C h a z z W r i t e s . c o m

The publishing revolution already happened.

Using mass press release distribution to let the world know about your books

Hi everyone. This post is meant to be a helpful preliminary review of a press release service you could use to promote your books. Then it devolves into a self-pitying, snarly, snarky rant in which a tiny, hairless pig feels threatened. No animals were harmed in the making of this post…I think. Okay, he may be psychologically wounded.

I’ve had an eventful week. I got to meet director Kevin Smith and Jay Mewes (of Jay & Silent Bob fame) and handed them each a copy of my book, Self-help for StonersNext, how to capitalize on that?

I tried to organize a confluence of events around the book.

It’s basically a fiction collection of dark suspense with a self-help twist. (Yes, not an easy categorization which is both an advantage and a curse.) I’d met Kevin Smith in unusual circumstances in that when I handed him the book, thousands of his fans were watching on movie theatre screens across North America. I didn’t think the press release would be as hard as it was, especially since my training is in journalism and I’ve seen hundreds of press releases (and dumped hundred of press releases in the wastebasket.)

Then a friend of mine convinced me I should send out a press release. Well…a bunch of them. I sent them to several CBC shows and my local newspaper. The local columnist bit and me and my books will be profiled. So there’s that.

Then I remembered PR Web.

It’s basically a press release distribution service. It cost me $240 and to meet their editorial guidelines was a real bitch. Their marketing guy assured me they work with authors “all the time”. Non-fiction authors, maybe. They gave me a lot of hassle about getting into the widest distribution channel. (They offered to let me print it the way I wanted, if I were to accept a smaller distribution channel. For $240? Hell, no! I kept banging my head against the wall four or five times and they kept pushing the goal posts back to get into that wider distribution channel.) Finally, today it went out and was reprinted verbatim on a major website. (ONE website so far with little appreciable increase in blog traffic or sales. So far. UPDATE: By the way, here’s the link for the final draft: http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/578381. It’s not what I envisioned at all, but it’s okay I guess. )

On the other hand, it just went out this afternoon. It was delayed for “editorial reasons” They wanted it to be more newsy, fewer back links etc., no opinion… Basically they require that it look like any other press release, which isn’t what I was going for, but maybe I’m wrong and maybe they know what they’re doing. I’ll be the judge of that in coming days.

In the meantime, I have an ad running soon on the Smodcast Internet Radio network and one of the bits from my podcast (also called Self-help for Stoners cuz mama didn’t raise no dummy) will run on Succotash, a popular comedy clip show podcast. I just recorded a podcast today that will air Friday that details the whole experience meeting my DIY hero. The cult is into it.

And frankly, I am so tired of marketing! I normally don’t mind it, but with the PR Web delays and frustrations, I just want to crawl into bed with a coffee and write the next book uninterrupted, under the covers in my cowboy jammies with Alfred bringing me M&Ms (he brings the cape and cowl at midnight.)

This morning I screamed bad words at no one several times. The kids’ skinny pig is above my office and he probably shit himself in terror.

I haven’t finished my evaluation of PR Web yet, but I’d say go over their editorial guidelines to be sure you can meet them. As a fiction writer, it’s obviously difficult to be “newsy” enough. I had a very specific hook, several references to new technology (a first, in fact) and a major celebrity to piggyback the story. And they still didn’t zoom it through.

Even if I get a thousand hits tomorrow morning, here are the things I didn’t like:

the editorial person I spoke to on the phone wasn’t friendly (and I was… I only scream at empty rooms and tiny, terrified pigs); the marketing guy started out bouncy and helpful but then seemed anxious to dump me after he requested the draft (and his department couldn’t communicate with editorial); their user interface wasn’t all that intuitive; you pay before you can actually see the template you’re using to create the press release and they artificially delay the release of the news. (On that last point, I was concerned the information was getting more stale by the minute, but they make you pay more for the express line and I thought $240 was plenty, especially since $40 of that was to get a “star” to bump me up a list to improve visibility. Frustrating.)

I hope this helps someone here. Biggest issue for sure would be: being just another fiction author without a big hook. I had it and still encountered resistance I hadn’t anticipated that was a huge time drain.

Back to writing and revising…and lower blood pressure.*

 I wrote this post on Devin O’Branagan’s writer’s forum first, a couple of days ago and I’m sharing it here again for my blog readers.

__________________
~ Robert Chazz Chute is the author of Self-help for Stoners, The Dangerous Kind, and Sex, Death & Mind Control (for fun & profit). I’m in suspense, literally and figuratively.

Filed under: Publicity & Promotion, publishing, self-publishing, Social Media, What about Chazz?, What about you?, Writers, , , , , , , , , ,

Self-publishers: Why I went multimedia (and why you should, too)

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Boy, did I have an eye-opener this morning that left me spinning! I shouldn’t have been surprised, but when you write and publish and do your thing, you naturally assume everybody gets your message at the same speed and time. Well, I naturally assumed that.

And I was wrong. Again.

Last night I posted a little promotional trailer for my books. It wasn’t anything fancy nor was it specific to one book. I was just playing around with iMovie. I had never messed with it before and I didn’t even look at a tutorial or read a help topic. I wasn’t feeling great, so I thought I’d use an otherwise unproductive Sunday afternoon to do something fun. I’ve blogged about book trailers before and generally I take a dim view of them. Let’s be honest: most book trailers suck. In fact, I might argue that the little movie I made kind of sucks, but first, a review of my problems with book trailers:

A book trailer is a commercial. People don’t like long commercials and most book trailers go on way too long. Nobody watches a commercial and wishes it was longer except for the old Old Spice commercials (that showed wit) and the commercials for the beer favoured by The Most Interesting Man in the World. From my research, I found what most authors have found: book trailers don’t sell books. John Locke points out that little movies about your books appeal to the author’s vanity but don’t do much for most readers and do nothing to increase sales. Some say that if you’re going to make a book trailer, make it funny or forget it. Or spend some real money on it, go big or stay home.

Despite all that, I did make that trailer for my books. (It’s in the post directly below this one if you’re curious.) Given all that I’ve said, why bother with a trailer at all? I made it for a very specific reason. It’s posted on YouTube, but really, I’m sure that’s not going to do anything. I posted it on Google+ and Facebook, but that’s probably nothing more than an idle curiosity or for people who, I’m almost sure, already know what I’m up to for the most part. For me, the trailer had to be of specific use for Goodreads.

I put the trailer on my Goodreads author profile. There are many authors on Goodreads and it’s a great forum for book lovers. If you want to read reviews and find books you might not otherwise find, it’s the place to be. I was slow to adopt Goodreads, but now I love it. However, it’s not a good place to promote yourself as an author and when you do much of anything outside of your own profile, you have to be very careful not to appear spammy. Sure, you’re filled with joy at the latest review or publishing milestone, but venture out into the forums with that same joy and someone will call you out pretty quick for subverting the mission of Goodreads. It’s for readers, not for writers. (If, as an author, you want to advertise on Goodreads, there’s a proper route for that and it requires payment and mucho dinero.)

I was shocked and embarrassed to find that I’d already violated Goodreads’ etiquette. I got a really great review for one of my books and I thought it only polite to thank the reviewer with a note on the post. The Powers That Be don’t want authors to thank reviewers. I can see, in the big picture, why they don’t want authors to do that. Maybe reviewers would be less honest if they were self-conscious or trying for thank you notes from authors. Worse, authors might also fall into responding to bad reviews, which we should never, ever do. Mmmm…almost never ever.

So how does one distinguish oneself on Goodreads without running afoul of the Goodreads sheriff and the good townspeople? Be nice. (I hope that’s not an act, Dexter Morgan.) Engage. Act like a reader and be passive about your self-promotion. Keep the self-promotion to a minimum and keep it on your page, no one else’s. No spam mail and nothing that could appear to a reasonable person as a personal agenda. Crank the helpfulness and interest up to maximum and just be you. (Unless you’re a serial killer.)

Goodreads devotes a lot of instructional text to authors so we can learn the proper rules of comportment and etiquette on the site. If you don’t adhere, they might kick you out or at least make you feel bad. Most author pages look pretty much the same, so I made a trailer to put on my page (not to send out to The People of Earth, awaiting applause.) Some people are more willing to watch a little movie than read through your witty little bio and personal mind map of the dreamscape you intend to self-actualize. I hoped to distinguish myself by having a little movie where many authors do not.

(Yes, at the end of this post, I’ll tell you the shocker I got, but first…)

So I have books on Kindles and smartphones and e-readers thither and yon. And now I have video (be it ever so humble.) I also went with audio. Here’s where things get really interesting. Podcasts are the new radio. I hardly ever listen to old radio unless I’m trapped in a car in a snow bank in a snowstorm with two broken legs and cannibalizing a Lutheran in a coma. It still astonishes me when I say the word “podcast” and get a blank look. I listen to podcasts constantly. The wonder of internet radio allows me to get through all the mundane tasks, like washing dishes, doing laundry and spaying the neighbour’s cat with lawn darts. Blindfolded. (Me, not the cat. Where’s the sport, otherwise?)

Writing and producing and performing a podcast seemed to me the natural companion strategy to writing books. I wrote Self-help for Stoners, Stuff to Read When You’re High. Why not cross-promote with a weekly comedy podcast that features excerpts from the book? I called the podcast Self-help for Stoners and naturally the tagline is Stuff to Listen to When You’re High. It’s up on iTunes. The combination is an easy fit. I had a little background in radio. I’m not at ease on the mic at all, but I’m relearning those skills, like how to sound natural again.

The book is a weird hybrid I could easily draw from for a weekly comedy podcast. It’s mostly fiction with suspenseful elements, but there are funny stories, parables, exhortations, weird facts and brain tickles. When it’s preachy, it’s preachy on purpose and, I think, entertainingly so. There’s even a sci-fi story in the mix! It’s a collection that most publishers wouldn’t touch, but from my background in traditional publishing, I decided that those reasons were bad reasons. I had a book with a hook. (And no, you don’t have to be a stoner to enjoy the fun. Many people are surprised when they find some stories challenge the idea that being a stoner is even a good idea.)

If that sounds like a lot of work that has nothing to do with writing books, you’re right…sort of. I write full-time. This all I do, so I have more time than most. Yes, I know how lucky I am and I can’t tell you how grateful I am for my family’s support. I tell them every day. As She Who Must Be Obeyed ventures out into the real world each morning, I say, “Win that bread and bring home that bacon, Ward!” She says, “Have a good day, June.” And then I skip (no, not metaphorically) back into the house and to my desk, into unreal worlds. The book feeds the podcast, but the podcast can inform the rest of my writing and, most important, touch an audience I would not otherwise reach. I podcast so the books I write may be read.

But what about you, you, you? Podcasts are everywhere on any topic you can dream up. It’s cheap promotion. It’s fun (mostly). You might make new friends and find a new readership. If you aren’t already podcasting, you should consider it. Or think about advertising on a podcast. That’s also inexpensive compared to traditional avenues. Podcast the same way you blog: talk about those things that ignite your passion, stimulate your skull box or tickle you silly. Get a friend to co-host and you’ve got a conversation. (I have no friends so I’m doing it solo. “But someday…” he said wistfully.)

But that’s not all. There’s Facebook, of course, though that’s generally more for tight amigos than business. Facebook has its problems as a business outlet (but this post is already too long and overuses the delightful parenthetical so let’s move on briskly.) Aside from blogging for writers and the self-published here, I also post on my Goodreads blog and on allthatchazz.com, the site for my readers. (If I ever say “fans,” drag me out into the street and reinvent the guillotine.)

Whenever I have down time (among the many tasks of formatting for ebooks, formatting for print, administrivia and…oh yeah, actually writing my books) I maintain three Twitter accounts. You probably know me from @RChazzChute on Twitter and such industrial films as “Whose Thumb is in the Fry-o-later?” @RChazzChute is where I meet most of my writing friends and fellow self-publishers. I got frustrated with Twitter’s whacky algorithm that slows me from following more people, so I went for more Twitter accounts.

@Expartepress (from my company name) is geared to readers and for activism. My pets are free speech, Occupy Everywhere and sovereign choices wherever no one else gets hurt, like eating Lutherans, for instance.

To promote the podcast, I let loose on @THECHAZZSAYS. I do an explicit comedy podcast, so when I have something edgy to say, it’s probably there (though some of you are already pissed off at me for the cat spaying joke. Most everyone who isn’t a Lutheran is okay with the cannibalism joke, however.)

So my target audiences are: Writers, Readers and the People of Earth With a Sense of Humour and an Interest in Fiction. It’s a small target but I can hit it.

What and how much is right for you?: Yes, multimedia promotion is a lot of work but don’t whine about the workload if you choose it for yourself.  Whining is unattractive.

I only do as much as I enjoy and the core writing always comes first. I wrote 11 pages of my new novel this morning, thank you very much.

Wait, wait! What about your terrible mistake? You said you’d tell us why you’re a complete idiot, Chazz! Oh. Right. Ahem. I’ve written this blog for some time. I’ve talked about my books and I’ve blogged about the craft of writing and editing extensively. I figured regular readers already knew what I was up to. However, this morning a fellow writer commented that the book trailer was cute. And…wait for it…up until she saw the trailer, she thought my books were all non-fiction. 

Ack!

Gulp!

Well, that’s humbling. I thought I’d already reached my immediate circle with my promise of suspense, fun, literature and frivolity. I failed to do that with someone who has guest blogged here and comments often. That’s not her fault. She’s a peach. The fault is mine. Maybe I didn’t talk long enough. Maybe I wasn’t short and pithy. Maybe the titles were misleading. For whatever reason I am not at this moment discerning through my haze of tears for fears, it took the book trailer for her to hear, “Hi, I’m Robert Chazz Chute and I think you’ll enjoy my fiction.”

If I can’t promote general awareness of my books, actual sales are farther off than I thought.

Her confusion is a signal to me. If it’s true for one, it’s often true for many.

Clearly, I have more promotional work to do. Much more.

You probably do, too.

Filed under: book trailer, Books, getting it done, Publicity & Promotion, readers, self-publishing, Social Media, What about Chazz?, , , , , , , , , , ,

Your No Apologies Tour: What’s your Twitter ratio?

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Many people on Twitter make a big deal about unfollowing anyone who tries to sell them something.

That’s screwed up.

I wish I could remember where I saw it so I could give the glory to the Google+ person who came up with this powerful observation:

“I’m amazed at the number of people who don’t understand what spam is,” she said. “The definition seems to have expanded to include anything you don’t want to read.”

Some people have a problem with being asked for something (even when there’s no obligation to read, to buy or even to acknowledge the attempt to sell a product or service.) It’s not enough for some people to simply refuse to read the commercial link. They get self-righteous and announce they are unfollowing anyone who dares try to sell them something.

That attitude casts aspersions on my intent. The first salesperson who trained me told me two things I’ll never forget: He said “ZZ Top is right. Girls do go crazy for a sharp-dressed man,” and “I’m not here to sell anyone anything. I’m here to help them buy.”

Okay, let’s grant that I’m a pig if all I do is pester you to buy, buy, buy! Agreed. But what’s the corollary? What’s your responsibility? I propose that you’re an ungracious snot if you can’t tolerate anyone who gives you the opportunity to check out something you might like (or even love.) 

If you say you value reading but get pissed if an author tries to get you to look at their book, that’s unfair. Not interested? Just don’t read it. Why get angry that someone tried to share their work with you? No one’s polluting your timeline. Just choose what you pay attention to without the drama. I don’t care for Carrot Top’s comedy. That doesn’t mean I have to hate his guts and declare a fatwa. I just change the channel (quickly!)

Does that mean Twitter should only be commercials? No, that wouldn’t be effective. Eventually you’ll tire everyone out. Some misguided fools use trickery or even make the mistake of trying to extort attention through Twitter and alienate people who could have helped them (see Eden Baylee’s weird experience below.) But if we can find a reasonable Twitter ratio of fun/information/helping others/even shameless self-promotion, there will be no need to apologize. Unless you’re royalty or a lottery winner, everybody serves somebody and we’re all selling something.

If you’re such a delicate doily that you can’t handle the mention of a blog post, a book or a service, just unfollow…just about everybody. Use Twitter as quick email among your friends and leave it at that (or don’t use it at all.) Don’t feel you have to announce you’re going, just go. The rest of us will take part in the world and try to feed ourselves off the proceeds of our labors.

What’s your Twitter Ratio?

How often do you tweet your blog link before you let it go? How much of your feed is commercials versus fun and informational? How often are you tweeting about other people’s work to help them meet their dreams? We give  and we get. If you resent it when someone asks for your attention, maybe your expectations are screwy. 

Maybe those people you despise aren’t pigs. Maybe you’re just dealing with reality poorly.

Filed under: Rant, Rejection, self-publishing, Social Media, Twitter, , , , ,

Book Promoters: Will Google Plus kill Facebook, similar to how I slowly strangled Grandma?

For a full breakdown of the advantages of Google+, check out Gizmodo’s video summary.

It may be premature to say Facebook is in decline. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say its mercurial rise is flattening and it’s too early to declare its demise. Everything grows or dies, whether we’re talking about your business, your fan base, or your favorite social media.* Entropy rules and things change. Facebook is feeling entropy’s effect, so maybe they’ll adapt and improve and grow again (but that’s not the way to bet.)

I’ve got my problems with Facebook, but they’re mostly the same problems everyone else has: privacy issues; King Nerd arrogance; I don’t have enough Facebook friends; and, one day, I’ll suffer artificial limits on the number of friends I can have.

Note that though I love Twitter, I’m still chafing at the restrictions on the number of people I can follow there.

Please solve that problem and follow me @rchazzchute goddamnit!

Google+ (I’ve titled this post with Google Plus to emphasize the difference) is coming, and it might solve a whack of those problems if Google gets it right. One of the things I like is that you can make circles of friends, so you can choose who gets your message. Haven’t we all suffered the social stigma and financial pain of announcing on Facebook how much we’re looking forward to Grandma’s funeral, only to find Grandma’s still checking her account from her hospital bed and she’s cut you from the will? Petty old bitch.

Keep an eye out for the Google+ launch. They’re still working out the kinks with the beta version so right now the only way to join is by invitation. I’m pretty excited about the social and business possibilities Google+ offers. If it lives up to its promise, I will enthusiastically migrate away from Facebook to set up shop at Google+.

*MySpace is in a coma waiting for us to be merciful and finally pull the plug, for instance. If you still have a MySpace account, please, get your affairs in order. It’s almost as dead as Grandma.

UPDATE: This just in! MySpace has been sold. Details here. They’re starting with a workforce reduction and somehow Justin Timberlake is involved, so…nah, MySpace is still dead in the water. Like Grandma!

Filed under: Publicity & Promotion, Social Media, , , , , ,

We tell our stories. It’s not supposed to be about fame. Or is it?

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You’re at your computer. You’re in a coffee shop. You’re in your bed. You’re at your desk. You’re thinking of me reaching out to you through these words.

I’m here at my keyboard, typing these words, thinking of you and how isolated we are from each other.

I’m thinking about how isolation allows things to happen that shouldn’t. For instance, last week one of my pages was attacked in a creepy cyber way (and it still isn’t fixed completely. Costly tech support arrives today on a white horse, carrying new modems.) If the hacker knew me, he probably wouldn’t have done what he did. We’d kick back and have coffee instead. Our mutual isolation makes me a number. To him, I’m just another IP address, not a human being.

And yet, there is such potential for the electronic web that stretches out among us to pull into a tighter weave.

The Internet has such power and possibility if we can only figure out how to harness it.

For instance, this week on Kevin Smith’s podcast Plus One, Smith and his wife talked about how Mitch Albom hit him up for some help with a charity to feed a village of starving children. Albom needed $80,000 a year. Kevin generously got the charity ball rolling. Sure, if you’re rich, you can give. But if you’re rich and famous, you can give and alert others to the opportunity to give.

The Tiny Science of Your Fragile Humanity

Yes, a chance to donate is an opportunity. It’s your chance to provide aid. It feels good to give if you have something to give. It feels good because we are wired to be sympathetic. Our brains have mirror neurons that allow us to empathize so much we cry when we see an actor in emotional pain on a movie screen, even though we know it’s fiction.

Mirror neurons are that bit of biological microscopy and brain chemistry that make us human instead of irredeemable monsters bent only on survival by domination and murder. Boot camp, by the way, doesn’t turn off your mirror neurons, by the way. The discipline and brutality uses tribalism so your sympathy and courage is directed only to the benefit of your fellow soldiers.

That’s how you make good people do awful things.

To be creative and find an audience for your creativity is not just about making money. In fact, many artists would work for free (and many do) just for the love of art. Expression is often an inexplicable compulsion. If money comes, it is a side benefit. You hope to be paid for the fruits of your imagination, but wealth is something to be hoped for, not expected.

Seeing how privileged people use their influence to make the planet a better place, I see that I was wrong about fame. I undervalued it. I thought it had the potential to be a big pain in the ass, but that’s not fame’s only aspect. Now I see how it can be used beyond art. Fame can be a tool to help starving kids, for instance.

So many artists of all genres and stripes are poor. I wish you success (and much of the content here is aimed at helping you achieve it.) Success is important, but not just for you. Famous artists have bigger audiences. Famous artists make enough money so they can help others. There’s no nobility in a starving artist’s hovel. When you’re hungry, it’s very difficult to produce art.

 Getting paid is good. 

If you want to help the poor:

Don’t be one of them.

Recently, on The Biggest Loser, one of the contestants, Frado, found a way to use his good fortune to “pay it forward.” He had a clever idea. Frado won a session with chef Curtis Stone. Instead of just getting the expected tutorial for his family alone, Frado asked Stone to hook his name to a charity event. Stone cooked up some healthy food and Frado hosted five charities to raise more than $25,000. The hit and run tutorial would have come and gone. Frado found a way to use his newfound fame, and the celebrity’s chef’s notoriety, to make an impact on people’s lives.

It made me wonder, how can we harness social media, our fans and our followers, to help people in need? I think of the clients I know who have breast cancer or have had breast cancer. I think of my cousin and my neighbour, both hit with prostate cancer. My mother died of lung cancer though she never once smoked. These causes need research dollars. There are so many causes that need voices raised for them. There are so many everyday injustices and our silence is taken for complacency. I suppose, to my shame, that is what it is. 

I have undervalued fame. I didn’t think I should value it because that would make me shallow. Then I saw how fortunate people are using their fame in constructive ways. Now I have a larger goal beyond simple publication, teaching and the petty propagation of my little entertainments. I’m working on my books.  One day they will sell and I may achieve a little bit of recognition in some circles.

If we can get flash mobs together, how about flash protests and flash fundraisers? We try to make book trailers go viral. How about YouTube videos that show the needs that must be met. How about using our narrative powers to activate those mirror neurons so people are moved to help each other?

What then?

Better: What now?

Everyone dreams about what they’ll do if money comes their way.

What dreams can we light, as one flame fires another, with bright fame?  

What can I do in the meantime, in these mean times?

What can we achieve, working together?

We have the most power tools of connection and interactivity

that have ever existed. Now.

Please let me know your ideas.

There are too many hungry. There are too many sick. We will all be sick.

There are too few who are reaching out to draw the whole together.

We have to find the way. We can start small, but we must start.

You and I could make the change that others will not.

Let’s become WE. 

 

Filed under: DIY, grammar, Horror, Publicity & Promotion, publishing, Rant, Social Media, , , , , , , ,

Writers: Optimizing your social media (and a question)

Mostly I talk about writing and publishing here, but if you have a book to sell, promotion and publicity is integral to the process. Social media has democratized book promotion in that it’s an all-access pass and the admission is free.

Writers, this afternoon, I have three great links on the topic of optimizing your use of social media to spread the word about your words:

TNW Social Media » 10 Ways Journalists and the Media Use Twitter‏

How to triple your Twitter traffic in 7 days‏

Is It Time to Take a Social Media Inventory? | FreelanceFolder‏

 And a question: Which social media are you using to promote your book or business?

Please let me know in the comments below.

Filed under: Publicity & Promotion, publishing, Social Media, Twitter, Useful writing links, , , , , , , , ,

#Book Marketing: The old divisions don’t apply

Social Media Landscape

Over the weekend, inspired by the social media conference I attended, I got signed up for Linked In. I had signed up a long time ago, but frankly, I really hadn’t done anything much with it. Stuff you don’t engage with doesn’t count, so Linked In didn’t count. However, the more I explored the site and played with it, the more I understood that there were some great conversations I was missing out on. So I got engaged again.

One of the great things about Linked In is that it suggests groups and associations and companies that dovetail with your interests. One of the groups—I guess I won’t name them because I don’t know if I’ve been accepted yet—sent me a list of rules as a preliminary how-to and how-do. The group moderator’s membership criteria was that I wasn’t going to join in on their forums just to get all spammy. In some detail, the moderator warned me that I shouldn’t post on their site just to introduce myself and say hello. (I’ve been a member on other forums wherein that’s their first request of noobs.) None of this was personal. The forum had a large membership and I undertand they want to keep it clean if not pure.

Basically, I was to contribute on-topic value at all times, never straying into self-promotion and blog blaring.

Well, okay. But…

Look, I don’t want to be spammy. At the conference, one social media guru referred to that as “Shout Marketing.” That’s basically being obnoxious with outdated marketing approaches where the information goes in one direction and the message is “Buy! Buy! Buy! Hire the magic that is ME, for the love of god!” and so forth.

What makes social media “social” is that it’s a conversation. Information goes back and forth. You interact with customers who (gasp) give you feedback, leave comments, contribute their own thoughts and opinions and (worse!) let you know how you’re doing.

So the forum admin had a point about avoiding the old style of marketing. However, the implication that we can all totally divorce our marketing roles from the life of the mind is also outdated. If you’re an artist of any sort, you need to market yourself. Writers comment on blogs and engage in conversations because it’s fun and interesting. They are also trying to sell their books. There’s no shame in that as long as you use the new style of marketing (engaging in conversation) and not getting all spammy over their screens.

I’ve noticed some people on Twitter get a tad irked when too many tweets from one person are too advertorial. I’ve felt this way, too. For instance, I love Chuck Pahlaniuk’s fiction, but his Twitter account seemed to be managed for him by one of Skynet‘s spambots. As vast as his cult is, Chuck doesn’t appear to be engaging with his audience as a person. As a result, I reluctantly unfollowed the author. No hard feelings. Still love most of the books and Fight Club is an all-time favorite.

So what I’m saying is, you can sell effectively without being obnoxious. By all means, let us know about your next book signing so we can show up and engage you there, too. But:

1. Be authentic.

2. Be yourself instead of your intern.

3. Have conversations. Have opinions.

4. If it’s all spam, you will be unfollowed and your blog shall go unvisited and unlamented.

Me? I retweet links that interest me. I sometimes go off on tangents that aren’t about writing and publishing. I hope you’ll like me and visit the blog often. (Updated here, Monday to Friday! Same Bat-time, same bat-channel!) When I have a service to sell (like my editing services) or when I have an e-book or tree book to sell, I hope you’ll like me enough to consider laying out some moolah for my work.

I say unto thee, I am open, honest and unashamed. I am marketing myself because that’s what creators must do now. As long as you don’t feel that’s all I do, you’ll probably stick around. I don’t need millions of followers who don’t give a shit about me. A core constituency that does care (and forgive my occasional missteps) will do fine.

The take-away truisms are:

1. First you sell yourself.

2. Then you sell your product.

3. You do so by doing what we’re all here to do. We serve each other.

Filed under: blogs & blogging, Books, ebooks, Editing, Editors, getting it done, Publicity & Promotion, publishing, self-publishing, Social Media, Useful writing links, web reviews, Writers, , , , , , , ,

Let’s close our ambition gap with social media

IMG_9300

Image by burntbroccoli via Flickr

Saturday I dropped into SMarts, the London Social Media Un-Conference, a conference on social media for artists. I picked up a few ideas that could prove helpful in the long-term. No matter who you are, there’s a gap between where you are and where you want to be. Here’s what I’m considering to close that gap:

1. Using YouTube much more for this blog and making my own videos People are visual. If your tweet has the word VIDEO in it, people click through.

2. Using feedburner and hootsuite to make my social media content management more efficient. I checked into hootsuite last summer when a couple social media gurus at a writing and publishing conference recommended it. I had a major problem with the hootsuite interface back then. The bad went to worse when the application wouldn’t allow me to delete the account so I could start again and customer service was nil. Maybe now I’ve recovered enough that I can try another run at it. If I can get it to work right this time, it means saved time. Saved time equals more writing time, more editing time and more time for more clients. (Or a relaxing hot toddy by the woodstove.)

3. I’m thinking about blogging a book. I’ve got several novels written (but the revisions aren’t yet finished.)  That could really be a fun way to go with it.

4. I’ve got non-fiction content about publishing that could be very effective as an e-book. I’m going to research Book Brewer as one possibility to create the e-book. (Mignon Fogerty had a great interview with Book Brewer’s president recently on Grammar Girl.)

5. I need to reach out to more people to engage people in conversation (and so I have.) I’ve contacted four authors so far about doing a profile on this blog. I’m really excited about this for several reasons. I love books and authors. This is an opportunity to learn directly from various authors’ publishing experiences.

Watch this space. Coming soon. Stay tuned.

All that stuff.

 

 

Filed under: blogs & blogging, book reviews, Books, DIY, ebooks, Publicity & Promotion, publishing, self-publishing, Social Media, Writing Conferences, writing tips, , , , , , , , ,

Author Platforms: “Resistance is Futile!”

Cover of "Get Known Before The Book Deal:...

Cover via Amazon

It used to be that writers didn’t have to have a platform. Now they do. Resist at your peril because (cue weird Borg voice): 

“Resistance is Futile!”  

There are too many ways our attention is fractured. You must appear in more than one medium to gain attention for your main medium, your book.  

What is a Writer’s Platform?  

There are many routes to take, but the anchor of your media empire should be your blog. From your blog, all the other branches of your interests expand. If you don’t have a blog, people won’t find you.   

Why is a platform so useful?  

I once ran into a fellow who was trying to sell me something. I asked for his website address. He looked at me with resentment and said he wasn’t convinced a website was necessary. All his competitors had websites so I could compare my buying options at my leisure. This poor guy thought he could make a living off impulse buys. People don’t buy most items on impulse anymore. With a search engine it is very easy to research your purchases and buy when you feel you are ready. More and more, people are buying online. In an age of Ferraris, this guy was still in the buggy whip business.   

But what about platforms for authors specifically?  

If you aren’t published yet, your agent or publisher will want you to have a blog, preferably one that’s already established. Even better, a popular blog with a lot of subscribers anxious to buy your book. Your publisher will have a publicist. In my experience, you’re crazy to depend on the publisher’s publicist to do that much for you. Even publishers have recognized this and are putting more and more of the promotion and publicity duties upon authors. Increasingly, publishers are about their distribution network and less and less about everything else.  

What are my platform options?  

Podcasting, vlogging, Twitter, teaching, guest blogging, public speaking, teaching, subscriber newsletters, Facebook, Linked In, Four Square, media appearances, magazine articles, and radio interviews.   

All of the above starts with blogging.  

Book Recommendation: Get Known Before the Book Deal by Christina Katz

 

Filed under: blogs & blogging, Publicity & Promotion, Social Media, , , , ,

It’s a New World. Join the Publishing Revolution

I just added a five-star system so you can rate posts, a Digg button so you can “like” posts and several ways to share posts (Twitter, Facebook, Print, Reddit, Email, etc.,…) Don’t be cruel to a heart that’s true.

Your rare shameless (and fun!) plug begins here:

If you like the blog, please let me and your friends and followers know! Hit the Digg button above the comment box to “like” it. Share on Facebook. Tweet on twitter. I’m above grovelling, but I am willing to ask nicely for your support.

This is the fun part: I have added these buttons in a craven attempt to spread the word about Chazz Writes. I have big plans for the blog. As we get bigger I want to include book reviews, contests for prizes and, ultimately, annex a small tropical island nation whose national drink will be hollowed out pineapples with five kinds of rum. I shall be king, of course, but benevolent in my clothing-optional palace. We’ll be nuclear-weapons free, nuclear-capable, solar and wind-friendly, and establish a very reasonable flat tax. There will be free healthcare for all. We’ll be weed-legalized, jerk-averse and twelve kinds of awesome sexy. And everybody will get a Mac. (Acers for jerks. That’ll teach ‘em!) Also, clothes lines are allowed and I’ll keep the needless spending down by force of Nerf bats and exile to lesser, non-Chazz-infused nations. (All that therapy is really nipping my narcissistic megalomania in the bud, huh?) But  I digress…

If you like my stuff, please let other people know. This is a relatively new publishing blog, but I’m not new to publishing. I do have a lot of information to share with writers from a writer’s and editor’s perspective. (Don’t know Chazz and wonder where he gets off talking publishing? Click here.) I just love to talk to people about their writing projects, publishing issues, and that book you’re going to publish some day. Every day I curate the best information on publishing I can find as I search the web for news about writers, interesting stories and stuff that helps writers figure out the best routes to getting published.

I also look for laughs along the way. We need it. The writer’s life can be a grim nobility. Unlike some writing blogs I detest (i.e. a few agent blogs and  angry blogs that mock writers) you are not a minion here. You are a travelling companion and friend. I love books and I love the people who love them.

Return often for updates and keep an eye on that Twitter feed to your right

OR

simply follow me on Twitter @RChazzChute

AND/OR

go to the bottom right and subscribe so you won’t miss a thing!

Like the blurb says:

The publishing revolution has begun.

Join me.

Rare shameless plug ends.

Filed under: blogs & blogging, Publicity & Promotion, publishing, Social Media, Twitter, What about Chazz?, Writers, , ,

You never know what's real.

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An autistic boy versus our world in free fall

Suspense to melt your face and play with your brain.

Action like a Guy Ritchie film. Funny like Woody Allen when he was funny.

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"You will laugh your ass off!" ~ Maxwell Cynn, author of Cybergrrl

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