I am very active in social media with the aim of boosting ebook sales, yours and mine. One of the ways I reach out to new readers is my weekly comedy/narrative podcast, Self-help for Stoners, named after one of my books in a desperate, craven marketing ploy (so, no, you don’t have to be a stoner to love it.) I’m upping the stakes and, as of tonight’s podcast (March 1) I’m making a bigger play for more new listeners and readers. Yes, I’ll risk being obnoxious here and there. More on that in a minute. First, a word about attitude and bravery.
We must have a distinctive voice in our blogging, marketing and podcasting. Recently, some bloggers said we should conduct ourselves so we don’t offend anyone. Act like we’re in church and stay relentlessly positive if you expect to sell any books. It’s kindly meant advice, but I don’t believe it. Follow that formula and few people will follow you because you don’t have anything much to say. You won’t make a joke or a point. I say have an opinion and the courage of your convictions. That’s why tonight I turned my podcast upside down.
Your blog must inform or entertain (preferably both.) Don’t sweat someone disagreeing with you. What you really have to worry about is boring them.
I’m not out to make anyone angry about my podcast, though some people will be, especially with the podcast I’m releasing this evening. It’s become an experimental playground. In the past, I started out with reading excerpts from my fiction and doing little comedy bits. Then I slid sideways from reading fictive excerpts to straight narrative, totally improvised and often nakedly honest. I’ve talked about the friend I most admire, losing friends and misplacing friends. I told a long story about embarrassing myself while mocking someone at Starbucks. I took two podcasts to detail my journey to meet celebrities Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes. And tonight? As they used to say on Monty Python, “And now for something completely different…”
In tonight’s podcast (The Buckle Up & Brace Yourself Edition of Self-help for Stoners) I’m opening that envelope further. It took me about forty minutes to record it though after editing it came in at about half an hour. (A little punchier than my usual 40 minutes or so and I talk much faster with a lot more energy.) There was no script. I did not slow down to contemplate. It was a sprint in tiny surreal chunks with no transitions. Besides Skylanders and illiterate solicitors, I talk about why I’m an atheist and I relate an argument I got into with a fundamentalist Christian. This is dangerous territory. Many people would say, “Stay away from religion and politics!” However, I listen to many podcasts, and what I like best about them is authenticity. I don’t say anything I don’t believe just to provoke someone. I do occasionally say things I don’t believe in the service of fiction or a joke, but those instances will usually be obvious. (e.g. Vivisecting those puppies? Wasn’t me.)
I’m no Howard Stern, but this divide does remind me of a tidbit from his movie: People who love Stern listen to his show for about an hour. People who hate him listen for two hours. I’m not nearly that controversial and I won’t be engaging in spanking lesbians on air. (That service is only by request, by appointment and applicants? Please include a picture.)
We worry about saying too much so we’re less than honest and worse? Dull. You may not lose readers or listeners if you’re really careful about what you say, but that’s not playing to win new readers and listeners, either. Playing it safe is sometimes the worst thing you can do. I plan to test that theory with this podcast. The metrics will make it obvious. I hope to get more reviews of the podcast with this format experiment. I hope the reviews will be happy and spur the curious to buy my books. Or they will annoy someone but they’ll know I exist. I’m not worried about the easily offended, but your indifference scares the crap out of me. More iTunes reviews and likes on Stitcher might help put my little weekly podcast on the radar. Is it a long-term shift? I don’t know, though I do like that I bring so much more energy to the podcast when I’m in rant mode. I stammer less when I let go and just go for it. Freewheeling off the top of my head with the little story about the murderous clown under your bed was fun, too.
If you care to check out this and past podcasts, you’ll definitely hear the difference, though I contend that, yes, I always had something meaningful to say, whether I was shouting it or droning in that sporadic Quaalude monotone, my damnable spasmodic Shatnerian cadence. Sometimes that little stammer of mine makes me wince and I think I just want to write my twisty and twisted little stories of suspense. Let people find me instead of putting myself out there. Writing stories is the core and that’s the most fun. But then there’s a cogent thought or a laugh I get from messing around on the mic and I remember that podcasting is some of the most fun I ever have marketing my books. It might be fun for you, too. As Mom used to say to me every day, “You’re a nut.” But more often than not, she said it with a grin instead of chagrin.
~ Robert Chazz Chute is the author of a bunch of weird ebooks of suspense that are full of delightful surprises, like punches in your brain from out of the dark. Take the ebook (or paperback!) Self-help for Stoners, for instance: The first story features a starlet who returns home to a town that hates her. There are bossy admonitions about rebuilding your life and making your dreams come true. Then you learn how to beat a murder charge in Texas with nothing but a skunk and a smile. There’s sci-fi that’s low tech. You’ll really enjoy the gay German dinosaur. There’s a pseudo-erotic story which turns out to be funny instead of titillating. There’s no gore or porn, but you will lock your doors and question your fellow man and think: On drugs? Stop! Not on drugs? Start! It’s simply the best collection of dark fiction you’ve never read and it must be true because I, your ever-loving author, said so.
- PODCAST: The Forays in Self-consciousness Edition (allthatchazz.com)
- 5 Unconventional Ways to Market Your Blog (ereleases.com)
- Podcasting answers: Reading a script naturally (trafcom.typepad.com)
- 7 Ways To Lengthen The Blog Post Lifespan (davidrisley.com)
- 9 Ways to Make Blog Commenting Fun and Create Community (weblogbetter.com)
- Stuff to Listen to When You’re High (allthatchazz.com)
- Self-help for Stoners: The Mind Bend Edition (allthatchazz.com)
- Listen to Self-Help for Stoners, Podcast #2 (allthatchazz.com)
- Podcast: The Death By Fire Edition (allthatchazz.com)
- [Infographic] Inside The Brain of a Blogger (johnchow.com)
- Top 10 Social Media Blogs to Follow in 2012 (windmillnetworking.com)
- Self-help for Stoners is now available on Stitcher (plus the Christmas message of hope and gooeyness) (chazzwrites.wordpress.com)