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

Write and publish with love and fury.

On Writing What Will Be Read

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I’ve written a bunch of books. They were all passion projects. Unfortunately, not everyone shares my passions. The zombie books sold and continue to sell. I might be summering in Rio if I had stuck with one genre. That doesn’t mean I wish I had only catered to one genre and made it more lucrative. The details are a little more refined than that. Let’s make it simple. If I were starting again, here’s what I’d do:

  1. Pseudonyms only. It makes no difference to the final product but psychologically it’s less stressful on the post-production end.
  2. One genre and, of course, one author page per pseudonym. That separation helps Amazon algos sell books without muddling the reader pool. Readers are more specific in their wants than many authors. If they want zombie fiction, they don’t want my crime thrillers and vice versa.
  3. Build out the series into longer strings of books.
  4. Write shorter books, fewer big bricks.
  5. Focus more of my energies on the series that sell and earn the time and privilege of my artsy passions later.
  6. I won’t stretch out a story longer than it takes to tell it. That wouldn’t serve the readers. However, I wouldn’t be against writing more stories in the same universe and tying it all together. (Just did that with Dream’s Dark Flight, a stand alone that fits with the Dimension War Series.)
  7. Write more of what readers actually read instead of what I want to read. I know the typical advice is to write what you want to read (and it is important to know your genre.) However, I’m a writer. I finally figured out (since working under pseudonyms) that I can write in just about any genre and make it interesting for myself. 

There are many other things I’d do differently, of course, but that would be a good start. Now I’ll retcon and reverse engineer that plan. Or build a time machine. The time machine is coming along pretty well.

~ I’m a writer across several genres, darn it. Couldn’t beat the ADD. I just started a podcast in which I go deep on life management issues. The podcast is complementary to my latest book, Do the Thing! It’s about managing stress, pain, time and energy. Find out more on my author page at www.AllThatChazz.com

new-all-that-chazzstress-relief-podcast

 

Filed under: publishing

The KU Conundrum…

Ruby Madden

I’m re-assessing how I run my publishing business for 2017 and wanted to share some of my frustrations as an Author.

frustratedauthor

Recently, many authors have noticed that over the last few months, the pages-read numbers for our eBooks that are borrowed at Amazon and read, have decreased dramatically. Some say it is just a slump resulting from an Election Year. Others say that something is amuck with Amazon’s pages-read reporting system that lets us know how many pages were read for stories that we have enrolled in the KINDLE UNIMITED (KU) program.ku12-9

Most of my newer titles are enrolled in KU. I like the program, both as a reader and author. I’ve always enjoyed reading for pleasure and I also read for my job as a writer and novelist. I gain inspiration from my fellow authors and love to track my reading via GOODREADS. I like knowing that…

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Bookbub, KU and the Real Stephen King

Each Thursday night the Self-publishing Roundtable goes live. You can check it out as it airs live at 10 EST or pick it up on YouTube at your leisure.

Last Thursday, I got together for an hour with Zoe York, Erica Conroy and Wade Finnegan to talk about the latest news in publishing. It’s a fun discussion. The Roundtable is always fun. Come see the knights of the roundtable talk about Stephen King battling Amazon for his identity, Author Earnings, leaving KU and plummeting author incomes.

We’re fun…but not always safe for work.

Check it out here.

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Pseudonyms & Cohesive Marketing

I recently had a great discussion with Mat and Nancy on the Author Strong Podcast. I think it’s one of the most productive and useful discussions we have had. We talked about why, when and how to use pseudonyms, book cover design, planning and repositioning a series. I didn’t have a plan so now I have to double back.

This chat could save you a lot of time and frustration (which I currently feel.)

To hear us talk this out, check out this fun discussion here.

Speaking of repositioning, I wrote a book called Intense Violence, Bizarre Themes.

Here’s the new title and cover:

brooklyn

You can pick up this thriller about my criminal past here. 

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The Lost Art of Customer Service

QA Productions

This is what happened on my last trip to Staples:

serviceI needed a ream of 3-hole punched copy paper. I needed it right then. So off the old man and I went to Staples. I hadn’t been inside this particular Staples before, so when a clerk approached and asked if I needed anything, I told him: “I need 3-hole punched copy paper. Where–” He went loping off and I hurried to follow. He pulled a package of college ruled notepaper off a shelf. “No,” sez I, “copy paper. A ream of it. If you could just point–” Off he loped, calling over his shoulder, “Follow me!” Oh, come on, it’s a big store, but not that big, but apparently some brilliant joker in corporate decided “Show don’t Tell” is the new policy. So I hurried to catch up with the rapidly moving clerk. He ended up at a wall display…

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How The London Book Fair Helps Vanity Presses Exploit Newbie Authors

David, as always, on point and serving up the best journalism on publishing.

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Commonly Confused: Eager versus Anxious

Eager means you’re really want to do something.

Anxious connotes nervousness. 

I’m not anxious to get back to work. I’m eager to get back to work on my book.

I’m anxious that the revisions are going slowly.

I have made this mistake in the past because anxious was often used as a synonym for eager where I grew up. Come to think of it, the way we talked suggested to outsiders that we were all can do and can’t wait people. Instead, we were trembling, all nerves and rage. Some things I can’t do and I often wait.

Ah, childhood. So much like adulthood. 

~ I’m Robert Chazz Chute. Get a free review copy of my kick ass apocalypse, The Haunting Lessons, at AllThatChazz.com.

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Writers: Do you suffer from SJKS, too?

I just returned from my first week of vacation. I’ve written before about the importance of rejuvenation time and how I get new story ideas in my sleep. I won’t rehash that here. I will say that, after a week away with family and hiking the Cape Breton highlands, I’m ready to get back to heavy writing. And that’s the problem.

I’m taking three weeks off everything else so I can work on book projects without interruption and with total focus. I’ll be working on publishing books, but I hereby resolve to do very little new writing. It takes discipline, but I have to power through the affliction that is calling me to write a new novel. (I do have a few last chapters to write for a book I’m doing with my friend Armand Rosamilia. Other than that, I’m revising and editing.)

My resolution to revise and edit is a big deal because I’ve suffered Shiny Jingly Keys Syndrome (SJKS) all year.

I’ve got many manuscripts banked. One manuscript is a very ambitious one that is now years old. It’s still waiting for me to get back to it, wailing for release from the bottom drawer and making a ruckus at night when I’m trying to sleep. It’s not that I’m lazy, exactly. I have written six new novels this year. However, they remain unpublished. A novel is a full marathon and I’m only running half-marathons. Blame SJKS. (I recently published my time travel novel, Wallflower, but I wrote that two years ago.)

My SJKS pattern goes like this: I finish a draft or two and then I rush on to the next book. I have plenty of ideas and I want to get them all written. The story faucet’s washers are blown and that tap won’t turn off. I’d much rather write new stories. Slowing down to go back and edit isn’t sexy. Writing the next book instead of truly finishing the last one is the cardinal sign of Shiny Jingly Keys Syndrome.

Writing a fresh book certainly feels productive, though, doesn’t it? That’s what makes it such a cunning trap. SJKS becomes procrastination when the new project is a way to avoid dealing with the nitty gritty of half finished, never published books. Writing anew is a tricky way to procrastinate. I forgive myself too easily for not finishing a manuscript because, hey! I’m writing here! Leave me alone!

We always muster more clarity for other people’s problems. A couple of writers asked me which of their projects they should finish first. Inevitably, one project is more alluring than another. Maybe one novel (probably the newest one) feeds the author’s passion. Maybe they are less enthused about one manuscript but they figure that’s the one that will make them more money. The pull among projects is real but the solution is simple.

When authors ask me which book they should finish first, my answer is, “Work on the book that is closest to done. Get shit done. Finish. Publish.”

Time for me to take my own advice. My vacation was needed and refreshing. Now it’s heavy revision time.

~ I am Robert Chazz Chute. While I’m away editing, you could always check out what I have managed to publish. Twenty books or so should keep you busy until the new ones are ready. Check me out at AllThatChazz.com. 

 

 

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Scary Notion: Will we be remembered for just one thing?

A friend of mine is a director. A few years ago, he came out with a documentary. He was eager to talk about it with me on a podcast. “This is my Star Wars,” he said. As in, this is my magnum opus. As in, maybe it’s all downhill from here. As in, this would be the one film for which he would be remembered. The movie is Where’s My Goat? It’s really good. You’ll laugh, think and cry. I recommend it. You’ll probably end up donating a goat to a third world country.

I must confess, the idea of anyone’s best work being behind them while they are still alive is frightening.

You can do a lot of amazing things but people tend to be remembered for one thing. I remember my grandfather for the one time he told me to shut up. I vividly recall the image of my mother chasing me with a wooden spoon (and smiling because we both knew I was running into a dead end.) I remember the last angry words I exchanged with someone who had been a friend since childhood. He ended the sentence with, “Bud,” but he said it ironically. I still want to hook that guy in the gabber.

If we, as writers, are remembered for one thing, what will fans choose?

Alan Rickman fans of a certain vintage think of him as Hans Gruber from Die Hard. For the younger generation, he’ll always be Snape. Rickman was a major star of screen and stage, but he’s one of the lucky ones in this regard. Despite all his talent, people will probably think of those two roles, first and last. That’s unusual. 

Throw out any name of a writer, singer or actor and memory becomes reductionist quickly.

Prince? Purple Rain. Bogart? Bogart is always Rick, forever in Casablanca. Mohammed Ali? “Rumble, young man, rumble!” Hemingway? The Old Man and the Sea. Rick Astley? Never Going to Give You Up. (Still love that song and I don’t care if it’s become an internet joke.) Elvis? Dying on a toilet. David Carradine? It was Kung Fu for years, but autoerotic asphyxiation wiped that memory. Careful how you have sex and careful how you die, folks!

We can take a few of lessons from this phenomenon.

The first is, be prolific.

If you do a ton of stuff, it’s hard to boil your legacy down too much. Robin Williams comes to mind. He did so much that our memories of him are many and varied.

Second, don’t be a jerk.

People remember if you’re a jerk and that can put a serious dent in your legacy. If you are a jerk, do a lot of stuff that makes your fans forgive.

Case in point, Robin Williams had a history of abusing drugs and alcohol. He ripped material from a few comedians (and paid for it, after the fact.) He also helped a lot of destitute people financially, insisted the homeless get hired to work on his productions and worked tirelessly for many charities. I still tear up thinking about Robin visiting Christopher Reeve after his catastrophic accident. Superman was in a hospital bed contemplating quadriplegia when a crazed Russian doctor burst in. Robin stayed in character and was, predictably, hilarious. Broken and depressed, Reeve laughed for the first time since breaking his spine. Robin also paid his friend’s hospital bills. I remember a lot about Robin Williams, but that story sticks.

Third, don’t think about your legacy too much or it will paralyze you creatively.

My magnum opus, so far, is This Plague of Days. One of my works in progress is a new zombie apocalypse. People like zombies. It’s fun to write and, yes, I want a hit. I almost didn’t start the new book, however. It was intimidating. Hadn’t I said all I wanted to say on the zombie horror front? Thinking about the prior book stopped me cold on the new one.

This Plague of Days is a contained universe with epic themes. No sequels. No prequels. When I finished the trilogy, I knew doing anything more would be going for a payday instead of servicing the story or entertaining my audience. Could I write another without shivering in the cold shadow of TPOD? At first, I didn’t think so. Then I started writing it. Don’t think too long before you start writing.

It’s not just the zombie book, though. I worry that everything I write will be compared unfavorably to This Plague of Days. If TPOD is my Star Wars, shouldn’t I stop? I liked the first movie from 1977. I’ve liked each film in the franchise since a little less.

What if your best book is your first? That’s a fret.

I loved Jay McInerney’s first three books: Ransom, Bright Lights, Big City and Story of My Life. Then I thought he began to write more self-consciously. He seemed to be trying for a Pulitzer or trying to impress the New York Times book critic. The fun and lightness was gone. I wandered away from a writer I had idolized. I didn’t feel good about it, but he wasn’t writing what I loved anymore. Maybe he matured and I didn’t.

Starting Out in the Evening, starring Frank Lengella, is an instructive movie for writers. Langella plays an elderly writer who achieved success early, entered academia and remains iconic for the work of his youth. A young writer praises his first book but denigrates his second, saying it didn’t live up to the first book. The old writer replies, “You blame me for not writing the same book over and over.” Mic drop.

So, my next zombie apocalypse won’t look like the last one. It won’t be what readers may expect, but then, This Plague of Days wasn’t what they expected, either. For those who don’t know, TPOD is mostly about a kid on the spectrum watching the world fall apart. Jaimie Spencer is an unlikely hero. He thinks in Latin phrases. Killer viruses evolve to three strains with different effects. Bio-terrorists turn into vampires, sort of. The zombies aren’t really zombies. I offer a smidgeon of hope after a road trip through hell. Secrets of the universe are revealed. It’s surreal, gory, global, philosophical and insane. 

In my new zombie book, the hero is just as unlikely, but he’s is more like Jeff Lebowski than Jaimie Spencer. If you like Kevin Smith’s style of funny dialogue and Shawn of the Dead, this new one will be your flavor. Ultimately, I have to write for me first and hope readers want a ticket on a new and different crazy train.

For readers of Stephen King, the fan favorite by a landslide is The Stand. (It’s my favorite King book, as well. I emulated the same structure and large cast in TPOD.) King has said that it’s a little disturbing to find that, with such a long and productive career, many fans’ fave is a book he published in September of 1978. 

However, I’ve enjoyed many other books by Stephen King. You don’t write to outdo another of your books. You just write as best you can and have a good time doing it. In the end, I decided to put This Plague of Days out of my mind as I write the new zombie apocalypse, or any other book. No sense looking backward. We live forward. Sometimes we top ourselves. I hope to do so with every book.

Oh, and that director friend of mine who thought Where’s My Goat would define his career as a documentarian? You have to see his follow-up. It’s called Regret. If that one defines his career as a filmmaker, I wouldn’t be surprised. He should be proud.

Maybe being defined by one creation wouldn’t be so bad, after all. No regrets.

~ I am Robert Chazz Chute. Check out my author site at AllThatChazz.com. Create freely. Write bunches. Live large. Make love often. Have sex like you’re on camera.

 

 

Filed under: publishing

Writers: Are you wasting your time?

A lady found out I was a writer. “That’s so cool!” she said.

“Well, you would think so, wouldn’t you?” I said.

Youtube stars make more money. Singers don’t have to write so much or so long and can do the same performance over and over. Writers may work for years on one project (though I don’t recommend that.) We rarely attract adoring crowds.

Another guy, upon finding out I write, asked, “Is it worth it?”

“Is it worth it?” I echoed, vacillating between anger, sadness and not understanding the question.

“Yeah,” the guy said. “Do you make any money at it?”

“Any? Some,” I said. Jesus! How did a random chat with a stranger suddenly turn into a shitty conversation with someone I don’t like at a family reunion?

That was one of those uncomfortable moments where, in the mind of another, I was a loser. (Not my first time.)

I wasn’t getting rich off what I was doing, so why bother? I did not measure up to some easily quantifiable standard. The dude wanted to know me by numbers and I’m all about the words. He wouldn’t be satisfied if I told him that ‘writer’ isn’t a title or a hobby. It’s my identity. I’d do it for free. I did it for free for years. Then the doubt creeps in. Maybe he’s right. I could do things that would make me rich but I would not love those things. I’d be divorced, bitter and 48% more suicidal if I did those things.

The doubt remains, though. Am I satisfied? Am I remembering to have fun? Not always.

Many writers are forgetting to have fun. We talk to each other about marketing a lot, but not so much about craft. We emphasize that writing is hard work. It’s not. It’s hard play if you’re swinging the bat right. Still, the writer’s persecution complex persists. If you aren’t having fun when you write, maybe you aren’t on the right story. Or maybe you’ve forgotten horrid alternatives (like cleaning the grease trap at Arby’s).

Time for some healthy perspective.

Recently, I wandered through an art fair. Some of the artists were incredibly talented. I’m sure none of them were rich from all that paint and passion, yet they return to this same art fair, year after year. On a Sunday morning, for a scattering of browsers, they presented their art to say, “Look what I did!” with unselfconscious pride. You see that same pride on the face of every little kid who wants to slide a new drawing under a fridge magnet.

The artists who are only there to sell look miserable. The happy ones talk about history, inspiration and process. (I suspect the ones with the joyful attitude sell more, too.) Is every painter who fails to sell their work for millions wasting their time? Is every athlete who failed to get gold, silver or bronze a failure? Our life metrics are skewed toward what gains the most attention.

Reboot.

Much of our angst comes from focusing on what we don’t have, namely huge success. We want to crush our enemies, see them driven before us and to hear the lamentations of their women. Wait. No. That’s Conan the Barbarian.

Let’s focus on what your writing career means to you. The destination in your mind may not exist. The money may not come. Your art may never justify your existence to your parents. Even if you do make a big number, Dad will say, “Not enough.” There are always larger numbers you didn’t achieve. So why bother?

Writing is about the journey first (and maybe always).

Success and failure come and go and notoriety does not hang out for long. Fame is slutty, always looking for a younger, fresher face. Meanwhile, the pure of heart just want to tell stories. We remain at our desks. We write because that’s who we are. It’s apparently a genetic disease. I don’t know why I do it. I only know I must.

Sometimes, yes, I still forget to have fun.

I am not above jealousy and envy. I’ll hear an author on a podcast talking about his or her mega-successful book and the new boat they’re buying courtesy of Amazon. I have to shut that shit off for a while and clear my head. I go for a walk and pump myself up with some Good Charlotte. I wallow in My Chemical Romance. Then I kick an innocent tree, get over it and get back to work. Envy and jealousy don’t serve me. They surely don’t get the next book written. Only I can do that.

When you have to pee but you put it off to finish a chapter, you know you love it. When you forget or don’t have time to shower, you’re on the trail of a big idea. When you feel a spider crawling on your arm but you have to finish typing a sentence before you can deal with it, you’re in deep. Endorphins wash through your skull and you aren’t at your desk at all, anymore. You’re fighting dragons, falling in love for the first time all over again and murdering your enemies in hilarious clever ways. There’s the joy.

Until Hollywood comes calling, I’ll settle for a small but dedicated following who dig what I’m slinging. My readership is growing, though not as fast as I’d prefer. Still, I’m loving my life now. I’m not waiting to be happy later. I get into my stories. I go deep on funny, snappy dialogue. I craft with cool words and pull plots over my head. I’m doing what I want, hanging out in coffee shops, writing more books and inviting my readers to tickle their brains so we share a common hallucination.

Keep pushing. Keep writing. Keep having fun now.

The readership you seek and the recognition you hope for may be closer than you think. Maybe you’re about to break out and go huge. (I feel like I’ve been on that cusp several times.) Be glad you didn’t wait to be happy. You can always smile now with conviction, clarity of purpose and coffee.

~ I am Robert Chazz Chute and I write suspenseful books about good versus evil, bad versus evil and saving the world with hugs and blades. Check out my crazy train at AllThatChazz.com.

Oh, and here’s one more random encounter for you:

When a lady found out I’m a writer she blurted, “Do you want to be famous?”

“I want to be read. That’s sort of like famous, I guess.”

“What’s the difference?”

“When you’re famous, you have to wear a baseball cap and sunglasses when you go out in public. When you’re read, you infect readers with mind viruses and play piano with their brain stems. Writers are mostly faceless, even those who sell a lot of books.”

“So you don’t want to be, like, famous famous?” she persisted.

“If I were, like, famous, famous, I suppose people might be nicer to me when I nip out for some groceries.”

“Paper or plastic?” she asked.

And, I thought, if I were famous, people wouldn’t be asking me about what I’m not or what I might be. They’d be talking about what I did.

 

Filed under: publishing

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

All the dark fantasy fun of the first three books in the Ghosts & Demons Series for one low price.

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

You never know what's real.

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.

Write to live

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

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