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

Write and publish with love and fury.

Ultimate Blog Challenge: I am an artist, not a beggar

A forum post out of the cyber-ether really irritated me,

and not just because the person who posted was biased against self-publishing.

She was horribly misinformed and self-centered.

Her complaint is about “all these self-published authors begging for likes on their Facebook pages” and that apparently angered her by…okay, I’m not sure how that could bother her so much. Cluttering up her world, I guess. The strength  of venom I detected is usually found in a rattler’s fangs. Anyway, let’s flesh out the ugly misconception in her deluded subtext:

1. It’s not just indie authors. All authors with a Facebook page ask for “likes”. The more important likes are the like and buy buttons of our Amazon pages, but we all want to be liked. Most traditionally published authors understand that their publisher’s publicists are already stretched too thin, are often less effective than publicity that comes directly from authors and what resources that are channelled toward their books tend to be minuscule and fleeting.

2. It’s not begging. It’s asking politely and you often get something in exchange, like free entertainment, free education (like this post) and books that are much cheaper than what you’d pay a traditional publisher. All my books are currently priced at $2.99. That’s couch change — an impulse buy — for professionally published books. For less than the cost of one Starbucks coffee you get hours of entertainment I am happy to provide. I am an artist, not a beggar.

I’m not asking for loose change in exchange for nothing. I’m offering you a chance at relaxed Sunday afternoon with a book when it’s too hot to go outside; a cozy read on a winter’s night when you can’t sleep; suspense that won’t let you go to sleep;  a euphoric discovery that will delight you and might even change you. Yeah, you betcha that’s a bargain. If you refuse, no hard feelings.

3. Providing you with information or the opportunity to help out is not spam. It’s a question you don’t even have to answer. Get over yourself or turn off your Internet connection and take a break. I’m sorry the world isn’t catering to you. It’s not catering to me, either, but I suspect I hate fewer people than you do. I’d define spam as bombarding people with ads that provide no value, are out to scam you and a steady stream of blaring that gives you no opportunity to opt out. (i.e. You don’t get to complain if you decide for yourself you’re going to read it.)

4. Ignoring  the request takes nothing from you. Simply ignoring a request takes the bare minimum of tolerance. This person must be a nightmare in real life. How would she handle a real problem?

5. Why all the animus toward authors? Helping out costs nothing and I don’t think authors have any bad feelings toward those who don’t bother to “like” their books on Amazon, click “Agree with these tags” button on Amazon (it’s toward the bottom of each sales page) and “like” their Facebook page. (Thanks for helping to spread the word. And if you didn’t, no hard feelings.)

6. Ads are only irritating if you aren’t interested. On the computer, I click away. If assailed by the TV, I ignore it, fast forward, check my email or get up from the couch and get a glass of water. Indie authors (well, everyone) deserve more compassion than the complainer was willing to bestow. Sadly because the complainer might even love our work if she gave it a chance.

7. Despite my frustrated tone here, I know authors are not entitled to sales any more than Wal-mart or Toyota “deserves” your sales. We don’t even “deserve” your attention. That’s the myth of the entitled author I hear so much about. I honestly haven’t met many authors who suffer that delusion.

We get it. It’s a book. To most, “just” a book. We write them and lots of people don’t care. A lot of people don’t even read! Still, we stand behind our work and hope to find our audience. We hope our audience finds us. If I’m speaking to a crowd, I’m not speaking to everyone and I know it. Please be patient and polite while I direct my audience toward my books. I promise I won’t take long doing it and I’ll be as entertaining and quick as I can as I ask these things. You can always opt out.

Whether you’re indie or traditionally published, the promotion for your book really is up to you, your tribe, your followers and your readers. Publishers do very little for most authors. Stephen King gets a big promotional budget. That’s right. The authors who need the promotion least get the biggest boost because it’s a simple business decision: the publisher banks on the biggest title. Big publisher or small, these are the evaluations we all have to make.

I make that same evaluation every week. I have two very new titles just released in June. One is a short story

Get Bigger Than Jesus

collection bundled with a novella, The Dangerous Kind & Other Stories. The other is my crime thriller, Bigger Than Jesusthe first in a series. Which do I spend my limited resources promoting? Obviously, the crime thriller.

No short story collection will sell as well as a thriller. In all likelihood, my short story collections’ sales (there are three collections in all) will come after readers decide they like my flavor by discovering the novel. Some of the stories include characters and references that cross books, so there’s cross-pollination going on, too.  The short story collections are great, but they’re harder to sell (though they will be a valuable long term sales avenue.)

Yes, we have to interact and connect and make connections and help others to be heard.

Endure a little promotion amid all that for art’s sake.

Everybody’s trying to make a living

and civility is the grease to the gears of civilization.

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15 Responses

  1. emmacalin says:

    Hi Chazz — great post. Followed your links and liked your FB page and also went to your Amazon book page – liked books and agreed with tags but then found no tags in the UK – so I copied them across from .com to .co.uk for all your books and agreed there too. No tags on your paperback on .com for Self Help.. so copied them from Kindle version (hope that’s ok) and then over to UK. If you decide to add more and need them on UK let me know. Also liked your author page on .com (I think it’s a new feature but only on author profile in USA at moment). Hope this helps! Emma x

    • Chazz says:

      Emma! You are my hero. I appreciate all that effort so much!

      You’ve also got me thinking I should beat the interns around here. Waitaminute! Where are my interns?! Crap!

      Since I have no interns, it’s all my fault. The truth is, I’ve been so busy, I really haven’t paid enough attention to the international Amazon sites and have focussed on the .com (and writing, getting the print version of Bigger Than Jesus coming, proofing the writing book etc.). Still, no excuses. You not only helped me, but woke me up to stuff I have to add to my to-do list. Thanks for that. I know it doesn’t all happen at once but I can’t let it slide too long, either. It’s a huge struggle and time management juggle and I really thank you for all you’ve done, Emma!

  2. Hi Chazz, I think you really summed up how a lot of authors feel in your post. As a wannabe author (40,000 words in now for my first novel), I’d also like to comment about abuse of the technology available. I have started unfollowing anyone who tweets about their books more than 5 times a day, especially if this is all they tweet.

    That’s the rub I guess, you need to promote to find your audience but you shouldn’t be churning out “Spam” that annoys people either.

    For example, in your marketing efforts you are polite, consistent and it’s not the only thing you talk about – this is rare. I’m afraid not all authors are the same.

    What do you think?

    • Chazz says:

      As soon as I read your limit I thought, “How many times a day do I promote my own stuff?” LOL! During launches, I probably break your limit.

      We’re all conflicted, especially since I’ve heard conflicting numbers as to how often we have to see an ad before we act on it. Ten times? Twenty-seven times? What will move the needle? At some point critical mass is reached, word of mouth takes over and successful indie authors will get away with doing less promotion. I am so looking forward to hitting critical mass and letting word of mouth do the pushing.

      Yesterday I read someone assert that social media works as long as you never talk about your books at all. Um. That strikes me as an extreme position and I know of no track record for that approach. Ever see a Coke ad where they talked about the guy who stirs the syrup and what his cats did last night? It’s as if some folks think we’re supposed to be ashamed of our work. (Hm. I feel another blog post coming on, Will noodle with that.)

      I guess I just try to balance out the ad blasts with the information and free entertainment so we’ll be forgiven. The people who won’t forgive us aren’t on board the party boat and were never going to buy, anyway, so it’s hard to feel sorry for them (especially since whatever torture they may suffer is strictly on a volunteer basis and they can drop out at ay time.)

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

      • Hi Chaz,

        And that’s what I meant, you share, you post stuff that doesn’t just say buy my book now. You are interesting and you engage people, and that is why when you post something to twitter about your book, there is a chance that I will check it out.

        It’s a balance. Nice work on the tight rope…. You get it just about right. :o)

  3. “We get it. It’s a book. To most, “just” a book. We write them and lots of people don’t care. A lot of people don’t even read! Still, we stand behind our work and hope to find our audience. We hope our audience finds us. If I’m speaking to a crowd, I’m not speaking to everyone and I know it. Please be patient and polite while I direct my audience toward my books.”

    Right on, brother.

  4. Are you planning to write more than two in the Bigger Than Jesus series? Are you planning to release a trilogy book that includes all three for a lesser price (say $7.99 for all three)? Just curious what your plans are there. I’m asking because I’m considering doing that with Abigale 1, 2, and 3 then 4, 5, and 6. Thoughts?

    I do hope The Indie Author’s Guide to: Building a Great Book comes in handy when you’re formatting your print versions. The print version of that book should be approved soon, then you can go see what I mean by running headers and proper page numbering and how it looks. Free look inside and all that jazz. Let me know how it worked out? WRITE ON!

  5. Chazz says:

    Five books are planned for The Hit Man Series so far. I’m not sure about the whole bundling thing. I guess I have the time to evaluate that strategy.

    Jeff Bennington designed my first paperback (Self-help for Stoners) and he did a great job. For the print version of Bigger Than Jesus, I tried Scrivener. Setting that up was a bit frustrating but I’m happy with the results so far and discovered I love Georgia (the font.) Just waiting for the cover art so I can go ahead and print it. I look forward to reading your book to mow down the formatting obstacles.

    • Yeah, bundling is like walking a tightrope without a net. It may work but may blow up in your face too. Then, SPLAT! I like when printed authors offer a box-set of sorts but I don’t know of a sales channel that will allow that. I feel a blog post coming on… Off to do some research. Thanks for the reply!

  6. Thank you for this awesome post! It is almost like you read my thoughts when it comes to being a “self-promoting” indie author! So many people completely misunderstand what we are trying to accomplish when we say “Hey I’ve written a book” and its frustrating when the wrong people jump all over you and your work! :o)

  7. […] Ultimate Blog Challenge: I am an artist, not a beggar (chazzwrites.com) […]

  8. […] Ultimate Blog Challenge: I am an artist, not a beggar (chazzwrites.com) […]

  9. […] Ultimate Blog Challenge: I am an artist, not a beggar (chazzwrites.com) […]

  10. […] Ultimate Blog Challenge: I am an artist, not a beggar (chazzwrites.com) […]

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