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

Write and publish with love and fury.

Winter of Zombie Blog Tour 2014: John O’Brien’s New World

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The stench of frozen rotted meat is in the air! Welcome to the Winter of Zombie Blog

Tour 2014, with 10 of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of November.

Stop by the event page on Facebook so you don’t miss an interview, guest post or

teaser… and pick up some great swag as well! Giveaways galore from most of the authors as

well as interaction with them! #WinterZombie2014

 

AND so you don’t miss any of the posts in November, here’s the complete list.

Storm cover large5

 (Editor’s Note: NSFW words to follow in the excerpt, so you may not want to read it aloud at the office…)

Excerpt from A New World: Storm

As we make our way along, several exits lead into darkened interior hallways. Each of

the wall corners are rounded and house nurses’ stations. I look behind one to find a figure on

the floor, clad in the torn remains of scrubs. Dried blood covers the floor and is splattered on the

walls. Staring at the sight, I’m confused. The building entrances and perimeter didn’t show any

evidence of night runners, but the bodies and the other evidence points to the fact that we may

not be alone. I’m not sure how they are getting in and out of the building.

I peel away an escape route plan taped to one of the walls. Sending Red Team to the

next intersection of hallways, I motion Jan forward.

“Where is the lab?” I ask.

She studies the map, and points to a large room in the interior.

Taking the map, I advance to the next hall, where Red Team is standing guard. Looking

down the corridor, I see that it intersects other hallways. The ambient light doesn’t reach far,

leaving the corridors and rooms beyond in a deep gloom. The interior halls will be in the dark.

“Looks like this won’t be the walk in the park it seemed,” I state to Lynn.

“What do you think?” she asks.

“I don’t know. We’ll have to assume that we aren’t alone. We have a safe corridor along

the outer halls, but who knows what we’ll face in the darkened hallways.”

“Do you think the equipment is worth the risk?” Lynn asks.

“I have no idea. Seems that is happening more frequently. I mean, what if we get her

equipment and she finds an answer to the night runners? If she does, then yes, it’s worth almost

any risk. However, I sadly lack the ability to see into the future. Sitting here staring at darkened

halls, and knowing how much I love hospitals, I would say we turn around. But, it’s about the

chance, isn’t it? If we don’t go, then there is zero chance,” I comment.

“Are you having a nice conversation with yourself?”

“No, not really,” I answer.

I stand at the intersection, pondering. It seems that I always knew what to do in the past,

was able to see the right choice. I momentarily wonder if the move hasn’t altered my ability

to choose clearly. I may be thinking too far ahead, to finding a truly safe haven in the midst of

all this chaos. And with that looming possibility, I may be taking the easy route instead of the

right one. If that is truly the case, then I’m in no condition to be making decisions. I’ve second-
guessed decisions in the past, but not my whole reasoning ability.

Shit, even these thoughts bring more doubts.

Taking a deep breath, I shake my head. “Okay, fuck it. We’re going in. Red Team, you’re

at the next intersection covering our six. Lynn, you’re with me. Have Black Team cover Jan like

At the next intersection of hallways, Red Team covers the corners. Although there is a

faint amount of illumination, the area is still cast in a deep gloom. There may be enough residual

light to keep the night runners away from this position. Only a couple of feet into each branching

corridor, the light ends completely, leaving only darkness.

Lynn and I turn the corner. Assuring that my carbine is set to auto, I raise it and creep

into the hall leading to the lab. I sidle near the wall, stepping silently. Slowly, I make my way

down the hallway, Lynn keeping pace on the opposite wall. My heart feels like it’s in my throat

and I slow my breathing to calm my heart rate. Once again, I find myself snaking down a

hospital hallway. The air within is stuffy and cold.

All of the doors along the hall are closed. I pause at the first one, listening. Reaching

down, I slowly push on the handle. It’s unlocked. I’m not sure that night runners have mastered

the art of doors, but I’m not chancing it. It would be my luck that I run into a pack that can

saunter in and out of them with nary a thought. After all, they must be entering and exiting the

building somehow. That is, if they are leaving at all. Perhaps they are feasting on the food within

the hospital. Of course, the evidence I’ve seen could be from weeks ago.

I nod at Lynn, open the door, and step silently into the room. I’m not sure what the room

is used for, as curtains are pulled in places. No shrieks or sudden movements accompany my

entry. I exit and slowly close the door. Lynn checks a door on her side with the same result;

there’s no one inside. We creep down the corridor, checking the rooms but never leaving the

doorways. Black Team follows quietly behind.

Reaching the doors that Jan indicated as housing the lab, Lynn and I stack against the

wall. It would really suck if night runners were inside and we had to start shooting. Knowing my

day, I would put a round into every piece of equipment she needed. Of course, if there are truly

night runners within, we’ll just turn and run for the light.

We check the door and verify that it’s unlocked. On a nod from me, Lynn swings the

door open and I dart in. The room is large, with long counters and stations along the walls and

in the center. I check the dead corner as I make my way along the right hand wall. Lynn follows,

sweeping left. We pause half way down. There’s nothing inside except beakers, vials, and

equipment. We head back to the entrance and motion Black Team forward.

“The room is clear. This has to be done quietly. Don’t disturb anything, and gather the

equipment Jan indicates,” Lynn tells them.

They enter. As Jan passes, I grab her arm. “Do this quickly?”

She nods and enters with the rest of the team. Lynn and I station ourselves in the

corridor. She holds the door open and we both cover farther down the hallway. Even though I’m

on the opposite side of the hall, I still hear very faint whispering coming from inside the room.

Other faint sounds emit as they gather equipment.

Fucking keep it down, I think, hoping there aren’t any night runners nearby that can hear

A little way down is another intersection of hallways. For some reason, the ambient light

that reaches the intersection behind us doesn’t reach there. It could be that the hall doesn’t

reach the outer corridor. Minutes pass that seem like hours. I hear the clang of something

metallic come from within the room. It’s a soft sound and not very loud, but to my ears, it sounds

like a train crashing into a semi. Lynn turns her head sharply to the interior. Shrieks erupt,

coming from a side hallway; they sound close.

Fuck, that doesn’t sound like a night runner shriek, that’s more like a kid screaming, I

think, tightening and pulling my M-4 tight.

“Lynn, get Jan and the equipment out, now!” I sharply whisper. “Head for Red Team and

get to the outer corridor where there’s light. I have our six.”

Lynn calls inside, softly yet sharply. Black Team exits, surrounding Jan, who is pushing a

steel cart loaded with gear.

What the fuck?!

“Go, go, go.”

As they quickly retreat down the corridor, I rise and being backpedaling. Lynn stays with

“Go,” I say, rising. She shakes her head.

“Dammit,” I mutter.

John O'Brien

John O’Brien

Screams fill the interior, echoing down the hallways. Amongst the din, I hear feet

slapping on the linoleum. As I step backward, I have my carbine aimed near the corner where

the night runners should appear. My aimpoint is aimed where their heads should be. They round

the bend in a hurry. As they come into sight, my reticle is above their heads. I lower my barrel a

touch and begin squeezing the trigger. Their ghostly pale faces register.

Fuck, they’re kids.

There are six of them, all dressed in torn and deeply stained hospital gowns, looking to

be about ten or twelve years old. I feel sick to my stomach as I watch, unable to pull the trigger

as they streak down the hall. I am backing up as fast as I can, but they are rapidly closing. For a

split second, I tightly shut my eyes.

Fuck this…dammit!

Placing my glowing crosshair on the nearest one, I fire, almost point blank. The child’s

head snaps to the side as my bullets strike. Blood sprays from the multiple impacts. With

feet flipping into the air, its head hits the hard floor with a whack. Strobes fill the scream-filled

hallway. More kids fall to the ground under the torrent of rounds fired by Lynn and me. In

seconds, six small figures lie bleeding in the hallway. Another shriek rises and a larger night

runner female, dressed in scrubs, appears at the intersection. Upon spotting the young ones

down, she pauses, then screams like I’ve never heard a night runner shriek. Other smaller

figures appear behind her.

Screw this, I think. Lynn and I turn and run.

Racing down the darkened hall, with shrieks sounding behind, I’m reminded of a similar

chase with Lynn. This time though, friends await at hallway intersections. Black Team is

nowhere in sight. I yell to Red Team to pack up and go. Rounding the corner, hard on the heels

of Gonzalez and company, we reach the full light. Behind, the night runners continue shrieking

I feel incredibly sick. The sight of those small faces, pale or not, will haunt me to the end

of my days. My legs feel weak and I sink to my knees.

“That was messed up…I mean, really messed up,” I say, panting.

 

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10 Things I Know About Cons As A Vendor

Book Signing Setup

Guest post by Armand Rosamilia

Cthulhu and MeI’ve been to a few conventions in my time. Over the years I’ve been a vendor, a guest and a Regular Joe who paid to get in with the rest of the commoners.

My favorite conventions are the ones where I can not only be a panelist, but a vendor as well. Earn back a few bucks while chatting with other panelists and audience members and be able to afford a drive-thru fast food lunch on the long ride home after the con.

So, in no particular order… here are 10 Things I Know About Cons As A Vendor

  1. I like a full table.

At conventions I often see authors setting up to sell their two releases, and they spread them across the table. Three feet for one book and the other half of the table for the other, with nothing fancy to get me to stop and look. Heck, a lot of authors/vendors don’t invest in a few bookstands. I have 45 different print releases I can bring to a convention. I usually don’t do it. But I bought two really cool book racks, which hold 16 books to display on each. I stacked them one on top of the other… and Special Gal said it was too high and looked ridiculous. I kinda agreed. I think you need to have a good balance of too much stuff for the potential customer to look at and not enough. I put bookmarks, business cards, stickers for the Authors Supporting Our Troops event, and hide the bags of M&M’s behind the displays. Those are not for the customers.

  1. I know I always bring too many books with me.

For some reason I’m praying four crates of books will magically sell out for me. At Imaginarium I brought 289 copies in total. I sold 10. It was still a lot of books to carry back to the car on Sunday afternoon. But when/if it ever happens… ahh, Sweet Victory! I can throw the empty crates at passersby and go inside a fast food restaurant and not only order off the dollar menu.

  1. I had a banner made.

OK, technically Special Gal had it made, but it has my name on it. I used it at Imaginarium and it got a few looks and responses. It is my Dying Days zombie series (the main books, at least) and I already have plans to do future banners for future conventions. OK, fine… Special Gal is doing it.

  1. Don’t sit behind the table like an idiot.

I have an outgoing personality. I also worked retail for twenty-plus years. I enjoy interacting with someone with money in their pocket and/or hand for some reason. I find myself sitting behind the wall of books and talking to everyone around me. I need to stop doing this. At Imaginarium I rarely sat down. I stood next to the table and talked to potential customers wandering the aisle. I think in an established convention (with aisles filled with customers) I need to do this to actually generate sales.

  1. People rarely carry cash.

Or if they do, they don’t want to part with it. I used to get the old ‘I don’t have any cash on me’ excuse. Now I use a Square for my phone. Actually, Special Gal does. I can’t figure it out. But you can use a credit card and then you have no lame excuse why you won’t buy my brilliance that is the written word.

  1. Be good with names.

I really suck at remembering people’s names in a large crowd. And the convention lanyards hang too damn low on someone, so I’m staring at some dude’s lower abdominal area or a woman’s vajayjay (I’m actually doing the latter and using the badge as an excuse). I have a uniquely sexy look, let’s be honest. But I also post a ton of current pictures on Facebook, so people know what I look like. The worst is meeting a fellow author who knows you and starts chatting like you know their avatar of a cat is really them. But then, when you find out who the hell they are, try to remember it. Especially when you’re taking a picture with them and want to tag them on Facebook.

  1. Make sure you have an idea ahead of time where the good food is being sold.

I hadn’t had White Castle in a dozen years before Imaginarium. It was a priority to find one, and we did. A couple of miles from the hotel. Pure heaven. There is nothing worse than going to a strange city and not being able to find good food, or have to rely on the hotel bar/restaurant for all your eating needs. Google that bitch, yo. And don’t judge me for eating White Castle.

  1. Find out what vendors are around you.

There’s nothing worse than being around someone playing music or someone who is so damn boring you’re afraid you’ll fall asleep. Or some idiot who claims you owe them money or wants to tell you stories about the Golden Age of publishing and then show you pictures of their cats. I am not an animal person. I also don’t owe you any money. The cool vendors around you will be fun to hang out with and talk to. They will also try to take your M&M’s, so please be careful.

  1. You’ll meet cool people you knew from MySpace.

I met a couple of fellow authors I’d known online for many, many years. It was cool to finally meet them and cool to see they (like me) were still doing their thing. Too often, writers come and go like the breeze. I’m not sure what that analogy means, so we’ll move on. It is fun to finally sit down and talk to them and realize they aren’t as odd as you thought they were online. They are even weirder.

  1. Be yourself.

No one likes a douche bag. Seriously. No matter how big and important you are, remember one thing: you’re not. I know I come off like a pompous jerk at times (and a sexy humble bastard as well), but I also have fun with all of this. I wake every day and thank my luck I get to write for a living. I used to have this other persona which I thought would make me cool and people would love me. It didn’t work. So now I’m just myself. And it works. Be genuine. Talk to customers and other authors. Have fun at conventions. Sell some books. Network. And stay away from my M&M’s.

~ Armand Rosamilia is the author of Dying Days and too many other books to name. Check out everything Armand at http://armandrosamilia.com

 

 

Filed under: Guest blog post, , , , , , , ,

Why I Went Into Podcasting

Guest post by author Armand Rosamilia

Armand            I know the general consensus for doing something is because you see or hear someone else do it and think (in your infinite wisdom and arrogance) that you can do it better. I am here to tell you, at least with me, it was not the case. I went into podcasting because it was my next challenge.

            I’m a blessed man. I am truly living the dream, being able to write full-time and stay home in my Big Bang Theory sleep-pants and drink coffee and get even fatter (almost at will, that last one). I do two music radio shows from the comfort of said home as well. I have a wonderful fiancé and great kids and I keep doing what I want to do: write books.

            In fact, let’s get the heavy-handed plug out of the way right now. I have a new book out, Dying Days 4, which is amazing. And I’m not just saying it because I wrote it and I want you to buy a copy. I’m saying it because our gracious host had this to say about it:

“Level up with Rosamilia’s take on smarter, scarier zombies! They don’t sleep and neither will you. Read this now!” ~ Robert Chazz Chute, author of This Plague of Days

            I’m sure our gracious host will now add a direct link to the Amazon page to purchase the book so I can keep living this dream. (Editor’s note: Yeah, yeah. Here’s the link! Darn, that Armand is subtle.)

Dying Days 4 Print 2

Click the cover for the Amazon UK link.

But onto other things…

Arm Cast

            I started a new podcast a couple of weeks ago. As you read this, the second episode went live last Friday. Conveniently, it features Robert Chazz Chute (this is getting to be quite the lovefest, I know) in an interview that went almost an hour. Because once my Mighty Canadian Author Friend and I get together on Skype, we don’t shut up.

            The first episode of Arm Cast: Dead Sexy Horror Podcast (I know, brilliant name all around) had interviews with zombie authors Mark Tufo and John O’Brien, two great authors and great guys.

            And that was my only goal for doing the podcast: to get to chat with horror authors, filmmakers, podcasters, editors, artists, heavy metal and punk bands, and anyone else I was interested in. I not only wanted an excuse to talk with them but wanted to record it and share for posterity.

            No written questions, no fancy opening jingle, and I’m not even killing myself in edits. In fact, so far I’ve just kept everything in and let the listener hear what really happened. The goal is to have two interviews per week. Yes, this is a weekly, and new episodes will be released via my rss feed on http://armcastpodcast.com and through iTunes and Stitcher, so subscribe and don’t miss an episode. Every Friday you’ll be treated to a new one.

            Upcoming guests will include authors TS Alan, Thomas M. Malafarina, Jack Wallen, filmmaker David Karner, and a bunch more people I wanted to hang out with. I have a wish list of people I want to interview, so more will be added once I get confirmation they actually want to talk to me. And I love finding new authors and podcasters and anyone else interested in horror to chat with, so don’t be a stranger… get in touch.

            As long as Robert Chazz Chute and I aren’t on a marathon Skype chit-chat, I’ll interview you, too.

            Oh, and here’s the Amazon link to Dying Days 4… just because you know you want to buy it and read it while listening to my podcast and wearing matching Big Bang Theory sleep-pants and eating M&M’s…

~ To find out more about Armand and his many books, check out his blog at ArmandRosamilia.com.

 

Filed under: author platform, podcasts, , , , , , , , , ,

Writing: The Pregnant Pause and Slacking to Win

One thing about being an indie author that nobody ever seems to say is, relax and stop running from time to time.

Sometimes, the Internet seems like it’s all about motion. We push books and try to pull people in. We follow endlessly and sometimes joylessly. It should be fun to meet new people and find out about what’s new and cool. But everybody needs a break, if it’s at the right time.

I’ve found the right time.

You haven’t seen me lately, unless you checked out my review of Transcendence at AllThatChazz.com or my article on food and emotion at DecisionToChange.com. After doing a major promotion for my crime novel, Bigger Than Jesus, I felt it was time to step back. I’m still busy, but sometimes it makes a lot of sense to get out of your followers faces for a bit. Give your tribe some time off from The Magic That is You.

Spend more time reading and writing.

(I’m reading LT Vargus’ Casting Shadows Everywhere at the moment. Go get it. It’s the kind of demented joy I love.)

I’m working on new books and revising old books, too. This Plague of Days Season 3 launches in June along with The Complete This Plague of Days. I had to get my taxes done (blech!). A collaboration with another author is on the horizon and, between promotions and events and blog tours, I’ll be boosting my marketing and visibility plenty this summer. I don’t want to wear out my welcome by peaking too soon.

The problem is overwork and overexposure. 

There’s a podcast I loved to listen to that I’m now a little sick of. I might love it again, but if I have to hear the same stuff from the same guys too often…well, maybe it’s me. I needed to take a break from them. The relentless self-promotion machines of the Internet? Geez, guys, shut up and take a breath.

I mean, really, don’t you get sick of me banging on and on about writing and publishing sometimes? I would, and I love me (except when I hate me.) 

It’s not just about giving readers and listeners a break, either.

You need a break sometimes. I know you’re all out there crushing it a la Gary Vaynerchuk and perfecting your marketing simplicity through Seth Godin’s genius and…well, slamming your head against the wall. Marketing should be a creative and joyful thing. It certainly can be fun if you are doing the right things and going into it with the right attitude.

The right attitude is excitement.

(Here’s a guy who knows how to enjoy the marketing process and make it fun for others. Help Armand Rosamilia name his new podcast here.) BONUS hint: Many authors complain about marketing. They’d have more fun if they weren’t so whiny about the necessities of business and, instead, look for opportunities to help others and make publicity and marketing into an interactive game with and for readers. But that’s a post for another time. Tonight, we dance.

Take it easy on yourself and others.

If you push the accelerator through the floor all the time, your car’s engine will blow up. Don’t burn out your engine.

Push too hard too often and you’ll end up pushing people away. Instead, try discovering and promoting others, or be still and listen. Let your mind be that cabin in the woods, free of distractions so you can hear the peaceful hum of the Om of the world and the anguished screams of your tormented enemies burning out, flailing and failing.

How do I know when it’s time to take a break?

When my patience wears thin.

When I catch myself getting cynical.

When every interaction with a kid I made feels like an interruption.

When I’m too tired to do anything else.

When I’m too tired to do anything. 

The rewards of slacking to win are:

Rejuvenation, physical and mental. 

New excitement upon your return.

Fresh ideas.

Balance and peace.

Excitement for the tasks ahead instead of weariness.

Writing is my retreat and my solace.

I write every day. But it’s a great relief to you and to me not to talk about it at recess ad nauseum. This week (if it suits you and the timing’s right and if you’re feeling cranky at the world anyway) let’s talk less about writing and, instead, write more.

~ Full disclosure: Between writing sessions I do post excerpts of upcoming books on Facebook or just share goofy news and interesting memes. I love interacting with readers there and I find it relaxing. Hit me up with a friend request there. We’ll be cool together. Bring margaritas.

 

Filed under: author platform, blogs & blogging, book marketing, getting it done, Publicity & Promotion, publishing, Rant, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Radio Show: Author Earnings Report and self-inflicted burns

Sure, it’s Valentine’s Day, so naturally you’ll want to…oh, right, we’re 21st century writers. There’s no time for that. So cuddle up with your honey and listen to Friday Night Writes with Tim Baker tonight on Surf 1700 AM Flagler Beach Radio, 8 PM EST. (Use the TuneIn Radio App if, like me, you aren’t in Florida). And if you don’t have a honey, Tim will be a fine substitute, I’m sure.

Tonight’s topic (possibly among other things): The Author Earnings Report

Co-host Armand Rosamilia is off tonight because he actually respects his love life. Without Armand, Tim will have to talk doubly loud as he discusses what’s on everyone’s mind, Hugh Howey’s Author Earnings Report. As detailed in my last post, definitely read the report, please.

Also, make time to read Hugh’s latest blog post, Luck and the Lottery, on some well-meaning alarm about self-publishing’s allure. You can be happy about the Author Earnings Report, but some are concerned your joy might be premature and unbridled.

I think most of those worries are like the instructions you get with a new iron. Company lawyers insist customers be warned not to iron their clothes while they’re still wearing them.

We get it. Most of us really aren’t that dim.

I appreciate the caveats about self-publishing, I really do. In truth, I think just about everybody understands that indie does not equal gold rush. The worries are misplaced.

What about the people who really don’t get it?

They’re probably determined not to get it, either because they’re selling you something or they’re hopelessly deluded and blinded by desperation and greed. You can’t save everyone from themselves and they might kill you if you try.

Hugh Howey is a great advocate for self-publishing, but as he says, he’s also been warning people to be realistic about their expectations for years. Surely he doesn’t have to keep warning them forever, does he?

Luck, as well as your meteoric talent, are involved. There are no guarantees of success where luck is a factor and there are too many variables to control.

Granted.

To which I reply, that’s true of traditional publishing, as well. 

And then there’s this quote from the Author Earnings Report: 

“More writers today are paying bills with their craft than at any other time in human history.”

Traditional publishing hasn’t budged much. What changed? Self-publishing is the new variable.

To me? BOOM! That’s the argument. Done!

~ Did you know I interviewed Hugh for the Cool People Podcast? He’s a really good guy. Give it a listen.

Filed under: author platform, publishing, self-publishing, , , , , , , , ,

Radio Show Reminder: What Not to Say to a Writer

You know that radio show I recommended in the last post?

Friday Night Writes is on tonight (Friday February 7, 2014) and every Friday night at 8 p.m. EST. The topic is “Stupid Things People Say to Writers.” There’s a deep, rich well.

The show is on Surf 1700 Flagler Beach Radio (FlaglerBeachRadio.com.) I listen in on the TuneIn Radio app. It’s not a podcast so you can’t listen to it later. 

What’s my favorite Stupid Thing recently?

I have several to choose from, but I bristled when someone said, “I can’t imagine doing all that by oneself.” The implication of the tone and context was it couldn’t be done or be any good.

Answer: I don’t do it alone. I have a lot of help.

Unlike most podcasts, this is live radio with an active forum so you can comment and ask questions in real time. In that way, it’s a social media thing, too. Authors Tim Baker and Armand Rosamilia will answer questions in between busting each other’s — so, hey! See you tonight!

You’ll get a lot out of it, plus laughs. Don’t forget to bring your own Stupid Things suggestions.

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The attitude (and the radio show) indie authors need to succeed

This week on a podcast I heard a couple of guys who own a small press quibble over what qualifies as “indie” versus what “self-publishing” is and OH MY THOR! WHO CARES? They don’t understand that any serious self-publisher is a publisher. I know of no one who attacks the challenge alone. We have editors and proofreaders and graphic artists. We recruit volunteers and call on experts. The distinction these podcasters were quibbling about is so two to three years ago and I’m sick of it. We don’t go it alone if we’re to have any chance at succeeding. Truly solitary efforts? Those stinkers sink like lead in a helium sea. They can keep talking. We’ll keep moving forward.

Someone else questioned the use of the word “revolution” in our little make-up-stuff context.

The tagline at ChazzWrites used to be “Join the Publishing Revolution.” I wrote that because the ability to publish and sell directly to readers on a large scale, without traditional gatekeepers, was and remains revolutionary. We’re a young industry, but we keep on proving we’re not as stupid as once accused. We pick ourselves rather than wait for anointment, but no, despite the hype and alarm, we really do understand that publishing is not just a button.

Quite a while ago, I changed the tagline for this blog to: “We are the publishing revolution.”

Since I started this blog, the publishing landscape has changed and we’re getting better. There’s a reason for that growing expertise and success and it’s about you and me and the friends we make.

I’ve never been in a business so firmly entrenched in what Joanna Penn calls “Coopetition.” Writing may be solitary, but publishing is still a team sport. Most indies help other indies. I am not threatened by any author. I’m inspired by them. I read their work. I’m often assisted by them. We’re allies. We have so few resources, we have to band together. The organization is loose and the data flow is more horizontal than vertical. We’re less isolated and we sure aren’t corporate, but you know what?

Banding together is better.

Nobody owes anyone else a helping hand. It’s not about owing. I’m talking about the joy of paying it forward. Sure, there are a few authors who don’t have time to help others. They come off a bit me, me, me. Sometimes that’s a pocket full of earned arrogance and sometimes they were born that way. They’re missing out. Suffering, even. 

Have you ever had the opportunity to help somebody out?

The answer is, of course you have. And when you do help somebody, doesn’t it feel fantastic? It’s a great feeling to pay for a stranger’s coffee at the drive-through. Random acts of kindness aren’t so popular because they help somebody who needs a boost. Random acts of kindness are so popular because they feel just as good (maybe better) for the giver.

As Indies, we need each other. We can’t afford to pay for all the expertise and experience we receive from bloggers, podcasters and fellow authors. But the rising tide of kindness paired with knowledge raises the industry’s boats. I have another recommendation, besides helpful blogs and podcasts.

Here’s a radio show for our revolution:

Friday night (and every Friday night) I listened to Friday Night Writes on Surf 17 on Flagler Beach Radio. Last week, authors Tim Baker and Armand Rosamilia talked about editing with Armand’s editor, Jenny Adams. They laugh a lot on that show and the music’s good, too. The show’s Facebook forum is active, the audience laughs along with them and they answer questions about writing and publishing in a fun way. (So see you all there Friday night. I listen in on the TuneIn Radio app.)

That’s the commercial. Here’s the point:

Writing is fun (or else maybe you’re doing it wrong). Publishing is a serious business populated with fun, intelligent and interesting people. Many of the most generous people I know are growing their readership, blowing up and getting better faster. I don’t think the intersection of generosity and success is a coincidence. Generosity not only feels good. It grows support networks, readers and fans. Energy goes out and comes back, drawing attention, interest and resonance.

We are a generous group. We are writers.

Our revolution is based not on conquering but on love of language and stories. Sharing our love of language and telling stories? It’s not frivolous. Fiction is an important way to keep the darkness at bay. It’s a welcome distraction from what ails us. Each novel is an opportunity to escape reality and a less painful way to better understand life.

We learn and share experiences through our stories. We grow and share and laugh together. We help each other. We entertain strangers from a distance for a long time very inexpensively. We’re givers and that feels awesome. Without cooperation, we would not be here. Generosity is the bedrock of our humanity. 

That’s love. 

We are the revolution we need.

 

Filed under: author platform, Media, publishing, self-publishing, Writers, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The real value of TBR lists (that you hardly ever get to)

Besides the chance at author discoverability through also-boughts, what is the value of all those to-be-read books you and I will probably never get to? (I say this with love and without judgment, as an author and fellow hoarder of books and ebooks.)

To shine a light in the dark, I spoke recently with an author who has her books for sale everywhere but Amazon.

(It matters little why she wasn’t on Amazon, except to say it was a misunderstanding of the platform’s requirements, not a principled, moral stance.)

“But we have to be on Amazon,” I told her. “Exclusive or not is your choice, but if you want to reach more readers, you must be on Amazon.”

“Why?”

“Because that’s where so many readers are. Amazon is out front and will remain so for the foreseeable future.”

“Why?”

“Because their customers are locked in.”

“What do you mean ‘locked in’? Everyone could switch to Kobo tomorrow.”

“But they won’t. Amazon has millions of customers whose first device was a kindle and so their library is on kindle. Kindle devices have come down in price and improved, so those readers will stick with kindle. They’re suffering the delusion that someday they’ll win the lottery, move to the French Riviera and finally have time to read all those hoarded books on a topless beach.”

“That’s not rational,” she sniffed.

“If I switched devices, it would be like burning all my books. And maybe that’s irrational, but we are talking about humans, yes? I have so few Vulcan readers.”

“But devices and companies go away. Look at MySpace and AOL and Kodak.”

“And the not-so-bright future of the Nook,” I added. “Yeah, companies go away if they fail to adapt to competition. But all those free downloads to long TBR lists give Amazon an immense legacy advantage. Kobo might be #2 in the e-reader market, but they’re a distant #2. Amazon’s the greyhound out front chasing the rabbit. The others are three-legged purse dogs running in circles around the starting line.”

“That’s ridiculous. If I wanted to switch, why couldn’t I just port my Kindle downloads over to Kobo?”

“Amazon would have to permit that, I’m guessing. They’re different systems. There are workarounds, but most readers won’t do it. For instance, I’ve got Calibre but I hardly ever use it.”

“Why not?”

“Because it’s harder to use and more time-consuming than the one-click buy that shoots straight to my kindle. People stick with what they know and what’s easy. For instance, everyone complains about Facebook, but they hardly ever leave and a bunch of those who do leave come back for more abuse. They don’t hang out at G+ because all their friends and family are still on Facebook. Their network is locked in, even if they don’t want to be. For Amazon and Facebook to start to worry, they must have a real threat of competition.”

“I heard Instagram is getting even more popular than Facebook with young people,” she said. “Facebook has serious competition there.”

“For that niche and possibly into the future, yeah, which must be why Facebook bought it already. No competition.”

“Oh,” she said.

“To compete with the greyhound, the little yappy dogs have to take steroids and get going in the right direction. But the greyhound will probably eat their steroids. The big dog always has more money for R&D.”

“You’ve lost me in the canine metaphor. I don’t hang out at the dog track.”

“Come up with a new way to reach customers and someone will finance it. If it’s a really good idea, it will probably be the leader of the pack buying you out, making sure they stay the pack leader.”

“But what about all those companies that fail?”

“Nothing lasts forever, sure. Apple seems to have lost some direction since Jobs died and the stock’s down. Mostly, big companies fail because they lower their standards or try to hold on to the old paradigm instead of improving and evolving. Like how the Big Six publishers became the Big Five. Soon to be fewer, probably.”

“Ah. So…you really think I should sell on Amazon?”

“It’s up to you, but for me, it’s the only platform that’s not optional. There are exceptions. Some authors seem to move romance and crime better on B&N and Kobo. If they choose to pull you out of the haystack and promote you, you might have a shot. But mostly, and for me? If I wasn’t selling on Amazon, I wouldn’t be selling books.”

“So all those free ebooks on my TBR cyber-pile is just Amazon insuring customer loyalty?”

“I wouldn’t call it loyalty. No matter what the Supreme Court and Mitt Haircut say, corporations aren’t people, my friend. Companies rarely inspire love. Call it inertia. Also, I’m sure they really do hope you’ll buy somebody’s books and make a ton of money the way they say it was intended. I’m talking more about customer behavior here, not whether Amazon’s packed to the rafters with cynical geniuses who can see into the future.”

“So what do you think of free ebooks as a promotional tool?”

“It’s not the sharpest tool in the shed, but most of the discoverability tools are pretty dull.”

“Sounds like you love Amazon,” she said, her eyes narrowing.

“No. If the little dogs started running faster, I’d bet on them. Until then, I’m riding the big dog. And you know…sometimes…once in a long while, I’ll find an author in that TBR pile I thought I’d never get to. And sometimes, I’m blown away and I want to read more of their books. Then I’m in true buying mode. Free ebooks is fake buying mode. But it does happen that I find someone I like there and spend real dough.”

“Name one,” she said.

“I’ll name three. Alex Kimmell, Jordanna East and Armand Rosamilia.”

“I’ll add them to my TBR pile,” she said.

“Make sure you get to them.”

~ Robert Chazz Chute is an author with ten books in your TBR pile you still haven’t gotten to. How will you ever fall in love? 

Filed under: Amazon, author platform, book marketing, Books, e-reader, ebooks, free ebooks, Publicity & Promotion, publishing, Writers, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

It’s time for your Coolest People nominations

Cool+People+Podcast+FinalOne of my podcasts is the Cool People Podcast. I’m making a list and checking it twice. Guests can be naughty or nice, but they have to be cool. I’m looking for your nominations for 2014. What interviews would you like to hear (or would you like to be heard yourself)?

Who’s cool?67113_196559600480167_927925947_n

I’m interested in speaking with guests about their passions. From director Chris Richardson talking about his latest film to Renee Pawlish talking about the book business, all my guests have strong opinions about the what they do and their place in the world.

Jordanna 2I’ve interviewed Wool author Hugh Howey, Dying Days author Armand Rosamilia, scientific and skeptical person Gordon Bonnet, erotica author Eden Baylee, Middle East foreign policy expert Shermin Kruse, graphic artist Kit Foster, funny sci-fi guy Mark Rayner, musician Mosno Al-Moseeki. Jordanna East shared her experiences with writing and publishing and I spoke with bestselling author Jessica McHugh about True Romance, among other things.

LeRon Barton talked about drug culture and Janice Landry spoke about the Jessica McHugh Shermin picdramas first responders face (and even took a fun quiz about ’80s music as a bonus, so have a listen and play along.)

Actor Dave Straus told us about his worst audition ever and I talked acting and graphic novels with actor Jay Hash.

What about you?

Know somebody you think should get heard? Got a cool project like a graphic novel or a TV show or a movie in the works? Want to talk science, psychology, how the world works (and how it doesn’t)?

There’s a podcast for that. It’s the Cool People Podcast.

If you’d like to be featured on the Cool People Podcast in 2014, here’s the site. Click on the Be My Guest tab for answers to your questions and use the contact information so you make your nomination. I enjoyed every interview in 2013. I’m looking forward to adding new friends through the Cool People Podcast in 2014.

Who knows? I might be giving you a call on Skype soon and we’ll talk to the world about you. And have a listen at CoolPeoplePodcast.com.

Filed under: podcasts, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Horror Authors And Religion

See on Scoop.itWriting and reading fiction

This post is a bit more ‘controversial’ than my normal ones, in that I talk about something I swore I’d never talk about… religion. I also will not talk about politics, and will never bring up th…

Robert Chazz Chute‘s insight:

(Sorry! I had to post this again because reblogging it screwed up spacing in WordPress. Scoopit! is superior. Trying this again..)

What a great post from my brother-in-horror, Armand Rosamilia! It’s an important discussion for authors to have. Please read Armand’s nuanced thoughts on the subject and more great contributions in the comment thread. Here are my thoughts on the subject (also posted in Armand’s comment thread but perhaps not so great as self-indulgent):

This is timely. In a recent review, a reader said the serial’s atheism was cringeworthy. That’s interesting to me because in This Plague of Days, the husband is an atheist (with growing doubt as doom is threatened) and the wife is a die-hard believer (with growing doubt as her faith is tested.) Both character’s views are challenged. Considering that their conversations take place in the context of a massive plague, it would strike me as really weird for them *not* to discuss their beliefs and try to resolve them. Surrounded by death and destruction, issues around spirituality come up honestly. When doctors fail, the next visit is from the priest. We are all searching for meaning, through faith or reason. The debate is natural and honest.

I have no doubt that some readers will say I’m preachy when the wife has her say and a raging atheist if they focus on the husband. I’ve been a member of an evangelical church and I’m now an atheist. I try to give both sides their due. We all read through our own lens, so some atheists may think me a traitor to the cause and some believers will be sure I’m evil. I think most readers, because they are readers, are curious and can be entertained by the narrative without feeling threatened. (And if anyone really feels threatened by a work of fiction, perhaps they should spend more time evaluating or shoring up what they believe.)

I believe in readers. I think most will weather that sprinkling of a debate throughout the series. Just as sci-fi isn’t about how to build a warp engine, horror is about the people and how they face mortality.

There are millions of books to read, so readers who don’t agree have lots of other great choices. I’m sorry to see them go, but I don’t write for everybody. I write for me. The likeminded who want to board my crazy train and come along for the ride are for later.

Love this post, Armand. Reblogging!

~RCC

PS I also have a couple of crime novels with titles that appear at first glimpse to mock Jesus. Most Christians who contacted me about that choice had a sense of humour about it and since those novels are (often) funny, it turned out okay. Not all atheists are open-minded and not all Christians are close-minded. It’s just that we hear a lot from a vocal minority. I don’t think writers should censor themselves for a minority who aren’t predisposed to enjoy much of anything anyway. We’re writers. We tickle brains and follow Art where it leads.

See on armandrosamilia.com

Filed under: publishing, Writers, writing tips, , , , , , , ,

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

The first 81 lessons to get your Buffy on

More lessons to help you survive Armageddon

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

Available now!

Fast-paced terror, new threats, more twists.

An autistic boy versus our world in free fall

Suspense to melt your face and play with your brain.

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

Jesus: Sexier and even more addicted to love.

Write to live

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

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