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

See all my books at AllThatChazz.com.

Guest Post: Mistakes Made

Reading Weep, I became impressed with Eoin Brady’s writing. It’s a compelling zombie novel set in Ireland powered by well-drawn characters. Recently, I reached out to him to share a bit of his author journey. Today, Eoin generously shares his missteps and how he’s correcting them. Thanks for sharing, Eoin! ~ RCC

Getting It Right Beyond the Writing

I can’t speak about success with much credibility. However, I’ve a good bit to say on the topic of failure, the prelude to success.

I’m Eoin Brady and I have published three books. One is a contemporary romance and the other two are in the post-apocalyptic, science fiction genre. There’s a fantasy series in the works, too. You can probably spot the mistake. Romance and horror under the same pen name. I’ll grant you there is neck biting in both, but there’s a little more ‘will they, or won’t they?’ with romance. 

My first book I’m Not Saying It was published in June of 2018. It bombed. You couldn’t hear crickets chirping on the sales dashboard because not even they knew to show up. To date, it has still not made back the cost of its cover and editing. It was a premade cover too, not all that expensive.

It was the first book I published, but not the first that I’d written. I shelved a nearly 300,000 word fantasy novel because it would have cost a fortune to have it professionally edited. If I was going to slip up, which was inevitable, I didn’t want it to be on something that I’d put so much time and effort into. I ended up putting a lot of time and effort into a different project and messed that up instead.

The story for the romance was set on Inis Meain, the middle and least visited of the Aran Islands off the coast of Galway. In 2017, I got a job on the island and moved there. I soon discovered that I get seasick, not great when you have to cross a stretch of the Atlantic to do your weekly shopping. On days off and after work, I wandered the roads and paths, filling them with my characters and their stories. I focused all my efforts on the writing and ignored what came after ‘The End.’ The result of that was clear. Nobody read it. If nobody could find my book then what did it matter that I lived in the location to make the story feel alive on the page?

What Went Wrong:

I’m Not Saying It is a contemporary romance, but you’d never guess that from the regency style cover. I wasn’t a big reader of the genre before writing it and that was a massive mistake. How could I hope to market a book to readers when I had no idea what their expectations were? You’re not reinventing the wheel. You’re trying to entertain people and hopefully make a living doing so. Who would I direct the advertisements to? Who were my contemporaries? What covers were working? I did not have the bare minimum information so I was set to fail before I started.

The Cover:

I bought a pre-made cover that was red and had a couple on it. That’ll do the job and save me a bit of money, I thought. Nope. There’s nothing contemporary about it. Might as well slap a chemistry text book cover on it. I had a product that was flawed because I didn’t understand the market. What authors could I target in my ads? Readers of Cecelia Ahern or Maeve Binchy? To me, they were romance authors, but their readership could be completely different. Would somebody fond of second-chance romance give my story a go? You’d get more steam from a cold kettle than you would from INSI, so was I pushing a sweet romance to a readership hungry for a bit of divilment?

The cover for my second novel, Weep, is a little closer to its genre expectations, but it does require a second glance and even then it does not perfectly convey the content within. You want your cover to let the reader know their expectations will be met. With so many new books being added to Amazon every day, people don’t have to spare you a second thought.

The quality of your story does not matter if you lose readers at first glance. I made it difficult to the point of impossible for people to find my story. If the process of buying a book from an unknown author is not as seamless as possible, you’ve lost. Even if everything was perfect, from your sales copy, cover and blurb, you’re still going to have difficulty enticing people to give you their finite money and time.

The Content: 

The main character, Shade, is a fully fledged travel blogger when we meet her. She has a fairly full bank account and is confident in her position as a seasoned blogger. Where’s the intrigue? It’s only now that I realise that the interesting part of her story happened before this book. I want to read about her failures. I want to feel anxious as the ticking clock starts and we watch as the dregs of her savings dwindle. Will she make it and be able to follow her dreams for a living? Or will she have to return to a 9-5 that she’s desperate to escape? As a reader I’m interested in characters facing adversity and watching them struggle, fail and hoping they’ll eventually overcome that failure. I’m not invested in a character that has made it without first seeing them struggle, but I’ll not stop turning the pages for one that might never achieve their dreams, yet still strives to.

***

My biggest failure was a complete lack of preparation outside of writing. When I first discovered that people wrote books for a living, that being an author was something that you could be, I swapped the fantasy section of my local bookstore, for the much smaller, writing craft shelves. I read as much as I could, but I realised that I wasn’t going to find a magic solution to becoming a writer. The fundamental thing was lacking; writing. Now in the modern age of self-publishing, it has taken longer for it to dawn on me that I should have been spending just as much time in the marketing section of the store.

It can be a little overwhelming when starting out. You are the writer, marketer,  copywriter, administrator and financier. Basically everything. I was riddled with doubt, but I then had to put that aside and try to sell a product with mock confidence when all I wanted to do was write. I suppose you can just write, but you won’t sell much.

So where to start? You can lose yourself in the many courses, seminars, classes, videos, books and newsletters available. I don’t know where I heard it to leave credit, but the self-publishing boom was compared to the gold-rush. Prospectors weren’t the wealthy ones. It was the people supplying them with the means to root around in the dirt who struck gold.

To deal with a sense of being overwhelmed, I overwhelmed myself by reading book after book on self-publishing. Initially, I had a broad focus and tried to stretch my limited time to do everything at once. I’ve started narrowing the focus of my efforts. Build up the basics and implement them before moving on. I dove straight into everything. Trying to do too much all at once just meant I did many things poorly.

Current Failings: Marketing

Marketing is vital if you want to be read. It is the voice of your story. Without it, you’re invisible. I’ve had a very slapdash approach to marketing so far. My daily spend is quite low. At the moment I’m running an ad for Weep and one for the free Weep novella to build my mailing list. 

Not long after the release of Weep, I set up a few newsletter promotions. It was free for a week and thousands of people downloaded it. Quite an experience seeing those towering columns on the sales dashboard. I’ve nothing to show for those numbers though. I never set up a means of holding on to those readers. If they reached the end of the book, there was no cookie to attract them to a mailing list. I had neither a cookie nor a list. Rectifying that has taken up a good portion of my writing time this year. 

Now I have a reader magnet, A Ring of Oak & Apple. That novella has nearly tripled the number of subscribers on my list. I wouldn’t consider it a success as I’ve not really engaged those new subscribers. I’m slow to message them, taking on lessons from previously jumping in without forethought. I’m quite happy to give that novella away for free as I feel it’s the best representation of my writing. If people enjoy it, then they might go on and read the rest of my work. It removes the apprehension around spending money on an unknown product. The newsletter is a long-term investment into your career. Progression is slow; words become chapters become books. Just as strangers become readers become fans. It seems like the best way of doing that is with a mailing list.

Marketing still seems daunting, but the monster you don’t know is a lot scarier than the one you do. By defining boundaries on what can be done, the task becomes manageable. 

My goal is to make a living by entertaining readers. I cannot simply achieve that by telling stories, I have to learn how to sell them, too. 

What Helps Me Write More

With a workload increase since the onset of the pandemic, I’ve had a lot less time to write. The only way I’ve been able to get words down with any consistency is with writing sprints. I set an alarm for twenty minutes and try to write as much as I can during that time. Twenty distraction-free minutes. When the alarm goes off, I’ll make a cup of coffee for the next sprint. I can usually get between 600-700 words each time. They’re by no means pretty, but nobody else will see the first draft. I’ve found sprinting coupled with planning has significantly reduced instances of writer’s block.

Planning

What good is sprinting if you’re going in the wrong direction? When it comes to what side of the fence I fall with regards to planning and discovery writing, I do both. I’ll try to work out the barebones of a story and create a scaffolding to build upon. I don’t know the characters all that well, but the first draft is where I discover them. Some people find planning stifles creativity. If that sounds familiar, then work with what suits you. Planning has saved me time and words. I’d be lost without it. Not planning has cost me an entire novel. 

Miscellaneous Mistakes:

I may have found the title of the autobiography that I’ll never write. Getting a cover wrong is a costly mistake. Over the last few years, I’ve bought covers before the books were even started. I ordered two covers for books that existed as little more than titles at the time. Take the Weep novella A Ring of Oak & Apple, for example. What has the  moon got to do with Irish zombies? Sweet feck all. It was commissioned for a romance novel. I had to retcon the moon and a ringfort of oak and apple trees into the novella.

The checklist for publishing a book can seem quite short, but the steps involved can take years. Getting the cover done felt like finally ticking off something from the list. It was creating an anchor point in reality for something that existed purely in my imagination. This could have worked if I had a solid plan in place. With a good enough plan, you could nearly write the acknowledgements for the last book of a series you’ve yet to start.

Solutions & Resources: 

Enrolling in Mark Dawson’s Self-Publishing Formula courses has been one of the best investments I’ve made for my writing. It’s an expanding library of content on most self-publishing topics. I reference it as and when I need. For my recent novella, A Ring of Oak & Apple, I went back over videos on blurbs, front and back matter and now I’m going into the marketing side of things. I’m an avid listener of the SPF podcast and that made me feel confident in what they were offering. For me, it was a way of reducing that sense of being overwhelmed by finding a place where most of what I needed to know was condensed into video lessons. Their Facebook group, The SPF Community, is a great place to find information on what is working for other writers.

Right now building up an email list is my main focus, outside of writing more books. I’m giving the Weep novella away to entice readers to join. Newsletter Ninja by Tammi Labrecque is an illuminating book on the topic.

David Gaughran pretty much covers everything on his website. https://davidgaughran.com. I also found his books insightful.

Tools I Use:

Canva: (Free). I use this to design all of my ad images.

Writing: Google Docs. I might give Scrivener a go on the next book. Right now though Google docs does the job.

Formatting: Vellum – professional formatting, easy to use, no qualms about this purchase.

Kindle Rocket – Keywords for ads and categories.

Mailerlite: Email newsletter.

Bookfunnel: Distributing reader magnet novella.

Website: Squarespace. My site is barebones, but it does the job for now.

Learning From Failure:

The experience of writing, editing and publishing INSI was invaluable and the lessons from those mistakes have been a great base to grow from. I plan to take that book down, rewrite parts of it and position it as number two in a new romance trilogy with genre-specific covers and published under a separate romance pen name. It was by no means a wasted effort. Mistakes make great fertilizer.

~ Eoin Brady is the author of apocalyptic horror, epic fantasy, and contemporary romance novels, most of which are set in Ireland, where he lives and writes. Weep, his most recent story, begins on the west coast of Ireland as a mysterious disease ravages the country. Find out more at www.eoinbradybooks.com

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Guest Post: Wenona Hulsey author of the Blood of Burden Series

First off, thanks so much for letting me chat on your site, Chazz! I think your crime thriller readers mixed with my paranormal thriller readers make for some of the best kind of fans.

I’m Wenona Hulsey, author of the Blood Burden series that can be found on Amazon and B&N. Like Chazz, I love to thrill my readers and keep them guessing what will happen next. A great read shouldn’t be predictable so let me start out by telling you what you WILL NOT find in my series: A weak woman waiting for a prince to save her…NO.  A relationship that could be classified as stalking in the court of law…NO. Sparking vampires…ABSOLUTLY NOT.

The Blood Burden Series is about a small town woman with what she thinks is a slightly off kilter mind-reading ability brought on by the stress of losing her mother to cancer. But as time moves on her powers start to evolve, develop and grow into something much, much more. A war is brewing under the surface of the world we know and Nicole is the key weapon. She will have to decide whether she should embrace the powers along with the unusual other-worldly trainers sent to her or try to bury who she is risking all she loves.

Inside the pages of this series you will find mystery, heartbreak, test of loyalty, and romance that will keep you enthralled to the very last word. I mix Irish folklore and southern tradition into a setting with modern day fae and ancient warriors (the smoking hot kilt wearing kind) to take you into a completely new world that I hope you will enjoy.

Thanks you all so much for spending a moment with me.  Be sure to connect with me out in the social networking world after you check out my books.  I love to chat with readers!

Buy Links: B&N & Amazon 

Wenona’s blog  Twitter Facebook

Join my email list for the latest on all my books, contest and much more! 

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#NaNoWriMo: Tools to get you back on track & stay inspired

Right about now, if you’re doing National Novel Writing Month, you’re feeling a little tired and you have two complaints: Where do I take my story from here and how can I better manage my time to meet my writing goals?

I can help. First, here’s a link to my guest post on Masquerade Crew today. This excerpt from my book, Crack the Indie Author Code, is an easy, fun and  genuinely intuitive exercise that will turbocharge your NaNoWriMo efforts and make your manuscript fresh. I call the strategy my Trio approach to story creation. You’ll love it and your readers will, too.

And now your free time management tool: The SlimTimer. I found it through The Nerdist Way by Chris Hardwick. (With all those Star Wars jokes and references in my books, you must have guessed my nerd secret, huh?) This tool will help you track your activities and find time. Only what is measured can be improved. Measure your day with this timer.  Then make time you didn’t know you had, get back on track and stay on track.

Crack the Indie Author Code is Book One. Write Your Book: Aspire to Inspire is Book Two in my series on writing and publishing. For fresh inspiration, I offer this uber cool image to motivate you to persist with writing your book so you, too, can have a cool ad like this!

Click the image to get Higher Than Jesus

Often when we think of graphic designers, we only think about book covers. Kit Foster from KitFosterDesign.com sent me this ad this morning. I’m using the white variation above in the Orangeberry book tour. Pretty cool, huh? Kit is not only an author and the sponsor of the All That Chazz podcast, he’s also an amazing designer. He does book covers, web banners, Quote Art and much more. If you have a podcast, you need art. If you need an ad, check out Kit’s portfolio and go get help. Great images grab eyeballs.

Graphic designers can do more than just book covers. Kit is a great consultant. For instance, it was he who suggested that I add a tag line to my covers using the ten commandments to reflect some aspect of the plots through the series. In Bigger Than Jesus, it was “Thou shalt not steal.” In Higher Than Jesus, it’s “Thou shalt not kill.” In the next book, Hollywood Jesus, it’s “Thou shalt not covet.” That tweak added a lot to the look and tone I wanted to achieve. Tweak your covers. Don’t let them lie there, weak and ugly.

I’m so excited about how my books are turning out (which explains how linktastic I am today), I want you to be excited about your books, too. Go write one.

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

Guest post: Eden Baylee & Spring Into Summer

The Type of Men Who Turn Me On

I’m thrilled to be featured on Chazz’s blog to talk about my latest book, Spring into Summer — a book of four erotic novellas, two that take place in the spring and two in the summer.

I consider Chazz a special man. He’s funny, sweet, and intelligent. He’s a serious author, but he also has a humorous podcast, and he plays with puppets—an interesting combination of talents indeed.

The men I write about in my book are also talented.  They have skills that allow them to earn a living of course, but beyond that, what makes them interesting is the combination of a sharp wit,  a sense of humor, and the ability to be with a woman in and out of the bedroom. In creating both the leading and minor male characters, I drew on many men I knew personally and virtually. These men had three things in common:

  • They love women
  • They’re intelligent
  • They don’t take themselves too seriously

The men in my books don’t need to be millionaires, own private jets, or even be well hung … well … maybe the last one, but seriously, what’s more important is they must be smart, passionate lovers who I’d be interested to spend time with in real life. These are the men who occupy my stories.

If you’d like to learn more about them, I’d consider it an honor if you picked up a copy of my book.

Thanks Chazz for giving me the opportunity to share about the type of men who turn me on.

About the book

In Spring into Summer, a collection of emotionally charged erotic novellas, four women explore their sexual limits, marked by love, lust, and loss.

Life for Claire Pelletier is changed forever when she meets a professor who teaches her a most important lesson in “A Season for Everything.”

Evelyn Sutton goes in search of a man in “Unlocking the Mystery” and discovers the key to her own heart.

With an open mind, Ava Connors attends a party but wonders if reality can ever live up to her hottest fantasies in “Summer Solstice.”

In “The Lottery,” Sierra Zhao sacrifices herself to numerous men to help a friend, fully aware of the consequences.

With locations in London, Dublin, Cape Cod, and Bangkok, these four women will seek pleasure to alter their lives and push their sexual boundaries.

Buy Links: Ebook formats

Amazon.com      

Amazon.UK

Bio 

Eden Baylee writes literary erotica and erotic romance. Her stories are both sensual and sexual, incorporating some of her favorite things such as travel, culture, and a deep curiosity for what turns people on. Spring into Summer is her second collection of erotic novellas.

Links

Website

Blog

Twitter @edenbaylee

Facebook

Youtube

Pinterest

Filed under: publishing, , , , ,

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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