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

Write and publish with love and fury.

Sanity: Another reason to write more books

Do you ever feel like you’re reaching for success and someone is slapping your hand? Does every Monday feel like Thwart Day?

I just had one of those days that drains energy. I read a review from a guy who apparently thinks I believe in the supernatural because I often write about it. (Fiction, people! Fiction!) A cop stopped me today. He was unnecessarily dickish. That put me in a dark mood. I haven’t been feeling great so I had to go for some medical tests. A nurse was in a panic over my paperwork and apparently trying to panic me, too. I’ve got a big birthday coming up which I’m not excited about. I feel pressure. Sometimes, despite my big plans, it seems time is running out and the news for indie authors seems to be all whoa and woe at the moment.

Therefore, it’s not time to give up.

It’s time to put the hammer down (because I was thinking of doing terrible things with that hammer) and remember what’s working. To review:

This Plague of Days OMNIBUS (Large)

I got this letter today:

“This Plague of Days, Omnibus Edition was awarded an Honorable Mention for Writer’s Digest’s Self-Published e-Book Awards in Genre.”

Whoo. Also? Hoo!

Check out the Top 100 Kindle Short from my coauthor Holly Pop

Check out the Top 100 Kindle Short from my coauthor Holly Pop

I’m collaborating with several authors and a publisher in 2015. The first was Holly (Pop) Papandreas, author of Ouija

We wrote The Haunting Lessons. In this fun and dark fantasy, a girl from Iowa discovers she has amazing capabilities. The world is a richer and more dangerous place than she ever imagined. Parts of it may remind you of This Plague of Days, but the tone is lighter and the pace is lightning quick. Don’t miss out on 81 lessons to survive Armageddon. I like you and I want you to live.

Just released for Christmas reading!

Just released for Christmas reading!

My friend and author of Butterfly Stitching, Sher Kruse, has invited me to participate in a non-fiction anthology.

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More on that in 2015.

I’ll be contributing to a horror anthology for a publisher and working with another author friend of mine on a secret book project to take paranormal readers by storm. I also have big plans for several books in the Ghosts and Demons Series, a big standalone book and more Hit Man books.

It’s been a big building year for me. I put together six books in 2014, so Mom and Dad will have to take back those accusations that I’m too lazy to live. 

PLAYBOOK COVER FINAL
It’s so fun and gritty and fast, I’m very happy with Hollywood Jesus, the third adventure in the Hit Man Series. The John Leguizamo joke alone makes it for me!

"Perhaps the most underrated crime novel of all time." ~ Robert Chazz Chute

“Perhaps the most underrated crime novel of all time.” ~ Robert Chazz Chute

 

And, maybe best of all, I wrote my criminal autobiography!

That's one adorable bear holding that bloody knife.

That’s one adorable bear holding that bloody knife.

And I’m part of the Horror Within Box Set with some very heavy hitters in horror fiction.

Horror Within Box Set

In other words, it’s been a productive year. It seems I have a lot to live for, after all. I can’t wait to get more of my ebooks into print, too. So stay busy. It will keep you out of trouble. Works for me. When you’re feeling down, write another book. That’s what I do. I’m all nerves a lot of the time, obviously. Writing soothes me and keep me from acting on impulses to hammer things.

Writing works that way for many people. Writing or reading, I hope you find escape, as I do, in imagination.
Merry Christmas.

If you had mixed feelings about 2014, let’s make 2015 better, hm?

Filed under: author platform, Horror, publishing, Writers, writing tips, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What’s the right price for a book?

When discussing book marketing, writers often debate free versus cheap versus charging what a book is worth. “What a book is worth” can be a moving target, depending on who you ask and when. Here are some factors to consider:

1. Length of the book.

My friend and co-author, Holly Pop, wrote a novella, Ouija: Based on a True Story. It charted at 99 cents, but since going up to $2.99, it’s still charting and doing well. Short doesn’t have to mean 99 cents. It’s around 8,000 words and people still want it. Pick it up. It’s really compelling.

2. Genre.

Some genres, like epic fantasy or historical romance, seem to have readers who expect higher word counts. They often want more than 100,000 words.

I think many readers are becoming less sensitive to word count. That’s good. What should matter to us, as readers and writers, is providing value for money. My books are getting shorter. I start looking for the exit around 50,000 words and I generally find it north of 60,000 words. Still a good-sized book that doesn’t feel to the reader like it’s full of shortcuts. Consider that a lot of people are grooving on shorter, fast-paced books, too. They don’t feel they have time for very long books. (I think that trend will continue.)

3. Intent and timing.

Is this book a loss leader? Is it meant to be an introduction and sales funnel for a series? You might put it at perma-free or you might decide to offer an introductory price of 99 cents. You might also choose to put it at whatever you consider full price and hold a sale once in a while to move more books (and include a call to action to your other, similar, books.) You might even just write the bloody book, slap on the price you think is fair, never drop the price ever. You might start high and slowly drop (the traditional approach) or you might start low to get more attention and reviews and slowly raise the price.

4. Is it time to reevaluate your book prices? 

Here’s my little case study:

I had the first Season of This Plague of Days set at 99 cents for a long time. I don’t personally like that price — not much sense having a pulse sale on a 99 cent book — but it got people looking at it who might have passed me by otherwise. It’s at 100 reviews now and more people are opting for the This Plague of DaysOmnibus Edition (greater value for the price and it contains all three books for an epic saga many compare favorably to The Stand.) All things considered, time to assert worth, right?

I put the price up to $3.99 today. According to Amazon’s price estimation tool, I should be charging $5.99 for a revenue increase of 451% and a drop in unit sales by half. However, Season One is the first in the series and the other books are also $3.99 each (while the TPOD Omnibus is at $6.99 and around 300,000 words.) No reasonable reader could say I’m trying to gouge them by keeping the price to $3.99. Arguably, I priced the first book in the series too low for too long. In the long-term, price should reflect value, but value is not the lone factor.

5. You.

Another consideration when setting prices is your sensibility and your confidence in the value of your product. Do you feel you’re well-known enough to set a higher price or are you still stuck enticing them with a low price? (Note: that strategy may well be deep in the Law of Diminishing Returns since competing on price is far less effective now.)

Also: Is the quality high? Do the reviews back that up for someone happening across your author page for the first time? Are you marketing your work well? What does “full price” mean to you, anyway? If you get a complaint about a price point, comparing it unfavorably to a low word count, for instance, will that send you reeling into a rage and/or depression?

Here’s one thing you don’t have to worry about: history.

If you priced a book too low or too high, you can always change it. You can experiment with price until you find the price that moves books effectively but still pays. Some writers worry that readers will complain about cost, comparing it to what it has been priced in the past. That’s rare. If I hadn’t just given you the history of a couple of my book prices, how many of you would really know what I charged yesterday? A few to none. Feel free to experiment.

6. Don’t discount free unnecessarily, either.

The truth is this: I think my crime novels rock. The Hit Man Series is a fun and funny romp with some serious power and punch behind it. (My fave is Hollywood Jesus, for the John Leguizamo joke alone.) However, it’s one of those best kept secrets that needs to get out there and mingle. I’m not seeing enough movement nor enough reviews on those titles. To get more readers to take a chance on my funny Cuban hit man, Jesus Diaz, I’m going to make the first novel in the series perma-free or at least tempo-free. Bigger Than Jesus is already on Kobo for free and I’m hoping Amazon will price match soon.

(Let Amazon know it’s free on Kobo here.)

If a series isn’t moving the way it should, consider doing a giveaway so you draw more readers into the fold. It’s not necessarily that your book series is ugly. It could be that Book #1 hasn’t gone on enough dates yet. Those who know it, love it, so eventually, everybody is going to love Jesus.

7. Stay flexible.

It may take a lot of experimentation and experience before you find the price move that’s right for you. Then you’ll have the same journey of discovery when you publish the next book, too. I’m on that journey, still experimenting. I don’t think that experimentation ever really stops. It’s just forgotten for a while until we figure it’s time to reassess sales and marketing and pricing again.

~ Robert Chazz Chute will publish his next novel (with co-author Holly Pop) later this week. It’s called The Haunting Lessons, an urban fantasy about a young woman from Iowa who, when tragedy strikes, discovers she has powers she never suspected. It’s the beginning of a fun series packed with jokes and disaster. If you want to join the fight and survive Armageddon, look for it on Amazon this weekend.

Filed under: Amazon, author platform, publishing, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

The foundation book of the Hit Man Series is available as an ebook and in paperback.

I’m in the middle of revisions on next my crime novel, so I’m grateful that the amazing Bridgette O’Hare suggested the Next Big Thing Blog Hop. As I creep closer to publishing Higher Than Jesus, she asked me ten questions about my Work in Progress. Ta-da!

What is the working title of your book? 

Higher Than Jesus (It’s pronounced “Hay-soose”. The “Higher” is a reference to drugs and thrills.) This is the second in The Hit Man Series. The foundation book was Bigger Than Jesus (released in June.) Five books are planned in the series so far. It’s a lot of fun, because stuff we thought we knew about Jesus Diaz from the first book go deeper. He has a darker past than I revealed the first time around and there are a lot of layers to his onion. The one thing you can count on with Jesus is that not much ever goes according to plan.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

The main character began with a cool idea I had for a suspense story called “The Inevitable” which appeared in my first book, Self-help for Stoners. Our first glimpse of Jesus was as a Cuban hit man who helps out women going through ugly divorces. That’s actually a glimpse of Jesus in the future, as a more experienced, mature assassin.

What genre does your book fall under?

Suspense, thriller, action/adventure. Whichever category appeals to you more.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I picture Enrique Eglesias as Jesus right now, but I’ve thought John Leguizamo, too. For the role of Willow Clemont, I’d need a very tall blonde glamazon. I’m not sure which actress fits the bill best. I’m not up on my tall, blonde actresses. As for the role of Chilli Gillie (another recurring good guy character from my Poeticule Bay Stories) who shows up in Higher Than Jesus, it’s kind of a sore subject. I pictured Michael Clarke Duncan. Sadly, he just died of a heart attack. I note Chilli’s resemblance to Mr. Duncan several times in the book and now I’m debating about rewriting that aspect and how to do so.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

In Higher Than Jesus, luckless hit man Jesus Diaz is on the run in Chicago when he takes up a mission to free himself and his girlfriend from addiction to Vicodin and to thwart the evil plans of a group of gun running white supremacists.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’m published by Ex Parte Press. This is the one company that cares most about my book. It’s my company.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

The first draft was a month or two. I write fast. Then the long editorial tail kicks in. That has more people involved, and so, more variables.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

The pace of Blake Crouch’s Run had a big impact on me as well as an old book by William Goldman called Edged Weapons. I like a book that skips along at a fast clip with lots of chuckles and clever surprises. I should also add that fans of Bigger Than influenced Higher Than quite a bit. Everyone commented on how funny Bigger Than Jesus was in unexpected ways. From what fans said, I decided that I needed to keep the pacing and reversals of the first book, but to always look for the humor in situations that aren’t all that funny. That’s what I do on and off the clock, anyway. I think finding the cosmic joke is what we all have to do to get through every day.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

I have a dopamine addiction, so I’m compelled to write. I was born this way. Why write this book in particular? I read a lot, but I’m having a hard time finding this sort of book. Humorous books don’t tend to have a lot of action. Books with a lot of action often fall short on humor. I love snappy dialogue, so I probably owe more of an inspirational debt to the Coen brothers’ movies and Quentin Tarantino movies. If you can’t find the book you want to read, you have to write it.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

There’s a lot in there that provides deep context and verisimilitude for the plot, like some controversial observations about talk therapy, PTSD and drug addiction. My wife is a psychologist and I had to warn her that Jesus comes down hard on talk therapy, but it’s mental stimulation I’m dealing out. I’m not presenting Truth with a capital T, but an opinion from a guy who has serious problems, like killing people for a living.

Also, as a former military policeman, Jesus uses some clever surveillance tactics, skip tracer ruses and knowledge about IEDs that are all drawn from real life. Between research and some things I picked up from experts, the story yields some fun, interesting details and new twists that will amaze. Promise.

Who’s up next in the Next Big Thing Blog Hop? Look for more posts next Wednesday from:

The always-encouraging Jo Michaels, the lovely Jordanna East, the historically mysterious Laura Seeber, lover of all things just Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy and the ever-enthusiastic Ronald Fischman.

Related articles

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Ultimate Blog Challenge: Top 10 Things I know I don’t know (yet)

THINGS I DON’T KNOW INCLUDE:

1. How to push my stats for my author site (AllThatChazz.com) as high as this writing blog (though spillover should be inevitable.

English: John Leguizamo at the 2007 Toronto In...

English: John Leguizamo at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Or should it? Not so far.)

2. How to get more attention to my podcast (though numbers have gone up since I started reading Bigger Than Jesus a chapter at a time.)

3. Have I put off more readers than I’ve gained with my strange titles?

4. Should I have pushed the title of Self-help for Stoners harder when I met Kevin Smith in a video simulcast, or would that have made me look like a douche?

5. If I’d started writing books seriously twenty years ago, would I be happier now, or trapped in contracts I’d hate?

6. Did John Leguizamo ever read the blog post about casting him in the movie of Bigger Than Jesus? Probably not, but we all go ego surfing from time to time, don’t we?

7. Will I ever get Scrivener to work the way it says it works when I format my books? So far I just play with it until I get incrementally better but so far it’s more like stabbing a keyboard in the dark than arriving at solutions logically.

8. Will Amazon look at the numbers and switch their algorithm back to the way it was in December so giving away a ton of books means something useful in selling books on the paid side? (When an Amazon fan like Joe Konrath says, okay, I’m out of KDP Select until they change terms, we should all take notice.)

9. Will my books take off before I run out of money completely? I am in a race. (I just got some help with this and things might be looking up if a strategy I’m working on takes off. More on that later.)

Get Bigger Than Jesus

10. I don’t know if my gamble/mid-life crisis will pay off. I do know I’m glad I pulled the trigger. I’ll find out. It’s better than not ever knowing and looking back in regret at what might have been.

(UBC #14)

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

AB Challenge 22: John Leguizamo, I know you’re reading this. Call me.

Leguizamo outside the Broadway production of A...

Leguizamo outside the Broadway production of American Buffalo, November 21, 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today’s writing prompt: If a Hollywood agent were to come knocking on your door with an offer to turn your book into a movie and told you that you could call all the shots, who would you have direct and star in it? Write the first paragraph of Roger Ebert’s review of your film.

For my crime novel, Bigger Than Jesus, Martin Scorcese or Quentin Tarantino would be my first thought for directors.

For the Jesus Diaz, the Cuban hit man who wants out of the mob, could be played by the great John Leguizamo.

Eva Mendes comes to mind first to play the lovely Lily Vasquez, the most gorgeous woman in New York and the object of Jesus’s worship.

For Big Denny De Molina, Jesus’s best friend and biggest obstacle? Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson would be perfect, especially if he’s willing to keep the biceps but add a bit of a fat suit.

Jimmy Lima, the dangerous underboss? Jimmy Smits, of course! After his tour on Dexter, I can think of no one better for that role. Andy Garcia would be great, too.

Uma Thurman would be great as Barbara, Jimmy Lima’s wife. (Shades of an overlap with Pulp Fiction there.)

Harv and Marv, the twins with tattoos on their necks? Michael Fassbender or Ryan Gosling. (This one’s for you, ladies! Times two.)

Panama Bob is the other underboss who has skimmed a fortune in mob money (that Jesus needs to escape). I’m thinking a bold casting choice: Zach Galifianakis going against type.

For Vincent, the godfather of the piece, I’d take Jonathan Goldsmith, the actor who plays The Most Interesting Man in the World in the Dos Equis commercials.

My cousin David Strauss as the FBI agent. My other cousin is the actor and jazz singer Amy Hack. She’d be great singing a torch song in a bar.

As for the hypothetical Ebert review: I don’t have enough thumbs to point up! Run, don’t walk, to the nearest theatre to enjoy the best mob movie in ages. Jesus Diaz, played by John Leguizamo in his best role yet, is a clever hit man who wants to escape New York with stolen mafia money and his girlfriend, Lily Vasquez. In a darkly humorous trip full of witty dialogue and fast-paced action that will leave you breathless, it’s the unexpected twists and reversals you can’t see coming that elevate this to a movie you’ll want to see again and again. It’s so good, you’ll even want to buy the book by Robert Chazz Chute, too!

GET BIGGER THAN JESUS

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

Winner of Writer's Digest's 2014 Honorable Mention in Self-published Ebook Awards in Genre

The first 81 lessons to get your Buffy on

More lessons to help you survive Armageddon

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

Available now!

Fast-paced terror, new threats, more twists.

An autistic boy versus our world in free fall

Suspense to melt your face and play with your brain.

Action like a Guy Ritchie film. Funny like Woody Allen when he was funny.

Jesus: Sexier and even more addicted to love.

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

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