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

Write and publish with love and fury.

More Fury: Haters, Taxes, #Readings, #Podcasts

Higher than Jesus Final NEW copy

FYI: The new edition of the All That Chazz Podcast is up at AllThatChazz.com and it includes:

1. Waiting in shivering anticipation for Liberace.

2. A short, crazed rant on haters and my unreasonable sensitivity.

3. Jesus explains and forgives plus Stitcher issues.

4. Bradley Manning and awesome podcast recommendations. 

5. Scott Sigler on the Joe Rogan Experience (and self-loathing.)

6. Two readings: Chapters 9 and 10 of Higher Than Jesus: Hollow Man and Fight Club.

7. Whining about taxes and railing against my accountant.

 

Listen to the new podcast, More Fury: The Hollow Man Edition. If the show tickled your fancy, please leave a happy review on iTunes because that helps. If you don’t care for All That Chazz, try the Cool People Podcast. Cheers!

~Chazz

PS What am I doing? Editing the same way I do everything: Furiously.

Filed under: podcasts, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

TOP 10: People (who are not fans)

Old marketing decreed:

Get everybody! Your sales quota must include all sentient species with a credit card in the known universe!

New world marketing responds:

Nope. Establish a base of just a bunch.

But the bunch has to be rabid and slavering for your next masterpiece, book, song, film, poem, service, comic, or sex toy.

In short, you need fans (as in fanatics.)

For self-publishers, everybody in your fan base starts out as a reader, but they won’t all join you on your journey and buy in to your revolution. A lot of people can’t even be bothered to cross the street to spit on you. Something I learned a long time ago was that I am not everyone’s cup of pee. (Note to non-fans: that’s a joke and a point, not a typo.) I learned that to build successful businesses or loving followings, I had to focus on the people who appreciate me and ignore the rest. Oddly, everyone knows the 80-20 Rule, but how many apply it to their lives?

Critics will sap you of time and energy if you pay them too much attention. A fellow writer got one bad review recently. All his reviews were overwhelmingly positive except for that one. That burned like a cigarette in the eye. That’s the key to understanding the dark side of Internet marketing. Yes, you can spread the word faster about a good thing. However, negative reviews can get a lot of attention, too, mostly from the author who serves as the critic’s target. In fact, several authors have observed a bandwagon effect among some reviewers and book bloggers. One bad review can lead to more bad reviews. Ironically, as Reena Jacobs observed recently, it may be worse not to be reviewed at all than to receive negative reviews. If readers love or hate your book, at least you’ve spurred a reaction. If you ignite no fire at all, that may be a bad sign.

Here’s what to keep in mind when you read something negative about your work:

1. People (who are not fans) are nastier on the net than they would ever dare in person. They aren’t talking to you as a person with feelings and aspirations. They’re having a conversation in their heads with the idiot they imagine you are. Cyberspace allows distance, anonymity and depersonalization. Your nice neighbour, that little old lady who gets your mail for you while you’re on vacation and bakes cookies at Christmas? If her favorite author kills off a regular series character, the old dear’s mind can curdle into that of a serial killer when she writes an Amazon review.

2. People (who are not fans) mistake your work for you and judge you along with the work. If one of your books, blog posts, comics etc.,… is not as good as the others (and inevitably that will be so) critics will make assumptions about you and your mental state. Don’t you mistake all of your work for you though. They’ll make it personal, but don’t fall for that trap. Unfortunately, because we wrap up the author’s persona with his or her book to sell it, we foster an absurd inseparability in people’s minds. For instance, when Deepak Chopra was on the road selling a natural health book and had the temerity to drink coffee (OH-MY-STARS-AND-GARTERS!) a reader tried to shame him for it. That little old lady was pissed.

3. People (who are not fans) are more likely to write something negative than positive. Look at all those letters to the editor in the newspaper. Not so many saying, “Good job!” are there? Now think of the five best books you’ve ever read. Go to Amazon. See those negative reviews of the books that changed your life? Are you starting to see the weight you should give negative reviews yet? This is a subjective business. Repeat that until it sinks in. (I’m still repeating it, too.)

4. People (who are not fans) say things for their own reasons that don’t necessarily have anything to do with you. Maybe they made a bad day and want to export it. Maybe junior high was tough and the Internet is where they get even with strangers. Review the beginning of the movie Wanted. Remember the “I’d feel sorry for you if you weren’t such a bitch, Janet” speech? Repeat as necessary. (If you’ve ever worked in a cubicle farm, that scene alone will make you leap off the couch and spill your Cheetos all over the floor.)

5. Maybe you gave the person (who is not a fan) a negative review and it’s payback time. Yes, this happens. Maybe you friended them on Facebook, but you weren’t fast enough about getting that friend confirmation done and they took offence. Who knows? Everyone take everything personally because we are all the stars of our own movies. This has nothing to do with your work, but your work gives an opportunity for nasty people to say something shitty. Some authors don’t read reviews at all because, they argue, “If I believe the good ones, I’d have to believe the bad ones, too.” These are very mature people I can’t relate to. I don’t personally know anyone with that much self-control. I envy their sagacity.

6. Negative reviews are easier to write than positive reviews. Snark is easy. Snark is even funny sometimes, but mean’s no good. And if you’re going to be at all mean, you better be twice as smart as you are mean. For instance, I enjoy listening to Slate’s Culture Gabfest podcast….but sometimes I wonder, “Do these people ever like anything?” People (who are not fans) enjoy being clever at your expense. That does not necessarily equal constructive criticism. Maybe it’s just bitchy. Or stupid or wrong. Or all three. In this part of the equation, it’s not about you or your work. It’s that some people’s only creative outlet is criticism. Some fleas think they are driving the dog.

7. People (who are not fans) hope you’ll fail so they can feel better about their failures…or that they failed to try at all. Doing nothing at all is a great way to avoid criticism. Except for that pesky self-loathing and the long darkness before dawn when the demons come to torture your dreams and stifle your soul’s breath. (Yes, I’m saying that being a loser is like sleep apnea and all the implied dangers of heart disease but without the medical attention and sympathy from friends and family.)

8. People (who are not fans) don’t have enough going on in their lives, but they’ve got lots of time to focus on you. Otherwise, why the hyperbole about how bad your book is? I love books, but it’s just a book review, not the Nuremberg trial. The way some reviewers go on, you’d think trying and failing to entertain or educate or pass the time was a hanging offence. Another friend got a bad review recently. The ebook she gave out was free. The level of criticism did not match the critic’s financial and emotional investment. This author was wise enough to ignore the naysayer because she knew the guy wasn’t in her fan base and never would be. So what? There are plenty of readers out there to be converted to your peculiar brand of evil jocularity.

9. People (who are not fans) may be right. Maybe you do suck. But you can’t think that and succeed. You can only try to do better. Forgive yourself. You are a work in progress. “Books are never finished,” Oscar Wilde said. “they are merely abandoned.” Only listen to the people you trust. There are too many variables in the skulls of strangers who are not your fans. Write to please yourself first and don’t listen to input from writers too much. To write is to do your thing. That’s one reason so many people keep writing despite insufficient recompense, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and their parents’ bitter disappointment. (On the other hand, if every review is negative except the one from Mom, rethink.)

10. People (who are not fans) can be fickle. Tim Ferris, author of The 4 Hour Body, observed that a fan base has two extremes. At the top are the people who will follow you down the mouth of a cannon. At the bottom are haters who want to fire you out of said cannon. Ferris feels that the people at the extremes can switch places. Do something too different and some former fanatics will resist the new direction and even become haters. Be unexpectedly nice to your enemies and a few may come around to decide you are a worthy human being after all.

Or you could say “Screw ’em!”,

focus on the people who do get you

and move along briskly.

If you read all the way to here and hated the post, why did you read this far? It was too long a post for that nonsense. I will never understand that about haters. Don’t they have shit to do?

If you loved this post and it came at just the right time and you couldn’t have done without it…thank you. I love you for a selfish and stupid reason: You love something I wrote.

Filed under: publishing, Rant, Rejection, reviews, self-publishing, web reviews, Writers, writing tips, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Don’t listen to writers too much

The phrase that pays.

Image by pirateyjoe via Flickr

When I first graduated from massage school, I visited new massage therapists all the time. Too often, I didn’t enjoy the experience much. I was too evaluative of each therapist to just lay back and receive the treatment in the spirit in which it was given. I wasn’t concentrating on the feeling of the massage, but on the mechanics. It took me some time to get past that mindset.

You see the same thing with editors sometimes, too. A bad editor jumps straight to corrections too fast without reading for story first. Typos are the last thing you correct in the story construction process. You need to look at the big blocks in the structure first to see how it holds together. Developmental editing always happens before detailed copy editing.

You shouldn’t listen too much to other writers for similar reasons. They see your work through a prism that doesn’t necessarily match ordinary reader expectations.

Writers are great people, but they usually aren’t your market. We sometimes forget that there are a lot of people in the world who have no literary ambitions. They don’t want to write a book. They just want to read a good story.

Writers are readers, but they aren’t typical readers. Writers look at your work differently. Writers are not  the average reader.

Among writers, there is a higher percentage of people who will pick apart your mechanics. Any grammatical variation from what they expected (and there are variations) will provoke more irritation than may be warranted. They will be the readers who skip from irritation at your typos to outrage, indignation and threats to take away your writer’s license and livelihood. Some will want to burn down your house.

Writer friends and editors can help you develop your work, improve and self-publish. But because of the way we are wired, we might not enjoy your work as much as typical readers will.

BONUS: 

I’m networked with a lot of great writers who help me a lot. I like them, appreciate them and thank them.

However, you’ll run into some writers who are so competitive, they do not wish you well.

Either through jealousy or the misconception that your success takes something away from them, they want you to fail.

Watch out for the hypercritical, the rabid grammarians, the perfectionists, the haters and snipers. They mistake their subjective taste for law all the time.

By the way, I wish you every success.

Filed under: publishing, Rant, Rejection, writing tips, , , , , , ,

Writers: What I learned from Kevin Smith about AUDIENCE (they don’t own you)

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@RChazzChute

The other day I was feeling feisty and I said something about DIY on Twitter (full of bravado):

Burned bridges with a blog I wrote tonight. Fuck the bridge. I’ll swim. Go indie. Live free or die hard.

Someone shot back with a sarcastic:

Proudly alienate those who are not your fans. Awesome.

Well…yeah. People who don’t get me are not my fans. Why should I chase people who don’t like me for me? I have a particular voice and point of view, in my fiction and non-fiction and my blog, that will appeal to you or it won’t. If it doesn’t, no hard feelings and I hope you find something you do enjoy. However, when I dilute my voice, I lose the little tribe I have and any hope of real fans in the future. I’ve heard the quote attributed to a couple of celebrities, but basically it goes like this:

I don’t know what the secret to success is,

but to guarantee failure, try to please everyone.

Which brings us to my personal icon for all things indie, director Kevin Smith. For years, he argued with people who didn’t love him. If you look at his old tweets, he had a serious anger (and sometimes still does) for media, critics and haters. He would do battle with them and, despite all his success and wealth, would still end up arguing with some loser living in his parents’ basement. People who complained about what he did in his career—sometimes about everything he attempted—really bothered him. (Think on that a second: Some people wouldn’t even give him credit for getting something right once in a while even by accident!) Mr. Smith engaged in flame wars while his lovely wife looked on perplexed saying, “You have a wonderful life and live in a mansion! Why do you care?”

Mr. Smith is more relaxed now. Part of his new attitude is the prodigious amount of weed he smokes, but it’s not just that. He’s been successful for so long that he recognizes the pattern: People who are haters don’t do much else. People who don’t write will tell you how to write. People who can’t do, don’t teach. They snipe and snark.

You don’t find your audience so much as your audience finds you. As you try to build your platform and reach out to express your art, you’re going to dredge up some people who are pissed you aren’t what they’re looking for. We don’t do this with things other than art. You don’t go to the pharmacy and get pissed off because they don’t have coconuts in stock. You go to the grocery store for coconuts instead.

Do what you do. Write what you write. Define your voice through your expression and remember that it is your voice. I think harsh critics think they own your art (even if they haven’t paid a dime for it) because, unlike those coconuts, they take what you write into themselves. That doesn’t mean they own it, though. And they certainly don’t own you. They can react to it. They can criticize it. They can argue with it. They can move on (which makes the most sense.)

People who do nothing but hate think hate is art.

They’re wrong.

Art is a creative force, not a destructive one.

What does matter is your core audience. Now if you write and write and produce and put your stuff out there and very few people are feeling any love for it, that’s a different problem. However, if your core audience can be built big enough, that’s all you need. You don’t have to go chasing after the people who are running away from you. No one gets universal acceptance. Don’t even try for it. Expect obstacles and naysayers and pay little or no attention to them if you can. For everything you love, for everything you think is the best, there are millions of people who sneer and call it shit.

Check the comments on any book you love on Amazon.com. See all those nasty reviews? Now, do you really love that book any less because some guy  you don’t know thinks it’s the worst thing on earth since the rise of Hitler and Pottery Barn?

Great people make you feel like you can be great, too.

Haters don’t do that. They don’t even know how to do that.

Now is the time for all good indies to stand up. You now have the technology in your hands to let your unique voice be heard. You can be read when, just a short time ago, gatekeepers could hold you back. There are no gatekeepers anymore. You don’t have to approach publishing or film or any other art as if you’re going to The Man for a job! You can employ yourself and deploy yourself. You can Crowd Source your financing or  convince a fan of your blogged fiction to spend a few bucks for an e-book that costs nothing to distribute. You can grow your fan base without old media’s distribution system and middle man percentages. You can be the boss if you want to be. Your art doesn’t have to wait and you don’t have to ask permission. Make your art and see who shows up. Whoever shows up and stays is your audience.

Remember Chili Palmer in Get Shorty? Some guy tells him how easy it is to write a screenplay. “We can do this…we can do that…” Chili lights a smoke and says, “It’s really that easy? Then I got one question. What do I need you for?”

Here’s today’s message for you if you’re my core audience:

Not sure how to proceed? Resolve to ask questions, learn and try.

When you mess up, resolve to begin again.

If you’re new here and like it, welcome. I’m Chazz.

If you don’t like it, via con dios, friend. I hope you find what you’re looking for.

If you don’t like it and you choose to stay, well, that’s your own damn fault

because you’re looking for coconuts at the drugstore, you idiot!

Oh, and the person who felt alienated by my Twitter post? I saved her some trouble. I agreed with her.

Then, in honor of Kevin Smith’s fine example, I didn’t just block that bitch. I KA-blocked her.

Filed under: publishing, self-publishing, Twitter, 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

All the dark fantasy fun of the first three books in the Ghosts & Demons Series for one low price.

"You will laugh your ass off!" ~ Maxwell Cynn, author of Cybergrrl

You never know what's real.

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.

Write to live

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

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