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

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The “But At What Cost?” Miscalculation

John Locke has written a book: How I Sold 1 Million Ebooks in Five Months.* (I recommend it) How_I_sold_1_million_ebooks_in_5_months

LA Times writer Carolyn Kellogg wrote a piece that asks, “At What Cost?” Here’s that nonsense argument and my bit of nonsense follows.

The upshot is, Ms. Kellogg thinks Mr. Locke undersold himself. He sold a million ebooks, but charged 0.99 for many of them. She says he could have made a million of with higher pricing instead of making do in the $300,000 range. (A figure that would make many authors swoon.) There are many interesting observations in the comments section of the LA Times article that pick apart Ms. Kellogg’s worries very well.

Here’s my take away: I had never heard of John Locke until now. He used 0.99 loss leaders to sell a shit-ton of books. Yes, he “only” made 0.30 on the 0.99 ebooks, but  low or no pricing allowed wary readers to try him out. And now many more people know  about him. And I bought his non-fiction ebook which details his success so far. And I bought it for $4.99.

Kellogg is saying Locke was an idiot for leaving money on the table, assuming he could have moved so much and so quickly with a middle man trad publisher involved. Why would she assume that, I wonder? There’s no basis for it. The new world is not the old world and hers is classic old world thinking.

Now you know, if you didn’t, who John Locke is. And now you’re thinking, maybe I should buy one of his books and give it a try. Maybe more than one, huh?

*Thanks to Joanna Penn for her post on Mr. Locke. I love Joanna’s blog and podcast, The Creative Penn. Subscribe if you haven’t!  

Filed under: authors, DIY, ebooks, getting it done, links, Media, Publicity & Promotion, publishing, self-publishing, Writers, , , , , , , ,

Regret: In your life and on film

You have to (must, must, must!) see this film trailer.

Get out your hankies.

Here’s the background: My friend Christopher Richardson was a journalism student with me 25 years ago. (He’d say I was with him, but this is my blog so I set the dynamic and bugger the facts!)

Chris is the big-hearted genius behind the documentary Where’s My Goat? Now he’s working on a new film about regret called (wait for it) Regret. The hub of the film is the valedictorian speech he gave to our class in 1987. Things went awry. Having no respect for institutions myself, I loved his speech, but a lot of people hated it and went out of their way to make Chris feel bad about it. Twenty-five years later he still feels bad about it. And now he’s on a journey to our reunion that will take him to dark places that make you think seriously about the inevitable clash of our hopes versus our experience. You think you’ve got it rough trying to lose a little weight before you hit your 25-year reunion? This amps up the anxiety and depth times 1,000.

See the trailer at www.regretthefilm.com.

If you have regrets to share, contact Chris Richardson at


I think Chris is already working through his valedictorian regret because he’s making lemons into lemonade and sharing the sugar with the rest of us. We all need to reflect on our mistakes and learn from them. This film will help us all on that path.

If your skin doesn’t crawl, it’s on too tight. If you don’t have a tear in your eye, you have no heart. If you aren’t thinking about what you should have done when you watched that guy drown, your mother was right. You’re soulless.

And it wasn’t just “some guy”! It was your baby brother, you monster!

Filed under: links, Media, movies, , , , , , ,

India Drummond’s generous book give away

To celebrate the launch of her latest urban fantasy novel, Blood Faerie, author India Drummond will give away five Kindle copies of her book on its release day, June 1, 2011.

Blood Faerie is the first in India Drummond’s new series, Caledonia Fae.

Unjustly sentenced to death, Eilidh ran—away from faerie lands to the streets of blood-faeriePerth, Scotland. Just when she has grown accustomed to exile, local police discover a mutilated body outside the abandoned church where she lives. Recognizing the murder as the work of one of her own kind, Eilidh must choose: flee, or learn to tap into the forbidden magic that cost her everything.

To enter to win a Kindle copy of the new book, all you have to do is sign up for her email newsletter. The email list is only used to announce book releases and important events, and emails are sent out infrequently. (It’s free, and it’s easy to unsubscribe after the contest date if you find it’s not for you.) Sign up here.

Five winners’ names will be announced on the India Drummond newsletter on June 1st, along with instructions for how winners can claim their free Kindle books. Only subscribers are eligible to win.

No Kindle? No problem! Anyone with a PC, Mac, or smart-device (iPhone, Blackberry, Android phone, etc) can read a Kindle book. Download free reading software here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html/ref=sa_menu_karl3?ie=UTF8&docId=1000493771

Want to quadruple your chances of winning? Simply tweet about the contest with a link to any participating blog post and include @IndiaDrummond in your tweet. Or, share the link on Facebook. (But be sure to add @India Drummond to tag her on the link so she will see it! – You can add her to your friend list here: http://www.facebook.com/india.drummond)

And finally, add another entry to the list by posting about the contest on your blog.– Tweet and share the link as much as you like, but only one additional entry per method, per person.
Good luck, everyone!

Filed under: authors, Books, Contest announcement, e-reader, ebooks, links, , , ,

Writers: Choose choice, not ideology

Bertrand Russell's views on philosophy

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Talking politics with someone the other day, they said a particular candidate was so stupid they didn’t know when a reporter was rude to them. I doubt that. Assuming the politician dressed himself that morning, he did know and instead of reacting to the rudeness, he stayed on topic. He was polite—or even too polite.

The guy I was talking to already didn’t like the politician, so he chose not just to disagree with him, but to assume he was an idiot.

People choose sides. Sometimes they don’t even know why, but they get heavily invested in one outcome, often before we have any facts. Sure, people like to think they’re logical, but in fact they’re often intuitive. They jump to their conclusion and the logic that’s recruited only feels like logic. It’s actually rationalization.

We’re hardwired to make quick decisions. It’s in our genes to choose a tribe, too. We stick with that tribe, even when the tribe doesn’t serve us. Even when it’s a bunch of  millionaire basketball players, fans think they’re somehow on the team. It’s a religious fervor to join, to believe, to be one with a larger whole.

And it gets goofy. Nationalism, for instance, is tribalism write large. If you own a Mac and extol its virtues, a bunch of disproportionately angry people will call you a wuss in some web forum or other. We take ownership of things we don’t own. We choose up sides to divide us and them where there is no us and them. Gay teens get ostracized and bullied, many to suicide. Liberals are too quick to write off all conservatives. People can’t seem to make a distinction between “supporting the troops” and “disagreeing with the mission.”

Or, for writers, watch traditionally published authors shit on self-publishing. But this post isn’t about traditional versus indie. I’m not talking today about which way is best (as if any one way is best for everyone.) This is not another one of those posts debating the use of terms, indie versus self-published and who gets to claim what (as if words are owned or static.)

This is a post that simply says: compared to all the big problems we have, traditional publishing versus the new publishing? Pretty trivial. (And it doesn’t have to be all one thing or the other thing, anyway.)

Lighten up. Choose your own path. If you’re shitting on somebody or telling others what to do, ease up on tribal tendencies and focus on you.

Man in the Mirror and all that.

You be you. I’ll be me.

Filed under: Books, ebooks, links, publishing, Rant, self-publishing, Writers, , , , , ,

Writing Exercise: Idea Generation




Last Saturday I attended a great workshop on Editing and Revising with editor extraordinaire Brian Henry.

I’m deep into doing revisions on my own work and that of others, so a refreshing blast of continuing education was a nice change of pace. Brian is on the road every weekend to teach a workshop. He’s a genuinely nice guy and a skilled editor with tons of experience.

(Click here to find out more about his teaching or to receive his newsletter.)

The odd thing is, I did some freelance work for Brian when I worked at Harlequin in 1988/89. I was working in production, proofreading romance and after romance with a few military books mixed in so I wouldn’t grow breasts. (I proofread a lot of the Mack Bolan series back then.)

To pick up a little more cash, I waded into the slush pile for Brian, who was an editorial assistant at the time, to evaluate spec manuscripts. After taking several of his workshops over the last few years, he finally remembers who I am when I see him now. (I think.)

I’ve written a short story in two of his workshops now. I’m not usually a great fan of writing prompts from other people. I’ve got lots of ideas on my own. However, at Brian’s workshops I’ve leaped into the breach and come up with a couple of short pieces, written on the spot, with which I am quite pleased.

On Saturday, here’s what got the ball rolling; Brian called it his Chinese Fortune Cookie Exercise: We wrote a short fortune, say six words. Each participant came up with two fortunes to share. The fortunes preferably had a verb, included two people (implied was fine, not named) and there had to be an element of “tension or strangeness.”

Also, it’s okay if the fortune sucks. It’s just a prompt, not a plan. We exchanged fortunes with people at our table so everyone had something fresh. Then we started writing furiously.

The fortune I focused on was this:

“A relative will vex you.”

What I came up with was short and surprisingly soulful with a murderous sucker punch. My fellow participants were enthused. It is very affirming for any writer to come up with something quick on the spot that works so nicely. Now I have yet another short piece to add to my short story collection (available through Smashwords this summer!)

If you write, go read Quick Brown Fox, too. 

Filed under: ebooks, links, manuscript evaluation, publishing, self-publishing, short stories, Writing Conferences, writing tips, , , , , ,

How much should fiction cost?

There’s quite a gap between what publishers charge for ebooks and how self-publishers are pricing their work. Many authors (and readers) have a visceral reaction to price. Of course people are sensitive to a price they perceive too high, but many believe that if it’s too cheap, it must be crap. (JA Konrath suggests self-publishers play with price, and experiment to find the right price point.)

However pricing affects you intuitively, there’s no direct correlation between price and quality. Many fine ebooks are often priced low because the author is not well-known. Lower prices encourage timid readers to take a chance on new fiction. When the price is lower, readers buy more. It is freeing to click, click, click and still pay less for fiction than you might for a latte and a croissant.  Self-publishers hope to make it up on volume.

If you are trying to figure out how to price your ebooks, or what a fair price might be, Dean Wesley Smith has a great and useful  summary.

His suggestions have influenced my thinking greatly. As a result, my first book (that will be available digitally) will be a short story collection. I still plan to roll out my big novel in November, but the collection, including some award winners, will come this summer!

It’s all happening very quickly. It has to. And most glorious of all, now it can happen.

Time and me?

We wait for no one.

Not anymore. 

Filed under: Books, DIY, ebooks, grammar, links, My fiction, publishing, self-publishing, Writers, writing tips, , , , , ,

The Fatness

For a change of pace, here’s my column, Practitioner Parables, in Massage & Bodywork magazine on page 127. It’s called Therapists Through Thick and Thin. It’s about being heavy and getting thinner.


Filed under: Horror, links, Media, Rant, , , , , , , , , , ,

The Big Authors Begin To Bolt – The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

A photo of author and political commentator An...

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This will blow you away. $30,000 a year for a short story? And to think I have boxes of short stories around the house to hold the edges of carpets down.

The Big Authors Begin To Bolt – The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan.

Love the delicious little dig at publishing at the end of Sullivan’s article. Hm. I’ll have to read more from Sullivan on this topic to see precisely what he’s on about.

Filed under: authors, blogs & blogging, DIY, ebooks, links, Media, publishing, Rant, writing tips, , , , ,

Writers: Chazz Law versus Masnick’s Law

A cropped photograph depicts singer Elvis Pres...

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Thanks for all the nice feedback and e-mails about Monday’s blog post on Amanda Hocking. There was so much, in fact, that I need to do a follow-up about the mistakes we make when we compare our potential for success with another’s. Some people see another author’s success as a door slamming shut on their own noses. These are people who believe Masnick’s Law (which comes from the music industry.) The idea is that only a certain band at a certain time had certain advantages that can’t be replicated. They came along at the right time or had just the right choice of sound, or the moon was in alignment with the stars etc.,….

In other words, if they make it, you won’t.


You might make it in a different way (Elvis ≠The Beatles) but if you have a great book, success can be yours. Amanda Hocking isn’t stopping you from succeeding. Not writing your book is keeping you from succeeding. (Not revising or hiring an editor, too.) Hocking took a machete and cut a path into the jungle. JA Konrath, Barry Eisler and many other authors who went the self-published way are forging ahead. When you see others succeed, take it as inspiration. Masnick’s Law isn’t a law. It’s a self-defeating fallacy.


Art inspires more art.

Read it.

Rock it.

Roll it out.

(And don’t be a wuss.)

Filed under: authors, Books, DIY, ebooks, Editing, Editors, getting it done, links, publishing, Rant, Rejection, self-publishing, Writers, writing tips, , , , , , , , , , , ,

The NPR Resignation Redux

Finally, somebody says what I’m thinking about the NPR/Tea Party debacle.

Thank you!

Filed under: Intentionally Hilarious, links, , , ,


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

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