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

Write and publish with love and fury.

Self-publishers: Why I went multimedia (and why you should, too)

Movie of an precessing gyroscope. Generated by...

Image via Wikipedia

Boy, did I have an eye-opener this morning that left me spinning! I shouldn’t have been surprised, but when you write and publish and do your thing, you naturally assume everybody gets your message at the same speed and time. Well, I naturally assumed that.

And I was wrong. Again.

Last night I posted a little promotional trailer for my books. It wasn’t anything fancy nor was it specific to one book. I was just playing around with iMovie. I had never messed with it before and I didn’t even look at a tutorial or read a help topic. I wasn’t feeling great, so I thought I’d use an otherwise unproductive Sunday afternoon to do something fun. I’ve blogged about book trailers before and generally I take a dim view of them. Let’s be honest: most book trailers suck. In fact, I might argue that the little movie I made kind of sucks, but first, a review of my problems with book trailers:

A book trailer is a commercial. People don’t like long commercials and most book trailers go on way too long. Nobody watches a commercial and wishes it was longer except for the old Old Spice commercials (that showed wit) and the commercials for the beer favoured by The Most Interesting Man in the World. From my research, I found what most authors have found: book trailers don’t sell books. John Locke points out that little movies about your books appeal to the author’s vanity but don’t do much for most readers and do nothing to increase sales. Some say that if you’re going to make a book trailer, make it funny or forget it. Or spend some real money on it, go big or stay home.

Despite all that, I did make that trailer for my books. (It’s in the post directly below this one if you’re curious.) Given all that I’ve said, why bother with a trailer at all? I made it for a very specific reason. It’s posted on YouTube, but really, I’m sure that’s not going to do anything. I posted it on Google+ and Facebook, but that’s probably nothing more than an idle curiosity or for people who, I’m almost sure, already know what I’m up to for the most part. For me, the trailer had to be of specific use for Goodreads.

I put the trailer on my Goodreads author profile. There are many authors on Goodreads and it’s a great forum for book lovers. If you want to read reviews and find books you might not otherwise find, it’s the place to be. I was slow to adopt Goodreads, but now I love it. However, it’s not a good place to promote yourself as an author and when you do much of anything outside of your own profile, you have to be very careful not to appear spammy. Sure, you’re filled with joy at the latest review or publishing milestone, but venture out into the forums with that same joy and someone will call you out pretty quick for subverting the mission of Goodreads. It’s for readers, not for writers. (If, as an author, you want to advertise on Goodreads, there’s a proper route for that and it requires payment and mucho dinero.)

I was shocked and embarrassed to find that I’d already violated Goodreads’ etiquette. I got a really great review for one of my books and I thought it only polite to thank the reviewer with a note on the post. The Powers That Be don’t want authors to thank reviewers. I can see, in the big picture, why they don’t want authors to do that. Maybe reviewers would be less honest if they were self-conscious or trying for thank you notes from authors. Worse, authors might also fall into responding to bad reviews, which we should never, ever do. Mmmm…almost never ever.

So how does one distinguish oneself on Goodreads without running afoul of the Goodreads sheriff and the good townspeople? Be nice. (I hope that’s not an act, Dexter Morgan.) Engage. Act like a reader and be passive about your self-promotion. Keep the self-promotion to a minimum and keep it on your page, no one else’s. No spam mail and nothing that could appear to a reasonable person as a personal agenda. Crank the helpfulness and interest up to maximum and just be you. (Unless you’re a serial killer.)

Goodreads devotes a lot of instructional text to authors so we can learn the proper rules of comportment and etiquette on the site. If you don’t adhere, they might kick you out or at least make you feel bad. Most author pages look pretty much the same, so I made a trailer to put on my page (not to send out to The People of Earth, awaiting applause.) Some people are more willing to watch a little movie than read through your witty little bio and personal mind map of the dreamscape you intend to self-actualize. I hoped to distinguish myself by having a little movie where many authors do not.

(Yes, at the end of this post, I’ll tell you the shocker I got, but first…)

So I have books on Kindles and smartphones and e-readers thither and yon. And now I have video (be it ever so humble.) I also went with audio. Here’s where things get really interesting. Podcasts are the new radio. I hardly ever listen to old radio unless I’m trapped in a car in a snow bank in a snowstorm with two broken legs and cannibalizing a Lutheran in a coma. It still astonishes me when I say the word “podcast” and get a blank look. I listen to podcasts constantly. The wonder of internet radio allows me to get through all the mundane tasks, like washing dishes, doing laundry and spaying the neighbour’s cat with lawn darts. Blindfolded. (Me, not the cat. Where’s the sport, otherwise?)

Writing and producing and performing a podcast seemed to me the natural companion strategy to writing books. I wrote Self-help for Stoners, Stuff to Read When You’re High. Why not cross-promote with a weekly comedy podcast that features excerpts from the book? I called the podcast Self-help for Stoners and naturally the tagline is Stuff to Listen to When You’re High. It’s up on iTunes. The combination is an easy fit. I had a little background in radio. I’m not at ease on the mic at all, but I’m relearning those skills, like how to sound natural again.

The book is a weird hybrid I could easily draw from for a weekly comedy podcast. It’s mostly fiction with suspenseful elements, but there are funny stories, parables, exhortations, weird facts and brain tickles. When it’s preachy, it’s preachy on purpose and, I think, entertainingly so. There’s even a sci-fi story in the mix! It’s a collection that most publishers wouldn’t touch, but from my background in traditional publishing, I decided that those reasons were bad reasons. I had a book with a hook. (And no, you don’t have to be a stoner to enjoy the fun. Many people are surprised when they find some stories challenge the idea that being a stoner is even a good idea.)

If that sounds like a lot of work that has nothing to do with writing books, you’re right…sort of. I write full-time. This all I do, so I have more time than most. Yes, I know how lucky I am and I can’t tell you how grateful I am for my family’s support. I tell them every day. As She Who Must Be Obeyed ventures out into the real world each morning, I say, “Win that bread and bring home that bacon, Ward!” She says, “Have a good day, June.” And then I skip (no, not metaphorically) back into the house and to my desk, into unreal worlds. The book feeds the podcast, but the podcast can inform the rest of my writing and, most important, touch an audience I would not otherwise reach. I podcast so the books I write may be read.

But what about you, you, you? Podcasts are everywhere on any topic you can dream up. It’s cheap promotion. It’s fun (mostly). You might make new friends and find a new readership. If you aren’t already podcasting, you should consider it. Or think about advertising on a podcast. That’s also inexpensive compared to traditional avenues. Podcast the same way you blog: talk about those things that ignite your passion, stimulate your skull box or tickle you silly. Get a friend to co-host and you’ve got a conversation. (I have no friends so I’m doing it solo. “But someday…” he said wistfully.)

But that’s not all. There’s Facebook, of course, though that’s generally more for tight amigos than business. Facebook has its problems as a business outlet (but this post is already too long and overuses the delightful parenthetical so let’s move on briskly.) Aside from blogging for writers and the self-published here, I also post on my Goodreads blog and on allthatchazz.com, the site for my readers. (If I ever say “fans,” drag me out into the street and reinvent the guillotine.)

Whenever I have down time (among the many tasks of formatting for ebooks, formatting for print, administrivia and…oh yeah, actually writing my books) I maintain three Twitter accounts. You probably know me from @RChazzChute on Twitter and such industrial films as “Whose Thumb is in the Fry-o-later?” @RChazzChute is where I meet most of my writing friends and fellow self-publishers. I got frustrated with Twitter’s whacky algorithm that slows me from following more people, so I went for more Twitter accounts.

@Expartepress (from my company name) is geared to readers and for activism. My pets are free speech, Occupy Everywhere and sovereign choices wherever no one else gets hurt, like eating Lutherans, for instance.

To promote the podcast, I let loose on @THECHAZZSAYS. I do an explicit comedy podcast, so when I have something edgy to say, it’s probably there (though some of you are already pissed off at me for the cat spaying joke. Most everyone who isn’t a Lutheran is okay with the cannibalism joke, however.)

So my target audiences are: Writers, Readers and the People of Earth With a Sense of Humour and an Interest in Fiction. It’s a small target but I can hit it.

What and how much is right for you?: Yes, multimedia promotion is a lot of work but don’t whine about the workload if you choose it for yourself.  Whining is unattractive.

I only do as much as I enjoy and the core writing always comes first. I wrote 11 pages of my new novel this morning, thank you very much.

Wait, wait! What about your terrible mistake? You said you’d tell us why you’re a complete idiot, Chazz! Oh. Right. Ahem. I’ve written this blog for some time. I’ve talked about my books and I’ve blogged about the craft of writing and editing extensively. I figured regular readers already knew what I was up to. However, this morning a fellow writer commented that the book trailer was cute. And…wait for it…up until she saw the trailer, she thought my books were all non-fiction. 

Ack!

Gulp!

Well, that’s humbling. I thought I’d already reached my immediate circle with my promise of suspense, fun, literature and frivolity. I failed to do that with someone who has guest blogged here and comments often. That’s not her fault. She’s a peach. The fault is mine. Maybe I didn’t talk long enough. Maybe I wasn’t short and pithy. Maybe the titles were misleading. For whatever reason I am not at this moment discerning through my haze of tears for fears, it took the book trailer for her to hear, “Hi, I’m Robert Chazz Chute and I think you’ll enjoy my fiction.”

If I can’t promote general awareness of my books, actual sales are farther off than I thought.

Her confusion is a signal to me. If it’s true for one, it’s often true for many.

Clearly, I have more promotional work to do. Much more.

You probably do, too.

Advertisements

Filed under: book trailer, Books, getting it done, Publicity & Promotion, readers, self-publishing, Social Media, What about Chazz?, , , , , , , , , , ,

3 Responses

  1. […] Self-publishers: Why I went multimedia (and why you should, too) (chazzwrites.wordpress.com) […]

  2. […] Self-publishers: Why I went multimedia (and why you should, too) (chazzwrites.wordpress.com) […]

  3. […] Self-publishers: Why I went multimedia (and why you should, too) (chazzwrites.wordpress.com) […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

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

See my books, blogs, links and podcasts.

I interview the people you need to get to know.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 10,610 other followers

Brain Spasms a la Twitter

%d bloggers like this: