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The show celebrates its one month anniversary as Will kicks things off by talking about the Three Day Novel Contest and September’s Story A Day Challenge. The guys talk about their decision to leave Dreamspinner Press and the opportunities it offers to reset Jeff’s author career, which will be documented in future episodes. Jeff also discusses his September plans, which includes attending Rachael Herron’s 90 Days to Done class. Will looks at two helpful books: Newsletter Ninja by Tammi Labrecque and 15-Minute Dictation by Sean M. Platt and Neeve Silver.

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Show Notes

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.

Show Transcript

Jeff: 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 Jeff Adams and with me as my fellow writer and husband, Will Knauss.

Will: Hello everybody. Today is August 31, 2019, and we’re very glad that you can join us today.

We’ll be discussing starting over and what’s coming up for us in the month of September. But first a super quick celebration. Yay. The podcast is exactly one month old.

Jeff: It’s exciting as we cross that one month mark from dropping our first episodes just four weeks ago.

Will: Yeah. I know we dropped that first episode on August 3rd and here we are already at the end of the month. I’m a proud papa. I’m very happy with what we have managed to produce and convey with this show so far.

Something else worth noting now that we are heading into September Is that as of this very moment there are several brave–let’s just call them brave or maybe just a little bit crazy–souls who are attempting the three-day novel. This is a contest essentially which does exactly what the name infers.

Jeff: I can’t even imagine it

Will: is a writing sprint started in Canada many, many years ago. It is essentially an attempt to write an entire novel in three days over the Labor Day weekend. If you happen to be listening to this and you are undertaking this gargantuan task. Stop listening, get back to work. What are you doing?

Seriously, if anyone is an undertaking this adventure good luck to you. If anyone would like more information on the three-day novel contest for 2020, you can always go to threedaynovel.com.

Jeff: That just sounds insane. It makes me think of the guy who would do NaNoWriMo in a day. I can’t remember who that is anymore, but it sounds equally insane.

Will: Also worth noting is that the September version of Story A Day has begun. This is another challenge worth making note of. Originally Story A Day took place in the month of May because of alliteration, but the organizer Julie Duffy has started a second round in the month of September. If you are attempting to write a story every single day in the month of September, we wish you the best of luck. What’s really nice about this challenge is that Julie frames it as sort of a relaxed, feel good attempt.

The point is very kind of like NaNoWriMo. It’s really to get you into the habit of writing so you can go ahead and attempt the actual challenge of doing a story in a day, or you can set your own parameters for the month of September. Either way, it’s all good. If you’d like more information simply go to story a day.org.

Jeff: Very cool. Some interesting things there that one can do in September.

We mentioned as we introduced the show that September is going to be a starting over month for us, and especially for me. We made the business decision, which we alluded to in episode 6, to end our relationship with Dreamspinner Press as authors. I don’t think it’s necessary to go in to what’s going on with Dreamspinner because that has played itself out extensively on social media and continues to do so. We decided it was the time to take all of our rights back, which officially reverted to us today, Over the next month or so the books will continue to come down from all of the retailers.

This is an opportunity to really start over and remake my author brand which has been a little bit mixed and mashed. What do you like to call it? The dog’s breakfast I think is what you call it.

Will: No, that’s what the Barefoot Contessa calls it. If it’s a mess she calls it a dog’s breakfast.

Jeff: Yes. It is a mess and it’s really the opportunity to reset everything, rethink how I’m going to put books out as an author who is writing gay romance and in young adult. I can make some new choices as I start over.

It’s important to say that we hope Dreamspinner Press comes out of the situation that they’re in, but it’s time for us to start over.

I think that’s going to provide us some interesting things in this podcast to look at because it certainly goes towards that journey of becoming a full-time author of gay fiction.

Will: What was really funny as we were going through this process during the month of August is we just started an author podcast and what do we do?

Jeff: Blow everything up.

Will: We blow it all up. We are writers without any books available? So I think this is going to present a really interesting opportunity for us. And for this show to spotlight what it is like rebuilding an author brand and putting books out again for a second time. They’re coming at you folks. So stay tuned. I think it’ll be fun.

Jeff: I actually do think it’ll be fun to take a lot of stuff that we’ve learned from…

Will: We keep insisting that it’s gonna be fun. We’re both honestly pretty freaked out. It’s gonna be hard work. Like we’ve said several times already, it is an interesting opportunity. Let’s look at it that way.

Jeff: It is an interesting opportunity.

This past week we actually listened to an episode of “The Career Author Podcast,” episode 88, and J. Thorn and Zach Bohannon who have their own publishing business together, they co-author a lot, but they also author separately. They talked about the opportunity costs of some choices that they made in their business. It resonated heavily with me with what we’ve done here.

In stepping back from Dreamspinner, I have taken a very high opportunity cause to blow up my career. I had pulled back virtually every work that I’ve had out. I think I’m down to–it’s either three or four self-published novellas or short stories from having eight novels and more short stories and novellas out there.

This opportunity cost comes with what could be a very high payoff as I relaunched the brand, relaunch the books, try to be smarter in the choices that I’m making. I’m kind of excited.

It’s something we do as authors do all the time as we weigh opportunity cost: where we spend our time, how we spend our time, what we’re doing. We’ll link in the shownotes for this episode of “Career Author Podcast” because it was really insightful and inspirational hearing how somebody else made similar choices.

Will: Exactly and it was particularly timely episode bringing up this particular subject because it is so front of mind for both of us. When they were talking about opportunity costs, what they were saying is that it’s a financial term.

Say that you have a certain amount of money that you would like to invest and there are two different stocks, so you have to weigh the pros and the cons. You only have enough money to invest in one so you have to choose one or the other. What are the opportunity costs of going with stock A and what are the opportunity costs of going with stock B? There are pluses and minuses for both situations and that’s essentially how we are having to look at our author business at this particular moment.

Jeff: We’ll keep you guys posted as to how it goes.

I’m super excited about this month and actually the next 90 days. I’m going to be taking Rachael Herron’s “90 Days to Done” class.

This is a class that Rachael does. She goes deep into character development, plotting, time management, how to write fast. Some of these things I think I do pretty well. I think I’m pretty good at time management and writing fast, but I think there’s always the opportunity to learn more about character development and plotting even though I’ve done a few books.

It was interesting because we kind of know Rachael. We listen to two of her podcasts, “How Do You Write,” which drops on Fridays, and one that she does with J. Thorn called “The Writers Well,” which drops on Wednesdays. We’ve gotten to know her a little bit and she emailed me when I signed up and she’s like, Are you sure? You actually know how to write a book?” I replied “Yes! I would like to go through this master class.” There’s only 12 people taking this course and it’s going to be an opportunity to look at things from a different perspective, which I think is always good to do.

It’s going to be the first time I’ve taken a craft class in a while. It has also been a while since I’ve even read any craft books.

You’ve given me tips as I go through things… like read this chapter, read this page, let me tell you about this.

Will: I am the king of tips.

Jeff: He really is.

This is the second time she’s offered the class. The first time I was in the middle of revisions on one of the “Codename: Winger” books so it was not the right moment. But as we get into September, I’ve actually got a book that needs to be written. I had planned to start writing it later, but the class was a good reason to do it now.

So as we go through the next 12 weeks on the show, I’ll be talking about what I’m doing in Rachael’s course, how it’s going. You’ll hear me as I start to work on a book that, for the sake of this show, I’m going to call “The Kyle Project.”

I can’t talk to too much about what it is. I will say that it’s part of a shared universe that I’m very excited to be in and the book is due to come out in March of 2020. It does have a hockey player at the middle of it, which you know is part of my brand. So yeah, I’m excited to start.

We get our first video and our first assignment and what not tomorrow. We do a online session every Thursday afternoon, all 12 of us together if we can all be there. I am super excited about this to see what happens.

Will: Yeah, we love Rachael to pieces. She’s amazing. She actually just released her very first thriller. It’s called “Stolen Things,” written under the pen name R.H. Herron. Not only is she kind and warm and personable, she’s a big ol fancy published author.

Jeff: Yeah. She’s published with the Big 5 before, but from what we understand from her podcast this particular book has been a huge deal. It debuted in Target stores in hardback and there’s some wonderful video of her in Target checking it out for the first time. We found it in our local Barnes & Noble, which was super cool.

So yeah. I’m looking forward to taking a class from Rachael for sure.

Will: Okay, the king of tips has book recommendations. Are you ready?

Jeff: I am so ready. Tell us about the books you’ve been reading this past week or so.

Will: Okay, so recently I undertook the challenge of reading newsletter ninja by Tammi Labrecque.

Now, there are a lot of different people who offer different books and classes and a whole bunch of expertise around newsletters for authors, which is something very very important. There’s a reason there’s a whole cottage industry around this subject. But Tammi Labrecque is generally considered one of the best in this field.

And even though I know all the basics of creating a newsletter to communicate with readers, I read this book to ground myself and sort out the basics because she has a second book coming out soon. First I want to mention that if you don’t have a newsletter yet and need good, solid, step-by-step information on how to undertake creating a newsletter , I highly recommend checking out “Newsletter Ninja.” It reminded me of not only what to do, but what not to do–especially do not just send people new release newsletters.

Jeff: That is very true. Give them something a little more than “buy my book.”

Will: Yeah, don’t . That’s not fun for anybody.

It’s about creating a connection, being real and being personable with your readers. Something that Tammi brings up on more than one occasion. Readers want to hear from you if they’ve signed up for your newsletter. That means they want you to contact them. So do so and be interesting and be human. That’s something that readers want to experience and they want to know more about you. Being an author is something special. Because we live eat and breathe this like 24 hours a day, it’s like no big deal to us. But, to like 99.999 percent of the population, writing a book is a big deal. That’s like magic. For readers who love your work you are like the best, so she encourages you to engage with people.

Jeff: I think a lot of people think it’s all about Facebook groups these days. Facebook groups certainly have their place and their mission, but I think there’s an opportunity missed if you don’t have the newsletter because not everybody is going to engage on social.

I think it’s one of those things everybody generally talks about, pick one or two social media outlets that you’re going to really pay attention to as your place. I think the newsletter is really important too for people who want that extra touch or who may not be engaging on social media. It was certainly one of those big tips that Judith Utz had back in episode 2 and 3: have a newsletter.

I don’t suppose that this book discussed which newsletter service to use since the MailChimp shenanigans that went down a couple months ago? I need to restart a mailing list. Should I be reading this book for that to help me figure that out who to go with?

Will: Yes, I do think you should read the book to brush up on the basics.

We’re probably going to be following David Gaughran’s advice when it comes to picking out an email provider, but we’ll get into that in more detail in an upcoming episode.

Jeff: Yeah, that’s certainly part of relaunching my my brand. I turned off MailChimp right after I launched the fourth “Codename: Winger” book. I turned it off because I didn’t want to pay. And as I start to relaunch I’ll want to start up again. So more to come on that.

Will: So I highly recommend checking out “Newsletter Ninja” by Tammi Labrecque. At the end of the month the second book called “Newsletter Ninja 2: Automation Black Belt.” This book is going to specifically zero in and target your onboarding animation sequence. So when someone signs up for your newsletter, they get a series of automated emails meant to onboard them into who you are, the kind of books that you write and that kind of thing.

If you do it really, really well they can make that person a fan for life.

Jeff: I so need that. I love her subtitle because of course anything “two” makes me think “Electric Boogaloo.” So she actually had a really good subtitle go in there that subbed right in for it.

Will: Exactly.

One other book that I read this past week was “15-Minute Dictation” by Sean Platt and Neeve Silver. Yes, I’m going on about dictation once again because it is super important, y’all. Just like the previous book that I talked about a couple of episodes back “On Being a Dictator,” this book also covers the author’s experience specifically about how they use dictation in their writing practice. Sean Platt details how it essentially took a decade. It took him 10 years to finally get dictation down.

Jeff: It’s not easy. Some people take to it really fast. Some people have to figure it out. For some people it takes coming back to it after trial and error for 10 years.

Will: That’s essentially the problem that Sean had. He got frustrated and had to set it aside saying, “oh, no this isn’t for me.” He kept coming back to it because it’s really an important skill to have in your back pocket. He details his trials and tribulations, but the book mainly focuses on the idea of rewiring your brain.

What the authors of this particular book mean is that storytelling is in your brain. It’s not in your fingers. It’s not typing. You had to learn how to type. You just have to learn how to dictate. Those are two different skills. It’s very easy to get frustrated when it doesn’t automatically happen for you right away.

But the very first time that you sat down at a keyboard, you didn’t automatically know where all the letters were or where all the punctuation was. So, you can’t expect your first time dictating to be perfect. He also recommends not starting with The Great American Novel on your first day of dictation. He talks you through a sequence, specifically 15 minutes prints, which is where the title comes from. The idea is to relax into it, taking one little baby step at a time building up your skill set until you automatically think your story and words, and can dictate seamlessly. One quick tip that I thought was genius is that he recommends when you sit down to do your writing, or maybe just writing an email, talking out the words.

Jeff: I kind of like that. If you get used to dictating an email or something that’s not a story, it could help prime that part of your brain and I you might even feel less self-conscious about it because you’re not trying to put your creative work out there. You’re dictating something that’s not creative work.

Will: There are several different short stories in the back of “15-Minute Dictation” and he recommends not necessarily using them to train your dragon, that’s a whole other subject entirely. What he wants you to do is take these short sprints and get used to saying the words. It’s getting the flow of ideas and trying to talk coherently.

He also recommends that when you’re sitting down at the keyboard and going about your daily business–whether it’s fiction or writing an email–saying the words as you type them. Including the punctuation. That’s a really hard thing to get used to.

He recommends taking those specific baby steps and eventually you’ll be talking your novel and writing a best-seller. It’s fantastic. So I recommend “15-Minute Dictation” by Sean Platt and Neeve Silver. It’s really good.

Jeff: I can’t wait for you to start your dictation journey.

Will: I’m scared.
Jeff: Don’t be scared.
Will: It’s not easy. It’s gonna be hard.

Jeff: I don’t think it’s gonna be that hard. I actually wonder if it’s easier because you talk on the podcast all the time. It’s not dictating a book, but it’s talking. It’s putting your ideas out there. You’re used to talking extemporaneously.

Will: I don’t like talking out loud. Which is a weird thing for me to say since I am a podcaster, but this is not my favorite thing.

Jeff: It’s true. I mean even trying to get him to test microphones occasionally is a difficult thing, even if we’re not recording something.

Will: Just so awkward and weird. So yeah, it’s just something that we all have to get over.

Jeff: True.

Yeah, and I think I think your journey with dictation will be an interesting element to this show once you get it going.

Will: You’ve had a lot of experience with dictation. What were some of your stumbling blocks at the beginning? Or, were you perfect from the get-go

Jeff: Oh, God, no. Understanding that I could have the recorder on pause and that I didn’t necessarily have to have the next sentence ready. I could have a minute and think about the next thing I wanted to say. I think that’s important for anybody with dictation. Or, if you’re not doing the transcription like I am with the voice recorder, and you’re in front of your screen, Dragon will wait. It doesn’t care. It’s going to wait until you talk and then it’s going to pick up and get going again.

And certainly punctuation. Doing things like, “Yes comma I will learn how to punctuate period.” That takes a minute to get used to.

I don’t always put the commas in because I don’t use commas correctly most of the time anyway. I really try to use quotation marks in the right spot and periods so when I get the transcription back it has some of the right stuff in it, especially around the dialogue.

Will: Lots to look forward to.

Jeff: Indeed September is going to be awesome between the class and starting to figure out how I’m going to put my books back out. I’m looking forward to that.

So do you have specific… I’m gonna put you on the spot… do you have specific September plans that you would like to share that we can hold you accountable for the next four weeks?

Will: Well, the summer was kind of bonkers for us. I don’t think we’ve had a summer that busy in, frankly, I can’t even remember when. So I’m going to appreciate staying at home for a couple of weeks and coming up with a game plan. Not only for your relaunch but the launch period of my baby author career as well. There’s a lot of stuff coming down the pike and a lot of possibilities.

So I think September is going to be about sort of a winnowing down some of those choices.

Jeff: Winnowing down. I like it.

Will: Okay, guys, I think that’s gonna do it for now. We’ve thrown an awful lot at you this week. It was a bit of a hodgepodge of subjects.

Jeff: Would that be a dog’s breakfast?

Will: No. No, that was all beautiful pristine beautiful information that we presented to you.

If you’d like links to anything that we’ve discussed. Simply go to the shownotes page for episode 9 at biggayauthorpodcast.com. On the sho notes page you’ll also find the links to our individual websites and social media including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Jeff: Speaking of Twitter, if you follow us at biggayauthor, you’ll find that we share things there during the week that catch our attention. Plus be sure to subscribe to this show so you never miss an episode. We are available on all the major podcast outlets and you’ll find links to them on our website.

Will: I’d like to close out this week with a quote from Brendon Burchard. “Don’t compare yourself to others. The comparison to make is ‘Am I becoming a better person than I was yesterday, being more free in my expression, contributing more with my heart?'”

What will your heartfelt contribution be this week? And what will you create in the next seven days?

Thank you everyone for listening. We hope you’ll join us again next week. Until then keep writing.