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

See all my books at AllThatChazz.com.

The majority of book bloggers are female … and other interesting blogging stats

Via Scoop.itWriting and reading fiction

Marcie Brock, the Book Marketing Maven, supplies some interesting stats about book bloggers. “Each maintains an average of three blogs”? Wow.   But the one statistic that surprised her most surprised me most, too. Readers here might shudder a little bit. Before you click the link below, ask yourself what percentage of book bloggers own an e-reader? Now click the Scoopit! link below and feel your eyes go WIDE! ~ Chazz

The majority of book bloggers are female … and other interesting blogging stats
At long last, we’re moving on from our general conversation about social media to more specifics…
Via marciebrockbookmarketingmaven.wordpress.com

Filed under: blogs & blogging, book reviews, Books, e-reader, ebooks, publishing, readers, self-publishing, What about you?, , , , ,

What’s new on my Kindle (plus a 99 cent sale update!)

This morning was a website morning. Tonight is a revision night. This afternoon? My son is building a castle for school and looks annoyed when I ask him if he needs help with all that duct tape. She Who Must be Obeyed 2.0 is studying and She Who Must Be Obeyed (The Original) is writing lecture notes for the class she teaches. And me? The coffee is poured and the snow is blowing around out there, but it’s cozy by the fire.

Here’s what I bought last night:

The Indie Journey by Scott Nicholson and the collection he edited, Write Good or Die. Also got his book, Littlefield.

Nail Your Novel by my friend Roz Morris (Sorry, Roz. I’d meant to buy your writing book earlier. In fact, I’d convinced myself I already had. Now I have it for sure.)

Post-Apocalyptic Nomadic Warriors by Benjamin Wallace. (Promises to be fun.)

Now reading: Lake on the Mountain, a Dan Sharp Mystery by my friend Jeff Round.

Sometimes we get so caught up with the writing and all the other things we have to do, we forget what a lazy Sunday afternoon is and how best to spend it: Open a book and step through to the other side.

Please, writers!

Read.

I love afternoons like this!

THE 99 CENT SALE UPDATE:

I’m having such a great afternoon of reading, I want to encourage everyone to curl up with a book by the fire or under your coziest blanket. So, in addition to giving one short story away for free, as of now, all my shorter works of fiction are marked down to only 99 cents each. If you love them, please remember to review them. The Poeticule Bay stories (Asia Unbound, Parting Shots and the novella, The Dangerous Kind) are each 99 cents now. Two stories which feature the odd psychotherapist, Dr. Circe Papua, are Vengeance is #1 and Corrective Measures. Grab it now, because Corrective Measures is free until January 31st. Have a great night!

CLICK IT TO GRAB IT

Filed under: Books, readers, , , , , , ,

The ebook pricing and gifting experiment

Click here for your free story!

Self-published authors have found success in serialization.

Cross-pollination is the cousin to serialization that no one talks about. 

I have some big promotional events coming up, but January can be the doldrums for sales. Many of us, me included, are sifting through our new reading from Christmas and looking forlornly at our VISA bills. Publishing is so easy now, but obscurity is hard. I thought it was time to do something to spark the imagination of readers. It’s time to build my readership and, I hope, new readers will review my books and spread the word.

That’s why, until the end of January, I’m giving away a very special story for free.

I have ebooks selling at various price points: 99 cents, $1.99 and $2.99 and one in paperback for $13.99. When the big promotional event hits, I expect there will be a run on the paperback and ebook of Self-help for Stoners. The Self-help for Stoners podcast is also going well with over 300 downloads already.

But why free and why now?

Honestly, my sales kind of suck so far and I’m trying to light a fire to signal rescue planes.

My gamble is that once I’m picked up, readers won’t want to stop the ride at just one story.

Book sales need momentum. Fortunately, I had just the right story in my holster to fit this pricing/gifting experiment. The story, Corrective Measures, stands on its own. However, two characters from this story appear in several of my other stories in two other books. I won an award for End of the Line, a short about Dr. Circe Papua. Hounded by an unscrupulous bill collector, she uses magical powers of persuasion to get him off her back. That story appears in Sex, Death & Mind Control (for fun and profit). Dr. Papua shows up in different incarnations in several stories in that book, but also appears in Vengeance is #1, an ebook on sale for $1.99.

My main character from Corrective Measures is Jack, a serial killer and Dr. Papua’s patient. He tries not to kill anybody unless Dr. Papua says it’s okay, but after a minor argument over a parking space, Jack wants to murder a woman simply for pissing him off. (By the way, The Parking Lot Incident, happened to me. And no, there are no warrants out for my arrest.)

Here’s where the cross-pollination comes in:

Jack appeared in another award-winning story, The Clawed Bathtub, which is the last story in Sex, Death & Mind Control. I love it when stories nest beside each other. In Corrective Measures, there is a reference to events in The Clawed Bathtub that answers a question that was left a mystery in that story. Read one and you won’t notice the seams. Readers who buy them all will get a bigger picture and enjoy the inside jokes. I didn’t write the stories with this strategy in mind. That arose organically. I only write stories I need to write. However, these characters I know so well keep popping up. In The Fortune Teller, Papua is an old seer at a fair. In another story from Sex, Death & Mind Control (The Express) Dr. Papua is the same psychotherapist from Corrective Measures, but she’s dealing with an older version of Paul, the man who is abusive to women in The Fortune Teller.

You don’t need a flow chart or to keep score. It’s just that as I wrote about these characters, I found they had more to say than could be shoehorned into one story. There’s no timeline to follow. It’s about characters who are so compelling, I had to revisit them and explore them further. Each story explores extraordinary people in ordinary circumstances and makes it funny, suspenseful and scary. I found that as I wrote these stories, I pulled back on the gore because, frankly, the battery acid scenes would shock some readers out of the story. The results are tighter, more clever stories that make you think, make you laugh and make you a little more wary of strangers.

Please accept my invitation to go grab Corrective Measures now while it’s still free.

I hope you will be inspired to spread the happy word to your friends and through reviews.

I’ll let you know how this pricing/gifting experiment works out.

Filed under: All That Chazz, book reviews, DIY, ebooks, getting it done, podcasts, Publicity & Promotion, publishing, readers, reviews, self-publishing, short stories

Self-publishers: Why I went multimedia (and why you should, too)

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Boy, did I have an eye-opener this morning that left me spinning! I shouldn’t have been surprised, but when you write and publish and do your thing, you naturally assume everybody gets your message at the same speed and time. Well, I naturally assumed that.

And I was wrong. Again.

Last night I posted a little promotional trailer for my books. It wasn’t anything fancy nor was it specific to one book. I was just playing around with iMovie. I had never messed with it before and I didn’t even look at a tutorial or read a help topic. I wasn’t feeling great, so I thought I’d use an otherwise unproductive Sunday afternoon to do something fun. I’ve blogged about book trailers before and generally I take a dim view of them. Let’s be honest: most book trailers suck. In fact, I might argue that the little movie I made kind of sucks, but first, a review of my problems with book trailers:

A book trailer is a commercial. People don’t like long commercials and most book trailers go on way too long. Nobody watches a commercial and wishes it was longer except for the old Old Spice commercials (that showed wit) and the commercials for the beer favoured by The Most Interesting Man in the World. From my research, I found what most authors have found: book trailers don’t sell books. John Locke points out that little movies about your books appeal to the author’s vanity but don’t do much for most readers and do nothing to increase sales. Some say that if you’re going to make a book trailer, make it funny or forget it. Or spend some real money on it, go big or stay home.

Despite all that, I did make that trailer for my books. (It’s in the post directly below this one if you’re curious.) Given all that I’ve said, why bother with a trailer at all? I made it for a very specific reason. It’s posted on YouTube, but really, I’m sure that’s not going to do anything. I posted it on Google+ and Facebook, but that’s probably nothing more than an idle curiosity or for people who, I’m almost sure, already know what I’m up to for the most part. For me, the trailer had to be of specific use for Goodreads.

I put the trailer on my Goodreads author profile. There are many authors on Goodreads and it’s a great forum for book lovers. If you want to read reviews and find books you might not otherwise find, it’s the place to be. I was slow to adopt Goodreads, but now I love it. However, it’s not a good place to promote yourself as an author and when you do much of anything outside of your own profile, you have to be very careful not to appear spammy. Sure, you’re filled with joy at the latest review or publishing milestone, but venture out into the forums with that same joy and someone will call you out pretty quick for subverting the mission of Goodreads. It’s for readers, not for writers. (If, as an author, you want to advertise on Goodreads, there’s a proper route for that and it requires payment and mucho dinero.)

I was shocked and embarrassed to find that I’d already violated Goodreads’ etiquette. I got a really great review for one of my books and I thought it only polite to thank the reviewer with a note on the post. The Powers That Be don’t want authors to thank reviewers. I can see, in the big picture, why they don’t want authors to do that. Maybe reviewers would be less honest if they were self-conscious or trying for thank you notes from authors. Worse, authors might also fall into responding to bad reviews, which we should never, ever do. Mmmm…almost never ever.

So how does one distinguish oneself on Goodreads without running afoul of the Goodreads sheriff and the good townspeople? Be nice. (I hope that’s not an act, Dexter Morgan.) Engage. Act like a reader and be passive about your self-promotion. Keep the self-promotion to a minimum and keep it on your page, no one else’s. No spam mail and nothing that could appear to a reasonable person as a personal agenda. Crank the helpfulness and interest up to maximum and just be you. (Unless you’re a serial killer.)

Goodreads devotes a lot of instructional text to authors so we can learn the proper rules of comportment and etiquette on the site. If you don’t adhere, they might kick you out or at least make you feel bad. Most author pages look pretty much the same, so I made a trailer to put on my page (not to send out to The People of Earth, awaiting applause.) Some people are more willing to watch a little movie than read through your witty little bio and personal mind map of the dreamscape you intend to self-actualize. I hoped to distinguish myself by having a little movie where many authors do not.

(Yes, at the end of this post, I’ll tell you the shocker I got, but first…)

So I have books on Kindles and smartphones and e-readers thither and yon. And now I have video (be it ever so humble.) I also went with audio. Here’s where things get really interesting. Podcasts are the new radio. I hardly ever listen to old radio unless I’m trapped in a car in a snow bank in a snowstorm with two broken legs and cannibalizing a Lutheran in a coma. It still astonishes me when I say the word “podcast” and get a blank look. I listen to podcasts constantly. The wonder of internet radio allows me to get through all the mundane tasks, like washing dishes, doing laundry and spaying the neighbour’s cat with lawn darts. Blindfolded. (Me, not the cat. Where’s the sport, otherwise?)

Writing and producing and performing a podcast seemed to me the natural companion strategy to writing books. I wrote Self-help for Stoners, Stuff to Read When You’re High. Why not cross-promote with a weekly comedy podcast that features excerpts from the book? I called the podcast Self-help for Stoners and naturally the tagline is Stuff to Listen to When You’re High. It’s up on iTunes. The combination is an easy fit. I had a little background in radio. I’m not at ease on the mic at all, but I’m relearning those skills, like how to sound natural again.

The book is a weird hybrid I could easily draw from for a weekly comedy podcast. It’s mostly fiction with suspenseful elements, but there are funny stories, parables, exhortations, weird facts and brain tickles. When it’s preachy, it’s preachy on purpose and, I think, entertainingly so. There’s even a sci-fi story in the mix! It’s a collection that most publishers wouldn’t touch, but from my background in traditional publishing, I decided that those reasons were bad reasons. I had a book with a hook. (And no, you don’t have to be a stoner to enjoy the fun. Many people are surprised when they find some stories challenge the idea that being a stoner is even a good idea.)

If that sounds like a lot of work that has nothing to do with writing books, you’re right…sort of. I write full-time. This all I do, so I have more time than most. Yes, I know how lucky I am and I can’t tell you how grateful I am for my family’s support. I tell them every day. As She Who Must Be Obeyed ventures out into the real world each morning, I say, “Win that bread and bring home that bacon, Ward!” She says, “Have a good day, June.” And then I skip (no, not metaphorically) back into the house and to my desk, into unreal worlds. The book feeds the podcast, but the podcast can inform the rest of my writing and, most important, touch an audience I would not otherwise reach. I podcast so the books I write may be read.

But what about you, you, you? Podcasts are everywhere on any topic you can dream up. It’s cheap promotion. It’s fun (mostly). You might make new friends and find a new readership. If you aren’t already podcasting, you should consider it. Or think about advertising on a podcast. That’s also inexpensive compared to traditional avenues. Podcast the same way you blog: talk about those things that ignite your passion, stimulate your skull box or tickle you silly. Get a friend to co-host and you’ve got a conversation. (I have no friends so I’m doing it solo. “But someday…” he said wistfully.)

But that’s not all. There’s Facebook, of course, though that’s generally more for tight amigos than business. Facebook has its problems as a business outlet (but this post is already too long and overuses the delightful parenthetical so let’s move on briskly.) Aside from blogging for writers and the self-published here, I also post on my Goodreads blog and on allthatchazz.com, the site for my readers. (If I ever say “fans,” drag me out into the street and reinvent the guillotine.)

Whenever I have down time (among the many tasks of formatting for ebooks, formatting for print, administrivia and…oh yeah, actually writing my books) I maintain three Twitter accounts. You probably know me from @RChazzChute on Twitter and such industrial films as “Whose Thumb is in the Fry-o-later?” @RChazzChute is where I meet most of my writing friends and fellow self-publishers. I got frustrated with Twitter’s whacky algorithm that slows me from following more people, so I went for more Twitter accounts.

@Expartepress (from my company name) is geared to readers and for activism. My pets are free speech, Occupy Everywhere and sovereign choices wherever no one else gets hurt, like eating Lutherans, for instance.

To promote the podcast, I let loose on @THECHAZZSAYS. I do an explicit comedy podcast, so when I have something edgy to say, it’s probably there (though some of you are already pissed off at me for the cat spaying joke. Most everyone who isn’t a Lutheran is okay with the cannibalism joke, however.)

So my target audiences are: Writers, Readers and the People of Earth With a Sense of Humour and an Interest in Fiction. It’s a small target but I can hit it.

What and how much is right for you?: Yes, multimedia promotion is a lot of work but don’t whine about the workload if you choose it for yourself.  Whining is unattractive.

I only do as much as I enjoy and the core writing always comes first. I wrote 11 pages of my new novel this morning, thank you very much.

Wait, wait! What about your terrible mistake? You said you’d tell us why you’re a complete idiot, Chazz! Oh. Right. Ahem. I’ve written this blog for some time. I’ve talked about my books and I’ve blogged about the craft of writing and editing extensively. I figured regular readers already knew what I was up to. However, this morning a fellow writer commented that the book trailer was cute. And…wait for it…up until she saw the trailer, she thought my books were all non-fiction. 

Ack!

Gulp!

Well, that’s humbling. I thought I’d already reached my immediate circle with my promise of suspense, fun, literature and frivolity. I failed to do that with someone who has guest blogged here and comments often. That’s not her fault. She’s a peach. The fault is mine. Maybe I didn’t talk long enough. Maybe I wasn’t short and pithy. Maybe the titles were misleading. For whatever reason I am not at this moment discerning through my haze of tears for fears, it took the book trailer for her to hear, “Hi, I’m Robert Chazz Chute and I think you’ll enjoy my fiction.”

If I can’t promote general awareness of my books, actual sales are farther off than I thought.

Her confusion is a signal to me. If it’s true for one, it’s often true for many.

Clearly, I have more promotional work to do. Much more.

You probably do, too.

Filed under: book trailer, Books, getting it done, Publicity & Promotion, readers, self-publishing, Social Media, What about Chazz?, , , , , , , , , , ,

And now for something somewhat different: allthatchazz.com

www.allthatchazz.com

Over a year and a half and 600 plus blog posts, Chazz Writes has been (and will continue to be) free content for writers about the craft and business of writing. Chazz Writes is about grammar, editing, writing advice and the latest self-publishing news. I’ve made a lot of friends and allies and promoted quite a few authors here. It’s a lot of fun. The fun will continue for readers on the companion site. Stop by, subscribe and see what’s cooking.

Someone is already offended because it looks like I’m saying writers aren’t readers. Some people arrive pre-offended, so…can you hear my shrug from there? As a writer, I’m also a power reader: vast library, ten books at a time, two e-readers…the whole smear. But not all readers are writers.  

What will be different? All that Chazz focuses on what readers want: reviews, sneak peeks and more ideas on what to read. On the new site, I write about reading.

Contributors: All That Chazz is open to submissions (just like Chazz Writes). If you’d like to write a guest post about who, what, when, why, where and how you’re reading, please submit your 300-word (max) post and a 25-word bio to me at expartepress@gmail.com.

The Book Review Circle: I haven’t forgotten about Kim Nayyer’s excellent suggestion to establish a book circle. (See the bottom segment for my personal update on what I’ve been doing instead.)

The Review Circle Recap: In the summer, I put out the call for self-published authors who were willing to review a book in exchange for a review of their own book. The reviews, to be published at All that Chazz and promoted on Chazz Writes, can be used by the author and the reviewer for their own blogs and whatever marketing purposes suit them. In the next couple of weeks (as the hither and dither allows) I’ll be contacting all the authors who contacted me to set up the circle.

If you want to participate in the review circle, email me with details of your book, genre and word count at expartepress@gmail.com.

(Don’t wait!)

This looks like a job for me: Wow, have I been busy! My business plan is coming together, though I wish I had a couple of interns and a cappuccino machine to hurry the publishing process along. So much of what I’m working on is new to me (formatting and podcasting, for instance). Some of the learning curve is so steep, I need two Sherpa guides. However, it’s coming together on schedule as long as I continue to try do everything at once. Self-publishing is not, as some claim, the “easy” road to publication. It’s just another path and the terrain is a little different.

I’m enjoying the view from this little goat path. I think I’ll climb higher and see what I can see.

Join me.

Filed under: All That Chazz, book reviews, DIY, e-reader, ebooks, getting it done, publishing, readers, reviews, self-publishing, What about Chazz?, , , , , , , , ,

Winner of Writer's Digest's 2014 Honorable Mention in Self-published Ebook Awards in Genre

The first 81 lessons to get your Buffy on

More lessons to help you survive Armageddon

"You will laugh your ass off!" ~ Maxwell Cynn, author of Cybergrrl

Available now!

Fast-paced terror, new threats, more twists.

An autistic boy versus our world in free fall

Suspense to melt your face and play with your brain.

Action like a Guy Ritchie film. Funny like Woody Allen when he was funny.

Jesus: Sexier and even more addicted to love.

You can pick this ebook up for free today at this link: http://bit.ly/TheNightMan

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

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