Jeff & Will kick off this episode with details on the Box of Hearts: Sweet to Spicy Tales of LGBTQIA+ Love available from authors on Ream. Jeff also reviews The Invention of Wings by Robin Knight.
Gregory Ashe discusses how subscription communities can engage readers on a deeper level. He shares insights from launching his own community, along with the early access and perks that his readers receive. Greg also talks about the first author he ever subscribed to and why he did it. Plus, he has details about his upcoming cozy mystery series, and some reading and viewing recommendations.
Look for the next episode of Big Gay Fiction Podcast on Monday, February 26.
Big Gay Fiction Podcast is part of the Frolic Podcast Network. Find many more outstanding podcasts at frolic.media/podcasts!
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. These links are current at the time the episode premieres, however links are subject to change.
- Box of Hearts: Sweet to Spicy Tales of LGBTQIA+ Love from authors on Ream (you’ll need a Ream account and to follow Jeff to access)
- Discover MM on Ream (runs until March 2, 2024)
- Jeff Adams on Ream
- The Invention of Wings by Robin Knight
- Episode 432 – 15 Years of Adventures, Romance, and Rom-Coms with Robin Knight on Big Gay Fiction Podcast
- Gregory Ashe Interview
- Gregory Ashe Advanced Ashochism
- The Spoil of Beasts (Iron on Iron Book 3) by Gregory Ashe
- The Evening of Wolves (Iron on Iron Book 4) by Gregory Ashe
- The Gregorian Order Facebook Group
- Follows with Intent by Gregory Ashe (Nico & Jadon’s book exclusively on Advanced Ashochism)
- Luca Meer Stories by Gregory Ashe (Exclusively on Advanced Ashochism)
- Onley James on Patreon
- Josh Lanyon on Patreon
- Episode 445 – Empowering Readers and Storytellers with Subscriptions on Big Gay Fiction Podcast
- The Last Picks: A Gay Cozy Mystery Series by Gregory Ashe on Kickstarter
- Mystery Magnet (The Last Picks Book 1) by Gregory Ashe (pre-order until April 29, 2024)
- The Thursday Murder Club: A Novel (A Thursday Murder Club Mystery Book 1) by Richard Osman
- Percy Jackson and the Olympians on Disney+
- Big Gay Fiction Podcast Links
This transcript was made possible by our community on Patreon. You can get information on how to join them at patreon.com/biggayfictionpodcast.
Will: Coming up on this episode, Gregory Ashe is here as we continue our series of conversations about subscriptions and communities.
Jeff: Welcome to episode 447 of the Big Gay fiction podcast, the show for avid readers and passionate fans of queer romance fiction. I’m Jeff, and with me as always, is my co-host and husband Will.
Will: Hello, Rainbow Romance Reader. It is genuinely amazing that you are back and have joined us for another episode of the show.
Jeff: Now, before we get to our conversation with Greg, I want to tell you about a Valentine’s story collection that I’m part of. It is called “Box of Hearts,” and it includes 20 authors who have communities on Ream. Box of hearts is a collection of LGBTQIA Valentine’s Day surprises. And the cool thing about the collection is, despite the title, these stories really don’t fit into a box. There’s different genres. There’s different main characters. It really covers a rainbow of tropes. The stories are gonna be free when you follow the author. And it could be a really great way to find a new author too. There are several in the collection who are new to me, and I’m super excited to get to read their stories.
Now, “Box of Hearts” is officially available starting February 14th, but if you go to BigGayFictionPodcast.com/hearts, you’ll be able to get to a page in my community where you can see all of the authors. You can go to each of their communities, start to follow them, even before the 14th, so that you’re ready to read these amazing stories.
So again, if you go to BigGayFictionPodcast.com/hearts, you’ll be able to get to essentially a table of contents page that is in my community. You’ll have to follow me to be able to get access to that. And then you’ll link out to all of the other amazing authors who are a part of the “Box of Hearts.”
And while we’re talking about discovering authors on subscription platforms, I do want to remind you that the Discover MM Romance on Ream promotion is still going on. You can find that one at BigGayFictionPodcast.com/ream and see all of the authors and stories that are available there that you can continue to sample until March 2nd.
So, a couple of fun things to help you to discover authors over on Ream this Valentine’s Day.
Book Review: The Invention of Wings by Robin Knight
Jeff: And I also quickly want to tell you about a book that I think all of you should go pick up. I recently read Robin Knight’s “The Invention of Wings.” It’s his brand new book. It kicks off the “Mulligans Mill” series.
And I picked it up not only because I like Robin’s work so much, but it had a figure skater and a hockey player as the center characters. So, you know, I was like predisposed to have to go get this.
Now Mitch is a disgraced figure skater, who, after a disastrous fall at the Olympics, has left his hometown and now works at a rink in New York City. He’s basically trying to hide, because, no matter what, people always want to remind him and bring up that fall at the Olympics.
Now Gage never got to live out his hockey dreams due to a family tragedy that kept him in Mulligan’s Mill. And Mitch and Gage have so much history too, being closeted high school sweethearts. After Gage pushed Mitch away to protect their secret, they were never the same again because it broke Mitch’s heart.
Now they have a second chance. Mitch is back in town because his sister needs him to help with their house. Maggie lives alone in the house they grew up in and she’s become a little bit of a hoarder and there are threats of the police getting involved because of her behavior. Meanwhile, Gage is taking care of his niece, Ginny, and working three jobs to make ends meet.
Mitch and Gage have been longing for each other for years, and as soon as they see each other in town, sparks fly, first in hurt and anger, and then, oh, the romance kicks in. Mitch and Gage have so much going on in their lives trying to take care of family, that trying to deal with their history is almost too much. I really love how Robin brings all this together and how the family elements are what helped Mitch and Gage, discover that they can be so much stronger together.
The way Robin navigates the various plots between getting Mitch and Gage back together while Mitch helps his sister to be able to clean out the house. And Gage taking care of Ginny is done so wonderfully. I loved reading everything that was going on, both the joyful and the difficult.
Most importantly, though, the second chance romance was so perfect, Mitch and Gage had so much to say to each other about what happened the night they were discovered by Gage’s dad and why they went for years without talking. Listening to them reminisce as they’re able to become friends again, was a delight. And of course, they eventually find that spark and are able to see a future as a couple rather than being in secret.
There are some wonderful supporting characters here too. Mitch’s sister Maggie is a ball of energy and delight while also being very complex and needing help with the reasons behind her hoarding. Gage’s niece Ginny is super smart and refuses to let anything stop her. And her ask of Mitch, which I’m not gonna spoil here, is perfect. I love so much what Mitch, Gage, and everyone pulled together for her, even though it was just a little bit scary. Then there’s Bea, the owner of the local bar. Bea’s incredible. I really look forward to getting more of Bea’s story as this series goes on. And speaking of, I know I’ll be making return visits to Mulligan’s Mill as Robin releases more books because I love the town and the people I’ve met so far. And if you do want to know more about Robin Knight’s books, you could check out our interview with him from last summer in episode 432.
So, let’s get into our final conversation about the benefits of subscribing to your favorite authors. This time out, we talked to Gregory Ashe about the community he’s created on his website. He began in December 2023, but only did so after research and testing out platforms with a small group of his readers. Now he’s offering an array of stories, and the patronage is even allowing him to release books that otherwise might not have made it into his release schedule because he knows through the community that the readers want them. Greg also shares the story of the very first author he subscribed to and why. Plus, we find out about some of his upcoming projects, including a new Kickstarter, and of course, he’s got some reading recommendations too.
Gregory Ashe Interview
Jeff: Greg, welcome back to the podcast. It’s wonderful to have you here to talk about subscriptions this time.
Greg: Oh, thanks for having me. I love coming on the show.
Jeff: Now, even though you’ve been here before, and our listeners probably know who you are, please introduce yourself and in particular, tell us about your latest book.
Greg: Oh, thanks. Yeah. My name is Greg Ash. Gregory Ash, and I write mystery, romantic suspense, primarily gay men, m/m fiction. My most recent one was December and that was “The Spoil of Beasts.” So, I’m doing the crossover series for all of my mysteries. I’ve got the final book coming out here in February.
Jeff: We’ve caught you right between the books.
Greg: Yeah, it was perfect.
Jeff: Between books three and four. And it’s interesting because the last time you were here, we were talking about that series starting, so we kinda get to bookend that a little bit.
Greg: Oh yeah. It’s been awesome. Yeah, it was fun to come. We talked about Kickstarters. I remember. That was a fun conversation. Yeah.
Jeff: Yeah. And this time out, we’re talking about subscriptions, and you’ve recently launched a subscription to your readers. Tell us a little bit about what you’re offering through that?
Greg: Yeah. So, the way I kind of pitched this to my readers when I… because I waffled on this. On doing this platform for a long time. But what I eventually pitched to them was basically to think of it as a patronage thing. So, like, the starting place is, this is a way for you to help me out, help me create more stuff if you’re interested and you enjoy the work I do. And you want more of it. And so that was kind of my starting place because I wasn’t sure that I could promise enough, like regular new content to say, like, swap your Netflix subscription out for this, or something like that.
But I did feel like I could say, “Hey, if you like my work and you wanna support me, like here’s a place to do it.” And I will do my best to like, show my gratitude by giving you more of what you love.
And so, kind of the way that looks is I’ve got three tiers. My first tier is more frequent updates about what I’m working on. I don’t do a lot of that on social media. Usually, I just kind of announce projects once they go up for pre-order. This is kind of a chance for people to see a little bit more behind the scenes. I’m serializing some books here, so they’re kind of exclusive, early access to these books that will eventually go out for sale. But you know, they get to see them, and they get to get chapters every week.
And then the second tier, I call it like the bonus content scenes. So, they get epilogues for the books that come out. They get ebook copies of the books that are serialized with some bonus content in them. I do some flash pieces and short stories. And then the third tier, the highest tier, is really kind of that all access. Here’s a draft of something that nobody’s seen before. Or help me come up with some ideas for my patronage content. Or vote on what I’m gonna do next. Like today, I sent out a call to my people at the top tier asking for their help, naming a character. And so that one’s probably the most opportunity for people to kind of have a say in and participate in that creative process.
I kind of wrote some blurbs around this when I was sending information out. And that was one of the things I really wanted to highlight for people was, this is a way to be part of that artistic endeavor. Whatever you want it to look like for you, I guess.
Jeff: It’s interesting you mentioned the poll because one of the questions we got from our Patreon community, from Kati, directly kind of talks to that because Kati said, that one of the authors that they subscribed to did a Patreon poll to help name the last book in one of the series.
Greg: Oh, cool.
Jeff: And a D and D podcast, they subscribe to let you submit character names that then get turned into NPCs.
Greg: Oh, cool. Yeah.
Jeff: And Kati is asking about, the fine line between letting the subscribers influence content and then also, potentially using someone else’s idea for the story. Like how do you kind of think about asking for that input and then allowing the input, but then still having control over what it becomes so it didn’t become something you didn’t want it to be.
Greg: Yeah, no. That’s a great question. So, this was my first time asking for that kind of information, and I did give some parameters. I said here’s what I know about the character already. Here’s the role I know that she has in this story so far, and those are spoiler free things because I don’t wanna ruin that book for them. But it was enough that, then I think people can give me some names. And I did say, if you wanna suggest some background, I’d love to hear that as well. And right now, I’m not sure… I’ve gotten a really good amount of answers just today since I sent that out. And so, I’m not sure if I want to just make that decision myself or if I want to then collect those names, pick a few, put it up for a poll. So, I’m really feeling my way through it.
With something like a character name that’s not, I don’t feel like that’s a huge creative compromise, especially because this is a side character. I think I would have a lot more qualms about naming a book because I really try to pick my titles kind of carefully and considerately about, what the whole series is about, what that book is about. So, I would have some difficulty relinquishing control over that one, but, or main characters too. But like, I also think some of the suggestions I got for this character were not things that I ever would’ve thought of. And what was really fun for me as I was reading through them was to say, okay, that’s so cool because if I take that… if I take X, right, from this description or from the backstory to the name that one person wrote in. That gives me a great angle on the character that I wanted to take. I just didn’t have this version of it. It was really fun to look at those. So, we’ll see, how it plays out in execution. But so far, it’s been… it was a really good experience on today, on day one. Yeah.
Jeff: I like your idea too, about pulling some of them and then doing another poll to be like, “I like these. What do you think?”
Greg: Yes. Yeah. And it gives… It is another chance for people to interact, but it’s also a way to be like, hey, we couldn’t do a vote on all a hundred names that I got, right? So, I don’t know. I’m gonna try it. Hopefully I’ll have an update for you next time we talk.
Jeff: I like that. I did, this was years ago now, and I only did it off my email list. But I had a trilogy that I was doing and at the end of the trilogy I actually needed middle names for the MCs.
Jeff: And I bounced that idea around quite a lot, what I might give them. But I emailed my list and said, okay, for those of you who’ve read these books, I need middle names. I’ve gotta give them to them at this point.
Jeff: I got a lot of really good feedback. Some of them were really thoughtful and the ones I went with were actually like, I suggest this name for this character and here’s why.
Greg: Oh, very cool.
Jeff: Like specifically tying it to personality traits and stuff. I’m like, oh my gosh.
Greg: That’s really cool.
Jeff: And then I credited them in the book and thanked them, for providing that kind of detail.
Greg: Like, I think that story that you just shared really goes to the heart of what I have at least tried to embrace as my understanding of these different subscription communities, which is that like the thing that’s drawing them there, and the reason that people wanna join these communities is because they connect with your story or your character, right?
So clearly in that story, they connected with those characters, they knew them so well, and they wanted to be part of that. So, I think like that’s a great story even though that was over your email list, for thinking about what people want out of these interactions and hopefully what they’re getting out of them as well, right?
Jeff: How do you view it as different from your Facebook group? Because you’ve had a Facebook group for years now.
Greg: Yeah, and I love… my Facebook group is great and there’s a lot of fun stuff that we do on there, especially in the summer when I… because I teach school, I have about 10 weeks in the summer when I have a little more time. So, I love that group and I enjoy spending time there. But one of the differences is that kind of as a commitment to people who are supporting me financially, right, on these patronage platforms, is that I make those a priority right? Over kind of the Facebook group, which as much as I love, like it’s just kind of a hangout place right now. So, in the summer I’ll go back, and I’ll do some more summer programming for them, but it’s not something that I can commit to year-round.
The other thing is I really think… And, again, this will probably be different for everyone that chooses to do subscriptions, but I really did want to present this as an opportunity to help me, not as a like Netflix, Hulu subscription. So, like that’s where I feel like I can say, well, everybody’s welcome in the Facebook group. I give a lot of free stuff away there. But if you want to do something for me, right? Like here’s this platform where you can do that.
Jeff: And get a lot of stuff. I mean, from that list that you presented, right? You’re giving a lot of bonuses and stuff people can’t get anywhere else and creating new material.
Greg: Absolutely. Yeah, because I think, at least for me, like conceptually, that’s what Patreon is about people, helping support the arts so that things are created, right? And so, like, that’s really my goal is to give people more of what they want, like through this, right, patronage.
Jeff: And from our own Patreon community, RegencyFan93 also asked, does having this subscription group cut into your energy and time to write the actual books you’re trying to sell? Because you talked about a lot of stuff you were creating there, and especially with, the full-time job that you’ve got.
Greg: Again, it’s early days still. The answer is not right now. It’s not. Because I actually, kind of, in my production schedule, built in time to write the two novels that are being serialized in 2024. So, they’re written. They’re already done. And what I’ll do is, when I get to a good spot in my schedule this year, I’ll write another two or three for 2025. Because typically the way I write, I’m a few months ahead of whatever’s releasing. And so, I’ve got kind of a buffer in there to write another book. I’m gonna knock on wood as we’re talking because I don’t wanna jinx myself because a lot of things can happen in life, right?
But right now, it doesn’t. And, I’ve had a long tradition for people who follow me of giving away free short stories on my mailing list with every new release. And so, this has kind of become one more step in that, which is, now I write one extra chapter at the end of every book that’s an epilogue, and so that becomes bonus content, right? There’s a little bit more time spent packaging ebooks for the patrons because I… there’s a little special branding on the cover, so, it’s the patron edition, and a little bit of different formatting. So far, the time commitment is not intensive but like I said, it’s, we’re only about six weeks in. Lots of room for things to change.
Jeff: And you did in your newsletter too, we’re doing, I remember a couple books that you serialized out before you put them out for sale.
Jeff: So now that’s going into the patron group?
Greg: It is. Yeah. So, I did four books like that, and people seemed to really enjoy it and I enjoyed it. What I decided though was that the books that I’m gonna serialize on my patronage site are the books that I might not have written otherwise because, for example, the two that I’m doing this year are both about secondary characters in kind of my story world.
And I love these characters. I have so much fun writing them as secondary characters, but I probably wouldn’t have bumped their books up in my queue and written them if I hadn’t thought, “Hey, this is a great opportunity for people who really like my stuff to get stories that they’ve been asking for.” People have been asking for both of these books for quite some time.
So, serializing this way made me feel like it made sense. Whereas if I had just written them to put out for sale, I would’ve been like… There’s some prerequisites for that audience, right? Like people might not have wanted to read them because they don’t know who these characters are. So, I actually feel like this has opened the door for me to be creative about telling stories that I might not have told otherwise.
Jeff: Do you think those will become books for sale down the line, or will they stay like exclusive inside?
Greg: I do tell my patrons that those serialized books will all become for sale at some point. And so, people can… they will be out there. They’ll show up on Amazon and all the other sites. But this way I feel like they’ve kind of done their most important function for me. They’ve completed that by being my best effort at fan service. Like giving people these stories that they’ve been asking for.
Jeff: Is that what these initial books are? It’s like, “Hey, can I see a book with X and Y?” And they’re finally coming to pass now.
Greg: Yes. So, I have a couple of characters that people have been shipping for a while and so I went ahead and wrote their story. And then I have another character everyone loves, and we didn’t really know who he was gonna end up with. And so, over the summer I wrote a little teaser story for my Facebook group where he, essentially comes out to his brother, who’s one of my main characters. And so that was a great setup for me to then in December say, “Hey, you’re gonna get that book about what’s going on, with this character, if you’re interested in seeing that.” So, anyway, yeah, so definitely things that wouldn’t have come up for me as early if I hadn’t had this platform.
Jeff: Do you wanna tease people who may not be in your group, who these characters are and where they come from?
Greg: Oh yeah, sure. Yeah. So, one of the books is about Nico and Jadon. Nico is in all of the “Hazard and Somerset” books. Is Emory Hazard’s boyfriend for a while, and then his malicious ex, and then he has a little bit of a redemption. And then Jadon is from the “Borealis” books, and he is Shaw Aldrich’s boyfriend, and then extremely patient ex. That’s a relationship.
And then the other book is about Furr, who is Augie’s older brother from “The First Quarto.” He is kind of the foulmouthed, obscene, older brother, who’s also a bully, but has… it’s hard not to love him because you can tell the bullying comes from, I don’t know… a lot of love, I guess, so. If that’s a thing. If that’s a thing. So anyway, those are the two that I’ve got for 2024.
Jeff: As you put those out in the platform. Are you gonna be asking for feedback on them or are you kind of considering those done?
Greg: Definitely, I want feedback. Yes. So, if there’s stuff that is, especially stuff that I get wrong, so fortunately someone already sent me something and they’re like, you’ve already used this last name. And I was extremely grateful. So, like that kind of stuff is super helpful because it’s one more step before it goes out.
I actually serialized some stories in December about a new character called Luca. And same thing, some people gave me some feedback on that… they were like proofreading things that they caught. And so that was awesome too because I could fix those. So, yeah, it’s… anything’s up for grabs at this point. Yeah.
Jeff: Nice. That was another question that RegencyFan has was, would you use the platform as a sounding board? Sounds like you’re definitely into that.
Greg: Yeah, for sure. If they were really big changes. I don’t know that what I would do. Like, I haven’t come to that yet. But so far, all the feedback has been like really specific, really helpful. And that. I want as much of it as I can get, so.
Jeff: Yeah. It’s nice to get the feedback at that point because it just makes the story better probably right.
Greg: Yeah. One thing that I would love to do, and I don’t know what your thoughts are on this, but I’m not quite bold enough to write a story in real time. Like, and like at the end of the chapter, ask people what they think will happen next. But I did read, and maybe you’ve seen some of the same stuff, the suggestion that even if you have written the book, asking people, and seeing if there are ways that you can tweak the story to surprise them, right? Again, go against what they expect or think. So, I don’t know. There’s a lot more opportunities for that interaction and fan service that I really think are at the heart of at least what I want my community to be. And so, there are things I’m gonna play around with. See what happens. See what works.
Jeff: I am very into the idea of feedback and for me as this goes out, it’s very early days for me. Like my Ream will be live for like two weeks before this interview goes out.
Greg: Oh, cool.
Jeff: So, very early days there. Don’t know that I could ever write fast enough to do real time.
Greg: Well, yeah.
Jeff: Like write a chapter and be like, where do you think they should go next. And then come back fast enough with the next one.
Greg: Right. Right. Well, and like that’s one of those things where I could see that being like a really nice upper tier perk. Maybe that’s not a weekly realistic weekly offering, but like, letting people see even that first version of whatever it is because, to my incredible gratitude, and like there are people that wanna see that. And they are excited about it, and it doesn’t ruin the experience for them. And I know that’s not everyone. I know there are people who aren’t… they don’t want to know how the sausage is made, right? Like they just wanna get the final product and that’s great too.
But yeah, like even if it’s just monthly, right? Like sharing those updates or something. I don’t know. I’ll be curious to see. And if you decide to do something with that feedback beside with a work in progress, I guess.
Jeff: I bet you’re the first one who tries to go live that way.
Jeff: Between the two of us.
Greg: So, when you say you’re interested in feedback, because you’re gonna be putting out a book that’s early access, right? What are you looking for, I guess?
Jeff: Kind of whatever they want to tell me, but like I’m far enough ahead from a scheduling point of view that it’s like, I’m never gonna say, what do you want to have happen next? Because the next is already kind of there. But if as people are reading, it’s like, I don’t understand what you know so and so did here because it doesn’t resonate with what’s before it. Or…
Jeff: You just introduced this thing here that makes no sense based on what you said back there. Those kinds of things that, just make it better or, hey, this doesn’t work at all, maybe rethink X. Hopefully I never get that, but you never know.
Greg: Well, and I do think that like there’s a large community of people that just love to be involved in the storytelling process. I’m gonna say from the sidelines, and I don’t know if that’s exactly what I mean, but that’s the phrase I’m going to use for right now. And I, what I’m thinking of is, for example, like fan fiction, right? Like there’s this incredibly supportive, for the most part, right? Brackets for the most part, community of people that just can’t wait for the next chapter. And they’re commenting and they’re like giving their suggestions. And so like, I think even though for what we might call original fiction or non-fan fiction, this has not been a thing as much. I don’t think it’s really a new thing. It’s just a new thing that we are doing. So, it’ll be interesting to see, does it work the same way? I mean, because fan fiction also, they have that huge buy-in because of their fandom, and so it’ll be interesting to see if that carries over for people who aren’t writing fan fiction.
Jeff: What do you think it is that’s triggered the rise of subscriptions? Many authors have had subscriptions for a while. I can look at, like Onley James in the m/m sphere has had a community for quite a while in subscriptions. But all of a sudden, it’s like, let’s go build this community that is based on subscriptions. What’s driving that in your mind?
Greg: Well, I think part of it is just the reality that people have started to realize there’s a demand for it. I mean, I think if you had told me 20 years ago that authors whose name, I could walk through the entire building of my school where I work and say Onley James’ name and I guarantee you not one person out of 1300 would know who that was, right? And that’s not a dig because Onley James is making a fortune on her Patreon, and she sells a tremendous amount of books. And so, all I really mean by that is saying that like if you had told me 20 years ago that people could make this much money because fans want more and they want community and they want connection, I would’ve thought you were crazy, right?
And I think we’re seeing as people realize not only are there people who are willing to be part of these communities, but they actually want to be, right? Like they’re eager to be part of these communities and to be part of that process whatever that looks like for the author in particular. I think as that has percolated through, like the author mentality, that’s part of it.
And I think the other part of it is the rise of different platforms that have made it feasible, right? I mean, before we started recording, you were showing me the author side of Ream and it looks tremendously intuitive, right? Like it has so many convenient features. Patreon’s another one. And so, I think those have also kind of driven the rise of this.
Jeff: Looking at the reader side, for readers who maybe haven’t, gone the subscription route yet, how would you explain to them why they may want to subscribe to a favorite author?
Greg: Well, I’ll tell you my answer as a reader, right? And so, one of the first people whose Patreons I subscribed to, actually I think she was the first, was Josh Lanyon. And that is because I buy every Josh Lanyon book when it comes out. And I read it as soon as I buy it because I love Josh’s stories. I love the worlds that she creates. I love her characters. And a friend of mine told me that she was retelling one of my favorite series, which is “The Secrets and Scrabble” series from the point of view of the other main character, right? The love interest. And I was like, oh man, sold click. Where do I click? How fast can I click?
So, like one, I guess one of the things people might not realize is authors are fans too, right? Like, we love to read just, I mean, that’s how we got it. So, like, I’m a Josh Lanyon fan. I wanted more of her content, and I knew I could get it by subscribing. And it was content I wanted. So, I think, your mileage may vary as a reader. You should certainly do your due diligence. Find out because every author offers somewhat different things. And so, find out what they’re offering, find out if it’s something you’re interested in.
But also, I like Josh as a person. I am, like, a supporter of her work, so for a relatively small amount of money, I also just am excited that I get to see this stuff that she produces and that I get to be part of it. And to me that’s tremendously satisfying.
And I’m gonna be fully honest and say, I didn’t think it would be. I kind of was like, well, I really want those stories about Jack, so I’m gonna sign up. And then once I did it, I was like, okay, I really like this. Like, I did not expect… And so that was also part of my realization that this is something I could offer as well. Right. That I could be like, hey, like I’m not Josh Lanyon, I know that, but I could tell more stories. I could tell stories that people are excited to read as well. And so that was really eye-opening for me.
Jeff: And you’re not doing alternate point of view, but you are surfacing those stories on characters that people want. That might be further down your production list.
Greg: Yeah. Exactly. Exactly. I don’t know. I know that different models kind of incentivize different kinds of rewards for readers. Like what do you see? Is that what you’ve also seen that draws readers to these platforms or what do?
Jeff: A lot of it’s early access. Just those early access that I’m gonna get to read something before everybody else is, and that I might have that opportunity to comment on it, talk about it. Michael Evans, who is the CEO of Ream in the previous episode of the show when we talked to him, was like it’s about that VIP experience. The experience that you have that a limited number of other people have because you’ve chosen to move to that next level.
That’s very much what you had with Josh, right? It was like, these are things that nobody else has, but I really want them. It’s similar to, if you buy multiple versions of the same book, because this one has sprayed edges and maybe this one has a different cover, and in those cases, those are more wide. But here it’s a more, closed thing, but you’re paying for something that you choose to have and somebody else may not choose to have.
Jeff: I know a lot of people are doing book boxes.
Greg: Oh, cool.
Jeff: That’s like beyond my capacity to even think about.
Greg: I know that seems like such a big undertaking. Yeah.
Jeff: But they’re thoughtful about it too. And you could see that VIP experience again, because maybe their book box tiers open to like 25 people. And so, they’re keeping their workload lower too, because they’re only making 25 and not a hundred.
Jeff: But people can get that VIP experience and in that box is maybe a special edition book and a piece of merch or whatever that is.
Greg: So that was a great description of some things that I hadn’t put into words for myself and so I really appreciate that. The other thing that I had been thinking, and this is not true for me, what I offer, but I think it’s true for what I see other authors offering is kind of the private Kindle Unlimited, right? Like I have 150 hockey romance books and you can get all of them for $10 a month or whatever. And I think that’s another… that is really appealing to people who read voraciously and love that author, right? Like, I think that’s another dimension to this that, sadly, I cannot satisfy. But I think a lot of authors can.
Jeff: It’s certainly something I’m trying on my Ream. And my backlist is small. I don’t have 150 of anything, but you know, I do have that if you are in what is currently my high-level tier at $10, you can get my entire back list along with some exclusive other stuff….
Greg: Oh, cool.
Jeff: To have at your disposal to read. And maybe you come in for a month or two while you’re reading that and then you exit back out again for a little bit. I think that’s an important thing for readers to know too. Just because you subscribe doesn’t mean you have to be there forever, right? It’s like I come in, I can get what I want, maybe that particular work in progress or this particular something else.
Jeff: And then, maybe go patron another author for a while and then come back when there’s something else you want or, you know, move the budget around a little bit as you need to. And keep going. There’s certain streaming services. I’m like, I wanna watch this show. I’m gonna subscribe for a month and then I’m out until the next show comes up that I want to see and then binge and move on.
Greg: Yeah. No, that’s a good comparison.
Jeff: In the six weeks that you’ve had your subscription, what are you hearing from your readers about what they’re like about what you’re doing in there?
Greg: Well, I will say I’m sure there were people who weren’t happy that I did this. Everyone was nice enough not to write and tell me that, if they didn’t like it. But I did get a lot of very kind emails and I mentioned earlier that I went back and forth on doing this because I have, first of all, a lot of guilt about asking for money because, that’s just like hardwired into me. So that was part of it. But I also just really wanted to make sure I could offer something of value. And I was so touched that a lot of people wrote me and said, I’m so glad you’re doing this. I’ve wanted to find, like, do something for you to support you for a long time. And I didn’t know what it was, and this is a great opportunity for me. And that, that was incredibly kind.
I did kind of four short stories in December. People seemed really pleased with those. They got their patron special edition. People seemed pleased with that because it has exclusive content. And so, I feel like the response has been positive. Kind of the next step is I do wanna like do some polls for feedback, once we’re about three months in and just say, “Hey, how are we doing?” You know, like, are you getting a value out of this? Is this what you want? Do you wanna see more of something? So, I would say feedback has been good. And the next step is kind of soliciting some more specific input on what’s working, what do we want more of? What do we want less of?
Jeff: That particular thing that you mentioned. As we were preparing to do these episodes on subscriptions, we asked our patrons for the show like, are you subscribing to authors? Why are you subscribing to authors? And there were a couple of those responses that were like, I just wanna support them so they can write the next thing, do the next thing, and like the actual benefits of the tier itself wasn’t the driving reason that they were doing it. And we certainly see that from the show perspective too, that we’ve got people who support the things that we do with the show without necessarily caring about the bonus stuff and the early access stuff that they get in the community.
Greg: Yeah, no. I think that’s true. I think there are a lot of people that want to do that, and I think, kind of as I shared with my experience, like that ended up being more satisfying to me than I even I expected with supporting Josh. And since then, I’ve started supporting some other authors who I really like, and I just… I don’t know. I love books. Why would I not support, the writers that I love.
Jeff: Let them make more books.
Greg: Yeah, exactly. Yeah.
Jeff: Now, your subscription is actually run through your own website.
Jeff: You’re not on Patreon. You’re not on Ream. You are using something called Ghost behind the scenes, but for the readers, they’re coming to your website.
Greg: Yes. Yeah,
Jeff: What led you to decide to do that than being on one of the, let’s call them less well-known platforms, if you will.
Greg: A couple reasons. One is, frankly, money. I thought that the fees being charged by Substack and Ream and Patreon were higher than what they ought to have been for the service they were providing. But I really went back and forth on that point because they also have these beautiful, established platforms and apps. That ended up being a toss-up for me. I can’t say that was really why I made that decision.
But I really didn’t like, in particular that Patreon owned all the data. They own all your data. And you can’t take it with you. Even your content, like if you don’t have another copy of it, you can’t take it with you. You can’t take your subscriber list with you easily. Like they just have everything locked down.
And even though I don’t write anything taboo, I was very wary of their content policies. Like not that long ago, LGBTQ people would’ve been on those content policies, and I just am really wary of even the best intention kind of stuff like that. And so, there was stuff like that and I just, when I looked at… I kind of went through the whole process of building a Patreon account and I looked at what I was going to be doing for my readers on Patreon, and I finally just thought, well, Ghost does all of this, and all they’re doing is providing the engine behind it. They don’t have any stake in the content or in the data. It’s all yours, you could take it all.
And so, I just ended up going with Ghost because I’m primarily just publishing posts. I wasn’t looking for a chat feature. I wasn’t looking for, kind of on Ream, you and I, before we started recording, we were talking about the annotating feature. Like those were things that, they’re super cool, but they weren’t things that I felt like I needed to do. I’ve got a pretty active Discord server for people who like to chat. I’ve got other places where I could do other things. So, I don’t know. I mean, I don’t know that this is the route that everyone… it’s certainly not the route everyone has to take, right?
Those were my big three were the Substack and Patreon and Ream. But yeah, just for me, those were kind of the considerations going to this I, will also say having heard horror stories about Facebook accounts being disabled, and watching Twitter meltdown into X, like, I’ve also tried to become more about centralizing my control of my readers and my reader’s information and that data, because you just never know what’s gonna happen. And so, now that’s not to say it couldn’t happen with Ghost, but it’s easier for me to get my stuff if it does.
Jeff: You don’t have to worry about angering the Meta gods.
Greg: Right. Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. Yes. Right. The invisible algorithm. Yeah.
Jeff: Have you heard anything from readers who were like, oh, what’s this platform that you’re doing that I’ve never heard of?
Greg: I piloted this with a handful of people before I… Oh, the other one I looked at… actually, I looked at a couple more. I looked at Podia I built a whole platform on Podia, and I tested that with some people. I built a whole one on Ko-fi and tested that with people. So, I really tried to do my due diligence and kind of what we kept coming back to as I was talking to people, were they really liked that Patreon had an app, which I completely understand. But what was more important to them was the reliability of getting the email notification because so much of that content is, even in Patreon, is delivered by email.
And so, Ghost seemed to be the best balance between, it’s not an app, it doesn’t have an app, right? But it seemed to do really well with delivering those emails reliably. You have a lot of customization with the tiers. Anyway, and it wasn’t trying to be a store like Ko-fi was and Podia was trying to be a store as well. There’s a lot out there that I played around with, and this one just ended up being a good fit for me.
Jeff: Nice. And I’m gonna make you say the name of your subscription, because I haven’t figured out exactly…
Greg: I say “Advanced Ashochism,” like masochism because that’s the joke is that all my readers are masochists because they like being hurt, right? They like that my stories hurt them. So instead of masochism, it’s Ashochism. Telling a lot about me and my readers, I think.
Jeff: You talked a little bit about some of the stuff that’s coming up in the subscription this year. Is there anything else you might want to tease while we’re here on the show?
Greg: Well, yeah, thank you. I would. This isn’t necessarily on my patronage site, but I’m gonna do a Kickstarter in April for a new cozy mystery series. So, I’m excited about that. And that is not gonna fall under the masochism headline. It’s gonna… that’s one of the things that I am branching out with is these are gonna be much gentler. I’ve written the first one and it’s… You and I were talking before the show about the right book for the right headspace, and I think going into 2024, we all need like a little safe little refuge to get away from the real world.
Jeff: Nothing like some good coziness.
Greg: So yeah, that’s my big project for this year. The Kickstarter will be in March, and the book comes out in April.
Jeff: Awesome. We did talk the last time you were here about Kickstarter. Lots of good learnings going into the new Kickstarter?
Greg: I think one of the biggest things that I’m gonna do differently is I’m gonna do all the rewards a la carte. So, people just get to pick the things that they want. And one of the reasons that was so important to me was because I’m very well aware I’m already asking for money for patronage, right? And so, I want those patrons to be able to say, “Hey, I’m already gonna get the ebooks. I’m not clicking that. I’m already gonna get X. I’m not gonna click that.” So, I really wanted this to be kinda, in our last conversation, you and I talked about how, at least for me, all of these things, Patreon, and patronage, and Kickstarter, are all about finding ways to do more for readers, to give them more of what they already want. I wanted to make sure that a la carte thing let me do that without double dipping, so to speak.
Jeff: That makes sense.
And, you know, we have to ask about recommendations here. We’ve always gotta add to our listeners TBR. What’s something that you’ve been reading or watching that our listeners should be checking out?
Greg: Well, I just read a bit late because I read it in the new year, but I just read a lovely Christmas story by Joanna Chambers and I’m gonna have to pull it up while I’m sitting here with you because I can’t remember the title off of the top of my head. And then we just started watching Percy Jackson on Disney. I don’t know, have you watched any of that?
Jeff: That’s high on my list of things to watch.
Greg: We are so mad that it’s being released week by week because we really liked it. And the Joanna Chambers story is “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” It was, so lovely. And yeah, those are probably my… and then I’ve been reading the “Thursday Murder Club” series, which is not, actually one of the characters you find out is gay. So, there is… maybe it does fit the gay fiction podcast, but it’s just a lovely cozy series if you haven’t had a chance to read that one.
Jeff: Fantastic. And of course, tell everyone where they can find your subscription if they want to go and check it out.
Greg: Oh, thanks. Yeah, you can go to my main website, which is www.greagoryashe, and that’s Ashe with an “e,” gregoryashe.com, and it’s at the top. There should be a button that says “patrons,” and so it’ll just take you right over there.
Jeff: Fantastic. We will link to that and the other things that we talked about here in the show. Thanks so much, Greg, for coming to talk to us about subscriptions and why readers might want to go get one.
Greg: Yeah. Well, thank you for having me. It’s always a pleasure to chat with you and hang out with you, so thanks.
Will: This episode’s transcript has been brought to you by our community on Patreon. If you’d like to read the conversation for yourself, head over to the show notes page for this episode at BigGayFictionPodcast.com. We’ve got links to absolutely everything that we’ve talked about in this episode.
Jeff: And thanks so much to Greg for talking to us about his subscription offerings. It was really wonderful to hear about the community he’s building and how it’s working for him and his readers.
Will: Alright, I think that’ll do it for now. We hope that you can join us when we will be back on Monday, February 26th with another episode.
On behalf of Jeff and myself, we want to thank you so much for listening, and we hope that you’ll be back again soon for more discussions about the kinds of stories we all love, the big gay fiction kind. Until then, keep turning those pages and keep reading.
Big Gay Fiction Podcast is part of the Frolic Podcast Network. Find more shows you’ll love at frolic.media/podcasts. Original theme music by Daryl Banner.