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

The publishing revolution already happened.

Video, Audio and Pixels: Hugh Howey hits and This Plague of Days launches Episode 5

And here, folks, are the announcements as promised. It’s a cornucopia of fun stuff to feed your hungry, hungry hippocampus:

See the rest of the interview on my YouTube channel here, or subscribe at CoolPeoplePodcast.com.

Also available on iTunes (or on Stitcher through the show link to the All That Chazz podcast.)

This Plague of Days: The first zombie thriller on the autism spectrum.

Episode 5 is now available! Get each ep for just 99 cents or get the discount deal and get all of Season One for just $3.99.

Episode 5 is now available! Get each ep for just 99 cents or get the discount deal and get all of Season One for just $3.99.

In Episode 5 of This Plague of Days, it’s all action as the Spencer family faces great loss in the Midwest and Dr. Sinjin-Smythe runs for his life in London. Dump your expectations of what a zombie apocalypse can deliver. The survivors of the plagues can be just as dangerous as any horde of rampaging zombies.

From the latest review on Amazon…

“The final episode of Season One did exactly what it was supposed to do. It twisted your stomach in knots, let go slightly, then snatched your stomach away until the second season is available.

All the immediate conflicts were resolved in a satisfying way, not rushed, not unrealistic. There’s plenty of ground to cover next season, and the last few lines will leave you guessing. Well done, Chute. You’ve crafted a high-brow zombie thriller that stands out from the rest.” ~ Ava Easterby

Coming late to the Apocalypse? No problem! 

This Plague of Days scares me to death! I just can’t put it down; I have to see what happens next.

A review from Victor Morin

The mind virus is created. Spread the infection. If you already have read it, please review it.Thanks! ~ Chazz

The mind virus is created. Spread the infection. If you already have read it, please review it.Thanks! ~ Chazz

 

Filed under: book trailer, Books, Horror, podcasts, This Plague of Days, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Writers: Fantasy, Reality and the Awful Lessons

(Editor’s Note: FYI, release of the Hugh Howey podcast and Episode 5 of This Plague of Days has been a little delayed. But not by much. Explanations  to follow. Some will be somewhat hilarious, especially if you’re a sadist.)

Here’s the writerly fantasy:

Crack the Indie Author CodeYou know that dream you have of being a writer? We all have it with minor variations. Sometimes I picture a tiny writing cabin like Mark Twain had, perhaps by the water so I can watch the paddle steamers push up the river. Clacking away at an old typewriter with black and white ivory keys with a butler to bring scones would be awesome. At tea time, I could retire to an English country garden with a labyrinth and mull the next plot twist. Mm…okay, a Mac with black and white, fake ivory keys and coffee, not tea.

On me mudder’s side all the way back, I’m Irish. Maybe I should be scribbling in a moleskin notebook at the back of a gray pub hiding behind a tall Guinness and romantic, brooding despair. I’d run my hands through my hair a lot.

Analyze that fantasy and you’ll see it’s really about the power to be left alone and fear of people. We want to be at play in the fields of the mind. We don’t want to get retail jobs and interact with humans. We desire the protective distance a cyber interface allows. We crave the fantasy existence so we can do two things: Create Art and Not Deal. (Um, I’m not alone in my agoraphobic misanthropy, right? Right?)

Here’s the reality of writing:

We have to deal.

1. My cell phone just died and I stubbed a toe on my treadmill desk when I got up to charge the battery.

Lesson: Never move.

2. I’m behind schedule writing Season Two of This Plague of Days and I don’t have enough reviews on Season One yet.

Lesson: Kill self.

3. Someone got sick so the cover art for Episode 5 was delayed. (They’ll be okay, though.)

Lesson: Shit happens. Expect delays so you can schedule them.

4. I had technical issues with the Hugh Howey interview so I’m publishing the Cool People Podcast tonight or tomorrow morning.

Lesson: I have to deny my nature and be patient.

5. The cover art arrived but then my computer was attacked by the spinning beach ball of death.

Lesson: Have fewer than dozens of tabs open in the browser at one time. Apparently my mind doesn’t work the same way computer guts function.

6. Then, just as I tried to publish to Kindle this morning, my security software decided that was the perfect time to download a major update.

Lesson: Stab someone in the face with a #2 pencil. I’m not too picky about whom just now.

7. The update slowed everything down so much I knew I was a few minutes away from a heart attack.

Imagine your car is on fire and you’re trapped behind crumpled doors. Now imagine the seatbelt is jammed and cinched tight across your chest. You’re trying to get out but you’re pinned and the car’s filling up with choking, toxic, black smoke and your broken hands scrabble uselessly at the jammed buckle. Somehow, the radio is jammed on and it’s playing Kenny G.

It felt something like that.

Lesson: Get some cardio today. Listen to Stacy’s Mom by Fountains of Wayne. Cheer the #$!! up.

8. While dealing with the computer trying to kill me, I was making my son late for his piano lesson.

Lesson: Make son play video games to the exclusion of everything else all summer so I won’t be alone in my agoraphobic misanthropy.

9. I have no minions to bring me venti skinny vanilla lattes. Taking the boy to his lesson allowed me to go get that indulgence because, by then, I surely deserved it.

Lesson: If things are going badly, I deserve an overpriced sugar fat coffee with healthy pretensions. If things are going well? Same.

10. I’m working on a few hours of sleep and, as I survey my tiny writing bunker…hey! There’s a startling lack of scone butlers, minions, interns and fans begging to slip money through the mail slot!

The mind virus is created. Spread the infection. Each of five episodes is only 99 cents each. Get the whole Season for the discount at $3.99. (And if you already have read it, please review it.) Thanks! ~ Chazz

The mind virus is created. Spread the infection. Each of five episodes is only 99 cents each. Get the whole Season for the discount at $3.99. (And if you already have read it, please review it.) Thanks! ~ Chazz

Lesson: Write more, and faster, until I blur into another dimension where paddle steamers and garden labyrinths are the norm. In this new dimension, I’ll be loved and Guinness will come from the kitchen tap. We’ll never get old and we’ll never die. And no one will ever look like Wilfred Brimley.

So, the awesome Hugh Howey interview is on it’s way (I’ll let you know with the very next post here.)

Episode 5 of This Plague of Days will be up today, as promised.

However, it takes up to twelve hours for books to publish to Amazon so it will arrive later today. 

I’m going to go kill someone in Season Two of This Plague of Days now. With a #2 pencil.

~ To learn more about This Plague of Days, go to ThisPlagueOfDays.com. Subscribe to the Cool People Podcast in iTunes or check it out at CoolPeoplePodcast.com. Follow me on Twitter @rchazzchute so I try to remember what love feels like. Check out all the books and podcasts at AllThatChazz.com or break down and go on a bargain book shopping spree here. Thank you and have a wonderful day.

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under: publishing, self-publishing, Writers, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Uncomfortable answers to questions about blogging

1. When’s the best time to post to your blog?

There are better times than others to post to your blog. Late at night isn’t generally so good. There’s a lot less browsing after 9 pm and prime time seems to be the morning hours. Mondays are big blog stats days as people ease into their week. Fridays suck, so I post less on Fridays. The earlier in the day and the earlier in the work week, the better.

2. Should you blog every day?

I think you should post only when you have something to say. If your content is rich and if you post often, the more traffic you’ll get. At DecisionToChange, I often blog several times a day, but with short posts.

3. What should you blog about?

Blog what you care about. If you try to blog about stuff that doesn’t interest you for some audience-centric, strategic reason, you’ll run out of gas before long. People say you shouldn’t blog for writers, but of my six blogs, this is the one that gets the most traffic so far and I did get two books out of writing ChazzWrites, (Crack the Indie Author Code and Write Your Book: Aspire to Inspire) so there’s that.

4. How long should my posts be?

Shorter and to the point is generally better (though this particular post will get pretty long). I used to write very long essays. It’s better to break them up into a series if you’re writing long. If you’re writing at great length, don’t blog it. Book it. You can sell it on Amazon. That’s what I did with Six Seconds.

5. What’s the least I can post?

You can have a static page you don’t update, but don’t expect a ton of traffic unless you’re doing something else to drive eyes there. I do two free podcasts (All That Chazz and Cool People Podcast) and frequently appear on other podcasts. (I’m on a comedy podcast called Inverse Delirium this week).  Even with that weekly boost, I wouldn’t do a static page. Websites are either growing or dying. If I can’t update a page at all, I’d rather abandon it for a more active, and therefore more useful, site.

6. Can you post too much?

Yes, if posting burns out you or your readers, that’s too much.

If it takes away from your core work (i.e. writing books) then prioritize and manage your time so you do the core work first. I post to six blogs, a tumblr, Youtube, iTunes, Vine, Facebook and Twitter. However, I watch almost no TV and writing is my full-time job. That list of social media belongs on the secondary activity, fun stuff and stolen moments list of things to do. Writing new stuff, editing and revising is always number one.

7. Where do you get your ideas for blog posts?

My life and work is research. I’m interested in making kale shakes healthier and more appetizing, so I find out about that and share the wealth. I’m interested in all aspects of the book business and subscribe to various feeds that feed that passion.

8. If you talk about your books on your blog, is it spammy?

Some might complain I talk too much about my own books here. My reply is (A) It’s my blog and if you aren’t that into me, I’m not pestering you with phone calls to visit my blog and (B) working my book stable is where all that real world experience comes from. I’m building a cult out of supplying free information, so it’s hard to feel bad about that. I also help writers and promote other authors and their blogs here frequently, so any outrage is misplaced.

9. What’s the most important element of a website?

A. Some websites I self-host and others I don’t. For the long-term, owning it is important. Ownership allows advertising, monetizing and more control.

B. Having a list for people to subscribe to is critical to monetization. (My mailing list subscription is on the front page at AllThatChazz.com and I use MailChimp.) I give new subscribers perks like sneak peeks and shout outs on the All That Chazz podcast. Some subscribers got Advanced Reading Copies of This Plague of Days.

C.  Your website should look good, but opinions vary on what good looks like. Kit Foster of KitFosterDesign.com creates my web banners. That adds a lot without dealing with webmasters and giant makeovers.

D. Strong content. Everyone says “Content is king.” It’s kind of useless advice because that can be awfully subjective. If you live a sufficiently exciting life with plenty of sex among celebrities, you could rock a diary and make it work. Otherwise, go for useful and newsy so readers feel the value that way.

10. What helps a blog’s readability?

A. List posts like this one.

B. Make it easy for the reader to scan with sub-heads like this post uses.

C. Use a less fancy font to increase legibility. I also bold the type so it’s easier for everyone to read. I dumped the dark background and the light text a long time ago.

11. What are the most useful blogging tools?

A. I think WordPress is the best blogging platform (and essential if you run a podcast.)

B. I love Scoopit! The tool allows me to point readers to useful information on other websites. I can add my thoughts so I’m still adding value without looking like a parrot. I dislike WordPress’s reblog feature because I don’t post pictures on my blogs unless I’m sure there are no copyright issues. Scoopit! allows me to easily delete images. 

C. Rebelmouse. This free tool allows me to post all my blog feeds to one page so if you want to get a look at all I did in a day that was blog or podcast-related, it’s all there in one place. Every blog entry and podcast is displayed in a Pinterest-like array that’s easy to take in and stimulates the senses in a happy way without expensive and tech-heavy interventions. (You can do fancier things with Rebelmouse if you want to pay a bit of cash.)

12. Why should we blog?

(Sorry, I can only tell you why I blog.)

A. Sharing information builds the indie writer community and elevates the general level of expertise, discussion and product quality.

B. Ego and narcissism. I want you to love me and think I’m smart and funny. How else to explain six blogs and two podcasts? Pathetic and needy, isn’t it?

C. Honesty is the best policy unless questioned by Nazis. Honesty builds trust. (See 12B.)

D.  I’ve made friends and allies through my blogs and even a few readers for my books. You might even find a few people willing to be reviewers, ARC readers, beta readers, proofers, donors and helpers. My blogs and podcasts provide ways to help my friends by spreading the good word about great people.

However, if I were blogging just to find book lovers, I’d be disappointed. Only after I’m a huge success as an author using other strategies that have nothing to do with blogging will there be a clamour for all my blogs (and then I’ll have much less time to blog.)

Photo on 12-09-25 at 3.23 PM~ This fall, I’ll tell you about those “other strategies”, after I’ve given them a test run with This Plague of Days.

Have you read the manifesto for artists who want to live forever yet? Read that here.

Have you heard the latest All That Chazz podcast. The reading slips toward erotica toward the end, so this is the NSFW podcast episode you’ll probably want to hear. Check out The One That Gets Sexy here.

 

Filed under: blogs & blogging, book marketing, Books, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How to create your own audiobooks

See on Scoop.itWriting and reading fiction

For authors who want to use their own home equipment to narrate an audio version of their own books, or if you want to record your kids reading their favorite stories for posterity, you can do it with a microphone, and iPad and GarageBand.

Robert Chazz Chute‘s insight:

At the link, you’ll find an interesting how-to breakdown on DIY audiobook creation by Geoffrey Goetz. Learn at the link!

The post brings up a question that isn’t much dealt with in this particular article. It’s not a how-to question. It’s a should-you? Would you be comfortable putting a DIY audiobook up for sale on iTunes?

Standards for what’s acceptable vary.

A comedian friend refused to sell a recording because the audience wasn’t on mic. Without their reactions, he didn’t feel the funny was legitimized to the listener (even though he killed.) He thought selling that recording would be “mercenary”. Meanwhile, another professional comedian performed a special for an audience of two: Her parents. (The review was on the Slate Culture Gabfest and they loved it.)

I record author readings on the All That Chazz podcast. I do the podcast for free, but I’d worry about production quality if it were on iTunes. But maybe I’m being too shy or plain wrong about that. Maybe I’ve been indoctrinated with historic audiobook rules instead of looking to the future.

Do you need a full studio to produce something to sell? A video engineer friend of mine announced recently that he’s ditching the heavy, $6,000 camera and making movies with an iPhone now. You can produce high production values with relatively inexpensive equipment. New tech can often deliver higher production value than what the richest Hollywood studios had a few years ago. If you can rise to the occasion in employing that tech, you could come pretty close to par. The first no-budget Paranormal movie comes to mind.

Back to audio:

On Podiobooks, audiobooks are given away free. There are still hoops to jump through, but since it’s free, few listeners really expect perfection. Up the capitalist foodchain, if you go with ACX, you’ve got professional voice talent and an expensive production that’s still much cheaper than it used to be and you maintain control of your art.

As the bar to entry has lowers through easily accessible technology,will the audiobook production industry undergo an influx of independents as has happened with the book industry? Audio purists will likely be resistant to that idea.

We touched on this issue in a post last week: Experts recommend their services and condemn all intruders in their realm. This isn’t just in publishing. To illustrate, let me paraphrase an old medical adage: If you go to a surgeon for advice, his advice is going to be, “I’ll cut you” Every specialty is predisposed to recommend their intervention.

Could we sell a DIY recording on iTunes (through CD Baby)? Yes.

Should we? Before we rush to judgment, consider that independent musicians reach professional standards from their garages and basements all the time. People who call themselves “Indie” in the music and film industries get much more respect than Indies in the book industry. Musicians and filmmakers are called brave, innovative and entrepreneurial. In the book industry, outdated views still hold with the term “vanity press”.

I can’t fathom why this is so. I’m not pretending. I’m publishing.

~ Chazz

See on gigaom.com

Filed under: audiobooks, , , , , ,

Writing and Publishing: The balls I juggle

Cool+People+Podcast+Final

I’m currently adding a scene to This Plague of Days in which Queen Elizabeth’s Corgis get fed to rampaging zombies as an appetizer before the main (royal) course. As I move through the day, fueled by coffee and rage, I stop to take care of details: Fun details, critical details, tiny details. Here’s the last few days:

1. Sent uncorrected ARCs of This Plague of Days Episode 1 to a bunch of people. The early reviews are happy ones.

2. Published a new Cool People Podcast. I interviewed Renee Pawlish about her strategies for writing and selling books. Good stuff and of particular interest if you read this blog regularly.

3. Updated several plugins across my five blogs, but the change to the Image Rotator Widget screwed up so the covers of my books were displayed in too huge a fashion. Sigh.

4. Sent off a couple more suggestions to Kit, graphic designer extraordinaire, for promotional T-shirts, prizes and giveaways. I plan to sell the shirts in the future, too. Fun, dark and brilliant designs by my man Kit. I knew he was great at book covers. He’s got an impressive flair for t-shirt designs, too. (Hint: hire him for your next book cover, website header, Zazzle product, etc.,…)

5. Commented on some blogs on a few Facebook posts and blogs of interest. Posted to my own blogs. (There are five now. I post to DecisionToChange.com almost daily.)

6. Wrote several new scenes for This Plague of Days and posted some excerpts as teasers. A novel is slightly different from a serial. I’m a teasing, surprising, cliffhanger guy anyway, but to keep the readers moving from one episode to the next, I added new material for extra punch.

7. I recorded a new All That Chazz podcast. I have to edit it and publish it later this weekend since that’s behind schedule. Sickness and book launch prep has eaten into my podcast time, but something had to give.

8. Emailed back and forth with future guests on the Cool People Podcast. People are asking to be on, so it’s picking up.

9. Did some promotions on Vine and performed an experimental giveaway with Murders Among Dead Trees. Hit #34 in free on Amazon on the short story collection list with one day of promotion. Lessons learned: Get a higher profile on Vine and post more often. Most of the people who picked up the freebie came through my friends on Facebook.

10. Did some research on book sales and picked up Chuck Sambuchino’s new book Create Your Writing Platform. I also listened to the Self-Publishing Podcast in which the hosts believe free on Amazon is dead (as is the 99-cent price point.)

Bonus 1: I just learned that the plural is Corgis, not “Corgies”. 

Bonus 2: I learned a blog post about publishing with the word “enema” in the title, gets a lot of traffic.

Question:

How about it? Is free dead to you? Does 99 cents mean the book is inexpensive or just crap? The guys on the Self-Publishing Podcast advised putting your stuff out on all platforms. I’d feel better about that if the other platforms sold more and had a more active review culture. What do you think?

And now back to edits with The Little Things by Danny Elfman as my soundtrack…

Me B&W~ Follow Chazz on Twitter @rchazzchute. If you’re feeling down, go make a kale smoothie and dance sweaty. If you’re feeling up, make sure you have permission and then get sweaty.

Filed under: author platform, blogs & blogging, book marketing, This Plague of Days, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Book Marketing: Problems and Solutions

It’s time to talk book marketing again and this time, I’m going to get up close and uncomfortably personal. One key to book promotion success — there are many keys and nobody knows where they all are — is to step outside our echo chambers. I’ll explore how to get out of that box and sleep with strangers…um, I mean, help new readers find us. But first…

Problems

1. I’ve noticed lately that Twitter love for me has faded somewhat. I’m getting fewer retweets. My Klout score is down to 62 from 65.8 (the horror of first world problems!) and the rate of new follows has slowed. That or, as someone told me recently, Twitter isn’t showing retweets as doggedly as they once did. 

2. I gifted copies of Six Seconds to a bunch of people who indicated their eagerness to give an honest review in exchange for a free copy. It only has two reviews thus far, and none from those who received the ebook from me. Six Seconds is a short guide to Vine, so I don’t know how to encourage them to review it without sounding churlish or whiny. Yet, I do need those reviews. I need reviews of everything.

My luckless hit man is a funny guy in big trouble.

My luckless hit man is a funny guy in big trouble.

I did receive a fresh review of Bigger Than Jesus recently and that was a great thing that happened organically. The trouble is, to promote the books on some websites, I need at least ten reviews. If I wait for it to happen organically, it’s a trickle. If you have any ideas on how to nudge reviewers without sounding like a bad guy, please let me know. Or perhaps I should risk it because as it is, I’m screwed, silent or sounding off. 

3. Promotionally, I’m in the doldrums between book launches. This Plague of Days is a monster-size book so the editorial logistics require a longer wait between publication dates. I’m very aware that if the time between books is too long, it’s easy to be forgotten.

4. I doubt more KDP Select for old books is not the answer. I’ve already done those promotions. I’ll do them again for each fresh book launch, but after the first 90 days, I’ll switch to more platforms. KDP isn’t worth its exclusivity anymore since they made free less attractive. Free isn’t dead, but it’s not as alive as it once was, either. Use KDP to give away enough copies to get more reviews if you can, but after one 90-day period of exclusivity, I’ve taken my shot and it’s time to spread the word wider. (This could change if Amazon sweetens the pot again, but I see no evidence of that on the horizon.)

5. I have a standing offer to subscribe to my mailing list at AllThatChazz.com. Subscribers get promoted on the podcast. Though All That Chazz is heard in more than 60 countries weekly, I’m not exactly flooded with subscribers. “Not exactly flooded” is my pitiful attempt to save a shred of dignity. It’s not really not working. Therefore, I have to go to them because they aren’t coming to me.

Solutions

Click it to grab it. Just 99 cents!

Click it to grab it. Just 99 cents!

1. Attitude adjustment = no whining. Over Christmas and into January, I had a bout of depression and self-doubt that crippled my creativity and work ethic. I still wrote and produced and put out podcasts. I think no one knew for sure, but I was down-dooby-do-down-down. I kept it to myself and pretended everything was peachy. It wasn’t. That put a dent in things. I can swing back and forth from high creativity to much less when Seasonal Affective Disorder hits. When I feel down, I sleep more and life feels like pushing a truck uphill without wheels. That was then. I’m feeling better, getting more sun and exercise and drinking more kale shakes. I’m back and looking for trouble to shoot.

2. I’ve stepped out of the echo chamber by adding a new podcast. On All That Chazz, I monologue, crack wise and unwise and read from my work. (Currently reading HigherCool+People+Podcast+Final Than Jesus. Get on board on iTunes, Stitcher, or from my author website.)

With the new Cool People Podcast, I have fun interviews with interesting guests. That helps step outside the echo chamber by expanding my connections, mixing networks with more people and best of all, did I mention I get to talk to cool people?  If you like the podcasts, please leave a review on iTunes. That helps.

3. I’m expanding my following on Vine faster than on Twitter.

"You will laugh your ass off!" ~ Author of Cybrgrrl, Maxwell Cynn

“You will laugh your ass off!” ~ Author of Cybrgrrl, Maxwell Cynn

The number of people following me so far isn’t that impressive. However, the rate at which people are getting on board through the Vine app is pleasing. They’re a tech-savvy, young and creative audience who are into what I’m doing. To let the right ones in, I’m doing an author reading on Vine from Self-help for Stoners. “Another Day at the Office” is one of my favorite, funniest stories and I’m running a contest, too. (Details on contest rules, the prize and entries at AllThatChazz.com.)

4. I’ve created more book-specific websites to inspire more qualified (read: interested) traffic. For instance,  Six Seconds, The Unauthorized Guide to How to Build Your Business with the Vine App, now has its own website. It’s useful and expands on the guide’s suggestions. Vine (the equivalent of video Twitter) just upgraded so I wrote about that development. This is a significant change because the upgrade allows vines to be embedded. Some viners will become stars on Vine just as some power users are stars on YouTube. Twitter has optimized the social sharing component of the app so I can enliven my websites with vines and spread my word wider.

This Plague of Days 03285. My newest website is ThisPlagueofDays.com. The primary focus of the blog is not just my serial of the same name. The book has a lot of angles. For instance, I’ve done extensive research in survivalism and sustainability over the years. I had a battered, paranoid youth so my past is dumped into the post-apocalyptic landscape.

I’m sure this serial will have a wide appeal, but providing specifics about surviving a world flu pandemic provides more added value than being yet another author talking about his or her book endlessly. I recently posted about the best books on disaster preparedness. In an upcoming post, I write about the SARS crisis in Toronto that killed 44 people, the mistakes that were made and how they’ll be made again in the next contagious disease crisis.

Find your angle and help people with it. If you’ve got a romance set in Martha’s Vineyard and you don’t think you’ve got an angle, write about tourism to Martha’s Vineyard. Find the angle and you’ll find a niche that’s identifiable. I’m sure Self-help for Stoners sells best because stoners recognize it’s fiction especially for them. That was by design. Bigger Than Jesus doesn’t sell as well because, on hearing it, someone will think my funny crime novel is a religious book or has something to do with the Beatles. That’s why those books have the covers they do.

6. Go to your niche. TweetAdder has a bad rap because last year, whoever is in charge of what’s polite on the Internet decided auto-tweeting is rude. Okay, but there’s more to TweetAdder than that. To find more readers who might be interested in This Plague of Days, I can search for Twitter users who are into post-apocalyptic fiction, emergency preparedness, Aspergers and survivalism. I can follow those who follow big names in post-apocalyptic fiction and interact with them. What’s your book’s area of interest? Readers want to know about you (assuming your intrinsic awesomeness bears up under examination.)

7. Advertise. As the power of free spirals out of the heights it has occupied, those of us who tried to get away with less promotional investment will have to change our patterns. I’ve been reluctant to use tools I don’t respond to as a consumer. For instance, I’ve never clicked on a Facebook ad once. However, I’m not all consumers and it’s time I got over myself to give my books a better shot. Other authors have had success with pay-per-click advertising and you can limit how much you spend. Spending is scary. I’m still working with a very limited budget, but I can limit the risk so it doesn’t get out of hand. This is the time to double-down on my bet on myself, not stick to the nickel a chip table. We used to be able to get away with zero ad budgets. We at least have to promote the crap out of free days now (if we have them) and that means paying some ad fees.

8. Send out more copies to book bloggers. More reviews will allow me to post the books to those sites that require a minimum of ten reviews above four stars. Sites like BookBub, for instance. I’ve heard good things about BookBub, but because of pricing, timing and review restrictions, it’s still out of reach for me.

9. Ask for help. I guess we’re out of the theoretical and I’m talking directly to you. If you’re interested in an advanced copy of the serial, please let me know at expartepress (AT) gmail (DOT) com. The serial overall is over 130,000 words, but the episodes are short. I’m still in revisions, so I haven’t nailed down episode word counts yet. However,  it won’t be an arduous read for those interested in a plague apocalypse pitted against an Aspergers kid who is a selective mute. His special interest is Latin and the nuances of the English language and it’s quite possible he’s hiding strange powers. Also, if you’ve read any of my books and liked them, please review them.

10. Take suggestions on how to effectively spread the word about my books that do not, as Guy Kawasaki suggests, require $10,000. Got any ideas?

All about the love...and vengeance.

All about the love…and vengeance.

~ Robert Chazz Chute is everywhere, yet nowhere, at the fork in the writing road. One path goes up and the other goes down-dooby-do-down-down.

 

Filed under: author platform, book marketing, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

On Writing Well: Openings, Distractions and the next Million Dollar Idea

The Challenge of the Slow Open

Crack the Indie Author CodeAs I work on revising my coming-of-age, love story cleverly disguised as an apocalyptic plague thriller, I worry about the beginning most. (I’ll give you a minute to digest that first sentence.)

This is a long book I will serialize (soon). The story unfolds largely through the eyes of a boy with Aspergers Syndrome, sixteen-year-old Jaimie Spencer. He’s a selective mute. I wanted to impress upon the reader how different he is from the first page. The story starts with the boy observing the plague as it infects his next-door neighbor. The neighbor is a pilot who happens to be having sex with a flight attendant at the time, but Jaimie is detached about such things. He’s asexual. His point of view is an interesting hook, but it’s not really an action hook. It reads like a character hook.

I’m going for intrigue and showing this book is more serious than much of my other work. I’m satisfied it’s a good start, but it’s a risk because of that slow start. I’m starting the novel with a long lit fuse instead of an explosion. That could be a problem and I will have to revisit this issue several more times before I commit to the slow burn open. There are plenty of explosions, strained family dynamics, obstacles, reversals, betrayals, realizations, death and a long journey  ahead. Amid the chaos, Jaimie is a detached, almost Christlike figure. The world is falling apart and he’s fascinated with dictionaries. (Expect Latin phrases, weird words and an amusing annoyance over homonyms.) The boy perceives the world as an alien might. His peculiar point of view questions how everyone else sees the world.

My luckless hit man is a funny guy in big trouble.

My luckless hit man is a funny guy in big trouble.

Big openings hook more readers faster. For instance, is it a cheap ploy to kill somebody off in the first paragraph? Many critics, both amateur and professional, seem to think so. However, I suspect the average reader doesn’t think that way at all. Some lit snobs say they shouldn’t think that way. Irrelevant. Many readers do think that way.

Every story should jump right in without throat-clearing, of course. (Don’t start your book with a weather report, as a baffling number of novels still do.) But how late should you enter the action? Bigger Than Jesus starts in media res with my loveable hit man out on a slippery ledge high over Tribeca with the bad guy hiding behind a gargoyle. Higher Than Jesus starts with a slower open in a dive bar, but right from the start, you know Jesus Diaz is there to kill someone on Christmas Day. Crime fiction should start with action. But can Jaimie Spencer do it?

Distractions

I’m confident in the writing for those who stick around for the show. However, we, as writers, are not competing with other books in our genre. We’re competing with Call of Duty, Game of Thrones (on TV), people working second and third jobs to earn enough to live, laughing babies on YouTube, the gym, the laundry, and all the other paperwork of life. Readers have so many distractions, it almost makes me yearn for a time when books were much more central to our culture. The good news is, if you survive the coming world flu pandemic that will wipe out billions, there will be fewer distractions and a bit more reading time.

Solutions and Opportunities

Jesus is resurrected in Chicago. Sex with the Queen of Giants. Violence with Very Bad Men.

Jesus is resurrected in Chicago. Sex with the Queen of Giants. Violence with Very Bad Men.

I have a suggestion to help combat The Distraction Problem. It’s not really open to me at the moment* but you might be able to use this suggestion: If you’re American, make audiobooks on ACX part of your publishing platform so people will be able to consume your goodness while they do the laundry, commute to their second job, run on a treadmill or play Call of Duty. Publish an audiobook on ACX and it goes to Amazon, iTunes and Audible. Audio is the future. That, and the massive killer virus thingy.

*I encouraged writers to go for ACX in Crack the Indie Author Code and Write Your Book: Aspire to Inspire. Since I’m a Canuck, they aren’t set up to deal with me yet. That creates a huge hole in the market for audiobooks worldwide. If I had the money, I’d start a company to compete with ACX and deal with all them foreigners immediately.

Click it to grab it. Just 99 cents!

Click it to grab it. Just 99 cents!

~ Earlier today I published an article on ChazzWrites.com that was meant for my website about Six Seconds, The Unauthorized Guide to How to Build Your Business with the Vine App. Apologies for the mix-up and a suggestion: If you’re on WordPress, don’t ever use the Quick post feature. Any problems I’ve ever had posting to WordPress started there. I decided to leave it up since it automatically shot out to subscribers and I never did announce a page dedicated to that book, so…yeah, I’ve got a web page just about Vine and the useful glory that is Six Seconds. If you’re interested in checking out Vine and promoting your books with it, here’s the link to onlysixseconds.

If you’re on Vine and would like to hear a reading from Self-help for Stoners, find “Robert Chazz Chute” on Vine. I’m doing the first author reading on the Vine app. Interested in winning a signed copy of Bigger Than Jesus? I’m running a contest with that reading. Get the details on how you could win from this link to AllThatChazz.

Filed under: audiobooks, blogs & blogging, book marketing, Editing, My fiction, publishing, Vine, Writers, writing tips, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

More Fury: Haters, Taxes, #Readings, #Podcasts

Higher than Jesus Final NEW copy

FYI: The new edition of the All That Chazz Podcast is up at AllThatChazz.com and it includes:

1. Waiting in shivering anticipation for Liberace.

2. A short, crazed rant on haters and my unreasonable sensitivity.

3. Jesus explains and forgives plus Stitcher issues.

4. Bradley Manning and awesome podcast recommendations. 

5. Scott Sigler on the Joe Rogan Experience (and self-loathing.)

6. Two readings: Chapters 9 and 10 of Higher Than Jesus: Hollow Man and Fight Club.

7. Whining about taxes and railing against my accountant.

 

Listen to the new podcast, More Fury: The Hollow Man Edition. If the show tickled your fancy, please leave a happy review on iTunes because that helps. If you don’t care for All That Chazz, try the Cool People Podcast. Cheers!

~Chazz

PS What am I doing? Editing the same way I do everything: Furiously.

Filed under: podcasts, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Branding: The change I made

“You will laugh your ass off!” ~ Author of Cybrgrrl, Maxwell Cynn

Milestones aren’t just for celebration. They are also reminders to reevaluate. Since last November, I’ve been podcasting comedy, author readings and a wee bit of ranting at the world. In that time, more people have gone from “What’s podcasting?” to “Ooh, computer radio! How do I do that, too?” Listenership is growing and I just broadcast my 50th show (a conversation with writer and friend Mark Young.)

When I began the podcast, I was very focussed on selling my first book, Self-help for Stoners, a fun book for creatives who love suspense. Those readers make great podcast listeners. They are interested in the creative process, want a little encouragement in the creation of their art and wonder what’s it all about (among all the jokes, murders and whimsy.) I didn’t put enough thought into my long-term branding then. Instead, eager to get both products up on their feet and out the door, I named the podcast after my first book. Since I’ll soon have eight books available, I needed to start thinking long-term. The podcast is now called All That Chazz. Since my author site is AllThatChazz.com, it fits. (Oh, my Thor! Such blinding narcissism!)

Across all my sites, the same image appears to help  set up one image in the minds of potential readers. I’m not giving up on Self-help for Stoners. I’m just expanding the line of books with which I’m identified. I should have thought of that at first, but I was too anxious to finally get the podcast up and running to worry about changes a year down the road. It’s now almost a year down the road and change is in the ether, zeroing in fast.

Dance fast in the short-term. Plan long-term. Adapt. Innovate. Overcome. Rock harder.

 

Filed under: publishing, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

TOP TEN TIPS: How to set up your podcast

Why should you want to make podcasts and appear on podcasts?

English: Podcast or podcasting icon Français :...

English: Podcast or podcasting icon Français : Icône pour les podcasts ou la baladodiffusion (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s radio with a low barrier to entry. It’s like having your own no-stupid-rules radio station that’s really close to free. You could be on iTunes a few days from now, promoting your business, your books, and yourself to the world. I’ve got fans in San Francisco, Dubai, Beijing and places I’d never heard of because of podcasts.

Since I began podcasting my crime novel a chapter at a time, several people have asked me how I set up my podcast and what’s involved. I can give you the broad strokes with an easy TOP 10 list. Don’t get overwhelmed. It’s not that hard, especially if you take my strongest advice and go straight to Tip #10.

1. You’ll need a microphone. I have two, one for $127 and one for $90. The cheaper one works better. Some people say you have to use a mixer to make sure your audio doesn’t peak and hurt listeners’ ears. However, I prefer the mic that plugs straight into the computer.  No need to be fancy with your podcast. You don’t have to be a Mac user. A chair that doesn’t squeak is a better investment. You don’t have to buy expensive shock mounts of your mics (but do get a screen for your microphone, called a sock, so you don’t “pop your ps”. Popped ps do thud into your listeners’ eardrums. You don’t have to have enhanced videocasts. Most of the people who listen to podcasts are either out for a walk, doing laundry or on a treadmill as they listen to programming. Video in podcasting is a deficit, not an asset.)

2. You’ll need a computer program to record and edit your podcast. Audacity is free. I use GarageBand. Though it does cost, I found the interface easier, especially since a friend gave me a one-on-one tutorial. I tried Audacity without help and the learning curve was a bit steeper. (I’m not turning anyone away from Audacity, though. It’s free and useful. It was just easier for me since I already knew someone who knew the software. Having a buddy who’s already in the know might make for a different choice for you, too.)

3. You’ll need a blog. WordPress is free and most anyone who reads this post already has a blog. Those lovely non-problems are the easiest to solve. There is also an ID3 tag editor (app) to buy, but it’s just a few dollars for a little program that will help you label your podcast and prepare it for upload to Libsyn. Speaking of which…

4. You’ll want a Libsyn account. Libsyn is the company that will publish your podcast to iTunes, your blog and elsewhere (even apps). Go for the $20 a month option. You can pay less, or even go with some outfit that will give it to you for free, but they cost more in the long term in other ways. For instance, lots of places will let you use them to broadcast your podcast, but you can’t move it anywhere later, so, effectively, they own your podcast, not you. You hold on to your rights and options by going with Libsyn. The best thing about Libsyn is that you bank unused broadband. When I started, I was worried about the hidden costs. What if my podcast is so popular, the broadband gets too expensive to pay? With Libsyn, there aren’t any hidden costs and they have an excellent stats page so you know exactly how popular you are. (Or not.)

Once you’re set up, you can also get your podcast on Stitcher. Stitcher is a very popular podcast outlet because it’s free and it  allows listeners to wirelessly stream podcasts to their phone or iPod. They don’t have to hook up to their computers. The podcasts take up no space on any device. Since I discovered Stitcher, I hardly ever use iTunes.

If you’re thinking of joining Stitcher, please use my promo code: SELFHELPSTONERS. By joining, you’re also entered into their draw for a $100 cash card.

5. You’ll have to have some time set aside. Every minute on air means four minutes in total invested with production. That’s a good rule of thumb, though I’ve managed to shorten it a bit over time. Don’t cut too many corners, though. I missed an edit a few podcasts back and the paper rustling seemed a tad unprofessional. Don’t be too professional, though. Mistakes are authentic moments and I like when the unexpected happens in a podcast. The unexpected never happens in radio and that’s one of the reasons radio is boring and only people who are trapped in cars or terrorist attacks listen to radio anymore.

Want a horrific example of authenticity? I’ve talked about the hilarious aspects of my colonoscopy, my first schoolyard fight, how I got screwed over by a financial adviser and a publisher, and worst of all, how I felt too fat and unsuccessful to go to my college reunion. You don’t have to be this revealing, but being real works in podcasting.

Don’t be self-conscious about your voice, either. I have a stammer that becomes evident when my brain works faster than my tongue. My delivery is positively Shatnerian. I talk in bursts and when I speed up I talk like a Nova Scotian, really fast and in the back of my throat. Most of that either isn’t a real issue, improves with practice or can be edited out.

6. Get good album art. I used a cover from my book Self-help for Stoners because I wanted to publicize the book and podcast to an identifiable audience. Calling the podcast Self-help for Stoners made sense at the time. (As discussed in a recent post on book promotion, I’m changing that because I have so many more books now. One book is not your brand. You are your brand. Think long term.) You’ll need a couple of images of different sizes for this. When you know those sizes and have an idea for an image to represent your podcast, talk to Kit Foster at KitFosterDesign.com. His prices are very reasonable. He’s my graphic artist. Heck, Kit is The Graphic Artist. (Can’t wait to show everybody what he came up with for my print cover for Bigger Than Jesus!) If you go without a professionally designed image, your podcast listing makes you look like a hack and you’ll definitely be skipped over.

7. Choose your category. My categories for different podcasts range from politics to fiction to comedy. Some of your audience might like variety, though if you go deep into a particular topic or niche, you’ll definitely find your audience quicker. Go with your passions. Stick with one podcast to start. Setting up the first one and doing it right will probably cost $200 or $300. After that, it’s cheap (and a claimable promotion cost.)

Do it with someone else and not only do you split the cost, you’ve got a co-host to bounce ideas with. Monologuing (as I do) is not for everyone and I sometimes wish I had someone else on the mic.

Also decide if your podcast will be a swearfest or family friendly, explicit or clean. I started out swearing and came around to PG. Also, consider that if you want advertisers, unless you’re Joe Rogan or Kevin Smith, most advertisers prefer clean podcasts.

8. You’ll need to promote your podcast. I’ve been a guest or I’ve been mentioned on other podcasts about ten times or more so far. Similar to guest blogging for bloggers, I think that’s helped the most. I learned recently that it’s been proved statistically that there’s no correlation between a large Twitter following and a large podcast following. That surprised me but I have no reason to doubt the stats. That said, if you can be rich and famous first, that doesn’t really hurt any endeavour, does it?

9. Do you have enough to say? When I started podcasting last November, I reasoned that if I ever ran out of stuff to say, I could always just read some of my fiction. I did read a bunch of my fiction on the podcast, but I also found I had a lot to say that had nothing to do with fiction. I’ve done skits and bits and improv. I’ve gotten angry and sad and confessed and condemned. Just as you would with a blog, brainstorm what you might talk about.

There’s no rule that says you have to do a podcast that’s an hour, two hours or three hours long. Most of

Click to get Bigger Than Jesus

my podcasts were 40 – 45 minutes once a week. Then I decided to make shorter podcasts but a twice a week. Then, to get the word out about The Hit Man Series, I’m podcasting Bigger Than Jesus a chapter at a time. Book 2, Higher Than Jesus, might be ready for podcast before I’m done recording the foundation book. Podcasting helps with the final proof, as well. We’ll see. No rules, remember? I love that about being indie in whatever I do.

Listen to a lot of podcasts to get a flavor of what works for you. Figure out where you fit. Are you the next Grammar Girl (the first podcaster on Oprah) or Mur Lafferty from I Should Be Writing? How-to podcasts are very popular (if you have enough to say on the subject long term.)  I listen to Litopia (for everything publishing); some stuff from the Kevin Smith network since he started my career; The Joe Rogan Experience has awesome guests (and depending on what you’re doing with your podcast, guests are great); The David Feldman Show (because I’m a lefty who loves comedians); and The Best of the Left (for smart politics). There are, of course, thousands of podcasts to choose from, those are a few of my favourites. You should also listen to The School of Podcasting by Dave Jackson. You can even join up and learn more. Dave is an enthusiastic educator who loves podcasting. He can teach you everything from how to set it up to how to monetize it properly. He’s forgotten more than I’ll ever know about podcasting.

10. Which leads me to my most important tip of this monster post: Talk to Dave Jackson from The School of Podcasting to get help setting up your podcast. He teaches and consults. I am not an expert on podcasting. That doesn’t stop me from being a podcaster thanks to Dave.

When I started out, I read all the FAQ I could find. I made my first podcast, but I couldn’t figure out how to get it out into the world. I had launched my first books and I was anxious to promote them via an avenue I knew a lot of people were missing out on. I was missing out! A lot of people are still missing out! You’re probably missing out right now! After days of frustration, I called Dave Jackson: Great guy, smart guy, patient guy. He knows the nuances of feed burner and RSS feeds and setting up your podcast without tears or time lost. He’ll get you past the mechanics and into what matters: reaching a wider audience you would never otherwise reach.

UPDATE: Dave just emailed me that he is revising his website this weekend. Hang in there if it’s not completely available when you check in. He’ll have chat on, so Dave can still set up a consultation to help you set up your podcast.

Filed under: publishing, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Available now!

Fast-paced terror, new threats, more twists.

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.

Jesus: Sexier and even more addicted to love.

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

Write to live

Publish, conquer your fears, inspire others

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For my author site and the Chazz network, click the blood spatter below.

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