Jeff & Will recap how their final 100 days of 2019 began. Will discusses the books How to Write Light Novels and Webnovels by R.A. Paterson and Superfans by Pat Flynn. The guys also offer tips and tricks for handling an author event like the upcoming GayRomLit (GRL).
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.
- “21 Best Book Podcasts” on O: The Oprah Magazine
- How to Write Light Novels and Webnovels: Your Key to Writing Addictive Stories That Get Reads, Reviews and Sales by R.A. Paterson on Amazon
- Superfans: The Easy Way to Stand Out, Grow Your Tribe, And Build a Successful Business by Pay Flynn on Amazon
- Strangers To Superfans: A Marketing Guide to The Reader Journey by David Gaughran on Amazon
- Kevin Kelly: 1,000 True Fans on kk.com
- “9 People’s Favorite Thing” from [title of show] on YouTube.com
- Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered by Austin Kleon on Amazon
- Jeff & Will’s Websites & Social Media:
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 is my fellow writer and husband Will Knauss.
Will: Hello, everybody. Today is September 28th 2019 and we are very glad that you could join us. Today we’ll be discussing tips and tricks for GRL specifically, but also for author events in general. Before we get to that, let’s talk about our week.
Jeff: For me this week was an interesting one because in my 90 Days to Done class it was an unplanned writing week. I actually thought I was going to be traveling for the day job so I didn’t want to commit myself to hitting any particular word goals. So I had the week to get more of my plotting done. I’m actually plotted into the middle of act three and I know the big points that need to happen in three and four, but I’ve got to string together the ways that we’re going to get there.
I’ll be doing that early this week because next week class is going to be scary because I will be in the hot seat where I have to talk about my plot and talk about my characters and get feedback from the class.
Will: Now you’ve been doing this class for a couple of weeks now and you’ve experienced the hot seat with other authors. What have they wanted to talk about and what has been your experience so far?
Jeff: I have really enjoyed this element to the class. So I’m a little excited to do it and a little trepidatious at the same time.
Will: Well, that’s understandable.
Jeff: The hot seat is the moment where people get to lay out their plot and get to lay out their characters. They get to ask questions. So it can be a brainstorming moment where the class can help piece together some plot points that the author maybe hasn’t come together with yet. Or, it can also be an opportunity to just take in general feedback. There’s been some tremendous discussions around plots in general. We’ve done three hot seats now, and each time I feel like the author who’s been in the hot seat has come away with interesting elements to put into their book or to think about. I can’t speak for them, but sitting where I sit it’s like, “oh that was really good. I hope I get something like that when I talk on the hot seat.” So we’ll see. I’ll be able to talk about it on next week’s show about how that turns out.
The other scary thing about this week is…any week that you make your writing goals, you have the option to send Rachael 250 words of the story. It can be any 250 words from the manuscript you’ve done so far. It doesn’t have to be, you know, edited or anything fancy. I didn’t do it the first week I had met the goal because it was too scary to send Rachael Herron 250 words. The class encouraged me this week to send so last night I sent 250 words to Rachael to get some feedback on so… Oh my, God. We’ll see how that goes.
Will: I believe in you.
Jeff: Awww. Thank you.
Will: I think it’s gonna go fine. I’m not worried at all.
Jeff: And Rachael’s not scary. It’s just you know, I would be some level of scary if I gave you 250 really unedited words to look at.
Will: Well, you should be. I’m mean.
Jeff: It’s true folks. He can be mean. I’ve tempered him a little bit over the years on how to deliver criticism without making me feel terrible.
So we had a big deal happen this week that we’ll just mention briefly on this show. It made me squeak when I saw it which made Will wonder what the hell’s happening?
“O: The Oprah Magazine” did ” 21 Best Book Podcasts” on their website this week and “Big Gay Fiction Podcast” was on that list along with “Smart Podcast Trashy Books” from Sarah Wendell, podcasts from “The New Yorker.” It was a little crazy wouldn’t you say.
Will: It was really, really strange. Exciting, but completely weird.
Let me just talk about the beginning of my week. This past Monday was the 23rd, which means, as we spoke about last week, there are just 100 days left in 2019. I was all gung-ho if you remember from last week and I sort of crashed on Monday. It wasn’t a particularly good day for me. Since it is 2019 and the world is on fire, geopolitical news got me feeling down. Plus news of a publisher behaving badly in our niche genre of romance also had me feeling depressed and frustrated. So Monday was kind of a down day for me. I wasn’t feeling quite up to leading the charge of creativity.
Jeff: I’ll say that I think I played a part in that too. I was a spouse behaving badly. I made a quip that was meant to be a quip that I don’t think landed the way I meant for it to. I actually think I contributed to the bad Monday. I’ll apologize publicly for that and I will do better in the future.
Will: Thank you for saying that.
So I eventually I got my head back in the game and I’m feeling much more myself right now. And as Jeff mentioned, the article… we learned of the article on Friday. We believe it came out late Thursday. And so yeah, we woke up to this really wonderful, but incredibly bizarre news that we were featured in Oprah’s magazine. I say it’s bizarre because I don’t even really know or understand how to wrap my head around that. It’s so strange. We certainly didn’t apply. We don’t have any connections with Oprah or the magazine or anything like that it just sort of happened. So I think it’s literally one of the strangest things that has ever happened in my life.
Jeff: It’s totally crazy. Sarah Wendell from “Smart Podcast” pinged me and was like “congratulations you’re on this list” and I’m like, what? What do you mean? What are we talking about here?
But I think it goes to show and I think that the thing that authors in general can take away from this is you never know when that thing is going to happen. We don’t know, because it’s been less than 48 hours, what this means to podcast listenership or anything. It doesn’t really matter in the long run whether we get one listener or a zillion listeners.
You never know when that moment of discovery is going to happen. When an “Oprah Magazine” is going to pick you up. When “Entertainment Weekly” is going to feature you in roundup of books or when you end up on the “Today Show” for some reason. You know, Adriana Herrera had that happen a few weeks back where another author was just talking about books and shouted it out her book.
I think you have to be thankful about it when it happens. And have your “Oh My, God” moment because this big thing just happened. Then just, you know, take it and move on. One of the things that we need to take away, that we’ve heard around using social media recently is to periodically remind people that this happened because not everybody will have seen that necessarily when it came out.
And really quickly before we move on, we want to thank Philip for giving us a Tweet this week. He wants us to talk about POV and voice. Those are things that I find quite interesting, going between first and third and whatnot and how you make your considerations on that. So we’re going to get something put together for an upcoming show. But thanks to Philip for sending us a message this week and saying hello.
Will: So if you have any questions or comments or ideas for future episodes, be sure and send a tweet our way or drop a comment on the shownotes page for this episode.
Jeff: This coming weekend, which will be Saturday October 5th, registration is going to open for the PAGE event, which is happening in Atlanta April 17th through the 19th, 2020. PAGE is an event founded by Lucy Lennox. PAGE stands for Pride Author Group Education and is a two-day event going on for professionally published writers of gay and m/m romance who are ready to take their stories and businesses to the next level.
The event is designed for authors with two or more published novels or five or more published shorts and registration as I mentioned is coming up on Saturday, October 5th. The lineup of speakers is going to be announced this week as well. I’m super excited to see who’s coming to this event and what the educational opportunities are going to be.
You can learn all about it at pageevent.com and be ready to register next week because it’s going to be limited registration. I fully expect for it to sell out on Saturday. We’ll see how that goes.
Will: Looking forward to that.
So, this past week while I was busy getting my head together I did some reading. Imagine that.
Jeff: As you are want to do.
Will: As I am want to do.
The first book I want to discuss is “How to Write Light Novels and Web Novels.” When this book came across my feed as I was scrolling through Amazon, and it came by as a recommendation, the first thing is the cover drew me in. It’s got an anime guy with wings ready to fight. I’m like “what the hell is that about?” And then I looked at the title and I was like hmm. I don’t know anything about that subject.
Jeff: I’m seeing the cover sitting here and I’m thinking it’s a YA novel and the fact that it’s about writing books is not what I’d expect.
Will: It’s promoted as your key to writing addictive stories that get reads, reviews and sales and it’s by R.A. Paterson. If you don’t already know, light novels and web novels are essentially serialized stories that are extremely popular in Asia, primarily, Japan Korea and China.
The U.S. equivalent is essentially Wattpad. But what we’re talking about when it comes to web novels, specifically as detailed in this particular book, is light years beyond that. Serialization hasn’t really caught on the way it has and the rest of the world and this book explains what light novels and web novels are all about. Why they’re popular and where they’re popular and how they’re popular in different ways in different countries.
It also details some things to consider if you’re interested in writing your own serialized story. This is a really big book with a lot of information. I don’t think it was necessarily meant to be read cover to cover. You kind of just pick and choose and grab pieces of information that you need and are most interested in. I thought it was genuinely interesting with the caveat being that if you do start flipping through this book, you’re probably going to want to write a serial story. So if you fall prey to shiny items or shiny idea syndrome, then reader beware. That’s all I’m saying.
Jeff: Is there a serial in your future?
Will: No. No, I’m not going to write a serial. I’ve got other stuff on my plate right now.
So if you’re interested and want to learn more that was “How to Write Light Novels and Web Novels.” I thought it was really interesting.
Another book that I finished reading was “Superfans” by Pat Flynn. A couple of weeks ago I talked about what I thought of David Gaughran’s book “Strangers to Superfans.” That book is specifically for authors and covers how to move people through your marketing funnel.
Where this book, “Superfans” by Pat Flynn, differs is it riffs on Kevin Kelly’s 1,000 True Fans idea. If you are a creative or are part of the internet marketing community, you’ve probably heard of this idea. The idea is that an artist can, if they can manage to find themselves 1,000 true fans, i.e. someone that’ll buy everything that they ever produce, then you can make a healthy living doing that.
And what “Superfans” does is it talks about what to do with fans when you get them. It’s how to keep them engaged and how to keep them happy. He goes through a sort of pyramid. He uses a pyramid to illustrate the points he’s making. At the bottom there are casual fans and then there are engaged fans and then there are superfans.
So you grab the most people at the bottom and as they learn more about you and the stuff that you create, they move closer and closer to becoming a superfan. So if you’re interested in learning how to keep your readers engaged and loving everything that you do, I recommend checking out “Superfans” by Pat Flynn.
Jeff: Of course as you talk about that, all I can think about is “Nine People’s Favorite Thing,” which is a riff on that. It’s from a cute little Broadway musical that we adore that talks about creativity. That might be a topic for another show sometime.
Will: Definitely. Most definitely.
Jeff: So GRL, as we sit here on Saturday, September 28th, is about two and a half weeks away. Readers and authors of gay romance fiction will be descending on Albuquerque to celebrate the genre over basically four days.
This will be our eighth GRL. Super excited because Albuquerque is back where it all started for us.
I think it’s important for authors to consider, especially if it’s your first GRL or your first event of any kind, to really do what you need to do to maintain your self care. We’ve certainly experienced, and we could still experience this at times, the kind of burn out that the event can do to you.
Will: Yes. Essentially all of our advice is going to boil down to writer know thyself. Hopefully you’re self-aware enough to know how you’re going to react to large groups of people or cons and events. We’ll be discussing, if this is your very first time coming to an event like this, some things that you can prepare for.
First and foremost there is the pre-preparation that goes into going to a conference like this, specifically if you are attending as an author. Since neither one of us has any books published right now, we are attending this event as an industry pro, which means we’re going to be representing ” Big Gay Fiction Podcast” and “Big Gay Author Podcast.”
If you are attending GRL as an author, you have the option to hand out swag during various events during the weekend. This is something you, of course, need to plan for ahead of time. And right now as we’re a little bit over two weeks till the event, your time has passed. If you don’t have your swag settled and ready to go it’s a little too late. But, that’s okay. There are other things that you can do if you’re heading to GRL as an author.
Specifically for this event, I want to say that something we’ve noticed over the years is that paper swag, things like bookmarks or postcards, do not prove to be particularly popular at this event for some reason. People just aren’t into them. That’s also very different. When you go to other events. Different reader events or maybe book fairs, things like that, people grab as much as they possibly can and either they sort through it when they get home or they hold on to it as sort of a souvenir of the event. That doesn’t seem to generally be the case it GRL.
Now that being said you should definitely have something with you know, your book cover on it…
Jeff: Or an associated item. We’ve seen especially, in like the paranormal category, where character magnets are extremely popular with artwork that represents certain characters. That might or might not come straight off the book cover. And, useful items like pens. We love pens. We will pick up practically any pen that’s out there. Notepads, sticky notes, etc.
I think it’s important when you’re doing swag to consider your return on investment on it. Is it something that is evergreen? That if you have a stock left over that you can continue to use it? Or, is it something that you may want to do a short run on for a specific event so that you’re not stuck with things that you may not be able to use again.
Will: So that’s about swag.
Quick note on packing. Since you don’t really know what the future holds or what the event space is going to be like, pack for all occasions or all possibilities.
Generally if you spend the majority of a conference inside a hotel you’re going to end up being cold at some point. So be sure to have different layers and different looks if you like.
Jeff: And, in terms of the packing to consider, if you’re going to be bringing home more than you left with. Are you going to be picking up books from people and such? Perhaps leave yourself a little extra space in your luggage or have a tote bag that you can convert into having as carry-on baggage that you may have initially just packed in the suitcase.
Will: Another quick note, if you’re going to be spending a lot of time inside a hotel or an event space, always hydrate. Literally have a bottle of water with you at all times. And, you think this might be a bit of mother hen advice. Trust me. Just do it.
Jeff: It’s true. Nothing can wear you out faster than drying out and once you’ve dried out you’re too far gone and then that might be the end of your day. It’s funny people don’t think about this. I was talking to Gregory Ashe who’s about to have his first GRL experience and he asked what I’d recommend and I had hydrate and have the water bottle at the top of my list. He’s like, I never thought about that.
You really need it. Whether you have a travel bottle that you always keep with you or you buy a plastic bottle that you’re going to take for the rest of the trip, don’t underestimate what can happen if you don’t hydrate properly. I’m done with my mother hen advice.
Will: Do as we say not as we do. On the very first day at an event I always feel like crap at the end of the day. Why? Because I didn’t drink enough damn water. So don’t do what I do.
Jeff: I think it’s also key, especially if you’re there as a featured author, and already going to have two author lounges, a panel to do and the big book signing, don’t over book yourself for the event overall. Make sure you take a moment for yourself to just let the event happen around you so that you’re not going to freak out if you’re not somewhere every single minute of the day because you’ll drive yourself crazy.
Will: Most conventions and large events will have an available app to help you plan your day. Go over the app and look at what you think you want to do and have that prepared and ready to go. But realize that you are not going to be able to get to everything and you’re going to have to make your peace with that.
I always recommend if this is your first time going to either GRL or frankly any event, just go to experience it to see what’s what. Don’t try to do everything the very first go around.
Jeff: That’s very true. Another reason not to overbook is to leave yourself space to let the event happen. You might be asked to lunch by somebody. You might have new friends that you want to go do something with. If you leave yourself space for that to happen, and we speak from experience on this because we will come back from a GRL going what the hell? We didn’t really see anybody because we were doing too many other things.
Will: Also, I think it’s a good thing to remember and this probably can be filed under writer know thyself. If you are an introvert, please practice self-care. Just the other day in the GRL author group someone mentioned their tip is that if they’re feeling a little tired or a little overwhelmed and they need to step away that they have a codeword to tell their friends. That way if they go missing for an extended period of time, their friends know it’s fine. You just needed to step away for a second, that’s all.
Jeff: So it really all goes towards, you know, knowing yourself and know when you need that quiet moment. I know we both occasionally have moments in the middle of the day where we just step away and go back to the room because we just need that that moment.
Will: But don’t let us freak you out by talking about so much overwhelm. There is a lot of really wonderful, genuinely amazing stuff to experience when you go to GRL. The very fact that you’re down there with other book lovers, you’re going to have an amazing time and if like talking to total strangers… I mean, I’m certainly freaked out by the idea of talking to someone I don’t know, please know that we all love the exact same thing. We are all there for the exact same reason. And if you are ever stuck for a topic of discussion, talk about books. Because that’s what we love to do.
Jeff: Now from an organizational standpoint this is a tip that I discovered a couple of years ago that I’ve been using ever since. Initially I did this with a backpack, but more recently I’ve done this with the incredible totes that GRL provided a year or two ago. I set these tote bags up with what I need for the events. So I have one bag always staged with what I need for an author lounge and another bag for what we need when we’re doing a podcast lounge. I would restock these for what I need to go to the signing. I essentially called them the go bag, you know, so you’ve got what you need together so you’re not running around the room like a crazy person in the minutes before you’re supposed to go somewhere. You arrive at the hotel and you put this bag together and then it’s ready to go for those events that are the repeating ones throughout the weekend. It calmed me down a lot knowing that stuff was ready to go in a moment’s notice and I could just take it and go.
Will: Yeah, I think we finally came to that realization after years of experience that it pays to take just a few minutes to prepare those bags that way you’re not stressed or freaked out before you have to go to a specific author related event. Plan your go bag. It’s a good idea.
Jeff: And remember that this weekend you are there representing yourself, representing your brand, representing who you are as an author. Yes, it’s a fun event, but it’s also work for authors who are there. I can’t stress enough being professional. We’ve come away from too many GRLs where there’s always the story of the author behaving badly. I don’t think anybody really sets out to be that person but just don’t be that person. Don’t be the person that we’re talking about six months down the road about the crazy thing that happened.
Will: Exactly. Do not be a dick.
If you feel the need to complain about something, especially to your other author friends and you have to get something off your chest, please don’t do it around readers. It makes you look bad. It makes other people look bad. Just yeah. Be cool, man. Be cool.
Jeff: There you go. Sage words to live by.
Will: Okay guys, I think that’s gonna do it for our tips and tricks for GRL. If you’re going to be in Albuquerque in Oct… that’s hard to say. If you’re going to be at the event, please drop by and say hi. If you see us running around like crazy people, let us know what you think of this show or if you’re a listener of “Big Gay Fiction Podcast” give us your opinions. We will be more than glad to talk about books any time of the day.
Jeff: Oh for sure. And he’s right will be running around like crazy people because for all the advice we just gave you, we are crazy booked during GRL.
Will: Yeah. We got a lot of stuff on our plate this year.
Okay guys, I think that’s going to do it for now. If you’d like links to anything that we’ve discussed this week, simply go to the shownotes page for episode 13 at BigGayAuthorPodcast.com. On the shownotes page will also find the links to our individual websites and social media including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Jeff: And speaking of Twitter, you can follow us at BigGayAuthor where we’ll share things during the week that catch our attention. Plus, if you want to give us feedback on the show, have suggestions on topics or anything else you can tweet us or leave comments on the shownotes page. Also be sure to subscribe to the show so you never miss an episode. We’re available anywhere you listen to podcasts.
Will: I’d like to close out this week with a quote from Henry Miller, especially since we were just talking about author events and author spaces. Henry Miller once said, “Part of the act of creating is in discovering your own kind. They are everywhere. But don’t look for them in the wrong places.”
I pulled this quote from Austin Kleon’s “Show Your Work” and this came up in a chapter about vampires, i.e. people who suck energy from you. So when Henry Miller says, don’t go looking for them in the wrong places what he essentially is saying is protect your tender insides and your creativity. You don’t need to share it with people who aren’t going to get it. If you go to GRL, you’re going to be around people who are going to get it. So be open to the experience. It’s going to be a lot of fun and we’re really looking forward to.
Jeff: Yeah, I can’t wait.
Will: Okay, guys. To close things out. I’m going to ask you, as always, 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.