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

Write and publish with love and fury.

What if What We Think We Know About Writing, Publishing & Promotion is Wrong?

TWEAKED JESUS OMNIBUS COVER WITH CROSS

Problem:

Blogging is dead. I’ve been spinning out gold here for years. Maybe I should have spent more time writing books instead because my blog stats are fairly static. This site gets pretty decent traffic when I post, but it’s not growing as I’d hoped. Still glad to do it because it’s a compulsion, but I don’t do it as often and I don’t do it to sell books. I’m here to gain allies, share information and rant when the pressure builds too high.

My book sales come through Amazon promoting me, perhaps the occasional ad, pulse sales and, most important, word of mouth. I experiment with categorization and keywords and KDP Select. I write surprising books with many twists and turns and emotional gut punches. Sometimes it feels like I’ve been teetering on the cusp of success a long time and sometimes that’s lonely and sad. That’s when I stalk around the house naked, overcompensate for my doubt, pour a stiff coffee and start shouting, “Tonight I shall drink from the Chalice of Glory!” 

Solution:

We all need an author page, but do we really need to blog? Instead, go where it’s easier for consumers of information to consume. Twitter, when used well, is one option and less time-consuming.

Note, too, there are far fewer podcasts than there are blogs. I’m back podcasting after taking a hiatus. My podcast stats not only bounced up nicely with one new episode this past week, but the numbers were pretty steady in my absence. To catch the latest All That Chazz podcast (The Hit Man Edition) click here.

The Oft-repeated Wisdom May be a Lie.

Gird your loins because this is going to get scary. Here’s what we think we all know for sure:

Market your books by writing more books.

Well, yes and no. If you have a hit, your new adoring readers may want to read everything you write and then it finally will pay to have a huge back list. However, it amazes me how many readers are very genre-specific in their tastes. More books doesn’t necessarily translate to more sales.

I know this goes against everything you’ve read and it goes against what I believed until recently. But, as Tucker Max said on the Self-Publishing Podcast recently, “Book discovery is broken.”

My Evidence: 

1. Some authors are making good money writing fairly crappy books, and fairly few. (So much for the “Make-it-great-and-it-will-certainly-sell meme.”) What makes them hot? Genre choice is one major factor, I suspect.

2. It’s surprising how many authors seem to do okay with their first book or two. Or they get featured on podcasts and whatnot despite being relative novices. Is it their marketing machine, their genre of choice or luck? (More about the touchy subject of luck in a moment.)

3. It’s disheartening to find (in my informal and unscientific survey) that there are solid, experienced authors who:

(A) appear to be great at marketing,

(B) have an impressive number of books to sell, and yet,

(C) one of their series is actually selling and just about everything else is not. Read (C) again. Aren’t you glad your girded your loins? I know it’s counterintuitive, but it’s what I’ve been told by authors with a lot of books out there (as in more than thirty).

Some authors are blaming cannibalization from Kindle Unlimited for their recent sales dip. Or is it that the recession still rolls on in too many places? Or is it that readers already have too many free books to read? Can we blame our sales platforms? The narrow availability of Bookbub and the ineffectiveness of non-Bookbub sales tools? As a last resort, I suppose we could blame ourselves, but don’t wallow. I’m here to open the Box of Depression, not stuff you in deeper.

The Lie We All Need to Believe

On a recent publishing podcast, somebody who is making many thousands of dollars a month said something like: “Any author with persistence will make it big.”

Math says that’s not true. We won’t all make it big. Many of us won’t make it at all. Like the stock market, everybody can’t ride high by sheer force of will. If persistence alone were the issue, I’d have fewer writer friends constantly worried about money. I think some of us have to work smarter, but many of us are certainly working very hard. Telling us to bear down even more isn’t really helpful and may be damaging to our health, our relationships and our self-esteem.

HJ COVER FINAL LADY IN RED

About luck

People who do make it big will usually say something humble about being lucky. Then they’ll detail the strategies to which they attribute their success. They might be right or they may be rationalizing. They might not attribute enough of their success to luck and organic growth. But more important, can their experience translate to ours? If you’re not in the same genre and working in the same time frame with the same resources, can you replicate what they did to earn readers?

My strategies going forward:

1. Still blogging, but less so. Podcasting more. Worrying less.

2. I’m holding off on the spin-off of the Hit Man Series I’d planned. Common wisdom is that many thriller series don’t seem to take off until you’re at book #5 or above. Hollywood Jesus and The Divine Assassin’s Playbook, Omnibus Edition just launched and I’m at Book #3. I hope to bring the sales of my crime novels up as the charms of my funny Cuban assassin, Jesus Diaz, are discovered. Therefore, I’ll write more of the Hit Man Series, faster. Come for the action and stay for the jokes as he falls out of the frying pan and into the napalm.

3. Work in popular genres. I’m not talking about chasing trends so much as acknowledging that I can write in more genres than I’ve allowed myself in the past. To get where I need to go so I can write more on a full-time basis, the work needs to pay.

Choosing more popular genres first is the equivalent of choosing to paddle the white water to get where I need to be (and get there faster.) I can still make any book a labor of love without throwing away profitability.

For instance, I love my upcoming time travel book. I’ve been stunned to discover there are a lot of fans of time travel who are asking me to hurry up and put that one out. My next book is another crime novel, but I’ll get to it all. I am putting books out faster now, but it may be speed of production within a genre (not necessarily flat numbers of books) that helps me avoid the infamous Cliff of Visibility from which we drop after thirty days on the market.

I also produce more books because, as with this blog, it’s about doing what I love. Produce as much as you want, but don’t pin all your hopes on any one book. Just write because you want and need to.

Opening up to New Possibilities is Another Way Forward

Recently, a publisher approached me about writing a ghost story for an anthology. It’s an honor to be asked, but that genre doesn’t appeal to me. Or rather, it didn’t appeal to me.

I noodled with a few ideas. Then I started losing sleep over it. Unless we’re talking Poltergeist, my problem with ghosts is their lack of agency. What does a ghost want? How are they a threat? How could I make readers care? Did I really want to write this at all?

The key question I ask for all my book ideas persisted:

How could I transform an old idea into a fresh and cool story?

She Who Must Be Obeyed doesn’t ask about my insomnia, anymore. She just meets me at the breakfast table with, “Busy brain?” The insomnia finally paid off. I found the hook and the angle I needed to get into the story. I want to write for that anthology now because I found the key to the main character. I also want to write a series of books on that foundation.

I never looked down on ghost stories. I just figured they were for other writers to write. Now I know I can still write whatever I want. The difference is now I’m going to let myself play in a much larger playground.

Excuse me. I have to go write a metric crap-ton of books now. For the love of it.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Filed under: Publicity & Promotion, publishing, self-publishing, What about Chazz?, What about you?, writing tips, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

Book Launch Prep: Funnels, marketing, and tap dancing as fast as I can

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.

As the launch of my serialized novel, This Plague of Days, approaches, there’s still a lot to do that has little to do with writing the book. This preliminary work is about charming the unsuspecting into the back of my mind candy van, building happy buzz and marketing funnels. It’s time I gave you a glimpse of some of the things I do in that vein. (For more, check out Crack the Indie Author Code and Write Your Book: Aspire to Inspire.)

I’m working on reaching out beyond people who already know me to the people who don’t know me yet. It will come as a huge surprise to you, that figure is still in the billions. (WTH?, man?!) Being unknown is the curse. And so we put ourselves out there to grasp for the blessing of new readers who will fall in love with us (dammit!)

This is, in part, what I did this weekend to reach out:

1. Approached an author about seeing an ARC of This Plague of Days in hopes of getting a cover blurb. (I get all squirrelly about this, but I have to do it more.)

2. Published several articles to my newest and fastest-growing blog, DecisionToChange.com. It’s about weight loss, life’s struggle, healthy recipes and becoming a healthier, happier person. (I know that doesn’t sound like me at all, but I’m playing against type.)

Click it to grab it. Just 99 cents!

Click it to grab it. Just 99 cents!

3. Posted something similar to #2 on Vine*. (Repurposing is not rehashing, so it comes across as much more amusing on video.)

4. Published a full excerpt of the first chapter of TPOD at ThisPlagueOfDays.com

5. Published the excerpt to WattPad. I haven’t used Wattpad enough. It’s an easy way to share stories and help readers find us.

Cool+People+Podcast+Final6. Published a new Cool People Podcast with erotica author Eden Baylee. The podcast is about the lovely and smart Eden and her cool worldview (but I’m there, too, so it counts.)  I also tweaked the site so it has a new slider bar which will draw attention to recent guests on the podcast.

7. Researched innovative ways to further publicize the coming launch. Innovative, as in different and untested. I’ll let you know how it works out once they are tested.

8. In giving someone else advice on merchandising, I figured out a new way to do that better with TPOD. (I’m not being coy, but more on that in a different post once I experiment with it.)

9. Wrote this post, giving you links to a couple of my other blogs you wouldn’t otherwise check out. (Hope you like the excerpt and sneak peeks.)

10. Most important: 

I worked on the revisions of This Plague of Days and added a new beta reader to my team. I wrote new scenes with more action where it was slower. I tweaked old scenes so they sparkle anew. I’m writing the best book I can. No matter what else you do to promote your book, #10 is the principle that’s most solid.

My luckless hit man is a funny guy in big trouble.

My luckless hit man is a funny guy in big trouble.

~ Robert Chazz Chute is writing horror instead of a funny hardboiled thriller for a change, but he loves it all and hopes you will, too.

*Want to reach out to more people and discover more about the Vine app? Go here to find out more about Six Seconds, The Unauthorized Guide to How to Build Your Business with the Vine App.

Filed under: book marketing, My fiction, Publicity & Promotion, publishing, self-publishing, This Plague of Days, Vine, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Rebelmouse Review: How to Gain Readers and Listeners with a Collage of You

Click it to grab it. Just 99 cents!

Click it to grab it. Just 99 cents!

My author platform is a sprawl of social media. I’m bringing my voice to a more effective public address system with Rebelmouse.

Recently a social media expert told an author to bring two blogs together, amalgamated to one site for better SEO. That way, more people would discover her awesomeness. The problem resonated with me. I have (deep breath) three WordPress blogs, two podcasts, three Twitter feeds, a tumblr site, a Facebook page, Google+, a Pinterest board and occasionally I send out a SONAR pulse from my one-man attack submarine. I wondered, how could I possibly bring everything together without becoming some expensive programmer’s buttockal pain? I wanted to curate all my content so my readership and podcast listeners could hit the highlights in one convenient place and receive one harmonic signal. Tough problem. I now have an easy answer, and it doesn’t include hiring a programmer I can’t afford. In fact, the solution was free. It’s me on Rebelmouse.

Showcase pics and vids

You’ll notice at the top left there’s a new Rebelmouse follow  button. Please click it for The Full Chazz Experience. It’s free and ready for your unending delight. As for signing up to curate your own stuff, you can pay for premium services at Rebelmouse (starting at $9.99 a month). I opted for free now and may upgrade later. When you go to my page, it looks remarkably like a Pinterest board. The difference is, Rebelmouse pulls the feeds from the far reaches of my book and podcast empire (mmmkay, tiny kingdom) so you get the latest from the All That Chazz podcast, The Cool People Podcast, ChazzWrites.com, AllThatChazz.com, my primary Twitter feed (@rchazzchute), Facebook and Pinterest. I even added a few videos from YouTube, which, until now, most of my readers were unaware I even made. That’s the power of Rebelmouse.

Advantages for selling books

The move to Rebelmouse was especially important to me so I could show off the work and play I do with the Vine app. I make announcements about my books and podcasts on Vine amongst quick videos of our skinny pigs chattering and having fun as a six-second comedian. I wrote an instant ebook about Vine (Six Seconds, The Unauthorized Guide to How to Build Your Business with the Vine App). I wanted to draw more attention to the book and show the fun I was having with the app all in one place. Potential readers could see what I was so enthused about in Six Seconds and I could help them with the decision to buy my book and join up by showing them vines (that’s videos made on Vine). Traffic to AllThatChazz.com shot up since I joined Vine so there’s definitely value there (and the book’s just 99 cents on Amazon, by the way. Please and thank you.)

Pros

I’ve already noticed another increase in visitors since adding Rebelmouse. One easy curation page obviously makes it much easier for readers to consume my content. You can also share your offerings on Rebelmouse back to your networks. When visitors arrive to check out one offering, they can quickly check out what else is on display and get my flavor. That’s a funnel and funnels are valuable in building an audience and getting fans who buy all your books.

The front page on Rebelmouse even has further curation options. You can click on the tabs at the top so you only see the podcast page, books page or Pinterest page. (These pages were suggested by Rebelmouse based on the tags in my feed content.) Comparisons to Pinterest are obvious, except it’s a collage of the Magic that is You instead of a collage of the things you like. The beauty of this solution is an attractive page with everything in one place that’s easy to take in. When you click on the link, you’re whisked back to the original page. Not many authors are on Vine yet and very few are on Rebelmouse (I noticed Jane Friedman is there, for one). The time to get in early on these tech solutions and enhance your author platform is now.

Cons

I did have a glitch or two when I put the page up but I figured it out pretty quickly. Be careful about which feeds you authorize and be hesitant to hit the auto-update when it is offered. That got overwhelming when everything came in at once. I clicked on auto-update and then couldn’t figure out how to switch it back. I also changed the name of the page to my name (rather than confuse readers with another All That Chazz page.) That change messed up my first announcement link so eager readers got a “404, Page not found error” when they tried to follow. That fixed, I’d say most of Rebelmouse’s interface is fairly intuitive and I really like the page now.

There are certain posts I’d like to be sticky at the top, but that might be a premium feature in my future. The Pinterest look is effective, but if you never or rarely use pictures or video on your posts, it won’t work so well for readers. Like Vine, Rebelmouse is a visual medium first and text comes second. That’s fine. We’re visual creatures. Your future boyfriend or girlfriend across the dance floor might have a great sense of humour and a powerful intellect, but your first impression is eyes, hair, cheekbones, build and how well they fit in those jeans as they do the funky chicken.

Conclusions

Rebelmouse looks great for authors, photographers, musicians, graphic artists and anyone who wants a more social pitch site (compared to a pricier, upscale, hard sell, sales site like Crushpath). As we continue to search for new ways for authors to find readers (and help readers find us), Rebelmouse is one easy way. It’s the free solution I was looking for to create a magazine experience of all that I offer in one convenient page.

Book promotion and marketing is damn tough. It just got a little easier to curate ourselves in a happy way.

Filed under: author platform, book marketing, podcasts, Publicity & Promotion, publishing, rebelmouse, Vine, web reviews, What about Chazz?, What about you?, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What gets clicks

You could check your blog’s site stats and wring your hands over SEO keywords, but no one really wants to do that. The most fun thing about Aspire to Inspire eBook JPGblog stats is discovering the creepy search words people use to stumble upon your blog. (For me, it’s often “Cheryl Ladd”.) You could ask your readers what they like, but that probably won’t give you a representative sample with hard numbers. The easiest way to figure out what lights up your blog’s readers? Triberr.

Go to your  Tribal Stream page. At the top, click on “My Posts”. Naturally, you’ll see a list of your blog posts. Each post will show stats for Shares, Clicks, Comments, Up Votes and Reblogs. Go down the list and see which sorts of posts got the most clicks, shares and up votes. Those were the most successful posts.

If you’ve got enough of a track record, you’ve just defined your blog’s current niche. The sorts of posts that get the most shares and clicks on ChazzWrites.com include: book marketing and promotion advice; posts about the micro-publishing experience gone wrong; tech tools to assist writers and publishers. Stuff on writing and editing is popular, too. This tells me that I’m on target with the audience I shoot for here. Like you, I want to achieve two things with my blogs: I want to write what I’m passionate about and I want to be effective.

My posts about blogging better to reach more readers also do well, so this post just got meta. For more posts that smack you between the eyes and hit your brain’s  dopamine lever of happiness, check out the “Related Articles” below. They’re the most popular recent posts on Chazzwrites.com.

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

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

The power of short blog posts

To see me attacked by a dinosaur, please click the link below: 

Pack a punch with a shorter blog post

Filed under: blogs & blogging, Publicity & Promotion, Writers, writing tips, , ,

Sparkfest: The Blogfest Opportunity

Hello, ladies! How about some new spice in your life?

Look at your man.

Now look at me.

Look at your man.

Now back to me.

Me! Me! Me! Me! Me! Me!

Aren’t you just sick of me?

So here’s something cool that’s not me: Christine Tyler over at Writer Coaster is sponsoring a blogfest called Sparkfest.

Sparkfest sounds like a great way to express the Magic That is You and perhaps increase your blog following.

So let’s do it, shall we?

Have a great day. Or make it one.

Filed under: blogs & blogging, Publicity & Promotion, Writers, , , , , ,

Controversial blog posts, hate mail & puppies on fire

I write a column for a trade magazine. I get a lot of fan mail (he said modestly). I have a folder stocked with happy reader feedback so if I ever need talking in off the ledge, many kind subscribers’ letters to the editor might stop me from the jump to pavement lasagna. But,  of course, it’s the negative reviews you remember.  

What’s surprising about negative feedback is how surprising it is. Let me explain that obnoxious tautology: I’ve written columns I was certain would stick in somebody’s craw. I’m reasoned, but sometimes provocative and I do poke the odd sacred cow through the skull with a nail gun.

But it’s often the posts

I consider more bland which spark  readers’ ire most!

For instance, I wrote a humorous feature that detailed the uses of therapeutic laughter. The tone was light, though I did stir in an interview with a neurobiologist and instructive tips. Most people didn’t just like it. They loved it. We got a lot of really nice letters. It’s a special thing when people take the time to say good things about you. The spur to action usually skews the other way. Angry people write more letters than happy people do.)

As great as the response to the article was, from that same feature there was one letter from the reader who did not just like it. In fact, she loathed the piece (and me.) She objected to the jokes. It was clear she didn’t get the jokes. There are, perhaps, billions of people who don’t share my sense of humor. Not only can I not change that, I wouldn’t want to appeal to the humorless.

People who get all angsty and vituperative about your writing share a common trait. They act like the one thing you write is the sum and totality of your writing. It kind of amuses me (okay, it amuses me after some time passes) when people get bent out of shape from one thing I wrote. I write lots of stuff. Read it all and get really pissed, or realize that if you don’t care for something, there’s always the next page. There’s always something else to read.

Don’t say something you don’t believe just to be provocative. Satire is fine. Parody’s good. Be fun and playful. Be as funny as you like, but make time to be sincere when you’re making a serious point. Don’t pander.

People sometimes accuse Bill Maher of saying outrageous stuff just to get a reaction. Not true. One survey showed that Maher’s die hard fans only agreed with him 14% of the time! He’s funny, insightful and can be cranky. But he’s not a crank easily dismissed. He’s thinking and doesn’t fall to one side of all issues all of the time.

This is counterintuitive to how many people act as they write their (unread) blog pasts. People often think that only people who agree with them will like them. If you’re funny and interesting and reasoned, thinking people will listen. Your blog’s grasp can go beyond the reach of your mom.

When I read blog posts I dislike, I rarely comment on something with which I disagree unless I know the people involved or think it will make a difference. I won’t be phoning Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck to try to disagree with him on air, for instance. People don’t listen to Rush to get ideas. They listen to confirm their own fears and prejudices. Echo chambers aren’t designed for more than one loud voice. Life’s too short to pursue debates with people who will never change their minds no matter what. (And I won’t change my mind on that.)

“Pearls before swine,” as Jesus said.

(Note to Mr. Beck: Jesus is an important guy in the bible whose words are written in red so they are easy to find. Like you, he talks about economics a lot, too. You appear unaware of the things Jesus said. Take a look.)

Real world example: Today a friend linked to a post so I checked it out. I found it utterly vile. The essay was an extreme so-serious-I-hope-it’s-parody, divisive, lying hit piece that underestimated both liberal and conservative thought. I didn’t comment on the post itself because I’m not giving that hateful essayist the satisfaction. Instead I left a comment on the original Facebook link to let my friend know I thought his link choice was disturbing.

To be fair to him, his intent puzzled me. I’m really not sure if he linked to it as an example of a good thing or a bad thing. Whatever his opinion on that issue, he’s still a great guy and a great friend and I’m not writing him off if he shares those (crazy) views. He no doubt has a lot of other views I agree with and I know he is an admirable, heroic fellow. (And no, I don’t know if he reads this blog or not since he’s not in publishing.)

Mental note:

Don’t provide links to hate-filled sites.  

Debate and dialogue of substance? Okay. 

Stupid shit? No time.

The take away? Don’t let negative feedback throw you. If what you write is so bland it never offends anyone, it often isn’t worth writing. There’s nothing new and interesting about your blog posts if every one of them is the equivalent of a basket of puppies. If you’re going to keep readers, you’re going to have to be compelling, informative or at least engaging. Don’t tell me about the weather. Say something you believe. Make me laugh. Make me spew my coffee over the screen. Set a basket of puppies on fire once in a while.

Case in point: You might expect conservative readers to object to me condescending to Glenn Beck. Perhaps defenders of the mentally unstable will chime in on that score, too. You might expect liberal readers to object to any mention of Rush or Beck since they already get too much attention everywhere. Maybe you think people will get angry about the notion of setting fire to a basket of puppies.

Personally? Since a basket of puppies set afire is an obvious joke in terrible taste, I’m betting someone will object to the reference to a nail gun through a cow’s skull. Vegans are fascists worse than Hitler. (Kidding! Kidding!)

As Bill Maher says, “I kid! I kid because I love!” 

Heh. 

Filed under: blogs & blogging, Intentionally Hilarious, Rant, Rejection, reviews, Writers, writing tips, , , , , , , ,

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

The first 81 lessons to get your Buffy on

More lessons to help you survive Armageddon

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

Available now!

Fast-paced terror, new threats, more twists.

An autistic boy versus our world in free fall

Suspense to melt your face and play with your brain.

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

Jesus: Sexier and even more addicted to love.

Write to live

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

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 10,507 other followers

Brain Spasms a la Twitter

%d bloggers like this: