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

The publishing revolution already happened.

How to reach readers in a way most writers don’t

When you think of using video to promote your book, you probably think of a book trailer, like this:

I made the trailer above and it turned out pretty slick, I think. But there’s a better way. A book trailer broadcasts out. I want to motivate readers to find me, not just talk at them. Sure, book trailers can be cool, but there’s little to no evidence they motivate people to purchase more books. (Click on my old post here for thirteen options for using video. I especially like the Scott Sigler strategy.)

Here’s how I added value to This Plague of Days, Omnibus Edition.

The better way is to use video is to thank readers and engage them with a question or a reward. I opted to do both with a link to a secret video at the back of the TPOD Omnibus Edition. It’s three books in one, so, for those who care to, they can make one purchase and save a couple of bucks.

Here are the specifics of my latest launch strategy:

1. I’ve just launched two books, This Plague of Days, Season 3 and This Plague of Days, Omnibus Edition.

2. I dropped the price on the first novel to 99 cents and marked the second book down to $2.99. I’m selling the Omnibus (three big books in one) for $6. 

3. At the back of the Omnibus, exclusive to those readers, is a link to a private video. In it, I talk about the saga. It’s been years in the making. This is my Star Wars. Putting it to bed is a big deal to me and I give some behind-the-scenes origin information.

4. I ask a sincere question. A secret has been buried in this series from Season One and it pays off late in Season 3. It’s a huge surprise that a lot of people tried to figure out but they only saw it in retrospect. (My beta readers all said the same thing. “Oh! Of course! You dog!”)

5. As long as Omnibus readers answer the question in the comment thread at the private video link this year, I’ll send each of them my next thriller ebook as a gift. Free. No strings or demands for a newsletter sign-up. The new thriller comes out later this summer and it even ties other books together. It’ll be a fun ride and also a solid bridge to my other books even though it’s not in TPOD‘s genre.

6. Video is a more personal way to thank readers. By adding another book to the six-dollar Omnibus, readers won’t just save some bucks. They’ll get four books (three huge ones and one decent-sized novel.) Readers will benefit and I hope to gain readers who are already enthusiastic about my particular brand of crazy. 

7. I know this approach trips some fear alarms for some authors. Please don’t tell me I’m devaluing literature by pricing it too low and giving too much away. I’ve lowered the price, not the value. The literature that is devalued most is that which is read least. Times are tough for a lot of people, me included. But I still believe that generosity and helping others wins over greed. Give more and you’ll attract the people you want to be your readers. When they find you, they’ll buy all your books. Don’t chase anyone. Count the giveaway as the cost of advertising, something any business does. Let readers come to you willingly and they’ll bring you joy instead of heartache. 

How did I do it?

I used iMovie, but you could use a cell phone. It doesn’t matter as long as it uploads to Youtube and designate the link “unlisted” so only those who have the link can access it. It doesn’t have to be slick and fancy or have a kickass soundtrack that sounds like it’s calculated to accompany an invasion of Libya.

Your video might even be better if it’s not slick. I love my energetic little book trailer, but heartfelt and speaking into the camera? Heartfelt is more important than slick.

But how did I sell the TPOD Big Deal Book Launch to readers?

Here’s exactly how I did it.

~ I’m Robert Chazz Chute and no one can begin to fathom the depths of my exhaustion at this moment. I am puddin’. But I’m also happy. Anxious and happy. Mostly anxious. Go make a video. Of love. (No, I don’t mean like that!…okay…maybe like that.) 

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

How Weird Al, Kevin Smith, Hugh Howey and Scott Sigler Succeed

The mind virus is created. Spread the infection.

The mind virus is created. Spread the infection.

Price alone doesn’t get attention anymore. Being an author isn’t so special. To really stand out and sell more books,  you’re going to have to be you. 

We in the brain tickle business have never had so much freedom and opportunity  to talk directly to readers. We’ve also never been so invisible. The essence of our book marketing problem is that readers are flooded with noise but our signal isn’t getting through. A plethora of fractured choices leaves us catering to smaller niches. The world has exploded with feasts for the senses and books are not central to our cultural dining experience.

How do we help readers find us? 

To figure out how to better reach our niches, let’s look at artists who successfully engage their fans: Hugh Howey, Scott Sigler, Weird Al Yankovic and Kevin Smith.

Be famous for something else first.

When director Kevin Smith’s Clerks hit, that movie was his introduction to his niche. He has described the film as as a handshake to America that said, “Hi, How are you? I’m Kevin Smith!” Being famous first isn’t  helpful advice, but it’s so obvious, I had to get this one out of the way first.

Pioneer something new.

When Kevin Smith jumped on the podcast bandwagon, there weren’t many musicians in that band or on that wagon. He’s always up for something new or a twist on something old. He abandoned the big studio promotion model to take his movie, Red State, on tour to his fans. Now he’s taking his Super Groovy Cartoon Movie on the road.

The same willingness to adapt applies to Scott Sigler. When his manuscripts weren’t selling to publishers, he sat in his closet and recorded his books as podcasts. When he went back to the publishers, it was still so early in the game, the publishers replied, “What’s a podcast?” But Sigler’s readers found him through audio and ended up buying his work in digital and paper.

Think it’s too late to get into something new? Podcasting is still new. You probably write a blog, but there are millions of blogs vying for attention. There are only a few hundred thousand podcasts.

POD Chazz 2I have two podcasts and I sell the most books where my podcast is most popular. Also, I’m connecting with cool people on Vine. I don’t know what the next big thing will be, but I’m open to jumping into anything early if it makes sense to test it. Just don’t wait until the new social media platform makes sense to everyone.

Embrace Different and get noticed.

Hugh Howey has taken a contrarian approach to fan fiction. He’s embracing it. Instead of guarding the realm of Wool, he’s invited others to play in his sandbox. That one move has already gained him new fans and more publicity. The fact that Amazon decided to promote fan fic makes me think he’s on to something. (And before we get snotty about it, don’t forget fan fic is where the Fifty Shades of Gray‘s success sprang from.)

Kevin Smith just pressed a new album for his cult of rabid fans. That’s right. As in vinyl. They’ll buy it, too. They love him.

Scott Sigler appeared on The Joe Rogan Experience recently. Lots of fiction authors (like me!) would love to get on that show. He got there because he’s interesting, does tons of research for his books and he’s technologically innovative. Couldn’t happen to a smarter guy.

Meanwhile, Weird Al expanded his empire into our territory. He’s written a children’s book. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

Build a body of work.

After his many movies, Smith has a plethora of podcasts he’s begun, sponsored, abandoned and continued. His motto is, “Monetize.” He monetized conversation and found a way to keep his connection with his fan base between movies. Before podcasts, his ongoing conversation with fans happened through Twitter. Before that, his was one of the first message boards on the Internet. Keep up with innovation.

Weird Al has made music parodies for decades now (and weirdly, he does not appear to be aging.) It might surprise you to discover that half his songs are originals, not parodies of popular music. His fans know every lyric of his extensive musical inventory, though. Weird Al puts on an amazing show and, though many love him as a comedian, he doesn’t get the respect he deserves as a musician. He and his band have incredible range. They have to be great to convincingly parody so many artists of different styles. Keeping up with the music and being brilliant explain his staying power. His fan base renews so parents and their children have grown up loving Al. He didn’t get that status by being a one-hit wonder.

A bigger inventory is key to successful book marketing. Like I said repeatedly in Crack the Indie Author Code, your one sure, long-term strategy is to write plenty of good books. By occupying more digital real estate (like “Also boughts”), we send up a bigger flare to help readers find us.

The more shots you take, the more chances you have to hit. Once one book hits, all your sales rise. Do not bet it all on one spin of the wheel.

Be available.

Cool+People+Podcast+FinalQuite often you will read complaints about social media, particularly from authors. How many more blog posts will bleat, “But I just want to concentrate on writing my book…”? That’s not social media’s problem. That’s your time management problem. Figure it out and do what you enjoy when you can. (For instance, Vine’s a blast, it goes to my Facebook and Twitter, and it takes six seconds.)

Don’t complain about social media. Complaining about having to talk to readers makes you sound like someone potential fans don’t want to know, love and support. Whining doesn’t make you a diva or an auteur. It makes you a pain in the ass. 

Hugh Howey bubbles over with success, but he’s definitely not churlish. He’s friendly and nice. When I asked him about appearing on the Cool People Podcast, he got back to me right away even though he was on the road. (I’m interviewing him for the show next week! Can’t wait! If you have questions you want me to ask him, submit them to expartepress [AT] gmail [DOT] com.) 

Be available where readers congregate.

Smith and Weird Al tour. Scott Sigler is as close as your earbuds for free and when I sent him a tweet, he got back to me. Hugh Howey’s YouTube channel is plenty busy. If you aren’t talking where people are, you’re either praying or talking to yourself. Whether it’s social media or speaking events, go meet new people.

But it’s not just about sending signals out.

You don’t get much love hiding in a hole. To  engage people, be responsive when you can. For instance, Weird Al found himself waiting for a plane. He tweeted a phone number. “Anybody want to chat? I’ve got five minutes to boarding.” All his fans who couldn’t get through undoubtedly appreciated the gesture. It speaks to the sort of person he is (i.e. someone you want to know, love and support.)

When I met Kevin Smith, he couldn’t have been nicer to me. (Same with comedian Mike Schmidt, who has the same knack for remembering the name of everyone he meets and putting them at ease.)

Here’s the key: Be nice and listen to what they’re saying.

When you’re talking to someone, speak to that person as if, for that moment, he or she is the only person in the world. It sounds easy, which is why it’s so crazy more people don’t do it. (I’m confident divulging this open secret because, if you aren’t already genuinely nice, you won’t be able to fake it.)  Also, successful authors are always interesting, intelligent people with diverse interests. To be interesting, be interested in your world and in others.

Social media isn’t working for everyone.  

Episode 3 launches today! If you've been holding back on jumping in, now's the time!

Episode 3 launches today! If you’ve been holding back on jumping in, now’s the time!

Maybe that’s because we aren’t loveable, helpful or engaged enough. I’m not saying you have to engage “everyone”. That way madness lies. Besides, the writing has to come first and getting everyone on board isn’t the point. The point is to engage with people who get you and your work. I don’t need millions of readers who can take me or leave me. I need a few thousand die-hard cultists who call themselves an army, build fan clubs, buy books, leave happy reviews and don’t hate. That seems achievable. At least it’s easier than attempting to appeal to everyone (which too many people try to do.)

To the naysayers, I ask, “If social media is a lost cause, what is the alternative? Smoke signals?”

And are you being Weird Al enough?

~ I’m Robert Chazz Chute. I’ve written the Hit Man Series, writing and publishing guides and most recently, This Plague of Days. TPOD is about a flu pandemic that turns into a zombie apocalypse as seen through the eyes of an autistic boy. It’s a serial, so you can gamble 99 cents on Episode One and buy the episodes a bit at a time, or grab the discount and get all of Season One for just $3.99. And by the way, when I’m nice to you, I’m not faking it. I only fake orgasms. In supermarkets.

Filed under: All That Chazz, audiobooks, author platform, book marketing, podcasts, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

UBC #14: Smart Free means Give it Away and Bank On It

I was really looking forward to using ACX.com to get my crime novel, Bigger Than Jesus, out there as an audiobook. Unfortunately, ACX isn’t ready to deal with non-US citizens yet. (Dang! Don’t hate me because I’m Canadian!) If you are a US citizen and an indie author, definitely consider ACX. It’s a great set up I learned about through Jeff Bennington.) Until then, I’m going to take the Scott Sigler approach to book promotion and podcast my books.

Scott Sigler was one of the first indie authors to podcast his books, chapter by chapter, and leave it up for free. He found, as he doled it out week by week, that lots of readers couldn’t wait a week for the next instalment. They wanted to buy the whole thing immediately. The strategy works and, despite all his success, Sigler continues to give the books away in audio form even though he’s now published traditionally. This podcast strategy flummoxed his publisher, whose sales force couldn’t understand how his sales kept going and going. Traditional publishing strategies don’t allow for free and expect spikes of sales followed by doldrums. That doesn’t happen with Sigler because he stays out there, available and free to sample and enjoy and building his fan base with, among other things, books as free podcasts. I should add that he’s a clever marketer, but the books are strong. No marketing strategy works if the writing isn’t strong. In fact, if your book is weak, good marketing may hasten its trip down to oblivion. That said, Sigler is a brilliant guy who keeps the free coming, but to maximum advantage. This isn’t Dumb Free: Give It All Away and Hope. This is Smart Free: Give it Away and Bank On It.

There’s another benefit to podcasting your book. The ebook of my crime novel is out now. I plan to release the Bigger Than Jesus paperback at the end of the month. Despite all the editorial eyes on the manuscript, there’s still a bit of tinkering I want to do before the print version is released. Last night, as I recorded another chapter, I realized there were still a couple of minor edits I wanted to address. Nothing that’s a huge deal, but we all want to get a little closer to perfection. Over the next two or three days, I’m doing a podcast marathon so I’ll have the whole book banked in its audio form. If there are any further niggles to tweak, I’ll find them. Reading your book aloud can be a powerful editing tool and, by podcasting the book a chapter at a time, I make the podcast do double duty.

Listen to Chapter 1 of Bigger Than Jesus now.

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

21 Bold Predictions: The changing future of books

Sure, you need to write a good book to make it marketable. But what will be more marketable in the future? What will be different? Here are my sweeping predictions:

1. Non-fiction Shrink: Got a question? Got a problem? Ask.com or Wikipedia or any number of  quick searches will probably answer that question. What do I need you (and your book) for? In the future we still won’t have flying cars. There will also be less call for a lot of non-fiction. Instant, quick answers beat your treatise on bed bug infestations. I just want to know who to call and what to do to get rid of them.

Another instance: After faithfully reading the magazine for years, I don’t buy Writer’s Digest anymore. There is already more information than I can possibly read on writing blogs. For free. Um, like right here, three times a week, for instance.

2. Short form explosion: My horror and sci-fi writing friend Rebecca Senese articulated this for me first and it makes sense. People have less time and shorter attention spans as the web changes their brains away from the usual experience of deep reading. Cyber ADD aside, short stories are also 0.99 each, so people will download a little bouquet of short stories and take a chance on new authors that way.

Also, with ebooks, novellas and short novels are practical again from a manufacturing/pricing perspective. Think of the works of Albert Camus. 50,000 words for a novel was common. Then New York lost confidence in that formula and bigger books became the norm (so much so, in fact, that many authors now scoff at NaNoWriMo‘s 50,000-word winners.) Now, book length is less relevant. Ebooks don’t have page numbers.

3. Merchandise and books shall marry: Your platform and your content should optimally come together in a cult that wants more of your work. Witness all the Fight Club quotes, Youtube videos, tees and, well, actual fight clubs (years after the film phenomenon.) You’ll be spreading the awesome with passive income from whatever secondary sources you can manage. (I already started to plant my seeds here.)

4. Domination by Series: Having more ebooks available improves your marketability. Having more ebooks in a series improves your marketability even more. So, rather than sticking to a one off, consider how you can turn your masterpiece into the foundation for a series of books fans will clamor for. Your advantage as a self-published author is long tail merchandising. Your work shall be available until we embrace the Singularity and join ebooks in the cyberspace holodeck of our disembodied, fully-uploaded immortal minds.

5. Product integration: Slightly different from #3, here I’m talking about books as vehicles for products instead of the other way around.

You are a carpenter who specializes in bathroom renos. Order the book on how to renovate a bathroom in three days. The book pushes the advantage of your special caulking gun, available for immediate drop shipping before sledgehammering the bathtub.

6. First-person non-fiction: More authors who did something stupid and dangerous (tour Iraq for pleasure or go skiing off the approved slopes) will write their own first-person accounts. They’ll self-publish and the covers won’t say “as told to” some ghostwriter. The results will be horrific and ubiquitous.

7. Excellent journalists will find their place in analysis: The freelance market sucks for writers. However, if you’re a journalist with extensive financial expertise a la Too Big To Fail or can write like Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone, you can provide the long tail analysis of WTF happened?

8. To be successful, freelance writers must own smaller niches: If you aren’t a genius like Matt Taibbi, there’s still hope, but you’ll have to think small. Maybe microscopic, like the asbestos beat in the tri-state area.

Generalist writing isn’t dead exactly. In fact, generalists are everywhere, but they are also free.  You may not think of it this way, but really, blogging is instant publishing. If I want a non-expert opinion, that’s the simplest thing in the world to get and the blogger probably isn’t seeing a dime from it. The writers who are making money now are either tech experts  or people who are plowing ahead to make way for the rest of us in the digital publishing revolution.

9. Cross-genre will be accepted: Cross-genre books (a la Scott Sigler, for instance) have long been a problem for publishers. Even if they loved it, if it was sci-fi and horror, they worried which bookshelf it should be placed on to sell. (For those of you who aren’t sure, go look up what a bookstore used to be. That worry used to be much more relevant.) Cross-genre’s stigma is fading. And self-publishers care not at all, though they will have to do a really good job with their promotion and publicity.

10. More humor: In order for a humor book to sell, traditionally it had to be penned by a celebrity or it had to have a Shit My Dad Says-worthy hook (in other words, a novelty book.)

Comedy writer Ken Levine has a long history of sit com hits, from Mash and Cheers to Frasier, among others. Despite his track record, he wasn’t famous in front of the camera so traditional publishing hasn’t given him a chance to screw it up. Who he was wasn’t enough for traditional publishing to invest.

However, Ken has an incredibly popular blog with a following. He could go back to trad publishing and ask them how they like him now. Or he could just publish himself and keep the profits.  He has a platform that heretofore went unrecognized. He’s a guy with a blog today. He could be the new Dave Barry tomorrow.

11. People will get better at platform: Not long ago a clueless agent told a baffled writer,”Go make a viral video.” Yeah, sure. But what makes a video go viral? As time has passed, we have a better idea of what elements make something go viral.

I’m not saying there’s a formula. However, I think we’re at the point where we recognize what won’t go viral. If your book trailer is going to catch fire on Youtube, it will have to be powerful or clever or charming or heartfelt yet funny or at least cute. If you don’t have any of those elements, you’ll know (and if you don’t know, I hope you have good friends who will warn you.) At least the tech has improved so if you’ve got GarageBand, you already have a shot at putting together a better book trailer. And if you screwed it up, you can take comfort in trying again since the costs of trying have come way down.

12. Curation will get worse, then improve: People are already learning to distrust Amazon reviews. Many reviews are by haters with nothing better to do but snark on others’ work. Other reviews are by friends of writers or even by the writers themselves. There are a lot of books coming down the pipe and you are going to need a filter. Goodreads, for instance, seems to be a place for real people to provide feedback on what they love. I’d trust that (or a friend with similar tastes) before depending on Amazon alone for a helpful review.

13. Eventually: Ebooks will boil down to one or two standard formats.

14. Eventually (after #13): Your device will get sophisticated enough to take the download and format your downloaded ebook however you like it, no matter what the Big Six decree. Proprietary defenses (DRM) will be cracked as fast or faster than they are now so prices will fall, many current publishers will be former publishers and if you want money to eat, you’ll have to make up the difference with volume.

15. And #14 won’t happen on an e-reader: I love my e-readers, but they are interim devices, like pagers and electronic planners were. When e-readers go, they’ll probably be replaced by tablets that can do everything. The screens will be expandable so you won’t be peering at books through the keyhole like on a smart phone. Also, we’ll be back to the two-page spread you’re used to with paper books.

Some say ereaders are already on the way out but they’re in a rush. Ereaders will be around for some time to come because lots of people want to read ebooks, but they can’t afford higher-end integrated devices. Ereader prices will fall so market saturation will soak much deeper and faster than previously thought.

16. Media integration: I tried to read an integrated ebook. The experience sucked.  It won’t suck forever. You’ll have that two-page spread, but you’ll be able to bop over to a cut scene of the story’s climactic event. Merch links will be embedded into the text so you can buy the t-shirt your hero is wearing and the villain’s yummy high heels. One click (only it will be a swipe and eventually, a voice command. Later, a grunt. Then, a thought.)

17. The future of reading is hearing: Audio will rise much higher in popularity. You don’t have time to read so you listen in your car, while you work out, while you walk the dog, while you do the dishes and/or have sex. Time management is more important than  money management (though they are often merely equated. that’s a different post for the glorious future.)

Audio will continue to be more expensive until voice tech improves. While we’re still paying actors to read (minimum $150 an hour and usually $300 an hour and up) audio will stay the indie authors last foray. No disrespect to actors. I know some. However, your computer’s voice inflection is improving so when that dramatic reading is up to snuff, this Jetson’s future will kick in. The voice of George Jetson will come from a computer, not a talented voice actor.

18. You’ll care less about grammar: Well, not you. But your kids probably, especially since in school they are already taught spelling (and handwriting) matter less. As an editor, I regret every grammatical and typographical error. But with the deluge of self-published books replete with typos, we’ll relax our standards. Instead of fetishizing a book’s typographic purity, we’ll freak out less when we spot a typo. Instead, high praise will be, “That one didn’t have that many typos.” Practical acceptance will ensue once today’s outrage becomes the new normal. Sure, you pride yourself on being a sharp word nerd, but anyone who can sustain the level of outrage required will be exhausted and have no friends.

On the plus side, a book that is well written and well edited will stick out more.

19. Instant will be prized more: Trad publishing works on long publication deadlines because of budgets and logistics. (Though it’s a factor for the editorial staff, contrary to what you’ve heard, quality is not actually Job One.) If they could pump books out faster than 16 to 18 months per book, they certainly would. That kind of agility would allow them to be more topical, hit trends and, most important, have more stuff for sale. Recently I read an ebook that mentioned the Japanese earthquake. Compare that to how long it took 9/11 to show up in traditionally-published novels out of New York.

There will be little to no delay in the future. An ebook on the ramifications of Bin Laden’s death was up for sale within a week of his death. You might think it was mostly prepared ahead of time, but actually it was a bunch of emails from socio-political experts contacted as soon as Seal Team Six did their job.

20. Romance will continue to dominate, but now it will be recognized: The love of the paranormal romance genre is not a new thing, but romance has never been recognized as the dominant force it really is. Amanda Hocking’s recent success is no accident, especially because she writes in a genre that dominates reader demand.

Look at bestseller lists. You’ll see “important literary works”  by big publishers. Good for them! Those are the sorts of books I like. However, those weekly bestseller lists are often based on booksellers reporting which books are sitting in front of them in the biggest cubes and stacks. Much of the math is suspicious, especially since bestseller lists don’t take into account sales from non-traditional book venues (Walmart, drugstores, the spinner rack at beach resorts or the vast call for romance books among ESL learners. Nope. Not kidding about that. If you’re learning english, simple stories of ribaldry and girl-next-door heroines are one way to do it.)

You won’t see Harlequin romances on bestseller lists. However, I used to work at Harlequin. I’ve seen the numbers. Romance sells huge. Romance sells much bigger than anything on bestseller lists. Why? Because english majors run Big Six editorial departments. They do not run the real world. Yann Martel writes great books. Nora Roberts writes fast, easy reads. Even snobby english majors read trashy, naughty novels for a break from lit that might be fresh and surprising. In the real word, the hare beats the tortoise.

21. Someday soon, everyone will make these changes in spelling: email, ereaders, ebooks. Of all these predictions, this is probably the one which will happen first.

And yes, #18 will probably happen last. As in, over your dead body.

Filed under: Books, DIY, e-reader, ebooks, Editing, publishing, Rant, self-publishing, , , , , , , , , ,

The Nerdist Scott Sigler Interview

Scott Sigler

Image by Sebastian Bergmann via Flickr

I’m an addict.

Food. Comfort. Book-buying.

And podcasts. Lots and lots of podcasts.

If you’re a self-publisher or interested in how a self-publisher used podcasts to go from freemium to premium, from ignored to in demand, from reject to popular author, check this out: The Nerdist.

Favourite story: After so many rejections, Scott Sigler was sure publishers would chase him down if he could just get a huge following for his podcasted book.

He achieved the goal he set for himself and called up the publishers again.

“Howdayalikemenow?”

And they said, “What’s the internet?”

Filed under: Author profiles, author Q&A, authors, podcasts, self-publishing, Writers, writing tips, , , , , , ,

Ahoy, matey! Neil Gaiman VIDEO on why book piracy can be good

I’ve spoken with several publishers on this topic. They knew they shouldn’t do what the music industry did (i.e. sue their own customers) but that’s typically where the thought process ended. At a writing conference I recently attended, there were a lot of worried writers. They worried that someone would steal their stuff.

Don’t worry about it.

It’s either:

1. pretty rare (maybe it’s not good enough to bother stealing—uh-oh!),

OR

2. the people who steal it are power users and curators who are going to read more of your stuff and pay for it and the related products and services you sell  (so be prolific and imaginative),

OR

3. the pirates are scum who never pay for anything anyway so the sale isn’t really  lost. If they weren’t stealing your stuff, they’d be stealing someone else’s stuff instead. (Don’t waste time or base your business model on the lowest common denominator douche.)

Maybe that’s counter-intuitive, but I’d rather concern myself with factors I can control rather than worry about things I cannot control.

Free not only can work, giving to get often does work. You can hide your light under a bushel or put it out there so more people can find it. Scott Sigler built a bestselling franchise, for instance. So did Cory Doctorow, and the list of authors who embrace free and easy access is growing.

Repurpose what you write so more people can find you (and find you interesting.) The churning of information raises sales.

There are some instances of publishers stealing work, but it’s a rare anecdote, especially in an era where, with Google, stolen material is so easy to find. I’ve found a few things stolen from my features and columns in magazines. Usually it’s a case of someone on the other end who is clueless rather than malicious. We just ask that they attribute the material so I get credit and make sure a link back to the source is included. That’s the basis of the Creative Commons model. It’s not really a big deal.

What people forget is, though e-books and web bits are easy to snatch, so is a regular old paper book. When I worked at Harlequin, foreign knockoffs happened often in the  Chinese and French romance markets.)  The text was stolen and lousy covers were slapped on the books. All they needed was a photocopier. Easy, peasy, lemon squeezy.

Consider this: put some or all of your book up on your website (using whatever model you choose: a taste, weekly podcast-a-chapter meal or the whole feast at once) and you’ve got proof of ownership in every time stamp.

 

 

 

Filed under: authors, Books, Publicity & Promotion, publishing, Writers, , , , , , , , ,

#Writers: How much should you tweet?

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This article in the Globe and Mail advises you drop tweeting from your schedule. The main point is, writers waste time tweeting when they don’t have something to sell.

Well, yeah, but…

I’m not sure why anyone thinks a writer’s e-marketing time should be all or nothing. It’s probably useful to market to your audience, present or future. Your marketing time should not cut into your writing time. If it does, you either aren’t writing enough or not prioritizing. Blogging and tweeting to your market (present or future) should be a fun thing for you to do. If you don’t like it, then don’t do it.

I tweet, but always during time that would otherwise be dead time (e.g. waiting for something, while suffering insomnia or during commercials when I forgot to PVR something.) I enjoy blogging about writing and I make time for it. As a result, I watch a lot less TV than I used to do.

But writing time has to come first. The real question is, must you blog or make a book trailer or tweet to your followers? Can’t you just leave that to someone else when the time comes? (Answer: No. Selling anything means selling yourself.)

The Globe article suggests that it is often contests that curate bestsellers (especially in Canada.) Mm, yes, but what if you don’t write the sort of fiction that’s likely to even be considered by the Giller Prize panel? You can’t leave your book’s promotion to the whim of a handful of people, not when the power of the Internet is right in front of you.

It’s worth noting that publishers expect authors to shoulder most of the responsibility for promoting their books. Your publisher and agent will want you to have a blog as a home base that all your marketing efforts feed. If you’re into self-publishing, it’s all you, though that’s arguably not much different from what it ever was. (I’ve been a publicist and I’ve worked with publicists. What they’re doing is not rocket science. You can do it and if you won’t do that, at least control it.)

Do people follow you on Twitter and then buy your books based on those interactions? I bought a Scott Sigler book after he shot me a kind tweet. If Margaret Atwood alerted to her Twitter followers that she was holding a book signing at a particular bookstore, not only would they all get her message, that’s free targeted marketing to a group very likely to show up if they can.

Is social media marketing the norm for book marketing? Answers: Yes, no and not yet. Yes, because it’s the cheapest way to go. No, because the are many authors and publishers out there who haven’t embraced the full power of social media’s potential. Lots of people still think Twitter is about letting people know about that spicy burger from lunch backing up on you. They don’t get that Twitter can push information you want to you (sometimes information you didn’t even know you needed.) And finally, not yet, because I wouldn’t count on that “no” remaining stable.

Yes, there have been authors who did not promote themselves. JD Salinger became a recluse and never tweeted. However, that’s a lousy example for two reasons:

1. He was JD Salinger and we aren’t.

2. The world (and the world of publishing) has changed drastically, even among those who are reluctant to embrace new models.

For instance, the number of book sales reps has plummeted. Interactions through Twitter and Amazon Reviews and Blogs and search engines: All that technology has turned up the volume on the marketing environment so it’s hard to hear the tiny books by unknown authors who aren’t stepping up to speak for themselves.

Yes, I know you have lots of books on your shelves and most of your buying decisions were not influenced by anything you saw on Twitter. You’re right. But as e-books flood the market from self-publishers, you won’t be right about that for long.

Build your following now so when you do have something to sell, you’ll have lots of people to spread the word. If you don’t begin to market yourself until you have a book to sell, you’re already late.

First I have to buy in to you. Then I consider your product. Twas always thus, but now more than ever.

Filed under: blogs & blogging, book reviews, Books, links, Media, publishing, Rant, self-publishing, Twitter, Useful writing links, web reviews, , , , , , , , , , ,

Scott Sigler’s Book Trailer for Ancestor

Scott Sigler tweeted me this link yesterday. Good trailer to promote his latest book. Production values in book trailers are really shooting up! Scott Sigler is not just a compelling writer. He used podcasting, web and viral promotion to fuel his success. Publishers didn’t recognize his potential. He proved them wrong. Through persistence and strategy, Mr. Sigler found his way to success by giving. 

I WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT SCOTT SIGLER’S SUCCESS STORY.

Filed under: Writers, , ,

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