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

See all my books at AllThatChazz.com.

UBC #31: Ebooks are the new slush pile. Are they the new blog, too?

To check out all the books by Robert Chazz Chute, click here.

I once had a business meeting to attend in Toronto and, despite a snowstorm that put a lot of cars off the road, I kept going after it was clear I should turn back. After three hours of white-knuckling the steering wheel, I made it to the meeting on time only to find that I’d risked my life for nothing. The meeting was cancelled because everyone else who was to attend had their priorities straight. Clearly, I have a stupid character flaw. Once I commit to something that isn’t working, I often don’t abandon the task, even when it’s obvious it isn’t working. 

It’s time to examine priorities, not just for me but for you.

What are we doing that helps us get closer to our goals?

What needs to change? I have a cool idea.

First, let’s talk blogging. Lots of people are interested in yesterday’s blog: Your Blog Does Not Matter. I learn a lot from research and it’s fun, but the Law of Diminishing Returns is a knee in the groin. If I’m right that our blogs don’t matter as marketing tools, why blog? I should clarify that it’s not that I think writers don’t read. May Thor help them if they don’t. But a lot of power readers love books — and buy them to read copiously — without a thought to ever writing books themselves. That frees up a lot of time to read and buy more books. Writers are logophiles, but, to be read more widely, we need to reach bibliophiles and plenty of them.

We need to reach out to book reviewers and book bloggers to get word of mouth going, yes, but I think there’s a way for our blogs to matter more to the general book buyer, especially if your blog is information-oriented.* I’m going to have to try a different blogging strategy because, blogging the way I am, just for the love of it, isn’t helping my writing career. Whenever you choose choice, you choose freedom. That’s good, but, even with the old blog heater running full blast, it’s snowing so hard my windshield wipers can’t keep up and there are too many indie authors in the ditch.

Case in point: I’ve blogged a fresh entry on this blog every day for the last two months. June was the Author Blog Challenge. My blog traffic shot high consistently. I made new friends, gained subscribers and have fresh contacts. July was the Ultimate Blog Challenge (and this is my last post, #31, for that challenge.) The former had under 100 participants and I’m told the latter has five to ten times that. Still, I earned far more traffic during the Author Blog Challenge. It doesn’t take too long to figure out why the ABC was so successful for me. I talked to my audience rather than a more diverse, disinterested crowd and that crowd had to come to me. Not many did. They were into blogging qua blogging, as my old philosophy prof would say. They weren’t necessarily into suspense or the intense indie book reading proliferation experiment I promote here. I’m not blaming the Ultimate Blog Challenge. Nobody owes me their patronage. This isn’t about that. It’s about finding strategies that actually help me (and you) get discovered by new readers who care about what we write (and might even — egad! — pay for our work.)

The only strategy for growing a readership that anyone seems to be sure of is: WRITE MORE BOOKS! So, first, spend more time on your books than your blogs. The core writing has to be scheduled before any other writing you do. I haven’t been as good at this as I should be lately because I was too focussed on the Ultimate Blog Challenge. That’s stupid, stubborn me, driving through a snowstorm again. I knew the latest challenge wasn’t garnering more traffic a couple of weeks ago, but I’d made a commitment. I learned something more, though. I can blog like crazy and still not matter because I’m not publishing my blog posts where new readers and book buyers gather.

There’s an alternative marketing strategy that makes more sense. 

There’s a way to go to where readers are and

build more ebook presence on the web

instead of hoping readers will somehow discover our blogs.

Small-town terrors and psychological mayhem in Maine.
These are the foundation stories of the coming Poeticule Bay Series of suspense novels.

Here’s how: In time I’d otherwise use for blogging, I can put together a micro ebook to increase the size of my cyber bookshelf and build name recognition. It’s already been observed that Amazon is the new slush pile for traditional publishing. Maybe self-publishing isn’t just the new slush pile. Maybe ebooks are the new blog, and vice versa. I’ve already noted that I intend to make a book out of blog posts, distilling down the sweetness and goodness for indie authors. I’ve been missing out on other opportunities to expand my bookshelf for new  readers.

For instance, today, I noticed a free book on iBooks that was 10 Strategies to Something or Other. Regular readers know I have a fondness for top ten formats for blog posts and they’re pretty popular, quick and fun to write. That’s really not so different from many of the offerings on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks and so on. Why not blog for free where it can do me (and you) more good? On those platforms. You know. Where the readers are. 

CLICK: You can already publish your blog to kindle here. Or check out any top free lists to see the sort of things you can write about that hits readers where they live. In the back of every ebook/blog you publish, link to your paid books. Depending on what you write, you could even write the equivalent of a few blog posts and (gasp!) actually get reimbursed for your time, trouble and expertise. Imagine the possibilities.

Click to get Bigger Than Jesus here

Publishing our blogs on self-publishing platforms is one way, largely unexplored, we can make more sales because we’re reaching people who are already in the book marketing venue. I know most of us don’t think of blogging as publishing, even though we write our blogs and hit a button that says “Publish” every day. It’s time to slow down, turn on the GPS and figure the alternative routes out of this blinding snowstorm. It’s time to get flexible and find what works so I can find my readership, help them find me and sell more books. Maybe you, too, if you’re interested.

No, I’m not discontinuing blogging here. Now that the blog challenge is over, though, I’ll do a little more curation via Scoopit! and post a little less. I’ll prioritize better than I have done and maybe get outside while it’s still summer. I still have podcasts coming out every week and three books in the editorial pipe this year plus Bigger Than Jesus coming out in print soon so…yeah. Lots to do and, like everyone, our waking, working hours are limited. Now that I’m through the blog frenzy of the last two months, I will concentrate more of that time on coming out with more books…and maybe a few blog posts/ebooks on iBooks and Kindle. I’ll let you know how that experiment works out. 

~ BONUS: I had a fun interview on Sandi Tuttle’s show last night. We talked blogs, the publishing revolution, being indie, inspiration and ritual goat sacrifice. Have a listen here.

*Publishing more short stories could help you, but I doubt it. That might double down on getting ignored, but that’s a different post for another day.

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

Preposterous Twaddlecock: How to Deal with Writers Effectively in One Easy Lesson

Via Scoop.itWriting and reading fiction

Writer Wordart

Writer Wordart (Photo credit: MarkGregory007)

Not everyone respects writers enough to pay them for their work. Writers are sometimes at the bottom of the list of who gets paid. The light, heat and phone bills get paid on time, but writers? Not necessarily. Yet “content provision” is supposedly the basis of the publishing business. Editors and publishers can’t moan on at length about their respect for the written word if they don’t have respect for the people who come up with those words. Then there’s the “paying your dues” defence, but the people who ask that tend to ask that sacrifice of everyone. Click the link for a humorous rant on a subject that isn’t so funny. ~ Chazz

Via preposteroustwaddlecock.blogspot.fr

Filed under: Intentionally Hilarious, publishing, Useful writing links, Writers, , , , , ,

Freelancing doesn’t mean free. Get paid!

Too many writers are working for free, or nearly free.

First, let’s talk about lit journals. My Chapters doesn’t even carry any of them anymore. They have tiny readership. You could dedicate yourself to putting your work up on your own website and you could have more readers in a day than many lit journals have in a year. You could argue that wouldn’t be easy (but anything that’s worth doing isn’t easy.)  In the end, you’d have more exposure through your own site (assuming your work is any good) and your readers would be your readers.

Many lit journals pay in subscription copies AKA bird cage liners. You’re supposed to be so bowled over by the fact that you’re published in a tiny journal that you don’t mind a payment of zero. Prestige is illusory and or fleeting. Publication in a journal that so few people read can make you feel great. It doesn’t make the achievement important to your career. Writing credits are nice, but they aren’t the most important component of a query letter. Like the AMC commercial says, “Story matters here.”)*

Or they’ll say you have to “pay your dues.” No. You don’t. You have to work on your skill, but getting rejected by literary mags doesn’t improve your skill. Writing and editing do that. You learn nothing from rejection letters other than the fact that you’ve been rejected.

Once upon a time, writers could actually make some decent money out of writing for magazines. Kurt Vonnegut did. Stephen King bought beer with his stories in Screw. Back then, writers saw any magazine that would publish (and pay) for fiction as a gateway to the big leagues: writing longer works, like the Great American Novel. Then the world changed and no one was reading Screw for the stories, anymore.

Journals aren’t a gateway to publication in a larger venue anymore. If an agent is trolling the lit journals for talent, you have to wonder why when they should have a stack of queries on their desks to sift through. Agents don’t need lit journals to act as screeners for new talent, so neither do you.

Next target: freelancing does not mean free. When someone asks you to write for free, they’re devaluing your work (and worse, mine!) You can be sure everyone else in the process will be paid. They’ll pay for their computers, the electric company, the printer and everything else. Why not you, who is providing the content? (You know? The reason anyone picks up the publication? You write the stuff in the hole between the ads!)

When you write for someone, it’s a responsibility. Certain requirements must be met. For instance, you can’t libel anyone or plagiarise someone else’s work. You may not be guilty, but that doesn’t necessarily mean no one will complain (or sue.) In other words, writing entails risk, usually just to your ego at the hands of someone writing a letter to the editor to complain about your take on reality. Don’t assume a risk you won’t even be compensated for minimally!

Charging for your work means you value your work and know that others should do so, as well. Failing to charge means they won’t take you seriously. Someone might say they are letting you “try out.” How will that work? You sweat out a piece for them, charge nothing and they’ll maybe pay you next time? How well do you think you’ll be compensated when you’ve already set your base price at zero?

You get the idea. But I hear someone crying out, “What about the exceptions? Am I an exception?” Yes, there are exceptions. If you’ve never written anything and need a clip file, okay. Choose something small and gain some experience. Don’t wallow in that pit too long.

What about gifting? Scott Siglar built his current success on giving away his books on the internet as podcasts. He was smart about it, though. He not only built a fan base, he gave out his fiction a little at a time. A lot of readers became fans of his fiction and proceeded to buy the book because they just couldn’t wait for next week’s installment. (Seth Godin talks a lot about gifting and being smart about it. Read his stuff before you try that path so you can be smart about it, too.)

Insisting on getting paid doesn’t mean you aren’t flexible. Here’s a story from the trenches that happened to me recently. A client wanted me to ghost  an advertorial piece (3,000 words) for a magazine. He hopes to get a lot of people signing up for his courses and the magazine will give him a free full-page advertising page in return for the article. This isn’t an uncommon arrangement. He asked if I would write it for him. I gave him a consult so I knew the parameters of the job. I thought about it and named my price. $850 + HST.

That wasn’t the budget the client had in mind, so he had some sticker shock.

I understand that sometimes a fee can seem like it comes out of the blue, but I gave him my reasons:

1. Ghosting always costs more. His name would be on it. I’d be the invisible guy who did the work. No publication credit bumps up the scale.

2. As with the credit, he’d also retain the rights in perpetuity. He could use my work however he wanted for the rest of his life. (Ad excerpts, emailing, flyers, brochures, web copy etc.,…

3. Part of pricing is to identify what the work is to accomplish. In other words, what’s the client’s ROI (Return on Investment)? I command high fees for a speech for an association because my work will drive up membership numbers for said association. Likewise in this case, it wouldn’t take very many people signing up for the clients’ courses to pay my fee (which is starting to sound paltry, isn’t it?)

4. I checked. The ad page the client is getting in exchange for the 3,000 word story sells for $600. If one page of advertising (where the copy is sparse), shouldn’t my multi-page rate reflect that fact?

So the client balked at the full fee. What to do?

I negotiated. I said, no problem. I’ll cut my fee in half if he writes it and all I have to do is edit it. That will take less of my time, so that’s fair to me and okay with the client.

FUNNY ADDENDUM: The client found that writing the 3,000 word magazine piece is not easy. I talked to him on the phone and sent him a rough outline to structure his thoughts. I’m making sure that the editing job won’t end up taking up too much time that way. This client is a good guy who respects my work. He let me know that he’s going to try to plow ahead, but if I have to take over, he’ll get me my full fee, after all. Either way it shakes out, I will feel good about the project because I gave away a little, but got a lot. And so will the client. 

If you get your cheque and think, “That’s it?!” or you’re grumbling about the time lost while you work, it’s definitely time to take up animal husbandry…or raise your rates. I hope you aren’t raising your rates up from zero!

*BONUS: If they have to pay you in bird cage liners, they are undercapitalized. Most of these journals don’t pay until publication. If they’re that underfunded, there’s an excellent chance they won’t even be around by the time they get to publishing your story. It’s happened before. Lots.

Filed under: agents, publishing, Rant, 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.

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

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