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

Write and publish with love and fury.

Step One in Book Cover Design: Find a Wonderfully Mad Genius…

Striking covers are more important than seeing the author’s whole name. Your name is with the listing of the book, so don’t sweat that. What’s more important? Choose a cover designer with skill, confidence and experience who is easy to work with. For me, that’s award-winning designer Kit Foster of KitFosterDesign.com.

Thanks for two great covers, Kit. You’re one of Scotland’s national treasures.

I’ve spoken with some of my mastermind group about my omnibus for This Plague of Days and the Hit Man Series. Readers seem to love binge reads these days more than they love serialization. I know some authors are turning to serialization again with the changes that Kindle Unlimited has wrought, but I think you’ll see more omnibuses and box sets as the writing community adjusts, and possibly writes faster than they have done in the past.

Or read the trilogy all at once for one low price.

Read the trilogy all at once for one low price.

~ For more of my mad genius, please subscribe for updates about new books, podcasts and more at AllThatChazz.com. Thanks!

Filed under: author platform, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Post-holiday sales and writing stronger characters readers will love (and love to hate)

Season One of This Plague of Days is the siege. Sutr-X was the pandemic. Sutr-Z's next and it's coming for you and the Queen's corgis.

Season One of This Plague of Days is the siege. Sutr-X was the pandemic. Sutr-Z’s next and it’s coming for you and the Queen’s corgis.

1. Good characters have secrets they are trying to keep from the other characters. For instance, there is no major character in my zombie apocalypse, This Plague of Days, who does not guard a secret that’s contributing to the hullabaloo. Plenty of room for conflict there. Secrets are hard to keep and the longer they’re kept, the bigger the explosion when the secrets are revealed.

2. Good characters do not get along. In This Plague of Days, the matriarch is a Christian. The patriarch is atheist. They love each other, despite their differences, but it makes for some friction and they cope with problems much differently. They also begin to come closer to the other’s position, so rather than getting preachy, it’s an exploration of how people cope in a crisis. These details make them relatable so readers care about them.

3. Good characters have competing motivations. In Bigger Than Jesus, my Cuban hit man kills for love. Competing characters want power, sex, money and vengeance. All those characters are after the same thing for different reasons, so tension is built as allegiances are broken.

4. Good minor characters don’t know they’re minor characters. Everyone is the star of their own movie. If your henchmen might as well have the labels “Heavy #1 and #2”, give them more life history. I have a bad guy, a drunken marauder, in Season One of This Plague of Days you don’t really get to know. He wears a wedding dress into battle (stolen from the protagonist’s mother.) It’s a brief brush stroke that lets the reader figure out the rest as to where that guy is coming from while fuelling reader outrage.

Now in paperback!

Now in paperback!

5. Good characters are conflicted and can change. Sometimes, real people do in fact do something uncharacteristic. That makes them interesting. To make this believable, give them good reasons to change their behavior. With enough correct and detailed context, you can make the reader believe an out of character choice is logical at the time. Let a bad guy aspire to be a hero. Let a hero do something petty, just for spite (and the joke.) People who are too sure of themselves are often boring, unimaginative, predictable. I hate predictable choices in plots, don’t you?

6. Good characters, even heroes, make bad decisions that make them more interesting. As with #5, context makes this work. The reincarnation of Battlestar Galactica is a perfect example. You were probably rooting for the human heroes in the show, but they made terrible decisions all the time. Overall, that didn’t make them bad per se. It made them less predictable, more interesting and more human.

So, for instance, victims who are chronically bullied are tragic figures. Push that victim too far and they can fight back believably. If the bullied person overcorrects and becomes a bully or a killer, or fights back and fails, that’s even more interesting. The reader will expect them to triumph. You could give them that happy ending, but don’t deliver it too quickly or in a way they can anticipate.

Click it now to get a huge short story collection of dark fun. On sale now for only 99 cents. Love it? Give it a review, please.

Click it now to get a huge short story collection of dark fun. On sale now for only 99 cents. Love it? Give it a review, please.

In The Dangerous Kind (ahem: my novella found in the huge collection of short stories, Murders Among Dead Trees on sale for a short time for just 99 cents) a boy forms a plan to murder his abusive older brother on a hunting trip. Complications ensue and his resolution comes in a way neither he, nor the reader, expects. No spoilers. Just go read it. You’ll love it.

7. Good characters have conversations. I’m already mentioned Tarantino recently as the apex writer of tangential dialogue, but there are many examples. Think of Tony Soprano’s conversations with his therapist or all the geeky arguments about Star Wars and comics stuffed into Kevin Smith movies.

Bigger Than Jesus, for instance, is stuffed with movie references. I didn’t do that just for the jokes. I did it so readers who were uncomfortable rooting for an assassin would discover they shared a lot of common ground with my luckless Cuban hit man. The Hit Man Series works because, despite what he does for a living, Jesus is always trying to escape his life in the Spanish mafia. He’s actually very funny and loveable. Throw in a tragic childhood and all those little conversations really aren’t tangential at all. They’re the key to the character’s choices. That connects him to readers.

8. Good characters have depth. Anybody can write a scene with two hit men disposing of a body. I’d write that scene with the details you’d expect, I suppose, but I’d have the assassins argue over the Obamacare while pouring concrete.

In This Plague of Days, we learn how a deadly octopus leads to Dayo’s migration to England. When the Sutr virus outbreak hits and Buckingham Palace is attacked by zombies. I want you to know who Dayo is and why she got that way. You don’t have to do a ton of research to give every character a rich family history (and if you do, I don’t suggest you use it all.) Give us just enough to make them feel real and just enough for us to feel like we’re witnessing a friend’s death when you murder them horrifically. (Attention Plaguers: I’m not saying Dayo will die in Season 3. I’m not saying she won’t. I’m not saying. You will find out her last name in Season 3, but that’s all I’ll promise.)

My luckless hit man is a funny guy in big trouble.

My luckless hit man is a funny guy in big trouble.

9. Good characters have physical problems. Most heroes in action movies get a scratch high on the forehead, even after a couple of hours of near misses, crashes and mortal combat. Picture wounds in most any old movie with Bruce Willis and Harrison Ford. All that fighting and not one chipped tooth? Really? Not one broken hand after all those haymakers? That’s why everyone remembers Jack Nicholson’s cut nose in Chinatown. He dared to look bad for the camera.

In Bigger Than Jesus, Jesus Diaz has the snot beaten out of him from the beginning. I’m trained in pathology, so physical ills turn up a lot as I give characters more barriers to their goals. I made the hero of This Plague of Days an autistic selective mute. In Vertigo, Jimmy Stewart’s goals wouldn’t be so tough to deal with if he didn’t have…you guessed it…vertigo. In Rear Window, he’s got a leg in a cast when the villain comes to kill him. Mo’ problems = mo’ thrills.

10. Good characters are familiar, but not necessarily archetypal.

Shiva, in This Plague of Days, is the Snidely Whiplash of the story. She’s a big character who, in the movie, will be played by Helena Bonham Carter or some dark beauty from Bollywood who isn’t afraid to chew the scenery. The whole moustache-twirling bit is archetypal. However, when her secret is revealed, we understand why she wiped out a major chunk of the world’s population and why she thinks she’s doing the right thing as a bio-terrorist. Her motivations are pure even though any sane observer sees her as pure evil. Before we’re done with This Plague of Days, you may even feel sorry for her. Sure, she’s a vain bitch, but so’s your sister and deep down, you still love her.

Crack the Indie Author CodeHere’s the thing about familiarity.

I don’t suggest you do as Larry David did, modelling the character of Cosmo Kramer on Seinfeld on an actual person. That sounds like a lawsuit in the making. However, take your crazy Aunt Sadie’s Red Rose Tea figurine collection and make it the fancy of the brutish pro wrestler you saw on TV once. Take information, life experience, Wikipedia and expertise you possess and put it in the blender of your imagination. Find their combinations and permutations. Come up with something new, familiar, yet not clichéd. Don’t make your character recognizable as a family member because Aunt Sadie will sue. She’s crazy, remember?

We are surrounded by fascinating characters. Write them and build something fresh.

Click here to get Higher Than Jesus, #2 in The Hit Man Series

Click here to get Higher Than Jesus, #2 in The Hit Man Series

~ Robert Chazz Chute is a complex character, better suited to minimal human interaction. However, I’m friendly on Twitter. Follow me @rchazzchute. I tweet about writing, books and publishing.

Filed under: writing tips, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

On Writing Well: Openings, Distractions and the next Million Dollar Idea

The Challenge of the Slow Open

Crack the Indie Author CodeAs I work on revising my coming-of-age, love story cleverly disguised as an apocalyptic plague thriller, I worry about the beginning most. (I’ll give you a minute to digest that first sentence.)

This is a long book I will serialize (soon). The story unfolds largely through the eyes of a boy with Aspergers Syndrome, sixteen-year-old Jaimie Spencer. He’s a selective mute. I wanted to impress upon the reader how different he is from the first page. The story starts with the boy observing the plague as it infects his next-door neighbor. The neighbor is a pilot who happens to be having sex with a flight attendant at the time, but Jaimie is detached about such things. He’s asexual. His point of view is an interesting hook, but it’s not really an action hook. It reads like a character hook.

I’m going for intrigue and showing this book is more serious than much of my other work. I’m satisfied it’s a good start, but it’s a risk because of that slow start. I’m starting the novel with a long lit fuse instead of an explosion. That could be a problem and I will have to revisit this issue several more times before I commit to the slow burn open. There are plenty of explosions, strained family dynamics, obstacles, reversals, betrayals, realizations, death and a long journey  ahead. Amid the chaos, Jaimie is a detached, almost Christlike figure. The world is falling apart and he’s fascinated with dictionaries. (Expect Latin phrases, weird words and an amusing annoyance over homonyms.) The boy perceives the world as an alien might. His peculiar point of view questions how everyone else sees the world.

My luckless hit man is a funny guy in big trouble.

My luckless hit man is a funny guy in big trouble.

Big openings hook more readers faster. For instance, is it a cheap ploy to kill somebody off in the first paragraph? Many critics, both amateur and professional, seem to think so. However, I suspect the average reader doesn’t think that way at all. Some lit snobs say they shouldn’t think that way. Irrelevant. Many readers do think that way.

Every story should jump right in without throat-clearing, of course. (Don’t start your book with a weather report, as a baffling number of novels still do.) But how late should you enter the action? Bigger Than Jesus starts in media res with my loveable hit man out on a slippery ledge high over Tribeca with the bad guy hiding behind a gargoyle. Higher Than Jesus starts with a slower open in a dive bar, but right from the start, you know Jesus Diaz is there to kill someone on Christmas Day. Crime fiction should start with action. But can Jaimie Spencer do it?

Distractions

I’m confident in the writing for those who stick around for the show. However, we, as writers, are not competing with other books in our genre. We’re competing with Call of Duty, Game of Thrones (on TV), people working second and third jobs to earn enough to live, laughing babies on YouTube, the gym, the laundry, and all the other paperwork of life. Readers have so many distractions, it almost makes me yearn for a time when books were much more central to our culture. The good news is, if you survive the coming world flu pandemic that will wipe out billions, there will be fewer distractions and a bit more reading time.

Solutions and Opportunities

Jesus is resurrected in Chicago. Sex with the Queen of Giants. Violence with Very Bad Men.

Jesus is resurrected in Chicago. Sex with the Queen of Giants. Violence with Very Bad Men.

I have a suggestion to help combat The Distraction Problem. It’s not really open to me at the moment* but you might be able to use this suggestion: If you’re American, make audiobooks on ACX part of your publishing platform so people will be able to consume your goodness while they do the laundry, commute to their second job, run on a treadmill or play Call of Duty. Publish an audiobook on ACX and it goes to Amazon, iTunes and Audible. Audio is the future. That, and the massive killer virus thingy.

*I encouraged writers to go for ACX in Crack the Indie Author Code and Write Your Book: Aspire to Inspire. Since I’m a Canuck, they aren’t set up to deal with me yet. That creates a huge hole in the market for audiobooks worldwide. If I had the money, I’d start a company to compete with ACX and deal with all them foreigners immediately.

Click it to grab it. Just 99 cents!

Click it to grab it. Just 99 cents!

~ Earlier today I published an article on ChazzWrites.com that was meant for my website about Six Seconds, The Unauthorized Guide to How to Build Your Business with the Vine App. Apologies for the mix-up and a suggestion: If you’re on WordPress, don’t ever use the Quick post feature. Any problems I’ve ever had posting to WordPress started there. I decided to leave it up since it automatically shot out to subscribers and I never did announce a page dedicated to that book, so…yeah, I’ve got a web page just about Vine and the useful glory that is Six Seconds. If you’re interested in checking out Vine and promoting your books with it, here’s the link to onlysixseconds.

If you’re on Vine and would like to hear a reading from Self-help for Stoners, find “Robert Chazz Chute” on Vine. I’m doing the first author reading on the Vine app. Interested in winning a signed copy of Bigger Than Jesus? I’m running a contest with that reading. Get the details on how you could win from this link to AllThatChazz.

Filed under: audiobooks, blogs & blogging, book marketing, Editing, My fiction, publishing, Vine, Writers, writing tips, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ebooks: What makes a great cover? What makes a bad one?

Click it to grab it. Just 99 cents!

Click it to grab it. Just 99 cents!

It’s very instructive to read the analysis of what makes covers better or worse. What makes a great ebook cover? It’s often easier to learn what makes a poor one. Art is subjective. We often don’t know what components go into making art “good”. We just know what we like. However, there are graphic designers who, with skill and experience, inject more objective analysis into art than we ordinary mortals. Joel Friedlander, at The Book Designer, is one of those magicians who can break down why a cover works, or, at the very least, he knows why it doesn’t work.

 This week, Six Seconds won February’s ebook cover design award on Joel’s website. Check it out, but have a look at all the books. Once you see the covers through Mr. Friedlander’s eyes, you’ll begin to reevaluate all the covers you see. You’ll look for what’s missing as well as what design elements hit the mark.

Kit Foster: The Dude Came Through

My graphic designer is Kit Foster of KitFosterDesign.com and he gets all the credit for the win. Sometimes we have long discussions about what the covers of my books should look like. For instance, our back and forth over Higher Than Jesus was exhaustive.

For Six Seconds, I was in a hurry to get the instant guide out because it’s the first book about the Vine app. All I told Kit was: “Gimme a stopwatch wrapped in vines, please. Here’s the title. Do your thing and I won’t ask for any tweaks, I swear to God.” Kit’s solid and, as usual, he delivered excellent art. (He also won for his cover of Higher Than Jesus in the hardboiled mystery category of the Venture Galleries Award recently.) 

Cool guy talk

Higher than Jesus Final NEW copyI’ve plugged Kit plenty over time because I think authors need him and skilled designers like him. If you’re still shy, then you’ll love to eavesdrop on a conversation I had with Kit recently. I just interviewed Kit on the Cool People Podcast. You’ll find him sweet, friendly and Scottish. We talk a little about a lot of things: bad drugs, bad drug laws, good drugs, Breaking Bad, what inspires us and, of course, what goes into making a book cover work or fail. 

Step 1. Have a listen to the Cool People Podcast. (Subscribe, donate, apply to be a guest @rchazzchute on Twitter, do jumping jacks etc.,…) Enjoy.Cool+People+Podcast+Final

Step 2. Go to KitFosterDesign.com and start up your conversation with Kit about your next book cover.

 ~ If you like the Cool People Podcast, you may also enjoy my other podcast, All That Chazz, wherein I monologue, do readings from my crime novels and goof around. Find those podcasts and links to all books by Robert Chazz Chute at AllThatChazz.com. For  highlights from all my various feeds and content, check out my Rebelmouse page here.

Filed under: awards, book marketing, Books, podcasts, publishing, What about you?, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I screwed up. I’m going to need a bigger boat.

I screwed up

I had a publishing schedule and a plan. I committed to ship books on time. As Seth Godin says, “Artists ship.” This is business, so make a good plan and Cool+People+Podcast+Finalstick to it. But what if the plan sucks?

Time to adapt

Adaptation is what a small company can do that a big company often can’t. Big companies have committees and hierarchies and approval processes. I’ve got me and a couple of freelancers and an ad hoc committee of friends and allies I bounce ideas back and forth with. All the decisions, blame and reward go to me. It’s time to take blame and make new plans.

The Excuses Not to Ship

Six+Seconds+copyI had stalled out on writing fiction for a couple of weeks because of time management issues and sickness: My daughter got sick; I started a new podcast; I wrote a book about Vine. All those things were necessary to deal with and I have no regrets. I’m rather fond of the sick kid, so there’s that. I’m excited about adding another podcast (the Cool People Podcast!) to my tiny empire. Six Seconds, The Unauthorized Guide to How to Build Your Business with the Vine App, was a fun exercise that could actually help people get more attention to their brands with a new social media tool. Diversifying helped my other books’ sales, too. As diversions go from the main war plan, these are pretty good ones. However…

The Reasons to Adapt

My production plan was off target because I need to launch a new series to get more attention to my other books. I try not to think too much about all that I have planned for this year. If I try to grok it all at once, my cerebellum pounds my brain pan until I lie down clutching an Advil bottle.

The core issue is the crime fiction I write is hardboiled, but funny. That’s a tough nut to crack. Many would call sardonic neo-noir Bigger_Than_Jesus_Cover_for_Kindlea forgotten niche. The reviews of the Hit Man Series (Bigger Than Jesus, Higher Than Jesus) are great, but I realized I had to diversify to get the whole line of books more attention.

Self-help for Stoners, for instance, sells the best consistently, but it’s also been around longest and by some people’s lights, it’s experimental fiction, too (or at least weird and maybe challenging). The Hit Man Series would be considered experimental by some. I don’t agree. In fact, I think that’s a bit silly, but who cares what I think when I have numbers to evaluate? I have to diversify to get the tide to raise all the boats.

The Original Plan

I was going to write the third book in the Hit Man Series, Hollywood Jesus, next. I’m already more than halfway through it and I love that character and his story. The book after Hollywood Jesus will be a real twist, too. I’m going to revisit characters from the original book. My pitiable assassin, Jesus Diaz, will share the book with…ahem…no spoilers yet…but the twist will make that series achieve lift off in a huge way, I’m sure. I can hardly wait. However, in publishing Six Seconds, I’ve seen how one book can help other books in surprising ways. By giving new readers a surprising book that delivers in a more conventional way in a comfortable genre, I’ll open them up to trying my other brands of inspired lunacy.

The New Plan

Higher than Jesus Final NEW copyI have a post-apocalyptic, coming-of-age plague thriller that’s already written. It took me a year to write. I’m revising it now. It’s 125,000 words and ripe for serialization. This book has some strange elements to it since much of the action is seen through the eyes of a boy with Aspergers. I’m going to publish the Aspergers/plague book next, instead of Hollywood Jesus. Though the subject matter can be strange and wonderful and scary and terrible, it’s an adventure story told in third person, limited omniscient. In other words, it won’t scare anyone off because it feels “experimental”. Strange at times, sure, but it’s ultimately about a family and family relationships strained by a crisis. In the Hit Man Series, there’s a lot created to make you laugh. In this series, you’ll take me seriously.

I will deliver the plague thriller in two months. Anybody who wrote me off as too weird for them just because I write stuff that challenges preconceptions of how stories should be told? Buckle up. I’m coming for you and I won’t even have to shanghai and coerce you up the plank to my party cruise. You’re going to want to be a passenger on my pleasure boat. I’m making it bigger, just for you.

"You will laugh your ass off!" ~ Author of Cybrgrrl, Maxwell Cynn

“You will laugh your ass off!” ~ Author of Cybrgrrl, Maxwell Cynn

Game on.

~ Chazz’s author site is AllThatChazz.com where you can find out more about his books or check out his rants and author readings on the All That Chazz Podcast. His new website is CoolPeoplePodcast.com. The first episode features horror author Armand Rosamilia in conversation about zombies, The Walking Dead and writing more books, faster (among other things.) Check it out. 

Filed under: book marketing, Books, ebooks, podcasts, Publicity & Promotion, publishing, What about Chazz?, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Writers: Shorter is better

Six+Seconds+copyI found a way to get more traction selling books. The short story is, write shorter books for greater success. The long story? I’ll try to keep it short.

Last week I wrote a book, Six Seconds, The Unauthorized Guide to How to Build Your Business with the Vine App. It’s a long subtitle for an 18,000 word ebook, but it’s SEO-friendly and therefore easy to find. Six Seconds is breezy and fun, but it’s also a useful book that achieves the task I set for it: To get people on Vine (the new video Twitter). It helps them use the toy and tool to its greatest promotional potential. It took me a week to write, from concept to completion. That little book is selling and helping my other books’ sales.

Readers can choose from many lengths of text, but for you, the writers, I hope you’ll begin writing shorter books for your greater success.

Here’s more about why:

1. With ebooks, length matters less. There are no page numbers. Get over that Amish worrying. It’s hurting you.Higher than Jesus Final NEW copy

2. One of my favorite books, The Stranger by Albert Camus, is a short book (around 50,000 words or so). That length wasn’t uncommon in the ’40s and ’50s. Book length is fashion and convention. Fashion and convention are not static conditions. You can change them. Do.

Bigger_Than_Jesus_Cover_for_Kindle3. My crime fiction in the Hit Man Series is 60 – 65,000 words. That’s fine. One reviewer thought Bigger Than Jesus was a “short, humorous novel”, but that range isn’t so short. (The story just seemed short because it powered along so fast with swift Awesomeness, so there.) Readers pop genre fiction, especially hardboiled sex and violence with quirky, noble anti-heroes, like a fat guy tosses back chocolate croissants. (Ooh, that simile hit a little too close to home.) If I can deliver a steady supply, I might have an actual career on my hands. You, too.

4. Series sell better than stand-alone books. The audience knows the characters and become invested in them. For instance, in Bigger Than Jesus, we learn about tragic events in Jesus Diaz’s childhood. In Higher Than Jesus, readers learn new things about what they thought they knew. My loveable hit man gives an adult perspective on his family history. That changes the meaning of those events and how we view his father, Marco Diaz. It’s fun to flesh out characters and play with the audience this way. It’s fun for the reader, too. They join the The Special Club of the Knowing and become as gods!

5. Some authors experiment with serialization of longer books. I’ll be one those experimenters soon. My post-apocalyptic plague tome weighs in at 125,000 words. I’m going to break that up and sell it in four or five episodes (depending on the logical break points that appear in the revision stage.) Eventually, I’ll sell it as one huge collection, I suppose. In the meantime, four or five ebooks serialized is a cheap way to feed a growing addiction.

6. More books on your electronic bookshelf give more chances for your readership to discover you. Give them more chances to discover you! Write more books.

7. Don’t pin your hopes on one book, especially if it’s your first book. That way lies Death. Well…at least Disappointment. You’ll make more selling two shorter books than one big brick, especially in the early going when you’re still finding a readership and earning their trust.

8. My biggest surprise is that selling Six Seconds is not necessarily a big boost to my other non-fiction books. It’s helping the fiction!

Crack the Indie Author CodeAspire to Inspire eBook JPGCrack the Indie Author Code and Write Your Book: Aspire to Inspire haven’t moved much this week. Don’t ask me to make sense of that. I even included sample chapters from Crack the Indie Author Code at the end of Six Seconds. Despite having much of the same breezy, jokey tone as Six Seconds, it’s the fiction that got the happy green arrow bump.

My working theory is that I don’t understand people’s buying behaviors; they’re crazy; I’m crazy; we’re all crazy.

~I’m launching yet another podcast soon. It’s called the Cool People Podcast. Want a sneak  peek? Click here. It’s airing soon. Meanwhile, you can listen to “The Unknown Man Edition” of the All That Chazz podcast here.

Filed under: author platform, book marketing, Books, Publicity & Promotion, publishing, Vine, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

New podcast release at AllThatChazz.com

On All That Chazz, I’ve just released a new podcast episode called Furious. I confess that I have broken a record that lasted 10 years. That was an impressive streak while it lasted. I can’t tell you what the record is because it’s very NSFW, but you can hear the vulgar, neurotic truth at the link.

In other news, I talk about casually offending listeners (and readers for that matter), Christians versus atheists, plus I read from the next chapter from Higher Than Jesus, “Rage in Heaven”. Expect action, adventure, lisping and macho BS that knows it’s macho BS. Enjoy!

Dark Higher Than Jesus banner adHave a listen. Have a great day, or make it one.

~ Higher Than Jesus is funny crime fiction about a Cuban hit man with a tragic past and mommy issues. He also has a perilous addiction to Vicodin, a burning need for righteous vengeance and he worships the gorgeous blonde glamazon, Willow Clemont. Click here to see all of Chazz’s books.

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

What you missed, what you need & rewards programs

1. From AllThatChazz.com: A new video trailer (brace yourself for the audio surprise)

2. How to protect your home from thieves, ninjas and quirky assassins

3. How I handle trouble (like Jesus) 

This is fun. Don’t expect the usual WWJD? angle.

4. PODCAST: The Moving Forward Edition

I begin with a fun Alex Jones parody and end with the first chapter of Higher Than Jesus, a story particularly scary in light of recent events and the upcoming presidential inauguration. (You’ll see.)

5. PODCAST: The No Excuses Edition

This is a get up and go get ’em start to a kick-ass 2013.

Dark Higher Than Jesus banner ad~ BONUS: Have you subscribed to the newsletter at AllThatChazz.com yet? Membership will have its rewards. Speaking of rewards, are you aware that three of my books offer more ebooks for free? Look for the gold sticker on the covers.

Filed under: All That Chazz, blogs & blogging, ebooks, , , , , , , ,

Seven tips about book marketing very few will heed

What can we do to market our books better? Here are my ideas for a happier 2013:

If you don't go for new year's resolutions, you can still get tips and inspiration for your writing life with Crack the Indie Author Code.

If you don’t go for new year’s resolutions, you can still get tips and inspiration for your writing life with Crack the Indie Author Code.

1. Over the last few months, I’ve noticed the power of Twitter losing traction. Since Triberr loosened the chains, there’s too much to retweet so we’ve had to get very picky about what we retweet so Twitter timelines don’t become spam sluices. Getting pickier is a good thing. I’ve blocked a couple of people and, for a retweet, I’ve got to be confident my following will appreciate it. I read articles before I retweet them.

World Literary Cafe Tweet Teams remain a healthy approach, though I encourage more people to participate so the reach extends beyond hitting the same Twitter followings too often. I appreciate the people who retweet my stuff very much. New people in the mix makes this approach stronger. 

2. I’ve gently encouraged my fellow authors to provide more in their tweets than the title of their book and Amazon links. We need content with value. Write something your readers want to read and keep in mind who your audience is. For the aforementioned WLC tweet teams, I more often than not tweet links back to my blog posts rather than trying to send strangers straight to Amazon. It’s a noise versus signal battle. Noise loses.

One writing guru went so far as to actively discourage others from blogging about writing (though she does) because writers aren’t your market. I say, blog your passion and write books about your passion so your marketing chakras are aligned. (I write about writing and publishing and turned several years of blog posts into two books on the subject, so there’s that. My next step is to snag more strangers who aren’t writers. More on that in a sec.)

More tips and tricks to steer your authorship.

More tips and tricks to steer your authorship.

3. Whatever you write, your unique voice comes through. It will probably be at least somewhat consistent. Ergo, sexy on the blog means sexy in your books. Funny here, hilarious there, and so on. When you provide a valuable link back to your blog, you’re inviting people into your home. Give them more to look at and book covers to click so they can buy and read more of your stuff if they’re moved to knock back more of The Magic That is You. There are many bookselling platforms besides Amazon. The most effective one, where there’s no immediate competition for their attention, is here on my first bookselling platforms: ChazzWrites.com and AllThatChazz.com.

4. Innovate. Most writers don’t have podcasts, therefore I podcast. I actively encourage more authors to join me, but since most of you certainly won’t, I’m secure enough to be honest with you. My personal podfather, Dave Jackson from the School of Podcasting, recently pointed out that the marketplace for blogs is millions upon millions. Podcasts? There are only a few hundred thousand and they’ve become easier to access and enjoy than ever. The barrier to entry can be really quite negligible — don’t try to do it free, but you can do it cheaply — and potential readers are on treadmills right now with headphones in their ears. They aren’t hearing about you though, are they? Not yet, anyway. (That’s my strongest, boldest and borderline rude pitch for you to consider podcasting. If that won’t give you pause, I don’t know what will.)

5. Be different. The All That Chazz podcast is vamping and amping. I’ve serialized my fiction on the show and will do that again. I’ve incorporated the use of more music and I’m getting in touch with my inner badass. That translates to less crying from me and more value to listeners. The first year of All That Chazz was therapeutic and I got some stuff off my chest. Expect more interviews, more value for those who are not-me plus a new attitude: I’m coming for you, worldwide. Being different means daring more.

"A quick-moving plot with lots of surprises and a clear-eyed examination of addiction."

“A quick-moving plot with lots of surprises and a clear-eyed examination of addiction.”

6. Go deeper. There’s much more to be done with my author site besides making it prettier. I’ll soon serialize my first crime novel as blog posts chapter by chapter once a week as I dive into Higher Than Jesus a la audio.

There’s much more coming: I’m beginning a new challenge to add to the author site. I’m using bio-hacks and (some would say) extreme measures to get to phat from fat. The past year of working full-time as a writer has been awesome, but the sedentary nature of the work has taken a great toll on my health. Weight loss and life improvement are issues a lot of people face so I’m going to blog and podcast about that at AllThatChazz, too. I’m taking steps to widen my repertoire of subjects as I narrow my waistline and bring down my blood pressure. That’s a rabbit hole I’m sure a lot of people will follow me down. Why? Because I’m still blogging my passions, whether it be writing and publishing on this blog or my journey to lose 90 pounds at AllThatChazz.com.

7. Grow up. We love the idea that we can just write good books and our throngs will magically find us. When there were fewer media options, long ago when most of us were de facto quasi-Amish, that might even have been a slim possibility. It’s not now. Get over it. Give up that idea along with hopes for your privacy and that the profession of milkman will make a comeback.

The key to growing an audience is selling yourself, but being honest. Abandon any delusions you aren’t part of the marketplace. Whatever you do, you aren’t just selling your book. You’re selling you. Spare me any complaints because, inevitably, whiners confuse an Ought with an Is. This is the marketplace and if you’re out to make a big splash with ripples, you’re in it.

This is my promise to you:

In my fiction, I’m a great liar. On my blogs and podcasts, I’m brutally honest about myself. 

This is your call:

Whatever your hobby, career, quest, challenge, problem or greatest aspiration, get in the game. Blog, podcast and write books about your passion and be honest. Your audience will find you, but you have to put yourself out there.  

 

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The sorts of people a writer needs

"A quick-moving plot with lots of surprises and a clear-eyed examination of addiction."

“A quick-moving plot with lots of surprises and a clear-eyed examination of addiction.”

I used to have this fantasy about being a writer: I’d take vengeance on all my enemies through a thin veil. (Did that and continue to do so. Ha! Take that, Norman!) I’d make serious money. (Not yet. Working on it. So far, it’s just cartoon money.) And finally, instead of an acknowledgments page I’d have a “Ha! Told you so! Page”. I wanted to say I did it all on my own. I believed what Hitchcock said about film: A writer needs a pen, a painter a brush and a director, an army.” He was wrong. We write in solitude, but it takes an army to get it produced, pretty and read. Here, in no particular order, are my four-star generals and uber-admirals:

1. Kit Foster of KitFosterDesign.com. He’s a graphic artist who is really good for indie authors (and trad authors, too). His book covers are great, but it’s his patience and determination to get it right that compel me to promote him at every opportunity.

2. Mark Young of MondaysAreMeatless.blogspot.ca. Mark is the fellow writer who read a twist in Higher Than Jesus and said, “I don’t buy it. Try again.” He’s the one who told me I was being too coy about the major sex scene. He also tells me what’s working so his edits and suggestions aren’t a moving target. Mark’s input has helped me make better books.

3. Brian Wright is one of my beta readers. When he came back with comments on Bigger Than Jesus, we talked for three hours and he gave me an idea for the most clever murder ever in Higher Than. It’s fun to know weapons and explosives experts. It’s scary what he knows…stuff people aren’t supposed to know.

4. Eden Baylee. Eden is an erotica writer who got me involved in the campaign to help Joshua, a young man with leukaemia, early this year. By participating in the campaign, I met a lot more great people. We helped Joshua (his father is the great Maxwell Cynn, author of Cybergrrl) and Eden is very supportive of my work, encouraging likes and follows and even interviewing me on her blog. (Fun interview. I was too honest. It’s NSFW.) Check out Eden’s books here. 

5. I wanted a radio show to reach out to strangers worldwide. Dave Jackson at the School of Podcasting helped me with my author website and got my podcast, All That Chazz, up and running.

6. She Who Must Be Obeyed. She makes Me at My Desk possible. That’s especially good because Me in the Real World doesn’t work so well. Plus she’s hot and right about everything. Can’t complain. 

7. Jeff Bennington, author of Reunion. Jeff was an ally early on. He designed my first book, Self-help for Stoners, in print and has given me a couple of great cover blurbs. I always make sure to read his informative and encouraging updates on The Writing Bomb. A good guy to know.

8. Armand Rosamilia, zombie master and author of many, many booksArmand’s made it clear he’s a fan of this blog and he gave me a great cover blurb for Write Your Book: Aspire to Inspire. But there’s another reason I like Armand: He’s got a professional writer’s work and word count ethic to emulate. He doesn’t know it (until now) but he’s one to watch because he’s a pacer and regularly posts his progress on his blog. If you can keep up with Armand, you’re writing plenty.

9. Claude Bouchard, author of Vigilante. I’m pathologically shy about asking for cover blurbs. When I approached Claude, he couldn’t have been more friendly. He read, reviewed and ended up blurbing Bigger Than Jesus. He treats fellow writers as part of a community and he also took the time to teach me a few things about Amazon listings and building a following.

10. You. If you read this blog, buy my books, review my books or listen to my podcast, I appreciate it. You’re in the army now (for Art’s sake). Thank you for your service.

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

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.

See my books, blogs, links and podcasts.

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