5 Ways You Can Handle an Age Gap Romance in Your Book

Writing age gap romance is one of those tropes I feel like a lot of authors shy away from because they’re afraid of doing it “wrong” and ending up with a book that alienates readers because the age gap dynamic makes the romance feel “icky.” And while that is a reasonable fear to have, I do think that like any trope, if you approach it with consideration and thoughtfulness it can be done. It’s all a matter of choosing how you’re going to treat the age gap throughout your book.

So if you’re interested in writing an age gap romance, here are five ways you can handle it in your book, to help get you started.

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What is an Age Gap Anyway? | #MaropeTakeover with The Maropes

Episode Description

Come LOL and get all the food for thought in the first Marope Takeover, where my mother and aunt share their definition of “age gap” as well their complex feelings and concerns when it comes to age gap romance. Their initial thoughts? Hard pass. It’s a trope that needs nuanced handling to avoid putting readers in all kinds of quandaries, so it gets interesting quick! I don’t know if Mariana Zapata, Carian Cole & Akwaeke Emezi will change their minds…

Are you a fan of the trope? Have you read the books and already have strong feelings?

Show Notes / Episode Transcript

Kate Marope [00:00:01]

This is Kate Marope, and you’re listening to the Path to Print podcast. 

This season, we’re switching it up on the podcast and talking about a trope/relationship dynamic. Tropes are, of course, the bread and butter, the marketing shorthand of romance and publishing, so I decided to take the even seasons of the podcast to break down tropes. 

If you follow me on Twitter, you know one of my favorite things to do is to bring people over to the dark side. And, well, that’s what I call getting my family members into reading romance. 

So, I thought it would be fun to bring you along for that ride as I introduce my infamous Cancer mother and aunt to various tropes in a bid for them to fall in love with them as much as I have. #MaropeTakeovers happen in two parts: initial thoughts, feelings, and vibes at the beginning of the season, and then my family members go ahead and read the 2-4 books I think represent the trope at its finest, and then we come back for debrief in part two.

So join us in the bookish tomfoolery and the family shenanigans sure to go down. Read along, leave us a voice Anchor message, or message on Anchor, with your thoughts and feelings about the trope or the season’s selected books. Hell, invite your family and friends to join in loving on love. You have until July 29 to get your submissions in.

Welcome to the Marope Takeover. 

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Sample Pages Q&A | #ListenerQueries with Latoya C. Smith

Episode Description

Me and agent extraordinaire Latoya C. Smith answer your questions about sample pages, the submission or acquisition process, and give our best tips for writing and revising your setups! We also talk about trends and why comps are truly not your enemy. 

Show Notes / Episode Transcript

Kate Marope (00:00:00):

This week, we have our sixth guest episode on a segment called #ListenerQueries. I wanted my listeners and my community to have a chance to ask not only me but another industry professional their burning questions about the quarter’s topic.

#ListenerQueries episodes are all about exploring what notes or vibes agents are looking to represent and changing the narrative around comps from being a marketing must-do to a competitive tool you use to stand out, all while giving any advice we can to help you get that whipped into shape.

Me and my guest will talk about what’s selling in the market while answering your questions about craft and trends. Today, I’m joined by someone who I’ve known since 2015 and was my mentor in getting into developmental editing and publishing in general. She is a literary powerhouse with an impressive client list and also makes great editor and agent content on her YouTube channel.

She started her editorial career as an administrative assistant to New York Times bestselling author Teri Woods at Teri Woods Publishing while pursuing her bachelor’s degree at Temple University. She graduated cum laude from Temple and since then has had an impressive career in traditional publishing, working at Kensington, Grand Central, and Samhain. She’s been featured in Publishers WeeklyForbes, and USA Today, as well as on various author book conferences and book blogger websites. She is the winner of the 2012 RWA Golden Apple for Editor of the Year, the 2017 Golden Apple for Agent of the Year, and the 2017 and 2021 Literary Jewels Award for Editor of the Year. 

She now provides editorial services through her company LCS Literary Services and is a literary agent and co-founder of Arthouse Literary Agency. Welcome to the podcast, Latoya C. Smith.

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The Value of an Opening Chapters Assessment 

One of the frequent questions I get is “what is an opening chapters assessment, and what does it really do for me?”

Most authors come across these kinds of critiques during feedback opportunities (e.g. #CarinaPitch#RevPit) or during auctions (e.g. STARs Auction) and contests (e.g. On the Far Side). But a lot of authors don’t know what to expect going in or expect something along the lines of a personalized rejection: a short paragraph with generic, broad strokes feedback about your line edit craft.

But an opening chapters critique is so much more than that. It presents a huge opportunity for authors to grow not just as writers, but as story developers and fabricators.

So today I thought it would be a fantastic idea to talk about what opening chapters critiques are, and really look at the potential value of investing in such a critique.

And make sure you check out the end of the post for a giveaway that’s running for all of April!

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Delivering on Back Cover Copy | #MsMatched with Silvana Reyes

Episode Description

We all know that readers buy books based on 3 things—recommendations, covers, and that all-important back cover copy. Join me and Silvana Reyes (@thebookvoyagers) as we talk about Q1 books we bought based on BCC and whether they lived up to their hype. And if not, what other books are giving the right vibes, and living up to that marketing promise? 

Show Notes / Episode Transcript

Kate Marope (00:00:00):

This is Kate Marope and you’re listening to the Path to Print Podcast.

This week we have our fifth guest episode on a segment called MsMatched. Often times we see books become widely successful, then read it and scratch our heads and say, “it was nice, but why was it such a big deal?” 

MsMatched episodes are all about showing love and appreciation to book influencers and really getting the reader perspective on how books are being received by readers after they’re published. 

Me and my guest will talk about books that didn’t live up to their promo, what new stories we’d like to see told, and what books have set the tone for what we’ve come to expect as readers in specific genres.

Today I am joined by someone who is one of the biggest book reviewers and influencers on Twitter. She is the book list queen.

She’s the owner of The Book Voyagers, where she blogs and reviews books, mainly focusing on recommending and reviewing diverse books written by marginalized authors. And you might also know her for doing book aesthetics on Instagram and just shouting in capital letters about new books releases on Twitter. 

Welcome to the podcast, Silvana Reyes!

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The Epic Opener to Netflix’s Vincenzo

Over the last eleven weeks, we’ve had a lot of blog posts and YouTube videos about what the setup is, the ingredients for a good one, tips for fixing it, and some things that you maybe want to save for later in your career before trying in your opening. It also needs to preface your book in a way that matches the energy of the rest of the manuscript.

This week, I really want to give you an example of what a good setup looks like—not really about having an opening line that’s super memorable, or having things in a set order, but a setup that achieves the goals of: 

  • Creating anticipation and understanding for the story to come
  • Showing your character’s momentum and depth (motion)
  • Focusing on what the known conflict is at the present time

The first thing when I thought of a good case study for setup and openings is Netflix’s Vincenzo. I watched this during the pandemic, and this show has stayed in my mind as one of my favorite K-dramas of all time.

Actually, it’s what got me into watching K-dramas in the first place, and everything I’ve watched after it struggles to match or meet my expectations (e.g. I like everything Song Joong-Ki has been in, and loved Man to Man,  but I didn’t LOVE them like I did Vincenzo). 

For the purposes of this case study, I highly recommend that you watch as you read the post. I’ve gone ahead and included the relevant timestamps so that you know when to start and stop watching and make sure that you don’t read ahead. The whole idea is for you to be able to watch and form your own expectations and conclusions, before reading mine.

I think this is a great opening because it is just so hooky and it does so much character work in a way that’s very implied and smooth (it’s so easy to brush it off as good without really diving into why it’s good). I have literally dared friends of mine to just watch the first 15 minutes and not continue watching (they all failed). 

So if mafia romance is your jam, you’re going to enjoy the heck out of this post.

Let’s do this.

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Voice & the Self-Editing Process | #LessonsLearned with RM Virtues

Episode Description

Join me and RM Virtues as we talk about the lessons he’s learned since he published his first book, Drag Me Up. We explore how important it is to understand your learning style, and to discover/create a self-editing process that empowers you. It’s all about finding your voice (on and off-page) and seeing your losses as opportunities for learning and growth. Plus sneak peeks at what releases he’s got in store for us this year!

Show Notes / Episode Transcript

Kate Marope (00:00:00):

This is Kate Marope and you’re listening to the Path to Print Podcast.

This week we have our fourth guest episode on a segment called Lessons Learned. As I always say, we’re all works in progress and whenever we sit at our desks to work on our new project, we’re bringing what we learned from the last book we worked on and a new improved version of ourselves to the work.

Lessons Learned episodes are all about normalizing the missteps you can make on your path to publishing, and showing how you can grow from those “missteps” and further develop your writing and revising process.

Me and my guest will talk about books in our backlist that we wish we had done differently, lessons we’ve learned as we’ve refined our writing and revising process, and reflect on the people and books that made us grow from our mistakes. And we’ll celebrate the successes that wouldn’t have been possible without that whole entire journey. 

Today I am joined by someone who always makes me laugh and whose books always take me on an emotional ride. His books are filled with all the steam and story, and his approach to revising and writing in general is very introspective and reflective.

He is a mythology junkie, lover of love, and creator of worlds. He writes fantasy and paranormal romance about underrepresented characters who get to live and love in a history unabridged. When he isn’t busy conjuring romances, he can be found watching horror movies, playing fantasy video games, or eating Korean BBQ. He currently lives in Las Vegas, Nevada with his Funko Pop horror collection. ​

Welcome to the podcast, RM Virtues!

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Matching the Premise of Your Book to its Setup

One of the most common pieces of advice I’ve given out in the last 6 months is some variation of “your setup and your other submissions materials are telling or selling two different stories.”

And it oftentimes comes down to the setup or opening chapters of the book not matching what was promised by the author’s premise (i.e. their Twitter or query pitch).

So in this week’s (very late) blog post, I want to go over what I mean by that, and why it’s so important to make sure that your setup and the premise of your book match each other.

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Impactful & Memorable Setups | #EditorTalk with Ali Williams

Episode Description

This episode, me and fellow editor Ali Williams take a look at trends in the industry and discuss books that not only have standout setups but also really showcase what we’re looking for in specific subgenres—all from the editor perspective. If MSWL and book reviews had a baby, this is it, so join us as we rave about books that have stuck with us!

Show Notes / Episode Transcript

Kate Marope (00:00:01):

This is Kate Marope, and you’re listening to the Path to Print podcast. <music>

Before we start, please be aware that this episode contains in-depth discussions about mental health and trauma, sexual assault and rape, physical violence, COVID-19, police brutality, and doxing. If you’re not comfortable or triggered by such topics, please take care of yourself and skip this episode.

This week, we have our third guest episode on a segment I repurposed from my old YouTube videos called Editor Talk. New Editor Talk episodes are all about having authors hear from editors directly about what books they’re loving and want to see in their submissions queue or in their email tray, without worrying that their asks are more based out of sales numbers than passion and enjoyment of the books they’re requesting. Me and my guest will talk about trends we’ve been noticing, books we’ll forever, forever recommend and peddle, and what books we think really represent what we love most about each genre and subgenre.

Today, I’m joined by an intelligent, vivacious human being who is a scholar, editor, and author friend. Her book are like drinking kinky hot chocolate, and she’s just a source of light and encouragement every time I see her.

Ali Williams’ inner romance reader is never quite satisfied, which is why she oscillates between writing romance, editing romance, and studying it as part of her PhD. She can be fun at the foot of the South Downs in the UK, either nerding out over local mythologies or drinking cocktails on the beach. She believes with all of her bifurious heart, that writing romance is an act of rebellion and that academia will be so much better when studying diverse HEAs is naturally a part of the curriculum. As a freelance romance, novel editor, she specializes in contemporary romance, paranormal and speculative romance and romantic suspense.

Welcome to the podcast, Ali Williams.

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Using a Character Sketch to Identify Character Moments

If you’ve ever worked with me, either freelance or at Carina, you know that I am all about character. Characters are the enactors of your plot, so I believe you need to make sure you spend a good chunk of time developing, nurturing, and understanding the people whose story you’re writing—because let’s be honest, it is very much their story.

Setups are the reader’s introduction to the character (or characters) who will be enacting the premise you’ve sold to them, and so, you need to make sure your setup starts with that quintessential character moment that shows who the characters are, what they want, and most importantly, what they need (the implicit internal goal).

But while it’s easy to brainstorm ways you can torture your character and mold them into their end form, it’s not always easy to identify the opening character moment (it’s kind of a chicken or egg problem). 

So I wanted to give you a process that will help you narrow down that opening moment by doing a little character work.

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