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

Write and publish with love and fury.

I like you more when your dog dies: Niches, conversations, dead blogs and a contest.

We don’t sell anything unless we tell stories. To sell stories, we must have stories about our books.

Seth Godin’s blog and books sell because they’re short, pithy, smart and he owns his niche. To own a niche now, you’d do better define a new one. Don’t try to take Seth’s purple cow, tribe or incisive observations about case studies. (Note: “Case studies” is the more scientific word for “stories.”)

Define your own niche and you’ve got a better shot at selling more books.

For instance, my next book is about Romeo in a drug-infested, coming-of-age thriller in New York. Shakespeare plays a role in finding the modern Juliet. Coming-of-age and thriller aren’t normally such cozy neighbors. My last book was a zombie apocalypse with an autistic hero and Latin proverbs. Not a lot of competition in that end of the zombie market.

Season One of This Plague of Days is the siege.

Season One of This Plague of Days is the siege.

Familiarity is overdone. Differences define us in the market. (e.g. Bookstores are still crammed with Harry Potter knock-offs, but there’s only one JK Rowling.) Take something familiar and find a way to make it original again and you’ve got something.

Story is the most important thing. Story works.

Podcasts don’t sell unless they’re rich in content and tell stories. From business success to how-to and gee-whiz science, podcasts don’t work as sales engines unless they tell aspirational stories. From the startlingly different (Welcome to Night Vale) to personal confession (Marc Maron’s WTF) stories must be told and be relatable.

I’ve noticed more authors seem to be shifting their cyber-presence to Facebook and away from Twitter. They’re all Twittered out. Tweets are solid tools of discovery and live-tweeting makes the Oscars watchable, but Twitter tends to be less about story and connection. We need a little more space to achieve resonance.

Facebook offers more opportunity for personal connection. FB’s post length helps, but it’s also subtext. On Facebook, you have friends

Twitter is less friendly and more competitive. On Twitter, people have followers and people pay attention to numbers gained and lost. On Twitter you use ManageFlitter and WhoUnfollowedMe. On Facebook, if crazy Aunt Sadie unfriends you, you’re relieved you can swear again and her abandonment confirms your politics are sane.

Personal stories help us plug into each other’s pleasure centres.

The mind often fails to make distinctions among what’s real and illusory, cyber and real world. On Facebook, Story is the carrier wave of connection: “This is my child, my dog, my life!” we tell each other.

Since we don’t know what the hell we’re doing and we’re all scared, our connections reassure us. “Maybe I’ve screwed everything up, but at least I’m making the same mistakes as everyone else in our journey toward a better tomorrow.”

That’s why your photo catalogue of a glorious tropical vacation on Facebook doesn’t fit into the brain’s three-prong plug of connection. People love shared stories of failure, vulnerability and happiness, but only after that happiness is earned by failure and vulnerability. We root for the underdog and rags-to-riches stories, not Donald Trump. Your new car is nice for you, but I like you more when your dog dies. My dog died. Commonality is currency. Because I want to be loved, I love you when you’re suffering insomnia from worry, too. Misery doesn’t just love company. It insists on it.

Though we are each mysteries, we like to imagine we are each other.

Each of us is just as challenged and sad and lonely, but we hope to be rich some day, too. When the money and success roll in, we tend to forget all this stuff about connection. We blame the poor for their poverty, give luck no credit for our rise and trumpet all our hard work to the exclusion of any variable that does not bow to our big ol’ brains.

No wonder the rich and poor hate each other (except the poor want to join the resented rich, too.) Meanwhile, the rich would rip out their own throats with car keys from their repossessed Lexus if they had to get by on less than $100,000 a year.

Our class boundaries break connections. That’s why celebrities seem so otherworldly in person. They lost their shock collars and passed the invisible electric fence! They made it, so we can, too! Unless they’re the children of celebrities. Those lucky devils get a sneer and a Barry Bonds asterisk beside their fame.

Our stories about who we are become who we are.

That quest for privacy? Quaint. Adorable. Amish.

Jonathan Franzen worries about our attention spans, the death of literature and loss of privacy. He worries about the horrors of the Internet, just about every week it seems, in the Huffington Post. Horrors.

Blogs are dead sales platforms.

You have to have an author site, but you’ll get more juice from connecting on Facebook. Twitter will serve you better than a blog because it serves more people.

A blog is too much of a commitment for the reader. Too few blogs are “appointment reading”. A blog is a magazine at the doctor’s office. You only pick it up when there’s nothing else to do and you’d rather be doing something else.

I am subscribed to many blogs. They’re up there somewhere, forgotten in an RSS reader, added to a long reading list I will never get to. The blogs I actually read daily don’t have to be stuck in my bottomless bookmark bin. I go to them.

Blogs fail because signals go out but they don’t connect. Like this post, a bad blog post pontificates. I’m doing it now, connecting less, to fewer people. Still here? You’re already hoping the meta will stop and I’ll somehow pull out of the dive and land a punch and a point in the final sentence. How will I bring us home after such a depressing, meandering trip? I’ll show you. Indulge, a moment more, before the doctor calls you in to talk about those test results.

There are exceptional blogs, still breathing.

You can tell which blogs still have a heartbeat. They have a large and active comment community who aren’t just there to fight. (The Passive Voice is necessary to indie writers, for instance, as is David Gaughran’s blog.) Their lure is a story of aspirational subtext: Read this and you will succeed as we analyze the mistakes and triumphs of others.

And what are comments but the back from the forth? The best comments are more stories, resonating and rising up in conversation.

Commenting as a sales tool is less effective than it once was, back when people still asked, “What’s a blog?” Commenting doesn’t sell, though it can hurt you if you’re a dick. Some commenters never communicate human warmth. They think their intellect and snark will win people over and drag eyeballs back to their own dead blogs. They’re wrong. We only go back to their blogs to see if they’re rude to everyone (yes, always, yes) and make mental notes of what books not to buy.

Living sales platforms are conversations.

Facebook is a bigger sales engine at the moment, coming at you sideways, fun and friendly and under your defences.  We tell stories in conversation with friends. That’s where the connection lies, even if it’s a lie. We share our failures and hopes and dreams and we don’t look at our watch when we’re on Facebook. (That’s how the wasted hours slip away and books don’t get written, too.)

Facebook falls short in some ways, but that’s where I can talk with Hugh Howey or Chuck Wendig or Robert J. Sawyer. Facebook is alive with conversation. That’s the hot, three-pronged brain plug of connection we crave.

So who cares about this shit? Too long to read. Meet me on Facebook and maybe we’ll connect in a conversation. Blogs are dead. I killed it. Just now. I regret nothing.

Season 2 is the quest.

Season 2 is the quest.

~ There is a secret in This Plague of Days. You’ve already read it. No one has guessed it yet. If you suspect you know, DM me on Facebook or DM me on Twitter. Praise and adulation will be heaped upon those who guess correctly. First prize is a signed paperback. Three winners will appear in my next book. Adulation for all will happen on the All That Chazz podcast.

Advertisements

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

How to ignore your blog and still get lots of traffic

Season One of This Plague of Days is the siege.

Season One of This Plague of Days is the siege.

I have six blogs and two podcasts. I admit that’s insane, but let’s move on from that briskly and let me tell you about the nice surprise that spurred this post.

I did something that, in the podcast world, is frowned upon. Until last week I hadn’t put out a new show since August. (Letting a show dwindle like that is called “pod fade”.) When I looked at my time management issues in the prep for the launch of This Plague of Days, something had to be deleted from my schedule. I pulled back the throttle on podcasting temporarily.

Just like with blogging, the less you put out into the universe, the less you get back. It’s smart to send up flares and broadcast signals frequently so we can escape anonymity and indifference.

Here’s the surprise.

When I published my All That Chazz podcast last week, I didn’t want to look at the numbers. I clicked on my stats, prepared to wince. Listenership had dropped, but it wasn’t the dreaded flatline I expected. I also know why.

Here are the usual tools for signal amplification for any blog:

Season 2 is the quest.

Season 2 is the quest.

1. Write great headlines.

The words “how to” and “review” are particularly strong link bait. Have a look through my blog for headline ideas. They aren’t all killers, but generally I think they’re pretty sexy.

2. Write great content.

Everybody says this, but it’s not very valuable advice. Lots of gurus in the “content is king” crowd don’t write great content. Nobody sits at their keyboard planning to write lousy posts. My suggestion is more specific: Be useful or be funny. If you can do both? Even better.

3. Triberr.

Being on Triberr definitely helps me get the word out. I know there are detractors. The detractors typically get less traffic. It doesn’t pay to be too shy and helping others always helps you, even if you don’t grok the kind karma connection immediately.

4. Overshare from the heart and get lucky. 

It’s better to write more, of course. When you fire more shots, sometimes you get lucky and hit a distant target.

I wrote a post about the frustrations of publishing and the joys of writing that got picked up by The Passive Voice last week. When a big site reblogs your work, you’re introduced to people who have never heard of you. I got my best stats on that blog by writing this post: This is the post I shouldn’t write. I shouldn’t, therefore I must.

5. Give people what they came for.

Posts that are too short feel like a cheat. Posts that are too long aren’t read. Posts that drag out the suspense too long are irritating, so here’s what you came for:

Tweet Old Post is a plug-in that works while I’m sleeping. There are over 1200 posts on ChazzWrites alone. The plug-in pulls old posts up and tweets them to the universe. That’s how my podcast was still alive when I came back to it. I had 81 episodes of All That Chazz still firing through Twitter and getting retweeted because of my headlines. (I’ve also got a lot of really nice followers on Twitter. Join us @rchazzchute.)

With this plug-in, you can post by category. Sometimes dated content slips through my filter.  (Try tweaking your categories so the evergreen content gets fed to Tweet Old Post.) More people find me because of this plug-in. If you have a lot of posts on your blog, they can still keep working for you long after you’ve forgotten about them.

Here’s the description of Tweet Old Post:

“This plugin helps you to keeps your old posts alive by tweeting about them and driving more traffic to them from twitter. It also helps you to promote your content. You can set time and number of tweets to post to drive more traffic.”

Go to your blog dashboard, search the plug-ins for “Tweet Old Post” and install it. Ta-da!

I wrote a post about book formatting frustrations and time management any writer who follows this blog will want to read. For that rant and my time management strategy, click here now.

This Plague of Days 2 E1 0918 AMAZON~ I am Robert Chazz Chute. I write suspense and horror. Episode One of Season Two of This Plague of Days is available at Amazon. You can begin eating this delicious serialized story of an autistic boy versus the end of the world with Ep. 1.

I recommend you cave to my charm and guile and just grab the complete seasons of Season One and Two, but whatever. I will possess your minds, my pretties. I love you for your minds, among other things. No one wants to be loved for their minds alone.

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

Book Marketing Top 10: When less is more

Some marketing efforts are hurt by doing too much. Here are 10 examples:

Season One: Sponsor of the Cool People Podcast.  Can't have just one chip? Season One has five episodes. Get each one for 99 cents or get all of Season One at a discount for $3.99. Season Two hits this September.

Season One: Sponsor of the Cool People Podcast.
Can’t have just one chip? Season One has five episodes. Get each one for 99 cents or get all of Season One at a discount for $3.99. Season Two hits this September.

1. First there were big author tours. Then radio. Now, podcast and blogging niches are more effective.

Many marketing efforts benefit from going small, personal and specific. Instead of getting a few minutes on radio (while people are in their cars or having breakfast and definitely not buying) better to get on a podcast. Instead of planes and multi-city tours and paying for plane fare, podcasts yield more exposure to a smaller, targeted and invested audience.

Podcasts are usually easier to access. You’ll get more time and sell more books with a podcast interview than by trying to squeeze in a few words between car ads and the giggling Morning Zoo Crew. 

The same principle applies to blogging. I’d rather be featured by a big book blogger than in a local newspaper. (Ask your dad what a newspaper is. If he’s old enough, he might even still get one.)

2. Curation with commentary from bloggers is valuable. Bots drawing from dozens of tweets are not.

Before I knew what Paper.li was, I emailed someone to thank them for including me in their daily electronic newspaper. I soon realized that there’s nothing special about inclusion by bots in an array of harvested tweets. However, when someone reblogs my posts, that’s a personal recommendation that’s much more effective. (Thanks for all the reblogs, Armand Rosamilia!) When someone gives me the mucho bump of love on Twitter, it means more and helps more. (Thanks for your ongoing support and enthusiasm, Eden Baylee!)

Curation tools like Scoopit! are also valuable, as long as the post includes commentary. The difference is that a human makes those choices. “Set it and forget it” is nice for thermostats, but bleating out content without evaluation and recommendation is craptacular, both for the tweeter, the tweeted and, most importantly, our readers.

3. Too much email contact leads to friction. Ease off.

I have a couple of newsletter subscriptions that hit me daily. They’re too relentless. When I fall behind, the emails pile up in my inbox. I tell myself I’ll get around to reading it all, but deletion is more likely. I do open newsletters that fire at me at a slower rate. Give me a chance to look forward to hearing from you.

How much is too much? Wait until you have something to say, something new to announce or something to offer. Too much rah-rah-rah is so much blah-blah-blah.

Similarly, If you’re relying on book event promotions that arrive in an email blast crammed with other book events, find a way to stand out. My morning Goodreads email feels like a firehose aimed at a teacup. (Sadly, the teacup in this analogy is my brain.) Do something different and approach potential readers in varied ways. When one nail is hit too much, too often, it cracks the wood. (That’s a better analogy!) See Item 5 for what I’m doing differently and Items 7 and 8 for effective e-blast options.

4. Use a professional to get things sorted out.

I was briefly part of an affiliate program on another of my blogs. The product was good, but the program was plagued with technical problems. A day didn’t go by without an update on how said problems were being fixed. Then they weren’t. Again! I dumped the program.

I am an Amazon affiliate on my author site. It’s relatively simple. I get updates from them once a month and each update is relevant to me. That’s what to aim for.

5. Complications make us weary.

Make your offers uncomplicated.

My first draft of my viral video offer (details here) was too complicated. I ran it past a friend who suggested tweaks. I had explained too much and made too many jokes instead of getting right to it. I make a lot of jokes in my books, but when it comes to offers and promotions, people just want to know their rewards and prizes and what they have to do to get them. That’s all.

6. Tweet to content.

I use tweet teams sometimes, but much less than I used to and only for special occasions. We all have book tweet and email fatigue, don’t we? Make your tweets funny or intriguing. Tweet to your blog. Your website is the proper locus of sales. Twitter is not where to sell hard or often. Twitter is a place to help people find good stuff.

This has several positive effects:

Helping people tells them you’re not an ass (and if you are an ass, you can’t hide.)

You build your mailing list on your website, not on Twitter.

Your author site is your public face. Potential readers connect with you there, not through a sales link.

Twitter can still be useful, but when it’s not hooked up to content, readers stop paying attention.

7. Aim at targets.

Bookbub works best as a book promotion service because it doesn’t send out a long list of books to everyone. Bookbub knows what genres subscribers are most interested in. Romance readers don’t get sales copy to horror books. Fewer people receive the message, but those people are more likely to buy and less likely to saddle you with one or two-star reviews because they just aren’t that into you.

in the marketing war for our attention, sniper rifles work at long distances. Shotguns do not.

8. Be choosy.

For the last two days, I’ve done a free promotion of Episode One of This Plague of Days. (The sale ends at midnight and, as I type this, it’s the last few hours of the sale. Grab it free or, if you got this too late, Episode One is only 99 cents so, you know the drill.

I’ve held #1 in Dystopian and #1 in Post-apocalyptic for most of the two-day run. That’s probably mostly due to being chosen as a featured author on Freebooksy. They’re choosy, so their email blasts are taken more seriously than some other book promotion services.

Thanks to everyone who helped me give thousands of copies of Episode One away to spread the word. I appreciate your Facebook entries, tweets and clicks. And I don’t forget who helped me. Sincerely, thank you. I have a lot of friends and allies through this blog and I’m grateful.

9. More text = more confusion.

You’ll notice I have a lot of sales links to the right. This blog has gone through several redesigns over the years and I’ll be renovating again soon. However, the other day as I was researching book promotion services, I ran across a website that was literally like reading a phone book. The crammed type fuzzed the signal to noise. It was nearly unreadable. That’s not a good sign when the blog owners set themselves up as book marketing experts. More white space adds focus and more punch to the text. (See below for my post on blog scanning vs blog reading.)

Crack the Indie Author Code10. Small is an attitude that’s easier to relate to.

My writing and publishing guides are journeys through the mud of independent publishing. I chronicled the struggles more than the success. Success teaches less than mistakes can. I was (and continue to be) very honest about my mistakes over the last couple of years of steering the Ex Parte Press imprint. Instead of telling anyone what to do, I did research and gave opinions and examples. I experimented. I tell you what worked for me and what didn’t work. I’m just now beginning to feel like I have a solid idea of what I’m doing. Mostly because now we have more tools at our disposal than we used to have. Independent publishing has matured.

We’re walking together to find our way here. I don’t listen to some experts because their viewpoints come from such a different experience. One indie guru’s solution to marketing problems is to throw money. I don’t know what he’s talking about or to whom. Others are well-established because they came to self-publishing early with trad publishing inertia and lineage mojo. 

They aren’t us. We’re small, but we are getting bigger.

We’re getting traction. We have better tools now and we’re honing them.

No matter what, we’ll remember where we came from and the friends who helped us up and out.

 

 

Filed under: blogs & blogging, book marketing, book trailer, Books, getting it done, Publicity & Promotion, publishing, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Filed under: author platform, blogs & blogging, book marketing, publishing, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Writing and Podcasting: Blog Highlights from The Week That Was

A cross-genre flurry about  society's collapse under the crush of the Sutr Virus combined with a boy's love for odd words, Latin dictionaries and his father.

A cross-genre flurry about society’s collapse under the crush of the Sutr Virus combined with a boy’s love for odd words, Latin dictionaries and his father.

The book I lost a job for…and why zombies? at ThisPlagueofDays.com

This post is as much about writing, characterization and process as it is about my horror serial. You’ll want to check this out.

Cool LeRon Barton Writes Straight Dope at CoolPeoplePodcast.com

I sat down with LeRon Barton to discuss drug culture in America for the Cool People Podcast. LeRon interviewed a host of people in the drug Cool+People+Podcast+Finaltrade and looked at it from all angles, from meth users to legal marijuana growers. Then he wrote a book, Straight Dope, about those candid interviews. It was a great conversation you’ll want to hear listen to and ponder. We dare to ask the question, “Why does Lindsay Lohan get so many breaks?” The answer we come up with is surprising.

The One That Gets Sexy on the All That Chazz podcast

Each week I read from Higher Than Jesus, my crime novel. In this episode, Jesus Diaz (my loveable Cuban assassin) deals with fallout from a life Dark Higher Than Jesus banner adof violence as he gets busy for the first time with Willow Clemont AKA the future Mrs. Diaz. The childhood trauma that shapes Jesus’ life is the core of the book, but it’s the erotic unveiling that will keep you riveted as this chapter gets sexy. (Yes, I use my sexy voice.)

Photo on 12-12-05 at 4.33 PMThey versus We: From Slave to Immortal in One Manifesto 

This is an artist’s cry of defiance. We need to be defiant. We must be unique to survive. There are dark forces united against us in a system that does not care about us. Consider this manifesto our rallying cry in the war of Art.

This Plague of Days: The Pitch

If you’re looking to see how a pitch is constructed, here it is. I’m not sending this off to agents, but if I were, this would be what the TPOD pitch wouldThis Plague of Days III look like.

First it was kale shakes. Buttered bulletproof coffee is next!

Behold! The awesome power of the kale shake!

Time Management for Weight Loss and Everything Else

DecisionToChange.com is my fastest growing blog. You’ll find all sorts of interesting tidbits about health, food diaries and more here. Don’t forget to like, subscribe and spread the word as I work on my weight loss journey. You may even want to join me.

Uncomfortable answers to questions about blogging

This was my most popular post by far this week. If you missed it, you’ll probably want to have a look for ideas about when to post, how to improve the look of your blog and how much to post. Plenty of issues tackled here, including the most troubling answer to a question rarely asked: Why blog at all?

What new on Vine?

Click it to grab it.

Click it to grab it.

Have you updated your author site’s links and pages recently? I updated several pages on my author website this week. Perhaps most important this week, I added an update page to supplement my guide to the Vine App, Six Seconds. This book, about marketing using this very cool app came out not long ago, but each month the developers have tweaked it somewhat. I’ve added notes about those improvements on a timeline as the upgrades come in. Note to all: Vine had 13 million users last week, but it’s on Android now, too! That’s a lot of eyeballs and a free way to spread your word on video Twitter.

I appear on the Inverse Delirium podcast

POD Chazz 2I love podcasting. I love comedy, stand up and otherwise. I love it so much, sometimes I appear on other podcasts. I did a comedy sketch for Inverse Delirium, a podcast from Baltimore. I play Professor E. Coli. I’ll be in another Inverse Delirium later this summer, sort of playing myself.

(This week, I was briefly mentioned on The School of Podcasting and The 40-Year-Old Boy podcast, too! Love those guys! Checkout their podcasts and subscribe to them, too.)

Filed under: All That Chazz, blogs & blogging, book marketing, Books, getting it done, podcasts, Publicity & Promotion, publishing, readers, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Uncomfortable answers to questions about blogging

1. When’s the best time to post to your blog?

There are better times than others to post to your blog. Late at night isn’t generally so good. There’s a lot less browsing after 9 pm and prime time seems to be the morning hours. Mondays are big blog stats days as people ease into their week. Fridays suck, so I post less on Fridays. The earlier in the day and the earlier in the work week, the better.

2. Should you blog every day?

I think you should post only when you have something to say. If your content is rich and if you post often, the more traffic you’ll get. At DecisionToChange, I often blog several times a day, but with short posts.

3. What should you blog about?

Blog what you care about. If you try to blog about stuff that doesn’t interest you for some audience-centric, strategic reason, you’ll run out of gas before long. People say you shouldn’t blog for writers, but of my six blogs, this is the one that gets the most traffic so far and I did get two books out of writing ChazzWrites, (Crack the Indie Author Code and Write Your Book: Aspire to Inspire) so there’s that.

4. How long should my posts be?

Shorter and to the point is generally better (though this particular post will get pretty long). I used to write very long essays. It’s better to break them up into a series if you’re writing long. If you’re writing at great length, don’t blog it. Book it. You can sell it on Amazon. That’s what I did with Six Seconds.

5. What’s the least I can post?

You can have a static page you don’t update, but don’t expect a ton of traffic unless you’re doing something else to drive eyes there. I do two free podcasts (All That Chazz and Cool People Podcast) and frequently appear on other podcasts. (I’m on a comedy podcast called Inverse Delirium this week).  Even with that weekly boost, I wouldn’t do a static page. Websites are either growing or dying. If I can’t update a page at all, I’d rather abandon it for a more active, and therefore more useful, site.

6. Can you post too much?

Yes, if posting burns out you or your readers, that’s too much.

If it takes away from your core work (i.e. writing books) then prioritize and manage your time so you do the core work first. I post to six blogs, a tumblr, Youtube, iTunes, Vine, Facebook and Twitter. However, I watch almost no TV and writing is my full-time job. That list of social media belongs on the secondary activity, fun stuff and stolen moments list of things to do. Writing new stuff, editing and revising is always number one.

7. Where do you get your ideas for blog posts?

My life and work is research. I’m interested in making kale shakes healthier and more appetizing, so I find out about that and share the wealth. I’m interested in all aspects of the book business and subscribe to various feeds that feed that passion.

8. If you talk about your books on your blog, is it spammy?

Some might complain I talk too much about my own books here. My reply is (A) It’s my blog and if you aren’t that into me, I’m not pestering you with phone calls to visit my blog and (B) working my book stable is where all that real world experience comes from. I’m building a cult out of supplying free information, so it’s hard to feel bad about that. I also help writers and promote other authors and their blogs here frequently, so any outrage is misplaced.

9. What’s the most important element of a website?

A. Some websites I self-host and others I don’t. For the long-term, owning it is important. Ownership allows advertising, monetizing and more control.

B. Having a list for people to subscribe to is critical to monetization. (My mailing list subscription is on the front page at AllThatChazz.com and I use MailChimp.) I give new subscribers perks like sneak peeks and shout outs on the All That Chazz podcast. Some subscribers got Advanced Reading Copies of This Plague of Days.

C.  Your website should look good, but opinions vary on what good looks like. Kit Foster of KitFosterDesign.com creates my web banners. That adds a lot without dealing with webmasters and giant makeovers.

D. Strong content. Everyone says “Content is king.” It’s kind of useless advice because that can be awfully subjective. If you live a sufficiently exciting life with plenty of sex among celebrities, you could rock a diary and make it work. Otherwise, go for useful and newsy so readers feel the value that way.

10. What helps a blog’s readability?

A. List posts like this one.

B. Make it easy for the reader to scan with sub-heads like this post uses.

C. Use a less fancy font to increase legibility. I also bold the type so it’s easier for everyone to read. I dumped the dark background and the light text a long time ago.

11. What are the most useful blogging tools?

A. I think WordPress is the best blogging platform (and essential if you run a podcast.)

B. I love Scoopit! The tool allows me to point readers to useful information on other websites. I can add my thoughts so I’m still adding value without looking like a parrot. I dislike WordPress’s reblog feature because I don’t post pictures on my blogs unless I’m sure there are no copyright issues. Scoopit! allows me to easily delete images. 

C. Rebelmouse. This free tool allows me to post all my blog feeds to one page so if you want to get a look at all I did in a day that was blog or podcast-related, it’s all there in one place. Every blog entry and podcast is displayed in a Pinterest-like array that’s easy to take in and stimulates the senses in a happy way without expensive and tech-heavy interventions. (You can do fancier things with Rebelmouse if you want to pay a bit of cash.)

12. Why should we blog?

(Sorry, I can only tell you why I blog.)

A. Sharing information builds the indie writer community and elevates the general level of expertise, discussion and product quality.

B. Ego and narcissism. I want you to love me and think I’m smart and funny. How else to explain six blogs and two podcasts? Pathetic and needy, isn’t it?

C. Honesty is the best policy unless questioned by Nazis. Honesty builds trust. (See 12B.)

D.  I’ve made friends and allies through my blogs and even a few readers for my books. You might even find a few people willing to be reviewers, ARC readers, beta readers, proofers, donors and helpers. My blogs and podcasts provide ways to help my friends by spreading the good word about great people.

However, if I were blogging just to find book lovers, I’d be disappointed. Only after I’m a huge success as an author using other strategies that have nothing to do with blogging will there be a clamour for all my blogs (and then I’ll have much less time to blog.)

Photo on 12-09-25 at 3.23 PM~ This fall, I’ll tell you about those “other strategies”, after I’ve given them a test run with This Plague of Days.

Have you read the manifesto for artists who want to live forever yet? Read that here.

Have you heard the latest All That Chazz podcast. The reading slips toward erotica toward the end, so this is the NSFW podcast episode you’ll probably want to hear. Check out The One That Gets Sexy here.

 

Filed under: blogs & blogging, book marketing, Books, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Self-publishing: The stuff that isn’t the core work is still important

Click it to grab it.

Click it to grab it.

I’m up to my alligators in the final revisions and polish of This Plague of Days. Still, other stuff must be juggled when I take a break from the “real” work. Keeping the engine of the author platform going is very important. Without it, who will find and read my books? Fortunately, it’s all fun or I wouldn’t get to it. Here’s what else I did today:

1. Fired off  weird interview questions for a future author appearance on this blog.

2. Answered weird interview questions for another blog, prepping for promoting This Plague of Days. (If you want me on your podcast or blog, email me at expartepress [AT] gmail [DOT] com.

3. I posted the story pitch and beta reader feedback for my horror book and serial at ThisPlagueOfDays.com.

4. I wrote about the Vine app’s huge update on my blog about Six Seconds. Vine is used by 13 million people. Today, a whole new group of people, Android users, may be pulled to check out the book, buy it and use it.

5. I posted multiple vines (little videos) to my Vine account. That cascades to Facebook and Twitter. I welcomed the new Android users and interspersed that with several funny vines about the Android update and using my how-to book about the Vine app, Six Seconds. (I’m “Robert Chazz Chute” on Vine. Follow me there and say hi!)

6. I posted on my weight loss blog early this morning at DecisionToChange.com. Got some great feedback on that piece and I’m growing another audience segment there. That blog competes with this one as my fastest growing blog, though it’s very new and this is my third year posting on ChazzWrites.

7. Email correspondence. Confirmed a story meeting with a friend who’s an expert on logistics and hiking for Season 2 of This Plague of Days. He’ll help me plot details of the journey in Season 2 and he’s okay with getting paid in coffee.

8. Listened to a Self-publishing Podcast over the course of getting my daughter to the dentist and taking her to gymnastics.

9. I appeared on the Podcaster’s Roundtable Sunday night. We talked about dealing with negative feedback, reviews, haters and trolls. I made some good jokes. I had permission to spread the word and post the video, so I stuck the YouTube video up on my author blog at AllThatChazz.com today.

10. My friend Kim Nayyer alerted me to news of indie membership in The Writers Union of Canada. That post and link appears below this one.

11. This blog post is written. It’s 9 PM.

Tonight I’ll do the dishes and walk 5 km. Then I’ll probably polish another episode of This Plague of Days. Projected bedtime: 1 PM. And I’m very happy with that.

To do:

I’m appearing in a sketch on Inverse Delerium, a very cool comedy podcast. That went over so well, they sent me another script (and I get to plug This Plague of Days between the laughs). More revisions, that logistics/story meeting, a fresh reading for the All That Chazz podcast, posting a new Cool People Podcast with author LeRon Barton about drug culture and the drug war in America, incorporating new beta feedback as it arrives, consultations and prepping the TPOD cover and TPOD promo and t-shirt graphics with my friend and uber graphic designer Kit Foster.

They call us “indies” and it doesn’t take an army. It takes a platoon and total commitment and time management.

~ This weekend, in between podcast interviews and, of course, more editing, I now have a YouTube Channel dedicated solely to Ex Parte Press books and podcasts. I expect this channel will grow quite a bit as I incorporate much more video into my author platform. (For instance, I want to use it so you can not only hear the Cool People Podcast on iTunes and Stitcher etc, you can also see the interviews if you wish. My interview with Shermin Kruse about the Middle East and US politics is the first Cool People video cast.) 

 

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

Writing and Publishing: The balls I juggle

Cool+People+Podcast+Final

I’m currently adding a scene to This Plague of Days in which Queen Elizabeth’s Corgis get fed to rampaging zombies as an appetizer before the main (royal) course. As I move through the day, fueled by coffee and rage, I stop to take care of details: Fun details, critical details, tiny details. Here’s the last few days:

1. Sent uncorrected ARCs of This Plague of Days Episode 1 to a bunch of people. The early reviews are happy ones.

2. Published a new Cool People Podcast. I interviewed Renee Pawlish about her strategies for writing and selling books. Good stuff and of particular interest if you read this blog regularly.

3. Updated several plugins across my five blogs, but the change to the Image Rotator Widget screwed up so the covers of my books were displayed in too huge a fashion. Sigh.

4. Sent off a couple more suggestions to Kit, graphic designer extraordinaire, for promotional T-shirts, prizes and giveaways. I plan to sell the shirts in the future, too. Fun, dark and brilliant designs by my man Kit. I knew he was great at book covers. He’s got an impressive flair for t-shirt designs, too. (Hint: hire him for your next book cover, website header, Zazzle product, etc.,…)

5. Commented on some blogs on a few Facebook posts and blogs of interest. Posted to my own blogs. (There are five now. I post to DecisionToChange.com almost daily.)

6. Wrote several new scenes for This Plague of Days and posted some excerpts as teasers. A novel is slightly different from a serial. I’m a teasing, surprising, cliffhanger guy anyway, but to keep the readers moving from one episode to the next, I added new material for extra punch.

7. I recorded a new All That Chazz podcast. I have to edit it and publish it later this weekend since that’s behind schedule. Sickness and book launch prep has eaten into my podcast time, but something had to give.

8. Emailed back and forth with future guests on the Cool People Podcast. People are asking to be on, so it’s picking up.

9. Did some promotions on Vine and performed an experimental giveaway with Murders Among Dead Trees. Hit #34 in free on Amazon on the short story collection list with one day of promotion. Lessons learned: Get a higher profile on Vine and post more often. Most of the people who picked up the freebie came through my friends on Facebook.

10. Did some research on book sales and picked up Chuck Sambuchino’s new book Create Your Writing Platform. I also listened to the Self-Publishing Podcast in which the hosts believe free on Amazon is dead (as is the 99-cent price point.)

Bonus 1: I just learned that the plural is Corgis, not “Corgies”. 

Bonus 2: I learned a blog post about publishing with the word “enema” in the title, gets a lot of traffic.

Question:

How about it? Is free dead to you? Does 99 cents mean the book is inexpensive or just crap? The guys on the Self-Publishing Podcast advised putting your stuff out on all platforms. I’d feel better about that if the other platforms sold more and had a more active review culture. What do you think?

And now back to edits with The Little Things by Danny Elfman as my soundtrack…

Me B&W~ Follow Chazz on Twitter @rchazzchute. If you’re feeling down, go make a kale smoothie and dance sweaty. If you’re feeling up, make sure you have permission and then get sweaty.

Filed under: author platform, blogs & blogging, book marketing, This Plague of Days, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Triberr: Problems and Solutions

A kronosaurus, the prehistoric sea monster, ate my blog traffic. Many blog subscribers will already have seen the wonderful and helpful posts listed below (even if I say so,

Kronosaurus queenslandicus

Kronosaurus queenslandicus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

my own damn self). However, due to some technical glitch with Triberr, a lot of people missed these ChazzWrites.com posts (and crucial extras, like links to my new book sites, ThisPlagueofDays.com and onlysixseconds.wordpress.com or tap the grooviness at CoolPeoplePodcast.com or hear a reading at AllThatChazz.com).

Disaster

I discovered the other day that my Triberr marketing teams haven’t been retweeting my blog posts for quite some time. Curses! Foiled again! What to do? And why is Triberr so important for bloggers, marketers, authors and, ultimately, readers?

Woe

My blog traffic and Twitter mentions had slowed remarkably. I blamed myself for a lack of awesomeness at first, of course. I mean, self-loathing? That’s just what I do! However, I put my head down, close to the keyboard, and tried to double up on the awesome. When that didn’t work, I began to look for other reasons for the aching distance between me and the popularity of Dos Equis’ Most Interesting Man in the World. Perhaps the new cologne wasn’t working out? Then I discovered the Triberr problem.

Frustration

I’d been diligently retweeting the best of the tweets from my tribes (and I’m in awesome tribes with wonderful bloggers and writers). However, my blog posts weren’t getting sent out to their followers in turn.

As soon as I discovered the problem was somewhere in Triberr settings, I tried to solve it myself. Result: Failure.

Then I asked for tech support from Triberr. I received no response.

I waited several days, became impatient, sent another plea for help and…still didn’t hear from tech support.

Then I figured out what was missing and finally fixed it myself yesterday.

However, I come to praise Triberr, not to bury it.

This is not an indictment of Triberr, but when it didn’t work recently, the social media marketing tool certainly showed me its value. Good posts get more hits, anyway, but they get even more traffic with a boost from Triberr. Without Triberr, I’m not spreading the word as effectively. With Triberr, my reach is, theoretically, 6 million people plus whoever the 6 million retweets to. That’s a lot of eyeballs coming here to taste my flavor, fall in like, buy some books and tumble into full-force love. 

Now that the problem is fixed, my traffic stats are bouncing back up. My Twitter connections are ablaze again. Soon, this very post will be sent out through the cyber-ether by my tribes and who knows where it will land, or how many new subscribers and Twitter followers I’ll gain? (Crosses fingers, strangles a mime for good luck.)

People appreciate value and boy, do I try to give it. However, hiding our lights under  cliched bushels and waiting for it to happen magically and organically doesn’t help new readers discover us quickly. Triberr gives more people the chance to fall in love with what we can provide. Where else are you going to read about publishing and mime-stangling? See? I’m so unique.

Triberr helps.

And usually? Triberr works

.

In case you missed my redesign of this blog, thoughts on optimizing books and sales, podcasts, announcements and changes in publishing strategies, here are some those articles. Also, please enjoy the odd mime-strangling. (Don’t do it every day, though. If it’s every day, it’s not a treat.)

Odd and Unfamiliar Literary Genres

Book Marketing Problems and Solutions

Amazon Goodreads. Mostly? So What? 

How to End a Chapter: Shorter Chapters, Better Books

On Writing Well: The Challenge of the Slow Open

Ebook: What Makes a Good Cover? What Makes a Bad One?

Rebelmouse: How I got all my blogs and podcast on one glorious page

The All That Chazz Podcast: More Fury

Amazon Throttled

Getting a Bigger Boat: Adapting to be a More Effective Publisher

Writers: Shorter is Better

Blog Comment Rules and How to Become Batman

What Jedis Know About Fear

Author Platform: Problems, Solutions and Stuffed Speedos

Filed under: blogs & blogging, book marketing, ebooks, publishing, Rant, Triberr, Writers, writing tips, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Blog comment rules and how to become Batman

Rules? For renegades and free thinkers? Isn’t suggesting blog comment etiquette for people like us antithetical to our natures? No. Even badasses like us have a code we live by. The modern Ronin do not have lords we serve, but in our hearts, we are still Samurai. The Internet is the Old West, but even Texas had expectations of how people should conduct themselves in public.

What spurred this post

Sometimes I notice comments that afflict bloggers. This isn’t about me, by the way, you’re all awesome. However, those negative commenters irritate me. I’m not talking about Internet trolls. Trolls should be ignored completely. I define a troll as anyone who says something nasty enough that, without the protection of anonymity and distance, they’d be walking away from the conversation with a bloody nose.

Today I’m talking about nasty people who think they’re contributing to a conversation but mostly they’re stirring up feelings of anger and resentment. They might even have a point buried deep. Unfortunately, logic was obscured because they were dicks about it. They are Negative Nancies, full of condescension, who offer no transcendence. Criticism is best delivered quietly, preferably buffered by a gracious comment on either side to cushion the blow.

So what’s the rule?

It’s what Mitt Romney got so horribly wrong in the last election. It’s a rule in comedy and in commentary that has stood the test of time:

PUNCH UP, NOT DOWN

Meaning?

If you must make fun of anyone, mock your betters. Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. Speak truth to power. Stick it to the Man. Harsh words should be measured out in proportion to the crime. For instance, no, you should not suggest that genocide and smoking marijuana deserve the same punishment. Self-monitor and — man or woman or transgendered — don’t be a bitch.  

How do you know for sure you’re a bad comment offender?

When you mock the helpless or powerless or disrespect people who are trying to help you, you’re being a dick. If you go through life assuming everyone’s an idiot but you, bingo! If you’ve used the sentence, “I’m just being honest,” more than once in any given week, you’re undoubtedly the problem.

You’re not adding to the conversation because you’re not interested in free expression for others. You’re not listening, but you want to be sure we all hear you. You’re not pausing to understand before rushing to make us understand what a smart person you are. If it’s your secret wish that we all bow before you…okay, bad example. We all want that. However, if you actually do find a mistake and seize on it with smug, smirking glee? Warning!

Confirm your blind love of self here: You find a mistake of “your” mixed up with “you’re”. Do you assume it’s a mere typo or do you assume the person who made that mistake really doesn’t know the difference? Now try “just being honest” with yourself.

If you’re part of the problem, you have options.

1. Zip it and realize you don’t have to utter an opinion about everything. If you’re right and we are all idiots, you’re an idiot for associating with us. Consider scuba diving as a profession. You’ll have less of all that nasty human interaction.

2. Work on your social skills. I recently went out of my way to appear especially nice when I otherwise wouldn’t. No one can tell the difference if you do it ironically and, oddly enough, acting nice put me in a better mood. It felt good to pretend and, if I acted nice and came to feel good about it…wait…maybe I really was nice? Oh my god! We are what we do! We become what we pretend to be! (I am Batman…I am Batman…I am Batman!)

3. A person’s blog is their home and their home is their castle. Don’t say anything in a comment that would land you in the dungeon and chained to a wall drinking molten lead if you uttered it to the king or queen in person. 

4. If you can’t be polite for us, do it for you. You’re hurting yourself. When someone is mean to anyone in particular, I check out their links, their blog, their book or their business. I do so not so I can buy their product or service because I’m struck by their brilliance. I want to remember them so I won’t buy anything from them. Voting with your buck may be the only vote that really counts for much, so vote for civility.

5. If you feel you must say something worthy of the dungeon, stop and reconsider. Is it your business to correct them? Are you being helpful or is this about the joy of gloating? For instance, get on Facebook and call somebody out on a mistake on their blog for all to see and your sin is worse. You aren’t acting like much of a Facebook “friend”. Consider sending them a helpful email and let them know you think they made a mistake privately.

6. If you don’t have anything nice to say, you know the drill. However, if you have transgressed and you want to reform, apologize to a human and go pet a dog. Say something nice to someone. They’ll probably think you want something from them. Shock them by walking away without a single acid criticism. Like Dalton says in Roadhouse, “It’s nice to be nice.”

For the afflicted bloggers:

A. Moderate your comments so commenters feel your blog is a safe place to express themselves as long as everyone stays civil. This does not mean everyone has to agree with you. It’s not free speech and opinion we’re trying to stamp out. It’s name-calling, unreason and harsh comments that hurt feelings. Don’t dumb down your blog with comment moderation. Elevate the tone of the conversation and encourage more conversation by setting that helpful atmosphere of civility.

B. There’s a theory that controversy on a blog will make it more read. That’s true. We will read more. Who here doesn’t read JA Konrath’s blog? (I do recommend Konrath’s blog, The Newbie’s Guide to Publishing, anytime. He can be cantankerous, but he’s not illogical and he is helpful. I find him funny, especially when he’s angry, but maybe that’s my daddy issues talking.)

However, in most cases, unless someone is a clear victim in a word skirmish, it’ll probably just give you stress without yielding more sales. I’ve seen many blow ups. Conflict is passively interesting, but I’ve never bought anything because of a flame war. Some bloggers seem bent on being negative for its own sake, without the substance. That doesn’t works. If you’re going to be constantly pissed off and kicking, you have to be twice as smart and funny as you are mean.

I do know of one blogger who sold a lot of books stirring up controversy and even started negative memes about himself. He now seems to regret that strategy and is trying to reinvent his brand. His rep seems to have negatively affected his life personally. I don’t think many of us have the willpower and natural predisposition to tell the world we’re jerks, loud and proud.

I’ll tell anyone I’m a contrarian, but that’s different. I’m punching up, not down. You know my motto: Question Authority before Authority questions you.* 

C. Many blogs have the option of a star rating on each blog post, independent of comments. Delete that option. I did. I don’t see how to take the star grading system off blog comments, but since no one uses that, no harm, no foul. Grading posts contributes nothing to the blog. Mostly, you’ll get four or five-star ratings, anyway. Occasionally, some anonymous coward will click one star but leave no comment. You’ll be left bewildered what they objected to. 

I rarely feel I have to deny a negative comment here. We’ve got a good thing going on with a lot of nice people. You’re all sexy butterflies and I thank you for reading ChazzWrites. However, any website that gets decent traffic will always attract the odd ugly moth. When that happens, I burn them before they come to light.

*Therefore, you know I’m making suggestions here, right? I’m not aiming this diatribe at anyone in particular and certainly not at anyone who is powerless in the world. I mention this to remain somewhat adorable in the face of knee-jerk critics. There, I think that should assuage the skeptical. As for the champions of unreason, who cares?

Filed under: blogs & blogging, , , , , , , ,

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.

See my books, blogs, links and podcasts.

I interview the people you need to get to know.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 10,517 other followers

Brain Spasms a la Twitter

%d bloggers like this: