Jeff Adams and Will Knauss talk about their careers, republishing, and the work and fun of producing a podcast.
Jeff Adams has written stories since he was in middle school and became a published author in 2009 when his first short stories were published. He writes both gay romance and LGBTQ young adult fiction…and there’s usually a hockey player at the center of the story.
Will Knauss is a child of the seventies. When he wasn’t twirling around on the playground (like Lynda Carter from Wonder Woman), he wrote stories and performed plays for family members. Enthusiasm for his theatrical presentations varied. Before becoming an author, Will’s work experience ranged from hotel housekeeper to retail clerk. While living in New York, he even worked as a Wax Museum tour guide.
Jeff and Will are husbands who met in 1993 and have celebrated being together for 25 years this month. Apart from being authors and avid readers, they co-created the Big Gay Fiction Podcast for avid readers and passionate fans of gay romance fiction. Each week they bring you exclusive author interviews, book recommendations and explore the latest in gay pop culture.
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Mark Lefebvre 00:01
Hello, and welcome to the Draft2Digital Spotlight. My name is Mark Lefevbre. You can call me Mark2Digital, because Lefevbre is just too hard to pronounce. I’m here with Jeff Adams and Will Knauss. Guys, gentlemen, welcome to the podcast.
Jeff Adams 00:16
Thanks, Mark. Thanks for having us.
Will Knauss 00:18
Mark Lefebvre 00:19
So I’m excited to get a chance to chat with you guys, because I know that you guys recently celebrated your 25th anniversary. So that kind of leads to the beginning. You guys were both creative writer types. But you met how long ago and where did you meet? I want to hear the backstory to this.
Will Knauss 00:38
Well, the super short version is that we met doing community theater together. And I flirted shamelessly, for weeks and weeks and weeks, and I was waiting for him to ask me out. It never happened. So I bit the bullet and I asked him out on a movie date. And we went to see the John Carpenter remake of Children of the Damned. So that was, I mean, despite the movie not being particularly awesome, it was a very auspicious beginning. That was 25 years ago now.
Mark Lefebvre 01:19
Congratulations, that is awesome, 25 years together. And so, but you guys don’t write John Carpenter-style stuff. So what drew you to want to go see that movie together?
Will Knauss 01:29
Um, I don’t know. It was just out at the time. You know, John Carpenter used to know how to make movies. Oh, yeah, I said it.
Jeff Adams 01:38
if I remember, right, it was Christopher Reeve and Kirstie Alley. So the cast was okay.
Mark Lefebvre 01:48
Okay, so that’s kind of cool. So, theater. Do you guys, are you … I know you’re writing now. But were you heavily involved in theater, and do you continue to do any theater now?
Jeff Adams 02:01
I had a stint of community theater when I first moved up to Eureka, California in the middle ’90s. It was a way to meet people, and I did some backstage and some onstage. He had more theater going on from high school times. And now I think we’re just happily big theater fans.
Mark Lefebvre 02:20
Okay. All right. Although right now, there’s no going to theaters right now. What was the last show you guys managed to get to see?
Jeff Adams 02:27
I was in New York in January for my day job and I managed to see Jagged Little Pill, which was the Alanis Morissette musical, which was outstanding. As well as the edgy revival of West Side Story, which I also quite enjoyed.
Mark Lefebvre 02:48
Awesome. Alanis Morissette wasn’t in it, it was just based on her music, right?
Jeff Adams 02:27
Yeah, it used all of that album, plus other of her catalog and, really good show. It was actually written, the book was from Diablo Cody, you know, who did … I can’t remember the movie she did now.
Will Knauss 03:03
Juno, a few years ago, and some … yeah.
Jeff Adams 03:05
So, you know, it had good pedigree.
Mark Lefebvre 03:07
Oh, that’s excellent. That’s excellent. I want to get to the podcast that you guys collaborate on. But I first want to get back to your individual writing projects. So can you just explain what are the books you mostly focus on? What you’re actually writing?
Jeff Adams 03:22
So for me, I do kind of a split between contemporary MM romance or gay romance. And I also have a young adult streak that happens as well. So I’ve got a series I’ll be putting back out this summer that’s actually a YA thriller series.
Mark Lefebvre 03:40
Oh, really? Okay. So that was released before, but you’re just re-releasing it it, rebranding it, or?
Jeff Adams 03:44
We had an instance happen in the fall that we had to separate from our publisher. And we’re going through a sequence of getting books back out into the marketplace. Some of our MM romances are already back out, and the YA one is just delayed a little bit while I get some audiobook work happening on that as well.
Mark Lefebvre 04:06
Oh, lots going on there? So I want to get back to this, what happened with publisher. Will, what’s the stuff that you’re writing?
Will Knauss 04:13
Mostly, I focus on gay contemporary romance. And Jeff and I co-wrote a book together that was with the aforementioned publisher, and we re-released it a couple of months ago. Got it in a nice new edit, put a pretty new cover on it, and we’re pretty happy with how that’s gone. Re-releasing older material is an interesting process. And we could maybe go into detail about that a little bit later. But, um, so far, I think I can say that we’re both real happy with this second life that this book has had.
Mark Lefebvre 04:53
Well, that’s interesting. I want to get into this. So you guys have, I mean, you’ve been together for 25 years. And you’re both creative people. I want to understand the process of how … well, we’re all forced to be in the same house and you can’t go out to a café, so it can’t be like, “Well, I go to a cafe and he stays home.” How do you guys divide up the, either the day, the workspace, or that for your writing? And then of course, I’m going to want to look at how did that differ when you were collaborating?
Jeff Adams 05:23
We are lucky to have a three-bedroom apartment. So we each get an office, which helps a lot. Like, I’ve worked from home now for like five years for my day job. And it would certainly drive him crazy if I had to be on my conference calls in the same space where he’s doing whatever else has to happen. But we’ve got our separate offices, so that helps a lot. And it’s been that way for a few years now. It’s a lot better than when we were jammed up in a one-bedroom New York apartment. So our cycle kind of happens pretty well. I usually work from about 6:30 in the morning to about 2:30 in the afternoon with the day job, because I work East Coast hours. And then I shift over to writing or podcasting or whatever activities I have to do for the afternoon to handle that side of our business. And then weekends I’m usually working some aspect of writing or podcasting or whatever.
Will Knauss 06:21
Yeah, I think that’s important, especially when you’re working from home. I know a lot of people are experiencing working from home for the very first time. But we’ve both been doing it for a while. And I think one of the things that’s probably most important is coming up with a schedule that works with your life, and doing that as quick as you possibly can. Because if you just, if you just treat it as like it’s a weekend, and you’re going to fit your work in around your life, things start to get … time becomes amorphous. And I think Jeff and I are both actually creatures of habit. So we prefer a certain amount of structure to our day. Like, you know, Jeff is on the phone at certain times and we have lunch together at the same time every single day. So I think we found a really comfortable work life balance, being at home together all the time.
Mark Lefebvre 07:29
So that’s not a new thing then. So you guys were both working from home when you were forced into self-isolation?
Jeff Adams 07:39
Yeah, it actually … People ask, you know, how are things? And for better or worse, a lot of our day to day did not change. My day job kept going. Everything kept moving in the same way that it had. There’s been other, of course, aspects to get used to, and especially around just mental wellbeing. But day to day things that are happening, it is what it’s been for five years.
Mark Lefebvre 08:00
Okay. Okay. And speaking of five years, your podcast has been around for five years. Very exciting. And that is something you guys have collaborated on. So obviously, your separate writing lives, you’ve got the different patterns, you’ve got the different schedules, but how do you coordinate collaborating on the podcast?
Will Knauss 08:26
Jeff is a … Well, okay, I’m gonna be 100% honest. Jeff does like 97%, 98% of the work. He is the really smart technical guy. And there’s a lot of technical stuff that goes on behind the scenes of creating a podcast. I’m sort of, I collaborate when it comes to creativity and coming up with the ideas and guests that we have on our particular show. So yeah, I’m a co-producer, essentially. Jeff handles most of the heavy lifting.
Jeff Adams 09:06
Well, now that’s true for Big Gay Fiction podcast. But if you look at Big Gay Author podcast, which was totally his idea, to jump us into that realm, I’d say you much more drive our content there than I do because he’s the one … One of the ways that our business kind of splits down is that Will pays a lot of attention to the business of things. He listens to more podcasts than I do. He reads a bunch of stuff. He reads a bunch of books. He tells me what I need to know to get my stuff done well. Hopefully well. So when it comes to the author podcast, what we talk about, what we’re recommending, things like that falls much more in his realm. I still do all the techie stuff, but I think he’s more the idea guy on that show. And it’s slightly less collaborative, cause I have not as much to offer in the idea realm there.
Mark Lefebvre 10:04
Okay. And just so people understand, so Big Gay Fiction podcast is where you guys are recommending reads for people. And then the other podcast is, obviously with Author, it’s meant for authors. Writers of gay fiction?
Will Knauss 10:18
Yeah … It’s essentially for everybody. The Fiction podcast, which is going on five years now, is mainly meant for readers. And the Author podcast is meant for authors, kind of giving tips and tricks, keeping people up to date with what we’re doing creativ … let me try that one more time. Creativity … I can’t talk.
Jeff Adams 10:43
Will Knauss 10:44
Creatively. That’s the word I was looking for! Um, so yeah, we decided to kind of split those two up, the two different aspects of the writing life. And so far, it’s been going pretty good.
Jeff Adams 11:03
Yeah, it really, I think, gives us another nice venue to talk to authors. On the Fiction show, we’re always having authors on talking about their books, a little bit about their creative process and as much as what a reader would want to hear about. But usually we follow those interviews up with a separate piece that we do for the Author show where we really kind of do a deep dive on why they write, how they do it, talk about mistakes and successes. So we get to understand more about the authors we’re interviewing, which just helps our learning, because you learn … Every time we ask those questions, we learn something a little bit new.
Mark Lefebvre 11:43
Oh, that’s fantastic. Because I can imagine, as you’re talking to the authors with the reader in mind, you do have to stay on the stuff that the reader cares about. But authors are like, no, but I want to know all of these other things. I want to know about the mechanics, how did this happen? Does this give you guys a chance to kind of double dip, where you’ve got an author who’s going to be featured where you’re talking about their book, and then you just do an extra half hour conversation with them where you record for the other podcast?
Jeff Adams 12:11
Usually, yeah. Usually we do, like, roughly a half hour interview for fiction. And then we do, we have five questions that we like to ask, which usually can happen in about 10 to 15 minutes. And if the author’s game, we bolt those right on. And we’re doing a couple things coming up soon, where we actually want to do full half hours for both Fiction and Author. And luckily the authors we’re wanting to talk to are happy to share more time with us.
Will Knauss 12:39
Remarkably generous with their time.
Mark Lefebvre 12:40
That’s fantastic. So I’m sure there’s authors who are listening saying, oh my god, how do I get these guys to review my book? Or how do I get on their show? What are some tips you can share for people who are excited to participate?
Will Knauss 12:52
Well, first and foremost, when it comes to the Big Gay Fiction podcast, we have always considered ourself remarkably curated. And what I mean by that is that if we talk about something on the show, it means that we have read it, and we have loved it. And unfortunately, there are only two people behind the Big Gay Fiction podcast. That’s me and Jeff. We do not have a team of people to kind of sift through submissions and all that other stuff. So there’s, honestly, there’s only so much time in the day, and there’s only so much stuff that we can read. So we’re kind of picky about the things that we talk about on the podcast. That being said, anyone can approach us and talk to us about what they’re writing, and maybe getting on the show.
Jeff Adams 13:51
Yeah, absolutely. We’ve got, on the Big Gay Fiction podcast website, which you can get to through jeffandwill.com, which is on the screen right there, we’ve got an About Us page, and part of the About Us is how to go about approaching us if you want to, you know, have yourself in consideration for the show.
Mark Lefebvre 14:08
Okay, excellent. So how often do people actually follow those guidelines?
Jeff Adams 14:12
Fairly often, it’s pretty remarkable. Usually, you can always tell when someone’s actually read the page. Because they’re like, they either have the right tone to it, or they flat out said they’ve read the page, or you know, things like that. And we’re finding that too, we’re getting a lot more publicists actually coming to us as well, which is …
Mark Lefebvre 14:32
Oh, okay. So yeah, I’ve got this, I’m representing this author, and I think they would be a good fit because …
Jeff Adams 14:37
Yeah. What we always like to see is, especially … Well, from anybody, is like, you’ve read this book or you’ve talked to this author, and I think you’ll like my book because you’ve liked that book. And the research means a lot, that you’ve taken the moment to like, understand what you’re coming to us with. And your, you know, maybe your chances. That said, there have been books that I never thought I wanted to read that get pitched to us and I’m like, dang, that was a really good book. You surfaced that way to us.
Will Knauss 15:10
Yeah, I think at the end of the day, whether you’re pitching our show, or another podcast, or maybe a spot on a blog that’s specific to whatever genre that you write, it’s understanding what their audience wants. So, listening to our show to see if it’s a good fit for your book, or understanding the kind of content a blog is most interested in, doing a little research goes a really long way and it shows that you respect the time that people that you’re pitching for whatever your project might be.
Mark Lefebvre 15:44
Awesome, awesome. So let’s get into your collaboration as writers. Let’s go back to that book that was originally with a traditional publisher. So how different was that from the way that you collaborate on your podcasts?
Jeff Adams 15:58
Will Knauss 16:01
Yeah, I think when it came to, when it comes to collaborating on the podcast, it’s very simple, because we are, you know, next to one another 24 hours a day. We can like, you know, pitch ideas or say, “Hey, what do you think of this?” Or “What about that?” Or, “This person contacted me,” or, “Did you like that book? Do you want to talk about it this week?” So it’s really, you know, throughout the day, we can just talk about different ideas and different concepts for the show. But when it comes to, of course, writing a book together, that’s, you know, a whole other world, a whole different skill set. And I think when it came to writing the book that we did, it was a gay romance called The Hockey Player’s Heart that sort of played up a lot of traditional romance tropes. We got together and we knew that we wanted to write a specific kind of romance. So we did an extensive outline and talked about the characters beforehand. And essentially, Jeff ended up writing the first draft. And then I went back and did some of the editorial process with our publisher at the time. And that book, at the end of the day, came out really well. We’re pretty happy with that. And when we originally pitched the idea for this particular book, it was going to be part of a series. So once we turned in book number one, we started working on book two, and essentially, you know, copied the same exact process. We did an outline, did a rough draft, but as we eventually found out, despite the fact that we’re ideal life partners, we’re probably not the best co-writers. I think during the process of working on that second book, we discovered that we have very different ideas when it comes to fiction, and telling a story. We just have very different approaches. Which was, I think we just naturally made the assumption that, you know, we’ve been together for 25 years, and I like working with him. You know, being a co-writer is going to be a snap. And it actually wasn’t. We uncovered a lot of problems with the process while writing that second book. And unfortunately, we had to shelve that one, because the project at the end of the day just didn’t hang together. It did not work out.
Jeff Adams 18:36
And luckily, we both knew it wasn’t working out. So it wasn’t a matter that one of us like, “Yeah, let’s go forward,” and the other was like hmm … It was like, yeah, this doesn’t work. I do think we could go back to co-writing. I think we’ve learned a lot of lessons from that in the, you know, it’s been a couple, it’s been about three years since we wrote it, because the book is two years old in January. So, um, and one of the things too, is, yeah, we just, there’s a lot of stuff that we’d change. And maybe one day, I don’t know that we’ll go back to that book, necessarily, but I think we might try to go for it again, as a co-writing team.
Mark Lefebvre 19:14
However, I’m gonna put a hypothetical question out there: this book just takes off, and it shoots to the number one of every bestseller list, and everyone’s reading it, and they demand more from this series you guys started. Is that motivation enough? Or do you go, “No, we’re good. We’re just gonna write a completely different thing.”
Jeff Adams 19:32
I don’t know. I mean, if somebody wants to go make The Hockey Player’s Heart into a thing, after it’s already been out for two years, sure. I think we could go back to it. Because I mean, we did the typical romance thing, where we actually seeded a character to be the next book. And people occasionally, especially when it first came out, and even now every now and then: “So, does so and so get a book?”That was the idea, we’re glad you picked up on that.I don’t know. I mean, maybe. I mean, never say never, right? We could decide that we suddenly know how to write that book and go do it.
Mark Lefebvre 20:08
So I have to ask, because I’m Canadian, and hockey is near and dear to my heart. And I know that there’s been more than one hockey romance. Where did that come from?
Jeff Adams 20:21
I love the game. I grew up in Michigan. So, hockey very much in my blood too, even though I never played as a kid. Although I did learn how to play in my middle 30s while we lived in New York, and I played for about a decade there, in like recreational adult league.So yeah, I just kind of got … I love the sport, and a couple of early MM books that I read had hockey players in them. And so like, yeah, let’s just write about that.
Mark Lefebvre 20:51
Now, do you get, because you know, hockey is really a Canadian thing, that you know, Michigan’s almost Canadian, the northern states kind of feel like it. Butdo you get more sales out of countries like Canada, where hockey is the national sport, as opposed to baseball or football or something like that?
Jeff Adams 21:15
I don’t have enough data to answer the question.
Mark Lefebvre 21:19
Okay, yeah. Having originally traditionally published it, you would have no idea, right?
Jeff Adams 21:23
Yeah. And even, I mean, my latest book, which has a good chunk, is hockey-focused again. What I’m seeing, what I’ve seen so far, is the US is number one, and then UK is number two. Which is like, okay, UK.
Will Knauss 21:45
When it comes to romance sub genres, when it comes to sports romances, specifically, you would think here in the US, one of the top sports would obviously be football or baseball. And that’s actually not true. Hockey is remarkably popular when it comes to romance. Go figure. I don’t know why that is, it just is for right now. Yeah, it’s very, very popular.
Jeff Adams 22:11
Yeah. It has been for years. I mean, usually there’s cycles to things, but hockey has managed to keep it.
Mark Lefebvre 22:20
Okay. So let’s talk about, so the book you co-authored was originally with a traditional publisher. What happened?
Jeff Adams 22:27
Okay. Long story short, they stopped paying their authors.
Mark Lefebvre 22:31
Oh, well, that’s not a good thing.
Jeff Adams 22:33
Yeah.They, after more than a decade of being a trusted part of the MMromance publishing community, things went askew for whatever reason they went askew, and they went quarters upon quarters of not paying their authors. And after two quarters of that, we jumped out late July, early August of last year, that we like, we just can’t do this. And maybe one day it fixes itself. So we pulled all of our rights back and started getting things back out into the marketplace. A few short stories went outright around Thanksgiving last year because they were holiday-centric, so it was the right time to put those back out. And then in January, we got the larger novelizations out for MM romance. There’s still some short stories to get back out, which will probably maybe come out this summer. The YA thriller series that I had with them, I’m looking to get that back out this summer. And then I’ve got another YA series that was going through a bunch of work that was going to be republished through them. Now, I’m going to republish it myself, and that’s probably more like 2021 at this point, just to keep things spaced out.
Mark Lefebvre 23:58
So what were some of the considerations, right? Obviously, like when you’re working with a publisher, they had an editor and the specific schedules. How did how did you adapt that into the indie approach?
Jeff Adams 24:12
Well, luckily, we’ve listened to enough podcasts understand how indie works.And I had dabbled a little bit in self-publishing. I’ve had a couple things that I put out on my own, so I understood the mechanics of the process, and it’s even easier now with tools like Vellum, and honestly outlets like Draft2Digital to go wide.The ease of uploading and distributing is easier than it was when I was doing it a few years back.So really, I mean, the new book has been the first novel-length self-published I’ve done. And it went really well. It just celebrated its one month anniversary yesterday.
Mark Lefebvre 24:56
Jeff Adams 24:57
And, you know, going through and getting the cover done and getting the edits done.Luckily, doing the reissues that we’d done helped to prime the pump for this book, because I’d already found an editor to work with me on the, to just do the brush-up. So then we worked well, so I took her over with me into the new book. And I had cover designers who I’d reached out to, to redo Hockey Player’s Heart and a few other things, and brought them over to do … Well, they actually were assigned to the new book first, because the new books shared universe so we already had that cover lined up.So it all kind of connected together. So by the time I had to do the newbook, I already had my baseline knowledge and then I had doing the reissues to kind of move me in the right direction.
Mark Lefebvre 25:50
Okay. Now, you mentioned shared universe, and I’m kind of intrigued by that. How important to the romance genre is shared universe? And you talked about that, you know, there’s that one character that people wanted to know, well, what’s their story? Are you gonna write about them one day? How important is that to a romance writer?
Will Knauss 26:08
I think it’s no secret that romance readers love series. And I think just readers in general, especially when it comes to people who are independent publishing, series is where you make your money. So when it comes to romance, especially people who are publishing independently, there are traditionally two different ways that you can create a series and romance. That’s either through connected stories, either connected through a place or a family per se. Say your book is set in New Hope, PA. And it’s a series of small-town romances about a group of people in a single place. Or you could maybe go the Nora Roberts route, where all of the characters in this series are brothers, or they are related. Or perhaps they all work at the same firehouse, who knows? Books that are connected through a place or the people. But there’s something that’s sort of, like,become popular with independent publishers. That’s a shared universe. It’s where several different authors get together and create a series, each of them writing their own book independently, but each of the stories are connected in some way. And in Jeff’s series that he took part in, itwas all about a bachelor auction for NHL players that took place, or was going to take place, over All-Star weekend. And Jeff wrote about one of the characters who was at the bachelor bid, and so did the rest of the authors in that particular series. So that’s what that particular series was all about, in the sort of shared universe idea. Did I … I talked an awful lot about something that you did. Did I cover everything?
Jeff Adams 28:14
You really did. Yeah. It worked out really great, because there were five authors. Two of the authors had a pretty significant following in MM hockey romance. And the rest of us kind of got to follow on their coattails in a lot of ways. And it was a great opportunity. Not only did we have this event that the books shared, and it didn’t matter where you put it in. Like, for me, the auction happens relatively early in the story. Other books have it happening at the very end of the story, or in the middle of the story somewhere, and our characters all crisscross. So while you can read the books totally independently, if you just read mine, you wouldn’t necessarily be missing something. But if you read all of them, you see the whole, like, you know, friendship community aspect to these guys that they’ve got, and we all launched at the same time. So all five books went out at the same time. So you could just, you know, dive right in and you had five books instantly to read.
Mark Lefebvre 29:18
Was there an editorial document that said, here are the facts about the town, the team, the non-player characters, or you know, like, the secondary characters that you might have in? Like, how much was provided to you when you were writing that?
Jeff Adams 29:37
We collaboratively built a pretty significantBible before we each dove in to write. There were a couple of Skype sessions that we all had about where this auction would take place. What city were we setting it in? What did the room look like? So we all described the same place. You know, what do our characters look like? What are their names? What teams do they play for? You know, everything to make sure that that aspect was right. And then we all tried to read each other’s stories too, if only to check the representation of our characters, to make sure they were true to each other. And like one of my, my lead character is the best friend of the lead in one of the other books. So she and I collaborated even more so, because of that, you know, childhood friendship that they had, because that needed to be represented across the books correctly, too. It was a blast to work on the project.
Mark Lefebvre 30:36
I can imagine. So I’d be remiss not to mention that D2D Universes is something that we created when Kindle Worlds fell apart, to allow people to collaborate in environment, if you guys need, if there’s goals to try to release those in some sort of shared universe, just let us know. We’re about to take some questions. Before we take questions from the floor, I want to ask a question, because I just think it’s awesome. You guys have been together for 25 years. Now, this is not a writer-related question, it’s more a relationship-related question. But what is the secret to a successful relationship?
Will Knauss 31:13
The secret is, is that there is no secret. I once heard, unfortunately I can’t remember the exact quote or who it came from. It’s that the last person you should be asking marriage advice of is the happy couple. Because if their marriage works, it just does. They don’t necessarily sit down and like examine it, or do any deep thinking about why it works. It probably does. And when it comes to Jeff and myself, I don’t know. It’s like from that very first date, things just clicked. We just like hanging out together. I like him. I think that’s probably the key to the marriage. I mean, frankly, I mean, liking your spouse is kind of a big deal. For some people, that’s not at the top of the list. So, um, I don’t think we can give any particular advice about relationships. I mean, everyone is different.
Jeff Adams 32:17
Yeah, I think we would be the most boring romance novel.
Will Knauss 32:20
Oh my god, so boring.
Jeff Adams 32:21
Because there’s no angst. You know, there’s no black moment before everything got fine. You once characterized, in some interview we did somewhere, why we worked. And it’s because we’re best friends, on top of everything else. It’s like, you’re right. We like to hang out together.
Mark Lefebvre 32:42
Awesome. And you guys are fun to hang out with. I remember the first time I met you guys, Romantic Times Atlanta, I think it was? It was just an accidental encounter near the convenience shop right off the main lobby, and once we started chatting, you guys made me feel welcome, and it was just a really grand time. I think I tricked you into doing a live video right away because I was so excited to …
Jeff Adams 33:05
Yeah, right there in the hotel lobby, like come on, let’s do a Facebook live right now.
Mark Lefebvre 32:10
That was awesome. That was awesome. I’m going to start taking some questions that came in. So this is Lexi. Lexi says, “As an aspiring LGBTQ+ romance author, it’s affirming to have two amazing creators and influencers in the writing publishing world. Any important things to keep in mind in this particular niche?”
Will Knauss 33:32
I think the overall advice would be the same for any genre or sub niche that you’re interested in writing in, is to know it and know it well. I think, you know, reading what you want to write is always very solid advice. And knowing and understanding the tropes, and how you might want to use them, or subvert those tropes. That’s always really important. But I think it’s really important to understand what reader you’re targeting with your story. I mean, it’s all well and good to write the book of your heart. But when it comes to releasing that book, and marketing that book, you’re probably going to have a tough time, because that book is going to be made up of a whole lot of different things. It’s not necessarily going to be one category or one specific sub genre. So I think it’s always good to know what sub genre you’re targeting. And specifically, when it comes to gay romance, there are a lot of different sub genres. You can go and drill down to something as granular as sports hockey romances, or paranormal shifter romances, or you know, contemporary small town. Essentially, whatever you find in MF romance, you can usually find in the gay romance genre. The trends don’t always align. But I think getting, going to any store, go to any store that has a significant romance section, and look at what’s there and what is popular and what you’re most interested in, and then give that a shot. That’s my main advice.
Jeff Adams 35:25
And I would say, find your author tribe. There are so many people in the MM genre who do wildly well, and they are extremely generous with their time. I mean, you can’t just go up and say, “Will you read my book and tell me how it is?” But you know, pay attention to what they do, pay attention to what they say, start to learn from them. Because there are nuances in gay romance, especially around the marketing. Like, it’s harder for our genre to target Facebook ads, because there aren’t the right keywords and big name authors there to target. So we have to approach things a little differently. And there are some people, I’m just going to name drop Lucy Linux, for example, in our genre, not only wildly successful, she recently put on an entire educational event for MM authors.And it was, we ended up online because we could not go to Atlanta in March, or whatever month that was.
Mark Lefebvre 36:29
Whatever year that was last month?
Jeff Adams 36:31
Yeah. And it brought together so many super smart people in our genre who know this stuff so well. Find that tribe, find the people to learn from, and soak up all the knowledge you can. And then also you’ll figure out how to give back too, because that’s also important, is to give back what you know is your knowledge.
Mark Lefebvre 36:51
So what are some of the tropes in MM romance than in other styles of romance?
Will Knauss 36:59
Tropes. We could talk about these all day long.I think, well I specifically enjoy contemporary romances, so that’s where my main interest lies, and what I mainly review and talk about on the show.I particularly enjoy second chance romances. Two heroes who have known each other in the past and things never quite aligned, but they meet each other at a reunion, or during a holiday, and they get a second chance at their happily ever after. Also, I am a huge hugesucker for forced proximity, or otherwise known as snowed in in a mountain cabin. I could read those stories all day, every day, for the rest of my life. And that’s just my personal thing. I think all readers, and especially all romance readers, have tropes that they’re drawn to, you know, time and again, whether that’s like a royalty or secret prince trope, or a gruff cinnamon roll hero, or maybe you like alpha male heroes, you know, billionaires. There are so many different tropes and story types out there and available.That yeah, once you find them, you usually kind of gravitate to them time and again.
Jeff Adams 38:37
Yeah, I’m a, I like Royals.The idea of royalty, you know, and usually royalty finding the “commoner,” if you will, is always really good. And I’m big on romantic suspense. I love the romance that comes with a crime to solve, or a mystery to deal with, or you know, whatever that may be. And some paranormal. I’m very picky on my paranormal, but some of it I just eat up like crack.
Mark Lefebvre 39:07
That’s fantastic. I’m gonna pop up this comment. Lexi says, “Thank you for the advice. Come down to Draft2Digital’s neck of the woods sometime,” when traveling is a safe thing for you guys to do. We’d welcome you guys with open arms into the Draft2Digital offices when they’re open again for people to come through.
Will Knauss 39:23
That’d be wonderful. Absolutely.
Mark Lefebvre 39:26
So had you guys had any, I mean, you were going to be at that Atlanta conference. What were some of your other travel plans, and are there potential things where people might be able to see you guys in person in the near future?
Jeff Adams 39:38
We were supposed to be at Career Author next week.
Mark Lefebvre 39:42
I would have got a chance to hang out with you again.
Jeff Adams 39:46
Yeah. But we’ll be there virtually hanging out.Gay romance’s big get-together is Gay Rom Lit, which is scheduled for October in Missouri, in Kansas City, I think? Or St. Louis.
Will Knauss 40:00
Jeff Adams 40:01
We’re supposed to go, we’re registered to go …
Will Knauss 40:08
With travel being kind of up in the air, and how exactly all that will shake out by the fall, essentially it … Going to GRL this year for us is going to be a big maybe. And that’s really the only other event. We had several events on the calendar for us this year, but we went to one in February, kind of squeaked in right before the stay at home orders came. But yeah, unfortunately we’re probably not going to be doing a whole lot of in person stuff this year.
Mark Lefebvre 40:44
Right. Well, how important, I mean, so you guys talked about finding your tribe and stuff like that. How important is that? I mean, obviously we can’t be in person together. But being in online groups, how do people go about finding things like that?
Jeff Adams 40:59
Yeah, I think online groups are, have been important for this genre. And I think are for most genres, because you get your place where the authors can kind of huddle up and, you know, talk together about what’s going on. So those are more important. And I think connecting with readers has become more important online. Just in the past six weeks, let’s say, I’m seeing more authors take the plunge on Facebook Lives in their groups than I’ve ever seen before. You know, being out there like, hey, come join me for Facebook Live, a little Q&A, whatever. When I was doing the whole Facebook party for this book, I did Lives at almost every stop. Did a little bit of a reading, took some Q&A, got all of our co-authors together too, to do one big Facebook Live Q&A session, as well. And I think as people have seen it happen more and more with performers who are, you know, they’re singing live on Facebook, we’re seeing people do plays on Facebook. Parks and Recreation had their whole reunion thing a couple weeks ago, all done, you know, via you know, whatever their online system was within the Parks and Rec world. Even some CBS courtroom drama just did their season finale, all as if it was happening virtual, because the actors, of course, couldn’t be together. So I think authors are starting to see technology as more of a way to connect with readers, their reader tribe, as all this happens. Because we’re, you know, we’re not necessarily seeing a lot of people in person, so we can see people live on screen instead of just text and memes and that kind of stuff.
Mark Lefebvre 42:48
That is cool. So you guys are coming up to a special sort of anniversary-ish of your podcast. The 250th episode is coming in July. And you said, there were some teasers about … You guys have some pretty awesome stuff planned, I hear. I’ve heard rumors about pretty awesome stuff planned.
Jeff Adams 43:08
Yeah, as we get … I mean Pride season for so many people this year is going to be unlike any Pride that we’ve seen in the 50-something years of Pride celebrations. Of course last year was Stonewall 50. Yeah, which was the actual, you know, commemoration of everything that happened at the Stonewall Inn. And New York was supposed to do its 50th Pride this year, I believe San Francisco was 50th Pride, and we’ve seen just one by one these June celebrations either cancelled or postponed, if nothing else. And as we started to see that happen, we were like, we want to do something to mark Pride on the podcast. And soon, within the next couple of weeks on the show, we’ll be announcing our big plans for June, which we’re pretty excited about. We’ve been putting that together and there’ll be Pride celebrations happening on the Big Gay Fiction podcast throughout June, in addition to our five regular episodes that would be happening in that month.
Mark Lefebvre 44:08
And so, for people who are interested, they’ve got to go to jeffandwill.com, and they can get to the podcast from there, and they can start listening, and find out what’s going on.
Jeff Adams 44:17
Yeah. Do you want to tease any more of that, or … ?
Will Knauss 44:20
Well, I think that, like Jeff said, unfortunately, most of us will not be able to celebrate Pride in person with our friends and family. So we wanted to do something a little bit special, something we’ve never really done before. We’re going to be releasing special bonus content throughout the month of June.Just our own small way of helping mark an occasion during some really unprecedented and difficult times. After June, we’ve got our fifth anniversary of the podcast coming up.We haven’t nailed down any specifics, what we’re going to do for five whole years. Five years of a podcast is a long, long time. So yeah, we’ll take suggestions, if anyone has suggestions about what we should do to mark this specific anniversary.
Jeff Adams 45:18
Yeah, I think 250 will kind of just roll by, because it’s gonna be right on the heels of all the content we’re doing for June. And come November, first week of November will be the official five year anniversary of the show. So we’ll see what we come up between now and November for that.
Mark Lefebvre 45:34
Awesome. I love that you guys are bringing light and smilesand celebration to a time that’s pretty anxiety-filled for so many people. So thanks for doing that. Thanks for sharing great books for people to read. Thank you for giving authors great advice. And thank you guys so much for spending the time hanging out with me here today. I think we’ll remind people that they can find out more about all of the amazing things you guys do at jeffandwill.com.
Jeff Adams 46:05
Great. Thank you so much for having us. This has been a lot of fun.
Will Knauss 46:08
Yeah, it’s been our pleasure, thank you.
Mark Lefebvre 46:10
I appreciate it. So thanks, Jeff, thanks, Will, and thank you guys for watching.