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

Write and publish with love and fury.

Self-publishing: The stuff that isn’t the core work is still important

Click it to grab it.

Click it to grab it.

I’m up to my alligators in the final revisions and polish of This Plague of Days. Still, other stuff must be juggled when I take a break from the “real” work. Keeping the engine of the author platform going is very important. Without it, who will find and read my books? Fortunately, it’s all fun or I wouldn’t get to it. Here’s what else I did today:

1. Fired off  weird interview questions for a future author appearance on this blog.

2. Answered weird interview questions for another blog, prepping for promoting This Plague of Days. (If you want me on your podcast or blog, email me at expartepress [AT] gmail [DOT] com.

3. I posted the story pitch and beta reader feedback for my horror book and serial at ThisPlagueOfDays.com.

4. I wrote about the Vine app’s huge update on my blog about Six Seconds. Vine is used by 13 million people. Today, a whole new group of people, Android users, may be pulled to check out the book, buy it and use it.

5. I posted multiple vines (little videos) to my Vine account. That cascades to Facebook and Twitter. I welcomed the new Android users and interspersed that with several funny vines about the Android update and using my how-to book about the Vine app, Six Seconds. (I’m “Robert Chazz Chute” on Vine. Follow me there and say hi!)

6. I posted on my weight loss blog early this morning at DecisionToChange.com. Got some great feedback on that piece and I’m growing another audience segment there. That blog competes with this one as my fastest growing blog, though it’s very new and this is my third year posting on ChazzWrites.

7. Email correspondence. Confirmed a story meeting with a friend who’s an expert on logistics and hiking for Season 2 of This Plague of Days. He’ll help me plot details of the journey in Season 2 and he’s okay with getting paid in coffee.

8. Listened to a Self-publishing Podcast over the course of getting my daughter to the dentist and taking her to gymnastics.

9. I appeared on the Podcaster’s Roundtable Sunday night. We talked about dealing with negative feedback, reviews, haters and trolls. I made some good jokes. I had permission to spread the word and post the video, so I stuck the YouTube video up on my author blog at AllThatChazz.com today.

10. My friend Kim Nayyer alerted me to news of indie membership in The Writers Union of Canada. That post and link appears below this one.

11. This blog post is written. It’s 9 PM.

Tonight I’ll do the dishes and walk 5 km. Then I’ll probably polish another episode of This Plague of Days. Projected bedtime: 1 PM. And I’m very happy with that.

To do:

I’m appearing in a sketch on Inverse Delerium, a very cool comedy podcast. That went over so well, they sent me another script (and I get to plug This Plague of Days between the laughs). More revisions, that logistics/story meeting, a fresh reading for the All That Chazz podcast, posting a new Cool People Podcast with author LeRon Barton about drug culture and the drug war in America, incorporating new beta feedback as it arrives, consultations and prepping the TPOD cover and TPOD promo and t-shirt graphics with my friend and uber graphic designer Kit Foster.

They call us “indies” and it doesn’t take an army. It takes a platoon and total commitment and time management.

~ This weekend, in between podcast interviews and, of course, more editing, I now have a YouTube Channel dedicated solely to Ex Parte Press books and podcasts. I expect this channel will grow quite a bit as I incorporate much more video into my author platform. (For instance, I want to use it so you can not only hear the Cool People Podcast on iTunes and Stitcher etc, you can also see the interviews if you wish. My interview with Shermin Kruse about the Middle East and US politics is the first Cool People video cast.) 

 

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My Year in Indie Publishing: Lessons learned

Just released! Paranormal, crime, weirdness and murdering Delusion.

Just released! Paranormal, crime, weirdness and murdering Delusion.

Hundreds of mugs of coffee and almond milk later…where am I now? I quit my part-time job to work at writing full-time. It’s been one year, one month and sixteen days. Today, a look back on the first year of Ex Parte Press and lessons learned:

1. I published Self-help for Stoners and Sex, Death & Mind Control first, just before I quit. I went with Bookbaby as the intermediary on those two. In hindsight, not the best choice. To change absolutely anything costs. I should have gone more DIY up front so I’d have more flexibility with those titles. (Also, their responses to my requests for information have been very slow.) Unless things improve with BB, I will pull them eventually and republish without the intermediation.

2. I published some short stories through Smashwords. Smashwords hasn’t paid off, though I think it will the more I publish through that platform. I hurt myself early on with a bad DIY cover. Short stories are a tough sell, but my collections sell better. (Oh, hey! Just published the definitive collection: Murders Among Dead Treeswhich is two previous ebooks plus much more, bonus commentary and a sneak peek. More about that later. Nice cover, huh? No more DIY covers for me! My graphics guy and go-to dude is Kit Foster. Check his portfolio.)

3. In the first few months of the year, I wrote a lot but worked on promotion too much, too soon. I should have allocated my time to get more books done and worry about promotion less on the front end. Writing more books and expanding your bookshelf is the only sure way of grabbing more eyeballs in the long run.

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

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

4. In May, in a simulcast across North America, I gave director Kevin Smith an autographed copy of  Self-help for Stoners. It now resides in his bathroom. Though I got onstage, I was still too shy about promoting myself and hampered the opportunity by getting offstage too quick. The follow-up press release campaign was a waste of money and time. The appearance on Smodco’s podcast was a better stab at being a publicity monster, but due to a mistake that wasn’t mine, that effort, too, was hobbled because it aired at the very end of the Valentine’s Day podcast. Personally, it was a very positive thing. Professionally, less so. (When I see Self-help for Stoners stats go up, I have to wonder if that’s a delayed positive outcome, though.)

5. I had a disappointing falling out with a publisher in June. Everything was peachy until the promised money didn’t arrive on the timetable agreed upon. I relearned a lesson I should have picked up by now: Don’t work with angry people (and, when they are uncommunicative, that doesn’t mean all’s well.) Good luck to them. I remain righteous.

"Worthy of Elmore Leonard with shades of Thomas Harris..."

“Worthy of Elmore Leonard with shades of Thomas Harris…”

6. By June I’d published another collection, The Dangerous Kind & Other Stories. In July, Bigger Than Jesus, my first crime novel, was ready.

I later discovered that TDK &OS had production issues. I think Scrivener used an earlier draft it shouldn’t have. As soon as I found out about it, we went into whirlwind mode, corrected the text and published a new edition of The Dangerous Kind & Other Stories. (Nonetheless, sales plummeted on that title. Nuts.)

I found some things I want to change in the paperback of Bigger Than Jesus, though the same problems didn’t appear in the ebook. Scrivener is a great program, but there’s still quite a learning curve. Next problem, finding an equally great and affordable program for editing print books. Formatting print books in Scrivener is too hard (at least for me.) 

7. I podcast Bigger Than Jesus through the summer, a chapter at a time. The podcast continues to grow and the last episode of 2012 (airing this week) will be #62. I’m pleased with it, but my mistake was to focus too much on marketing the first book. I’d named the podcast Self-help for Stoners (reasoning that at least I’d have an identifiable and easily entertained audience.) I later switched it to the All That Chazz podcast because my author site is AllThatChazz.com and the new title reflects the variety of whimsies I offer. The podcast has listeners worldwide, but I’m still most popular with the beautiful stoners of California.

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.

8. By September, Higher Than Jesus, the second in the Hit Man Series was ready. I need to get more reviews, but the feedback tells me I’m on the right track (i.e. clever twists and reversals, even more funny dialogue, less swearing, more sex.) There’s a prejudice among some authors that a book has to take a long time to write for it to be any good. I don’t agree, if it’s the right book and the right writer. That’s one of the many points I argued in…

9. Crack the Indie Author Code and Write Your Book: Aspire to Inspire released this fall. I drew on years of experience from working in traditional publishing and I’d been writing about writing for years. It was going to be one book, but that proved too big and overwhelming. I made it into two books. Boiled down from more than 1,000 posts on this blog, I revised, revamped and added bonus and updated material. I need more sales and reviews, of course, but in the long-term, these two are a score on the non-fiction side of Ex Parte Press. I’m sure there will be more books in the Writing and Publishing Series in 2014.

Grab Crack the Indie Author Code here.

Grab Crack the Indie Author Code here.

So what was learned? This is Item #9. By now, you’ve no doubt noticed there’s always a kick in the teeth. I learned that when you farm out editing work to an unfamiliar editor who misses deadlines and doesn’t get back to you, don’t be surprised when you’re disappointed. When the manuscript finally arrived, she’d made four or five corrections toward the end (perhaps trying to make me think she’d read the whole thing.) That set production back two months so all that editing had to be accomplished by someone else.  A costly delay.

10. Anxious to publish, I had plans for two more books in 2012. I wanted to get on with revising the big book: my ambitious, dystopian, coming-of-age thriller. I also began writing the third in the Hit Man Series, Hollywood Jesus.

More tips and tricks to steer your authorship. This book is free to you until Saturday, Dec. 15! Please click to get it now.

More tips and tricks to steer your authorship.

Then I learned the most important lesson yet: Balance. My work schedule caused problems with my health. Family obligations were  ignored. You can work nineteen and twenty-hour days. I don’t recommend it for long. I slowed a little and took more time with Murders Among Dead Trees. I got stuck on a couple of the stories and needed to take my time to make them better. The short, “Another Narrow Escape”, flowed out all at once and came easily. Others needed tinkering. I took the time I needed and Murders Among Dead Trees is just out. That’s the last of my short story collections. People buy novels and series much more, so that’s what I will write.

I’ll release the next books in early 2013…but I’ll be more flexible about what “early” means. I’ll also wrestle with the kids more.

So, as 2012 draws to a close, I have eight books up on Amazon (that by February will mostly be available across all platforms, not just Amazon.) ChazzWrites.com is a finalist among the best self-publishing blogs of 2012. This morning, Roger Colby from Writing is Hard Work (say that a little louder, Candy! It sure is hard work!) nominated me for Blog of the Year. John the Aussie never misses an opportunity to hit the “like” button on my posts. The books on writing and publishing will help a lot of people and the Hit Man Series will distract many from their pain and doom as they enjoy hilarious and hardboiled revenge fantasies. Today, I’ve never been more poor, but I don’t think I’ve been happier. 

What did I do right in 2012? I wrote every day and consistently. Then I rewrote. I got Dave Jackson to help me with my podcast and I got Kit Foster to design my covers. I asked for help when I realized I couldn’t do it all. I gathered allies and made a lot of friends through this blog. This is good. This is what beginning again looks like. It’s only my first year in indie publishing, not the last.

Never mind the Mayans. Year Two starts now. Tally-freakin’-ho!

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#NanoWriMo Tip: How to finish with a flourish

Jodi McMaster asked a great question: Got any tips on how to approach endings? As a matter of fact, I do! I talk about story arcs and related whatnot in the writing guides, but here’s my take:

Crack the Indie Author Code and Write Your Book: Aspire to Inspire both have bonus offers of free ebooks. Buy two books and you get four!

1. Some people think you have to have happy endings. I prefer satisfying endings. A satisfying ending isn’t necessarily a happy one, but it should be generally perceived as an inevitable ending in retrospect. Surprising, yet logical and inevitable when you look back on it. That’s the ticket to reader happiness. It’s a tough order to fill, but it works every time when you do it right.

2. I love surprise endings. Twist endings are shunned in some literary circles, but the readers in those circles are squares. I once read a literary critic sneer at surprise endings as “too, too O. Henry.” Oh, please. “Too” O. Henry? As in the guy who wrote some of the most memorable, popular and enjoyed fiction of his time and beyond? It’s not a cheap ending if it’s logical and entertaining. Do that and nobody minds a surprise ending.

3. No cheap tricks, such as “And then the little girl fell out of bed and realized it was all a dream.” A really bad movie called Wisdom with Emilio Estevez did something like that. It was not wise and that’s why you’ve never heard of that movie, unless some unfortunate movie goer was speaking about lousy films on which to spit.

4. Readers should not be puzzled with your ending. If you’ve read a bunch of winning short story contest entries at some pretentious lit mag, you’ve read this sort of ending. It’s the nebulous ending favored by some very expensive MFA programs. It’s the sort of ending that’s so vague, it’s unsatisfying or downright opaque. You read it and reread and wonder if there’s any meaning behind that poetic last paragraph? Then you wonder if you just had a stroke and that’s why you can’t figure out what the heck the author is trying to say. Annoying. You can have intriguing endings. You can’t have loose ends that read like a quantum physics equation.

For Higher Than Jesus, my first ending was clear-ish. One of my beta team told me to make it more explicit and less poetic because that’s the last impression the reader gets before they go write a review. He was right so I rewrote the last paragraph for more of a punch between the eyes.

5. It should be an ending but you can hint that there’s more to come. I love leaving the door open a little. When readers invest themselves in a character, it kind of hurts to say goodbye to them. Characters should be so rich that the reader feels that the heroine’s and hero’s story will continue beyond the life recorded in the book. Hope for more from your characters in the future is uplifting. It can also uplift your sales when you turn one book into a series.

6. If you’ve got a too-easy ending, think about it longer. At the end of Casablanca — a movie I love — there aren’t any Nazis at the plane checking travel documents, the point the structure of the movie turned on. They could have wrung a little more tension out of that final plot point if there was some question of an external factor keeping Ilsa and Victor from getting on the plane, too.

7. Don’t stay too long saying goodbye. This is the dreaded viscous ending. Think of the last Lord of the Rings movie. It didn’t have one ending. It had five endings that dragged on and on. This was meant to appease lovers of the book. It made my butt numb in the movie theatre. Instead, hit your last power peak in the story and opt for the short dénouement. (Note that the end of the trilogy had a little of Casablanca’s plot niggle, too: Why all the walking when you can ride a giant eagle and zip back to the Shire in no time?)

8. Be very careful about killing off your protagonist. It’s a lot to ask of a reader to go through a whole book cheering for a character and killing them off at the end anyway. (See Point #1 again.) Remember how everybody hated Alien 3? There was lots to hate, but consider (spoiler alert) that after rooting for the little girl to live all through Alien 2, she dies in her cryotube at the beginning of Alien 3. It wasn’t a great start and it did not get better. Why? Because the audience was cheated of their earlier victory. It’s not that you can’t kill off a protagonist, but be smart about it and give the reader a payoff to make the sacrifice worth it. If you’re going to kill off Bruce Willis on an asteroid in Armageddon,  for instance, it better serve the cause of saving the planet from said asteroid. (This was back when Bruce Willis was more popular. We’re okay with killing him off earlier in the show now.)

9. More specifically to Jodi’s question: Great endings and great books spring from character. What does the protagonist want? Are they  worthy of that goal? As we make the reader care and amp up the tension along the way, the story is all about the obstacles in the protagonist’s way. When we’re through the obstacles, failures and reversals of fortune, have they won the day? Does the hero or heroine mourn the sacrifice it took to get them to end of the story but at least reach a higher level (e.g. wiser, stronger, redemption, making the family unit whole, saving the world, saving themselves, vanquishing their enemies, winning love etc.,…)? The protagonist doesn’t have to meet all their goals to provide a satisfying ending, but for the reader to be satisfied, they should feel that the trip was worth the time and the stakes were high enough.

Another example from movies  (and a spoiler alert ahead): Michael Keaton is awesome in the film Clean and Sober. However, as good as Keaton is in the drama, the ending is unsatisfying. It ends with Keaton declaring his first days of sobriety, but it doesn’t feel like he’s really earned the achievement. He goes through a lot, yes, but it seems like he gets sober through an unlikely inability to get his hands on any drugs rather than an act of will and discipline. Sobriety is something that happens to him, not something he went out and did or didn’t do. Heroes own the locus of control. That’s why everyone’s a sucker for a training montage in any sports movie.

10. The clue to a great ending is often hinted at in the beginning of the book. Your opening is a statement of the core problems the protagonist faces. Your ending is the solution to whatever that problem is. At the opening of Higher Than Jesus, I’ve got my hit man, Jesus Diaz, about to kill a guy in a sleazy after-hours joint in Chicago on Christmas Day. Jesus needs money and he has to get rid of the bad guy. I won’t spoil anything, but I will say that at the end of Higher Than Jesus, he’s clearer about his own character and why he does what he does. The payoff is wisdom and growth and…much more I can’t tell you.

My first clues to great endings were in reading Esquire magazine. Any great magazine article saves a little punch at the end. (Newspapers use the inverse pyramid model, so all the good stuff it’s up top and they edit coarsely by cutting from the bottom.) Magazine pieces always end on a strong note. It can be ironic or funny or powerful or triumphant or geared to make you cry. Read a bunch of those articles and then compare that feeling to the feeling you get at the end of your book. If you have a similar tickle in your brain and pull at your heart, you’ve got a memorable ending with punch.

~ Robert Chazz Chute is the author of two writing guides: Crack the Indie Author Code and Write Your Book: Aspire to Inspire. They aren’t your Grampy’s and Grammy’s guides to writing and publishing. Lots more inspiration, zero scolding and tons of ideas and motivation for writing your books to completion. (“To completion” is not an orgasm joke. That’s a terrible euphemism. Don’t use that!)

 

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My crucial brain hack to win #NaNoWriMo

There’s a trick I use for problem-solving, plot twists, brainstorming and inspiration that really works. (I blogged about it long ago, but it’s so powerful, it bears repeating and you probably haven’t seen it.)  This writing tip will be especially useful to you if you’re a pantser, but plotters can use it, too.

I wrote Bigger Than Jesus and Higher Than Jesus (each over 60-some thousand words in about a month for the first drafts) using the hypnogogic state. I wrote these thrillers chapter by chapter, covering at least a couple of thousand words a day. Most nights I went to bed not knowing what adventures and twists my hit man, Jesus Diaz, would face in the morning.

If you’ve read the books, you know  it’s always something surprising. Things go well and things go awry (mostly awry) in clever, unexpected ways. Getting into the hypnogogic state is not hypnosis per se, but this technique does access a state of mind that’s particularly useful for writers, especially during National Novel Writing Month where you need a lot of cool ideas in a short time.

To access the hypnogogic state for greater creativity:

STEP 1: Just before I go to sleep, I plant the seed. What question do I want answered in the morning? (e.g. What will happen to my Cuban hit man in the next chapter? How will he get off that cliff he’s hanging from?)

STEP 2: Go to sleep. No light in the bedroom, no TV. Beds are for sex and sleeping and that’s all. Turn your clock face away so the big glowing red numbers don’t taunt you. Avoid stimulants, alcohol and exercise late in the day. The magnesium in mineral water can help you relax, but don’t drink so much you’re up peeing all night. Do whatever you normally do to achieve a good night’s sleep.

STEP 3: Wake up slow. It’s far preferable if you do not wake to an alarm clock. The time between sleeping and waking is a precious time and you want to prolong it. (That’s what all that great stuff in Step 2 is about, so you don’t need to wake to alarm bells.)

In that time between sleeping, dreaming and waking? That is where you will access your creative genius and, as you slowly swim up to consciousness, ask yourself: What’s the answer? The answer will come to you in that special, relaxed state.

Sounds too simple doesn’t it? It works for me every night and every morning.

~For more writing tips, inspiration and motivation for your journey from keyboard to publishing, pick up Crack the Indie Author Code and Write Your Book: Aspire to Inspire by Robert Chazz Chute. Chazz — a former newspaper journalist, magazine columnist and insider in traditional publishing — now has seven books for sale.

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NaNoWriMo: My crucial mistake

The first time I tried National Novel Writing Month, I did a lot right but I did one crucial thing wrong. 

What went right:

1. I created a loose outline before NaNoWriMo started so I wouldn’t write myself into too many corners and dead ends.

2. I planned my calendar and even reserved babysitters to make sure I had enough time to write.

3. I wrote more than the bare minimum each day (1,666 words) so I got ahead of my word count goal early. You don’t want to derail your NaNoWriMo challenge just because you had the flu for a few days or other work demands pulled you away unexpectedly. 

The crucial mistake:

It’s okay to paste in the broad strokes to fill in later (e.g. “insert awesome sex scene here” or “this is the chapter where little Bobby discovers he can crush badger skulls with the power of his mind.”)

However, as I reached 50,000 words, I stopped short. I didn’t write the last scene before typing “The End”. Later, when I returned to my manuscript to revise and edit, the magic momentum was gone. The missing end sucked my enthusiasm for the project. NaNoWriMo is a sprint and it feels great to cross that finish line. Fifty-thousand words isn’t the only finish line. Build the skeleton of the entire book and you’ll have something more solid to work with when you’re done.

For more on National Novel Writing Month and brainstorming tips, tricks and inspiration to carry you to the end, get my new book, Crack the Indie Author Code.

Crack the Indie Author Code and Write Your Book: Aspire to Inspire both have bonus offers of free ebooks. Buy two books and you get four!

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Ultimate Blog Challenge: Writing Books on Writing

Can writing be taught?Sure, but what most people mean by the question is, can anyone write to a professional level? One

On Writing

On Writing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

newspaper colleague of mine insisted that it was something you were born with or you weren’t. I think the desire to immerse yourself in writing might spring from a quirk of genetics, but after that it’s up to you.

Certainly, anyone’s writing can be improved. Eliminate excess adverbs and don’t strain a metaphor until it breaks and you’re off to a good start. I’ve taught a couple of writing classes now and I suspect that writing skill is self-selecting anyway. If you aren’t interested in writing to begin with — as it is with anything — you probably won’t improve much. The best training in writing I got was first to read extensively early on. In my childhood home, books were a big deal and they still are now that I’m supposed to be a grown-up. Toward the end of journalism school, I think the best training I got in writing was to write copiously for a daily newspaper with feedback from editors.

There are a ton of books on writing advice and I’m sure I’ve read just about all of them. Reading about writing is often less about learning something new (there’s not really that much new to say about craft, is there?) as it is confirming my thoughts, feelings and biases. Sometimes a unique idea will rise out of that reading. Mostly I read writing advice books to enjoy the voice and the company of likeminded writers and to find inspiration. It’s motivating, yet cozy as a warm blanket, to read a book on writing advice and think, “Yes, I agree. I’m doing that. I could try that. I should go write some more now.” I end up reading writing advice for the same reasons I drink coffee. It’s a stimulant that makes you feel warm inside.

That’s ultimately why I decided I will soon add to the tonnage of writing advice books. Some books are very specific and prescriptive about writing. Others give excellent advice and strategies for marketing for the indie author (like Jeff Bennington’s intrepid Indie Author’s Guide to the Universe.)

Mine will be a softer approach for newer writers, like Bird by BirdI’ve gone back to Stephen King’s On Writing again and again. These are the books that told me I wasn’t alone and this wasn’t so hard or crazy if I just pecked away at it. It was simply craft and there isn’t a secret besides sitting down (or getting on my treadmill desk) and doing the work I knew I could do.

The aspiration for this book is more modest than some who take a step-by-step, flow chart approach. My book on writing will be inspiration for the new indie author, much of it drawn from posts on this blog. Early on I linked to others less and wrote more about craft (instead of focusing on marketing the Indie Author Revolution as I seem to do now.) I selected the best and most useful posts from over 900 articles on ChazzWrites.com, then added to them, wrote some new stuff and edited again.

My book won’t be as ambitious as some who (may Thor bless them) give strict advice on what to do and how to do it. My ideal reader will be a writer like me who wants to grab a steaming coffee, curl up in an armchair and read Crack the Indie Author Code: Aspire to Inspire (yes, that’s what I called it and yes, it’s coming soon). Readers will find an ally, inspiration and company on the journey to publication. For me, the work is about the writing first and foremost. The real fun happens in our heads as we write and nurture that spark of inspiration into a flame that throws light and heat. I’m happiest at my keyboard hooked up to the coffee in the intravenous drip.

Do I think writing can be taught? Sure. If you want it enough to bother to go looking for the education, that’s the cardinal sign and symptom that you’re already infected with the writing bug, anyway.

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Ultimate Blog Challenge: Indies Versus Committees

The Senate Committee on Budget (ca.1997-2001).

The Senate Committee on Budget (ca.1997-2001). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The common wisdom is that all of us together are smarter than any one of us. Combine a group’s brains and their solutions will overcome that of a genius. That’s not my experience. Here’s why one head is often better than several:

1. The smartest person in a group is not the one who gets to talk in a committee. The loudest person does all the talking and steers the ship, often into the rocks. Stupid people are always the most confident and the less a person knows about a subject, the more certain they are of their opinions. That’s called leadership.

2. Take any group and there’s always one wacko*. Said wacko will espouse insane ideas. The rest of the group will then compromise with the wacko, thus arriving at terrible ideas that only seem more sane within the room in which the committee meets. Half wacko is still wacko.

3. People vote for the lesser of two evils, so they still vote for evil.

4. Committees search for reasons to justify their existence. They don’t complete a task and disband. They say, what can we do next? How can we extend our power, budget and egos? I call this committee creep. It’s for creeps.

5. A committee is a team. It becomes an expression of our genetic gravitation to tribalism. Committees become Us Versus Those Peons over there. (For the Latin derivation of the word “peon”, break it down into syllables.)

6. A committee is a way to spread responsibility around. If an individual says, “I made this decision,” he or she will have to live with it. Put it on a group label and everybody’s hiding behind the responsibility diffusion.

7. When I make a decision about my publishing company, a book cover, a sales platform or an editorial choice, it happens immediately. I may consult my friends with expertise or bat ideas around with my graphic designer, but the decisions come fast. I’ve waited long enough. I’m not waiting anymore and I’m certainly not asking for permission. I can screw up on my own easily without help.

8. I mentioned that, without a committee, the fault gets assigned to me for bad, independent decisions. The rewards come straight back to me, too. Then I dance with naked abandon, so it’s good I’m alone at the time.

9. Without a committee, I am in control of my destiny as much as any human is. Sure, there are a lot of whims and variables beyond my control. One of those variables isn’t a pinhead named Mort from Middle Management who’s telling me what to do. Screw Mort.

10. Committees are cooperative ventures that require a lot of socializing, neckties and appropriate office behaviour. I do not share toys. I do not play well with others. I’m writing this in my underwear. There might even be a naked abandon dance party later.

I  AM INDIE AND PROUD

*If your group has no wacko, the wacko is you.

And yes, I am qualified to diagnose under the It Takes One to Know One Rule.

Get Bigger Than Jesus

~ Like my flavor? Listen to the first chapter of my crime thriller, Bigger Than Jesus. I’m podcasting the book through the summer. Enjoy!

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Author Blog Challenge 23: Free sex and the value of an ebook

GET BIGGER THAN JESUS

Why should he pay for the cow when he can get the milk for free? If you’re unfamiliar with this distasteful euphemism, it’s meant to control and shame women so they defy their biological needs and get married too young to the first doofus* who comes along so they won’t risk being called sluts by a repressed and repressive patriarchy and said patriarchy’s agents. It’s the same misogyny behind, “For birth control, hold an aspirin between your knees,” and “Good cowgirls keep their calves together!” It’s kind of funny the first time you hear it. Then you realize it’s a power grab meant to squelch the joys of life and your humanness. (I do love a breakdown of social constructs so the deviant subtext in revealed.) What, you ask, does that have to do with ebooks? Everything.

Yesterday began a little after 5 a.m. It continued until 3 a.m. I hasten to add there were distractions. I did stop to shower and eat. There’s a shower hose over my desk chair by the IV pole. The IV bags are full of double espresso. The desk chair is a toilet. It’s like the helpful chairs in WALL-e, before that evil little robot screwed everything up for everybody and made them get up and move around outside. Mostly, I formatted my new book. For all the work, I wonder if people will buy it when they can have it for free?

Crack the Indie Author Code: Aspire to Inspire (by Robert Chazz Chute, coming in early July!) is a book based on the best of this blog. I’m creeping up on 1,000 posts and I thought it was time I made something more concrete of it. It’ll be my favorite posts in one convenient, pithy, humorous, inspirational package. I’m editing again and updating as I go, of course. At over 90,000 words, it will be my comprehensive take on what the newbie needs to know and what the self-publishing veterans’ choir likes to sing. I wrote a note in the front matter about who the book is for. I made sure to say: Hey, if you want the milk for free, feel free to sift through the blog. ChazzWrites is free. All the podcasts at AllThatChazz are free, too. Everything I sell is so close to free in price, you’d tip the pizza guy what you’d pay for my books. Enjoy! I give freely, without remorse or hesitation or hard feelings. Surprising, because, as a cheap writer who can pinch a Canadian quarter until the moose screams (that’s “eagle screams” if you’re in the United States), I’m actually a terrible tipper.

There is a lot of information that’s free on the Internet so I try to keep ChazzWrites.com fresh and a little different — even contrarian. I think I convey that information with a certain flair, but my hairdresser thinks he’s funny, too. Meanwhile, I just wish he’d never learned to speak english. I’m not going deep  into ever-changing information, either. Crack the Indie Author Code isn’t about the latest marketing theory for self-publishing. It’s evergreen stuff — old-fashioned from a new angle —  about writing craft as seen through my lens and as told to any writer who is more eager for cozy inspiration than ebook marketing advice. (With the changes at Amazon, a lot of marketing theory is still up in the air, but if you want a solid marketing book that’s user-friendly, buy my friend Jeff Bennington’s book, The Indie Author’s Guide to the Universe and check his site for updates.)

Since my new book is hidden right here within nigh 1,000 posts, why buy it to put it on your e-reader? What’s the unique selling point? What’s the value to the customer? I’d say: ease of use; improved readability; improved searchability; updates; new content; improved content; my moral support and your grasping consumerism. I make better jokes as I make another pass at the content, too.

As I go through Crack the Indie Author Code, I can see how some of my ideas have changed over time. When I started this blog, I talked a lot more about craft and writing mechanics. Self-publishing needed more cheerleaders then.  Now we need more leaders. Early on there was more, “Rah! Rah! Rah! Those guys in trad pub don’t get it and don’t see what’s coming!” I omitted some of those posts even though I was right. They were appropriate at the time, but it’s time to mature (the jokes are still less than mature.) Self-publishing’s next step is simply to call it publishing. We need to get past hang-ups about trad versus indie. Yes, of course, there’s still value in traditional publishing. It’s not going away. It’s just changing radically. The new paradigm is not necessarily either/or. Depending on business cases, multiple variables and your temperament, you may choose to do both and only the terminally crank y will fault you. Meanwhile, successful revolutions establish regimes.

But, will anyone bother to buy another writing book? Don’t we have enough?  The broad answer is, can you get enough of whatever your passion is? More particular to my writing book, those who like my flavor will buy it. Those who won’t, won’t.  That’s all beside the point, anyway. I know it’s a business, but I don’t write for you because I can’t anticipate all your  variables and idiosyncrasies. I can only write to my taste. I write for your adulation, sure, but first, I write to entertain myself. I’m hoping you’ll say, “Oh, Chazz, how clever you are! I’ll buy umpteen copies for all my friends!” But before you ever get a chance to evaluate, that’s me sitting at my keyboard enjoying the dopamine trickling and tickling my neo-cortex. That’s me saying, “Oh, Chazz, how clever you are!” We write for ourselves first, not the reader. The act of writing is primary, sometimes even primal. The point is to form the thoughts, think through your typing fingers and transcend the blank page until you’re high on the creative rush.

Will Free beat out $3.99 in the cost-benefit analysis? No. You’ll buy my cow for convenience or for other variables, not least of which is, to have and to hold. And, to answer the ugly metaphor that began this piece? Most  people enjoy free premarital sex and yet most people still marry (some to dark and very costly ends.) At $3.99, the risk is microscopic compared to marrying someone.

To win your $3.99, I just have to create something I’ll love.

If you’re of the same mind, I have a sale.

Back to the espresso drip. I’m off to make that dopamine gush!

* Generalizations aren’t fair. Sometimes the first doofus is the right doofus, but most people these days test out several to many doofuses before selecting the one doofus they can love (and be most angry at without opting for murder) for the length of their marriage and possibly the rest of their lives.

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

Writers: Self-publishing resources

Yesterday I wrote about a scenario that appealed to many people. After an encounter with her agent that doesn’t go well, a writer achieves the critical mass necessary for her to go indie.

Whether that route is for you depends on many variables. Self-publishing is definitely not for everyone. If you’re wondering if self-publishing is for you, here are a few books to get you started so you know what you’re getting into:

self-publishing_manual

the_complete_guide_to_self-publishing

 the_indie_author_guide

Filed under: authors, Books, self-publishing, 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

"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.

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

See my books, blogs, links and podcasts.

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