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

Write and publish with love and fury.

10 Tips for Writers

Janet Fitch drops some superlative writing science on you at her blog. 

Read. Learn. Apply. Crush your enemies.


Filed under: writing tips, ,

Why is your short story getting rejected?

This sweet post explains why over at The Why of Fiction. It is a most excellent post which should spur you to action…rather than reaching for the orange juice and vodka.

Filed under: Rejection, ,

Why You Need an Editor

I recently attended a publishing conference where someone spoke at length about how bookstore staff identify self-published books by ISBN quirks. I can tell you with certainty, when there is prejudice against self-published books, it’s not because anybody’s eyeing the ISBN. It’s because many—okay, I’ll say it—most self-published books look unprofessional. (And by unprofessional, I mean they look like crap.)

freelance editorThe common complaint about self-published books and ebooks is that they are poorly edited. Characters change names. Spelling and grammar go awry. Narrative threads get lost permanently. Every manuscript has its problems. These problems bother readers. Errors take the reader out of the story and hurt your professional credibility. 

But hiring your own editor is not just mandatory for self-published authors burning to get their ebook out. When the economy went crazy, publishing houses fired much of their editing staff. For instance, I worked for a publisher with several lines of defence: acquiring editors, line editors, copy editors, and three walls of proofreaders. Now? Publishers still have acquiring editors, but they’ve cut back on the rest of the staff drastically. Yes, traditional houses still have editors, but they have far fewer of them. How much time and attention do you think your book will really get? There’s a math question easily solved.

Every publishing outlet, from newspapers to books, has less defence against typos and errors in execution. You see it every day. That’s why more authors—both traditional and non, ebook and pbook, published and non—are hiring editors to help with the heavy lifting. Editors make any book or manuscript better.

Whether yours is a manuscript or any finished book, it needs editing or no one will take you seriously. Consider hiring an editor for your project. A freelance editor’s work will enhance your chances of becoming published and reduce errors in the final product. Once your manuscript is out there to be submitted (or once the book is on the shelves) you can’t pull those errors out.

Your Aunt Betsy will delight in pointing out your every error. And she’ll be pretty damn smug about it.

Filed under: Editors, publishing, self-publishing, writing tips, ,

Who Should Self-Publish?

I recently had a discussion with a client who looked down on self-publishing. He saw it as an exercise in vanity. That was true for a long time, but not anymore. In fact, Google has made instant ebooks a reality, and not just for frustrated writers who can’t get published through traditional publishing houses. If you can get an agent and an editor with a traditional house, the common wisdom is that from now until the clock runs out in about five years, that’s still the best way to go for most projects.*

However, self-publishing is right for a lot of people. There is one group for whom it is essential. If you’re a professional speaker, you need to be talking at the front of the room and sell your books at the back of the room. If you leverage the marketing platform you already have, you keep more of the profit and cut out a middle man. Also, the middle man has committees and hoops for you and your brilliant idea to jump through. The client was shocked to find the book project could take one to two years to make it to publication (if it were accepted immediately.) Even if a project is identified as a winner, each publisher has budgetary restraints that can hold up publication. They can’t publish every book they’ve identified as saleable in one year.

The client wants to speak professionally, but still wants to go the traditional route. Fortunately, he has a solid contact with a publishing house. Had he not, I would have pushed harder for him to self-publish. As it is, I’ll be helping him put together a killer book proposal so he’ll have a book to sell as he works the room and works his magic.

If you already have a platform (or stage) from which to sell, DIY is the best way to go. Publishers are offering authors less and less. They offer tinier advances than ever, unambitious promotion, and less editing than ever. Traditional publishers have diminished themselves to distribution networks. Once the distribution becomes less relevent, what credibility they add will be largely be forgotten as well. 

The publishing people I know all say, “We have to learn from the mistakes the music industry made.” That’s true. But that’s where that conversation ends. Either they don’t know what mistakes the music industry made, or the analogy doesn’t bear up across the two industries.

*Self-publishing is also the ideal route for a memoir that’s meant for a small audience (e.g. your family) or for some projects that are distinctly regional if you have a platform.


How do I build a platform?


Filed under: publishing, self-publishing, Speeches, , ,

How to Hire a Speechwriter (and how Power Point fails you)

  A well-crafted speech can sell you, your company, a new strategy, your book or your message. As you make the speech your own, practicing and practicing, you’ll make small adjustments along the way. Ideally, your speechwriter will have enough interaction with you that the speech will sound much the way you talk, but better.



Speechwriting is a specific skill tying marketing to information and persuasion (and usually entertainment.)

The speechwriter may do some research related to your project, but generally, you or your company will be providing the core information. And you’ll need to provide lots of it. I’ve written half-hour to hour speeches. For one coherent message, I had to read through dozens of documents and interview one or more people to arrive at the content to be delivered.

Before you pick up the phone to call a speechwriter, the most important question to answer will be this: what is your core purpose for this speech? Every speech must communicate value, but who is your audience and why are you talking to them? Is this a membership drive for your organization? Is this a review of the deliverables you’ve provided to stockholders and stakeholders? Are you asking for money? Are you demonstrating how the money you were given was wisely spent? Are you proposing a new project or a new direction for your organization? Who are you trying to persuade and what do you want the audience’s take away to be?*

Shocker 1: Don’t depend on Power Point templates. They lock you into an outline that won’t suit your presentation.

Shocker 2: Don’t depend on Power Point to do all the work. The speech and how well you deliver it comes first. Power Point is not your speech. It is an accessory.

Shocker 3: They call it death by bullet point. Your Power Point slides should be mostly cartoons and pictures that accessorize your brilliant speech.

Shocker 4: Many good speakers do well without bothering with Power Point. Many poor speakers read their Power Point deck to the audience, turning their backs to the group. They lose their audience because the people in the chairs can read faster than you can speak.

What about fees? My fee for an hour presentation is $4,000 (not including Power Point.) Typically, one speech is delivered repeatedly and once I deliver the final product, it’s yours forever. Speechwriting is heady stuff. It’s the most exciting corporate work I do. Unlike unread pages at the back of an annual report, speeches can change things (laws, membership numbers, policy, income, and even minds.) If you have a speech you want crafted contact me about your project here.)

How to help your speechwriter:

A. Provide the fodder for the content. Your company or association has research. Make it all available to your writer and when he calls to ask a silly question, make time to answer that question. Remember, your writer is in the business of making you look great in front of a room of important people (whether you’re brilliant or not.)

B. For a great speech, give lots of warning to your writer. Long deadlines make for better speeches.

C. Whoever is to deliver the speech should probably be the contact person for the speechwriter. There are exceptions to this guideline, but please keep in mind a speech edited by a committee is like a horse put together by committee. You get a camel.

*The take away is the one core message the audience will be talking about when they get into the parking lot. They won’t remember much. Whatever the take away is, you want that part to be especially memorable. The most amazing speeches will only have two or three things that stick (and one of those things will be your best joke.)

Filed under: Speeches, speechwriting, ,

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

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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.

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