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

Write and publish with love and fury.

Why I unpublished from Amazon (it’s about sales pages, not Hachette)

This isn’t a story about getting away from Amazon. It’s about sales page management, and you need to be aware, sales pages are not something you can just “set and forget.” You have to keep an eye on them for glitches. A glitch just happened to me.

Today, I had a shock.

In the middle of my book launch for This Plague of Days, Season 3 and the TPOD Omnibus Edition, the Omnibus suddenly wasn’t on my Amazon sales page anymore! I checked and that’s the only reason I knew it had disappeared.

Gone! Oh, no! Not now!

I refreshed the page and knocked back a vodka.

Still gone!

I cursed my fate and invoked Thor’s intervention.

Still nothing. Dammit, Thor!

Naturally, after those early strategies failed, I contacted Amazon. They said they’d get back to me within 24 hours. If this had been my first rodeo, I would have pooped kittens. However, they generally get back faster than that and, in this case, I had the fastest response I’ve ever had.

The email assured me there was a “slight glitch” that deleted the book from my sales page. Maybe a slight glitch to them, but I just launched! My interviews are appearing across various blogs promoting my latest books. It was a big deal to me. The email further assured me that the problem would be corrected within “one to three days.”

One to three days?

Vomit.

No, not really. Like I said, this ain’t my first time on a horse. Those emails always allow a long time for their fixes, but the Amazonian techs have, invariably, acted much faster than that. And so it was. This Plague of Days, Omnibus Edition featuring the complete three seasons of the apocalyptic saga with the autistic protagonist trying to save the world? We’re back, baby!

They fixed it within a couple of hours. I have it on good authority other sales platforms don’t swoop in to fix problems nearly so quickly.

Check your pages and make sure all your books are there from time to time.

Further thoughts on sales pages and serialization

After I brought out Season 3 in my series, I had a problem. The sales page looked cluttered and my work is not displayed in the order I’d prefer for greatest sales advantage. What to do? I skipped calling on Thor since he doesn’t show up unless I dress up as a hot chick. (I’m still carrying some winter weight and can’t sell the hotpants.) I sent another email to Amazon:

Could I, perhaps, edit my sales page to make it less cluttered and show my wares to greatest advantage? 

The reply was, for now, a polite no. My Amazon contact did agree that mine was actually a good idea and they would pass the suggestion up the line. Currently, the order of book display is based on sales figures. Self-help for Stoners has been on sale longest, so it’s up top. That’s not the problem. Serial episodes are. 

My Serialization Problem. 

Season One of This Plague of Days was released as one book, but also as five episodes (and each episode’s price was 99 cents.) My Season One episodes sat there, clogging the page and confusing customers. 

I came up with a solution that fit my longer game plan.

I unpublished the five episodes from the first book and set the price for Season One at just 99 cents.

This presents several advantages:

1. At 99 cents, Season One is a low barrier to entry into the series.

2. It gives readers a break on price. 

3. It promotes my visibility and my other books. Sales are up, author rank is up.

4. It avoids (I hope) angry reviews from people mistakenly purchasing Episode IV and V at 99 cents each when they could have had all of Season One (which contains all five episodes) for one incredibly low price. It’s couch change, yes, but some reviewers go nuclear over such things and outrage is rarely expressed with a sense of proportionality. Angry? Burn down somebody’s house! Mildly annoyed? Burn down somebody’s house! See what I mean?

A note about the trouble with serialization.

Serialization certainly has its advantages and helped Season One  and Season Two get more attention. However, no matter how much you might explain it and lay it out in the descriptions and vary the cover art, some readers seem determined to confuse Seasons and Episodes despite a lifetime of watching television. Quick to click, I guess.

I’m very sensitive to criticism (so yes, wow! I know! I am in the wrong business!) Anyway, the last thing I want is for readers to be confused or feel ripped off. That’s another reason Season Three is one huge book instead of broken into episodes. Serialization put me on the map, but the Law of Diminishing Returns has kicked in.

I still have episodes of Season Two on Amazon obstructing the view on my sales page. It is, as it has always been, cheaper to buy the season than to buy the episodes. I can’t let it go at 99 cents, though, so those episodes are going to stay up for a long time. Until Amazon changes its policy and allows me to control title placement, they stay and Season Two is priced as low as I will make it. When I do get control, the eps will go to the back of the sales page. I could just unpublish them, but I don’t want to leave the few who just bought Season 2, Episode III in the lurch.

How long is long enough to wait for those readers to catch up and complete their S2 episode purchases? A year? Two? I don’t know.

~ The TPOD book launch bargains continue.

 

Tell me when you discovered the secret of the TPOD Omnibus and I’ll send you my next thriller as an ebook. Details here.

Filed under: author platform, Books, free ebooks, self-publishing, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

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

Life & book marketing update shouted from a speeding car

Happy Sunday. Things are moving somewhat quickly as I start making transitions to writing full-time. I have a marketing plan: It’s important to be prolific. I believe in being available across as many e-platforms as possible (and zero DRM). Having just one ebook up won’t cut it. Being prolific allows cross-promotion (e.g. You like this? Then you might like to buy that, too!)

Over the coming months I’ll be offering individual short stories (at 0.99 each), a collection of short stories ($1.99 or 2.99, haven’t decided yet), a novella ($1.99) and another collection of short stories with a quirky hook I can market effectively ($2.99). At some point I’ll package the aforementioned individual stories—there are six—in another book (conveniently priced at $2.99 probably.)

There are several full-length novels that are written and need revision before they’re ready to be swallowed by the masses, but most of them are for next year.

A few things about the slingshot launches:

1. I’m doing a soft launch until I have a bunch of ebooks available. Then I’ll be carpet bombing (more details to come in another post on what that means.)

2. I will be launching another website in addition to this one. Chazz Writes is all about writing craft and publishing and I intend to continue. However, I have broader plans for the new website that will expand my mandate and goals. I’ll be talking about a lot of different things on the new site.

3. And I do mean talking. I’ll be incorporating video and podcasts. Fancy plans with pants to match. More on that closer to the new website launch.

4. I want to do  a hard launch of the first novel in my line, but I’m not sure if I can pull it together for Christmas. There are more than the usual variables. For instance, I need to get permissions to use the names of a major Hollywood star and a major porn star. (Yes, I’m familiar with the rules of fair use—and both characters as they appear in the novel are adored by the hero. However, this isn’t a fair use issue. It’s a Smashwords rule issue.)

5. I’m not in the least interested this year in printing books with which to assail bookstores. It’s a lot of work for less reward. It’s an exciting venture I do not, at present, have time to pursue. (And yes, I’ve looked at the numbers.)

6. However, I will need printed Advance Reading Copies (ARCs) for promotional purposes when the hard launch takes off. I’ll be using CreateSpace to print a few sample copies since there is no punishing fee for each revision. For bigger print runs, once the formatting is solidified, I’ll switch to Lightning Source.

If you’re wondering how I’ll get it all done, sometimes I wonder, too. Then I remember that I’m severely underemployed. (Except for the soul-crushing poverty, it’s a fantastic advantage and a real time saver.)

There’s more to the book marketing and promotion plan and I’ll share it with you as soon as I can. In the meantime, back to my editing suite in the batcave beneath the bunker under the Chuck E. Cheese.

Thanks to my buddies Jeff Bennington, author of Reunion, and author Rebecca Senese (look her up, she’s a fountain of short stories), for clarifying my strategy on the issues in #6. Both these lovely people have guest blogged here. You’ll remember Rebecca did a great job summarizing the workings of Smashwords and Jeff compared CreateSpace with Lightning Source. (If you don’t remember their posts, search this site in the search box top right. Sorry! I’d link it for you but I’m in a huge hurry just this minute. I bet you can guess why when you see this tiny portion of my to-do list.)

Jeff tells me he will do me the honour of another guest blog soon. I think the discussion will be about book promotion and what he found effective for his massive push for Reunion

Filed under: authors, blogs & blogging, Books, DIY, e-reader, ebooks, getting it done, Publicity & Promotion, publishing, What about Chazz?, Writers, , , , , , , , , ,

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

The first 81 lessons to get your Buffy on

More lessons to help you survive Armageddon

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

Available now!

Fast-paced terror, new threats, more twists.

An autistic boy versus our world in free fall

Suspense to melt your face and play with your brain.

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

Jesus: Sexier and even more addicted to love.

You can pick this ebook up for free today at this link: http://bit.ly/TheNightMan

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

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