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

Write and publish with love and fury.

What authors should stick in their ears and eyes to succeed

The following is a list of resources for anyone interested in writing and publishing. I’m going to head off any rancour immediately and tell you this is neither meant to be a comprehensive list nor is it in any particular order. Okay? Okay. Read on.

1. Joe Konrath’s blog: Arguments are made. Elucidation ensues. Many writers have become author/publishers after reading Konrath’s blog.

2. Self-Publishing Podcast: The guys behind Write, Publish, Repeat often have great guests, but it’s co-host David Wright who is the soulless soul of the show. Always NSFW. New episodes every Thursday. Joanna Penn appears this coming Thursday. (i.e. week of Valentine’s Day, 2014.)

3. The Creative Penn (podcast): Joanna Penn talks to movers and thumpers in self-publishing. Expect a plethora of brilliant pieces on book marketing. Joanna is very innovative so you’ll no doubt discover resources here you didn’t know you needed. 

4. Dead Robots Society (podcast): They recently had a really good discussion of the business of writing and publishing. Each week when they talk about the word count they’ve achieved (or not) the listener gets the distinct impression these guys are in it for the long haul, head down and bulling their way through no matter what.

5. Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s blog on publishing is a must. She pulls the fire alarm on bad contracts and often pokes holes in the bad thinking going on in publishing big and small.

6. The Passive Voice: A must-read. Sign up for the Passive Guy’s daily picks of stories from around the web about the state of publishing. He’s even featured a couple of my posts from this blog and from ThisPlagueOfDays.com.

7. I Should Be Writing (podcast): Author Mur Lafferty monologues and answers questions from listeners. Honest and no-nonsense.

8. Terribleminds: Chuck Wendig is your fun uncle who swears a lot. He’s informative and just might get you writing if you’ve been coquettish about it thus far. Read his blog.

9. The Self-publishing Roundtable is fun and filled with facts and you can see it on video. It’s a panel with many guests so you get diversity in opinion and experience.

10. The Rocking Self-publishing Podcast: Simon Whistler interviews a new author every Thursday. For the depth of his research and his listening skills, he’s easily the best interviewer among all the podcasts on self-publishing. I’m not sucking up, but yes, I’m scheduled to be on the show in late spring or early summer to coincide with the release of This Plague of Days, Season 3.

11. Renee Pawlish is a bestselling novelist (and, ahem, a former guest on the Cool People Podcast) who does some serious reportage about indie publishing. Don’t miss her analysis of the utility of and pricing at Bookbub.

~ A new episode of the All That Chazz podcast is finally up! First I dealt with an energy vampire and then I had to balance the demands of managing two businesses. I talk about that, exhaustively, for the first 30 minutes or so. Were I you, I’d skip my talk therapy and listen to the reading from my crime novel, Higher Than Jesus. This chapter is Some Like It Hot. Or you could just go ahead and discover the joys of knowing my funny Cuban hit man by buying Bigger Than Jesus and Higher Than Jesus. Yeah. Please do.

 

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

Your blog does not matter

 

“Writers should not write blogs for writers!” some expert declared.

Instead, write for readers!

Small-town terrors and psychological mayhem in Maine.
These are the foundation stories of the coming Poeticule Bay Series of suspense novels.

I understand the argument, but what about writing about where your passion lies? I’ve written about writing for years now, drawing on my experience first as a journalist, publishing insider, freelancer, then as an editor and finally as an independent author who publishes his own work. I’ll be coming out with a book about writing later this year, so that’s one solution to the problem of writing for writers. But I keep thinking about that advice to write your blog for readers. I think I just figured out why it doesn’t matter.

Blog marketing does not matter. An author’s blog is usually something you discover after you’ve already found the author. Seth Godin’s blog is popular, but I found out about him through media first. Despite his high traffic, JA Konrath is sure that A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing doesn’t net him any new readers. He writes for writers and they come for his opinions and information, not his books. The readers of his blog and the readers of his books are two subsets of his readership with very little overlap. True, I read voraciously, but I still haven’t got around to reading any of his books. (Or John Scalzi’s or Chuck Wendig’s, either, though I love their blogs.) And what of all those successful novelists who blog little or not at all?

John Locke came up with a blogging strategy that helped him sell a lot of books, but he didn’t blog every day to do it. In fact, Locke blogged sparingly. He crafted each blog so he could leave it up for months and, using keyword searches and Twitter, drive traffic to his blog by going out and getting potentially interested parties. (Read Locke’s book on marketing to find out more about that.)

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

There is a caveat to these grand pronouncements. I’m not saying don’t blog. I’m saying that it’s unreasonable to expect a tiny engine to move that mountain. You need a website, but fairly static pages might do. Yes, I know (we all know by now, don’t we?) that a blog that changes often and has a lot of posts is smiled upon by search engine spiders and that boosts rankings. But that website you love so much isn’t the burning bush that’s converting believers. That website is where you send readers when you attract them by other means.

What should you spend more time on (and by you, I mean me)? Well, tomorrow night (Sunday at 9 PM) I’m going to have a chat on Blogtalk Radio with Sandi’s Tuttle. Tune in here. So there’s that.

Have a podcast, make personal appearances, show up on other people’s podcasts, do campus radio, do press releases (and make follow-up calls when they ignore you.)

Time for an angry tangent: A reader on a forum called on indie authors to send out press releases because she didn’t think we were brave enough or bothering to do so. She didn’t know what the heck she was talking about. Traditional media has a history of ignoring us because they don’t realize there are no gates to keep anymore. They’ll get over that. Too late, but they’ll get it. In the meantime, I’d love to sit down with that reader who thought we don’t do enough to help our cause and let her know all the things we do any given day, many of us after the full-time job is done. As if sending out a press release was a brilliant and heretofore unknown marketing strategy. She does not know the struggle. Indie authors are some of the bravest people I know in business. That grenade-thrower didn’t understand that just because you can read doesn’t mean you know anything about the writing biz.

Paranormal persuasion and scary stories (including two award winners.)

There are plenty of things you can do that could help your career more than writing a blog: Optimize your sales page on Amazon so readers can find you, for instance. Play with Amazon categories to get listed in the top ten of a subcategory to get traction. According to Klout, Twitter and Facebook help me reach more people than my blogs do (and my Goodreads blog presence doesn’t make a dent.) Becoming a star on YouTube could help more than a blog. If I’d starred on SCTV and become rich and famous at 22, I’d be better off now. (Time machine’s broken, so I’ll have to fix this the old-fashioned way: I’m going to need a DeLorean, a broken town clock and a bolt of lightning.)

What else can you do? You can do all the things you’ve heard about (or have already done): guest post, blog hop, do giveaways, comment up a storm, use free day promotions (to less and less effect), hold contests, pay for ads (though I rarely recommend that), send out more copies to reviewers, contact book bloggers, do signings, approach bookstores, make an app, cultivate powerful friends, save the life of a celebrity or write a book about cute cats.

Click to get Bigger Than Jesus here

So why blog? To serve the burning passion of a thousand stars going nova, I suppose. To express. To help. To have an active site for readers where I can send people who are interested in finding out more about me and my books and my process. On this site, I write for writers. On my author site, yes, there are plenty of links to my books, but mostly I talk to readers directly through my podcast. (Every week this summer and fall, I read a new chapter of my crime thriller Bigger Than Jesus for free. Those who can’t wait for the next instalment can get it all at once here.) Most of all, I write my blogs to discover what I think about things. (Like today.)

Do I expect any writers will convert to my book readership? A precious few, if they like my voice here because there’s some transfer of style in my other writing. No matter what I write, I’m a fan of twisting expectations, sneaky surprises and lots of jokes. I’ll expect most conversions will come when I publish the non-fiction books about writing. There are also niche blogging opportunities. For instance, I think if you’re a crime novelist and you blog about forensics in depth, you might gain interested readers from your blog to your books. Niche marketing is a buzzword, yes, but it does mean something.

The single most important thing you can do to help your career is write your next book.

If your blog is getting in the way of your book, then it’s time to take another look at your priorities.

And by “your”, I mean “my”*

To check out all the books by Robert Chazz Chute, click here.

*More on this tomorrow…

 

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

Self-publishing: The Couch Change Economy vs. The Great Personality Argument

How does a guy go from getting paid $85 an hour to taking the risk of self-publishing? It’s not such a big leap.

Last night, on impulse, I bought a little tub of Heavenly Hash ice cream for $1.99. 

That explains everything, huh? Okay. Let’s go deeper:

When a new tax hike hit my province last July, my business changed. I’ve been a massage therapist for 18 years. I have great clients I care about and not just a few who care about me. To accommodate the new tax, my hourly rate went up to $85 per hour. A bunch of my clients took it in stride, but several just couldn’t afford to come in for treatment as often. I live in a lovely, but economically depressed area. Since I work as a part-time therapist and that fee is before tax, $85 an hour isn’t quite as great as it sounds. When I did my taxes, the numbers confirmed what I suspected: I like my work, but it wasn’t paying. I needed to change something if I was going to have anything left over at the end of the month. I could go back to working out of clinics full-bore and full-time and make “real” money or I could explore other options.

Then I thought, “You know, I don’t have that much to lose now.”

That’s the “A-ha” moment. I believe in my writing and marketing savvy. It was time to bet on that and switch to writing full-time. This wasn’t coming out of nowhere. I’d held several positions in traditional book publishing and trained and worked as  a journalist. As a freelance editor, columnist, features and speech writer, my writing income rose to become a healthy chunk of my overall income. Last year I spent more time working on writing and editing than I did in health care.

Also—and this is crucial—I had five novels in my drawer ready to edit and bring to fruition.

Many authors propose books and only start to write them after they get someone to ask them to do so. (That’s a smart way to do it, by the way, but it’s not the only way.) I had opportunities to go that route. However, I had  no interest in doing so. I have a strong streak of I-want-to-do-it-my-way (which doesn’t always serve me best but, for me, that’s the only way it’s going to happen and sustain.) I hadn’t sent out any manuscripts at all! As soon as I completed one book, I rushed on to the next, giddy and getting high off the writing. Writing is always way more fun than chasing agents and editors. It’s an odd kind of procrastination, staying busy kneading dough but never actually finishing a loaf of bread so you can eat it.  I helped several authors get their books published, but was in no hurry to bring my own out into the world. I was waiting for something and that something was me.

This week, I finally caught up to me. I finished the last manuscript I needed to get written before I could move forward with my grand plans to go full-time as a writer. (More on my complex marketing plans in another post, another time.)

Soon I will jump into what I call the Couch Change Economy.  You could call it the iTunes Purchasing Model or more simply, impulse buying.

That Heavenly Hash ice cream I bought? It was a stab of nostalgia that did it. I grew up in Nova Scotia. In the summer my parents would sometimes take me to the shore in the evening to cool off and watch the sunset. An old clapboard ice cream shop with poor posture  leaned into stiff Atlantic winds just 100 feet from relentless ocean waves. That was the only place I ever ate a waffle cone with two scoops of Heavenly Hash. If the tub had been priced higher, I wouldn’t have picked it up and put it in my shopping basket. I haven’t tasted it yet. I may not even finish it all. But for $1.99, it’s a cheap indulgence that reminds me of a good time with a dead mom.

When a book is cheap, no one minds taking a chance on an author they don’t know if the book sounds like it might interest them. If you don’t like a cheap ebook, you aren’t going to lose sleep over the equivalent of the sum of coins you can find in your couch.

How low that ebook price must be is the subject of many passionate discussions. 

John Locke says 99 cents (and a marketing strategy) made him a million-book seller. 

Joe Konrath has run the numbers and says $2.99 is the “sweet spot.” 

Others object that these prices devalue the work and no author who believes in their writing should charge so little. While I understand where they’re coming from, that sounds suspiciously like The Great Personality Argument. You can have a great personality, but if you don’t arrive at the party smiling, freshly scrubbed, with your hair combed, few people will approach you to discover how smart and funny you are. In short, couch change pricing sells more books than pricing on arbitrary values the author holds for his work. An author can believe in their work all they want (and they should) but for the sale, what matters is how much the buyer values the work. Your ideal readers may never discover how great your book is unless you make the package very attractive at low to no risk. Pricing at couch change levels is the No-pressure, Get-to-know-you price.

As debt ceiling negotiations rage in the United States and nervous stock market investors watch in horror as economies go off the rails, this is an excellent time to be working in a non-premium market. Low-priced items are low risk. Low-priced items sell at higher volume. (And a massage therapist doesn’t ever work in high volume.) I’m optimistic—which doesn’t come easy for me—that this is the year to make the jump if I ever will. And so I’ve begun informing my patients that I’m wrapping up my practice. Self-publishing suits the kind of hairpin I am and the math makes sense to me, if not to everyone.

Most important, writing full-time is my unfulfilled dream. I don’t believe in heaven or reincarnation, so I get one shot at making my heaven here and now.

A client (who isn’t mean but does have sarcastic streak) asked, “So when do the millions start rolling in?”

“I may never make millions,” I said. “It’s quite a loss compared to the billions I make as a massage therapist.”

We both laughed because the working poor are, considering all the challenges we face, surprisingly good-natured.

But I think things will work out. I believe in my books. I’m willing to price my work low enough that readers will find me, take a chance on something fun and quirky, new and different. Over time, I believe they will believe in me, too.

And last, consider this:

I’ve written books for years, very happily, giving no thought to getting paid at all.

Filed under: authors, Publicity & Promotion, publishing, Rant, self-publishing, , , , ,

The Heart of the Matter: Ebooks and Self-Publishing Part 2 – Another Dialog Between Authors Barry Eisler and Joe Konrath

The Heart of the Matter: Ebooks and Self-Publishing Part 2 – Another Dialog Between Authors Barry Eisler and Joe Konrath.

 

Here’s a conversation all writers should grok. This is a long read, but worth it.

Filed under: authors, Books, DIY, ebooks, publishing, Writers, writing tips, , , , , ,

Writers: Chazz Law versus Masnick’s Law

A cropped photograph depicts singer Elvis Pres...

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Thanks for all the nice feedback and e-mails about Monday’s blog post on Amanda Hocking. There was so much, in fact, that I need to do a follow-up about the mistakes we make when we compare our potential for success with another’s. Some people see another author’s success as a door slamming shut on their own noses. These are people who believe Masnick’s Law (which comes from the music industry.) The idea is that only a certain band at a certain time had certain advantages that can’t be replicated. They came along at the right time or had just the right choice of sound, or the moon was in alignment with the stars etc.,….

In other words, if they make it, you won’t.

Wussies.

You might make it in a different way (Elvis ≠The Beatles) but if you have a great book, success can be yours. Amanda Hocking isn’t stopping you from succeeding. Not writing your book is keeping you from succeeding. (Not revising or hiring an editor, too.) Hocking took a machete and cut a path into the jungle. JA Konrath, Barry Eisler and many other authors who went the self-published way are forging ahead. When you see others succeed, take it as inspiration. Masnick’s Law isn’t a law. It’s a self-defeating fallacy.

CHAZZ LAW:

Art inspires more art.

Read it.

Rock it.

Roll it out.

(And don’t be a wuss.)

Filed under: authors, Books, DIY, ebooks, Editing, Editors, getting it done, links, publishing, Rant, Rejection, 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.

You can pick this ebook up for free today at this link: http://bit.ly/TheNightMan

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

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