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

Write and publish with love and fury.

How Weird Al, Kevin Smith, Hugh Howey and Scott Sigler Succeed

The mind virus is created. Spread the infection.

The mind virus is created. Spread the infection.

Price alone doesn’t get attention anymore. Being an author isn’t so special. To really stand out and sell more books,  you’re going to have to be you. 

We in the brain tickle business have never had so much freedom and opportunity  to talk directly to readers. We’ve also never been so invisible. The essence of our book marketing problem is that readers are flooded with noise but our signal isn’t getting through. A plethora of fractured choices leaves us catering to smaller niches. The world has exploded with feasts for the senses and books are not central to our cultural dining experience.

How do we help readers find us? 

To figure out how to better reach our niches, let’s look at artists who successfully engage their fans: Hugh Howey, Scott Sigler, Weird Al Yankovic and Kevin Smith.

Be famous for something else first.

When director Kevin Smith’s Clerks hit, that movie was his introduction to his niche. He has described the film as as a handshake to America that said, “Hi, How are you? I’m Kevin Smith!” Being famous first isn’t  helpful advice, but it’s so obvious, I had to get this one out of the way first.

Pioneer something new.

When Kevin Smith jumped on the podcast bandwagon, there weren’t many musicians in that band or on that wagon. He’s always up for something new or a twist on something old. He abandoned the big studio promotion model to take his movie, Red State, on tour to his fans. Now he’s taking his Super Groovy Cartoon Movie on the road.

The same willingness to adapt applies to Scott Sigler. When his manuscripts weren’t selling to publishers, he sat in his closet and recorded his books as podcasts. When he went back to the publishers, it was still so early in the game, the publishers replied, “What’s a podcast?” But Sigler’s readers found him through audio and ended up buying his work in digital and paper.

Think it’s too late to get into something new? Podcasting is still new. You probably write a blog, but there are millions of blogs vying for attention. There are only a few hundred thousand podcasts.

POD Chazz 2I have two podcasts and I sell the most books where my podcast is most popular. Also, I’m connecting with cool people on Vine. I don’t know what the next big thing will be, but I’m open to jumping into anything early if it makes sense to test it. Just don’t wait until the new social media platform makes sense to everyone.

Embrace Different and get noticed.

Hugh Howey has taken a contrarian approach to fan fiction. He’s embracing it. Instead of guarding the realm of Wool, he’s invited others to play in his sandbox. That one move has already gained him new fans and more publicity. The fact that Amazon decided to promote fan fic makes me think he’s on to something. (And before we get snotty about it, don’t forget fan fic is where the Fifty Shades of Gray‘s success sprang from.)

Kevin Smith just pressed a new album for his cult of rabid fans. That’s right. As in vinyl. They’ll buy it, too. They love him.

Scott Sigler appeared on The Joe Rogan Experience recently. Lots of fiction authors (like me!) would love to get on that show. He got there because he’s interesting, does tons of research for his books and he’s technologically innovative. Couldn’t happen to a smarter guy.

Meanwhile, Weird Al expanded his empire into our territory. He’s written a children’s book. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

Build a body of work.

After his many movies, Smith has a plethora of podcasts he’s begun, sponsored, abandoned and continued. His motto is, “Monetize.” He monetized conversation and found a way to keep his connection with his fan base between movies. Before podcasts, his ongoing conversation with fans happened through Twitter. Before that, his was one of the first message boards on the Internet. Keep up with innovation.

Weird Al has made music parodies for decades now (and weirdly, he does not appear to be aging.) It might surprise you to discover that half his songs are originals, not parodies of popular music. His fans know every lyric of his extensive musical inventory, though. Weird Al puts on an amazing show and, though many love him as a comedian, he doesn’t get the respect he deserves as a musician. He and his band have incredible range. They have to be great to convincingly parody so many artists of different styles. Keeping up with the music and being brilliant explain his staying power. His fan base renews so parents and their children have grown up loving Al. He didn’t get that status by being a one-hit wonder.

A bigger inventory is key to successful book marketing. Like I said repeatedly in Crack the Indie Author Code, your one sure, long-term strategy is to write plenty of good books. By occupying more digital real estate (like “Also boughts”), we send up a bigger flare to help readers find us.

The more shots you take, the more chances you have to hit. Once one book hits, all your sales rise. Do not bet it all on one spin of the wheel.

Be available.

Cool+People+Podcast+FinalQuite often you will read complaints about social media, particularly from authors. How many more blog posts will bleat, “But I just want to concentrate on writing my book…”? That’s not social media’s problem. That’s your time management problem. Figure it out and do what you enjoy when you can. (For instance, Vine’s a blast, it goes to my Facebook and Twitter, and it takes six seconds.)

Don’t complain about social media. Complaining about having to talk to readers makes you sound like someone potential fans don’t want to know, love and support. Whining doesn’t make you a diva or an auteur. It makes you a pain in the ass. 

Hugh Howey bubbles over with success, but he’s definitely not churlish. He’s friendly and nice. When I asked him about appearing on the Cool People Podcast, he got back to me right away even though he was on the road. (I’m interviewing him for the show next week! Can’t wait! If you have questions you want me to ask him, submit them to expartepress [AT] gmail [DOT] com.) 

Be available where readers congregate.

Smith and Weird Al tour. Scott Sigler is as close as your earbuds for free and when I sent him a tweet, he got back to me. Hugh Howey’s YouTube channel is plenty busy. If you aren’t talking where people are, you’re either praying or talking to yourself. Whether it’s social media or speaking events, go meet new people.

But it’s not just about sending signals out.

You don’t get much love hiding in a hole. To  engage people, be responsive when you can. For instance, Weird Al found himself waiting for a plane. He tweeted a phone number. “Anybody want to chat? I’ve got five minutes to boarding.” All his fans who couldn’t get through undoubtedly appreciated the gesture. It speaks to the sort of person he is (i.e. someone you want to know, love and support.)

When I met Kevin Smith, he couldn’t have been nicer to me. (Same with comedian Mike Schmidt, who has the same knack for remembering the name of everyone he meets and putting them at ease.)

Here’s the key: Be nice and listen to what they’re saying.

When you’re talking to someone, speak to that person as if, for that moment, he or she is the only person in the world. It sounds easy, which is why it’s so crazy more people don’t do it. (I’m confident divulging this open secret because, if you aren’t already genuinely nice, you won’t be able to fake it.)  Also, successful authors are always interesting, intelligent people with diverse interests. To be interesting, be interested in your world and in others.

Social media isn’t working for everyone.  

Episode 3 launches today! If you've been holding back on jumping in, now's the time!

Episode 3 launches today! If you’ve been holding back on jumping in, now’s the time!

Maybe that’s because we aren’t loveable, helpful or engaged enough. I’m not saying you have to engage “everyone”. That way madness lies. Besides, the writing has to come first and getting everyone on board isn’t the point. The point is to engage with people who get you and your work. I don’t need millions of readers who can take me or leave me. I need a few thousand die-hard cultists who call themselves an army, build fan clubs, buy books, leave happy reviews and don’t hate. That seems achievable. At least it’s easier than attempting to appeal to everyone (which too many people try to do.)

To the naysayers, I ask, “If social media is a lost cause, what is the alternative? Smoke signals?”

And are you being Weird Al enough?

~ I’m Robert Chazz Chute. I’ve written the Hit Man Series, writing and publishing guides and most recently, This Plague of Days. TPOD is about a flu pandemic that turns into a zombie apocalypse as seen through the eyes of an autistic boy. It’s a serial, so you can gamble 99 cents on Episode One and buy the episodes a bit at a time, or grab the discount and get all of Season One for just $3.99. And by the way, when I’m nice to you, I’m not faking it. I only fake orgasms. In supermarkets.

Filed under: All That Chazz, audiobooks, author platform, book marketing, podcasts, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

UBC #23: Loves & hates & the Fab Blog Award

Future Pull awarded me a Fabulous Blog Award. Cool! Thanks so much! Part of the deal is I thank the blogger who gave me the award. (Ding! Done!) Then I  a. name five fabulous moments; b. name five things I love; c. name five things I hate; d. pass the award on to five other deserving bloggers.

Fab moments. The first three, you’d expect:

Click it to get it.

Click for Self-help for Stoners.

1. Marrying She Who Must Be Obeyed AKA The High Queen.

2. The birth of The Princess.

3. The birth of the Prince.

4. Healing a woman confined to a wheelchair for 12 years. She’s still walking, driving, travelling and living independently.

5. Meeting director Kevin Smith and giving him an autographed copy of my first book, Self-help for Stoners.

Loves in no particular order:

1. Celebrating with chocolate croissants when I finished my first crime thriller, Bigger Than Jesus. It was an orgy.

2. A good book  and me by the fireplace during a snowstorm.

3. Hot, sweet coffee.

4. My Mac.

5. See 1, 2 and 3 of Fab Moments above.

Click to get Bigger Than Jesus here

Hates:

1. Power-mad twits.

2. Hateful twits.

3. Bigoted twits.

4. Right-wing radio (That’s pretty much 1, 2, 3.)

5. I guess it really all comes down to twits.

Bloggers (tough one):

1. Writing is Hard Work  Helped me in my struggles with Scrivener.

2. Let’s Get Digital  David keeps me informed on the latest in digital publishing. Smart fellow.

3. Eden Baylee’s Blog She’s an erotic writer who writes erotica (and that was a really fun author interview).

4. Matthew Iden He’s been especially helpful on keeping me current on the new Kobo platform.

5. FUONLYKNEW Cool reviews. (Love the animated graphic on her blog, too.)

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

Author Blog Challenge Writing Prompt: Describe how the idea for your book first came to you

English: The entertitle of Buffy made on Paint.

English: The entertitle of Buffy made on Paint. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My books come to me in different ways:

With Self-help for Stoners, I saw that I could fit stories of suspense into a framework of a self-help book made of fiction. When Director Kevin Smith inspired me to quit my day job and pursue my writing dreams, I realized that I could put together a fun, genre-bending bathroom book that would defy expectations. It came together quickly as a wild mix of the unexpected melded with observations, parables and exhortations (to get off the couch.) It’s a book that’s very different but somehow familiar. The feedback has been great, though I’m often surprised when people debate, is this pro-drug or anti-drug? I tell them it’s neither. It’s suspense that asks you to draw conclusions about your compulsions. It’s pro-freedom and freedom of speech. Yes, it’s important to have a label so people can find you and your book, but in this case, pigeon holes are for pigeons. It was quite a thrill for me to hand Kevin Smith his own autographed copy of the book and he was happy about it, too.

Sex, Death & Mind Control is the book that came so slowly, it’s appropriate to use the word evolution. I wrote short stories over several years before attempting longer fiction. Two award winners are included in this collection and it’s suspense that can be creepy and surprising. I don’t care for gore and it’s not at all pornographic, but sex and death are outcomes of the key factor through all the stories: various forms of mind control (magic, persuasion, mind games, coercion, trickery and self-delusion) form the book’s theme.

I’m fascinated by mind control. When powerful forces use it on us, we are in danger.

When we gain control of our minds, we will win.

The Dangerous Kind is closest to my heart. It’s a novella about escape. The place it is set (Poeticule Bay, Maine) is fictional, but the setting draws on places I lived when I was a kid and the town is almost a character in the plot. Anyone who has felt small-town claustrophobia will recognize and feel the resonance. There’s a deer hunt, intrigue and an inheritance between brothers on the line, but it’s really about complex relationships and the friction that comes from people who live too close together and only think they know each other. That certainly reflects my small-town experience.

I wrote several stories where I found myself drawn back to run over the same demon roadkill on the back roads around Poeticule Bay so one of my WIPs is all about the place. I’ll run those demons down, exorcise them or make them dance for my pleasure.

Finally, Bigger Than Jesus, my crime series, springs from my dim world-view. I commented on another fiction writer’s blog recently that the criminal world is so like the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In Joss Whedon‘s series, vampires and monsters run amok, but the normies somehow look past all the mayhem to maintain the illusion of stability in their lives. Vampires attack the school and the principal says it was druggies on PCP. Victims suffer and die by night as people go about their business in sunlight. Organized and disorganized crime is just like that. I’ve spent some time hanging out in courtrooms as a reporter and researcher and the stories that unfold there are by turns tragic, comedic and horrific. Homelessness, drugs, violence, confrontation and small, surprising acts of mercy: People would be amazed what happens in cities across the world, much of the stuff bubbling from underneath is never reported in the media. When I’m writing this stuff, I’m often reminded how the Cohen brothers and Elmore Leonard have it right. A lot of bad things can happen on the easy and wide route out of town.

I don’t know if twisted and dim world views and angry childhoods are required for all writers,

but those elements help me come up with my ideas for my books. 

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

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

Using mass press release distribution to let the world know about your books

Hi everyone. This post is meant to be a helpful preliminary review of a press release service you could use to promote your books. Then it devolves into a self-pitying, snarly, snarky rant in which a tiny, hairless pig feels threatened. No animals were harmed in the making of this post…I think. Okay, he may be psychologically wounded.

I’ve had an eventful week. I got to meet director Kevin Smith and Jay Mewes (of Jay & Silent Bob fame) and handed them each a copy of my book, Self-help for StonersNext, how to capitalize on that?

I tried to organize a confluence of events around the book.

It’s basically a fiction collection of dark suspense with a self-help twist. (Yes, not an easy categorization which is both an advantage and a curse.) I’d met Kevin Smith in unusual circumstances in that when I handed him the book, thousands of his fans were watching on movie theatre screens across North America. I didn’t think the press release would be as hard as it was, especially since my training is in journalism and I’ve seen hundreds of press releases (and dumped hundred of press releases in the wastebasket.)

Then a friend of mine convinced me I should send out a press release. Well…a bunch of them. I sent them to several CBC shows and my local newspaper. The local columnist bit and me and my books will be profiled. So there’s that.

Then I remembered PR Web.

It’s basically a press release distribution service. It cost me $240 and to meet their editorial guidelines was a real bitch. Their marketing guy assured me they work with authors “all the time”. Non-fiction authors, maybe. They gave me a lot of hassle about getting into the widest distribution channel. (They offered to let me print it the way I wanted, if I were to accept a smaller distribution channel. For $240? Hell, no! I kept banging my head against the wall four or five times and they kept pushing the goal posts back to get into that wider distribution channel.) Finally, today it went out and was reprinted verbatim on a major website. (ONE website so far with little appreciable increase in blog traffic or sales. So far. UPDATE: By the way, here’s the link for the final draft: http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/578381. It’s not what I envisioned at all, but it’s okay I guess. )

On the other hand, it just went out this afternoon. It was delayed for “editorial reasons” They wanted it to be more newsy, fewer back links etc., no opinion… Basically they require that it look like any other press release, which isn’t what I was going for, but maybe I’m wrong and maybe they know what they’re doing. I’ll be the judge of that in coming days.

In the meantime, I have an ad running soon on the Smodcast Internet Radio network and one of the bits from my podcast (also called Self-help for Stoners cuz mama didn’t raise no dummy) will run on Succotash, a popular comedy clip show podcast. I just recorded a podcast today that will air Friday that details the whole experience meeting my DIY hero. The cult is into it.

And frankly, I am so tired of marketing! I normally don’t mind it, but with the PR Web delays and frustrations, I just want to crawl into bed with a coffee and write the next book uninterrupted, under the covers in my cowboy jammies with Alfred bringing me M&Ms (he brings the cape and cowl at midnight.)

This morning I screamed bad words at no one several times. The kids’ skinny pig is above my office and he probably shit himself in terror.

I haven’t finished my evaluation of PR Web yet, but I’d say go over their editorial guidelines to be sure you can meet them. As a fiction writer, it’s obviously difficult to be “newsy” enough. I had a very specific hook, several references to new technology (a first, in fact) and a major celebrity to piggyback the story. And they still didn’t zoom it through.

Even if I get a thousand hits tomorrow morning, here are the things I didn’t like:

the editorial person I spoke to on the phone wasn’t friendly (and I was… I only scream at empty rooms and tiny, terrified pigs); the marketing guy started out bouncy and helpful but then seemed anxious to dump me after he requested the draft (and his department couldn’t communicate with editorial); their user interface wasn’t all that intuitive; you pay before you can actually see the template you’re using to create the press release and they artificially delay the release of the news. (On that last point, I was concerned the information was getting more stale by the minute, but they make you pay more for the express line and I thought $240 was plenty, especially since $40 of that was to get a “star” to bump me up a list to improve visibility. Frustrating.)

I hope this helps someone here. Biggest issue for sure would be: being just another fiction author without a big hook. I had it and still encountered resistance I hadn’t anticipated that was a huge time drain.

Back to writing and revising…and lower blood pressure.*

 I wrote this post on Devin O’Branagan’s writer’s forum first, a couple of days ago and I’m sharing it here again for my blog readers.

__________________
~ Robert Chazz Chute is the author of Self-help for Stoners, The Dangerous Kind, and Sex, Death & Mind Control (for fun & profit). I’m in suspense, literally and figuratively.

Filed under: Publicity & Promotion, publishing, self-publishing, Social Media, What about Chazz?, What about you?, 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.

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

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