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

See all my books at AllThatChazz.com.

Book Promotion Services

FYI: Choosybookworm is holding a draw to give away a book promotion. They value the prize at $249.

Here’s the link to enter the draw.

About book promos (for novices)

I’ve been disappointed by Amazon ads and Facebook ads, but promo sites such as Bargainbooksy and Freebooksy are straightforward with fewer variables to worry about. These sites advertise discounted or free ebooks to their lists.

Paid advertising on Amazon and Facebook has many moving parts and a steep and expensive learning curve. If you’re looking for more book reviews or to promote awareness of the magic that is you, book promotion services are the simpler and easier way forward.

Besides the big promo sites, there are smaller platforms that can accomplish similar aims with less impact. Search for book promotion sites that are genre-specific (e.g. science fiction or romance). These services have fewer subscribers, but are more targeted and less expensive.

Free promotions get more eyes on your book. You might also get a few negative reviews because some free-seekers pick up anything indiscriminately, even if they don’t care for the genre. Don’t let that deter you. A book with zero negative reviews suggests it has yet to be read to a large audience (i.e. beyond its target audience).

Plan ahead for your promotions since dates fill up. I nabbed a Bargainbooksy the other day and received the earliest date available: Dec. 19.

If you get a Bookbub, plan your other promotions around that, so they stack. In other words, small promotions first and cap it off with Bookbub to get the attention of the Amazon algos so they sell your book for you. They want to observe momentum and traction in downloads before their recommendation engines kick in.

If your books are across more platforms outside of Amazon, you have a better shot at getting a Bookbub promotion, but that doesn’t mean you have to go wide to get that opportunity. It is harder, though.

These promotions work best when your aim is to promote the first book in a series. The first taste is free (or discounted). With a decent read-through, readers who otherwise would not have known you exist will discover you and buy the other books.

To promote read-through, give a sample chapter or two of the next book in the series. Make sure those are tasty or you’ll turn them off. Don’t give too much of the next book away. You don’t want them to feel duped that they got a much shorter book than expected. You want to give them a teaser, not engage in book stuffing.

Facebook groups like 20BooksTo50K are useful for a lot of reasons. Before paying for a new book promotion service, I search that group for reviews by other authors. Check up on their customer experience and return on investment to see if that latest book promo offer in your inbox is likely to pan out.

~ I’m Robert Chazz Chute. I write killer crime thrillers and apocalyptic epics. You’ll find all my books on my author site, AllThatChazz.com. Enjoy your crime. Revel in the apocalypse.

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Guest Post: Mistakes Made

Reading Weep, I became impressed with Eoin Brady’s writing. It’s a compelling zombie novel set in Ireland powered by well-drawn characters. Recently, I reached out to him to share a bit of his author journey. Today, Eoin generously shares his missteps and how he’s correcting them. Thanks for sharing, Eoin! ~ RCC

Getting It Right Beyond the Writing

I can’t speak about success with much credibility. However, I’ve a good bit to say on the topic of failure, the prelude to success.

I’m Eoin Brady and I have published three books. One is a contemporary romance and the other two are in the post-apocalyptic, science fiction genre. There’s a fantasy series in the works, too. You can probably spot the mistake. Romance and horror under the same pen name. I’ll grant you there is neck biting in both, but there’s a little more ‘will they, or won’t they?’ with romance. 

My first book I’m Not Saying It was published in June of 2018. It bombed. You couldn’t hear crickets chirping on the sales dashboard because not even they knew to show up. To date, it has still not made back the cost of its cover and editing. It was a premade cover too, not all that expensive.

It was the first book I published, but not the first that I’d written. I shelved a nearly 300,000 word fantasy novel because it would have cost a fortune to have it professionally edited. If I was going to slip up, which was inevitable, I didn’t want it to be on something that I’d put so much time and effort into. I ended up putting a lot of time and effort into a different project and messed that up instead.

The story for the romance was set on Inis Meain, the middle and least visited of the Aran Islands off the coast of Galway. In 2017, I got a job on the island and moved there. I soon discovered that I get seasick, not great when you have to cross a stretch of the Atlantic to do your weekly shopping. On days off and after work, I wandered the roads and paths, filling them with my characters and their stories. I focused all my efforts on the writing and ignored what came after ‘The End.’ The result of that was clear. Nobody read it. If nobody could find my book then what did it matter that I lived in the location to make the story feel alive on the page?

What Went Wrong:

I’m Not Saying It is a contemporary romance, but you’d never guess that from the regency style cover. I wasn’t a big reader of the genre before writing it and that was a massive mistake. How could I hope to market a book to readers when I had no idea what their expectations were? You’re not reinventing the wheel. You’re trying to entertain people and hopefully make a living doing so. Who would I direct the advertisements to? Who were my contemporaries? What covers were working? I did not have the bare minimum information so I was set to fail before I started.

The Cover:

I bought a pre-made cover that was red and had a couple on it. That’ll do the job and save me a bit of money, I thought. Nope. There’s nothing contemporary about it. Might as well slap a chemistry text book cover on it. I had a product that was flawed because I didn’t understand the market. What authors could I target in my ads? Readers of Cecelia Ahern or Maeve Binchy? To me, they were romance authors, but their readership could be completely different. Would somebody fond of second-chance romance give my story a go? You’d get more steam from a cold kettle than you would from INSI, so was I pushing a sweet romance to a readership hungry for a bit of divilment?

The cover for my second novel, Weep, is a little closer to its genre expectations, but it does require a second glance and even then it does not perfectly convey the content within. You want your cover to let the reader know their expectations will be met. With so many new books being added to Amazon every day, people don’t have to spare you a second thought.

The quality of your story does not matter if you lose readers at first glance. I made it difficult to the point of impossible for people to find my story. If the process of buying a book from an unknown author is not as seamless as possible, you’ve lost. Even if everything was perfect, from your sales copy, cover and blurb, you’re still going to have difficulty enticing people to give you their finite money and time.

The Content: 

The main character, Shade, is a fully fledged travel blogger when we meet her. She has a fairly full bank account and is confident in her position as a seasoned blogger. Where’s the intrigue? It’s only now that I realise that the interesting part of her story happened before this book. I want to read about her failures. I want to feel anxious as the ticking clock starts and we watch as the dregs of her savings dwindle. Will she make it and be able to follow her dreams for a living? Or will she have to return to a 9-5 that she’s desperate to escape? As a reader I’m interested in characters facing adversity and watching them struggle, fail and hoping they’ll eventually overcome that failure. I’m not invested in a character that has made it without first seeing them struggle, but I’ll not stop turning the pages for one that might never achieve their dreams, yet still strives to.

***

My biggest failure was a complete lack of preparation outside of writing. When I first discovered that people wrote books for a living, that being an author was something that you could be, I swapped the fantasy section of my local bookstore, for the much smaller, writing craft shelves. I read as much as I could, but I realised that I wasn’t going to find a magic solution to becoming a writer. The fundamental thing was lacking; writing. Now in the modern age of self-publishing, it has taken longer for it to dawn on me that I should have been spending just as much time in the marketing section of the store.

It can be a little overwhelming when starting out. You are the writer, marketer,  copywriter, administrator and financier. Basically everything. I was riddled with doubt, but I then had to put that aside and try to sell a product with mock confidence when all I wanted to do was write. I suppose you can just write, but you won’t sell much.

So where to start? You can lose yourself in the many courses, seminars, classes, videos, books and newsletters available. I don’t know where I heard it to leave credit, but the self-publishing boom was compared to the gold-rush. Prospectors weren’t the wealthy ones. It was the people supplying them with the means to root around in the dirt who struck gold.

To deal with a sense of being overwhelmed, I overwhelmed myself by reading book after book on self-publishing. Initially, I had a broad focus and tried to stretch my limited time to do everything at once. I’ve started narrowing the focus of my efforts. Build up the basics and implement them before moving on. I dove straight into everything. Trying to do too much all at once just meant I did many things poorly.

Current Failings: Marketing

Marketing is vital if you want to be read. It is the voice of your story. Without it, you’re invisible. I’ve had a very slapdash approach to marketing so far. My daily spend is quite low. At the moment I’m running an ad for Weep and one for the free Weep novella to build my mailing list. 

Not long after the release of Weep, I set up a few newsletter promotions. It was free for a week and thousands of people downloaded it. Quite an experience seeing those towering columns on the sales dashboard. I’ve nothing to show for those numbers though. I never set up a means of holding on to those readers. If they reached the end of the book, there was no cookie to attract them to a mailing list. I had neither a cookie nor a list. Rectifying that has taken up a good portion of my writing time this year. 

Now I have a reader magnet, A Ring of Oak & Apple. That novella has nearly tripled the number of subscribers on my list. I wouldn’t consider it a success as I’ve not really engaged those new subscribers. I’m slow to message them, taking on lessons from previously jumping in without forethought. I’m quite happy to give that novella away for free as I feel it’s the best representation of my writing. If people enjoy it, then they might go on and read the rest of my work. It removes the apprehension around spending money on an unknown product. The newsletter is a long-term investment into your career. Progression is slow; words become chapters become books. Just as strangers become readers become fans. It seems like the best way of doing that is with a mailing list.

Marketing still seems daunting, but the monster you don’t know is a lot scarier than the one you do. By defining boundaries on what can be done, the task becomes manageable. 

My goal is to make a living by entertaining readers. I cannot simply achieve that by telling stories, I have to learn how to sell them, too. 

What Helps Me Write More

With a workload increase since the onset of the pandemic, I’ve had a lot less time to write. The only way I’ve been able to get words down with any consistency is with writing sprints. I set an alarm for twenty minutes and try to write as much as I can during that time. Twenty distraction-free minutes. When the alarm goes off, I’ll make a cup of coffee for the next sprint. I can usually get between 600-700 words each time. They’re by no means pretty, but nobody else will see the first draft. I’ve found sprinting coupled with planning has significantly reduced instances of writer’s block.

Planning

What good is sprinting if you’re going in the wrong direction? When it comes to what side of the fence I fall with regards to planning and discovery writing, I do both. I’ll try to work out the barebones of a story and create a scaffolding to build upon. I don’t know the characters all that well, but the first draft is where I discover them. Some people find planning stifles creativity. If that sounds familiar, then work with what suits you. Planning has saved me time and words. I’d be lost without it. Not planning has cost me an entire novel. 

Miscellaneous Mistakes:

I may have found the title of the autobiography that I’ll never write. Getting a cover wrong is a costly mistake. Over the last few years, I’ve bought covers before the books were even started. I ordered two covers for books that existed as little more than titles at the time. Take the Weep novella A Ring of Oak & Apple, for example. What has the  moon got to do with Irish zombies? Sweet feck all. It was commissioned for a romance novel. I had to retcon the moon and a ringfort of oak and apple trees into the novella.

The checklist for publishing a book can seem quite short, but the steps involved can take years. Getting the cover done felt like finally ticking off something from the list. It was creating an anchor point in reality for something that existed purely in my imagination. This could have worked if I had a solid plan in place. With a good enough plan, you could nearly write the acknowledgements for the last book of a series you’ve yet to start.

Solutions & Resources: 

Enrolling in Mark Dawson’s Self-Publishing Formula courses has been one of the best investments I’ve made for my writing. It’s an expanding library of content on most self-publishing topics. I reference it as and when I need. For my recent novella, A Ring of Oak & Apple, I went back over videos on blurbs, front and back matter and now I’m going into the marketing side of things. I’m an avid listener of the SPF podcast and that made me feel confident in what they were offering. For me, it was a way of reducing that sense of being overwhelmed by finding a place where most of what I needed to know was condensed into video lessons. Their Facebook group, The SPF Community, is a great place to find information on what is working for other writers.

Right now building up an email list is my main focus, outside of writing more books. I’m giving the Weep novella away to entice readers to join. Newsletter Ninja by Tammi Labrecque is an illuminating book on the topic.

David Gaughran pretty much covers everything on his website. https://davidgaughran.com. I also found his books insightful.

Tools I Use:

Canva: (Free). I use this to design all of my ad images.

Writing: Google Docs. I might give Scrivener a go on the next book. Right now though Google docs does the job.

Formatting: Vellum – professional formatting, easy to use, no qualms about this purchase.

Kindle Rocket – Keywords for ads and categories.

Mailerlite: Email newsletter.

Bookfunnel: Distributing reader magnet novella.

Website: Squarespace. My site is barebones, but it does the job for now.

Learning From Failure:

The experience of writing, editing and publishing INSI was invaluable and the lessons from those mistakes have been a great base to grow from. I plan to take that book down, rewrite parts of it and position it as number two in a new romance trilogy with genre-specific covers and published under a separate romance pen name. It was by no means a wasted effort. Mistakes make great fertilizer.

~ Eoin Brady is the author of apocalyptic horror, epic fantasy, and contemporary romance novels, most of which are set in Ireland, where he lives and writes. Weep, his most recent story, begins on the west coast of Ireland as a mysterious disease ravages the country. Find out more at www.eoinbradybooks.com

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My Book Marketing Mistake

The Night Man is Thriller of the Day at Kindle Nation Daily today!

Every author is asked about their mistakes.

In every writer’s forum and podcast, eventually someone will ask veteran writers what they’ve did wrong. The question is posed in different ways. The most common form is, “If you could tell your younger self what to do differently, what would it be?”

Many will say that they should have invested more in editing their first books. Others will say they should have ponied up for better covers, focused on building their mailing lists, written only in series, or listened to their mum and become a forensic accountant instead. I wish I’d spent more time learning book marketing.

I’d worked in traditional publishing and sold millions of dollars worth of books for other people, but that’s a different story about a dying industry. I began Ex Parte Press in 2010. Back then, there weren’t as many marketing avenues to travel. Many authors didn’t really have to work very hard to get eyeballs on their work, though. Our tools were few and dull, but the competition wasn’t as stiff and Amazon’s Gold Rush was on. There weren’t nearly as many courses out there showing authors how to amp up their media presence and ad buys. We were just feeling our way, often writing as many books as we could as fast as we could and flirting with burnout.

Some publishing guru asked recently, “You wouldn’t launch a book with a tweet, would you?” Well, no. Not now. But it used to be that it didn’t take much more than that if the book was good and cover and sales copy were on point.

I admit, I got stuck in some old thinking. I focused more on the editorial content and less on the marketing. My approach was not balanced. It’s a different world in plenty of ways and we all have to adapt. Yesterday, I attended three marketing webinars. To be honest, there wasn’t much there for me to take action on immediately. That’s the way of these things: Three hours in, you’re usually lucky to pick up on a one to three tidbits to use later.

Today’s tidbit:

Focus on what you can do to balance your writing and publishing business. You can’t depend on passive, magical thinking to pull readers’ attention. Book marketing is not osmosis. You have to write and market. Most authors are probably putting too much weight on one side of that scale. If you’re writing for yourself, that’s fine. If you’re writing to be read, the passive approach to too anemic to be healthy.

In that spirit, I’m promoting a suspenseful and surprising novel of which I’m very proud. My killer crime thriller, The Night Man is free to download today and tomorrow. I used Freebooksy, Kindle Nation Daily, Ereader News Today and Instagram to give away thousands of copies to get the attention of Amazon’s algos so they can sell it for me, aggressively, not passively.

Follow this link to see what a Thriller of the Day promo looks like. (And please do give it a click while you’re at it. Thanks!)

~ You’ll find all my books at AllThatChazz.com.

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Help for Authors

(Click here to go straight to the Dystopian Book Fair.)

It is not often that tools comes along that help authors automate and optimize a bunch of operations we used to have to do manually. If that were true, I’d post here more often. A few years ago, after posting daily at the beginning of publishing’s indie revolution, I decided to focus more on writing books. I post on ChazzWrites when I am sure I have something valuable to share. Today, that value comes from telling you about Bookfunnel and StoryOrigin. Participation will equal a smoother publishing process with your beta readers and ARCS and can certainly build your readership (without dropping a ton of money on time-consuming advertising experiments nobody can quite seem to perfect.)

StoryOrigin has three levels of membership, all free at the moment. Their highest level (AKA Professional) is in beta so I guess that’s why that’s still free for now. Bookfunnel also has three tiers of membership, all reasonably priced and dependent on your assessement of where you are in your writing career (First-time. Mid-list or Bestseller, $20, 100 or $250 respectively.)

StoryOrigin recently added a tool for writers to track their daily word counts and goals. I like the look of the goal creator because it offers an end date, not just a start date. God knows many of us are better at starting than finishing. I am new to StoryOrign but I used Bookfunnel for my latest release, Citizen Second Class. I can say that when I encountered a minor problem and contacted Bookfunnel’s tech support, they were fast and friendly and all over it immediately. That’s service worth paying for.

Something I enjoy about Bookfunnel is the promotional opportunity. Whether you’re giving away free samples, ARCS, reader magnets or full books, you can create a nifty landing page on Bookfunnel easily. You can also establish or join a book promotion with fellow authors in the same genre in a snap. New promotional opportunities show up in my inbox all the time and there’s no additional fee. Bookfunnel figured out an easy way to do for authors what you can’t do to cats: Herd us in a positive direction.

Today, for instance, I’m participating in a promotion of authors and their books similar to mine for Citizen Second Class. This one is called The Dystopian Book Fair. Each author is assigned an individual tracking link for their day during the book promotion. Each participating author spreads the happy word to their followers through newsletters and social media. Very professional. Click here to see what that looks like.

It’s the beginning of 2020 and many of you have probably made the identical resolution: “This is the year I will take my writing career to the next level.” Bookfunnel and StoryOrigin look like very inexpensive ways to solidify and execute that commitment.

To find out more about all my books, check out my author website at AllThatChazz.com.

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What to talk about with readers

Sometimes you get to talk about a new cover, but there’s plenty more to talk about when we engage with readers.

It’s a common question: What do I say to readers?

If you’re meeting readers in person at a book signing, your engagement is generally as follows: a friendly hello, an inquiry about what they like to read and your elevator pitch tailored to their preferences. Ask their name and autograph it. Collect email addresses for your newsletter. Sell your paperbacks and/or have a QR code so they can buy ebooks on the spot.

If you have multiple books and a following who specifically came to see you (congrats!), they’ll talk to you about the last book of yours they read as they buy the next.

If you’re signing at a bookstore and the turnout is disappointing, don’t worry about it. Your mission isn’t to sell a few paperbacks and grub pocket change. Your job is to make sure the bookstore employees love and remember you. They’re the ones recommending books to their customers every working day, after all. You’re planting seeds in that case, not necessarily harvesting.

I’m not a great fan of in-person book signings. A few of my friends do marathons of signings and schlep to every festival, comics convention, bookstore and cafe. A buddy of mine is so prolific and peripatetic, he’d show up the opening of an envelope. More power to them. I live in Canada. Everything is far away from everything else. I’d rather stay home and talk to readers from the comfort of my writing bunker.

Before and after: Fresh, on-point covers may translate to increased sales. Consult with fans. They can help you choose covers and titles, too.

Which brings us to how most of us engage with readers: electronically.

We all know we should engage readers through newsletters, preferably not through a gmail account (so your news doesn’t go to spam), preferably keeping the list warm by sending out the mass email at some reasonable frequency so you are not forgotten. There are newsletter builders for most genres and autoresponders help convert casual readers into fans. I’m no newsletter ninja and my attitude about newsletter engagement is poor. I worry too much about bothering anyone too often. Unsubscribes from a small list are a bit depressing. However, I know a newsletter ninja who does it right so why listen to me about newsletters? I recommend Newsletter Ninja 1 & 2 by Tammi L. Labrecque.

Here’s how I love to engage with readers: my FB fan group

I list my books and links in the back of my books, of course. I also invite the die-hard fans to join us in my private fan group, Fans of Robert Chazz Chute. You can spend a month or years working on books, creating worlds in isolation. This group is one of the joys of the writing life and makes it less lonely. If not for them, I’d talk to three people on an average day. Four, if I order coffee.

Be honest, be real

These readers are fans who are mostly like-minded. They tend to share my worldview. I’m left of center, as is some of my fiction, I suppose. I know, I know! We’re told that, as authors, we lose readers if we’re political. Ha! That advice is common but it surely is not as universal as you’ve been told. Ever check out Stephen King’s Twitter feed or Chuck Wendig’s?

This topic is a longer discussion and another post. However, everything is political, especially now. Choosing not to speak up is a political choice, too. The market is fractionated. Everybody picks a side and everyone has their outlet. I was a citizen before I was a writer. I act like it and I’m real about my worries for the future. The climate crisis is real. The pandemic threat is real. Fascism, economic and governmental failures are real. Useful positions when you’re writing dramas about the end of the world, right?

Might I lose some readers? Possibly. I’d likely gain more readers than I’d lose. I don’t think I’d lose many readers who would dig my work so, frankly, I can’t worry about that much. To appeal to everyone, I’d have to say nothing. That’s not me and the writing would suffer. My fiction is richer because it’s informed by dark and stark realities of non-fiction. (Plus jokes. I make a lot of jokes.)

The Fan Group Offer

Members are entered into a raffle and, with their consent, lend their names to characters in my fiction. Nobody turns down the offer. It’s kind of a blast to find a character named after you in a book. I write apocalyptic epics and crime thrillers so even though safety is not guaranteed, people take it as a fun bonus of membership.

Pros and Cons

As discussed in last week’s post, there are problems with Facebook’s policies, post visibility and politics. You’re undoubtedly already familiar with those issues. However, talking with readers within the group is very rewarding for me. People do see my posts within the group, they want to see me succeed and the bond is tight. To me, newsletters often feel like missives to the ether. Within the group, I get replies in the comments, often instantaneously. It’s great to hang out with supportive people who get you and what you do. On some level, I think every writer needs that kind of edge. This is a fun way to make a living. It’s not an easy path.

The group is a club, the only kind I think I’d enjoy. This is not for the casual reader who can take me or leave me. Will it expand my readership? Honestly, not as well as a large newsletter list or a big investment in advertising might. The concrete benefits of the group are mostly indirect. It’s a time investment, not a monetary one and I never miss that time.

The experience is chummy. My editor is in the group. I’m more likely to find beta readers who know my catalogue there (and they can catch if I’m repeating myself). They know my genres. I have up and down days and I’m honest about both. Because of this blog and the podcasts I’ve been on, a lot of people in the group are not only readers, but authors, too. It helps to have friends in the know who you can PM occasionally to ask for a book blurb or get the answer to a question.

How often do I post to the fan group?

Pretty much daily. Sometimes I take a day off on Sundays.

Daily?! WTH do you say to them daily, Rob?!

What to say to readers:

Update them about deals, of course. These two gems are set to free today (Nov. 19/19), for instance. http://author.to/RobertChazzChute

There’s plenty to talk about that is not spammy:

  • Share compelling snippets from your WIP.
  • Consult with them about titles and covers.
  • Share your hopes, dreams and frustrations. The writing life is a dream. Sometimes it’s a nightmare. Tell them the truth.
  • Share their successes. These aren’t just fans. I think of every one of them as trusted friends. If a troll wandered in I’d bounce them immediately but no one has let me down yet.
  • Ask their advice. I’ve got mice in my attic. I vented. Suggestions were made.
  • Pictures. I shared holiday pix of my trip to Chicago and growled about the Christmas tree my son put up way too early.
  • Sometimes the post is a music video I like or a book recommendation.
  • I congratulate readers on completing another orbit around the sun. I’m glad for every birthday. Readers are precious. I want them to live.
  • I share blog posts, especially this one since it’s all about the sweet, sappy love.
  • Tell jokes and stories. More than once I’ve shared amusing anecdotes about territorial disputes with other folks at my coffee office. It’s war!
  • We talk a bit about the news but that’s more for the main news feed. I mean, sure, as noted above, I’m politically aware. However, I don’t hit anyone over the head with minute-to-minute coverage of the impeachment hearings. That’s already ubiquitous.
  • Never miss an opportunity to be kind, helpful and grateful.

If this sounds like a diary, you’re not wrong

Don’t just talk like an author, stiff and selling. Talk like a human. Despite who I am, I can provide a reasonable facsimile of human interaction. Maybe not normal human interaction, but they can get that shit anywhere, right? Entertain yourself and you’ll inevitably entertain someone else while you’re at it.

It’s okay to be random. I recently switched to a whole foods, plant-based diet (nutritarian, specifically.) I’m losing weight and feeling great. I’ve shared recipes, cooking successes and failures alike. We’ve laughed about the pumpkin pie that was supposed to be the best in the world. It sure wasn’t. Why should anyone care? They care because it’s honest and relatable. Ironic that the same is true of the lies you tell within the covers of a novel, isn’t it? Honest and relatable lies make compelling stories.

This is not a marketing chore. Have fun with it. I love the writing life and my people allow me to enjoy it every day, not just when I hit publish or read a happy review.

~ I’m Robert Chazz Chute. I write apocalyptic epics and killer crime thrillers. Subscribe to my teeny newsletter at AllThatChazz.com. Apparently, I won’t bother you with it often enough.

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Marketing Experiments, Promotional Pricing and Free Books

Written Word Media came up with a survey that found optimum pricing to boost author income in fiction ranges from 99¢ to $4.99. Not surprisingly, the more books you write the more you are likely to make. There’s a ton of useful info in their report. Here’s the link.

Here’s how I’m applying that information to my situation (and more)


I’ve been running a lot of experiments with my book marketing this fall. (For instance, after watching the Game Changers movie, I’ve gone vegan.) But you want to hear about my book marketing experiments, not what I’m eating.

From running a ton of Amazon ads to Bookbub ads and featured deals, it’s been a tough go to get visibility and traction. If I hadn’t been publishing since 2011, I’d be in more trouble. You want the what, not the how. Rather than get into the weeds of how I arrived at my conclusions, I’m going to skip to the end and tell you what I’m going to do moving forward based on my experiments.

Here’s the no-bullshit skinny:

  1. I’m no longer interested in running Facebook ads for a variety of reasons. More than the expense, the ethics of a company so willing to subvert democracy by publishing lies and advocating racist news outlets means I’ve got to be out of it. So Ex Parte Press doesn’t commit suicide, I will continue to use it as a free service so I can connect with readers in my FB fan group. That’s the best I can do right now.
  2. Paying for Bookbub ads to go at the bottom of their newsletters? That’s out, too. I tried to make it work. The budget got spent too fast and it did not pay off.
  3. In the past month, I’ve had two Bookbub featured deals. The first was somewhat successful. The second was a disaster. I ignored applying for BB featured deals for their newsletters for too long. Despite the uneven results, I love Bookbub! They’ve been the most reliable book promotion service. However, after getting knocked in the dirt yesterday, my enthusiasm is somewhat deflated.

    The trouble was that they didn’t allow me to promote to the American market in those adverts. For thrillers set in Michigan and New York, that would have been great. I will continue to apply for Bookbub promotions but I’m more willing to say no to a promotion that doesn’t match well with my best market. I make 65% of my income from Amazon.com. Amazon India is just not a factor for me.
  4. By the close of the year, I will have written and published five books in 2019. I’ve written down my plans for 2020 and the pace is going to be about the same. That is my pace. If I write faster, the quality of the reader experience may degrade. No disrespect to anyone who writes faster or slower. That’s just me. However, four of the five books I have planned will be more carefully aimed at a niche market. One of the books is more literary rather than genre so I might shop that to publishers.
  5. I intend to take one series “wide” beyond Amazon’s ecosystem in 2020.
  6. I’m trying to get new covers for my most popular series. Nothing wrong with the covers, necessarily. Just needs a fresh face after being on the market for several years.
  7. I will continue to work with the Amazon ad platform because I can control the budgets better. Unlike Facebook ads, for instance, Amazon ads don’t blow through their budgets as quickly and I feel more in control of the variables. Still, it takes a lot of monitoring and tinkering. I don’t love it but it’s necessary. (Beware of any set-it-and-forget-it marketing schemes.)
  8. No Instagram ads. Tried it. That dog won’t hunt for me. Love the platform but also don’t want to give any money to Zuckerberg.
  9. I’ve become a big fan of BookBrush. For $8 a month, you can make beautiful images for marketing, blogs, posts, etc. I also like cheap image editing services like Crello and Canva. Picmonkey is also useful for a small fee.
  10. I used to appear on several podcasts quite often. I’d like to do more of that again. Remember Author Strong and the Self-publishing Roundtable? Damn, those were fun. A recent study says podcasts help move the needle, too.
  11. That’s a lot of what’s out. What’s else is in, Rob? Give it to me faster!
    (A) Continuing to connect with my readers personally through my Facebook fan group. I post there daily. They get me. I love them. It’s personal and real and real fun.

    (B) I’ll be using free promotions for first in series more often. I’d abandoned that for a long while and focused all my energy on writing. I have to allot a couple of hours a day to tinker with ads, blurb copy, blog posts etc. I write for three or four hours a day. Then I hit the wall and have to sit back and think a bit.
    (C) Focus. I’m tracking time better. I write full-time and work with a great editor (strawnediting.com). That helps me get those five books a year out there. Conscious time management makes me more productive.

    I have a big backlist and a lot of work to do to promote that catalog. However, completing one project at a time would be better. I occasionally do book doctor work, for instance. When I’m doing that for another author, I don’t do any work on my own books.
    (D) Audiobooks. We’ve completed the sound booth in my basement AKA the Blanket Fort. I’m taking an excellent audiobook narration and production course from Udemy.com. Audiobook recording and editing take a lot of time but that’s where the market is going. I hope to have two audiobooks on the market by this time next year.
    (E) Community knowledge and support: The 20Booksto50K Facebook group is a great resource for authors. My resolution is to check in there once a day to see what’s up and what’s new. I don’t post there but I lurk quite enthusiastically.
    (F) Ordinarily, I would be doing NaNoWriMo but that doesn’t fit my schedule this year. I have to come up with a series bible for Item G below and I’ll be editing my new dystopian thriller. That pushes out writing new stuff in November. However, if you’re looking for support and community while you write, sign up for NaNoWriMo now.
    (G) Starting in December, I’ll be writing two books with my buddy Armand Rosamilia. Team writing is a little like tennis. We lob chapters back and forth so writing two books will be more like writing one in terms of word count. If you want to write more, cooperate and coordinate for greater gains, consider teaming up with a co-author.
    (G) According to Written Word Media: Promo sites are the most effective marketing channel. I will be focusing on a few lower-cost sites and sites that are specific to my chosen genres. There is Bookbub, but there are lots of other services, as well. I like Freebooksy and Bargain Booksy, for instance.

Please note: These are my conclusions based on my experiments over the last few months. Your mileage may vary. Educate yourself and experiment to find what works for you. There are no guarantees in this business. Sometimes book sales will take off and we aren’t even sure why. Good books can fall by the wayside and that’s an irritating mystery, too. Only one thing remains constant: Someone helpful and condescending who doesn’t know all your variables will come up with plenty of ideas about why you messed up. (Sorry. Still wincing from yesterday’s failed experiment.)

Okay, deep breath.

What else you got for me, Rob?

More? You want more? How about this:
Two free thrillers and a fan-priced thriller. This is your universal Amazon link to pick them up, binge and love.

Also, here are my latest posts from my author site, AllThatChazz.com.

Eight Things You Didn’t Know

Why The Night Man?

Titles, Arcs and ARCs

Sign up for my newsletter while you’re visiting AllThatChazz.com.

And here’s that universal link to my Amazon pages again because, hey, bills to pay and lettuce to buy. Thanks!

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

Amazon Ads Challenge

Advertising your books on Amazon can be helpful or it can be a huge pain to get right. If you’re struggling with this issue, here’s something to consider:

Bryan Cohen from the Sell More Books Show is running a 5-day Amazon Ad Profit Challenge.

Participation is free from his end but I asked what to budget for the ads themselves. He said it would be hard to spend more than $20. However, to be safe, Bryan suggested budgeting up to $50.

Here’s the link: https://upvir.al/ref/gK26398309

If you’re into it, jump in now because it starts tomorrow.

Filed under: book marketing, , , , ,

Facebook Live Fallout

Happy Christmas comes early Day!

Today, Friday, December 21, is special. I’m giving away ten of my books on Amazon, free for everyone to download. Yes, this means you, too! Go get your gifts!

Now, about my Facebook Live experiment:

In my last post, I mentioned that I was going to try Facebook Live for the first time. I promised to report back so here I am. It was a grand success and, to my surprise, I enjoyed it. I’ve done a ton of podcasting but Facebook Live doesn’t have any of the administrative issues or costs of podcasting. FB Live video can be replayed and repurposed, all for free. Free is a good fit for my budget. There are a lot of pros and very few cons.* 

What’s best about FB Live?

Engagement in real time! To be able to connect with readers personally and efficiently (read: without having to leave my house) is fantastic.

People showed up for the video I didn’t expect to appear. Readers also engaged in the comments after the live video was over. I didn’t expect that. Engagement is investment. The fact that people were willing to give up some time and attention to say hello, listen to me talk about my books and make a few jokes truly warmed my heart.

How often can we say book marketing is fun and even (gasp!) encouraging?!

The fallout is that I’m all in. Beginning in January I’m going to do a Facebook Live broadcast every Wednesday night at 8 p.m. EST.

Wanna see? Friend me on Facebook here.

To catch my first Facebook Live video

and pick up a bunch of free reading,

head over to AllThatChazz.com.

Feel free to download them all,

share the happy news with your reader friends

and enjoy your early Christmas presents!

 

Happy reading and merry Christmas, everybody!

~ RCC

*Total honesty post-script: I don’t like the way I look on camera. I got over it. Nobody cares. That was my mental block. I wore clothes. That’s sufficient.

 

 

Filed under: book marketing, publishing, robert chazz chute, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Book Marketing: Three Tips

Sometimes I clue into useful writing, publishing and publicity tools late. Here are three book marketing tips I’m using now.

Booklinker

The tool I just started using in Booklinker. Instead of breaking out links by individual store, one free link boosts international sales. Make it easier for readers to connect to their home stores with one click and they’ll find our books clickety-quick.

Here’s what mine looks like:

viewauthor.at/RobertChazzChute

Canva

I have been using Canva for social media posts and more for quite a while, actually. It’s free and the user interface is friendly. However, it hadn’t occurred to me before that I could use custom sizing to make buttons for my newsletters and websites. Combine this feature with Booklinker and BOOM:

TAKE ME TO YOUR BOOKS!

Speaking of newsletters, catch my thoughts on how I changed my mind about writing newsletters in my latest blog post. It’s called The Newsletter Deal.

 

Facebook Live:

Authors and publishers are in a pay-to-play environment now. To become visible and sell books, you must advertise. The only thing better to connect with readers and the love of books is to spread your words by word of mouth and personal interaction.

Note: I still don’t recommend hanging out at bookstores and doing signings unless you already have a huge following. It was sad to see one long line of fans for Kelly Armstrong as eight forlorn and lonely unknown authors watched and waited for someone to give them a single glance. Digital interaction is much more efficient and even more fun because I don’t have to leave my house.

Facebook Live is a nice alternative to shouting your name and tossing business cards from a careening car. I’ve done plenty of podcasts so Facebook is the live video equivalent without the longterm commitments podcasts demand.

I’ll be experimenting with my first Facebook Live event tonight at 8 PM EST. I’ll let you know if I throw up from nerves. If that happens, I’ll just keep going. If the event goes well, it’s fun but if it’s an utter disaster, it could be a viral sensation. As long as it isn’t a burning sensation, I’m good.

Find me on Facebook tonight, December 19 at 8 PM EST. I’ll be the one sweating questions and doing my Joker impression.

 

BONUS: The Big Giveaway

Christmas comes early this year. On Friday, December 21, I’m giving away ten of my ebooks for free, no strings attached. Happy holidays! Go to Amazon on Friday and choose what you like among the following ebooks (or download them all!):

AFTER Life Inferno (my new zombie apocalypse)

Machines Dream of Metal Gods (the first book in the Robot Planet Series)

Bigger Than Jesus (The Hit Man novel that started the series)

All Empires Fall, Signals from the Apocalypse (an anthology of end-of-the-world tales)

Wallflower (my time travel novel featuring Kurt Vonnegut as a character)

Dream’s Dark Flight (a paranormal urban fantasy stand-alone novel in the Dimension War universe)

Brooklyn in the Mean Time (my autobiographical crime thriller)

Murders Among Dead Trees (my fiction anthology featuring the award winners)

Self-help for Stoners (a fiction anthology for introspection)

Do the Thing (non-fiction to help you deal with stress)


To subscribe to my newsletter and get a heads up on more giveaways and deals, join up at AllThatChazz.com.

To join me at the Fans of Robert Chazz Chute Facebook group and get behind the curtain daily interaction, click here.

 

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

Top Ten: Sell better. Sell Sideways with Video, Podcasts, Pop-ups and Free.

I’m always mystified by people who use the hard sell. Telemarketers hear me say, “No, thanks.” Then they charge forward anyway, following their sales script:

“Can I ask you one question, Mr. Chute?”
“Is that question designed to verbal judo, Jedi mind trick me into thinking I have to buy your duct cleaning service or else I’m doomed?”
“I…beg your pardon?”
“No means no! No means no!” Click!

You get the idea. 

And so it is with everything, including books.

Sometimes someone snags my attention with a come-hither headline I can’t resist. I click the link and bang! The pop-up comes at me a little too fast. I know nothing about the seller but they want to skip the first date and go straight to marriage and demand an email address. She Who Must Be Obeyed is awesome, but our engagement was thirteen years long. Do I sound like a guy who commits easily?

A fast pop-up is okay if I come to the seller from a blog or if I already sort of know them. I just need a formal introduction to get comfortable. But to come in blindly and have a stranger demand commitment? Slow down and buy me dinner. Seduce me. Talk slow. Tease me and…um…where were we?

Red flags and suggestions:

1. If your pop-up comes in so it obscures your content completely, I feel ambushed. There are times for a sign up or go offer, but for that to work, I think you have to give the potential subscriber something free and good (e.g. a white paper on how to make a million, a free course, killer book extras.) If you’re going for the email address early on, give them something they want.

2. Do install a pop-up on your author site, though. People say they hate pop-ups but they work and if they’re into your flavor, readers do need to be on your email list. Don’t call it a newsletter though. Call it an update or an info hub or a friendly reminder about new deals and opportunities, exclusive to subscribers.

3. Tweets from accounts with no picture but the default egg look shifty. It suggests the tweeter is a bot or clueless and we don’t follow or sign up for anything. We run away.

4. My new buddy, Buddy Gott (see the crazy fun interview below) has a nice take on Twitter. Check out his twitter account here. He tweets jokes and shows his personality. It’s not just links. He’s clearly having fun with his Twitter account so his followers will have fun, too. When I meet a fun writer, I wonder if their books are fun, too. Then I check them out.

5. If you’re going to tweet and it’s not fun, make it useful. Easy to share, useful content is good. But don’t forget to have fun, too. Follow others and promote good content that’s not coming just from you. Curate.

6. Yes, it’s okay to ask for the sale. But say hello first. Don’t push. Establish some kind of relationship. If I know you and you ask for the sale, that’s cool. If that’s the first thing I hear, or all I hear, you’re a clueless bully. Yes, tweet links to your new book, but if “BUY MY BOOK!” is all you’ve got for Facebook and Twitter, you’re headed for the circle of hell reserved for salespeople who believe Glengarry Glen Ross is a training film for humans.


7. Establishing relationships can be difficult, especially when you’re talking to a crowd. It helps to ask about them, not tell them about you. Unless you’ve got a really funny story about waking up drunk and naked in an unfamiliar bathtub, listen more than you talk, take part and respond. Come at me sideways instead of a full frontal assault.

8. You don’t want to be out there building relationships so much that you don’t have time to write your next book. Tweet in spare moments and, once you’ve established you’re not a dick, send those interested to interesting content. 

9. Stop being so afraid and precious that you can’t give something away. For instance, go grab a free thriller from me here. Yes, it’s the first in a fun and fast series about a Cuban hit man who’s quite adorable. There are three books in that series so far. Click the link, get a free ebook and maybe you’ll love your new addiction.

10. People are willing to watch video longer than they’re willing to put up with text. That’s why the TV show Lost still had some viewers at the end. (Lost wasn’t about castaways on a mysterious island. Lost referred to the people in the writing room as the series went on.) 

So, never mind my Lost snark.

Use video as a friendly get to know you. Like this.

BONUS: Based on a True Story

Check out the new episode of the All That Chazz podcast in which I discuss the relationship between bands and their sex toys. I also discuss my latest brush with the law. Have a listen. Have fun. Sell sideways.

Filed under: author platform, book marketing, 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

"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

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

See my books, blogs, links and podcasts.

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