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

See all my books at AllThatChazz.com.

Writing Easy, Advertising Hard

Authors, be especially careful with advertising your books at this time. It’s the Christmas season, so every writer, particularly those with deep pockets, is flogging their wares. I was about to put up another Amazon ad for my latest book. Then I looked at the suggested bids and, boy howdy, I was discouraged from even running that experiment. The suggested bids were simply too high. You don’t have to go with the suggested bids, of course. However, cut down too much and your ad will be invisible.

Depending on the popularity of your genre, you may find it takes way too much money to

(a) get your ad delivered at all, and

(b) make a profit on the sale.

Watch your math and consider saving your advertising dollars for the new year rather than competing head to head with Big Trad.

I have changed my advertising strategy and returned to experiments with to Facebook. My experience with Facebook was that they can burn through your advertising budget very quickly.

Please keep in mind, no advertising strategy is safe enough to gamble on set it and forget it.

However, I do like the granular targeting I can do with Facebook. With a keen eye for monitoring the ad spend, I’m hoping to find new readers for Endemic.

UNIVERSAL LINK TO YOUR AMAZON STORE:
mybook.to/MakeEndemicGoViral

What happens if the pandemic never ends?

~ I’m Robert Chazz Chute. Check out all my apocalyptic epics and killer crime thrillers on my author site, AllThatChazz.com.

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

NaNoWriMo is not a bad thing

NaNoWriMo is a good thing.

We’re coming up on the halfway point of November already (which scares the rabbit pellets out of me because Christmas is coming fast. I wasn’t going to do National Novel Writing Month this year, but changed my mind at the last moment. I enjoy their metrics and I’m a little ahead of the pace so everything is chunky hunky.

Some authors are down on NaNoWriMo, but I have to say their arguments against it are often made of straw and soggy bran cereal. It’s not just for novices who’ve always dreamed of writing a book. I write every day anyway. That doesn’t mean NaNo doesn’t give me a boost. A little friendly competition can get me started earlier and makes me write a bit longer than I might have otherwise. 2479 words last night!

NaNo is so big, sure, there are inevitably a few people in the mix who think they should fire their first draft off to an agent. However, most people are sane. The vast majority won’t commit that sin. NaNo doesn’t encourage that kind of slapdash approach, either, so ease off of those worries and enjoy a chocolate chip cookie.

Some question the word count. Why 50,000 words? Isn’t that too short for a novel? It didn’t used to be. Those word count conventions are a bit dated considering that the numbers are less of a factor with ebooks. More to the point, the originators of NaNoWriMo chose 50,000 words as a suitable goal for good reasons. It’s not too short for veterans nor too long for first-timers. It also happens to be the approximate word count for The Great Gatsby.

There’s a little Apocalypse Now energy around NaNo that I find helpful. I’m Martin Sheen at the beginning of the movie whispering, “Every minute I’m in this hotel room I get weaker. Every minute Charlie is out in the jungle he gets stronger.” Then I break a mirror because someone out there somewhere is writing.

Then I write.

~ The newest novel from Robert Chazz Chute is Endemic. Highly sensitive, bookish, and alone, Ovid Fairweather is bullied by her father, haunted by her dead therapist, and trapped in the viral apocalypse.

Get Endemic now. It’s about to go viral.

Filed under: NanNoWriMo, writing, , , , , , , , , ,

The ProWritingAid Premium Lifetime Deal

ProWritingAid Lifetime Premium Membership is 55% off for a few days. It’s a Black Friday thing. No app can replace a good human editor yet, but using this could help you improve your writing (and make your editor’s life easier).

To analyze your writing from all angles (and get quite a deal), here’s the link:

https://prowritingaid.com/en/Landing/Promotion/L6d90

Filed under: Editing, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Dexter, My Panic Attack, and You

Michael C. Hall is reprising his most famous role in Dexter, New Blood. That this limited series is back is remarkable. The original series ended in 2013 and it did not end well. A bit about that, then let’s talk about The Bounce and how it applies to you and me.

In 2013, I listened to a podcast that was all about Dexter. This pod went deep, right down to the music cues. This was for hardcore fans who obviously loved the series. Most viewers agree that the show peaked at the end of the season with John Lithgow (no spoilers here.) This podcast was for fans who stuck with it to the bitter end. Count me among that hardy crew of diehards.

That so stipulated, the podcast had two letters shows wherein fans wrote to express their final thoughts. The overwhelming evidence was that most people were terribly disappointed. Let’s be real about this: endings are hard.

Evidence

  1. Kim’s Convenience’s end was anticlimactic and seemed mostly pointless, as if they didn’t know what to do with it. And don’t get me started on the end of the second-last season, where I thought my TV cut out prematurely.
  2. The Sopranos end is memorable for the wrong reasons. I thought the bartender Tony beat up several times should have come back to kill him for personal beef, not mob business. That end seems fitting since he was such a shitty person.
  3. Breaking Bad was fantastic, but they missed an opportunity when he meets his end without ever sampling his own product. That’s my only complaint there.
  4. I didn’t see the final season of Game of Thrones for a while. I heard it was terrible. When I finally did see it, honestly, I couldn’t figure out what everyone was complaining about. Was the end really that bad. I found it quite consistent. It seems bad is the consensus since so many fans have disavowed it and GOT disappeared from pop culture so thoroughly.
  5. How I Met Your Mother met with outrage at the end. They tried something and I applaud the experiment. The problem with the execution was it was a comedy that managed to land as a downer rather than achieving romance. That’s not why fans tuned in for so many years.

    Let’s first acknowledge there is such a thing as toxic fandom. If you’ve written a book, eventually some reviewer who thinks they’re helpful will try educate you on how you should have done it better. Even though the longest thing they ever wrote was three paragraphs of a sour review, they’re very confident they could have saved you if only they’d sat on your shoulder and told you what to do. Note to those reviewers: better not to do that. Like it or don’t like it. Write your own. You’ll probably find it’s not as easy as you think.

The Triumph of Hope Over Experience

Most famously, the fans brought Star Trek back to become a fantastic franchise with so many iterations it’s a disappointment again. Firefly returned as a movie because fans campaigned for it. It is generally acknowledged that the space western got short shrift from network execs who couldn’t find their ass with both hands. Similar story with Family Guy. The network canceled the series, but after three million DVD sales, brought it back to great success. FOX cancelled twenty-nine other shows in the meantime, so when it came back from its hiatus, Family Guy mocked them for it. Twenty-nine! The Winston Churchill joke comes to mind: “You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing after they’ve tried everything else.”

Finding the Way Back

The return of Dexter is a little different from other risings from the grave. They’re coming back to fix it. The final episode was so ill-conceived and ill-received, it was not relegated to the dustbin of TV trivia. It failed so hard, they’re getting another kick at the can. That’s what I call The Bounce. And you know what? It’s a good thing. We can learn from this,

I know it can be frustrating to see old ideas get recycled. It often seems like there are no original ideas in Hollywood. Perhaps your book should be made into a movie or a popular TV series. I know several of my books deserve to be made into films to stir the soul and make boffo box office. However, Dexter was very good before it went sour and it was always watchable. It’s taken a weird circuitous route to get to this place, but I think it deserves another chance to entertain us. Let’s be happy about it. Skepticism is understandable, but cynicism isn’t fun and hey, stay real. The stakes are low.

I miss Dexter living in Miami. I miss Angel Batista being sweet and kind and utterly oblivious to Dexter’s serial killer ways. Masuka was hilarious as comic relief in the original series. But there are new and fun characters to enjoy in this new iteration. I’m glad Dexter is back, and I enjoyed the first episode.
Welcome back, buddy!

What does The Bounce have to do with us?

As writers, you are the studio. If a book fails, you can kill the series or resurrect it in a new iteration. You have the freedom to edit it again, to add or delete chapters, to relaunch it. You don’t have to appeal to a network or suck up to a committee. You’re free to bounce back as many times as you can stand.

Last night, I had a panic attack. Those Bookbub ads I was experimenting with only worked on the first-in-series of AFTER Life, the one I give away for free. Three or four problems hit me all at once and I spiraled down. I couldn’t catch my breath. Caught up in catastrophizing, I felt like I was drowning and maybe dying.

This morning, I’m back to writing. I’m in NaNoWriMo and the word count is on track. I’m happy with what I’m creating. I am committed to bouncing back.

Lots of things fall apart for many reasons. You can’t control all the variables that lead to failure or success. As a writer, you are positioned to steer your own ship. If you steered into the rocks, you can fix the hull or jump onto another ship. It’s okay. We’re going to be okay.

The old joke is that a second marriage is the triumph of hope over experience. Art is a different story. Every book launch is full of hope. Every writer tends some small fire that signals they’ll “make it” (whatever that means to you.)

Make art. Just make art. Try not to panic.

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How to Make Readers Hallucinate Happily

I once read a popular novel by a very successful author whose name escapes me at the moment. Two characters were young guys who were virtually identical in worldview and speech patterns. To distinguish one from the other, the author slapped a ridiculous hat on one of them. He fussed with said hat throughout the book.

As I read on, I thought, you got a lot of money for this. I see what you’re doing and I understand why. It still pissed me off. If you have too many characters to juggle, it can be difficult for the reader to keep track of who’s who.

One solution is to break up your groups. In reading one of my favorite books, The Stand, I didn’t love every character equally. While focusing on one less favorite character, I’d wonder what was happening with my faves. However, the story was sufficiently compelling to propel me through the whole book. Stephen King didn’t toss everyone into one room all at once, so it was easy to track the huge cast.

I used that same template in This Plague of Days. Huge cast, but I separated varied groups. The heroes are the Spencer family from Kansas City. There’s a group of Europeans struggling to escape to North America. Then there’s a motley crew of villains: two cults and three species (human, zombie, and vampire).

A writer friend teased me about the global scope of the trilogy. “Meanwhile, in Jakarta…” In my defense, killing off a bunch of characters along the way narrowed the focus and all the threads get pulled together in the end.

The Problem of Who’s Who

Consider a novel featuring a large number of new recruits shoved in a barracks for Basic. They’re all wearing the same greens, so fashion won’t help you. Suppose you make the cast even more homogenous by putting them all on the same page mentally as well as physically. Instead of a nice segmented plate where the peas don’t touch the mashed potatoes, now you’ve got soldier soup.

Who’s who? How can you help the reader distinguish one character from another? Some fantasy authors list the cast of characters at the front of the book and add a glossary at the back. I find convention dated and cumbersome. As a reader, I don’t want to (and won’t) flip back and forth to understand what’s going on in a story. I want full immersion. Let’s talk about how to get there more elegantly.

Possible Solutions

Taking our soldiers in the barracks example further, here are my suggestions for avoiding reader confusion and exhaustion.

  1. Avoid giving them one worldview. Perhaps in an attempt to unify them in glory, some writers forget that soldiers are still people who are drawn to service from varied backgrounds and from marginalized groups. In Jarhead, a drill sergeant demands of the protagonist why he joined up. “Sir! I got lost on the way to college, sir!”
  2. As King did masterfully in The Stand and It, take the time to develop characters by giving them their own chapters so readers get to know them. Some readers complain that the King of Horror goes off on too many tangents. I disagree. He’s not telling you some minor character’s background just because he enjoys typing. He’s making you care when that character gets killed off.

    Repeat after me: NO! FACELESS! REDSHIRTS!

  3. An alternative is to put guard rails on your story. Tighten the focus on a smaller group. Reading Misery, I enjoyed the story very much. However, reading as a writer, I was amazed how King managed to keep most of an entire novel’s action to one room and still keep me invested.

    Tom Cruise’s version of War of the Worlds is instructive, too. The scope of the alien invasion is global, but the focus is confined to one not-so-great divorced father trying to get his kids to safety. It’s not just a pulpy science fiction story. It’s a war story that brings home the horrifying plight of refugees. That’s a war story that’s too rare.
  4. Distinguish your cast by giving them more depth, character, and flaws. I’m not suggesting something as superficial as playing with their hat for 300 pages. Make one a coward and another a traitor. Make one mean and another innocent.

    In The Night Man, Easy Jack is an Army Ranger out on a medical discharge. His knee hurts all the time, he’s overly sensitive to light, and returning home to poverty in rural Michigan has screwed him up and screwed him over. He’s also got a bomb plot and a corrupt cop to deal with. Fortunately, he’s a wry underdog with a loyal guard dog at his side. Complexity serves the story.

    In Band of Brothers, the paratroopers are all highly trained professionals. Still, tensions are high. They fight for the a noble cause and for each other, but a couple still get into a fistfight aboard a troopship after one makes a stupid antisemitic remark.

Unless it’s Winnie The Pooh, there is always an enemy, within and without. Conflict is at the heart of our art. Making our cast of characters less homogenous, we do more than help the reader hold them all in their minds. We transform our tiny imaginings into fully-realized people. We deepen the story’s potential and draw readers into genuine joy and escape.

When a novel is great, it’s not a mere distraction from the moribund spiral of mundane existence. When the experience is rich, reading becomes an immersion to the point of compelling hallucination.

AT RISK OF TELLING YOU WHAT TO DO, READ ENDEMIC NOW.

~ I’m Robert Chazz Chute. Check out all my books at apocalyptic epics and killer crime thrillers at my author site, AllThatChazz.com.

Filed under: writing advice, writing tips, , , , , ,

The BookBub Ads We Don’t Talk About

How do I make a bobby ad, the kind where I choose them instead of hoping they’ll choose me?

You can apply to BookBub and hope you get picked for their newsletter deals for their multitude of subscribers. It’s difficult to get into, far harder than it used to be. Back in the gold rush days, I was fortunate to get the okay from BookBub several times. Today, I’m talking about their other option. You can bypass the BookBub lottery and pay for a targeted ad to appear on at the bottom of their daily newsletters.

How it works

From your BookBub partners dashboard, under My Promotions, choose BookBub Ads. From there, build your own image or use their template. Set the length of campaign, total budget for the campaign, and bid by CPM (cost per thousand impressions). Target by genre and/or by authors with whom you are a kindred spirit. The site gives you a sense of whether your targeting is too broad or too specific. All pretty straightforward.

I have experimented with these ads before and, honestly, the results were grim. Be cautious and conservative and test, test, test or you’re setting your money on fire. What I like about these ads is the interface. It’s much less complicated than the Amazon ads dashboard. You don’t have to slog through a confusing user interface to get the data you need for feedback on your experiments.

How do I make the art that goes with my ad?

Listening to Six Figure Authors recently, they suggested using evocative art that reflects your book. They argued against using your book’s cover. I enjoy that podcast, and rarely dare to disagree. However, if your cover art is as great as it should be and reflects your genre, I’d stick with it. That’s what I’m doing. (You might notice the ad example above is blurry. That’s because it’s blown up for the blog. At its ad size of 300 x 250 px, the image is sharp. My cover art for Endemic is from 100covers.com and they were very pleasant to work with.)

Bookbub offers you a template so you can upload your cover. You can make your own easily using sites like Bookbrush or Canva. If you decide to go with art that isn’t your book cover, try depositphotos.com.

A Word About Bookbrush

I recommend it. I like their options and they are improving their offerings and the user interface. If you checked them out before, but we’re sure you wanted to use it, look again.

However, in my opinion the platinum membership is too expensive for most authors’ needs. For instance, book trailers are a fun idea and I have experimented with them in the past. However, the ROI isn’t there at the premium price point of $246/year. Creating video for book trailers is a bottom of the barrel marketing priority. You can get that kind of add-on far cheaper on Fiverr.

Will my Bookbub ads pay off this time? We’ll see. I am very proud and confident in the book I’m offering readers, but as I said, keep an eye on your budget and test, test, test! When ads don’t work, kill them. At least with BookBub metrics, figuring out what’s working and what’s not won’t be a riddle wrapped in a mystery and hidden in a taco.

~ My latest apocalyptic epic is perfect for the bookish. Endemic’s protagonist, Ovid Fairweather, is a former book editor trapped in a pandemic that has yet to end. Pick up Endemic here.

For all my books, check out the links at my author site, AllThatChazz.com.

Filed under: book marketing, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Fans are Sexy

Unless you write as a hobby, authors need fans. Not just casual readers. Fans. Here are the 5Ws of getting sexy.

The Why

  1. Authors need reviews as social proof in order to gain more readers.
  2. Promotional sites often require a minimum number of reviews and/or a minimum rating before we can advertise on those platforms to find more readers.
  3. When we’re feeling down and hopeless, it’s the fans that bring us back up and get us writing again.

The What

  1. Buy our art so we can make more art. Poverty and hunger pangs distracts us from our mission. (Also please be aware, pirate sites give your devices cancer and infect your soul with incurable scabies.)
  2. Tell other readers about your favorite authors. Word of mouth makes our kung fu strong.
  3. Please review our books.
  4. Stock up on our books for Christmas gifts.
  5. Let your favorite author know you’re rooting for them. A quick email or tweet will make their day. This is a tough business, and some of us are prone to anxiety and depression. (Stares hard.)

The Where

  1. Review what you love wherever you bought the book. Seek out that “Write a Review” button. It’s on the book’s sales page somewhere.
  2. Tell your local bookstore you want to order your favorite author’s book.
  3. Tell your librarian the same.
  4. Tell your friends down at the ole swimmin’ hole, during a bank heist, at the golf course, and on Zoom.
  5. Suggest books to your enemies with the passive aggressive message that reading more will contribute to their personal growth and increase their capacity for empathy. Those bastards probably won’t take your recommendation, but you can walk away feeling good about that sick burn.
  6. Share your reviews and book recommendations on social media.

The Who

  1. You, if you’re a reader and you like art someone produced.
  2. If you’re an author reading this, I get it. You’re too humble. You’re self-conscious about asking for help. Your Dad, who loves David Baldacci books, isn’t keen on your thrillers, and hates your horror and science fiction. It’s okay. The people who support you understand you need to keep writing and buy groceries. Ask for help.
  3. Dad, if you’re reading this, I won’t be sending you my latest apocalyptic novel for Christmas. A David Baldacci book is on the way. Never mind, go back to listening to Lawrence Welk. And no, we won’t be talking about this.*

    *Okay, #2 and #3 of this section might involve some…ahem…projection.

The When

  1. No time like the present.
  2. See #1.
  3. The Rule of 3 compels me to add #3. (Also, it should be CDO because OCD is in the wrong order.)

BONUS: What Fans Receive in Return

  1. Writers give you their dreams for a small price and, by spreading the love, you help them fulfill their dreams. Priceless.
  2. You might get more books from that author or more books in a series you enjoy. If there aren’t enough sales and/or reviews on a series, the ROI isn’t there so chances are solid said series could die on the vine.
  3. The joy of helping other readers discover something they might love. Recommending books feels good.
  4. The fun of having someone share the experience of the book. Then you’ll have a fellow reader with whom you can discuss the book.
  5. Being the sort of person who reads and recommends books makes you look smarter. It’s more powerful than the nerdiest of nerd glasses and you will instantly become 87% sexier. 87%! That’s just science.
  6. In reading our pithy, funny amazing novels, you will find jokes you can later pass off as your own in casual conversation.
  7. You will earn our eternal gratitude, and who doesn’t want the warm fuzzies from a group of maniacs who sit around all day fantasizing about new and clever ways to get away with murder?

    EDIT: The police inform me that #7 came off as more threatening than I intended. So…hey! Eternal gratitude! You got it!

~ I’m Robert Chazz Chute. Find all my apocalyptic epics and killer crime thrillers at AllThatChazz.com.

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

Canuck Versus Yank Spelling


Someone asked, why do you use American spelling in your books even though you’re Canadian?

About 2% of my book sales come from Canada and 85%+ come from the United States. There is a small minority of readers who are very vocal about spelling color with u.

Colour? That’s not what I was taught in school!”

Using American spelling, I’m catering to the bulk of my readership. I want to optimize the chance I’ll make the most people happy.

Think I’m exaggerating about reader response? Step on the Oxford comma landmine. Some people get so heated about their pro-Oxford comma stance, I caved to their demands.

Someone reading this right now is thinking, “Well, yeah, but that’s only because always using the Oxford comma is the one true way. It’s not my way, it’s the right way, every time, all the time! Without the Oxford comma, my world makes no sense. We must have order!”

Sigh. I said I’d do it and I did it, okay?
Lord liftin’, ease off ya jeezly big bullies! Sorry!

(Don’t come at me. I’m only exaggerating a little. I’m sure they’re plenty fun at parties as long as the Oxford comma doesn’t come up in conversation…but they do bring it up.)

Where was I? Oh, yeah. American spelling.

When I worked at Harlequin, one of their historical romance lines was British and the style guide reflected that fact. The company got an irate letter from a reader who took the time to point out every “mistake” in a novel. Anything other than American spelling was wrong in her eyes. The letter concluded with, “A company of your size shouldn’t allow this many mistakes to get into a book. Hire me and fire all your stupid editors.”

The letter was passed around the editorial department. We dedicated and underpaid professionals had a good chuckle and went back to producing 80 titles a month in two shifts, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and 5 – 1 a.m.

Canadians don’t blink at American spelling, probably because, with the exception of Schitt’s Creek, American culture floods north, not south. Because of our relatively small population, the Canadian book market doesn’t pay enough to keep me in snacks. I’m happy to make readers comfortable and tell stories in ways that reduce any distraction.

On the other hand, there was the 60-something podcast host out of New York who expressed shock and surprise there is such a thing as a Canadian English dictionary. I mean, my guy, it’s almost as if we’re a different country. Sorry, eh?

I’ve just released my latest post-apocalyptic/dystopian epic. Curiously enough, I humbly suggest you buy it, please.

Reviews of Endemic so far:

If you’re tired of the formulaic schlock that clutters dystopian literature, then you need to read Endemic. The author has created a unique tale that serves up the best of deep characterization, nuanced plot, and emotional impact. Read this and you’ll soon be looking for other books by Robert Chazz Chute. ~ RF Kacy

What if COVID-19 never lets go of our world? What would happen to society? Robert Chazz Chute does not write escapist literature. He extrapolates the present into plausible but decidedly unwanted futures. The story centres on Ovid Fairweather, a 30-ish editor turned gardener, trying to survive in a New York City that is most definitely not a tourist destination. Betrayed and besieged at every turn, Ovid’s resilience and determination in the face of impossible circumstances drew me in. This is dystopian fiction at its finest. ~ Russell Sawatsky

Endemic takes us on a journey of the mind of an unassuming survivor who must learn to cope with a collapsed environment. Not unlike the current reactions to our contemporary pandemic, Endemic illustrates that diverse choices can lead to survival or a slow demise as a ‘thirder’. The sudden jolts as the narrative swiftly changes course ensure that the reader keeps on their toes, adapting as quickly as the protagonist must in the search for safe refuge. Thanks Robert Chazz Chute for another innovative ride and a tale well told. ~ Janice Bull

~ Check out all my apocalyptic epics and killer crime thrillers at AllThatChazz.com.


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How Authors Disappear

I had a fun chat with an author friend who started publishing about the same time I did. We’ve both been in independent publishing for a decade or so. Many aspects have changed in that time. Way back when, pretty much the only marketing advice was to write good books, write more, and hope to get a BookBub. The best way to advertise your book was to write another. For a while, that was true. It’s not enough and hasn’t been enough for a long time. “Organic” alone isn’t going to get you juice.

As the industry matured. savvy gurus encouraged us to fire up newsletters, gather subscriber emails, and create autoresponder sequences. Full disclosure: Little of that interested me much. I didn’t want to market books. I did that kind of thing when I worked in traditional publishing. I’ve always been more interested in the craft. Marketing can be creative, but it’s never as creative as building a novel.

Visibility Then

For a time, I had a higher profile in the indie community. Through this blog I made friends with some heavy hitters and that got me on Simon Whistler’s podcast. From there, I appeared on one of Armand Rosamilia’s pods, was a regular on the sadly defunct Author Strong podcast, and became a co-host on the Self-Publishing Roundtable. I also had several podcasts of my own. NaNoWriMo asked me to provide one of those encouraging how-to, you-go-girl posts. Perhaps most helpful was publishing my best-known trilogy, This Plague of Days.

Then…well…what did happen exactly?

My Disappearance

My friend said, “I had no idea how many books you’d written! It seemed like you disappeared, and all of a sudden you’ve written over 30 books!”

I burst out laughing at “all of a sudden” and she joined me. Of course, it took a while. That’s 30+ books over 10 years, plus all those under pen names and projects where I served as a book doctor. Whether I was working full-time or part-time at my day job, I was always writing something. Passion, consistency, a dedicated space to write, and a closed door are keys to productivity.

However, I did not do a few things that would have helped me. I pulled back on writing this blog daily. I had a day job then and, frankly, some stuff was going on behind the scenes that knocked me flat. I experienced a lot of frustration and several anxiety attacks before I left all that nonsense behind for good. (My good. Writing has been my full-time job for a few years now.) As the pandemic progressed, I didn’t write fast, but I was always writing.

Other mistakes? I wrote (and write) in more than one genre. I did several stand-alone books rather than writing in long series. I have no regrets, but I defied several tropes of my genres. Artistically, those choices made sense. From a business point of view, less so. It also didn’t help that I held back on publishing anything under my name for a long time. Our Zombie Hours and Endemic are just out, but before that? The Night Man came out at Christmas, 2019. Even with some success, if you don’t publish regularly, it’s easy to be forgotten by readers.

Visibility Now

I’m happy to say I will be getting back into podcasting soon. I’ll announce two new podcasts, one fiction and the other non-fiction when the time comes. I mention this because a survey came out a while ago noting that many of the most successful authors are also into podcasting. Correlation or causation? Not sure. Who cares? I have a background in radio and love podcasting, so I’m in.

Speaking with my author friend, it came to me why, despite all my productivity, I seemed to disappear from her horizon. The answer: No advertising budget. I coasted on sales of my backlist. Without the budget to advertise, we disappear from view.

There are plenty of ways to stay in touch with readers. Newsletters, podcasts, blog tours, promotional platforms (like Freebooksy and Bookbub), Facebook ads, Amazon ads etc.,… Some are more expensive than others. Ours is a competitive environment. Like any business, we have to advertise to maintain visibility and viability. If you can’t invest money to remain visible, you’ll have to invest a lot of time and try to leverage that.

The gold rush died out a long time ago. I don’t like it, but the game is pay-to-play, now more than ever.

Hey, here’s an ad because I love to entertain readers, but I also like to buy groceries!

I was a nail. I am a hammer.

As the United States falls to disease, killers and thieves rule New York. Bookish, neurotic, and nerdy, Ovid Fairweather finds herself trapped in the struggle for survival. 

Bullied by her father, haunted by her dead therapist, and hunted by marauders, Ovid is forced to fight.

With only the voices in her head as her guides, a former book editor will become a queen.

~ I’m Robert Chazz Chute. Check out my killer crime thrillers and apocalyptic epics on my author site, AllThatChazz.com.

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Writing Fairweather and Foul

I recently received the most aggressive fortune in a fortune cookie ever: For a good cause, wrongdoing may be virtuous (pictured). Sums up a lot of fiction, doesn’t it? It spoke to a central question in my newest big book, though! (See below. Oh, and by the way, Endemic is FREE today, Tuesday, November 2, 2021!)

How good does the cause have to be? How bad can I be?

Papa, Don’t Preach

In fiction, themes and messages are best when they emerge from the narrative organically. If a writer sets out to create a message from the beginning, it might turn into a lecture rather than a story. Readers want to be entertained. Don’t write fiction to teach them something. Set out to discover something.

Why Endemic?

Someone asked me why my latest novel is called Endemic. There are layers;

  1. Of course, when a pandemic doesn’t go away, the disease becomes endemic. That’s the broad stroke of world-building and the basis of my novel.
  2. Ovid Fairweather, the protagonist of Endemic, is neurotic and nerdy. A former book editor, she gets into urban farming to survive the viral apocalypse. She’s a very unlikely heroine who has conversations with her dead psychotherapist. To defend herself, she commits violent acts. A conflicted soul, she wonders if her capacity to do the things she does was dormant, waiting to emerge her entire life. Was her violent nature endemic? Was it learned? Or was it merely a reaction to terrible circumstances?
  3. So, was Anne Frank right? Are people basically good? And if they aren’t, can they be redeemed? What actions are required to achieve redemption? Who dictates which transgressors can be forgiven? What punishments await sinners? If a trait is endemic, can we change?

Disaster stories and horror are most interesting, not for the disaster itself, but how people react to circumstance. Can we come together or will it always be “every man for himself”? Human nature is fascinating. That’s the exploration boiling underneath all the plot, witty dialogue, and action.

Going Deeper than Good or Bad

There’s a common mistake anyone can fall into. It’s the notion that everyone is either all good or all bad. If they agree with you, they’re geniuses. If they mostly agree, but don’t use your phrasing, they’re idiots you need to educate. Cultural divides don’t get bridged that way.

In real life, people often have a hard time with others. When we find out heroes who champion our cause are flawed, we’re sorely disappointed. There are still plenty of people who don’t want to hear that Mother Teresa was for suffering or that their favorite Hollywood star treats the help horribly.

In fiction, we try to avoid portraying protagonists as flawless. Flawless is boring, so readers appreciate characters who are not paragons of virtue 24/7/365. Common tropes support the detective who has seen too much, so she drinks too much. The serial killer may be evil, but as long as Dexter likes kids and kills serial killers, we’re rooting for him to get away with his crimes.

When you write your novel, you want your characters to be relatable. Readers want someone to like. Avoid writing characters who are so perfect no one can dislike them. That character may be likable, but the story will have less conflict and end up being boring.

Ovid Fairweather is perhaps my most conflicted character yet. The past haunts her. She isn’t sure whether she’s the heroine or the villain. I’m confident most readers will root for her even as she waffles and worries. She is quirky and neurotic so Ovid has a lot of challenges to rise above, just like the rest of us.

Find out for yourself here

I was a nail. I am a hammer.

As the United States falls to disease, killers and thieves rule New York. Bookish, neurotic, and nerdy, Ovid Fairweather finds herself trapped in the struggle for survival. 

Bullied by her father, haunted by her dead therapist, and hunted by marauders, Ovid is forced to fight.

With only the voices in her head as her guides, an unlikely heroine will become a queen.

Fun, surprising, and suspenseful, Endemic is the new apocalyptic novel from the author of Citizen Second Class, This Plague of Days, and AFTER Life.

BEGIN YOUR NEXT BINGE READ

and

DO YOUR CHRISTMAS SHOPPING HERE.

~ For all my apocalyptic epics and killer crime thrillers, please do visit my author site, AllThatChazz.com.

Filed under: publishing, writing advice, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

http://mybook.to/OurZombieHours
A NEW ZOMBIE ANTHOLOGY

Winner of Writer's Digest's 2014 Honorable Mention in Self-published Ebook Awards in Genre

The first 81 lessons to get your Buffy on

More lessons to help you survive Armageddon

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

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 can pick this ebook up for free today at this link: http://bit.ly/TheNightMan

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