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

See all my books at AllThatChazz.com.

The downside of cheap ebooks

The_Dangerous_KindEbooks are often so inexpensive that they have become impulse buys available for mere couch change. (That’s how I’m selling my ebooks. Two of them will be up for sale November 1 at $2.99 and one long

Self-help for Stoners

Available Nov. 1

short story goes for 99 cents.) It should be an easy sell for people who can read, like to read and actually do read. The Dangerous Kind, the short story, should lead people to buy the collections (Self-help for Stoners, Stuff to Read When You’re High and Sex, Death & Mind Control.) Well…it’s a good theory.

But will my work actually be read by anyone even after it’s bought?

Everybody’s to-read pile is so big!

Go to Goodreads and surf a bit and you’ll soon find a bunch of books that catch your eye, each one calling with equal force, “Add me to your to-read list!” I’ve recently become more active on Goodreads. I love the site and, after reading some personal recommendations from my GR friends, I’ve even reconsidered a couple of books I picked up and put back down at the bookstore.

An arresting cover can get surfers to slow down to gawk.

Killer ad copy helps.

Friendly, happy reviews help most.

Sex_Death_&_Mind_ControlBut if people buy it but don’t read it and then recommend it enthusiastically…

Let’s just say I can’t bear to think about that possibility very hard.

Filed under: DIY, e-reader, ebooks, My fiction, Publicity & Promotion, What about Chazz?, , , , , ,

Bookstores, buying habits, digital rights and the end of the world as we know it

I went cross-border shopping. In all our travels, I saw one bookstore and it was an empty, boarded up Borders. In the huge (and I mean huge) shopping centres we wandered through, there was not one bookstore. Not. One. I am not celebrating the shrinkage of the paper book market. I will miss bookstores and what they were. As their bookshelves shrink to bestsellers-only and mid-list authors find no (non-virtual) place for their books, we have lost shrines to knowledge and literature. When they’re gone (or when I have to travel many miles to get to one) I will feel the same nostalgia I feel now for friendly garbage collectors and milk men who brought their products to my door when I was a child.

How many years will it be before the economics of book production don’t make any sense at all? Economies of scale will, at some point, require that all books go digital unless they are specialty items for very high-end books, hobbyists with very low-end books or novelty items. Paper books are still big, but as the gifts, candles and coffee spaces in bookstores grow and book return times shrink, anyone can see where this train is going.

I still run into people who think a mid-list author should pursue paper book deals within traditional publishing to the exclusion of the electronic marketplace. Unless an author holds his or her e-rights, though, in most cases that math won’t make sense. John Locke held on to his e-rights. Locke stuck to what he was good at and the publisher acknowledged that by making the unprecedented deal. (Joe Konrath wrote convincingly that the deal was an admission of industry failure and was, in effect, a sign of End Times for trad publishing.)

Naysayers object, “Any self-published author would jump at a traditional deal.” Uh. No, that’s not true. A traditional deal will often yield the author about a buck after a book sale. Self-publish digitally, sell for just $2.99, and you’ll get about $2.00 with each sale. For those who would jump at traditional deals, authors may well make that decision for personal, emotional reasons, not as a pure business decision. The math doesn’t change but people are variable and are welcome to their (informed) choices. Video on demand, PVR and satellite replaced Blockbuster, but movies are still getting made.

As bookstores shrink and collapse, consumers are already turning away from the old model, even when it’s available.

For instance, I’ve noticed my buying habits have changed.

Here’s my shopping habit arc:

1. I bought books in bulk. Even though I sold a bunch, my many bookshelves are still groaning under the weight of shelves packed with books in double rows.

2. Then I bought half of my books in bookstores and half on Kindle. (I use my Sony Reader much less because it’s not wireless.)

3. If it’s a reference book, I’d still prefer to read it in paper for ease of use. I picked up a tech manual for my computer last week because I wanted instant answers.

4. If it’s fiction, it’s on my Kindle. I love that I can download so quickly and easily. It’s so easy, in fact, I don’t know when I’ll get to read all of my purchases.

5. I’ve pretty much given up on magazines because of all I can read on the web (on blogs, for instance.) There’s just as much expertise and good deal more depth in many blogs than magazines have space for.

6. Shipping: Paper books at a bookstore are more expensive. If I order them straight from Chapters or Amazon or download to the Kindle, I’m paying for the same products at a discount and the shipping is free, right to my door.

7. The local bookstore is for recon missions to find books I’ll order electronically. When our bookstores can’t afford looky-lou sessions and close, I’ll be doing that research exclusively by going through catalogues, watching for recommendations on book blogs and on sites like Goodreads. And my friends will tell me what they enjoyed. And I’ll say, “I used to get out of the house more.”

8. There will still be bookstores in the future. You’ll have to travel a long way to get to them and most of them will be specialty bookstores. The big inventory will be on the web. Just like now.

The eventual end of the common bookstore is not the end of the world. 

It’s only the end of the world as we know it. 




Filed under: DIY, e-reader, ebooks, self-publishing, , , , , , , ,

Do readers expect too much of ebooks?

I love people who wisely challenge authority and the status quo.

They question the way things are to make them better.

Recently I pointed the way to a post by the insightful Derek Haines over at The Vandal. The discussion evolved from talk about how low, low, low ebook prices don’t match up with many readers’ expectations of perfection. I promoted Mr. Haines’ blog post, but too clumsily since I just mentioned it in a comment reply. Mr. Haine’s thoughts need more attention than I gave them so I’m remedying that today. Derek Haines was one of the first people to  welcome me to Twitter. I often find his blog posts eye-opening (e.g. Free e-books, do they get read? and The Self-publishing Money Trap). His thoughts on ebook pricing, value and quality, What did you expect for 99 cents?, are in need of a good, solid ponder. 

To freshen and deepen the discussion, novelist Reena Jacobs wrote in with something very thoughtful and heartfelt. I didn’t want her contribution lost down in the bottom of the comments. I asked her if I could repost. The first link takes you to the original post by the great Derek Haines and here’s Reena’s comment again as a guest post:

Derek Haines makes an excellent point. It broke my shriveled blackened heart to offer my full-length novel at $0.99, considering all the work I put into it. To think I toiled over the book for months…over a year with no pay, and folks didn’t even want to shell out $0.99…and forget $2.99.

Indie authors aren’t asking much but I think some readers expect perfection when they’re not willing to pay an asking price which is less than fair to the author to begin with. Some seem to forget the money used from sales is not only necessary to earn back the money already spent, but also to invest in future publications.

I don’t go to people’s place of businesses and demand freebies. Or worse, insult them with comments like, this should have been free or I’m glad I didn’t pay for this. If it’s free, folks should be happy they even had an opportunity to try it. Someone took time out of their life to offer readers a gift. It may not be to the readers’ liking or meet their personal set of standards, but it was still a gift. It has value.

Anyway, my wee little heart couldn’t take it anymore. If people want a $0.99 work from me, they’re welcome to my short story. I’d rather hoard all my works and never publish another title again than beg for $0.99 ($0.35 royalty) for a work I put months of my heart and soul into. Every time I read about someone complaining about a $0.99-2.99 work, it makes me want to bump my prices again. It’s gotten to the point I don’t even care if folks buy my books (kinda…’cause let’s be serious, sales matter to all authors) as long as I don’t feel like people are taking advantage of me and implying my work is worth less than it is.

Like Derek said, it doesn’t make sense to invest big money into a product that yields little return. In my opinion, that’s bad business.

I’ve already made a goal not to spend more money on publishing books than I make in sales. If that means no more full-length works, then so be it. Short stories are quick, dirty, and can be edited entirely through a critique group. I can part with one for $0.99 and not feel ripped off.

Reena Jacobs is just your typical writer who loves to see her words in print. As an avid reader, she’s known to hoard books and begs her husband regularly for “just one more purchase.” Her home life is filled with days chasing her preschooler and nights harassing her husband. Between it all, she squeezes in time for writing and growling at the dog. You can find Reena on Ramblings of an Amateur Writer, Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Nobles, and Smashwords




Alexandria (Alex) Carmichael guards two secrets close to her heart.

One–she’s in love with her best friend, Seth. Two–he’s gay.

 Add I Loved You First to your Goodreads list!

 I Loved You First

Filed under: blogs & blogging, Books, DIY, ebooks, Guest blog post, publishing, self-publishing, , , , , , , ,

6 Effective Ways to Promote Your Book

ReunionToday’s guest post is from the author of Reunion, Jeff Bennington! I forget how I ran across Jeff, though it could have been a lot of places since Jeff is a powerful experimenter in the realm of book promotion. His site is The Writing Bomb. He’s also blogged here before on CreateSpace versus Lightning Source–a very popular post, and for good reason: Jeff’s generous with what he learns. Here’s what he picked up from his book campaigns:

In the world of publishing, authors have found many ways to promote their work ranging from book signings with a 3-piece orchestra to dressing up like their characters. After publishing two novels, I’ve tried some of those crazy stunts, but from my experience, there are a few affordable and effective ways to promote your book online that won’t leave you looking like Barney the dinosaur. In fact, online marketing has been touted, and likely is, the best way for an author to promote his or her work.

However, authors have to approach marketing differently based on their genre and subject matter. And let’s be clear, when you promote your book, you can’t always expect immediate gratification and you’re not guaranteed sales. Your premise will drive readers to read a sample and the excerpt will determine your sales. And so, the quality of your writing is ultimately the best sales pitch.

The best promotion for me has come from the following:

#1 Goodreads.com: Goodreads “giveaways” are an incredible tool to publicize your book. I recently posted Reunion in a giveaway and had 787 bites in 5 days, beating out bestsellers that have been on the list for months.

HINT: Don’t post more than one book to give away and do it in one-week spurts. You’ll have to trust me on this.

I also like what my ad on Goodreads is doing. The thing with Goodreads is not how many clicks or sales you get, but how many folks “add” your book to their “to be read” list. When they do that, they are more or less planning on buying your book when they get to it, and they will, because most readers on Goodreads are avid readers and love talking about what they read, so they will also rate and review your book, which is another benefit of that site.

Another secret here is that if you spend X amount of dollars on an ad, you will likely get a lot more “adds” than clicks, which is good because it is a pay-per-click system. But if folks add your book without clicking on the ad then you have effectively extended the life of your ad immeasurably.

#2 Blog: If you don’t have a blog or you’re afraid of starting one or you think it’s too much


Jeff Bennington

work, then plan on writing your book solely for your mother to enjoy because blogging is only the beginning of what it takes to market your book…and it’s the easiest. It’ll only get harder and more expensive from there.

#3 Kindlenation.com: This is a very good site but you’ll have to plan months in advance to run an ad. It will definitely make your money back and more because they have a lot of readers who buy what they advertise. Programs run from $119 to $349. Kindle Nation reaches from 7,500 to 15,000+ opt-in readers. I paid $99 for an ad that ran in mid May and sold over 200 copies that day. So if you make $2 or $3 a book and spend $119…do the math.

#4 Twitter, Facebook, email lists: These are the most obvious and basic starting points. I’ll put it this way, I got all four of my book blurbs through Twitter connections, two of which are bestselling authors. If you can get that elsewhere, go for it. Basically, you have to tell your social marketing pals about your book.

And, this is important, you have to share their work too.

If you blast your friends and followers with your personal spam, they will retweet and share less and less the more you do it. Share what they are doing and chat with them and you’ll notice a marked difference in how receptive they are to spreading the word about your book. I’ve experimented with this and I can tell you without a shadow of doubt that cross promotion helps.

Strict self-promotion hurts.

However, I have found that tweeting short blurbs, such as “A Riveting and Incredibly Powerful Story of Pain and Triumph!” grabs reader’s attention more than, “Check out my new book, REUNION”. Try both methods and see which works better. Be sure to include a “tiny url” to allow room for your #tags.

HINT: Use the twitter share button on the right side of your Amazon sales page. It has the shortest “tiny url” I’ve seen yet.

#5 Ereadernewstoday.com: I’m on the schedule, so I don’t know for sure, but I’ve heard that Ereadernewstoday.com is a good site to advertise on. This program is $25 a day. Emails will reach about 10,000 book readers through opted-in email blasts.

#6 Blog Tour: Plan for a lot of work. It can be nearly free, but will be the most time consuming. However, if your book sucks, I think a blog tour can backfire. I’m just sayin’.

If you go this route, you better get your book professionally edited and proofed and have a great cover and good formatting because that’s what book bloggers and reviewers expect.

Basically, when it comes to promoting your book. You better make sure it is a damn good book or you’ll have a 7-digit Amazon ranking within a month. I know. I’ve seen it. But don’t get overwhelmed. I’m a newer author and I’m not breaking any records, but I believe these six methods of promotion will help you tremendously, especially if you are in the process of building your platform as I am.

Thanks for reading. What methods have you used to promote your book? How did it turn out? Let me know.

Jeff Bennington, author of REUNION & other thrillers



And here are more of Jeff’s links:

The Rumblin’ 

Killing the Giants

The Writing Bomb 


Filed under: Books, Guest blog post, Publicity & Promotion, 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

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