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

Write and publish with love and fury.

BOOM, baby! Bigger Than Jesus has arrived in handy, dead tree form!

The paperback has arrived. For $9.99. Did you hear that? Distant thunder of the Book Gods mumbling to each other. Oooh, shivers!

 

The witty “wickedly real and violently funny” foundation book of The Hit Man Series has arrived. So happy.

Next up: Higher Than Jesus

 

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

Mad as Hell! Huge Problem with the Book Pricing Options!

Via Scoop.itWriting and reading fiction
We’re always talking about self-publishing ebooks here, but what about paper books published independently. At WDLady’s The Nightmare Never Ends blog, she details her trials in dealing with CreateSpace and paperbook pricing. Check this link for more (and some cool illustrative cartoons.) ~ Chazz    

This is me calling the Createspace Support Representative about my book pricing options…This is me finding out that I’m going to be making -$2.13 for a book that’s $4.99…

Via wdlady.wordpress.com

Filed under: publishing, self-publishing, Useful writing links, Writers, , , , , ,

Review: The highs and lows of a book promotion campaign. What works?

Suspense, parables, inspiration, surprise.

Last week I wrote about my campaign to drag Self-help for Stoners into the world’s consciousness. If you’re new to the blog, long story short: I wrote a book of suspenseful fiction with a self-help twist dedicated to director Kevin Smith. When I had the honour of handing the book to my DIY hero at a comedy event simulcast to theatres across the US and Canada, I felt I had to take advantage of this unique opportunity. I tried an experiment with a press release distribution service called PR Web. For more on that review of the troubles I had getting the press release accepted for wide distribution, check out the original post here. 

Soon after the press release went into wide distribution, I got a small increase in traffic, but not, it seemed, in the way I’d hoped. 

The Dangerous Kind

Murder might solve your problems. Two brothers go hunting. Only one will see home again.

A fellow on Google+ was complimentary to me (I have balls!) but thought the money ($240) was wasted. He wasn’t being unkind…at least I don’t think he meant to be. He just thought there were better uses of my time and newer, more innovative ways to spread the word about my book’s existence. I’m always interested in learning more and I’m particularly interested when people have ideas about what to do instead of what not to do. (More on that in another post after I conduct more field research.)

Imagine my chagrin when I read a post by Dead Wesley Smith who decreed that spending money on book promotion is a waste of time and money until you have 50 books for sale. That’s right. Fifty! I double-checked to make sure it wasn’t the cloying cloud of depression and stress headaches obscuring my vision misleading me. Kurt Vonnegut only wrote fourteen novels in his lifetime. If Dean Wesley Smith is right, is there any place for book promotion for most of us? Maybe I struck the iron too early, but given the scope of the simulcast, my press release appeared to be a now-or-never opportunity.

My speed of production isn’t near as quick as Dean Wesley Smith, but how many of us can write (good) books that fast? Maybe I should write faster, but even at once every three months, I wouldn’t be gambling a promotional penny to let the world know I exist until 2024. Will I even live long enough to ever have to bother with book promotion at that rate? Hm. That would be a great solution except for  the part about me being dead. I do agree with Dean on one point thoroughly and I’ve said it many times myself: your best book promotion idea is to get to work on the next book and I’m certainly doing that. I’ll be coming out with three books this year (so that’s one every four months, though I confess that two and half are already written and I’m mostly in the revision stage.) I’m not as skilled as Dean Wesley Smith because I’m not up to the pace he’s setting. I honestly wouldn’t have confidence in the end product if I pushed that fast. No worries or apologies on that score. We’re all just doing the best we can. (For more on what indie production actually costs, check out Dean Wesley Smith’s post here.)

But what you’re wondering is, what did the PR Web press release actually do and could that work for your book? It’s too early to tell, so once again, my results are

Don't argue over parking spots with strangers. Or else.

preliminary. The cycle of Google analytics is 28 days long, and what follows is just the first week of results. (However, isn’t it already old news now that the event is over a week stale?) I can tell you that PR Web’s marketing guy sounded very pleased. He phoned me yesterday morning to say that I’d worked the SEO right (five links maximum was how it worked out with my word count) and he said the response to the press release was “great.”

“How do I quantify ‘great’?” I asked. I’m sure I whacked him with a heavy note of skepticism but he seemed no less bouncy at my glorious prospects. He told me how to get the analytics for the press release. Apparently, the number of people who read the release, liked the headline and read to the end of the article was impressive, perhaps even unusual. Nice, though I wish I liked the press release more. (For more on that, once again, refer to the original post.)

8,027 media deliveries boiled down to 49 “interactions” (where a link was clicked or a pdf was downloaded) and eight “pickups”. The report contains a sample of Web sites that picked up or syndicated my story. It’s apparently not the full list, but media outlets included: Hollywood Industry, Mac DVD Pro, Digital Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, Corporate Media News, Yahoo! News, and Consumer Electronics Net.

But these aren’t the numbers you really want to know. Has this press release helped sales? Sadly, not much so far that is measurable. I saw a bit of a bounce up on my Amazon sales, but that settled quickly. And the truth is, since I’m doing several other things, I could easily attribute that blip to the success of other marketing tactics. But before I draw conclusions in this review, see if you can follow the roller coaster of author thrust and bureaucratic parry that has brought me to my sad current state.

Here are the highs and lows and forays

of my marketing campaign for Self-help for Stoners:

High: I sent out several press releases about meeting Kevin Smith to CBC shows and to my local paper. These forays cost me nothing.

Low: CBC didn’t call back. The local columnist who showed enthusiasm seems to have lost my number. Or he’s sick and not at work. Gee, I hope he’s sick.

What if God gives you what you want? What if you win an argument against God?

High: Kevin Smith has a cult and for a shining moment I was in front of them. I paid $200 for a one-minute ad to run on Smith’s Smodcast network the day he got back on the mic. I figured since he hadn’t been on the mic for such a long time, the first day he got back on the show would have high ratings and many downloads. And maybe they’d remember said shining moment from the broadcast of the Live from Behind Show in Toronto.

Low: The ad didn’t run on schedule. There was a communication breakdown. Despite my best efforts at keeping in touch with the ad guy at Smod, it didn’t happen. It’s supposed to run today (February 14th on Smodcast Internet Radio. I’m sacrificing a goat to Thor, hoping it happens this time. Don’t worry about the goat. He’s suicidal.)

High: I did two podcasts about my Kevin Smith experience, before and after. They’ve been well-received by those who have heard them. “One and a quarter hours of narrative gold,” said one, Thor bless him. Bliss. (See all the podcasts here.)

Low: Though they may catch on in the long term, not many people have actually heard them! I screwed up the metadata so, on Stitcher, the first words that show up in the tiny window that give the podcast summary are not Chazz Meets Kevin Smith and Jay Mewes. Instead it reads: Show notes and podcast details… That won’t get anybody new to check out my filthy jokes and stream of consciousness trips in order to find me utterly delightful and worthy of their love and bucks.

Twisty and twisted. Click the pic for more.

High: I thought KDP Select might be my salvation to really get things going. Amazon told me all I’d have to do was tell Bookbaby to withdraw from all other platforms to meet the exclusivity caveat. Any other action might risk duplication on Amazon’s site.

Low: BookBaby disagrees. I got a nice email (eventually—BookBaby seems awfully slow to respond to me of late) saying that they would have to withdraw the books from all channels, it would be permanent, and I’d have to enter my books into KDP Select myself. With no confidence in how long that might take, I don’t want to risk not having any books for sale anywhere, especially with all the promotion work I’ve done. I replied to BookBaby that rather than risk a screw up and no availability of my books for an indeterminate amount of time, I’d keep my books where they were through BookBaby and just get the new books straight into KDP Select without them next time. That’s a loss all around, I’d say, but I’m the one who will feel it most.

There are a lot of tragic starts and stops to this tale, aren’t there?

The word “thwarted” is pushing into the centre of my brain like the capricious thumb of an angry god.

High: I tried to organize a Buy X Get Y promotion for my book on Amazon.

Low: Amazon Advantage said they couldn’t do it because fulfilment for my paperback is through CreateSpace, which is POD and they’d need stock on hand. After a light scolding, they told me to go to CreateSpace for a similar promotion program.

Asia_Unbound

Are we ever free from our secrets? Find out here.

Lower: CreateSpace said they’d call back. Then they sent me an email instead saying they have no idea what Amazon is talking about. (Note that CreateSpace is owned by Amazon, too, but never the twain shall meet, I guess, even if the plan would have made a buttload of money.) Once again, Chazz hurts moms. So much so, he begins to write about himself in the third person. With loathing,

Lowest: As I write this, I’m feeling a bit emotional and teary. The sum of the message so far is: Nobody knows me, I don’t matter and as good as the book is, it still doesn’t matter if I can’t convince anyone to try it out. And a fresh pile of bills arrived yesterday. There isn’t an author on earth who hasn’t felt this way, yet the lash feels equally new for every person every time.

Clawing and climbing out of the mire: So there are a few things I am doing which I’m more positive about. Writing and revising the new stuff is going well. (Three new novels this year! Whoo, and also hoo!) The Writing World will run an interview with me in early March. My friend Eden Baylee will also run a saucy little interview with me soon. I’ve sent out a couple more copies for book reviewers and will continue to seek out reviewers for all my books. The Self-help for Stoners podcast continues weekly and I had a clip broadcast on Succotash, a popular comedy clip show. I think I’ll have an excerpt from Self-help appear on the next The Word Count Podcast, in support of #IndiesUnite4Joshua (fun and a great cause.) I’m also getting quite a few nice mentions on other podcasts, like Logical Weightloss and The School of Podcasting.

But wait, Chazz! How do you account for that blip where sales came up a bit? It could be my promise on my podcast to gain converts individually by tying each new reader up and torturing them with sexual delights to gain converts. It could be that some new people I met lately have checked out my books or some found me through the Kevin Smith event when I was on

Get Vengeance and get surprised.

camera. Maybe the press release had some effect, but I tend to doubt it, at least until more evidence arrives through Google analytics.

So what have we learned about promoting our books? So far? We need more data.

I’d say I’ve learned this much:

1. Triberr has helped me get more new traffic to my blogs than anything else. I can see that clearly in my stats and my Twitter feed.

2. I have to find more innovative ways to get the word out. I’m working on that. (More later.)

3. I have to get more reviews. I have had excellent feedback on much of my work, but even when people are enthused, it doesn’t necessarily translate to reviews. I am soliciting reviews as my writing schedule allows.

4. I have to remember how much I believe in my books, because in the beginning, no matter who you are and no matter your experience, you’re just another schmo until you’re discovered. After you’ve made it, you’re a genius. Until then? Schmo. The writing awards and all the experience don’t matter. Yet.

Most important?

Did I mention I have more books coming out?

That will be what counts more than anything.

I have to provide a larger target for my readership to find me. 

My people are out there. I will find them. They will find me.

UPDATE: In keeping with the theme of getting thwarted, the Smashwords website is down at the moment, so the links from the short story covers are directed back to the author site until Smashwords is back up. The links in the The Dangerous Kind, Self-help for Stoners and Sex, Death & Mind Control (for fun & profit) covers work fine. You can still get everything I write across most digital book platforms, of course, (i.e. search Kobo and there they are) but as long as Smashwords is down, you can’t grab the short stories directly from that site. I will update as soon as the Smashwords server is back up. It’s all very…consistent with today’s theme, isn’t it?

LATEST UPDATE: SMASHWORDS IS NOW BACK ONLINE AND THE SHORT STORY COVERS NOW LINK BACK TO THAT SITE. Find out more about these short stories here.

~ Robert Chazz Chute is the author of Sex, Death & Mind Control (for fun and profit), the novella The Dangerous Kind, Self-help for Stoners and several suspenseful short stories with gut-punch endings, available at Smashwords. He’s in suspense, figuratively and literally and his comedy podcast, Self-help for Stoners, airs each Friday on Stitcher and iTunes. Visit the author site, AllThatChazz.com,  for updates on Chazz’s fiction and to download the podcast.

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Filed under: Publicity & Promotion, publishing, Rejection, reviews, web reviews, What about Chazz?, What about you?, Writers, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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, , , , , , , , , ,

Createspace or Lightning Source: Pros & cons breakdown

Jeff_Bennington

Jeff Bennington

I’m trying to decide what company to go with to get my novel out. Smashwords grinds manuscripts into all e-book formats, of course, but what about the paper book issue? Createspace or Lightning Source? I recently asked some authors about their experience with companies that facilitate self-publishers. Some were satisfied with Createspace and others were fine with Lightning Source. Jeff Bennington, author of a paranormal thriller, Reunion as well as the blog The Writing Bomb,  hit me with a great, detailed reply. He has experience with both Createspace and Lightning Source. Rather than pushing me one way or another, he laid out the pros and cons as he sees it from his experience.

“Dude!” I said (because in my mind I’m still seventeen and it’s the ’80s.)  “This isn’t a mere reply to my question. This, sir, is a blog post. How about it?” He graciously said yes.  Here’s his breakdown:

Cons


At Lightning Source, starting an account is a bit cumbersome (much more paperwork than Createspace.) Once the paperwork was complete I had to get my cover just right, but Joleene Naylor, an independent cover artist, helped me do that with ease.
However, I’m not as happy with Lightning Source’s ink/cover quality as I am with Createspace. Lightning Source’s paper is much thinner than Createspace. (Same number of pages and Lightning Source is at least 1/4″ thinner. Very strange.)
The initial work to get a proof copy is somewhat exhausting and cost $39 (overnight, mandatory) for a proof every time!
I can get five proofs for $50 (overnight, not mandatory with Createspace).
I’ll use Createspace the next time if I discover that print copies just aren’t the thing for my books. I used them this time to get advanced reading copies (ARCs) out early. Createspace was fast and easy to work with but I was very limited on the back cover and spine art.
Expect 1 to 2 days for email return. But if you call..they answer.

Pros


The number one reason to use Lightning Source is the distribution: return availability and full industry discount (45-55%). That was enough for me because very few publishers for indies do that and if they say, as Createspace does, that they have full distribution, you better make doubly sure that the wholesale discount is 45+ and that you can have a return policy. Createspace  never told me that. I asked and they said, “We don’t make that decision.” I say “Bull^%$#!” Of course they do. They are the publisher.
With Lightning Source, you are definitely the publisher. I like that.
If you have a newer mac formatting is easy. Lightning Source will upload your sized PDF with no worries.
Once the book was uploaded and passed the tests, things moved rather quickly. Give yourself 2 months to get your account in process and book uploadedReunion
The best thing is you are assigned a customer rep—a real and a very nice and helpful person. My rep at Lightning Source is Carol Egan. She is wonderful!

Overall, I’m happy so far. I mostly want my print version to be available to local stores for signings (if I have one) and a lot of my friends and family want to buy it at a store. I can’t do that with most other self-pub outlets. Lightning Source is the real thing. Great for a small press…like me!

 

Right about now you’re bubbling over with gratitude for Jeff”s insights. Act on it and check out his book. Reunion just launched and the reviews on Amazon are very good. Plus, you need to own it for research purposes. (See what you think of the binding etc.,…) Buy Reunion.

 

Filed under: author Q&A, authors, Books, DIY, ebooks, publishing, 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.

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

See my books, blogs, links and podcasts.

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