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The guys kick of NaNoWriMo 2019 with an update on their day one progress, as well as a reminder that they’re live on Facebook Monday-Friday at 9pm ET/6pm PT with status updates. Will recommends some podcasts with great NaNoWriMo episodes.

Jeff & Will discuss a question they received from Ida asking about library distribution and some of the choices that big five publishers are making and things indies have to think about.

A new segment on author advice kicks off with Lucy Lennox answering questions about her career and tips she’d give for aspiring authors.

Remember, you can listen and subscribe to the podcast anytime on Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcasts, SpotifyStitcherPlayerFM, and audio file download.

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

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, as always, is my fellow writer and husband Mr. Jeff Adams.

Jeff: Hello everyone. Today is November 2, 2019 and we’re glad you could join us today. We’re going to be talking about libraries and getting some inspiration from Lucy Lennox. But before we do that, let’s talk about our week.

Will: We hope everyone had a fantastic Halloween, whether you chose to stay in and have a quiet night or party the night away with…

Jeff: costumes and candy…

Will: and monster mashes, who knows…

Jeff: oooh, monster mashes.

And of course you may have also chosen to spend your Halloween getting ready for NaNoWriMo, which started just yesterday. We got underway with NaNo. I did a little over 1100 words yesterday in my first attempt at getting back to writing it about two weeks between GRL stuff and other stuff going on. So I got my NaNo started and I’m looking forward to seeing how many words I can generate in the upcoming 30 days.

Will: Now, yesterday, we also started our live broadcasts every evening. We’re doing those Monday through Friday during the month of November in honor of NaNoWriMo and yesterday was our first live broadcast to let you know how we did on the very first day. As Jeff just said, he got some words in. I of course, did not. I shouldn’t say, of course.

Jeff: I was gonna say, don’t say, of course.

Will: It’s not exactly a foregone conclusion, but history is repeating itself, unfortunately. But don’t worry, I have lots of positive feelings left. And there’s still, you know… I could use that positive… I don’t even know….

Jeff: You’re going to keep the positivity going for the next 28 days.

Will: I’m going to try.

Jeff: And we’re all going to be here to support you at the podcast audience, the Facebook live audience. We going to get you through NaNoWriMo.

Will: Yes. So whether you’ve written all the words on the very first day or no words at all. Know that there is still plenty of time during the month of November, and you too can write the book of your heart or a book of your dreams or any old book you so choose.

Jeff: And if you have written all the words yesterday, drop us a line and let us know how that went. Because I’m always fascinated by the story of the people who actually do that.

Will: For some additional NaNoWriMo inspiration. I want to recommend real quickly a couple of different podcasts. The “Lesbians Who Write Podcast,” episode number 36, they had an episode called “NaNoWriMo and Should You Do It?” So check that out if you want to know their opinion.

Also, I want to mention the “Misfits Guide to Writing Indie Romance.” Adrienne and Eliza talk about their, intentions and their plans for NaNoWriMo in episode 74. Adrianne also mentions she has a plan to write “hella words” in the coming year.

Jeff: I love that term. It’s absolutely love it.

Will: It’s a whole thing, so I highly recommend you check that out. Also, Kevin Tumlinson celebrated episode 200 of “The Wordslinger Podcast” with an episode that has tips for NaNoWriMo and beyond. So we recommend you check that out.

Also, I recently discovered this past week that Lindsay Buroker has a new podcast. She is an incredibly successful author and for many, many years, she was one of the co hosts of the “Science Fiction & Fantasy Marketing Podcast.” They went on a hiatus this past spring. That hiatus is now permanent.

Jeff: Oh, that’s too bad. That was a good show.

Will: They ditched that show and they’ve actually started a new one. “Six Figure Author,” is the name of it, and Lindsay Buroker is joined by Jo Lallo, and Andrea Pearson. And every week they talk about different subjects, surrounding, you know, business and habits of successful authors. So if you’re into that, I highly recommend checking out “Six Figure Author.” I’ve enjoyed the few episodes that I’ve listened to so far.

Jeff: Fantastic. I’m excited to hear about that one. We’ll of course link to all those podcasts in the shownotes so you can find them easily.

This past week, we also making those baby steps towards getting some of our unpublished works back out into the marketplace. We finalized the cover for the release of “The Hockey Player’s Heart.” We’re working with a wonderful cover designer. And it’s been so exciting watching the pieces of this thing click in from looking for the right guys to be our characters, to watching how the cover just comes to life. I think you were equally delighted by the product that we got this week.

Will: Yeah, I really liked the way it turned out. No release date yet on when “Hockey Player” is going to be returning to the literary world but we will certainly let you know when it happens.

Jeff: Yeah. We’re working on a couple of other things to put out there at the same time. I’m doing a new cover for my hockey romance novella “Head in the Game” and working on that right now. And also we’re working on a couple of other pieces to put back out in the marketplace at the same time to start to do that rebranding that we talked about back a few episodes ago.

Will: Yeah. So we will definitely keep you guys posted.

Jeff: So we got a message from listener Ida this week, and she was messaging us to get our take on libraries. She’s been reading a book actually about the future of libraries. And she actually referenced some issues that she’s read about, about major publishers who are increasing restrictions on libraries and how indie and small publishers are occasionally looking to fill that void.

And there’s a couple of rather recent issues that Ida is referencing here. One of the most recent actually came in July when the Hachette book group, which includes several publishers, including HBG, Harper Collins, Macmillan Publishers, Penguin Random House, and Simon & Schuster, changed its ebook and digital audio book lending model for libraries.

And it replaced the perpetual ownership model, which is of course where you buy the ebook or audio book and you have it forever in your library, with a two year access model for eBooks and digital audio books. And of course this decreased prices for libraries in the short term, by as much as 25% in some cases. But that initial discount gets wiped out if the library renews its access.

A different kind of issue that surfaced back at 2018 is when Tor, which happens to be a division of Macmillan, which is part of Hachette. It’s a very incestuous relationship going on there. They actually put a library embargo on new releases, so that libraries had to wait for four months before it could purchase a new ebook. And after a few months of that embargo had been in forced, the company said that the data validated its belief that library ebook lending, depressed consumer ebook sales and author payouts.

Another factor for libraries, of course, is Amazon itself, whose exclusivity around ebooks that are in KU and audio done through ACX and distributed exclusively by Audible keeps those books and audio books out of libraries completely.

So there’s a lot of stuff going on in the library space, and certainly there are ways for independent authors to distribute in a way to put their ebooks into libraries and also put their audiobooks into libraries using wider distribution sources. Ida kind of wanted our thoughts on this, and I’m so mixed on these things.

At my core, I am against exclusivity. However, KU and exclusivity is kind of a necessity for authors to make income, especially early in your career. The voraciousness of readers in romance makes it very difficult to put the right number of books out into the marketplace and for everybody to buy them. So of course going into KU were you paying the flat membership fee is perfect for readers of romance, and it’s where authors kind of have to end up if they’re going to make money and you know, they may go in and out, okay, you after a while to put them wide for a time to get other readers in, but it’s, it’s a difficult ecosystem for libraries.

Thoughts, sir? Especially around the romance market.

Will: First of all, it’s not news that the big five are cutting off their nose despite their face. That’s been happening for decades now. So, I just roll my eyes really, really hard.

Jeff: He did. You should’ve seen it.

Will: But when it comes to independent authors and getting into libraries, I think it is a swell idea, especially if you as an author have decided to distribute widely. I think that is super fine and noble. You do, you of course.

But whether you choose to go wide or choose to stay exclusive to Amazon, I think it behooves an author to understand what they’re gaining and what they’re giving up, no matter what choice they end up making.

And when it comes to libraries and genre fiction, especially gay romance fiction, I’m not 100% convinced that it would be a significant portion of anybody’s income, no matter how successful you are.

Jeff: You’re right, that it’s all about how it fits into your business. Certainly for the romance titles, we’re getting ready to re-release, I’m going to put some in KU because I need to be able to make the money back on my investment on the cover, on the editing, on whatever else is going into putting that title back into the marketplace. It could be that later, I might pull them out, or they may stay in KU forever because again, that’s kind of where the money is for romance. It’s a hard choice for me because I really don’t believe in the exclusivity, but yet on the other hand, I need to make the proper income.

On the flip side for libraries, my YA titles, I’m going to most likely distribute those in a way that they can get to libraries so that they can get in the hands of teen readers who may not be able to, for whatever reason, use Amazon either because they’re trying to keep gay content away from their parents, or they can’t afford Amazon or whatever it is. I want my YA books available to the libraries because that’s where I discovered so many of my first books as a kid and a teenager.

Will: Here’s the thing about my feelings about libraries. I think you hear people like Joanna Penn who are very pro wide release, talking about, getting your books into libraries, or at the very least being available to libraries to rent or purchase.

I haven’t used a library in many, many decades.

Jeff: Yeah, me too.

Will: I of course, went to the library when I was a child in the mid-seventies. So do I know how a modern library actually works? No, I don’t. And depending on upon where you live, you could have a very forward thinking community supported library that has all sorts of wonderful things like ebooks and audiobooks and community programs and that kind of thing. Or you could have an underfunded library in your town that is exactly like the one I went to in the 1970s. So there’s that as well. I don’t know. It’s complex question and one that we certainly can’t completely cover in a single episode.

Jeff: Yeah. And again, as Will pointed out, it’s such a individual choice for your author business, how you want to distribute and how it fundamentally matters to you on where your distribution lies. You will find in the show notes, some articles from the American Library Association and “Publisher’s Weekly” on this issue if you want to read up a little more on it.

Shall we start something brand new?

Will: I think we should.

Jeff: Since we started this show, we’ve had an idea that we want to continually bring you advice from authors who are not us, which then also allows us to learn from those authors. So as we’ve been talking to folks for the “Big Gay Fiction Podcast” and doing other interviews, we’ve been gathering up author advice as we go along. We’re going to start off this new segment with Lucy Lennox, who we talked to back in episode 16 of this show while we were at GRL. We asked her these questions, but we had such a long discussion with her already that we took them out of that episode, and so we’re going to bring this to you right now.

Jeff: Why do you write?

Lucy: Oh gosh, why do I write?

I love it. First of all, now I write because I love it. I’m a voracious reader, and sometimes I can’t find the story that I want to read. And so sometimes I have to write it. But when I first started off writing, I read a couple of really good books that inspired me to start, and I wanted to see if I could do it.

I wanted to write fun, bantery scenes and I wanted to write, schmoopy romantic scenes. And, you know, I never thought I could do it. And now that I can, it’s a little bit addictive. Once you start brainstorming stories, I mean, Leslie and I were talking about stories last night and I was just waiting for her to say, “But, hold on a minute. You’re in the middle of this book. You’re supposed to be writing this book, and you’re also writing these short stories. Like now you’re telling me about this other idea”. I’m like, yeah, and my mom’s friends are always like, where does she come up with all these ideas?

That is never a problem for me. That’s not a problem. So part of it is like, you know, wanting to try out these ideas.

Will: I get the impression from talking to you that it’s not only a creative outlet, but you enjoy all aspects of the creative process, whether that’s drafting or maybe editing or packaging a book up with a great cover, and then the marketing and then getting the book out to readers and talking to them.

Is that, a safe, safe bet?

Lucy: No. It’s not safe to say, first of all, you can take editing and throw it out the door first.

Will: I understand.

Lucy: You can take revising and throw that one out the door. No. I love, brainstorming. I love craft. I love learning how to do that better or learning why something works well. I love coming up with the hook. And thinking about what the dark night of the soul is going to be and what the happy ever after is going to look like. I love writing comedy. There are a lot of aspects to the craft I love. And I, I enjoy the people, so I enjoy being on Facebook with the readers. I enjoy being on Facebook with other authors. I enjoy all of that interaction because that fills my social side of my life and my heart. And I feel like I’m with my people in this community socially. But. I don’t like all of the admin stuff because a lot of it, when you’re indie, a lot of it requires you figuring out. I mentioned this earlier, but you figuring it out on your own, so it requires a lot of self-education and when you’re trying to self-educate on how to market audio, let’s say, that’s not what I want to be spending my time to do.

I love audio, but I want to be listening to it. I want to be writing for it. I even want to be talking to Michael Pauley about it. But, I don’t want to be studying how to market it or, worse yet, troubleshooting it by trying things that fail, because not a lot of us know how to market audio very well.

So in that respect, I would say there’s a lot of admin stuff that I don’t like to do. One of the reasons I have like good assistants in Leslie, but marketing is definitely not my favorite. Finding good cover images. Even though I love the way they turn out, they turn out the way they turn out because I’m an absolute picky jackass about it. You can ask any covered designers ever worked with me. Like I’m super, super, super picky and it’s not over until I’m thrilled with it and think it’s gonna sell like hotcakes. So I don’t like feeling like I’m bothering somebody, but I’m going to keep bothering them until I get it right or until you know, us together gets it right. But that can be contentious because you can go back and forth and back and forth, well beyond where a cover designer thinks this needed to stop, you know, this needed to stop a long time ago.

So yeah, there are definitely parts of it that I love and parts of it that I don’t love, but the people part of it, I love.

Jeff: How did you get to the place to be a full time author?

Lucy: I was lucky because I didn’t have a full time job that I had to figure out a way out of in order to do this. I was a stay at home mom who ran a quilting business on the side at my leisure. So I was a professional quilter. I did some long arm quilting, but I also designed quilt patterns and I put on this annual quilting event. So yes, I had a job and I ran this small business, but it was not nearly as time consuming as this, and so I wouldn’t, I didn’t consider it a full time job. I thought of it as a side business. Just a little fun thing I did on the side. Whereas now, now I work full time. I mean, like the language in our family has completely shifted. It’s beyond a full time job for me, but I love it. I mean, I love it more than anything I’ve ever done. I can’t imagine not doing it.

Jeff: What’s a mistake you’ve made along the way?

Lucy: Oh man, a mistake I’ve made along the way. There are many. Some of it was just ignorance. You can’t really say it was a mistake because I didn’t know better. And there’s no way I could have known better. But I wasn’t on social media in this world at all until when I published, until like that same day that I published, I started a Facebook account.

So I just was ignorant of a lot of this stuff. But because of that, I wasn’t aware that coming on the scene with three books in 30 days was something that was going to be looked at with the side-eye. Especially when they took off and did as well as they did, which I also was definitely not expecting.

There were a lot of people who looked at my success and thought I had done something hinky or cut a corner or what’s going on with her. Is she who she says she is it? Does she hire ghost writers or does she, you know, do scammy stuff behind the scenes that we’re not seeing? And I didn’t realize that first, and I didn’t have any friends or connections to sort of vouch for me to say, no, she’s just a regular person.

So that, that’s something I wish had gone differently. I don’t know that I would say that I made a mistake, but I wish that had all gone very differently. I think it’s different now because if you’ve read my books, you can read the consistency in them. You know, and a lot of people have met me now and know who I am, you know, in real life.

But I’ve also, written things wrong. You know, I’ve been, I’ve, I’ve wrote something insensitive in “Taming Teddy” that I had to make a public apology about and change. It was my ignorance. I wish I hadn’t done that. I wish I had been paying better attention, you know, being more sensitive.

There have been times where I have posted things on social media, engaged in drama that I wish I hadn’t. But in general, I sort of learned that lesson pretty quickly. So I try and stay out of that. It’s very difficult when the political is personal. It’s difficult knowing when to engage in politics or even personal politics. You know, even industry politics. When it’s personal to you, you know, if you have a friend just being attacked or whatever, you kind of want to get involved. But at the same time you have to think about your brand and you have to think about your readers and you have to think about the big picture and the long term.

So navigating some of those aspects. Again, I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s like, I guess they are mistakes, but it’s, that’s how you learn too. So, I don’t know. But those are the things I think of when you asked that question. Those are the things that rattle around in my head.

Will: You’ve recently done a, a couple of interviews on other shows. We’ll have links to those into the show notes cause they’re really amazing interviews. And you sort of detailed out your sort of humble beginnings and how you did write those first three books very, very quickly. I’m curious, from your personal experience entering the weird, wonderful world that is m/m romance, what advice would you give to a brand new gay romance author if they were entering the business right now? Is there, is there one specific thing or would you just say, ” Buckle up.”

Lucy: So, there are a couple of things. The absolute most important thing I think I could say, because it, it covers everything is self-educate. Don’t expect somebody to bestow this golden tiara of information upon you, because it’s nobody else’s job to do that. I just got approached today through private messenger from an aspiring author who says, ” Can you help me? I would like to become a writer. What do I do?” I can’t be that for everybody who is an aspiring author. So you need to go figure some of that out on your own. There are amazing resources to do that. So I would say rather than approaching authors to say, I need you to give me this information, or will you please help tell me how to promote a book.

A better way of approaching an author is to say, what resources do you recommend for me learning how to do this? There are a lot of people, like Craig Martell has written a book on becoming an indie author. There are a lot of people who’ve written these primers that encompass all of the how to stuff.

Part of what you have to do is just start doing it and you’re gonna learn so much. It’s one of the reasons why, like our author group once it started growing very quickly, we had to limit it to only published authors because so many people think they want to become a writer and think that they want to write a book and they don’t ever do what it takes to make it happen.

If you do what it takes to make it happen, then you will have learned so much. By the time you, you have a book go live, even if it’s a short story, you will have learned the basics. You will ever learn how to write. You will have learnt how to format. You will have learned how to upload it to Amazon. So you’re going to come into asking for help at a much higher level. Yes, you’re still a beginner, but you at least aren’t still totally wearing training wheels, and you can get to that point with education you can find yourself on Google. So that’s one of the first things that I would say is self-educate because there’s a ton of great information out there.

The second thing that I want to mention just because I find it’s an incredibly invaluable tool if you’re going to write romance, is Gwen Hayes “Romancing the Beat.” That book is short and sweet and easy and funny actually. And it’s the easiest read. And it’s basically why are romance novels written the way they’re written in terms of the structure of them, and it introduces you to the concept of something I mentioned before, delivering on the promise of the premise.

There are certain elements in a romance novel that readers are expecting to see. They want to see the moment where the two heroes meet. They want to see the moment where all is lost. They wanna see the happy ever after. And all of these things are little pieces and parts that are hard to keep your hands on when you’re doing all of this for the first time. That book is just such a clear roadmap on how to keep all those pieces and parts organized in a book that makes sense. So that’s another really big, big deal piece of advice I give to authors.

Actually, I need to interrupt myself and say this, when I start getting into answering these questions, I start assuming that I’m talking about indie authors because I’m indie, so I forget. The answer to this would be very different if you want it to be traditionally published. So I need to say that and I need to apologize for everything. I, whenever I assume people are talking about indie. Obviously if you want to be traditionally published, you need to learn how to query an agent. If you’re going to go without an agent, you need to learn how to do submission to the publishers you’re interested in without an agent, if that’s a possibility, look for open submissions. There are certain hashtags on Twitter you can follow to see what people are submitting for, to see what people are looking for submissions for and things like that. So it’s very different if you’re looking to traditionally publish.

But what else would I tell a newbie? Another piece of advice I’ve given recently to a newbie aspiring author is don’t put so much pressure on yourself to feel like you have to do it all at once. I feel like sometimes nowadays there are people who are readers in this community first, and they’re seeing all of us authors do all of these things. We have short story newsletter magnets. We have newsletters. We have reader groups. We have author pages. We have all of these things. And, We didn’t all start with all of those at day one. But they feel like they’ve got to come out of the gate with their first book. They’ve got to have a newsletter. They’ve got to have a reader group. They’ve got to have all their stuff figured out and they don’t. And so that would be another piece of advice is to go easy on yourself and take it in steps. I didn’t have a newsletter until I was, had like book four, I think coming out.

I wasn’t collecting email addresses. I don’t think I had very organized back matter. I didn’t file for copyright in the beginning just because it was just, you know, you just, there’s so much. You can’t do it all.

I can do a whole show on what would I say to a newbie aspiring author.

Will: No, that’s really fantastic. I think when it comes to entering the wilds of the m/m romance market you don’t know what you don’t know until you know it. That is okay because that’s how everyone navigates building a career.

Lucy: And I would also say, I forgot to say this part, I would also suggest building genuine connections and genuine friendships. I have had the experience where I’ll have a reader reach out and say, I liked your book, or reach out and say, why did you do something this way in the scene. I really liked it, but I’ve never seen that done before. Whatever the question is, that starts the conversation with that reader and we end up chit chatting back and forth over the course of months.

Well, if they then go on to become an author or if they were always an author, then if they reach out to me with a question, we’ve already have a genuine relationship, and so it’s super easy to help them because I think of them as a friend rather than somebody who, our first point of contact is, I’m asking for you to pimp my book, or I’m asking for help getting, you know, whatever, you know, auditioning a narrator like whatever the help is.

I love helping new authors, like never hesitate to email or message and ask me anything. But it’s definitely better in the long run, your experience in general and your success ,if you have built genuine–not what can you do for me–but genuine relationships with people, which is mutually beneficial. I can help you and you can help me and we can all grow this business together.

Will: Thank you once again to Lucy Lennox for talking to us for a few minutes and giving us such great advice. Especially the, the idea that you can’t do everything at once and you shouldn’t beat yourself up because you know, frankly, you just can’t.

Jeff: I get stuck in that loop so much. I’ve got my to do list around project or whatever it is. It’s like I need to do all of these 20 things and I can’t get them all done at the same time. And you know what? I probably shouldn’t even do all of them. So I needed to hear that. And I may tape her quote up from that on my wall or something.

Will: Yeah, exactly. Okay, guys, I think that’ll do it for this week’s episode.

If you’d like links to anything we discussed this week, simply go to the show notes page for episode 18 at On the shownotes page, you’ll also find the links to our individual websites and social media, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Jeff: Speaking of social media, you can follow us on Twitter at BigGayAuthor or at where we’ll share things during the week that catch our attention.

Plus, if you want to give us feedback for the show, have suggestions on topics or anything else, you can message us or leave us comments on the shownotes page. And, one last thing. Be sure to subscribe to this show so you never miss an episode. We’re available anywhere you listen to podcasts.

Will: This week’s inspirational quote is going to come from

Now, I can’t vouch for this particular website. This quote I got from a meme. So just putting that out there. So this week’s quote is, “It’s not about perfect. It’s about effort. And when you bring that effort every single day, that’s where transformation happens. That’s how change occurs.”

I think that’s really important, especially now that we are in the month of NaNoWriMo. I think what’s nice about the NaNoWriMo challenge is that you can approach it however you want. You can be goal-focused and kind of zero in on that 50,000 words, or you can, like the quote just mentioned, focus on the process. About sitting down every day and whether you get the 1,667 words or you know, five words, it’s all about the practice and doing the work.

Jeff: That’s certainly something that I’ve noticed in myself. The, the more, the more I do it, the easier it becomes to do it. I mean, it’s like exercise, right? The more you do it, hopefully the less pain you are in the following days, and then you can do more.

And I think it’s similar to writing. So I love your quote. It’s perfect for NaNo, and I hope you put it into action next week.

Will: I’m going to tape it up all over the house. I need to remind myself every single moment of every single day.

So no matter where you are on the second day of your NaNoWriMo journey, we hope you create something amazing in the next seven days. Or you know what? You could create something crappy as well. You don’t know until you get it on the page and get it finished.

Jeff: Amen.

Will: Thank you everyone for listening. We hope you’ll join us again next week.