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

See all my books at AllThatChazz.com.

Authors and Publishers: Six things to do immediately to get more readers and keep them

We are in a battle for attention. Here are three things to consider today to get readers’ attention and keep it:

1. List posts, like this one, are popular because they are easier for readers to scan. (They’re also pretty quick to write.)

2. There’s a good chance your blog posts are too long. Mine often have been. I changed that once I realized how few people give blogs a deep reading. You probably aren’t reading this. You’re scanning this for what you can use.

3. I put the font for this blog in bold after a few readers complained the font was thin. Some readers, either because of their devices or their eyesight, still had problems reading the font. I bumped it up again.

4. When you write a blog post, you often have the option of adding links outside your blog. Click the underlined word and blog readers get whisked away for more on “kerning” and its history. I used to do that within blog posts but not now. Those links are excuses for readers to put their attention elsewhere. If they need something explained, explain it for them. I still provide related articles at the bottom of most posts for added value. New readers often find me through those links.

5. Go to your author profile on whatever sales platforms you use. Shorten it. I wrote a hilarious profile for Amazon. It was funny and informative, but it wasn’t doing its job because it was too long. People want to know enough to have confidence you could write an informative or entertaining book. Leave some mystery and make it an invitation instead of forcing the full bodacious on them all at once. If they want to know more about me, they can visit my author site or (gasp!) purchase my books. We want browsers to read our books, but they’re merely scanning our author profiles, if that.

6. Add video. Your blog is a charging at us too hard on the first date and it’s intimidating.

You’ll notice a new feature at the top of this blog on the main page. A spokesperson tells you about some of my websites and the free ebook promotional offer. I added the text to the video for added punch. Since adding the video a couple of nights ago, traffic to my author site has risen 66 percent.

New visitors will stay if you use video to welcome them and get them acclimated to what you’re about. Regular visitors will discover something about you they didn’t know. We’re visual creatures and people are used to taking in information that way. Too much text all at once puts them off. Text is for books. (I use a spokesperson for the  Cool People Podcast page, too. “What? You have two podcasts, Chazz?” See, somebody found out something new already. Notice, I’m tickling their ears with yet another medium: podcast.) For my author site, I’ll soon add a personal message from me instead of using a spokesperson.

To win eyeballs, hearts and minds, heavy text isn’t the answer. That’s for book readin’!

More white space and YouTube helps readers discover how awesome you are.

Robert Chazz Chute

Robert Chazz Chute

~ Add an author profile, pic or note (like this one) at the end of your blog posts, too, if you want. Glad you found me!

I’m a former journalist and columnist who has worked in all aspects of book and magazine publishing. Have you checked out all the cool videos and excerpts from my book about an autistic boy facing the end of the world? Go to ThisPlagueOfDays.com to learn more about my serial. Looking to lose weight and be healthier? Check out another of my blogs, DescisionToChange.com.

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Author Profile: Anthony Bidulka’s Date with a Sheesha

Anthony_BidulkaAnthony Bidulka’s mystery series tells the story of a world-travelling, wine-swilling, wise-cracking, gay Canadian PI living a big life in a small city. The Russell Quant series is a multi-award nominee including for the CWC Arthur Ellis Award, and was awarded the Lambda Literary Award for Best Men’s Mystery. Anthony Bidulka has enjoyed time well-spent and misspent in the worlds of academia, accounting, footwear, food services, and farming. In 1999, Anthony Bidulka, BA, BEd, BComm, CA, left a decade-long career as a chartered accountant to pursue writing.

The Russell Quant books are: Amuse Bouche (2003), Flight of Aquavit (2004), Tapas on the Ramblas (2005), Stain of the Berry (2006), Sundowner Ubuntu (2007), Aloha, Candy Hearts (2009), Date With a Sheesha (2010.)

CW: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

AB: Pretty much as soon as I could put pen to paper. As a youngster I was completely entranced by the power of storytelling and my greatest wish was to be someone who could do that. Instead of spending my allowance on candy or toys, I’d buy books and comics. As a teenager, I began writing and illustrating stories for my nieces and nephews. In truth, those were the first books I authored.

CW: Tell us a little about your books.

AB: I write a mystery series, which is not exactly what I set out to do. My first serious attempt at a book—as an adult—was a thriller. While I was waiting for the offers to pour in, I thought it might be a good idea to spend time on something just for the pure love and fun of writing. I created the world of Russell Quant, the first and only half-Ukrainian, half-Irish, wine-swilling, world-travelling, wise-cracking, ex-cop, ex-farm boy, gay, prairie-dwelling, Canadian private eye being written about today anywhere by anyone! (I dare anyone to contradict me.) That was ten years ago. Russell Quant has been my literary companion ever since.

The current release, Date With a Sheesha, deals with a young Canadian researcher travelling to the Middle East to buy antique carpets. Unfortunately, he’s found dead in a Dubai souk wrapped in a carpet. Russell is hired by the young man’s father to discover whether this was a simple tourist mugging gone bad as the authorities insist. (Of course, it is anything but). What follows is a magic carpet ride of an adventure from Saskatchewan to the frankincense fields of Oman and scorching sand dunes of Saudi Arabia.

CW: What research was involved in your book’s development?

AB: In each of the Russell Quant books, although much of the action takes place in Saskatchewan, Russell always finds himself embroiled in some sort of shenanigans in foreign locales. He’s been to the south of France, New York, Africa, Hawaii, and now, the Middle East. Each of the locations is chosen because of time I have spent there snooping about and wondering if this is a good place for murder and/or mayhem.

CW: What’s your writing process?

AB: I am very much an outliner. I like having at least a basic structure on which to build. I like knowing where I’m going. That said, I also think the most exciting—and sometimes nail biting aspect of writing fiction is the unknown. Although I create outlines, they are only the bare bones. The flesh is all the rest of the good stuff that comes out as you write the story, develop characters, create a world that only you control. Heady stuff, it is.

Once I have a first draft, I’ll go through a number of revisions until the piece gets to the point where I think it is the best it can be. Then I send it to my editor and she tells me why it isn’t.

CW: What’s the most surprising thing you discovered writing this book?

AB: I’ve sometimes wondered if writing a series would get boring or formulaic but I don’t findDate_with_a_Sheesha that to be true. I’m writing the eighth and I’ve attempted to give each of the books in the series a slightly different flavour. One is more romantic than the others. One is more of a caper. Another is more of a thriller and one is the scariest of the bunch. It’s a delicate balance because, to maintain the essence of what people liked about the series and characters, you don’t want to change things up too much. My hope is to keep the series fresh, the readers engaged and on their toes. That keeps me interested and excited to write more about Russell.

CW: What’s the hardest part of the publishing process?

AB: Today I think the most difficult part of the publishing process is keeping up with the speed-of-light changes in the industry. How we write, read, publish, and promote the written word is changing into something that was unrecognizable only five, ten years ago.

CW: How has that changed your book marketing?

AB: Extreme change had just begun to show its face as my first book was being published. Oddly enough, this has been a boon to me. I have only known upheaval in this industry. Just looking back over the past eight to nine years, one of the biggest changes is that the majority—the majority!—of small independent bookstores at which I gave readings in Canada and the US are now gone. They were the ones willing to give a new Canadian a chance. 

Oh yes, the world has changed and we must evolve with it. We used to give away electronic copies of the books for free, thinking that people would never read an entire book on screen, but perhaps it would entice them to buy the hard copy. Many of my colleagues now produce trailers for their books that rival those of blockbuster movies.

I have always seen the key to marketing a book as developing an ever-changing toolbox full of tricks. You try ten things and hope two of them work well. And even so, those two things will likely have to be tossed and replaced with something else before you blink. Daunting? Yes. Exciting? Yes. The essence is to be creative, be communicative, never give up trying.

CW: What do you most enjoy about being an author?

AB: There are so many enjoyable parts of the writing life. The firsts are top of the list. Getting that first signed contract. Seeing your book in galley format. Seeing it in a bookstore window. Getting emails from readers (who aren’t related to you!). Having your book reviewed in a major newspaper or magazine. Flying into a city you’ve never been to before and having people actually show up at a reading just to see you. It’s all so wonderful and fun and a truly unique experience.

CW:What advice would you give unpublished writers?

 AB: Get involved in the industry. Join writers groups, go to conferences, meet other writers, volunteer on boards and committees. As I’ve discovered in every part of my life, when you give back, you get back ten times more.

CW:What’s your next book project?

AB: A brand new edition of the first book in the Russell Quant series, Amuse Bouche, is being released soon. I’m currently working on a few different writing projects, one being the eighth Russell Quant mystery, tentatively titled Dos Equus.

CW: Thank you, Anthony! For more information, please visit www.anthonybidulka.com.  




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Author Profile: Sue Kenney & My Camino

CW: Most authors I speak to know they want to be a writer in childhood. That wasn’t true in your case. Tell us about that. 

SK: After being suddenly downsized from my corporate telecom career, I walked 780 kms on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, a medieval pilgrimage route in Spain on a search to figure out what was important in life. When I came home I started telling stories about my journey. It was during this time that people asked me to write a book. I kept saying I wasn’t a writer. Over time with the encouragement of many people, mostly strangers, I felt it was something I was called to do.

CW: It sounds like your audience found you first and demanded you write about your journey.

My Camino

Sue Kenney

SK: People told me they wanted to read more about what I was thinking about and how my perceptions changed as I walked. The book is the true story of how I confronted my deepest fear. I start talking about the events that led to my decision to walk the Camino and why I went alone in the winter. Then, I tell stories about the people I met, the experiences I had, what I was thinking and how it impacted my perspective on life.

CW: How did you begin?

SK: I researched the Camino’s rich history extensively, the pilgrims (modern and pilgrims of old), miracles and the folklore. I took a course at Ryerson University in creative writing before I wrote my first book. My process was to sit down and write 1000 words a day for 2 months to complete a first draft manuscript of at least 50k words. I was disciplined about keeping to my goal and I met it.

 CW: How long did it take you to find a publisher?

SK: I went to Toronto’s Word on the Street and found three publishers who were interested in my idea. I was asked for a writing sample by one of the publishers but I hadn’t written anything. Fortunately, I had a storytelling CD called Stone by Stone I recorded. I transcribed those stories. Then I picked the longest story and gave it a chapter number and title. I sent it as my writing sample along with a strong marketing plan. White Knight Books agreed to publish My Camino the following year. The whole process took about six months because I was insistent on having the book published quickly and I delivered what was requested by the publisher on time.

CW: What surprised you the most about the writing process?

SK: If I surrendered to writing the truth then I was guided in the process. When I tried to control the process, I had more struggles. Early on, I decided to surrender to the creative process and I was completely surprised that I never experienced writer’s block.

CW: What was your biggest challenge you experienced through this book?

SK: Editing the book was a big challenge and an inspiration. Initially, I wasn’t impressed with the way the publisher edited the book because I felt as though my voice was being changed. He agreed to let me look for another editor. I found Bruce Pirrie. He hadn’t edited a book before, but he was a professional screen/stage/television writer who worked on The Red Green Show. He had also directed several Second City comedy shows. I took a chance on him and it proved to be the right decision. Bruce would give me notes, I’d make the revisions and then he would read it to me out loud.

When I asked him why he wanted to do that he said, “How do you know what it will sound like?” The inspiring part of this story is that I believe as a result of reading the book out loud, it is more visual. This was important when we pitched a screenplay adaptation to Pierre Even, (C.R.A.Z.Y.) a producer in Montreal. The book is now in development as a feature film. Bruce and I co-wrote the screenplay. In five years I went from being an Account Executive in the telecom industry to writing two books, a stage play, a screenplay and recording a storytelling CD.

CW: What was the hardest part of the publishing process for you and what did you most enjoy?

SK: The hardest part was getting the bookstores to keep copies of the books on the shelves. The big box stores want to sell volumes of books and being a first-time author, I didn’t have a well known name.

The part I most enjoyed was doing the book signings and readings. Often authors loathe doing this but I love it. In the first year, I did 54 author events. I gave free stones to people walking by and this always stirred up interesting conversations. When people find out I walked 780 kilometers across the north of Spain alone in the winter they’re intrigued. It took me over two years to become a Canadian bestseller but I never gave up. I believe my life purpose is to tell stories to inspire people on their life journeys. At book events I get to live my life purpose. It doesn’t get better than that!

CW: Any advice would you give unpublished writers?

SK: If people ask you to write your story, do it. Set a goal and write every day until it’s done. NaNoWriMo is a great event to help develop discipline. Don’t worry about getting a publisher or how you are going to sell books. Just get the story down on paper.

CW: Have changes in the book industry altered how you market your work?

SK: It’s easier to market now. I can blog, Facebook, tweet and send out my newsletter with updates. When I wrote a second book about the Camino called Confessions of a Pilgrim, I decided to use a self-publishing house because it gave me everything I needed to get a book on the market quickly and efficiently.  

CW: What’s your next project?

SK: I’m narrating an audiobook version of My Camino this month. This allows me to use my “voice” to share stories, something I’ve wanted to do since the book was published. In January, I’ll be offering a download version of the book on my website www.suekenney.ca initially for FREE co-incident with the launch of my new website. The CD audio book version will be launched on International Woman’s Day on March 8, 2011. I’ve penned the first draft of a novel about a woman who travels to India in search of pure love. I believe there is a correlation to walking and creativity so I walk every day.

CW: Thanks for doing this, Sue.For more on Sue Kenney, go here:



Facebook: My Camino

Filed under: Author profiles, author Q&A, authors, Books, publishing, Writers, writing tips, , , , , , , , ,

#Authors : I want to eat your brains (and profile you)

The left frontal lobe (red), the forward porti...

Image via Wikipedia

This morning I mentioned I have some authors lined up for profiles for publication in this hallowed space. For instance, author of My Camino and friend of the blog, Sue Kenney, will share her journey across Spain and to publication in the near future. Not only is she an author, she’s a filmmaker, too.

Why can’t you spread the glory of your achievement, too? Answer: You can! I want to pick your brain.

I love books and love to hear from authors about their struggles and successes. If you’re an author with a book you want the world to know about (and if you have a book, why wouldn’t you?), shoot me an e-mail at chazz@chazzwrites.vpweb.ca.

I’d like to make author interviews a regular weekly feature if I get enough interest. If your fiction or non-fiction looks like a good fit, I’ll send you a questionnaire to answer et voilà! Instant book promotion as we delve into your climb to the literary pinnacle.

Brains! Brains! So hungry! I want to pick at your brain!

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Filed under: blogs & blogging, Publicity & Promotion, publishing, self-publishing, Useful writing links, web reviews, Writers, , , , , , , ,

Bestseller with over 1,000 reviews!
Winner of the North Street Book Prize, Reader's Favorite, the
Literary Titan Award, the Hollywood Book Festival, and the
New York Book Festival.


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

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