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

See all my books at AllThatChazz.com.

This was written by a human being

Publishing is always changing in big and small ways. There used to be a Big Six, then there was a Big Five in publishing. Now there’s a Big Four. Hot genres cool. Cold genres heat up and occasionally new genres are created. Amazon sales pages have changed for books, and in my opinion not for the better. You’ve no doubt heard that a big revolution is afoot. Artificial Intelligence is about to replace a lot of people. Maybe even you.

There’s a divide in the writing community right now over the emergence of recently improved artificial intelligence. ChatGPT, Jasper, and others can upgrade your book marketing copy. AI reconfigures and composes existing art to fulfill the parameters you plug into its engine. Artificial voices are improving to the point where some authors may choose machines over voice actors for their audiobooks. At least one person (probably many more) has already created fiction using ChatGPT. Things are changing, and we’re not ready for it,

Whenever any new technology emerges, there’s a painful transition. When cell phones came out, there was a panic over the brain tumors they could theoretically produce. That didn’t happen, of course, but in that case the volume of complaints during the the introduction of was much louder than the reality. There are valid concerns around copyright and current job roles becoming outmoded. I mean, real talk, if machines write thousands and thousands of novels faster than I can, I won’t be pleased. I think I better prepare myself for not being pleased.

Obstacles loom for the quick adoption of a non-human workforce putting art together. Currently, if you use AI art for your book covers, you are not able to claim copyright on that cover. You don’t possess the license from the amalgam of images the AI draws from. The AI is compositing, not originating. All that said, the toothpaste is already squeezed out of the tube and it’s not going back in. We’re going to have to adapt in several ways.

In the classroom, for instance, kids will have to write essays in class (if that’s what you still want). Let them go home, and ChatGPT and its alternatives will be penning those essays on The Great Gatsby. A voice actor I follow on TikTok said her solution to machines reading audiobooks is to emphasize the emotional core of her work. She’s not just a reader. Acting is her job. She is confident she can out-act any machine and she’s not afraid of the competition. Also, it should be noted that dedicated audiobook readers not only look for audiobooks by certain authors. Some voice actors have a following who listen to whatever they read. That’s leverage the machines don’t have, at least not yet.

Something that is often lost in the debate is that plenty of authors do not have the budget to pay to create audiobooks with a human voice. My solution is to go the DIY route with my audiobooks. That option is not accessible to everyone. Some will reject any non-human participation in the creation of their art. For others, using a machine reader mimicking he human voice feels like a necessity.

I’ve tested ChatGPT to optimize my marketing copy. Yes, it needed a little editing afterward, but not much. Revamping my marketing copy for so many books and paying a smug consultant exorbitant fees would be prohibitively expensive.

If readers and listeners are okay with it, and production costs less, AI art creation will increase in acceptance. We can dig in our heels and resist the future, but in the long term it feels like trying to hold back the tide with a teacup. I’m not telling you to surrender and go all in on Skynet. I am suggesting that it would be wise to figure out how to up your game and adapt to a changing landscape in the meantime.

As this sticky taffy get pulled, you will see some books published with a notation that reads something like: No machine intelligence was involved in the creation of the art on the cover of this book, nor were any used in the creation of the narrative. This novel was written by a human being.

~ I am Robert Chazz Chute. Read my novels, some of which tell of machine intelligence taking everything all the way the fuck over, at AllThatChazz.com.

Filed under: publishing, , , , , , , ,

Make Your Writing Life Easier in 2023

Figured out your writing and publishing goals for 2023 yet? No pressure, but I do have a helpful suggestion.

I have often recommended the 20Booksto50K Facebook group. If you have a question, search for it first. They’re a big group so the admins are not tolerant of repetition. There is an excellent chance that answers to your questions are already to be found in the group’s collective wisdom. I’ve used it to evaluate the ROI potential of book promotion services, for instance.

But wait! There’s more!

Are you a visual learner? They have plenty of video lectures, too. Whether you’re looking to learn more about the craft, cover design, book marketing, or anything else about making better books and earning more writing income, watch lectures from their live conferences on their YouTube channel.

No need to leave the house! I love not leaving the house.



Peruse their video offerings on YouTube here.

And have a happy New Year.

~ Looking for killer crime thrillers or apocalypses featuring zombies, vampires, robots, aliens, and a whole heckin’ heapin’ spoonful of human complexity? Of course, you are. Find all my books on my author site, AllThatChazz.com. Cheers!

Filed under: publishing, , , , , , , ,

To Tweet or Not to Tweet? That is the Question.

Yesterday I mentioned ReaderScout.com to keep an eye on price drops Amazon may put on your books without you knowing. Today, I have useful alternatives for book marketing, graphics, and social media.

  1. Goodreads can be good, but it would be a lot better with less drama. You probably already know the upsides and downsides of GR’s rep. Though it’s owned by Amazon, it still has its old clunky user interface. Infamous for harsh reviews, bullying, and lack of moderation, it’s not always a fun place to hang out. Authors get called out for bad behavior (good), but not so with readers behaving badly (less good). It’s a site best suited for avid readers. I admit, it’s a huge platform that can be useful. However, authors must tread very carefully. It’s all eggshells and landmines over there.

    I’ve just signed up for bookwyrm. Upon further research, there are many more sites available for readers to find and track books and authors they enjoy. Here’s a link to a comprehensive article at Rigorous Themes. Though many of these sites aren’t as well known, there are readers there. It might serve you to be a bigger fish in a smaller, friendlier pond.
  2. If you’re writing for profit, you need to market your books. Personally, I’m fed up with Facebook and Amazon ads, so let’s talk TikTok. Many authors are flocking to TikTok in hopes of getting traction on #booktok. It’s a great platform in many ways and I just love, love, love seeing so many people who love, love, love fiction! You may notice, however, that much of #booktok is about the same books over and over again. If you break through, it’s fantastic.

    I’m using TikTok wrong in that my page is not just for readers, but also for other writers. It’s best to stick to a theme, but I just can’t shut up about writing and book publishing, In addition to talking about my books and recommending other books, I’m often on #writertok and #writingcommunity. I frequently pontificate on stuff on topics I could be covering here. I know that, but video is fun and I reach more people daily using video than I do with blog posts.


    Find me on TikTok @therealchazzchute. It’s this blog, but shorter, faster, pithier, and with my sexy, sultry tones. (Sorry about the face.)
  3. What else can you do to market your books? Graphics for your ads, blogs, and extra content, bien sur! But how do you do that? Photoshop used to be a gimme on Apple computers, but they took that away and now it’s expensive. Bookbrush can be useful, but it’s not cheap, especially if you opt for the escalated options with more deliverables. Here are your Bookbrush pricing options:

There’s the free and paid version of Canva and Picmonkey. Of these, for ease of use, Canva is my favorite.

However, if you’re marketing aggressively and want a free graphics option with the muscle of Photoshop, check out PhotoPea. The deliverables are powerful, and did I mention it’s free? It’s free. Free is our friend.

4. And finally, you know we have to talk about it. To tweet or not to tweet? That is the question.

Elon Musk has proven he’s no Tony Stark. He’s Phony Stark. His takeover of Twitter has been ham-handed and I don’t think I need to go into details on those facts. I’m still on Twitter because I’m familiar with the user interface and I’ve built a little following there. It’s still where a lot of people are for as long as it lasts. Perhaps when it goes into receivership, someone else will take it over and unfuck it. In the meantime, where else can we go in case Twitter breaks?

Alternatives to the Sick Bird

I’ve signed up on Mastodon and Counter Social. My first reaction is that this open-source software is not ready for prime time. It’s bewildering at first glance. Second and third glances, too. Several people have complained that they unwittingly started more than one account before they settled in. Honestly, I’m still not comfortable with either platform.

There’s also the time issue. I’m all for spending those in-between moments on social media that would otherwise be wasted. I’m not for wasting time on social media. Add more platforms and you’re spreading yourself thinner.

To let people know about my latest book promotion, I found myself posting on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Mastodon, Counter Social, and Facebook. For a marketing push, that’s acceptable to me. For everyday use, though? I’d prefer to have fewer platforms to manage. Better to let them fight it out and go with the one that dominates. Until the conqueror takes the battlefield, we’re stuck in a kind of limbo. Setting up a new social media account can be exciting until you realize how hard it is to start all over again building a following.

When all’s said and done, we will go where we find value and where the people are. That’s why you’re still on Facebook. At least there we get birthday reminders, and that’s great value!

P.S. Moments after uploading this post, I found out about BeReal. It feels like Now on TikTok. This whirlwind of new platforms is exhausting. Read the BeReal breakdown on HuffPo.

~ I’m Robert Chazz Chute. Check out my killer crime thrillers and apocalyptic epics on my author site, AllThatChazz.com. (And TikTok! Platform of the future today! I’m @therealchazzchute.)

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

When a book deal takes you by surprise

When you run a promotion, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your paperback prices. Amazon might be giving readers a deal you want to know about. The problem? It’s unpredictable and they won’t tell you they’re doing it, so we’re missing out on promoting the deal to readers.

Here’s the story

I ran a couple of promotions this week.

1. Through Book funnel: For the rest of today, you can pick up my bestseller This Plague of Days, Season One for just 99 cents! A bunch of other books are on offer, as well. Have a look!

2. The other was through Freebooksy. (AFTER Life, Inferno is set to free until the end of the day.)

The first promotion did not trigger an Amazon algo to drop the price of the massive paperback. However, the AFTER Life Omnibus, which at 600+ pages, is normally priced at $24.99, was dropped all the way down to under $7!

What a great deal for Christmas gifts, right? I could have promoted it more had I known, but I only just stumbled upon what Amazon was doing. Note to the uninitiated: This is a very good thing. Readers get an amazing deal, but the author still gets paid royalties based on the regular price!

There’s probably some software out there that can track such unannounced price drops for authors so we can take advantage of these promotional opportunities. I’ve asked my mastermind group. Let me know if you have a workable solution.

~ I’m Robert Chazz Chute. Check out all my sci-fi, horror, and crime fiction on my author site, AllThatChazz.com.

I've been featured on eBookDaily



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

Keep a Wary Eye on Your Sales Pages

I got an ugly and unhelpful surprise this morning. Make sure this doesn’t happen to you.

It used to be that you could go to Author Central on Amazon to check for your latest reviews. I am encouraging you to check your book’s sales pages regularly because, sadly, Amazon is not reliable. Pardon my tone, but my wife is ill, and I’m concerned about that. I’m feeling not so great, either, so my frustration is compounded by seeming to be thwarted at every turn and told to suck it up. (More on that bit of shit further down this post.)

For anyone who has been pushed around. Against those who do the pushing.

The First Assault

Regular readers here may recall that Amazon sabotaged the launch of my award-winning novel, Endemic. I couldn’t advertise it at all (for reasons unknown) in the first critical weeks after its release. I am so proud of that book, and to see its wings get clipped before it could fly was incredibly frustrating. I soldiered on, but yes, I’m bitter. It’s difficult enough to get any novel air and attention without unwarranted obstacles along the path.

Since that shaky start, Endemic has won first place in science fiction at both the Hollywood and New York Book Festivals. It also garnered a Literary Titan award. I know the novel is in the running for the North Street Book Prize since they let me know it’s in the semi-finals. In other words, this one is particularly important to me (and to my bottom line.) Book sales have tanked generally, so Endemic is the central weight-bearing pillar of my tiny castle.

And Now, This

This morning, on a whim, I had a peek at my Amazon author page. It looked fine until I clicked on reviews to take a deeper look. I guess I was looking for a little ego boost. Instead, I got an itch I could not scratch. The reviews for Endemic from the United States were not about Endemic. They were happy reviews of a vacuum cleaner!

That does not help me. (Curses ensued, several quite imaginative and not fit for general consumption.)

I contacted Amazon immediately, of course. While I checked my other books for linking errors, the kind gentleman on the help desk did some research. He couldn’t fix the problem himself manually, so it was elevated to the tech division. He hoped my little marketing disaster would be rectified within five days. I’m not blaming him. He did all he could within a system that could use more organization.

Amazon has been making big changes lately. From adding Goodreads ratings, to categorization limits and snafus, to their new Top Picks feature, maybe they are moving too fast. When any system gets too big, there are bound to be logistics errors and smelly clogs in the plumbing.

Shots Fired

There is another annoyance when legitimate problems such as these arise. Some folks will insist your concerns are illegitimate and gloss over your lived experience. Some who fancy themselves leaders and book marketing experts have a filthy habit of putting a happy face on anything and everything Amazon does to us. They tell you to just write another book, relax, and ignore your crumbling sales data. They suggest that the Zon can do no wrong and everything they do is customer-focused. Uh, nope! Don’t pee on me and tell me it’s raining (and nutritious, to boot!)

It is undeniable that Amazon has done a lot right compared to other book sales platforms. I’m concerned those smart moves may be confined to history. Just because they’re the top sales platform doesn’t make me any less screwed today. If they are immune to criticism when they mess up, it’s like saying cops have all the power so they can do no wrong.

Whenever an author dares to cry foul because their income is taking a direct hit, they get gaslit by those who are comfortable with such chaos. By comfortable, I mean they are privileged enough to have more of a cash cushion. Hint: Some of those knobs aren’t necessarily sanguine about your troubles because they’re making a boodle off their books. They’re selling services to the indie community instead of writing fiction. Their compassion deficit is as deep as their pockets. Don’t listen to people who are too comfortable with your pain. You are not a whiner. You’re bleeding and need a tourniquet and a kind word.

So? What Now?

I’m not going to slap on a shit-eating grin and enthuse, “Don’t worry, be happy!” You can’t trust that all you have to do is wait and they’ll fix any problems. You have to remain vigilant to alert them to problems. The central premise of this blog has always been to track the ups and downs of writing and publishing without the bullshit, so here’s my honest advice:

Check your book pages to make sure the listings are correct. Check again regularly. You can’t set it and forget it because the Amazon platform has become too technically complex to be trusted. Or maybe get into the vacuum cleaner business. They seem to have a bunch of happy customers.

~ Oh, and please do check out Endemic. I’m so pleased with this novel because, beyond the apocalyptic scenario, it’s about people who don’t fit in, how they change and how they don’t. The dedication reads: For anyone who has ever been pushed around. Against those who do the pushing.” That seems especially appropriate this morning. Listings and links for all my books are on my author page at AllThatChazz.com.

Filed under: Amazon, publishing, , , , , , , ,

Amazon Confusion Continues

Many authors have discovered that their author pages are not displaying their full catalogue. Oddly, it’s not actually clear to everyone what’s going on, including the people you talk to at the Zon. From Amazon, I heard directly that they are working on it as a glitch. However, dive into a writing group or two and you’ll find that some of us are receiving a very different message: It’s not a glitch. It’s by design. Mixed signals are frustrating. Beta test? New normal? Mistake? Well, I definitely think it’s a mistake, and today I’ll detail why and what you might do about it.

What some of us are told is that the new algorithm shows Amazon customers an author sales page tailored to their browsing history. For instance, if you’ve read my apocalyptic stuff like This Plague of Days, you could go to my author page and only my other apocalyptic stuff would be served up: Endemic, AFTER Life, Citizen Second Class, Robot Planet, Our Alien Hours, Our Zombie Hours and Amid Mortal Words. You would not see any of my other work on my author page. Following this new modus operandi, there is no place to see my full catalogue on Amazon. You would not see all my crime thrillers. To get links to my full backlist, you’d have to go to my author site.

There are no doubt a lot of authors who have not looked at their author page lately. I habitually check for new reviews through Author Central and monitor sales using Book Report. Again, if you haven’t seen what’s happening on your author page, it’s a good idea to have a look.

To be clear, the books have not disappeared completely from the platform. However, to find them all, you’d have to search by title or by my name. (Searching by author name alone often serves up a mix that is not on point.)

In short: Visibility is down, discoverability is hampered, and your backlist sales are hobbled.

If they stick with this new algo, only a determined fan, not a casual browser, would go to the trouble to find all my stuff easily. There’s a ribbon across the top, but in my experience, readers go down the author page, they don’t click across multiple times. That’s just how people have been programmed to read, and the more a customer has to click, the less shopping they do.

How do I know this fiddling is bad for authors and readers?

I can see the failure of this strategy in my falling book sales. It’s down to a dribble. That’s the key factor for me. Like everyone else, I’ve got bills to pay and I’m more worrier than warrior.

The frustrating detail is that Amazon is such a vast company that the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. You know, that cute cliche that actually hints at brain damage? From Amazon, after about 48 hours, I received an email to say it’s a glitch and they are working on it. “Our technical teams are aware of this problem and we’re working toward a resolution as soon as possible.”

Meanwhile, other authors are hearing a different story as detailed above. One author spoke to a supervisor who told her (a) they are getting a lot of negative feedback, (b) they tried this before and it didn’t work, and (c) they may reverse course.

Amazon’s priority has always been to optimize the customer experience. I understand that and don’t have a problem with it. The other book sales platforms could learn a thing or two from Amazon’s customer focus. However, this is a case where what’s good for readers is better for authors, too. Maybe we’ll go back to what worked better. Maybe we won’t. While they work that out, my focus will be to try to mitigate the damage no matter what they do.

That’s for another post on another day. For now, please buy my stuff and check on your stuff. If your author page does not display all your wares, let Amazon Central Customer Support know you’re not altogether pleased. Check your income, too. Moving the system with data points will be more effective than an emotional appeal.

Also, please be kind with whomever you correspond. It’s not their fault. The root of this endeavor lies somewhere deep in the Hell Realm where misguided accountants’ avarice and programmers’ warped aspirations intersect to whisper dark incantations over bubbling cauldrons of code slurry.

~ I am Robert Chazz Chute, a frustrated multiple award-winning writer with a heart of gold and not enough money. Find all my books on my author site AllThatChazz.com.

Filed under: Amazon, publishing, , , , , , , , ,

Amazon Glitches You Don’t Want

I checked my author page today to find that several of my books were not displaying on my Amazon author profile! Several of my most popular books lacked visibility on the Zon. By reloading the page, they might come back and they might not. I just checked this afternoon and even fewer of my books were to be found on my author page! No wonder my book sales have been plummeting.

(It was at this point Rob began to sweat and curse. He had cursed before, but as he reflected on financial ruin, he brought fresh verve and creativity to the activity.)

Visibility on Amazon is always a challenge, but when the problem is indistinguishable from sabotage, it’s time to hit the panic button. I got KDP on the horn very quickly and the rep was nice, but she also informed me that I had to talk to a different department to rectify the glitch. For that, no phone call. I had to send an email. I did so and struck just the right note: polite yet 911 urgent, on fire, yet congenial. The robot told me to expect to wait twenty-four hours, longer if research is required.

In the meantime, what to do, what to do, what to freakin’ do? I reasoned there must be something more to take action on than merely sweating, cursing, and making a TikTok about it.

Action steps:


1. Do what I’m told and wait patiently for a reply. I can do that. (Butt wiggles like a chihuahua that needs to pee.)

2. Direct you to my author site at AllThatChazz.com for direct links to my books.

3. Failing that, please search Robert Chazz Chute on Amazon to find my beguiling suspense and unputdownable science fiction. (Yes, I have some financial ground to make up this month. God, how long has this been going on?!)

4. That done? Read this article from Kindlepreneur about how to deal with suspensions, terminations, and other disasters on the Amazon platform.

5. Go to your author page and see if all your books are there sittin’ pretty. If they are, huzzah! No problem. If not, revisit Step 4.

We now return to my previously scheduled sweating , cursing, and butt wiggling.

~ I am Robert Chazz Chute. I pen apocalyptic epics with heart and killer crime thrillers with muscle. I’m really quite sweet and adorable most of the time. Find my stuff at AllThatChazz.com.

Filed under: Amazon, publishing, , , , , , ,

One of Us Is Missing

Sadly, horror author Jay Wilburn has passed away.

He contributed much to the genre. In a great tribute, on the October 20th episode of the Mando Method Podcast, Armand Rosamilia and Chuck Buda share fun stories about Jay on their trips to book conventions. He was always positive, encouraging of other writers, and a funny character.
He is sorely missed. Condolences to his family, friends, and fans.

Listen to the Mando Method here.

Check out Jay’s books at JayWilburn.com.

Filed under: publishing, , , , , , ,

Why Do Some Writers Give Up After One Book?

I watched Stone Reader, the documentary about The Stones of Summer, a forgotten novel by Dow Mossman. At the heart of movie are obsessive readers wondering why some writers give up after penning one book. This is not a comprehensive list, but here are seventeen reasons:

1. Failure.

Several critics thought The Stones of Summer, in its language and story choices, was an excellent novel. Commercially, it was a flop. A graduate of the famed Iowa workshop, Mossman was considered a genius by his peers. Genius frequently goes unrecognized for a host of reasons beyond our control.

This point might not just be about the author feeling discouraged. When a publisher’s gamble on a first novel goes bust, it becomes more difficult for the debut author to get a second chance even if the writer is still willing.

2. A lack of anything more to say (AKA writer’s block).

As an agent in the film pointed out, if an author mines their childhood experiences and puts it all on the page, sometimes they find that in exorcising their demons, the creative tank empties.

Counterpoint: I forget which writer said something to the effect that by the time we graduate high school, we’ve got enough trauma to write about for the rest of our lives.

3. Fear of compounding one failure with another.

In a way, there’s less pressure on your first book. You’re just happy to be invited to the party. With the second book, you have to earn your right to stay inside while it’s raining. If the first book didn’t soar up the charts, some will already have written you off. If the second book fails, they’ll bury you.

Counterpoint: People forget (I did) that Kurt Vonnegut’s early work went out of print before Slaughterhouse-Five hit. Then he could do no wrong and Player Piano et al was back on the shelves everywhere.

4. Fear of trying to follow up a hit (and failing).

The success of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird paralyzed her. Unable to imagine that she could top her masterpiece, she didn’t publish. Much later, under complicated and suspicious circumstances, her anxiety proved justified when Go Set a Watchman was finally published to decidedly mixed reviews.

5. Life gets in the way.

Shit happens. For instance, while the pandemic got some people writing, it sent others into a creative funk. Some writers end up taking care of others so much, their literary aspirations lose energy or have to be set aside.

6. Death gets in the way.

Writers die like everyone else. (Did you know this? I looked it up, It’s true!)

Suggestion: Decide now what’s going to happen to your trunk novels and the ongoing royalties from your literary assets. Emily Dickinson did not tell her sister Lavinia to burn all her poems, only her correspondence. If you want something burnt, do it now. And clear your search history, for the love of all that’s holy.

7. The first book was a last step, not a first.

Not everybody aspires to write a series and retire to a beach in Tahiti. They just want to write one book and retire to a beach in Tahiti. Odds are against that working, but there’s nothing wrong with feeling that way. Maybe their aspirations are more modest and they just want to do one and done. Nothing wrong with that, either. A novel is supposed to be an entertaining joy, not a chore, remember?

Does everyone have a book in them? No. If they do, it’s just one book, not plural and often bad, that may take years to write.

People who write a lot might not understand that there are plenty of other things to do with our time. I know! I don’t get it, either! And yet, some people are out there camping and other such bullshit best left to our long and miserable history of hunting and foraging to survive.

8. Lack of love.

If you don’t get enough love for your first book, you’ve got less fuel to spur you on to write the next. “I loved you book! When’s the next one coming out?” That endorphin hit is writing fuel. Or, you could have this common experience:

“Did you read my novel yet?” (Hint: Authors, never ask this question.)

(Weak smile) “I haven’t got around to it yet.”

Indifference squeezes the heart.

9. Lack of hate.

People underestimate the potential of spite. Some writers begin their artistic life with the help of a cherished mentor who fosters their creativity. A few get a boost from proving their detractors wrong. Others write a book of fiction to correct a wrong in real life. I think George Orwell is an example of this. The difference is that he had enough hate and passion to keep writing long after one book.

10. Lack of focus.

Writing a book takes time and energy and is not for the impatient. If you’re not getting enough reviews, money, and attention to your first book, it’s reasonable to question whether a second book is worth the investment. Life is short when it’s going well. If not, life can be long and torturous.

11. Lack of persistence.

Similar to point #10, but this goes deeper. Some people take so long to write a book that it takes too long. Their energy wanes as their eyesight dims. What might have been a sprint has become a marathon. The world is full of sprinters. Marathoners are another breed and they built not everyone for that length of race.

A few writers insist it takes years to write a good book. Let’s tackle that horseshit right quick, shall we?:

(A) Plenty of writers who prove this bias incorrect. Look at any bookshelf and evidence abounds.
(B) Everyone has their own pace (and that pace can change). Fast writers don’t scold slow writers, but I often see slow writers making assumptions about fast writers. Stop it.
(C) Talent is great, but if it’s not married with Ass in Chair, Hands of Keyboard, you’re done.
(D) It takes very few writers years to write a book. (I’ll give you William Styron, maybe, when he wasn’t struggling with depression.) For most mortal writers, it didn’t actually take you years to write that book. The actual writing took months. The staring out the window part, the Netflix part, the goofing around part? That’s the speed bump. The non-writing part of writing is what took years.


Cool? Cool.

12. Lack of need.

A bunch of us are writers because of some hazy genetic pathology that makes us incapable of doing much else. It’s a compulsion. If you don’t have it, you can write one book, get it out of your system, and then go forth and enjoy life. Full-time work as a writer can feel always having homework that never ends. Rejoice one-hit wonders and one-hit blunders! You’re free!

13. Lack of options.

I had a previous career where I excelled at a specialty. That career is finished. I’m 57 and my arthritic hip is killing me. If I want money, I have to write or take the odd book doctoring job. I still get emails from Glassdoor suggesting I’d be a perfect fit for this company or that, but in my heart I know writing is my thing and it’s my only thing. I need to do this because I can do naught else. To quote Spider-Man, “This is my blessing. This is my curse.

14. Writing and publishing weren’t what the author expected.

When I moved to Toronto to work in publishing, I had romantic ideas of what that environment entailed. I pictured fun book launches and cocktail parties full of interesting and witty people trading bon mots. When I look back on that time, I don’t remember a lot of witticisms. I remember a few rude bookstore owners, the silly office politics, the dummies, the people who cheated me, and the mean and bitter publisher who I am very glad to report is dead.

Lots of us dive in thinking the water is warm and deep. Instead, sometimes we find it’s cold, shallow, and really no different from any other profession or industry.

15. The fools thought writing meant easy money.

You’ve published your first book. Bills are coming in, royalty checks aren’t. WTF? I will not expand on this point because every writer knows the dread of opening a credit card bill no matter where they fall on the slip ‘n slide of success. (No, it’s not a ladder. Ladders are more stable.)

16. They thought the world wouldn’t care.

You’ve written a book that mines your past and battles your demons. You’ve disguised your real-life enemies and slew them in clever ways. The real-life villains have no idea you’ve skewered them with pitchforks and rusty salad spoons, but your mom is convinced it’s all about her. There’s screaming at the next family gathering and the emotional toll is too high. Mom and Dad dreamed you’d be a cardio-thoracic surgeon, for God’s sake! “And there you sit, trying to sell your little stories?”

Lesson learned: Write your serial killer porn under a pseudonym or don’t write again because it’s not worth getting cut out of the will.

17. Lack of support.

We’re often told that there has never been a better time to be a writer. In many ways, that’s true. However, it’s still a privilege. The barrier to entry is low, there’s no inventory, and no gatekeepers anymore, but the cost is not nothing. You need time. You need at least some money to buy groceries while you write. You need to live indoors while you peck away at the keyboard.

It is often said that we all have the same 24 hours in a day. I used to buy that, but it’s not true. If you’ve got young kids, you know that’s not so. We don’t all have the same amount of energy and resources to engage with those 24 hours. Through my nights of insomnia, I know the next day will not be a productive one.

Consider that most writers are also independent publishers now. Editing costs. Graphic artists cost. Web pages cost. Advertising and marketing costs. Yes, there are some workarounds to your outsourcing woes, but if you’re not spending more money, you’re burning more time and dealing with more stress.

Given all this, it’s little wonder a lot of writers end up stopping after one book.

In Dow Mossman’s case, he said that after the lack of commercial success of The Stones of Summer, he became introverted. Putting yourself out there does require some hubris, even if you’re not an extrovert. I get it. After the documentary came out in 2002 and fresh attention was paid, The Stones of Summer got a second life and was reprinted. Dow Mossman has not written another novel.

~ I am Robert Chazz Chute. I write killer crime thrillers with muscle and apocalyptic epics with heart. See links to all my books at AllThatChazz.com.

Filed under: publishing, the writing life, , , , , , , ,

About Your Worst Book Reviews

This is a little boost of encouragement to writers who obsess over a few bad reviews. First, here’s a link to a fabulously successful epic fantasy called Assassin: A Dark Epic Fantasy Novel. Look at all those wonderful reviews! Most people are extraordinarily happy with their reading experience. It’s rated 4.3 out of 5 and has over 1500 reviews. Wow!

Now, if you need bother, read a few of the one-star reviews. You’d think it was an utter failure.

Clearly, much to the dismay of a tiny minority, many readers pick up what Andy Peloquin is putting down. Congratulations to Mr. Peloquin! Check out all his books here: http://www.andypeloquin.com. Enjoy.

What This Means for You, the Writer

Too often, I see worried scribes kowtow to their worst critics. They join writing groups (not a bad thing) and write by committee, trying to appease everyone (a terrible idea). Some insist they learn things from their worst reviews. Sometimes, maybe that’s true, especially if you’re a noob. More often, though, you’re giving too much weight to a troll whose hobby is crop dusting negativity.

I learned a lot about writing from working as a journalist and reading excellent novels. These days, I learn most from Gari, my editor (strawnediting.com) and from beta readers. Reader feedback is best found higher up the editorial pipeline, while you’re still in the draft phase and long before you publish. For reviews, the most useful feedback you’re likely to get is what most fans enjoyed about your work, not what a few angry people hate. Hatred is lazy and too easy. I know because it’s so easy to find. I mean, GEE-ZUZZ, just watch the news.

I can already hear the objections. No! Those are all legitimate critiques!

Sometimes they are worth noting. However, if you’ve ever received a disproportionately scathing review, check out that person’s other reviews. Too often, leaving nasty reviews is their sport. You know the type. They go over the top, sometimes even attacking an author personally for daring to think they might entertain someone. I have to wonder, do they bring that same vitriol to everything? “I must defend proper literature and this beach read most people enjoy is the death of all literature! Once I fix that, then I’ll solve the Russian-Ukraine conflict!”

Art is subjective. If you take detractors too seriously, you will become paralyzed and resort to the safest and stupidest path: You will write nothing. Worse, you might even join the ranks of the wannabe writers who love nothing. Don’t become one of those people who hate everything with pedantic zeal. A few make it their unholy mission to proclaim, “Not only did I hate it, it’s impossible anyone else could and all these happy reviews must be fake!” (Notice that they write those reviews as if authors don’t see them, as if they’d bring that same energy if they dared to be in the same room with us. Heh. Silly little rabbits.)

I was once accused of having thirty-five friends leave happy reviews on one of my books. First, ha! As if I have thirty-five friends! This person clearly had no idea how hard it is to get anyone to leave a review. Second, for that same book, that was a few hundred happy reviews ago. That particular objection looks really silly now. Again, ha!

A Note About Your Humanity

If you manage to release all your negativity about nasty reviews, let me know how. The only sure cure is to never read your reviews. That’s one option. For me, I’m prone to anxiety and depression and my happy readers keep me going. Writing a book already feels like putting a note in a bottle and tossing it into the ocean. That’s lonely business, so I need to read my reviewers, at least those who enjoy my work. One nasty review can make me sad once, but I return again and again to satisfied readers who bring me up and get me back to the keyboard.

You’ll also smell a lot of shit of the bull about “developing a thick skin.” How often have you read that in an article about writing? Unless you have the apathy of a non-artist and the arrogance of a serial killer, that’s all nonsense posturing. Writers are human, too. If you prick us, do we not bleed ink?

Not only do writers fail to separate themselves from their work, readers do that, too. They’ll assume you hold opinions you attributed to a fictional character. If they think the book is bad, they’ll think you’re bad. Once, a reviewer (oozing hatred from every pore) noted that I am Canadian. To his acidic review, he added, “I certainly hope he stays there.” A reasonable response, right? Anyway, no worries, mate! I never leave my blanket fort far beneath the frozen tundra. Also, not for nothing, go fuck yourself gently with a wire brush. Don’t be mad. I did say gently.

Alternatives for the Sweaty Writer

  1. Have someone else read your reviews and pass on the ones that won’t paralyze you. That’s one of the few things agents used to be good for, but any pal who won’t mess with you will do.
  2. If reviews scare you, go with a pen name. Go with five pen names. It’s amazing how calming it is to have a negative review fall on the head of a fictional persona. It gives you distance. “Sure, you think she should abandon her dreams and take up scuba diving in Antarctica, but at least that’s my nom de plume, not me!”
  3. Know that there is a number. The exact count will vary, but at some point, you will get enough happy reviews on a book that the nasty ones will matter much less. They may only ruin your afternoon instead of your whole day.

    Bad news: the measure resets to zero with each new book. Gird your loins and sally forth. I wouldn’t classify writing as heroic duty, but it’s not for cowards, either.
  4. C’mon! Remember? You love to write! And you write for the fans, not for the bastards. You’re not going to hit a home run every time. Keep playing because you love the game.
  5. Go read the reviews on your favorite books. Check out what’s considered high literature and/or the top ten bestsellers of all time. They all have reviews from people who hated their reading experience. Why should your masterpiece be any different?
  6. Any book that has all positive reviews has a small audience. When you start getting people who don’t dig what you do, it doesn’t mean you’ve suddenly done anything wrong. It means you’re expanding your audience and someone who is not your target audience stumbled upon it. After a free promotion, you’ll get one or two who snapped it up because it was free and now they’re sad. It’s the classic, “I don’t read books about unicorns but decided to give this a try, thus reaffirming why I hate unicorn books.” This is the equivalent of suffering celiac disease but gorging on bread because it’s free.
  7. This is all simpler than your worst imaginings. They’re wrong. I have read a couple of reviews of my work where they attributed missing bits to story failures. But there aren’t missing bits. The reviewer’s reading comprehension was poor, or they were too hurried. You can always catch a careless reading when they get basics of the plot wrong. This falls under the category of, “Tell me you’re a dummy without telling me you’re a dummy.” Do not sweat these reviews. We write for readers, not scanners.
  8. What if they’re right? So what? What if your book did have problems? Let’s not be so precious. You didn’t botch a heart transplant. You wrote a book that maybe wasn’t your best. You only get one best and nobody can agree on which one that will be. Somebody will still love it. Authors learn and grow. We have to allow for skill development. Kurt Vonnegut considered himself a failure until Slaughterhouse-Five hit, then everyone agreed just about everything he wrote was genius. (Watch Unstuck in Time, the documentary of Kurt’s life and career. It’s a salve for all your writerly burns.)
  9. Try to keep your energy on those who love you and love what you do. Love yourself more. Daring to put yourself out there, naked and vulnerable, demands a lot of self-love and not a little hubris. Most of those trolls you worry about? The longest thing they will ever write is a few paragraphs of narrow meanness. Even better? What they hated will be the reason someone else will buy and love your work.Too much puppet porn, Amish accountants, and seventeenth-century profanity? Oh, no!(Clicks buy immediately.)
  10. Let’s get practical. You’ve got groceries to buy! Couples often divorce because there isn’t any money coming in! You don’t even have time for people who will never buy another of your books! Write! Rewrite! Produce, goddammit!

Happy Conclusions

My point is not that you should never listen to your critics or dismiss every opinion. Everyone is entitled to an opinion. However, take it all with a big ole bag of salt. Some will love your work no matter what. Some will hate it no matter what. Most of the world is indifferent. A lot of people don’t even read, so don’t sweat so much. Once you release it to the world, everybody gets a vote on your work, but you always have the deciding vote. You liked it and did your best? Solid.

As for those few reviews that make you question your worth as a human being, please understand what the harshest critics do not:


Not everything is for everybody.

And that’s okay.

Hold on to that.
There’s plenty to enjoy in this world. Go find it. Go make it.

~ I am Robert Chazz Chute. I write apocalyptic epics with heart and killer crime thrillers with muscle. Find all my work on my author site, AllThatChazz.com.

Filed under: publishing, reviews, , , , , , , ,

http://mybook.to/OurZombieHours
A NEW ZOMBIE ANTHOLOGY

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

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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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