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

Write and publish with love and fury.

Why Your Favorite Author Probably Can’t Give You a Free Book

Bethany House Fiction

It’s a dilemma that many in my circles are puzzling over: in today’s world, authors have nearly limitless creativity and research sources and opportunities to get their stories out to a wider audience…but fewer people are willing to pay for them.

I’m an administrator for a few dozen authors’ Facebook pages, and from time to time I glimpse notifications of another message with the same question, phrased in a few different ways: “Why is your book (or ebook) so expensive?”

If you’ve ever wondered that yourself—and I don’t blame you, because I did too before I started working in publishing—here are a few thoughts that authors probably want to say but feel they can’t, because it seems a little too direct, a little too self-serving (even though it really isn’t).

It’s the same reason restaurant owners can’t give you a free dinner: because that’s how they make a living. Sure…

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First the CreateSpace EStore, Now Pronoun’s Gone!

MacMillan announced in an email today that their publishing platform for authors is closing. Several writers told me that Pronoun had issues regarding reporting in a timely manner. I’d assumed these were simply growing pains that would eventually get ironed out as the platform developed.

I had high hopes for Pronoun. Some of their terms were favorable and their user interface was super nifty and easy. I’d planned to publish a book through them but, fortunately, that release got delayed due to illness so I didn’t get stuck. Alas, they’re shutting down officially as of Jan. 15, 2018. 

If you are one of the authors who published through Pronoun and feel like you’re about to be (a) an orphan, (b) marooned or (c) highly inconvenienced, here’s a link to their FAQ page about the demise of Pronoun.

Pronoun, we hardly knew ye.

~ Robert Chazz Chute writes cool books about the end of the world, thrilling crime, time travel and kickass suspense. See all his books at AllThatChazz.com. 

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A Tale of Two Marketing Systems

BOOM! Great stuff here from David Gaughran.

David Gaughran

Lots of people right now are asking themselves whether they should leave Kindle Unlimited.

I’m generally agnostic on it, and I think writers should do what is best for them and their books, but there’s no doubt this is the big question of the moment.

That’s partly down to falling pay rates, Amazon’s inability to deal with scammers and cheaters, or the increasing concern about having all your eggs in one basket when something like this (or this, or this) regularly happens. But I think authors are asking themselves the wrong question.

The real issue, I suggest, should surround how you are going to find readers on these retailers (or on Amazon, if you have decided to swim in the other direction). Because I often see people taking the wrong approach – using the wrong tools for the job.

I gave a talk at NINC earlier this month…

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CreateSpace eStore is Closing Effective October 31, 2017


Image from ShutterStock.


Beginning October 31, 2017, customers will no longer be able to purchase paperbacks directly from the CreateSpace eStore.

If you have a link to your CreateSpace eStore and a customer clicks on it, the customer will be redirected to the corresponding page at Amazon.com.

According to CreateSpace, the reasons behind the change include:

  • It’s much easier to search for books across Amazon’s site than it is to search for books on CreateSpace.
  • Amazon offers a much better checkout process than CreateSpace does.
  • Amazon offers better shipping options, including Amazon Prime.
  • Amazon sends out tracking notifications for orders placed through Amazon.
  • Amazon’s storefront is a much more familiar interface for customers.
  • Several customers have requested the features described above.

Unfortunately, when a customer clicks on a link to a CreateSpace eStore and is redirected to Amazon, authors will earn Amazon.com royalties (not eStore…

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9 Ways to Improve AMS – Amazon Ads For Authors

I find I always reblog David because he digs deep. If you’re struggling with Amazon ads, this might give you a clue why. I’m currently reading Mastering Amazon Ads by Brian D. Meeks, hoping to find my way around the potholes and pitfalls.

David Gaughran

More product searches start on Amazon than anywhere else, even Google. It’s the world’s biggest bookstore and by far the largest ebook retailer.

But Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) is still very much a work-in-progress, particularly the slightly pared-back version authors get to advertise books.

Self-publishers tend to focus on making books visible on Amazon. Aside from being a market leader, and having famed frictionless purchasing, there is another key reason why such a focus often gets the best return. Unlike other popular sites, anyone visiting Amazon is generally there for one reason: to buy stuff. You aren’t interrupting them while they share dank memes with friends, or search how fast a raven can fly during winter.

AMS is often referred to as “new” but it has been around for more than two years now. While AMS offers a variety of ads to third-party sellers which can increase app downloads…

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On Writing Advice

A few years ago I published posts to this blog daily. It was the beginning of the publishing revolution and I had a lot to say. I post much less often now because it’s all in the archives, I’ve got books to write and mouths to feed. Recently, I was reminded of the Thomas Mann quote: 

“A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”

A writer asked for advice on a single, short sentence. The votes poured in. People gave advice on what wording they preferred and their rationale for their preference. Some were a little…uh…strident. This post is not about their choices. It’s about our approach to writing and how we can get in our own way.

I’ve gotten in my own way during the editing process many times. I’m doing it right now! I’ve analyzed until I’m anal. I’ve reworded, polished, refined, worried, revisited and reworked. Conscientiousness is one thing. However, sometimes writers get too precious, to the point of procrastination. We make a virtue out of a fault. We can edit so hard that natural wording becomes unnatural. We can be so precise that we never get a book done, so exacting that the life and voice is deleted from our storytelling.

I wrote a couple of books about writing a few years ago. I unpublished one because I felt it had become too specific to its time. The other (Crack the Indie Author Code) I’ve left up on Amazon because it’s less about mechanics and mostly about inspiration. I drew on my experiences in traditional publishing and encouraged readers to take the leap to writing in the indie world. I provided guidelines and tips but no laws. Sometimes the ear is more important to the storyteller than the eye.

Professionalizing writing would suggest we avoid words like professionalization. Never verb a noun, not even in dialogue, not even for a joke. No sentence fragments. Some agents will tell you not to use prologues and epilogues, never ever! Pedants will stop reading if they — gadzooks!— encounter any use of passive voice. All adverbs must die! Rabid grammarians will go on endlessly about the horrors of the split infinitive. Some will demand the Oxford comma or pretend they don’t know what “scare quotes” mean. Don’t you dare break the fourth wall, either. Edit, revise and edit again until you hate your book because if you aren’t insecure, if you don’t loathe it, it can’t be any good. Don’t publish it because it’ll never be good enough, anyway. Know-it-alls will lecture the innocent on the use of commas until you’re too scared to commit a single line to paper.

Many of these scolds mean well. They may, in fact, love writing and editing. I’m not sure they love reading anymore, though. The danger is they’ll pound the love of books out of you, too.

Worse, they’re so goddamn sure they know what is best for everybody else. In their minds, creativity is fine but there is only one right way! Hang ee cummings, screw Walt Whitman and you can learn nothing from the pulp writers. It’s the Iowa Workshop or nothing! The War on Fun never ends.

Writers editing other writers can be extremely helpful or among the worst offenders. Writers need to read as the average reader. Civilians read for enjoyment. Writers often forget that trick. Meanwhile, many of the most successful writers working today are writing fast, telling simple, straightforward and linear stories. And they’re having fun. Sometimes they start sentences with conjunctions, too. Odd, huh?

I encourage writers to listen to editors, beta readers and their readers but don’t try to listen to them all. Don’t let your voice get edited away. Preserve the you in your writing. (On my first pass I wrote, “Preserve your unique voice in your work,” then, “Preserve your unique voice,” and “Preserve your unique writer’s voice.” That’s a symptom of today’s complaint. No one but another writer would pause to analyze that. A reader skips over it as quick as they can and gets the hell on with their day.)

Not all writing has to sound the same. I’d prefer it didn’t.

Be careful who you listen to. Be careful to whom you listen…um. No, don’t…uh….sigh.

God damn it. Goddammit!

~ Robert Chazz Chute writes fun suspenseful thrillers and scary epics about the end of the world. Find his work on his author site, AllThatChazz.com.

Filed under: publishing

This Self-Publishing Course Is Free… And Great Too

Here’s some good news.

David Gaughran

When I heard someone was giving away a self-publishing course, I was a little skeptical, presuming it was either some kind of bait-and-switch or an opportunity for some hardcore upselling.

But I was wrong.

Iain Rob Wright has done something pretty amazing. He has created a pretty damn comprehensive course on self-publishing and marketing – over 50 hours of HD Video – and he has made it all free. Not the first bit free. Not free for a limited time. Not free if you also buy this, or agreed to be assailed by that.

Just free.

Iain had originally planned to charge quite a lot of money for it, but the idea didn’t sit right with him and just before launching he made the decision to make the whole thing free. The course is called Self-Publishing Mastery and you can enroll here.

You are probably skeptical. And you…

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The 7 Writer Types You Should Avoid Becoming

Chicago Review of Books

In my thirty years as a writer and editor, I’ve worked with, talked to, and corresponded with thousands of writers, in addition to observing their interactions and words online. Many I’ve taken as exemplary of how to lead a productive, imaginative, and ethical literary life. But, as in any field, it’s also clear that writers often work against the flow of their own efforts, create conflict where none should exist, and are as adept in their own lives as in their stories of creating narratives that are actually fictions. All of this is instructional, although you wish it wouldn’t have to be. But the truth is that people aren’t machines and we’re all a bit less rational than we let on.

Full confession: I have been some of the writer types below at various points in my career (although never the last type). And what I’ve come to find incredibly…

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The Only Rule Amazon Truly Cares About

Another great article from David Gaughran, and it’s worrisome. I’m waiting for someone to pop up in the comments to say we can’t fight City Hall and Amazon will be Amazon. They might not be wrong but it’s shitty to say we shouldn’t even complain, be grateful and take our lumps for the privilege of selling there. (This is a common theme when objections to Amazon’s policies come up. It’s the inverse of Amazon Derangement Syndrome where everything Amazon does is evil.) Not complaining to Amazon to try to change the situation doesn’t sound very businesslike to me, though.

There are calls to go wide as a protest. The problem is, the other sales platforms tend to suck for many genres. I tried going wide but I’m all in with KDP because I could profit there. Until they come for my head, anyway. To Amazon, listen to authors as well as customers. To Apple, Google, Kobo etc.,… please step up your game and give Amazon stiffer competition.

David Gaughran

On Monday, I found out that some bug hit a German e-book site causing the reactivation of long-dead listings, including one of mine, putting myself and some other authors in breach of KDP Select’s exclusivity rule.

Amazon pounced into action and cancelled my Countdown deal which was scheduled for this week, screwing up a carefully planned promotion. And despite pledging to resolve the matter and restore the promo, Amazon has not done so.

I’m going to go through what happened in detail so you can be sure that I acted correctly at all points – because there is a lot of shadiness going on at the moment – but feel free to skim some of the details if you wish.

Let’s Get Digital and Let’s Get Visible had never been in Select, so I decided to throw them in for one term as an experiment at the start of July…

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When Reader Targeting Goes Wrong

David Gaughran

Taking a non-scammy tangent from Saturday’s post, I’d like to talk about what happens when you target the wrong readers, because being too scattergun with promo can really hurt your book.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this over the last few months. Currently, I’m in the process of both updating Let’s Get Digital for a third edition and writing a book on the topic which is tentatively called The Reader’s Journey: From Strangers to Superfans – as well as working on a third, secret project for writers that is all about using a certain kind of targeting in a very specific way to build audience and drive sales.

And I’ve been putting all these theories into practice too, working with a bestselling author on their launches and promotions, with some pretty amazing results. More on that when I can share, but the cool thing is I’ve had the opportunity to…

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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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