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

Write and publish with love and fury.

Why your interviews don’t work and how to fix the problem

See on Scoop.itWriting and reading fiction

A fun yet uncomfortable author interview: The Questions with Robert Chazz Chute: Writer on dSavannah Rambles

Robert Chazz Chute‘s insight:

Most author interviews don’t get read. If they are read, they are lightly scanned. Too often, the same questions are asked and worse, the same answers squeak out to an audience that does not care. There are people who care about where you get your ideas or how you started writing. Those people are your mom (maybe) and the fans who are already into your books. No conversions for you!

Regular Interviews Don’t Create New Readers

Regular interviews bore old readers. They convert no one. Some author interviews make me wish they’d preserved the mystery and shut up. Mostly, I just delete, ignore and move on to see if the Internet has any playful cat videos (like you). Author interviews as they are generally practiced are lousy promotional tools. If you’re going to bother with an arduoous guest blog tour for your book, break the old paradigm.

The Solution is Umbilical Lint

Writers should avoid cliches, so enough about (slurp) how much coffee we drink. Tell us about the Hunter S Thompson acid trip you took in Juarez at spring break. Tell us about your hilarious colonoscopy (I did on the All That Chazz podcast). Share news. News is new. Be entertaining and don’t go for the standard questions and useless answers.

This week, in my post “Author Armand Rosamilia Hates Canada” we got a lot of hits, retweets and comments. People had a good time with Armand’s fun answers to my silly questions about his secret life as a belly button lint sculptor. We made people laugh and intrigued them. Getting read, whether it’s in your books or for your book tour, starts with getting people interested. Don’t lead with “How long have you been writing?” Who cares? Those sorts of questions are for authors who are already on the NYT bestseller list. (And even them, yech.)

Don’t be Afraid to be Bizarre…or Honest

In my latest interview with dSavannah (at the link below) I give honest answers and some of them are funny but uncomfortable. Some answers involve time travel to save my childhood and career. I give an honest answer that involves my mother’s death. (I didn’t kill her. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.) Be honest, informative, helpful, make jokes and use more imagination. You do that when you’re writing your books. Do that when you talk about your work, too. Just don’t be so earnest! To sell art, be more artful.

If You Want Nice Fans with a Sense of Humor, Be One of Them

Another example? Listen in to my giggly interview with cool Jessica McHugh at CoolPeoplePodcast.com. You might hate me but you’ll fall in love with her and you’ll want to check out her books. Our books are extensions of our personalities. Have one. That gives a reader hope they’ll like your books.

Read Armand Rosmilia’s audacious Fatty Arbuckle reference in his post here. Armand looks like a death metal biker dude, acts like a teddy bear and is a fun guy. We got such great feedback on “Author Armand Rosamilia Hates Canada”, he told me that in his next interview he plans to bomb Alaska. I think that’s something we can all get behind.

Entertainment is the first step to engagement. Are you not entertained?

If not, the author interview failed.

See on dsavannah.com

Filed under: author platform, author Q&A, authors, My fiction, publishing, , , , , , ,

This Plague of Days: You will be infected

The mind virus is created. Spread the infection.

The mind virus is created. Spread the infection. Click the image to purchase.

Welcome to young Jaimie Spencer’s world.

See the collapse of America’s heartland through the eyes of a boy on the autism spectrum. Watch the rise of the zombies destroy London. Two forces. One collision course.

This Plague of Days, Season 1 is like two books in one.

Terrorists release a deadly virus: Sutr-X kills 60% of the world’s population. It mutates. Now Sutr-Z is coming for all of us. Watch how ordinary people react when everything they thought they knew is ripped away.

Look around.

Your power? Your conveniences? The gasoline for your car and all that food to choose from? Gone.

The food chain is changing. The virus is spreading. Your world is falling apart and you are meat if you can’t run, fight or hide.

This Plague of Days is a horror serial that will surprise you.

Latin phrases, contemplations on the nature of God, cannibals in the streets and a strange boy who is a selective mute with an obsession for words. Don’t miss this one.

You can get five episodes for 99 cents each week by week for a summer of grim fun or you can get all of Season 1 at a discount for just $3.99. You’re going to love it.

 

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Filed under: Books, My fiction, Publicity & Promotion, publishing, This Plague of Days, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Book Launch Prep: Funnels, marketing, and tap dancing as fast as I can

A cross-genre flurry about  society's collapse under the crush of the Sutr Virus combined with a boy's love for odd words, Latin dictionaries and his father.

A cross-genre flurry about society’s collapse under the crush of the Sutr Virus combined with a boy’s love for odd words, Latin dictionaries and his father.

As the launch of my serialized novel, This Plague of Days, approaches, there’s still a lot to do that has little to do with writing the book. This preliminary work is about charming the unsuspecting into the back of my mind candy van, building happy buzz and marketing funnels. It’s time I gave you a glimpse of some of the things I do in that vein. (For more, check out Crack the Indie Author Code and Write Your Book: Aspire to Inspire.)

I’m working on reaching out beyond people who already know me to the people who don’t know me yet. It will come as a huge surprise to you, that figure is still in the billions. (WTH?, man?!) Being unknown is the curse. And so we put ourselves out there to grasp for the blessing of new readers who will fall in love with us (dammit!)

This is, in part, what I did this weekend to reach out:

1. Approached an author about seeing an ARC of This Plague of Days in hopes of getting a cover blurb. (I get all squirrelly about this, but I have to do it more.)

2. Published several articles to my newest and fastest-growing blog, DecisionToChange.com. It’s about weight loss, life’s struggle, healthy recipes and becoming a healthier, happier person. (I know that doesn’t sound like me at all, but I’m playing against type.)

Click it to grab it. Just 99 cents!

Click it to grab it. Just 99 cents!

3. Posted something similar to #2 on Vine*. (Repurposing is not rehashing, so it comes across as much more amusing on video.)

4. Published a full excerpt of the first chapter of TPOD at ThisPlagueOfDays.com

5. Published the excerpt to WattPad. I haven’t used Wattpad enough. It’s an easy way to share stories and help readers find us.

Cool+People+Podcast+Final6. Published a new Cool People Podcast with erotica author Eden Baylee. The podcast is about the lovely and smart Eden and her cool worldview (but I’m there, too, so it counts.)  I also tweaked the site so it has a new slider bar which will draw attention to recent guests on the podcast.

7. Researched innovative ways to further publicize the coming launch. Innovative, as in different and untested. I’ll let you know how it works out once they are tested.

8. In giving someone else advice on merchandising, I figured out a new way to do that better with TPOD. (I’m not being coy, but more on that in a different post once I experiment with it.)

9. Wrote this post, giving you links to a couple of my other blogs you wouldn’t otherwise check out. (Hope you like the excerpt and sneak peeks.)

10. Most important: 

I worked on the revisions of This Plague of Days and added a new beta reader to my team. I wrote new scenes with more action where it was slower. I tweaked old scenes so they sparkle anew. I’m writing the best book I can. No matter what else you do to promote your book, #10 is the principle that’s most solid.

My luckless hit man is a funny guy in big trouble.

My luckless hit man is a funny guy in big trouble.

~ Robert Chazz Chute is writing horror instead of a funny hardboiled thriller for a change, but he loves it all and hopes you will, too.

*Want to reach out to more people and discover more about the Vine app? Go here to find out more about Six Seconds, The Unauthorized Guide to How to Build Your Business with the Vine App.

Filed under: book marketing, My fiction, Publicity & Promotion, publishing, self-publishing, This Plague of Days, Vine, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

On Writing Well: Openings, Distractions and the next Million Dollar Idea

The Challenge of the Slow Open

Crack the Indie Author CodeAs I work on revising my coming-of-age, love story cleverly disguised as an apocalyptic plague thriller, I worry about the beginning most. (I’ll give you a minute to digest that first sentence.)

This is a long book I will serialize (soon). The story unfolds largely through the eyes of a boy with Aspergers Syndrome, sixteen-year-old Jaimie Spencer. He’s a selective mute. I wanted to impress upon the reader how different he is from the first page. The story starts with the boy observing the plague as it infects his next-door neighbor. The neighbor is a pilot who happens to be having sex with a flight attendant at the time, but Jaimie is detached about such things. He’s asexual. His point of view is an interesting hook, but it’s not really an action hook. It reads like a character hook.

I’m going for intrigue and showing this book is more serious than much of my other work. I’m satisfied it’s a good start, but it’s a risk because of that slow start. I’m starting the novel with a long lit fuse instead of an explosion. That could be a problem and I will have to revisit this issue several more times before I commit to the slow burn open. There are plenty of explosions, strained family dynamics, obstacles, reversals, betrayals, realizations, death and a long journey  ahead. Amid the chaos, Jaimie is a detached, almost Christlike figure. The world is falling apart and he’s fascinated with dictionaries. (Expect Latin phrases, weird words and an amusing annoyance over homonyms.) The boy perceives the world as an alien might. His peculiar point of view questions how everyone else sees the world.

My luckless hit man is a funny guy in big trouble.

My luckless hit man is a funny guy in big trouble.

Big openings hook more readers faster. For instance, is it a cheap ploy to kill somebody off in the first paragraph? Many critics, both amateur and professional, seem to think so. However, I suspect the average reader doesn’t think that way at all. Some lit snobs say they shouldn’t think that way. Irrelevant. Many readers do think that way.

Every story should jump right in without throat-clearing, of course. (Don’t start your book with a weather report, as a baffling number of novels still do.) But how late should you enter the action? Bigger Than Jesus starts in media res with my loveable hit man out on a slippery ledge high over Tribeca with the bad guy hiding behind a gargoyle. Higher Than Jesus starts with a slower open in a dive bar, but right from the start, you know Jesus Diaz is there to kill someone on Christmas Day. Crime fiction should start with action. But can Jaimie Spencer do it?

Distractions

I’m confident in the writing for those who stick around for the show. However, we, as writers, are not competing with other books in our genre. We’re competing with Call of Duty, Game of Thrones (on TV), people working second and third jobs to earn enough to live, laughing babies on YouTube, the gym, the laundry, and all the other paperwork of life. Readers have so many distractions, it almost makes me yearn for a time when books were much more central to our culture. The good news is, if you survive the coming world flu pandemic that will wipe out billions, there will be fewer distractions and a bit more reading time.

Solutions and Opportunities

Jesus is resurrected in Chicago. Sex with the Queen of Giants. Violence with Very Bad Men.

Jesus is resurrected in Chicago. Sex with the Queen of Giants. Violence with Very Bad Men.

I have a suggestion to help combat The Distraction Problem. It’s not really open to me at the moment* but you might be able to use this suggestion: If you’re American, make audiobooks on ACX part of your publishing platform so people will be able to consume your goodness while they do the laundry, commute to their second job, run on a treadmill or play Call of Duty. Publish an audiobook on ACX and it goes to Amazon, iTunes and Audible. Audio is the future. That, and the massive killer virus thingy.

*I encouraged writers to go for ACX in Crack the Indie Author Code and Write Your Book: Aspire to Inspire. Since I’m a Canuck, they aren’t set up to deal with me yet. That creates a huge hole in the market for audiobooks worldwide. If I had the money, I’d start a company to compete with ACX and deal with all them foreigners immediately.

Click it to grab it. Just 99 cents!

Click it to grab it. Just 99 cents!

~ Earlier today I published an article on ChazzWrites.com that was meant for my website about Six Seconds, The Unauthorized Guide to How to Build Your Business with the Vine App. Apologies for the mix-up and a suggestion: If you’re on WordPress, don’t ever use the Quick post feature. Any problems I’ve ever had posting to WordPress started there. I decided to leave it up since it automatically shot out to subscribers and I never did announce a page dedicated to that book, so…yeah, I’ve got a web page just about Vine and the useful glory that is Six Seconds. If you’re interested in checking out Vine and promoting your books with it, here’s the link to onlysixseconds.

If you’re on Vine and would like to hear a reading from Self-help for Stoners, find “Robert Chazz Chute” on Vine. I’m doing the first author reading on the Vine app. Interested in winning a signed copy of Bigger Than Jesus? I’m running a contest with that reading. Get the details on how you could win from this link to AllThatChazz.

Filed under: audiobooks, blogs & blogging, book marketing, Editing, My fiction, publishing, Vine, Writers, writing tips, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How I handle trouble (like Jesus)

CameraAwesomePhoto

I FINALLY OPEN UP TO YOU

ME: I handle trouble like Jesus. No, not that Jesus. I mean Jesus (pronounced “Hay-Soose”) Salvador Umberto Luis Diaz, my Cuban hit man from Bigger Than Jesus and Higher than Jesus. Recently I had to talk to Authority to get something fixed. I can’t go into details about the mission, but I will tell you how I approached the problem by channeling my alter ego/main character.

YOU: Wait a minute, Chazz, your main character isn’t just your protagonist? You’re actually saying he’s your alter ego? And he’s a hit man?

ME: The truth is, I’m not much use in most situations. Can’t cook or balance a chequebook or fix plumbing. My idea of small talk is asking if strangers believe in eternal damnation. Quantum mechanics, the Singularity and Simulation Theory is cool, but I’m apparently incapable of breezy talk about your job, your kids or your trip to Cancun. I can dislocate a shoulder and fix it again, but those opportunities don’t arise often…(ahem)…enough.

However, when out on a mission, I dress well and all in black, complete with black fedora.

YOU: A fedora? Really? That’s a…bold choice.

(A new edition, somewhat revamped.)

(A new edition, somewhat revamped.)

ME: It’s called style if you carry yourself like you don’t give a shit. I dress like a bad immortal from Highlander (soon to be released again and, as with Green Lantern, ruined by the otherwise beautiful Ryan Reynolds).

BACK TO HIT MAN FASHION CHOICES

Remember John Cusack in Grosse Pointe BlankCameraAwesomePhoto tie when Dan Aykroyd asks him to join a union for hit men? He replies, “Look at me! Look at the way I dress! I didn’t get into this business to have any relationships! I don’t want to join your goddamn union. Loner, lone gunman! Get it? That’s the whole point!” God, I love that movie. My books have a similar sensibility and quirky comedy.

MY PIN SAYS “EVIL DOER”

That pin and a hard look gets me better service wherever I go, from sales people to cash registers. Jesus thinks like I think in many ways. My sense of humor is the same as Jesus’s. I write him. How could it not be so? We share a worldview about violence, revenge, love and commitment. (Though I wasn’t a Cuban émigré tortured in a Miami basement in my childhood, I did grow up in rural Nova Scotia, so clearly there are parallels in our psychological impairments.) We’re both paranoid and lie with a facility that would alarm you if we weren’t in the professions we’re in. Our motto is the same: Question Authority before Authority questions you. We both seem to have surprisingly fast reaction times, but that’s just because we’re always plotting how to respond should anything bad happen. We don’t relax. We anticipate and simmer.

"A quick-moving plot with lots of surprises and a clear-eyed examination of addiction."

“A quick-moving plot with lots of surprises and a clear-eyed examination of addiction.”

THE MEETING

True story: When I got into the meeting with Authority today, I made some jokes, but my jaw was tight and by the end of the meeting my rage showed. I reined it in and kept my voice low. Authority was cooperative. Authority was nice. Authority pressed his back into his chair, wide-eyed, nodding and worried. Even when I made a joke, Authority was afraid to laugh because Authority knew I was serious and there’s something there that I’m trying to hold back but the leash is slippery and the chain links are weak. Jesus Diaz is a “Do it to them before they get a chance to do it to you” sort of guy. We understand each other.

Authority agreed to my requests because I stood up for the little guy, because I’m right and because I channeled the Jesus in me. I love Jesus. Sure, he’s a contract killer, but he’s a victim, too, and if you read the books, you grow to understand and like him at the very least. Mr. Diaz is complex and tragic and funny and he’s the underdog who, despite all odds against him, somehow wins…or sort of wins. I relate to him on a visceral level.

ADDENDUM

YOU (brightly and, I suspect, disingenuously): O-kay…. That’s our time for today!

ME: Thank you, doctor. Same time next week?

YOU: If that’s okay with you, Mr. Chute, sure.

You think I missed that snarky little addendum of yours. You said it under your breath, but I read lips. After “sure” you added, “you psycho.” 

Maybe it was even a subconscious thing you aren’t even aware you did, but I’m sure. My face betrays nothing. I nod toward your office window and point to the parking lot.

ME: There’s a homeless-looking guy who looks like he’s casing cars out there. Which car is yours?

Without thinking, you rush to the window and point out your car for me.

YOU: I don’t see anyone out there.

ME: He must have moved out of sight behind those hedges. You can’t be too careful. Nice car. It would be a shame if something were to happen to it.

"You will laugh your ass off!" ~ Author of Cybrgrrl, Maxwell Cynn

“You will laugh your ass off!” ~ Author of Cybrgrrl, Maxwell Cynn

~ Robert Chazz Chute writes suspense, crime novels and has two guides to writing and publishing for sale. For his book links and to hear the All That Chazz podcasts, go to AllThatChazz.com. That would be so groovy.

Filed under: Books, My fiction, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Spooky weirdness and the books on my desk

A little story about writing and intuition

Once upon a time, as a healer, I engaged in counselling someone in a spiritual quest to free them from pain. It’s a long story I will not indulge today, but I will say that before each of those appointments, I meditated. I did that then. ow writing is the only meditation I seem to need. Before each of those appointments, I went to my bookshelves. I’ve collected books for years, so I have several thousand waiting to be rediscovered. Each time, one of those books would call to me. I felt a change in energy through my palm as I ran my hand along the shelves. I would then open the book at random…or seemingly at random. Something always arose in the client’s session that related to the passage from the chosen book. The woman I worked with used to be trapped in an electric wheelchair. She walks, drives, travels and lives a full life now. She became a healer and took my place. Make of that what you will.

When I’m stuck or need a nudge or a connection to an epiphany, I still go to my bookshelves. Call it inspiration, weird, or the hypnogogic state, pattern recognition, divine intervention or neural connection through confirmation bias. Call it nonsense if you want. I’m conflicted about it myself. Nevertheless, it worked. It still works. When I need it, that intuition can propel my narratives forward.

I’m now revising one book while writing another. As I survey my extra desk (spreading out is such luxury), there are several piles I either reference or keep close by just to stay on track. I thought you might be interested to know what I pulled from my bookshelves to draw from as I go through my process:

For my crime novel:

The Pool Bible by Nick Metcalfe (as in nine ball), Mobspeak, The Dictionary of Crime Terms (Sifakis), Writing the Private Eye Novel, Cause of Death A writer’s guide to death, murder & forensic medicine (Wilson), How to Write a Mystery (Larry Beinhart), New York City Day by Day and Frommer’s New York City.

For Editing:

The Artful Edit (Susan Bell), The Subversive Copy Editor (Carol Fisher Sailor).

For Inspiration:

Brother (William Goldman), Best American Crime Writing 2003, When the Women Come out to Dance  and The Hot Kid (Elmore Leonard), Small Town (Lawrence Block), This Year You Write Your Novel, (Walter Mosley).

NEXT POST: Pantsing versus Plotting

Filed under: ebooks, Editing, getting it done, My fiction, publishing, What about Chazz?, writing tips, , , , , , , ,

Review, Interview and Podcast News

Many regular readers expect a new podcast from me right about now. Since my throat has closed up and I’m currently absorbing oxygen through my pores, there’s no podcast this evening (though if you missed any, they can all be found at AllThatChazz.com.)

Twisty and twisted. Click the pic for more.

However, I do have sweet and tasty candies for you:

From the NSFW category, erotica author Eden Baylee asks me some piercing Proustian questions and I give some earnest, logical and scatological answers. Not only is it not safe for work, it may not even be safe for your living room. Click here, read there and have a laugh.

Over at The Raven’s Quill, Krista Walsh gives a lovely review of Sex, Death & Mind Control.There are allusions to Dr. Hannibal Lecter. She’s beguiled, so I know my experiments with mind control really are working. See what the fuss is all about and read the review on her site.

Recently, RaeBeth McGee interviewed me at The Writing World. I’m all about the pithy answers about writer’s block, verisimilitude and my enemies will get a clue as to where to search for the hidden secret to my weaknesses! Enjoy in a click.

A new cover is coming for The Dangerous Kind. This time it will be pretty since Kit at KitFosterDesign is pinch hitting for me. It will be more effective because the new cover will include a happy endorsement from a bestselling author.

If you don’t have a Kindle, but still want The Dangerous Kind edition with the vintage cover, you can get it on Smashwords here. I’ve had great reviews of this suspenseful novella. You could be the next happy reader to review this claustrophobic story of greed, betrayal and inner demons in the Maine woods. (Still for just 99 cents! Couch change!)

I shall be podcasting again when my throat is no longer full of razor blades. For now, I think you’ll find these links plenty entertaining. For me? Each of these links taste like affirmation of me as a writer and acknowledgement that I’m a player…excuse me, that should be playah. And all that tastes like chocolate croissant. My thanks to Eden, Krista and RaeBeth! That was fun!

I have major announcements cooking, so stay tuned.

Cool stuff is coming your way.

Related articles

Filed under: All That Chazz, ebooks, My fiction, publishing, reviews, self-publishing, short stories, What about Chazz?, , , , , , , , ,

One way to find new audiences for your books might be…

What do these things have in common?

1. Learning German from Hogan’s Heroes.

2. My first fight.

3. My other fights.

4. James Bond’s brand of lighter. 

Answer: I talk about these things on my podcast.

I had a surprise last night as I examined my podcast statistics. I’m being found. Listenership is trending up. Even better, I’m being found by people I wouldn’t encounter otherwise.

What is podcasting? It’s radio, on the Internet, usually for free. In a craven ploy to market my books, I named the podcast after one of my books, Self-help for Stoners. When I started the podcast a few months ago, I thought that if I ran out of material, I could always fall back on reading from my fiction. I’m amazed to find that each week I find new things to talk about for a weekly comedy/narrative/sometimes ranty podcast. It’s a lot of fun. It’s harder than blogging, but it’s different from a blog in good ways, too. When I podcast, I’m free to talk about whatever I want so it often ends up going in some weird directions. Surreal, even. Anything goes as long as it interests me and I think it’s fun or funny.

Must you have a voice (and face) for radio? I had a little experience with radio in university, but I don’t have the best radio voice. My delivery can sometimes devolve into such a spasmodic cadence that it’s positively Shatnerian. But it is still fun despite my vocal handicaps. I didn’t think the podcast was taking off and I vacillated between blaming my stammer and my material, among other bits of very personal self-loathing. When I saw the improvement in the stats, I decided I had been too harsh and impatient. (Thing is: I would podcast anyway. I enjoy it that much.)

Why podcast?  I’ve already mentioned it’s a fun creative outlet. Through podcasting I’ve met some really nice people and, more to the marketing point, more people are finding me and my books who otherwise would never have heard of me. What’s really cool is seeing all the places the people are listening from! People listen from all around the world: Madrid, New Jersey, Ireland. I have a pocket of love with 22 downloads in Belgium. A whack of people in Alberta listen to my podcast every week. Somewhere in the streets of Beijing, someone’s got my voice in their ears as they take a bus to work, presumably to learn english (I’m guessing.) By far, the podcast is most popular in the SanFrancisco/Oakland area. Does that play into a stoner stereotype? My podcast may suffer the same problem as my book of the same name: in an effort to get a hook, I might have screwed myself up in the early going with the Self-help for Stoners  title. People sometimes assume my stuff is only for stoners and that’s not at all true. All my books are mostly suspense. In the podcast, I talk about anything I like, tell stories (true and false), read excerpts sometimes, recommend other books and podcasts, and say some really stupid stuff for laughs. Sometimes I come up with something deep…usually by accident.

Is podcasting for you? I listen to podcasts somewhat obsessively. It’s how I get through non-writing tasks like bringing in the wood, doing the dishes  and folding laundry. Having my own show seemed like a natural extension of going indie with books. It’s not expensive to do, though the tech stuff was daunting at first. After some initial one-time expenses and some experimentation with the mic and editing program, the only ongoing cost is that I use a pocast host service (Libsyn) for $20 a month. (I don’t drink so that would have been beer money.) If you decide to go ahead with podcasting, I suggest you save yourself a lot of time and headaches and get Dave Jackson from The School of Podcasting to help you with the set up. I’m reasonably tech savvy, but there were so many little nuances, I eventually decided I’d only ever get it started if I brought in an expert.

How will people find your podcast? People can download my podcast from Stitcher Radio (which streams it to any device), straight from my author site or from iTunes. There are podcast directories and google searches, but mostly, people find my podcast through Twitter. Here on Chazz Writes, I speak mostly about book marketing to fellow indie writers (and that’s great! Thanks for being here. You’re who this blog is for!) AllThatChazz.com is the blog for readers interested in my fiction and who want to hear the podcast. What might have also helped my listenership was that I appeared on six other podcasts recently in some capacity (including reading one of my stories from Self-help on The Word Count Podcast in support of Indies Unite for Joshua. Donate if you can, please. It’s a great cause.)

Last night I published my sixteenth podcast. It’s taken me a while to find my stride. I still stammer, though I edit better than I used to. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be fun, and yes, some of the jokes are just for me.

If I could eliminate one word from the english language, what would it be?

War.

But a close second choice choice? My dumbass, simian vocalization as I try to find the next word:

“…Um….”

~ Robert Chazz Chute has a whack of short stories available on Smashwords and his novella (The Dangerous Kind) and dark collections of suspense (Self-help for Stoners and Sex, Death & Mind Control) are available just about everywhere. He’s such a sweet guy that when he writes about himself in the third person, like right now, he collapses even deeper into a well of self-loathing.

Filed under: All That Chazz, ebooks, My fiction, podcasts, Publicity & Promotion, publishing, self-publishing, What about Chazz?, What about you?, Writers, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What moves books? And what is ‘Parketing’ anyway?

Successful book marketing campaigns often do a lot of things at once, especially at first, before awareness of your book grows. Author Jeff Bennington, for instance, has noticed that online marketing of his books takes an hour out of each day or sales begin to dip. (More on getting you and your books’ global fame in a minute, but first let’s talk attitudes, parketing and my terrible personal deficiencies as a book marketer.)

Someone’s already saying, “An hour a day? Who has that kind of time? When will I have time to write?” You’re an artist, but you’re an artist in business. Businesses need to advertise. You’d make time to send out invoices, so make time to make people aware of your books unless you’re content writing for yourself and your kids. (Fortunately, lots of online marketing is cheap, free and fun, so there’s that.) Down the road, once you reach critical mass, maybe you’ll be able to get away with doing less marketing, but I doubt it. Coke still advertises. Manage your time and make it work.

Here’s one cheap way to promote local awareness of your books: I first heard of parketing (though it wasn’t called that then) at a writers’ conference three years ago. The marketing guru fired lots of ideas at us: blogging, tweeting, podcasts…the usual, though it was all newer, scarier stuff then. Then the guru asked, “How many of you have a car magnet advertising the cover of your book?” Not a single hand was raised, of course. The marketing guru snarked, “Yeah, why would you want to let anyone know you have a book for sale?” Park your car where lots of people will see it with your lovely book cover on it and voilà! That’s parketing.

It’s a digital world, so old-school attempts to market a book are often overlooked, often with justification. However, you may want to consider parketing in certain circumstances. This is one of those advertising strategies that has “short term” written all over it. It could work for the short term because no one is doing it. No one is doing it because your first reaction is that it sounds silly or maybe even naive or worse, beneath your dignity. If you habitually park your car in a high-visibility area (say, outside a bookstore at the mall) it sounds a little less silly. When you consider the number of businesses that do advertise this way, successfully, it sounds even less nuts. If your pockets are shallow, you can still do this. I got my car magnet from Vistaprint for less than $20.

Parketing works much better if you’re prepared to ask a bunch of friends to put car magnets on their vehicles, too. If your pockets are very deep, you could even go for the full paint job. Do that and you’ve got a marketing campaign started in your city and the basis for a press release to local newspapers and magazines. Sure, we market our ebooks globally, but we shouldn’t turn up our noses at getting noticed locally. That’s one way to get critical mass going. People in your own city, especially media, are more interested in local authors because they have a sense of ownership and familiarity with local authors. There’s a business in my city that seems to be everywhere because each employee gets a free paint job on their vehicle advertising the business. Everywhere they drive, they are advertising. It’s not that large a company (or even a particularly good one), but their ad-plastered cars seem ubiquitous, reminding everyone daily, “Here we are!”

The ad on my van gets attention because it’s just so damn weird. There is surely not another author advertising his or her book with a car magnet for hundreds of miles, so people slow down to read it. I’ve watched them slow down to look. Has it translated to sales? I don’t know. It’s just one car magnet for one book, but I do know people are reading the ad. For me, this little strategy is really  just about promoting awareness so I get my name familiar. For what I spent, I’m okay with that. We gravitate toward the familiar, buying name brands instead of the unknown product (which could be just as good or better but you don’t recognize the label.) When I shop the local Asian food market, I’m actually physically uncomfortable with the cans of unknown weird stuff even though I know it’s not weird. It’s merely different. (I’m weird.)

It’s all the other stuff I do that will make the difference in the long term. There is no one way to move books. Online marketing is going to do much more  because it’s everywhere. For instance, I’ve been on the air, or talked about, on six different podcasts recently (besides my own weekly podcast). That will go a lot further toward gaining some vague familiarity with my name as an author than a car magnet will for one book. Plus, I love podcasting, so I’ll always have that.

Have you guessed this post is not really about putting a magnet on your car? It’s about using multiple strategies to get attention to your books. Marketing campaigns that are single-pronged attacks do not move books. Try a lot of things, even the weird ideas if they make sense to you. Experiment and have fun with it if you can. Try to get your name out there, arriving from several places, preferably at once. We must reach outside of our circles of family and friends to move books.

I’m often reluctant to try new book marketing  strategies until I see them tested by others. That’s why I missed out on the benefit of KDP Select while some others made whacko cash last December. I haven’t jumped on Pinterest because I read one blog about their scary terms of service. These are my deficiencies. I’m often too timid about doing things that are good for me. Everything new feels weird at first. Unfamiliar doesn’t mean wrong. Unfamiliar simply means unfamiliar. In our marketing efforts, should we proceed with caution? Sure. Don’t get taken,  but do proceed and make progress.

What are the book marketing basics? Write a good book. Get it edited. Get a great cover design. Price it right. Yeah, yeah, yeah. You know all that.

What then? Then go buy my buddy Jeff Bennington’s new book, The Indie Author’s Guide to the Universe. I’m reading it right now and I especially like the things you can do to sell your books that are free. Let him show you the way forward. The best marketing strategies are not static. They come and go and rise and fall so we have to stay current and open to experimentation with new opportunities as they arise.

That’s what I’m trying to do, anyway, and that’s what this blog is about.

~ Robert Chazz Chute is the author of a bunch of great ebooks of suspense with titles he now realizes generally repel you. He podcasts a comedy/narrative show, Self-help for Stoners, every Thursday night. To learn more, go to AllThatChazz.com.

Filed under: ebooks, Media, My fiction, podcasts, Publicity & Promotion, publishing, Useful writing links, web reviews, What about Chazz?, What about you?, writing tips, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Met Kevin Smith at Live From Behind in Toronto! He and Jay have my book!

Kevin Smith

Image via Wikipedia

Last night I shook hands and had a chat with Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith (Jay and Silent Bob for those not in the cult). Each now have a signed copy of my book, Self-help for Stoners. They couldn’t have been more gracious, interested, warm or friendly. It was a big moment for me, especially when Kevin recognized the book and said, “Hey! I know you!”

Each got a personalized recommendation for stories they might particularly like from Self-help and it was a genuine pleasure all around. We laughed a lot. As always, of course, Kevin spoke inspired and inspiring words about writing and the creative process.

I’m a bit emotional today. It was a milestone in the evolution, not just of the book, but for me taking the leap to writing full-time. It was just over a year ago that I decided I needed to “stop chasing the puck” and quit my job of twenty years. Things went full circle last night. And now? Onward. Three novels are coming out this year with my name on them. Hoo-ha!

I must make this writing thing work.

Bonus? As I walked up onstage, Jay sang Paperback Writer. Yes!

Filed under: All That Chazz, authors, Books, ebooks, My fiction, What about Chazz?, What about you?, Writers, writing tips, , , , , , , , ,

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.

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

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