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

Write and publish with love and fury.

As a writer, what’s optional? What’s necessary? What’s real?

1. I think charity, political action and social justice is important. Let’s not lose sight of what’s important.

(For instance, I’m trying to help a guy find a kidney.) 

This post is about doing what’s necessary and managing our time better as writers and publishers. Don’t click away. It’ll be fun. You’re going to like this post a lot, trust me, but before we proceed, please consider that at least one good kidney is what’s really necessary. Please sign your donor card. Follow @RSawatsky and retweet him. #DudeNeedsAKidney! Spread the word to change and save lives. Thank you.

We now return to your regularly scheduled programming…

Organ donation matters to all of us but Amazon and Hachette’s machinations really don’t much. I try not to get too caught up in industry debates that don’t affect me and hurt my productivity if I give them too much energy. I’ve commented on Amazon versus Hachette, but I don’t live and breathe that debate because I feel no agency in changing the outcome. Amazon and Hachette are gonna do what they’re gonna do.

Meanwhile, I’m publishing my fifteenth book at the end of the month. (That averages out to five a year, so clearly I’m a slacker.) My point is, it’s better that I spend time telling stories instead of scurrying around the ankles of giants.  

2. If you can’t afford to pay an editor, you can swap services, use your writing group or crowdsource. Finding a good editor is hard. Harnessing the hive mind, if you have enough solid people on your side, is easier in some ways. If you can afford to hire an editor, don’t stop there. You probably still need to crowdsource to get a lot of eyes on your manuscript before you release it. More proofreaders in your beta team now mean fewer problems later.

Beware of people who approach you about editing your next book. Better not to answer them. Best to depend on the team you develop and choose. Finding help gets easier as you go along. Don’t despair and take the time you need. Also, there’s zero shame in taking that job you need to pay for the professional assistance you need. You’re a full-time author if you put in a lot of hours, no matter what job is listed on your tax form.

3. I got a bill. As a result, I have never been so focussed as I am now on the famous 80/20 rule. That which does not advance my writing career in some tangible way is a waste of my time and I am ruthless. Priorities are: family and friends, exercise, writing, a certain degree of social interaction and the pursuit of happiness along career lines.

I write and exercise early in the day to make sure that gets done. Everything has a schedule and I am plugged into it.

Why exercise? Because we’re sitters and sitting is the new smoking. Self-care puts the oxygen mask on yourself before assisting other passengers in need. Do that or we’re all gonna die.

4. Experiments are conducted. That which works, stays. That which does not is jettisoned. Bookbub and BookGorilla and Freebooksy are still in. I try smaller services sequentially (separating promotions) to see if they have an effect on daily sales. They don’t (for now) so they’re out. I’ll revisit them periodically to see if they’ve grown their subscriber lists substantially, especially if they’re free services.

If I can spend an afternoon at some kind of author event and if I’ve just reached one new reader and touched their hearts? I’ve wasted that afternoon. 

I’m not playing small ball, anymore. I don’t hang out hoping for individual conversions. I make alliances with my fellow author army for mass mind invasions. I experiment with keywords and categorization. I give sermons to the masses. Scalable stuff. I don’t want twelve disciples. I want a vast cult of love that spreads among strangers by word of mouth in airport lounges and through the matrix as fast as the newly converted can warble at each other excitedly about my last book and my next book. I am a happy infection.

Don’t get me wrong. I love every reader who gets me. I’m not trying to sound harsh. I’m trying to maximize my time because I’m not immortal (yet.) Only the willing are drafted. I’m prepared to sell my books and ideas but it’s an invitation, not a hard sell that makes me hate myself and lose psychic energy.

If I have to spend time convincing them to take my book into their hands? They aren’t ready for me. They’re ready for James Patterson. Godspeed.

5. It’s best to hire someone to do your graphic design. I always recommend Kit Foster of KitFosterDesign.com. He is awesome and if you employ his talents you’ll undoubtedly sell more books.

If you can’t do that (due to financial emergency or scheduling issues), kdrenegade and picmonkey are options that work best together. There are many editing programs. Whatever we do won’t be as good as what a professional can do for us, but it might do until we can redo those covers with the pros.

Do do your best or you’ll rue your doo doo book covers.

6. Book formatters can make your work look great and elevate your art with their art and sensibility. Pay them if you can afford to do so. Otherwise, let’s not be quite so hard on amateur formatting attempts as long as it’s functional.

For instance, book formatters will insist that your print book must begin on the right. The people who care about this are book formatters. They can be hypercritical of details no one else notices. Also, unlike the formatting experts, I prefer seeing the title at the top of each screen of an ebook. I tend to read ten books at a time and the header they disparage as unprofessional reminds me which book I’m looking at instantly. (Did I mention I don’t have a lot of time to spare? Yeah.)

If you don’t care about certain details, you can do it yourself without expense or worry you’re doing too much that is wrong. Experts love to tell you you’re wrong. Non-experts, too. Especially non-experts.

There is much to obsess over. This is not one of those things. Prioritize what matters to you.

7. I blog when I have something to say. Otherwise, I write books.

Chasing the dragon by posting to a blog twice daily (or more) in an effort to boost blog traffic is so 2004.

8. YouTube videos of cats freaking out = a gravity well from which no one escapes. Don’t go there. If you do, you’ll write one less book this year.

You can’t feed your cat by watching cats on YouTube unless you film your own cat to make money on YouTube. You didn’t think all those crazy situations caught on video were accidents, did you? No. That’s a conscious plan to monetize cute (and steal your writing time.)

9. Don’t complain. Never explain. 

Someone at Thanksgiving dinner and on Christmas Day is caught up in outdated misconceptions of what you do. This is an energy suck. Do you really want to have that same conversation about how ebooks aren’t real books, the smell of paper blah-de-blah and your publishing venture is not legit unless a trad publisher pays you a pittance and abuses you with ferocious contract terms? 

Don’t get sucked in. Instead, agree with the Uncle Bozo. Tell him he’s absolutely right. He hasn’t changed his mind about anything ever, anyway, so stop butting foreheads. Your aspirations don’t matter and books don’t pay. Tell him what he wants to hear.

Then tell him, “Fortunately, you can remedy that.” Thank him for his concern as you say, “I’ve got my books in the trunk of the car. You can buy them right now! Thanks again! Be right back!” Don’t wait for his reply.

Bring them all. Before he can protest, tell him you have change for big bills. (With Square, you can also take his credit card.) Refuse to leave until those boxes are empty and his trunk is full. His choice is to buy your stuff or admit he was being a prick and trying to make you feel bad about your aspirations.

Uncle Bozo will never bother you again.

10. Look to others’ successes to figure out how to proceed and what practices to copy.

Don’t waste a minute worrying that everyone else is playing this game better and getting luckier and selling more books than you.

They are all doing much better (often succeeding by accident while you try guile!) They’re all doing great and thinking about buying a boat. You suck. I suck, too. I know! I know! But worry doesn’t help that. Writing the next book helps that.

You’re going to write that next book, anyway, no matter what the “market conditions” are. So go do that. No bullshit.

And stop checking your sales dashboard stats for green arrows ten times a day!

~ This post was briefly titled, “As an authorpreneur…” Then I changed it to “As an writer…” and it went out like that. Oh, for God’s sake! We now return to our regularly scheduled self-loathing….

 

Filed under: author platform, publishing, Rant, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Beat the World’s Plot Against You

Life happens. It’s time for me to happen to life, not the other way around.

In the last few days, someone stole from my family and made my daughter cry. A close friend’s child died. Frustrations dot the landscape. I thought I’d be done another book by now but life keeps getting in the way. Clearly, it’s time for a pattern break.

“Rise up and take the power back.” ~ Muse from The Resistance

I am not a flake, but I speak it fluently. Once upon a time, someone told me to pick up every penny (back when Canada had pennies.) The act of picking up pennies in the street was supposed to be a message to the universe: “I am open to abundance!”

After picking up a filthy penny in the rain, it occurred to me the message I was sending the universe was, “I’ll take whatever crumbs you choose to send me.” Worse, I was sending myself a message: “This is all you’re worth.” Screw that hippie bullshit.

1. Everybody feels pushed around sometimes. Push back by doing a kindness to someone else. Transmute the energy into something positive.

2. Tonight I spotted an author’s comment on a troll’s review, thanking them for the mean review. Authors: Cherish your fans. Set trolls to ignore. You do not have to pretend to love the whip. Stop being grateful for crap. I didn’t think the author was classy and above it all for petting and encouraging the troll. It looked more like grovelling for a penny covered in dog crap.

3. Exercise. Don’t feel like taking out frustrations on weights and ellipticals? Find your jam. Dance. Make love. Make sex. Rock on. Get happy. When we act happy, we fool our bodies and brains. No? Not yet? Dance harder.

4. Get enough sleep. Black out your room. Sleep naked. Fewer blankets are better. Can’t sleep? Revisit #3, points 5 & 6.

5. Phone a friend. Complain, but not for longer than three minutes. Then ask about them. Get out of your own head. Help them solve their problem.

6. You don’t need advice. Hardly anybody does. Just give yourself the same advice you’d give a friend in the same predicament.

7. Write. Not your book. Not yet. Write what you will do (not to do. Will do.)

Choose the two top priorities. Everything else on a long list won’t get done. Mark what time you will do these things. Keep that appointment.

8. Write. Make it the first thing you do. If not that, write at your high energy time.

9. Eat something that’s good for Future You. Don’t eat what Now You wants. Now You wants a hot fudge sundae on acid. Future You wishes you’d eaten a salad.

10. Do it all again until your are out of the unproductive funk. Then keep doing it. Write on. Write harder. Can’t make happy art? Fine. Fierce art is awesome, too.

Or do what you want. This is what I’m doing.

Damn it.

One day soon, we’ll all be brilliant together….

Filed under: getting it done, writing tips, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

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

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

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

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

Two thoughts about this story:

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

and

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Friday! Writing and Publishing Links

Fair Blog: It’s Publishers’ Greed, Not E-Books, That’s Pinching Authors

Famous Bloggers: How to Network Like a Web Warrior

John Paul’s Blog: Money Dummy Golden Rules for Attracting Twitter Traffic

Tribal Writers: How Fiction Writers & other Creatives can be Badass Bloggers

Ning.com: Create Your Own Social Network

 

Filed under: Publicity & Promotion, publishing, 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.

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

See my books, blogs, links and podcasts.

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

Join 10,074 other followers

Brain Spasms a la Twitter

%d bloggers like this: