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

Write and publish with love and fury.

You are not an idiot Part I

“Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.”

~ H. L. Mencken

“Don’t be that guy.”

~ Robert Chazz Chute

Part 1 is about gurus.

I heard a podcast today in which the hosts underestimated their audience’s ability to think.

They worried their guest was giving advice that was wrong, which is fine. Then they worried the advice was too nuanced. Someone, the hosts worried, might be so stupid they’d misinterpret said advice. It made me angry because they ended up mocking, berating and talking over their guest. Eventually they hashed their way through to arrive at what the guest was really suggesting.

As Hannibal suggested, “Eat the rude.”

The show also irritated me because it implied I was too stupid to “get it.” I got it. I bet most people did. Yes, someone will always misinterpret whatever you say. But we don’t run the world catering to the lowest common denominator. If we did, no one would be allowed to drive.

If you somehow become a guru of wide reputation and stellar success, please try to remember that not everyone is stupid just because they haven’t reached your heights…yet.

Advice is not for idiots.

It wastes the breath of the advisor. Idiots aren’t interested in advice. Advice makes idiots talk more. No one wants that.

The hosts of the podcast (which I will not name because it’s unnecessary) are certainly not idiots. I wish they thought we were smarter, though.

~ My name is Robert Chazz Chute and the only guru I put full faith in is Kurt Vonnegut. He was a great writer and a constantly disappointed humanist.

 

 

Filed under: author platform, Writers, writing tips, , , , , , , , ,

Amazon: My last stab

GET BIGGER THAN JESUS, FREE ON AMAZON TODAY, TOMORROW AND FRIDAY

Free promotions sure aren’t what they used to be. Last December, with Amazon’s old algorithm, friends of mine made big money. Success on the free list actually translated to success on the paid list. Then everything changed and many of us have been slow to react, me included. I notice that, among my writer friends, many (most?) are selling their books on KDP Select exclusively, five free days and all, for the first three months and then they aren’t renewing with KDP. They’ll continue to sell on Amazon, but there are plenty of other places to sell besides Amazon. After that first three months of trying to take advantage of the Amazon advantage, they put their work up everywhere else, too. That’s what I’m doing with the foundation book of my crime novel series, Bigger Than Jesus.

BY THE WAY: 

Bigger Than Jesus is available for free in ebook form

until Friday, and then that’s it.

As The Hit Man Series continues, I don’t know if I’ll go exclusive at all, even for those first three months. The math just doesn’t seem to add up to a marketing strategy that’s advantageous. In truth, it hasn’t been helpful to many indie authors for some time. I stuck with it because of the timing as my previous books launched. I have three books to release before Christmas and the eggs won’t be going into one basket anymore.

Someone asked me recently, “What’s the latest success strategy for indie authors?” I encountered some resistance when I replied, “There isn’t one.” We’ve had the publicists, advertising, press releases, blogging, podcasting, Twitter (and various  derivative Twitter strategies), Facebook, Pinterest (maybe?), the 99 cent strategy, blog tours, free, Goodreads, book bloggers, etc,…. Some combination of these elements may work for someone. Though they’ve all been effective for someone individually in the past, no one strategy seems to deliver a knock-out punch. When I say there isn’t one, I don’t rule out the possibility of their effectiveness in the plural, if you have the time to do all that. (You don’t. Go write instead.) 

Which brings up the question: Will Amazon change its algorithm again so it makes sense for us to stay exclusive with KDP Select? Who knows? Amazon’s algorithms and their rationale may be deduced, but are never made explicit. That information is solely on a need-to-know basis. (Apparently, we don’t need to know.)

Amazon is good at what they do — or has been — but it’s unreasonable to expect they’ll be right all the time, even with their vast resources. More to the point, Amazon’s looking out for Amazon, not me. My evidence is they aren’t making the exclusivity clause worth it for a lot of authors (even the true believers who, in the past, made a lot of dough.) I’m losing sales on other devices because I’m not selling enough with KDP. The Amazon sales don’t make up for lost sales elsewhere. Listening to my writer buddies, it’s clear I’m not alone in that assessment.

This is a business decision and has nothing to do with damning Amazon. I’m not one of the haters whining about monopolies and painting Amazon as a bully. The market is a competition and Amazon is on top because they made a lot of great decisions early on. However, I’m not looking for a new mom to take care of me, either. Being indie doesn’t mean supplanting one boss with a new boss just because it’s easy to go on inertia and formatting anew is a pain in the ass. Next month, as soon as my three months are up, Bigger Than Jesus will be available more widely (Hello Kobo, Nook, Sony, your smart phone, your iPhone, your iPad…maybe even your toaster.)

As for book marketing’s next knock out punch? People will tell you they know what the next big thing is. Some will even try to sell you books based on giving away one ultimate secret of indie author success. I think those people are often well-intentioned and they give out a lot of good information. I’ve read a bunch about marketing ebooks lately and, frankly, I’m also skeptical about some of those easy, plug-and-play answers.

Only one strategy I know of seems like anything close to a sure thing and (WARNING!) it’s a slow, steady grind. It’s not a popular idea because it’s not easy and quick. 

Write more books.

(Do a great job!)

Put them up.

(Do what promotion you can that doesn’t interfere with your writing schedule.)

Write more books.

(Make sure they are wonderful.)

I aspire to inspire, but as for marketing? Hm. Sorry.

“Write more books” is honestly all I’ve got in stock at the moment.

I’ve said it before and it’s still all I have to say on that subject.

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

UBC TOP TEN: Everything we know is wrong. Stop That!

July 16, 17, 18

The Dangerous Kind & Other Stories is FREE 

My son asked me if someone was as smart as they think they are. “No one is as smart as they think they are. A

Click here to get this fun book of suspense FREE until tomorrow at midnight.
Small-town terrors and psychological mayhem in Maine.

guy can be an idiot, but if you agree with him, you think he’s a genius.” It got me thinking what else we often get wrong.

1. Two heads aren’t better than one if the dumb, loud guy does all the talking.

2. Instead of instantly deferring to somebody who says, “Listen to me because I’ve done X for twenty years,” wonder this: Have they been doing it wrong for twenty years?

3. When you correct someone, are you out to help them or to feel superior? If it’s the first, thanks. If it’s the second, shut up. (And no one likes you.)

4. Are you reacting out of fear? Are you worried about terrorists when you’re far more likely to die from heart attack, cancer or a slippery bathtub? (Yes, you’re more likely to die from a slippery bathtub.)

5. Do you feel compassion for others or have you given up already because it’s all just too much and what can one person do? One person can make a big difference with one person. Start small. If you can’t handle actual  human interactions and social contact, start with that lovely person in the mirror.

6. Are you paralyzed by analysis or waiting for permission? Don’t wait until conditions are perfect to change your life. Perfect never comes but the Good Enough Train is always on time. If you’re waiting for permission, chances are excellent you have lots of people in your life waiting for you to ask so they can refuse. (Choose allies carefully. Dump enemies in the river.)

7. Are you certain about something? Beware! Certainty is the cardinal sign that you aren’t as smart as you would like to think. Serial killers are very confident and have high self-esteem. Scientifically, the less informed we are about a subject, the more certain we are in our opinions. (Though I’m not sure about this. Don’t be too sure. Intelligent people are about nuance, which is why they often lose elections.)

8. Are you mad at someone? They know, but are you sure they understand why? They might change their behaviour if they knew. (Yes, I’m saying don’t be so passive aggressive and spineless and state your needs. And, for God’s sake, if they have spine enough to look at you perplexed and apologize, take the apology and move on. Don’t hold on to your resentments. If they don’t apologize, dump him, girl, because if you don’t stop him now, you will be picking up after him forever.)

9. Some people are very negative, hurtful even, and add, “I’m just being honest.” Really? Or are they congratulating themselves for being nasty? You already know the answer to that question if you have one of these miseries in your life. If you are one of these miseries, stop. If you’re putting up with one of these miseries, go back to #8.

10. People put too much faith in top ten lists, don’t you think? They sure sound authoritative. But I’m just another nit on the interwebs, pontificating. You shouldn’t listen to me. (Or am I using mind fu in a cheap ploy to ingratiate?) Make up your own mind about stuff. You can do that as long as you distrust your brain. It’s not just that people lie. It’s that your brain lies to you all the time, mostly to distract you from the existential horror of the abyss. and to protect us froth knowledge that, yes, we really do look that fat in these jeans. In fact, we’re fat all the time. Hm. Maybe a few lies aren’t so bad. Keeps us off the ledge.

Ancient people thought they knew everything there was to know about the nature of the universe. 

Every age is the most modern age and the best minds from each age now sound stupid on lots of subjects.

The chances we now know what we’re doing is, statistically speaking, lousy.

~ Robert Chazz Chute is the author of Self-help for Stoners, The Dangerous Kind & Other Stories, Bigger Than Jesus, and Sex, Death & Mind Control (for fun and profit). The Dangerous Kind & Other Stories is the foundation of the Poeticule Bay suspense novels that are now in the works. This novella and short story bundle is free on Amazon until Wednesday night. Please go grab it and, if you love it, please review it. Thanks!

(To see all of Chazz’s books, click here.)

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Author Blog Challenge 10: How to make me want to spread your word

English: A pie chart created in Excel 2007 sho...

English: A pie chart created in Excel 2007 showing the content of tweets on Twitter, based on the data gathered by Pear Analytics in 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Regular readers know I use the Scoopit! tool to curate helpful stuff about indie publishing I find around the web. I learn a lot researching blogs, link to good content so you can find it and include my comments on the posts I recommend. Sharing and spreading publishing news is a happy bonus. If I believed in karma, helping strangers for free would be the good kind. Today, let’s talk about what makes your articles, posts and tweets attractive nuggets to link to.

But first, a true story: Anguished Author goes to A+ Agent for a meeting about her book. A+ Agent says, “The contract is signed but you need to build your platform more and you’ve got to make a viral video for the book trailer.”

Two thoughts about this story:

Writing helpful blog content and building back links is one way to build a strong platform. Author sites tend to be too much “Me, me, me,” and a more effective  author site is more about “You, you, you, the reader.” Figuring out what helps people will help you build your platform. (For instance, my author site is plastered with information about my books, yes, but it’s also my fountain of free comedy/fiction/narrative/commentary podcasts to extend my reach beyond fellow writers to the reading public.)

and

Sorry, but you don’t get to make a viral video. You make a book trailer. It will go viral or not according to the whims of other people, unless you pay a bunch of kids and robots to pimp it in chatrooms across the Internet. However, since all book trailers (except this fake one) are lame, that won’t work and you’ll fail to dictate the world’s taste. Cute and funny are your best bets since your budget for movie production is not the same as the Prometheus trailer and the audience is jaded by all that amazing acting and CGI.

So what makes me want to retweet and spread the word about your blog? There are some solid rules that are universally applicable and then there’s my capricious, subjective taste. That kind of makes me sound like a prick, but everybody’s got topics that push their buttons. The words: “how to” are probably the most powerful words in a blog headline for anyone. (See the “how to” title at the top of this post? You clicked it.) Self-publishing is a new world and everyone wants a tour guide.

Here’s what’s going through my head as I decide what to link to and promote:

1. I’m reluctant to post something that is time-limited, such as headlines that say, “Final hours of the giveaway” or “Tuesday Only!” My Twitter followers and blog readers might not get the message right away and I don’t want to annoy them with what they missed.

2. (A) Don’t write too many headlines that are too spammy. (No one knows how many “too many” is.) I don’t mind blog posts that reference your books. I do that myself freely and it makes sense to draw from firsthand experience. However, a headline that says “Buy my book” is only for your hardcore fans who will buy it no matter what. That draws no one new into your tent for the revival meeting.

2. (B) But! A major caveat since this book promotion thing is tricky: If you balance the promotional content with free education, entertainment and jokes about your genitals, that’s reasonable. Blogging is a lot of free entertainment and information provision. If you can find a reasonable balance, that’s fine with most people. Ask people to buy your book on your own blog and your own feed as long as that’s not all you do. (And by the way, just because you don’t want to read it, doesn’t make it spam. Someone else may want to whisk it off to Paris and pledge undying love over cheap red wine and croissants.) Fortune does not favour the timid. Take it from a timid person who has resolved to pretend to be an extrovert.

For instance, I auto-tweet a welcome message when anyone follows me on my twitter accounts (@rchazzchute, @thechazzsays, @expartepress). The fun message (of doom!)  provides links to my books. My guess is, people who hate that — and some really do — were never going to buy my books anyway. Others will either appreciate the heads up or suck it up, buttercup! Since adding the auto-tweets, my sales have gone up. So there. (I also don’t cooperate with the twit validation service thing. It’s slow and painful and if you want me in your feed, you want me. If you don’t, don’t. Don’t be a pansy about Twitter.)

3. No poetry. I wrote a book of poetry. I like it, but it’s too small a niche and outside what people expect when they come to ChazzWrites. It’s sad, but there it is. Margaret Atwood has written nine books of poetry last I checked, but even many of her fans would be surprised by the news that she’s one bad rhymin’ mammerjammer. Here it’s all about self-publishing, book marketing, writing craft, how-to, industry news and the occasional flambé of whimsy in your face.

4. Technical advice with specifics is great. Just this past week I linked to a post with step-by-step stuff about publishing to the Kindle. Hold my hand and I might get a crush on you. I’m easy that way. I might even whisk you off to Paris and pledge my undying love. Well, no. I’m borderline agoraphobic and I’m locked behind a hermetically sealed hatch in a subterranean bunker and you’re out in the real world doing…things. Blech! So we’re not going to Paris. However, I love tech advice and admire those tech-oriented authors from afar. Often I link to something I want to hold on to. Sure, I could just bookmark it on a reading list to get lost in the depths of my computer, but on my blog it’s easily searchable and organized.

5. Be a buddy. Long time readers may notice I mention Kit Foster quite a bit. It’s not just because he is a brilliant graphic designer. He’s also my graphic designer. Another ally in the fight is my friend Dave from the School of Podcasting. My podcast wouldn’t exist without Dave Jackson. We stay in touch on Skype and end up mentioning each other on our podcasts from time to time, too. There are certain bloggers and fellow authors who are my go-to people simply because I know them better than others. They consistently offer advice that is honest, positive and fresh.

Last week, Jeff Bennington posted a great article about working with ACX to produce audiobooks. That’s something I want to do and Jeff is consistently a trailblazer. And no, it doesn’t hurt that I’ve spoken with Jeff. We’re in touch on Twitter and the odd email. He designed my first paperback, Self-help for Stoners, and I’m quoted a couple of times in his book, The Indie Author’s Guide to the Universe. After he read my novella, The Dangerous Kind, he gave me my first cover blurb, too. I’m a shy people pleaser with an inferiority complex spackled over poorly with bravado, so anybody who’s nice and knowledgable gets links from me.

6. Be a thought leader in the industry. I often point my readers to Russell Blake, Dean Wesley Smith, Kathryn Rusch and JA Konrath. They talk real sales numbers and how scary the industry is. They say things I don’t want to hear, but argue their points well. (Also, please allow comments on your blog if you don’t already. I do not always agree with articles I link to, but if the comment thread is lively and informational, I’ll often point readers that way for the instructive debate.)

7. Join Triberr. I retweet my tribe on Triberr. Last week, I liked Caleb Pirtle’s blog post so much I linked to it from here, too. Triberr is one way I become aware of useful stuff.

8. Join a Tweet Team at World Literary Cafe. Book promotion is more effective when someone else is doing it for you and I’ve found great people that way.

9. Write a great book and be a great interview. Occasionally I run interviews with authors. Sometimes I discover authors through their books first, not through their blogs. Somehow Blake Crouch had been merrily successful for some time but, sadly, I didn’t know about him until I stumbled across Run. I subscribed and will be watching his feed for something useful that you’d enjoy. Through a mutual friend, I also just discovered Scott Bakker, author of Disciple of the Dog. It’s a brilliant book. He’s in my home town and we know the same people so I’m sure I’ll meet him at some point. I’ve promoted him on Twitter already and I hope he’ll show up here or on my podcast or both at some point.

10. Reciprocate. (This is #5 with a different angle.) Eden Baylee did a great thing in organizing Indies Unite for Joshua. I supported the campaign and Eden consistently supports my efforts as I support hers. She even interviewed me for her blog (Go ahead and check out that interview. It’s X-rated, fun and wow! I was way took honest!) Eden is a constant friend on Twitter, too, and sometime we’ll chat over coffee when next  I escape the bunker for Toronto. I don’t forget people who are kind. Sadly, I also have an eidetic memory for pinheads, too, but the point is I especially try to help people who help me.

Sometimes I point to a kind of obscure blog. Other times, I say the obvious with, “Have you seen what Joanna Penn is saying?”

Sometimes it’s all “Me! Me! Me!” I try to find the reasonable balance, though.

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

What’s the best writing advice you’ve received?

A couple of days ago I posted a piece on this blog about advice writers should not give or pay attention to. It was a clever, well-argued piece. However, people being who they are, some people really do want advice and need encouragement. Some of those people shouldn’t be encouraged and certainly won’t take good advice. So what can we say?

I’m putting this out to blog readers:

What’s the best writing advice you ever got that you acted upon?

I’m on the edge of my seat, anxious to read your comments.  

Filed under: 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.

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