiction books in Plottr. Well, you don’t write them, but you can plan and organize, outline your nonfiction books in Plottr right now. But we’re exploring what would that mean if it’s more dedicated for nonfiction mode of Plottr and to make it easier for people like that. So super excited. There’s a lot of people that write nonfiction. So that’s going to be really …
Kevin Tumlinson 19:24
We still want to continue with what you’re adding. But what is, functionally when you’re working on a fiction book or nonfiction book, like what would the fundamental difference be in Plottr? Like how would that …
Cameron Sutter 19:37
Yeah, so that’s what we’re trying to figure out, like, what are the differences? And so we’re trying to talk as to as many writers as we can about what do you need in nonfiction and so we’re definitely going to the writers and trying to figure that out, not just deciding for ourselves. But one thing for example, is, well, there’s a bunch of different types of nonfiction, you know, like a memoir or something is very much a story. And so that could very well fit into just the normal Plottr how it is right now. But something that’s like a more how to, or prescriptive nonfiction book. Right now there’s, there’s ways to do it, where instead of separate plot lines, you can have different topics that run throughout the story. And so you can organize those in the timeline. Or maybe instead of calling it characters, it could be people, or, you know, the resources that you found, in your footnotes and your bibliography and things like that. So keeping track of all those kinds of things. Yeah, and the outline for a lot of nonfiction writers is a lot more important than maybe fiction writers, just like having the visual of seeing the outline, and maybe how many words are in each part, and then moving around, which all those things could make your fiction, it can work for fiction as well, but they might be more important for nonfiction. Yeah, some ideas we’re playing with.
Kevin Tumlinson 21:07
Yeah, okay. There’s a lot of options out there for things like outlining and that sort of thing. But there are, they always seem overwhelming to me. Just too many, I always end up falling back on the good old bullet list in in like a Word document. So it would be nice to have something that kind of allows me to keep content together. So as an example, you know, if I’m outlining a book on indie publishing, you know, I might have a section on marketing and a section on, you know, the actual editing process, or a section on some other part, layout, and that sort of thing. And if I could drop in, like, maybe links or images, or you know, anything that I think would be associated with that section or chapter, that’d be handy for me.
Cameron Sutter 22:04
Yeah, interesting. Okay.
Kevin Tumlinson 22:06
I know this isn’t a feature request episode, or anything, but …
Cameron Sutter 22:15
I love the creativity flow. And so yeah, I’m gonna write that down.
Kevin Tumlinson 22:19
Yeah. All right. What else you guys got on the board?
Cameron Sutter 22:25
Yeah. So later this year, we also want to do more world-building features. So that’s a big thing for a lot of fantasy writers and, you know, other writers as well. But like more robust world building, something on the roadmap. Better import and export from Scrivener, that’s a big thing people ask for.
Kevin Tumlinson 22:48
Export a wiki.
Cameron Sutter 22:52
Actually, that’s a good idea, mean.
Kevin Tumlinson 22:57
I’m telling you, man, I’m an idea machine. As long as I don’t have to build it, I’ll throw ideas at you all day long. That really would be a very useful tool for exactly the things that you guys said that the software is good for, you know, as a show bible, making a wiki of some kind that would be publicly available, you know, that I can make publicly available will help me out as an author, all around help me out in terms of marketing and everything.
Cameron Sutter 23:26
Yeah, that’s actually a really cool idea of making a public wiki of your series, man. Yeah, that’s a cool idea.
Kevin Tumlinson 23:34
You’re welcome. I’ll be on the lookout for my royalty check. So okay, all right. I mean, you got it sounds like you got a lot going on. So you must have a team of at least 100 developers.
Cameron Sutter 23:55
Double that. No, we’re a really small team. It’s cool. But being small, it actually helps us in a lot of ways. You know, somebody told me actually, not too long ago, they’re like, you guys put out a lot of new features. I pay Adobe how many hundreds or thousands of dollars a year, and I never get new features from them. But you guys are constantly putting out new features, you must have a team of 30 people. And I mean, part of it is just, there’s not a lot of politics in a small company. You know, there’s not a lot of, we have to make sure everybody’s on board or whatever. So, partly it’s that. Partly we just, we know who we’re serving, and it’s not trying to serve everybody, we’re just trying to serve a very dedicated group of people to do one thing really well, and so that makes it really clear to know how to make good features, or to try at least.
Kevin Tumlinson 24:51
Do you guys take inspiration from somewhere? I mean, do you get feedback and you say, that’d be a good one. And that’s how you add it to your development board?
Cameron Sutter 25:03
Yeah, we get so much feedback from writers. It’s an overwhelming amount. And we’d love to be able to do all those things. But we’re just one at a time as we can. But yeah, we’ve had so much feedback. And being a writer myself, I’ve had tons of ideas that I want to get to eventually too.
Kevin Tumlinson 25:21
Yeah, now, are you still writing?
Cameron Sutter 25:26
I wasn’t for a long time. Because it’s funny. It’s so frustrating to me that I made the tool for writing and then I wasn’t able to write as much. But after last NaNoWriMo, I started writing again. And it’s been awesome. And yeah, so I’m writing the first draft of a story. And it’s cool. It feels good to be writing again.
Kevin Tumlinson 25:50
Yeah. It’s a common problem with any of us that build anything. You know, the tendency is to, that becomes the thing. So I’m glad to hear you’re back to writing. I mean, I’m always a little sad. I’m always really excited to see like, the new and innovative stuff come around. But always a little sad to find out that the author who did it is not writing now. It just stings, man. But good. And what sort of books do you write?
Cameron Sutter 26:31
So generally sci fi fantasy for young young adult. This one is not meant for young adult. It’s a superhero story. Well, I guess you could say that’s young adult. But it’s hoping that somebody ….
Kevin Tumlinson 26:51
These days, I’m 50 years old, and I read superhero stories. I’m a young adult comparatively, I’m very young. I’m much younger than say, Stanley was when he passed away. So very good, man. I’m glad to hear that. I mean, we’re in the business to enable people to do this stuff, you know, and so I think it’s much more meaningful when we’re also contributing to the larger body of cultural work that’s out there.
Cameron Sutter 27:24
Right, right. And it’s easier to say I’m one of you, when I actually am being one of you and writing.
Kevin Tumlinson 27:31
Yeah it does, it means a lot. I mean, I’m able to make that claim when I talk to people. So you’re coming at it as not just, you know, someone who created something to milk people for money or something like that. I mean, you built it because there was a need, even if only you were the only person. So.
Cameron Sutter 27:52
Yeah, selfish need for myself first.
Kevin Tumlinson 27:56
Here’s a question. This one’s coming in from our one of our own as well, Jim Azevedo. “Are there any cases or suggestions from authors that surprised you at first, but turned out to be really cool?”
Cameron Sutter 28:11
Yeah, so thanks for the question, Jim. Man, I’m trying to think off the top of my head. Almost everything in Plottr, I mean, a good portion of it has come from suggestions from writers. One that comes to mind right away is being able to freeze the first … This was a long time ago, though. So like the chapters and the plot lines on the side would just move with the screen. So freezing those at the top. Now that I hear it, it’s like, it sounds so obvious, but at the time, it didn’t occur to me. And so that was really surprising. And it just makes sense. Yeah, here’s one that surprised me. Being able to change the color of one of the scene cards, so it has like a colored border around it. And that matches the color of the plotline that you’re on. So it’s very obvious where it’s on. But being able to change the face of that scene card was something that a lot of people asked for. And it surprised me at first but it turns out it’s a really good idea, it makes that card pop out. And if you use those colors to mean something, it can be really useful for you.
Kevin Tumlinson 29:29
Yeah, stuff like that is, by the way, our designer is in love with that idea.
Cameron Sutter 29:37
Very, very colorful as you can tell from the logo. It’s very colorful, we have to actually hold ourselves back from adding too much color because like oh, that could be another color and then there’d just be too many colors in there. People love the color coding.
Kevin Tumlinson 29:52
Yeah, I’m in that camp. Like in Scrivener, I will color code the chapters and stuff to show where I am in like the edit process. So like, I have first, second, third round edits, some of the ins and some of those are labor intensive for me, and some of them are for my editing team. And so I can tell what needs attention and what’s already been done or whatever. Yeah, and I imagine it would be very similar, especially once you open it up for, like, an assistant or a contributor, to add and remove stuff. I mean, you could use color coding in that scenario, I would imagine.
Cameron Sutter 30:39
Yeah, certainly. And actually, to continue that thought, something that you said, when we open up to contributors. Right now you’re able to add a single, well, not even a single person, but you’re able to add people with edit permissions so you can collaborate with other people. And you can see in real time as you’re, each person is like moving the scenes around and creating characters and things like that. So that’s possible, just not the opening up to the public to be able to edit that. That’s not possible yet.
Kevin Tumlinson 31:12
Yeah, you’ll get there. I have full faith in you. How many features do you typically add in a year?
Cameron Sutter 31:28
As we’ve gelled more as a team, and as I’ve learned to be a better product manager and like, leader of a team, we’re getting more and more efficient, and more and more, we have a better process for being more creative, giving more feedback as we’re doing things instead of afterwards. Like, so what did you guys think of that? We’re doing more of the work beforehand, like, what would be good and trying to do the research. But it still really just depends. Last year, we did a lot more than the year before. But it also in some ways, it didn’t feel like we did more, because there was a lot of like, we had to do a lot of growing up. Because when I did it as my own side project, some of the code was still ugly. And so we had to get that to a better place where it was more sustainable for the future. And so we got a lot done, but people didn’t see it, it wasn’t like a feature, you know. And so this year, we’re working more on the features now that we’ve got that stuff. Kind of, we fixed my mistakes that I made the beginning. So now we can make more features. And so it’s really hard to tell. I don’t know, it just depends on the feature. But yeah, last year, maybe four or five big features, something like that.
Kevin Tumlinson 32:39
How long has it been around?
Cameron Sutter 32:42
I wrote the first code in 2014. 2017 is when it became a paid project, a paid app. And then 2020 is when we relaunched it as like the 2.0. So it’s been around almost, getting close to 10 years now. That’s pretty cool.
Kevin Tumlinson 33:02
That’s just unreal, right? I mean, you really stop and think like, this is a thing that didn’t exist. And then suddenly, it’s been 10 years. I mean, we had the same experience here at D2D. Like, you know, we celebrated 10 years last month. So we’re 11 years now as of this month, but like last March was our 10-year anniversary. A lot of us couldn’t quite click, like, that’s just, you know, bizarre. And then we went and acquired a whole other company at the same time. It complicated everything. We have murky origin dates now, because they were slightly older than us. All right. Yeah. So that’s a man that’s it all sounds very exciting. You know, you definitely you guys definitely had to be have a bead on. You know, how to handle the development cycle and everything. You have plans to add stuff later, like, you know, actually writing the book or doing any of that sort of thing in the software.
Cameron Sutter 34:13
Man, we get questions about that all the time. And, honestly, I mean, it sounds so great to have everything in one tool, and to just be able to write it in Plottr, but I, I don’t think it the reality would be that way. And so we don’t plan to, you know, we leave it open to maybe someday in the future. But the thing with software is it tries to do everything. And then it becomes terrible at all of them. We’re trying to be really, we’re trying to be really good at keeping a focus on one thing and do that one thing well, really well. And we’ve got so many ideas in that area, like years and years of worth of worth of ideas. So we’re kind of like, we could but then we’d be competing with Scrivener, and Atticus, and all these other ones. Whereas right now we’re, there’s one very targeted tool for doing one thing well, and we’ve got so much room to grow in this.
Kevin Tumlinson 35:10
I think that’s this smart play. I mean, I think in your position, it’s better to stay focused on doing this one thing and doing it the best. And as a side gig, you’re creating partnerships, and = partner … I use Pro Writing Aid for part of my edit stack. And they will open natively open Scrivener files, and save back to them. So I don’t have to do any cut and paste or, you know, make sure these guys are working together. So, you know, I don’t think that there’s like an official partnership or anything there. But they have this one thing that they do. And you can either bring in, you know, your word, document, or whatever, or you can open this file from this very popular software. And you get that feature. I could see you guys doing something similar, like, there’s no need for you to reinvent the wheel. Lots of wheels are out there, you know? Just partner.
Cameron Sutter 36:11
Yeah, there’s so many tools that are already so good at doing the writing. And if we open it up to writing, then everybody’s gonna ask, “Oh, but it doesn’t do this. It doesn’t do this. It doesn’t do that.”
Kevin Tumlinson 36:22
Formatting? Can you make my cover?
Cameron Sutter 36:25
Right, and so then al the focus goes to that. And yet, we’ve got so many things that we could make your plotting and planning and outlining process so much better. So I think that’s where we’re gonna stay for now.
Kevin Tumlinson 36:36
I think that’s the wisest choice. You didn’t ask.
Cameron Sutter 36:40
Kevin Tumlinson 36:42
You didn’t ask my opinion. But I think that’s the wisest choice.
Cameron Sutter 36:48
At some point, we’ve got to integrate with Draft2Digital. That’s something we’ve been talking about for a while. We’ve got to do that. Yeah.
Kevin Tumlinson 36:53
What do you think that looks like? Let’s hash it out right here on the air. What’s that gonna look like?
Cameron Sutter 37:00
No pressure. So one thing that we could do is maybe, they create their books in Plottr and then they’re able to upload all the metadata into Draft2Digital. Ao they’ve got their books, the metadata at least, already in there.
Kevin Tumlinson 37:12
That would be handy. I would love to see Draft2Digital have all kinds of little partnerships and integrations like that. It’s just development time, as you know. And so I try very hard these days, at least to not, you know, openly on the air commit our team to … But yeah, I mean, we do talk to folks about all kinds of integrations like this, this stuff comes up all the time, and there’s always some reason why it can or can’t happen right away. But, yeah, I can at least say that we’re always interested in talking to guys like you about stuff like that.
Cameron Sutter 37:54
I’m sure there’s other things we can do too.
Kevin Tumlinson 37:57
So yeah, I’m sure there is. You know, because one of the things like, if you know the plot of your book, you know how everything is shaped up, you can use that for things, like you mentioned metadata, but one of those pieces of metadata is the book’s description. So being able to hand some sort of summary or something to a copywriter, if you’re not one yourself, or, nowadays, take a summary from Plottr, drop it into ChatGPT, and ask it to create a book description for you. I mean, there’s lots of ways I could see little [inaudible] there on that side.
Cameron Sutter 38:35
Actually, that’s pretty cool, making an AI generated description that goes right up into Draft2Digital or something like that.
Kevin Tumlinson 38:42
One more royalty check.
Cameron Sutter 38:46
Or even taking what you’ve put into Plottr and looking for key words that I’m sure you guys have.
Kevin Tumlinson 38:58
So that would be an amazing tool to generate you, especially if you could somehow correlate that against like, what’s what’s trending, what’s doing well at Amazon or something they partner up with Dave Chesson. It was the Publisher Rocket. You can generate the key words, test them in his software. You could automate all of that. Yeah, that’d be awesome. You’d get my subscription dollars.
Cameron Sutter 39:31
So that’s what we got to do to convert you, okay?
Kevin Tumlinson 39:34
I’m easy to convert, I’m hard to keep. Because I get lazy about that kind of stuff, you know, keeping track of, okay, I’m using Plottr for all this. Okay, well, I got to get in there and do that work. Well, I start doing all that work. And for me, it’s like, well, why don’t I just go write the book. But you brought up earlier, like, I could just plot ahead a chapter or two. You know, as I go. Yeah, I could totally do that the book I’m working on now I did that by hand. So I might as well have used you guys and then I’d already had that digitized and when you add the fancy AI copywriting feature, you know, sadly we definitely committed you live on air.
Cameron Sutter 40:20
Kevin Tumlinson 40:24
So Jim asks, “What writers’ conferences will Plottr attend this year? Authors surrounded you guys at 20Books last year.”
Cameron Sutter 40:31
Oh, that’s kind for you to say, Jim. Thanks. I met Jim, he’s really cool. I gave his daughter a Plottr otter sticker. He said his daughter loves otters.
Kevin Tumlinson 40:44
I do have stickers. I do have Plottr otter stickers. But I don’t have a plushie.
Cameron Sutter 40:54
Yeah, we had the stickers at NINC. And we didn’t have the plushies yet. So yeah, we are going to go to NINC again, we’re going to be at 20Books again. We’ve been at a couple already. Not me or Ryan personally. But Superstars, we had somebody there for us. Troy Lambert’s been to a few for us already. There’s a couple here in Oklahoma that I plan to go to, like Writer Con, and there’s a new romance conference here in Oklahoma that I’m going to go to sometime in August, I think. And we’re doing a bunch of virtual ones. But as far as like physical ones, I think those are the ones that we’re going to be to.
Kevin Tumlinson 41:42
Yeah, the conference thing, man … I’ve worked in several different industries coming up. And this is the first industry I’ve worked in where, like, a strict conference schedule works really well. These authors really like meeting you in person, they really like that. I mean, years in like, oil and gas and the software industry and things like that, like, you go to conferences, but nobody cares. You know? They’re drunk. And that’s what they’re there for. But author conferences are a really great marketing tool.
Cameron Sutter 42:21
Yeah, I worked for this one company that did education software, and their conferences that they’d host every year, the teachers just raved about them, and they loved them. But it was one of my first experiences, and they always told me, this is not how a conference goes, people aren’t like this. And then when I started going to writers’ conferences, it was like, writers are super friendly. This is just like, what I was expecting.
Kevin Tumlinson 42:47
Yeah, it’s such a solitary activity. You know, when you work in the software industry, or any other industry, all those people tend to work with each other in office spaces. They’re part of a team. But if you’re talking to authors, a lot of times it’s just them in whatever spare bedroom they have, or whatever coffee shop they can manage to sneak off to, and they don’t get the opportunity to rub elbows with people, you know? So that’s why I think it’s very effective. All right, so we’re at time, I need to go ahead and wrap this up. But I did take some time earlier and put your URL in here. People want to sign up, they can go to Plottr and that’s Plottr. Two T’s no E, so it’s Plottr.com, for those of you that are listening,
Cameron Sutter 43:47
I was gonna make a joke about you spelling it wrong.
Kevin Tumlinson 43:51
Did I spell it wrong? I didn’t spell it wrong.
Cameron Sutter 43:53
No, you spelled it right. But you know, the right way is wrong. So yeah.
Kevin Tumlinson 43:58
The right way is wrong. I imagine that’s gonna trip you up every now and then. Have you worked on getting like a near miss domain for Plotter.com?
Cameron Sutter 44:07
No, we haven’t. That’s a good idea, though. Another good idea from Kevin.
Kevin Tumlinson 44:12
After the call, we’ll discuss my retainer. For you guys, to bring you guys up to speed. So they can sign up at Plottr.com. What else can they expect there? Or what else do they need to know?
Cameron Sutter 44:28
So there’s a free trial. You can try it out for two weeks, totally free. And there’s tons of resources on the Facebook group and on YouTube. There’s so many like just quick two-minute videos explaining how the program works. And also there’s deep dive videos about how different writers, different well known writers use it. And everybody uses it differently. It’s so awesome.
Kevin Tumlinson 44:52
And you have like someone new sign up like every two seconds, I’ve had the site up on my external monitor and like every few seconds, you know, Kyle W just purchased Plottr. We need to have something like that on Draft2Digital.
Cameron Sutter 45:07
Yeah, I’m sure I’m sure they like, save up all the ones from the last two days and show it to you as you get to the site, you know. But yeah, we do have a fair amount of people signed up.
Kevin Tumlinson 45:16
You’re not supposed to reveal that man, you’re not supposed to tell people that you’re not selling a new subscription every two secondsWell, look, it’s a great looking tool, I have used it. I’m not a good use case for this kind of thing. Because I love to start using applications and software. And then I revert back to my curmudgeonly old ways. But what little I played around with it, I liked it quite a bit. I like the fact that it’s available on mobile platforms as well. That’s something that a lot of these tend to overlook. They’re either all mobile or all desktop. So great job. Anything else you want to let everyone in on before we wrap up?
Cameron Sutter 46:05
I think I’ve said too much. But thanks so much for having me so I could spill the beans. And thanks for the ideas.
Kevin Tumlinson 46:10
Well, it’s always it’s always great to chat with you, Cameron. I’ve always enjoyed hanging out with you whenever we could at the conferences. And look forward to seeing you at many more in the future. All right, everybody. As for you, listener and viewer, make sure that you like, share, comment, and subscribe on all the various platforms, especially YouTube. Follow us on YouTube to see these pop up as soon as they’re recorded. Actually, you can watch the live streams, comment from the live streams there. So make sure you’re doing that. But if you’re listening to this on whatever your favorite podcast platform is, like and subscribe there. But do head over to YouTube where you can actually see the lovely faces of me and my guests. And if you will go and bookmark D2Dlive.com, there’s a countdown to one of these live streams every Thursday at noon central. So go check it out and see who’s coming up next. And you can also find links to past episodes there. So otherwise, subscribe wherever fine podcasts are sold. And thank you again to our guest, Cameron Sutter from Plottr. Thank you, lovely listener and viewer, and we’ll talk to you all next time.
Cameron Sutter 47:30
Thanks for having me.