The guys talk about forming a strategy to re-release books and how supportive the author community is being as several authors go through the same process. Jeff discusses his first class in Rachael Herron’s 90 Days to Done, which focused on character development. Will shares some tips from David Gaughran’s Strangers to Superfans.
Here are the things we talk about in this episode. Please note, these links include affiliate links for which we may make a small commission at no extra cost to you should you make a purchase.
- The Writer’s Well Podcast #139 (rebroadcast of episode 1 of “Petal to the Metal”) on website
- How Do You Write Podcast #141 with Lamar Giles website
- Rachael Herron’s 90 Days to Done Master Class website
- Michael Hauge’s The Six Stages of Character Development on YouTube
- Verbalize by Damon Suede on Amazon
- Master Lists for Writers by Bryn Donovan on Amazon
- Strangers to Superfans by David Gaughran on Amazon
- K-lytics website
- Jeff & Will’s Websites & Social Media:
Will: Welcome to the “Big Gay Author Podcast,” the show that invites you to follow along as two writers attempt to make the transition from part-time to full-time authors of gay fiction. I’m your host Will Knauss and with me is my fellow writer and husband. Mr. Jeff Adams.
Jeff: Hello. Everyone. Today is September 7, 2019, and we’re glad you could join us. Today we’ll be discussing what I’ve been up to this week with some re-release planning and the master class I’m taking. Before we get to that we can talk a little bit about our week that’s outside of that part. How was your week?
Will: We had a rough start to September. I feel like it should be the middle of October already. I’m over September.
Jeff: Your over September? We just want to glide right into GRL perhaps.
Will: Yeah. Let’s jump to that and like move on. Let’s get to the holidays. I’m kind of over this.
Jeff: I would totally take the holidays because that means Hallmark movie season would begin and that means comfort programming all the time.
Will: You had a rough work week, which wasn’t fun. We alluded to making plans about your new opportunities and release schedule for your the rights that have reverted to your work. We had kind of a disagreement on Monday. We were trying to make plans but I wasn’t expressing myself particularly clearly, which is pretty funny considering today is actually our anniversary and we’ve been together a million billion years…
Jeff: Which translates to 22 actually almost 25 together, but…
Will: It’s really funny that even after all of this time, I just naturally assumed, you know exactly what I’m talking about. But you know what? You’re not a mind reader.
Jeff: Nope, not even after all this time.
Will: So we took a breather and we came back to the discussion of republishing some of those older works. While we don’t have a concrete plan just yet but we are definitely on the same page and pointing in the same direction now.
Jeff: That’s true. I’ll talk a little bit about the re-release stuff shortly.
It’s interesting that we listen to so many podcasts and pick up all kinds of bits of information. I have to say this week that Rachael Herron dropped two pieces of wisdom that were connected and that I really needed to hear.
This week on “The Writer’s Well,” which she co-hosts with J. Thorn, they did a rebroadcast of episode 1 of “The Petal to the Metal,” which is what “The Writer’s Well” was called before they rebranded it. In that episode they talked specifically about J making the leap from his day job to being a full-time author and how that had gone for Rachael who’d done it maybe six months to a year before that.
Will: Yeah. Yeah, something like that.
Jeff: She talked about making the leap and having the faith that if you made the leap the net would appear under you because you could always do something else. She talked about how she could get other work if she had to.
Then a few days later on “How Do You Write” she had author Lamar Giles on in episode 142. He was making this transition as well, through a couple layoffs and did some things that amounted to taking the leap.
Thank you Rachael.
I needed to hear that this week because as Will alluded to it was a crappy, crappy week. It was the right time to hear those words because there’s a lot of leaps that need to be taken. Is that a fair assessment?
Will: Leaps to be lept.
Jeff: I like it.
In terms of the re-release planning we did have our disagreement. We walked away from that discussion for a while so we could regroup and come back.
We mentioned last week that my back list is a hot mess, which it is. I have sticky notes on my closet door over here that show the hot mess that it is. We tried to make connections between all of it. Can some of this maybe be in a universe together? No, not really.
I don’t know if a lot of baby authors make this mistake, or maybe they do if they don’t go into it with more knowledge. I just kind of started writing and went off and wrote whatever I wanted.
I think you come at it from your baby author career in a much more position of knowledge and power because you’ve read all the stuff and heard all the podcasts before you try to start making the choices on what you’re doing. I was like I’m going to write now so I’ve got all this stuff that doesn’t connect. I’ve got to figure out what to do with it.
We got down to where our first priority is to get “The Hockey Player’s Heart” back out. We’re working with a cover designer to get that repackaged and back out into the world. It’s kind of the centerpiece for me because hockey’s my brand to a large degree, including some of the YA I did. Getting this book back out before I put “The Kyle Project” book out into the world in March, which is also hockey romance, starts to build things back up. So that’s in the works.
The more difficult decision that I’ve made in the short term is all the YA is going to get shelved. So the “Codename: Winger” books, which only ended the series in May, along with the “Hat Trick” series that was getting reworked, are going to sit on a back burner because I need to get the romance side of things back up and running fully. Then the YA is probably going to go out under a new pen name to separate the young adult work from the more adult romance titles and to let me build two separate brands.
You pointed out somewhere in the midst of either the disagreement or the aftermath that it’s hard to say what a Jeff Adams book is. If you look at my backlist, you can’t look and say “Jeff writes this.” You can’t say that it’s all hockey because it’s not. You can say that it’s romance, but then it’s different kinds of romance and it’s different stuff. It needs to have more of an identity. So even the short stories. Is it going to be a priority to get it back out? It’ll probably seep back out over time.
Will: One of the tenants that is important to remember when it comes to marketing whatever your author brand is that you need to be consistent. Meaning that when someone picks up your book for the first time, reads it and hopefully loves it, they can go back to your other books and get the same experience and therefore become a lifelong fan.
Now, if you have backlist like Jeff’s… If a reader reads one of his books and then goes to his backlist, they’re there going to be a little confused because it’s not similar. They’re not going to know what to choose next. So that’s the main thing that we’re struggling with right now and why we’re making a conscious decision to focus on hockey romance.
Jeff: It doesn’t mean I can’t split off later because I still want to write romantic suspense, but that may come after I have a trilogy of hockey stuff out there. Then people who like the hockey have a place to go get that. Maybe I’ll even build romantic suspense into the hockey so that it’s like, oh, he wrote that and I see how this connects to this thing over here.
Lots more to come on that in the weeks and months and, God knows how long to come.
Will: Just a quick note when we announced… Was that last week that we announced that we had taken all of our rights back was has it only been one week?
Jeff: It’s only been a week.
Will: In the last seven days after we made our announcement, there was an outpouring of love and support and we want to thank everyone who reached out to us on social media. It’s been quite wonderful. Everyone has been remarkably kind and supportive. I will say, not that I don’t think we don’t need the support, but we’re in an okay place financially so you don’t need to worry about us. There are frankly other writers out there who are in a much tougher place. So spread some love in their direction as well.
Jeff: I think we’ve seen that across social media because every time somebody has had to announce that they’re taking their books back because of this situation the response has been “What can we do? How can we help?” We’ve seen bloggers coming forward and offering ad space in some cases and definitely blog tours. We’ve seen people coming forward with discounts on services for formatting and for covers and all matter of things.
While we’re, are as you said, our financial position is good because of day jobs and this wasn’t our income but we also have self-publishing knowledge already. So that if we don’t know what we need to do we at least know where to go find out about it. But, for some people if they’ve always published with a publisher and they don’t know how to do this, the support of the community is great around that.
Will: So everyone please keep sharing the love and keep supporting the books that you love. A rising tide lifts all boats. Let’s keep it happy and positive. We’re going to make it through this.
Jeff: There’s a Will tip right there.
So it’s interesting. I didn’t connect on this last week when were talking about that I was going to do 90 Days to Done but I’ve gone back to school. So it’s like hey, look at that. For the first time in a million years, I’ve gone back to school sort of.
So I did start Rachael Herron’s 90 Days to Done class this past week. She put some information out to the students early in the week and then we had our first online class on Thursday. I was super excited about it. Now having been through the first session, I’m even more kind of excited to be here. There’s 12 students in the class. We’re all writing very different things. There’s a couple others who are writing romance like I am but they’re in different subgenres and there’s people doing all kinds of other things.
It’s going to be interesting to go through this class and see what there will be to learn not only from Rachael but from these other folks as we all talk through what we’re doing, see what issues we come up with and how we can all help solve each other’s issues.
We’re in a Slack channel together too so there can be all kinds of jibber-jabber running between us between the class sessions. So I’m super excited about that.
She had a great quote that stood out for me. Unfortunately, she didn’t know the origin of it so I can’t give the origin. She noted that “the reader expects you to provide her with the unexpected in a framework of the inevitable.” She went on to say if that’s not done then that reader’s disappointed. That clicked for me in regards to my backlist a little bit because the reader doesn’t know what to expect for me at all.
It also connected with story in general because I think about those romantic suspense books that I’ve been talking so much about over on the “Fiction” podcast. I know those books are going to end happy. The guys are going to end up in there HEA. And yet holy crap, how are they going to get there? It all boils down to this quote. You’ve got to make something unexpected happen within the framework of the HEA to get it to work right.
This week we focused in the class on character development. I have homework over this weekend to create the main characters of my story. I have some idea on who these two guys are because I’ve been working on it already.
She was teaching the six stages of character development from Michael Hauge along with some stuff from Bryn Donovan’s “Master Lists for Writers” to help connect all the dots. I’m going to be adding in “Verbalize” from Damon Suede because I’ve become intrigued by the idea that he uses that all your characters need to have a verb at their core of what their actions are. I also picked up this thing from RWA that I talked about back in episode 1 about using an astrology chart where it lists all of the characteristics of what each astrological sign has and building characters using some of those traits on opposing sides of the astrology chart.
So, I’m going to give that a go to because I was really intrigued by that. It’s going to be about building character this weekend and we’re supposed to write our first words on Monday. We’re supposed to get a video on Monday about plot development too.
I’m looking forward to that because I usually plot my romances using “Romancing the Beat” from Gwen Hayes. So I’m going to be interested to see what Rachael provides that I might layer into that as I start to build more of my plot. I only have I have a little bit of the first act figured out as it relates to the shared universe concept. Beyond that I don’t have a solid idea of what these two are going to face and how they’re going to come out. I’ve got to figure out what my unexpected is within the HEA. So that’s going to get figured out in the next couple weeks so very excited about that.
Will: So I assume you had a very good first day of school.
Jeff: It was a good first day of school. Yes it was. I met my classmates. I met my teacher. I got my homework. I was a very happy person. It was it was a nice little island of awesome in the middle of the stupid week.
So I think it’s time for you to give some tips because you’ve read another book and I think you’ve got some things to share.
Will: This past week I read David Gaughran “Strangers to Superfans: A Marketing Guide to the Reader Journey.” I explained earlier in the week that I was reading this book to Jeff and he kept getting it confused with another book called “Superfans.” and that’s by Pat Flynn.
It’s understandable why he would get those two confused. I’m also reading Pat Flynn’s book and I’ll probably talk about it at a later date. But this week I was partaking of David Gaughran wisdom and “Strangers to Superfans” is about how you get readers into your marketing funnel and their journey from like total stranger to someone who is going to be a lifelong fan of your work.
He details the different steps or the different phases that a person moves through as they go through that particular journey. He talks about the different stages of marketing and how that works from the author.
He covers a lot in this book. I don’t recommend doing it the way I did, which is to listen to it on audiobook in one go. It’s incredibly overwhelming because David is very knowledgeable but he’s also very no nonsense. There’s no fluff. It is like 100% information that you need to know. So listening to it all in one go was a teensy bit overwhelming even though I’m familiar with most of the concepts in this particular book.
I highly recommend this for everybody because it’s important, as I said in a previous episode, to understand who your reader is. Being able to target them with specific kinds of marketing is really the ground floor of your marketing funnel.
It’s super important. I’ll probably die on this particular hill, guys. David covers an awful lot. I thought it was really interesting what he calls the failure matrix. He goes over each of the steps in the reader journey into becoming a superfan and where an author might fail. He uses mistakes that he has made over the years, and frankly some of the mistakes that you have made.
Jeff: I’m glad I can be in the matrix with David.
Will: So not only is he like detailing what you should be doing? He’s also talking about what you should be doing if you’ve screwed it up. And, basically all of us have screwed up this sort of stuff at one point or another because we’re just trying to make it work and trying to make the best decisions possible at the times that we encounter them. It’s only later that we realize that something was a big screw-up. He talks about how to course-correct on several different things. So, I think it’s very, very helpful. If you’re interested check it out, its online everywhere. “Strangers to Superfans” by David Gaughran.
Jeff: Of course we will have the link to that in the shownotes page.
It’s one of the things I like a lot about the podcasts that we listen to and books like that where people are more than happy to talk about where they screwed up. And the things that can be learned from that.
Will: Something else that I did this week is that I downloaded the latest romance report from K-lytics. Now, if you’ve never heard of K-lytics before it’s a service that analyzes the different genres of Amazon eBooks as the name might imply.
K-lytics puts out these reports usually monthly and you can download individual reports or you can subscribe to the service and get all of their content.
I downloaded their most recent romance report and it takes a look at the common things in some of the top 100 romance and what some of the most popular authors are doing. It also takes a look at the sub genres and some of the specific niches that are having success or are facing a particular downturn in the summer of 2019. I think K-lytics are always fascinating to see what is going on in the genre in respect to what people are buying and reading. I’m not sure if it is particularly helpful to people in our sub-genre because Amazon does not break down gay romance into niches like they do with regular “romance.”
Jeff: So that means romance can be broken down into historical and paranormal and it’s billion other things whereas gay romance just all bundles up under itself.
Will: Yes, literally a zillion subcategories on Amazon for the romance umbrella category but that’s not how it works with gay romance. Now, if you are a fast writer or a particularly prolific writer, you can certainly use the K-lytics report to look at some of the overall trends going on in the genre and then make your own extrapolations about what that might mean for gay romance.
I think that’s a perfectly intelligent way to look at this information. I thought I’d bring that up if you’re interested. All you have to do is go to K-lytics.com.
Jeff: Is there anything in particular you learned? One piece of wisdom or something you would drop from this report?
Will: Vampires are on the uptick.
Jeff: Vampires are coming back. Well, all right. Maybe I’ll write a vampire hockey book.
Will: Good idea you get on that
Jeff: Because I’ve read some that and I really liked it. Let’s do one of those.
Will: So before we close out this week show I wanted to mention that since we’ve been going for about a month, and we hope that you’ve enjoyed it or found the show particularly useful. We hope that you’ll give us some feedback. These are still early days for the “Big Gay Author Podcast” and we are sort of making it up as we go along.
We don’t have a particular format for the show locked down just yet. So if you have any questions or comments about what we’re doing or what we saying, we’d certainly love to hear them. Drop us a line at “BigGayAuthorPodcast.com and go to the shownotes page for this particular episode and if you want to leave a comment, we would certainly appreciate it.
Jeff: And you could leave them on Twitter as well.
And, yeah, we don’t have the format sorted yet. We’ve certainly had a lot of people on the show in these first ten episodes It’s not our intention to bring guests often. We’ve certainly got some ideas on people we want to bring on but it I don’t think it’ll go the way “Big Gay Fiction” where we have people on more often than not. Hopefully this show is our journey and helping you as we go through our journey, but we would love the feedback for sure.
So definitely hit us up on the shownotes page with comments or you could tweet us as well at BigGayAuthor.
Will: Also on the shownotes page, you’ll find the links to all of our individual websites and social media, including Facebook, Instagram and as Jeff mentioned Twitter as well.
Jeff: And of course, we would love for you to subscribe to the show so that you never miss an episode. We are available anywhere that you listen to podcasts.
Will: So something that I’ve been doing is I’ve been leaving you with a quote each week that I hope inspires or lights up your path on your author journey. I’m trying I’m trying to go to deep…
The quote this week is supposedly from Aristotle. This is one of those questionable meme things. It’s like “really did that person actually say that?” It’s, like, say for instance, “hoes, treat him right — Abraham Lincoln.” Really? Are you sure? This is one of those. Supposedly from Aristotle. He once said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but, a habit.”
So, my question for you this week is: what will you habitually do to further your author journey and what will you create and the next seven days? Thank you everyone for listening. We hope you’ll join us again next week. Until then keep writing.