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

Write and publish with love and fury.

TOP TEN TIPS: How to set up your podcast

Why should you want to make podcasts and appear on podcasts?

English: Podcast or podcasting icon Français :...

English: Podcast or podcasting icon Français : Icône pour les podcasts ou la baladodiffusion (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s radio with a low barrier to entry. It’s like having your own no-stupid-rules radio station that’s really close to free. You could be on iTunes a few days from now, promoting your business, your books, and yourself to the world. I’ve got fans in San Francisco, Dubai, Beijing and places I’d never heard of because of podcasts.

Since I began podcasting my crime novel a chapter at a time, several people have asked me how I set up my podcast and what’s involved. I can give you the broad strokes with an easy TOP 10 list. Don’t get overwhelmed. It’s not that hard, especially if you take my strongest advice and go straight to Tip #10.

1. You’ll need a microphone. I have two, one for $127 and one for $90. The cheaper one works better. Some people say you have to use a mixer to make sure your audio doesn’t peak and hurt listeners’ ears. However, I prefer the mic that plugs straight into the computer.  No need to be fancy with your podcast. You don’t have to be a Mac user. A chair that doesn’t squeak is a better investment. You don’t have to buy expensive shock mounts of your mics (but do get a screen for your microphone, called a sock, so you don’t “pop your ps”. Popped ps do thud into your listeners’ eardrums. You don’t have to have enhanced videocasts. Most of the people who listen to podcasts are either out for a walk, doing laundry or on a treadmill as they listen to programming. Video in podcasting is a deficit, not an asset.)

2. You’ll need a computer program to record and edit your podcast. Audacity is free. I use GarageBand. Though it does cost, I found the interface easier, especially since a friend gave me a one-on-one tutorial. I tried Audacity without help and the learning curve was a bit steeper. (I’m not turning anyone away from Audacity, though. It’s free and useful. It was just easier for me since I already knew someone who knew the software. Having a buddy who’s already in the know might make for a different choice for you, too.)

3. You’ll need a blog. WordPress is free and most anyone who reads this post already has a blog. Those lovely non-problems are the easiest to solve. There is also an ID3 tag editor (app) to buy, but it’s just a few dollars for a little program that will help you label your podcast and prepare it for upload to Libsyn. Speaking of which…

4. You’ll want a Libsyn account. Libsyn is the company that will publish your podcast to iTunes, your blog and elsewhere (even apps). Go for the $20 a month option. You can pay less, or even go with some outfit that will give it to you for free, but they cost more in the long term in other ways. For instance, lots of places will let you use them to broadcast your podcast, but you can’t move it anywhere later, so, effectively, they own your podcast, not you. You hold on to your rights and options by going with Libsyn. The best thing about Libsyn is that you bank unused broadband. When I started, I was worried about the hidden costs. What if my podcast is so popular, the broadband gets too expensive to pay? With Libsyn, there aren’t any hidden costs and they have an excellent stats page so you know exactly how popular you are. (Or not.)

Once you’re set up, you can also get your podcast on Stitcher. Stitcher is a very popular podcast outlet because it’s free and it  allows listeners to wirelessly stream podcasts to their phone or iPod. They don’t have to hook up to their computers. The podcasts take up no space on any device. Since I discovered Stitcher, I hardly ever use iTunes.

If you’re thinking of joining Stitcher, please use my promo code: SELFHELPSTONERS. By joining, you’re also entered into their draw for a $100 cash card.

5. You’ll have to have some time set aside. Every minute on air means four minutes in total invested with production. That’s a good rule of thumb, though I’ve managed to shorten it a bit over time. Don’t cut too many corners, though. I missed an edit a few podcasts back and the paper rustling seemed a tad unprofessional. Don’t be too professional, though. Mistakes are authentic moments and I like when the unexpected happens in a podcast. The unexpected never happens in radio and that’s one of the reasons radio is boring and only people who are trapped in cars or terrorist attacks listen to radio anymore.

Want a horrific example of authenticity? I’ve talked about the hilarious aspects of my colonoscopy, my first schoolyard fight, how I got screwed over by a financial adviser and a publisher, and worst of all, how I felt too fat and unsuccessful to go to my college reunion. You don’t have to be this revealing, but being real works in podcasting.

Don’t be self-conscious about your voice, either. I have a stammer that becomes evident when my brain works faster than my tongue. My delivery is positively Shatnerian. I talk in bursts and when I speed up I talk like a Nova Scotian, really fast and in the back of my throat. Most of that either isn’t a real issue, improves with practice or can be edited out.

6. Get good album art. I used a cover from my book Self-help for Stoners because I wanted to publicize the book and podcast to an identifiable audience. Calling the podcast Self-help for Stoners made sense at the time. (As discussed in a recent post on book promotion, I’m changing that because I have so many more books now. One book is not your brand. You are your brand. Think long term.) You’ll need a couple of images of different sizes for this. When you know those sizes and have an idea for an image to represent your podcast, talk to Kit Foster at KitFosterDesign.com. His prices are very reasonable. He’s my graphic artist. Heck, Kit is The Graphic Artist. (Can’t wait to show everybody what he came up with for my print cover for Bigger Than Jesus!) If you go without a professionally designed image, your podcast listing makes you look like a hack and you’ll definitely be skipped over.

7. Choose your category. My categories for different podcasts range from politics to fiction to comedy. Some of your audience might like variety, though if you go deep into a particular topic or niche, you’ll definitely find your audience quicker. Go with your passions. Stick with one podcast to start. Setting up the first one and doing it right will probably cost $200 or $300. After that, it’s cheap (and a claimable promotion cost.)

Do it with someone else and not only do you split the cost, you’ve got a co-host to bounce ideas with. Monologuing (as I do) is not for everyone and I sometimes wish I had someone else on the mic.

Also decide if your podcast will be a swearfest or family friendly, explicit or clean. I started out swearing and came around to PG. Also, consider that if you want advertisers, unless you’re Joe Rogan or Kevin Smith, most advertisers prefer clean podcasts.

8. You’ll need to promote your podcast. I’ve been a guest or I’ve been mentioned on other podcasts about ten times or more so far. Similar to guest blogging for bloggers, I think that’s helped the most. I learned recently that it’s been proved statistically that there’s no correlation between a large Twitter following and a large podcast following. That surprised me but I have no reason to doubt the stats. That said, if you can be rich and famous first, that doesn’t really hurt any endeavour, does it?

9. Do you have enough to say? When I started podcasting last November, I reasoned that if I ever ran out of stuff to say, I could always just read some of my fiction. I did read a bunch of my fiction on the podcast, but I also found I had a lot to say that had nothing to do with fiction. I’ve done skits and bits and improv. I’ve gotten angry and sad and confessed and condemned. Just as you would with a blog, brainstorm what you might talk about.

There’s no rule that says you have to do a podcast that’s an hour, two hours or three hours long. Most of

Click to get Bigger Than Jesus

my podcasts were 40 – 45 minutes once a week. Then I decided to make shorter podcasts but a twice a week. Then, to get the word out about The Hit Man Series, I’m podcasting Bigger Than Jesus a chapter at a time. Book 2, Higher Than Jesus, might be ready for podcast before I’m done recording the foundation book. Podcasting helps with the final proof, as well. We’ll see. No rules, remember? I love that about being indie in whatever I do.

Listen to a lot of podcasts to get a flavor of what works for you. Figure out where you fit. Are you the next Grammar Girl (the first podcaster on Oprah) or Mur Lafferty from I Should Be Writing? How-to podcasts are very popular (if you have enough to say on the subject long term.)  I listen to Litopia (for everything publishing); some stuff from the Kevin Smith network since he started my career; The Joe Rogan Experience has awesome guests (and depending on what you’re doing with your podcast, guests are great); The David Feldman Show (because I’m a lefty who loves comedians); and The Best of the Left (for smart politics). There are, of course, thousands of podcasts to choose from, those are a few of my favourites. You should also listen to The School of Podcasting by Dave Jackson. You can even join up and learn more. Dave is an enthusiastic educator who loves podcasting. He can teach you everything from how to set it up to how to monetize it properly. He’s forgotten more than I’ll ever know about podcasting.

10. Which leads me to my most important tip of this monster post: Talk to Dave Jackson from The School of Podcasting to get help setting up your podcast. He teaches and consults. I am not an expert on podcasting. That doesn’t stop me from being a podcaster thanks to Dave.

When I started out, I read all the FAQ I could find. I made my first podcast, but I couldn’t figure out how to get it out into the world. I had launched my first books and I was anxious to promote them via an avenue I knew a lot of people were missing out on. I was missing out! A lot of people are still missing out! You’re probably missing out right now! After days of frustration, I called Dave Jackson: Great guy, smart guy, patient guy. He knows the nuances of feed burner and RSS feeds and setting up your podcast without tears or time lost. He’ll get you past the mechanics and into what matters: reaching a wider audience you would never otherwise reach.

UPDATE: Dave just emailed me that he is revising his website this weekend. Hang in there if it’s not completely available when you check in. He’ll have chat on, so Dave can still set up a consultation to help you set up your podcast.

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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)

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Author Blog Challenge #26: The demons in my head

AVAILABLE ON AMAZON NOW!

The Dangerous Kind & Other Stories is up on Amazon! It’s kind of the perfect day to address the Author Blog Challenge prompt: What’s your next book about?

I wrote my novella, The Dangerous Kind, about small-town claustrophobia in Maine and the deadly contempt that familiarity can breed. Two brothers have just lost their father to an accident at the mill. They both want the insurance settlement and a hunting trip might yield an opportunity to solve problems with murder. Did I mention there are surprises? I love surprises, don’t you?

Now I’ve bundled The Dangerous Kind with the following SIX shorts,

all precursors to the coming Poeticule Bay Series of novels:

I’ve dealt out deadly consequences to collections agents in the popular award winner End of

Paranormal persuasion and scary stories.

the Line (from Sex, Death & Mind Control). This time I deal with real world problems in different ways. In The Sum of Me, an aspiring writer gets financial help that hurts. I gave a reading of this short story live at a writing convention (to thunderous applause) and it also won an honourable mention from Writer’s Digest. Everyone identified with the palpable writerly desperation.

What do you do when your psychotherapist dumps you? Read Vengeance is #1, about Georgie, a mean girl with bad timing. She’ll give you some tips on how to handle it. Please note: All her ideas are very bad. It reads like steroidal YA. Watch out for the sharp and dangerous mood swings.

You’re a serial killer. Your therapist is helping you to control your impulses. She only wants you to kill the lost causes of she chooses from her patient pool. Then someone comes along who you want to slay so badly you can almost taste the blood. What then? Then it’s mind game time! Take Corrective Measures.

In Over & Out, a wife abandons her husband and children. He tries to put up a brave front while quietly dying inside (maybe literally.) Then he discovers the power of hypochondria and how self-help is sometimes the opposite of real help. Psychological horror and revelations in a little neurotic cup!

In Asia Unbound, a starlet returns to Poeticule Bay for her uncle’s funeral. She meets up with her high school boyfriend, now Marcus in the Morning, your friendly and miserable radio DJ. Drinks are thrown back, mice are killed and awful secrets from the past are revealed. Your heart might bleed for them both, but you should really only feel sorry for one of them. Life’s a mystery you can solve and still get it all wrong.

In this strange follow-up to Asia Unbound, Marcus in the Morning is at work the next day using the power of his microphone to argue with God. In Parting Shots, Marcus is about to find out that there are some arguments you definitely do not want to win! A conundrum is drummed. Fatal deals are made. Hold on to your faith. You’re going to need it.

~ Robert Chazz Chute has won seven writing awards of vastly varying importance and was nominated for a Maggy Award for his columns. He is the author of the newly released (very funny and super twisty) crime novel Bigger Than Jesus. You might know him from Self-help for Stoners, meeting Kevin Smith and such industrial films as Hitting People in the Face with Ball Peen Hammers is Wrong (except in Texas) and Writing About Yourself in the Third Person for an Author Profile Sure Sounds Douchey, Doesn’t It? Please buy his books. Otherwise he cries and it’s hopelessly pathetic. Hopeless!

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Author Blog Challenge Writing Prompt: Describe how the idea for your book first came to you

English: The entertitle of Buffy made on Paint.

English: The entertitle of Buffy made on Paint. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My books come to me in different ways:

With Self-help for Stoners, I saw that I could fit stories of suspense into a framework of a self-help book made of fiction. When Director Kevin Smith inspired me to quit my day job and pursue my writing dreams, I realized that I could put together a fun, genre-bending bathroom book that would defy expectations. It came together quickly as a wild mix of the unexpected melded with observations, parables and exhortations (to get off the couch.) It’s a book that’s very different but somehow familiar. The feedback has been great, though I’m often surprised when people debate, is this pro-drug or anti-drug? I tell them it’s neither. It’s suspense that asks you to draw conclusions about your compulsions. It’s pro-freedom and freedom of speech. Yes, it’s important to have a label so people can find you and your book, but in this case, pigeon holes are for pigeons. It was quite a thrill for me to hand Kevin Smith his own autographed copy of the book and he was happy about it, too.

Sex, Death & Mind Control is the book that came so slowly, it’s appropriate to use the word evolution. I wrote short stories over several years before attempting longer fiction. Two award winners are included in this collection and it’s suspense that can be creepy and surprising. I don’t care for gore and it’s not at all pornographic, but sex and death are outcomes of the key factor through all the stories: various forms of mind control (magic, persuasion, mind games, coercion, trickery and self-delusion) form the book’s theme.

I’m fascinated by mind control. When powerful forces use it on us, we are in danger.

When we gain control of our minds, we will win.

The Dangerous Kind is closest to my heart. It’s a novella about escape. The place it is set (Poeticule Bay, Maine) is fictional, but the setting draws on places I lived when I was a kid and the town is almost a character in the plot. Anyone who has felt small-town claustrophobia will recognize and feel the resonance. There’s a deer hunt, intrigue and an inheritance between brothers on the line, but it’s really about complex relationships and the friction that comes from people who live too close together and only think they know each other. That certainly reflects my small-town experience.

I wrote several stories where I found myself drawn back to run over the same demon roadkill on the back roads around Poeticule Bay so one of my WIPs is all about the place. I’ll run those demons down, exorcise them or make them dance for my pleasure.

Finally, Bigger Than Jesus, my crime series, springs from my dim world-view. I commented on another fiction writer’s blog recently that the criminal world is so like the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In Joss Whedon‘s series, vampires and monsters run amok, but the normies somehow look past all the mayhem to maintain the illusion of stability in their lives. Vampires attack the school and the principal says it was druggies on PCP. Victims suffer and die by night as people go about their business in sunlight. Organized and disorganized crime is just like that. I’ve spent some time hanging out in courtrooms as a reporter and researcher and the stories that unfold there are by turns tragic, comedic and horrific. Homelessness, drugs, violence, confrontation and small, surprising acts of mercy: People would be amazed what happens in cities across the world, much of the stuff bubbling from underneath is never reported in the media. When I’m writing this stuff, I’m often reminded how the Cohen brothers and Elmore Leonard have it right. A lot of bad things can happen on the easy and wide route out of town.

I don’t know if twisted and dim world views and angry childhoods are required for all writers,

but those elements help me come up with my ideas for my books. 

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The Myth of the Writer’s Thick Skin

I wrote about rating the dreaded one-star review last week (Scan down the page for that). Now let’s delve into the thin-skinned versus the thick-skinned as we deal with genuinely nasty and undeserved critiques. When you put yourself out there, it’s going to happen. People disagree about what’s good and some of them think that if they don’t like it, you should stop what you’re doing and stop breathing, too. (Read some of the uglier one-star reviews on Amazon or the plethora of terrible, even racist, comments on popular YouTube videos and you’ll see what I mean. I’m not talking about the thoughtful critiques you should take seriously to improve. I’m talking boneheads, here.)

Writers are often told that rejection itself is good for them. Somehow, all the bad news from agents and editors is supposed to toughen you for when you earn your right to stand among the pros and get bad reviews. What a buttload that is. Seasoned pros feel anguish over their detractors, too. You’ve heard it gets better? It doesn’t. It gets worse. Unless you have the self-possession of a serial killer, almost all of us are thin-skinned when it comes to nasty reviews. Not that it will necessarily matter to them, but one-star reviewers should know that their unkind words are burned into our brains forever. The Pulitzer and the Nobel prizes? We’ll have to dig out the letters to remember the positive stuff but our memories for nasty is eidetic and forever.

Comedian Jimmy Pardo related a great story on a podcast called The Myoclonic Jerk this week. (Download it from iTunes or Stitcher. There are some great segments on writers dealing with rejection, dejection and writer’s block.) Pardo opens up about his first and last disastrous appearance on The Tonight Show. For reasons that aren’t on him, the set did not go well and it took him years to get over it. “And this,” he points out, ” was before the Internet!” It’s a great point. The same experience today would have been vivisected across the Internet by thousands of snarky, anonymous nasties, critiqued barbarically on YouTube and would live on even now. As it was? It still took him years before he got over the trauma.

Director Kevin Smith has a cult for a fan club. He also has people waiting for him to do anything just so they can pull it apart, sometimes sight unseen. They criticize his weight and his appearance. Some people wouldn’t give him credit for making a smart artistic choice even by accident. Surprise! Surprise! Growing up fat and criticized doesn’t make you any less sensitive to the nasty comments when you grow to adulthood, especially when you get kicked off a plane for being a person of size. Hurtful comments remain hurtful because words matter, even when the losers and wannabes making said comments don’t.

Performer Penn Jillette has some really interesting things to say about criticism. His show, Penn & Teller, actually gets very few criticisms in the run of a year, but he remembers every single ugly one. The unfair critiques still bother him, but he did come to the realization that they shouldn’t. Jillette points out that every snarky criticism he takes too seriously is an insult to all the thousands of fans who take the time to send him praise. He’s right! We should focus on the reviews that can help us. Those won’t all be the five-star kind, but a healthy ego and confidence serves any writer in moving forward. Again, I’m not campaigning for worship, here. Respect will do.

Now if only we could figure out how to not let the bad reviews bother us. As I pointed out in last week’s posts about reviews, the higher you climb in Amazon’s rankings, the more likely you are to attract people who wouldn’t like your work no matter what. As author Russell Blake suggested on his blog, that could be because the one-star reviewers are grabbing up free copies to fill their Kindles indiscriminately and getting books that are outside their preferred genre. Those reviews that say, “This is crap because it isn’t at all what I expected,” are annoying. (As I suggested to all reviewers, both naughty and nice, please check the  sample before clicking the buy button.)

We can try to accentuate the positive and focus on the good. I don’t know how to do that, do you? Really? Do tell! (Seriously, we all want to know. Leave a comment on how you deal with particularly nasty reviews. One idea from last week was simply to look at the nasty reviews for the books you love and recognize you share a commonality with your most favorite writers: doofuses.)

We can grin and bear it, but not many of us can do that without a lot of pretending while we simmer inside, plot our enemies destruction and, in the end, allow a nasty review to ruin an entire morning of what would otherwise be productive time. (Hell, I got into a scuffle over politics on Facebook which slowed me down for an hour and that was with a great friend!)

We can tell ourselves to consider the source and dismiss it. It might be a good idea. It’s never actually been tried in recorded history. That’s just something people tell victims of bullies. We get hung up on that mysterious “dismissing” part of the plan.

We could meditate, which someone once said is better than sitting and doing nothing. I meditated for a long time. I learned something powerful about meditation: It’s boring and not for me.

We could tell ourselves that any critic is only talking about your book, not you. That’s might be right. Maybe it’s more like when a stranger insults your child. We all take that well.

We can theoretically just avoid reading reviews, but no one will do that and even if you did, your mom would call to read the bad review to you over the phone.

We could exercise out stress away. That’s really good advice I’m keep telling myself I should take.

There is one thing that seasoned pros do that’s different from overly delicate dilettantes: Writers keep writing. A nasty review can put a speed bump in your day, but the only remedy I know to assuage the pain of adversity is to pull my WIP up on the screen, put my head a few inches above the keyboard and write. Furiously. Move on to the next. “Next” is a powerful word. “Begin again” are two powerful words. Your people are out there. Your readers will appreciate you. And the ugly one-star reviewers writing undeserved vituperation? Nasty reviews are probably the extent of all the writing they’ll ever do.

Swear under your breath and keep writing, just like the seasoned pros! 

Continuing to write despite it all, not thick skin, is the mark of a professional writer.

If you’ve got thick skin, try a loofah.

Thin skin? That’s okay. If you look closely, writers are almost human, too.

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Review: The highs and lows of a book promotion campaign. What works?

Suspense, parables, inspiration, surprise.

Last week I wrote about my campaign to drag Self-help for Stoners into the world’s consciousness. If you’re new to the blog, long story short: I wrote a book of suspenseful fiction with a self-help twist dedicated to director Kevin Smith. When I had the honour of handing the book to my DIY hero at a comedy event simulcast to theatres across the US and Canada, I felt I had to take advantage of this unique opportunity. I tried an experiment with a press release distribution service called PR Web. For more on that review of the troubles I had getting the press release accepted for wide distribution, check out the original post here. 

Soon after the press release went into wide distribution, I got a small increase in traffic, but not, it seemed, in the way I’d hoped. 

The Dangerous Kind

Murder might solve your problems. Two brothers go hunting. Only one will see home again.

A fellow on Google+ was complimentary to me (I have balls!) but thought the money ($240) was wasted. He wasn’t being unkind…at least I don’t think he meant to be. He just thought there were better uses of my time and newer, more innovative ways to spread the word about my book’s existence. I’m always interested in learning more and I’m particularly interested when people have ideas about what to do instead of what not to do. (More on that in another post after I conduct more field research.)

Imagine my chagrin when I read a post by Dead Wesley Smith who decreed that spending money on book promotion is a waste of time and money until you have 50 books for sale. That’s right. Fifty! I double-checked to make sure it wasn’t the cloying cloud of depression and stress headaches obscuring my vision misleading me. Kurt Vonnegut only wrote fourteen novels in his lifetime. If Dean Wesley Smith is right, is there any place for book promotion for most of us? Maybe I struck the iron too early, but given the scope of the simulcast, my press release appeared to be a now-or-never opportunity.

My speed of production isn’t near as quick as Dean Wesley Smith, but how many of us can write (good) books that fast? Maybe I should write faster, but even at once every three months, I wouldn’t be gambling a promotional penny to let the world know I exist until 2024. Will I even live long enough to ever have to bother with book promotion at that rate? Hm. That would be a great solution except for  the part about me being dead. I do agree with Dean on one point thoroughly and I’ve said it many times myself: your best book promotion idea is to get to work on the next book and I’m certainly doing that. I’ll be coming out with three books this year (so that’s one every four months, though I confess that two and half are already written and I’m mostly in the revision stage.) I’m not as skilled as Dean Wesley Smith because I’m not up to the pace he’s setting. I honestly wouldn’t have confidence in the end product if I pushed that fast. No worries or apologies on that score. We’re all just doing the best we can. (For more on what indie production actually costs, check out Dean Wesley Smith’s post here.)

But what you’re wondering is, what did the PR Web press release actually do and could that work for your book? It’s too early to tell, so once again, my results are

Don't argue over parking spots with strangers. Or else.

preliminary. The cycle of Google analytics is 28 days long, and what follows is just the first week of results. (However, isn’t it already old news now that the event is over a week stale?) I can tell you that PR Web’s marketing guy sounded very pleased. He phoned me yesterday morning to say that I’d worked the SEO right (five links maximum was how it worked out with my word count) and he said the response to the press release was “great.”

“How do I quantify ‘great’?” I asked. I’m sure I whacked him with a heavy note of skepticism but he seemed no less bouncy at my glorious prospects. He told me how to get the analytics for the press release. Apparently, the number of people who read the release, liked the headline and read to the end of the article was impressive, perhaps even unusual. Nice, though I wish I liked the press release more. (For more on that, once again, refer to the original post.)

8,027 media deliveries boiled down to 49 “interactions” (where a link was clicked or a pdf was downloaded) and eight “pickups”. The report contains a sample of Web sites that picked up or syndicated my story. It’s apparently not the full list, but media outlets included: Hollywood Industry, Mac DVD Pro, Digital Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, Corporate Media News, Yahoo! News, and Consumer Electronics Net.

But these aren’t the numbers you really want to know. Has this press release helped sales? Sadly, not much so far that is measurable. I saw a bit of a bounce up on my Amazon sales, but that settled quickly. And the truth is, since I’m doing several other things, I could easily attribute that blip to the success of other marketing tactics. But before I draw conclusions in this review, see if you can follow the roller coaster of author thrust and bureaucratic parry that has brought me to my sad current state.

Here are the highs and lows and forays

of my marketing campaign for Self-help for Stoners:

High: I sent out several press releases about meeting Kevin Smith to CBC shows and to my local paper. These forays cost me nothing.

Low: CBC didn’t call back. The local columnist who showed enthusiasm seems to have lost my number. Or he’s sick and not at work. Gee, I hope he’s sick.

What if God gives you what you want? What if you win an argument against God?

High: Kevin Smith has a cult and for a shining moment I was in front of them. I paid $200 for a one-minute ad to run on Smith’s Smodcast network the day he got back on the mic. I figured since he hadn’t been on the mic for such a long time, the first day he got back on the show would have high ratings and many downloads. And maybe they’d remember said shining moment from the broadcast of the Live from Behind Show in Toronto.

Low: The ad didn’t run on schedule. There was a communication breakdown. Despite my best efforts at keeping in touch with the ad guy at Smod, it didn’t happen. It’s supposed to run today (February 14th on Smodcast Internet Radio. I’m sacrificing a goat to Thor, hoping it happens this time. Don’t worry about the goat. He’s suicidal.)

High: I did two podcasts about my Kevin Smith experience, before and after. They’ve been well-received by those who have heard them. “One and a quarter hours of narrative gold,” said one, Thor bless him. Bliss. (See all the podcasts here.)

Low: Though they may catch on in the long term, not many people have actually heard them! I screwed up the metadata so, on Stitcher, the first words that show up in the tiny window that give the podcast summary are not Chazz Meets Kevin Smith and Jay Mewes. Instead it reads: Show notes and podcast details… That won’t get anybody new to check out my filthy jokes and stream of consciousness trips in order to find me utterly delightful and worthy of their love and bucks.

Twisty and twisted. Click the pic for more.

High: I thought KDP Select might be my salvation to really get things going. Amazon told me all I’d have to do was tell Bookbaby to withdraw from all other platforms to meet the exclusivity caveat. Any other action might risk duplication on Amazon’s site.

Low: BookBaby disagrees. I got a nice email (eventually—BookBaby seems awfully slow to respond to me of late) saying that they would have to withdraw the books from all channels, it would be permanent, and I’d have to enter my books into KDP Select myself. With no confidence in how long that might take, I don’t want to risk not having any books for sale anywhere, especially with all the promotion work I’ve done. I replied to BookBaby that rather than risk a screw up and no availability of my books for an indeterminate amount of time, I’d keep my books where they were through BookBaby and just get the new books straight into KDP Select without them next time. That’s a loss all around, I’d say, but I’m the one who will feel it most.

There are a lot of tragic starts and stops to this tale, aren’t there?

The word “thwarted” is pushing into the centre of my brain like the capricious thumb of an angry god.

High: I tried to organize a Buy X Get Y promotion for my book on Amazon.

Low: Amazon Advantage said they couldn’t do it because fulfilment for my paperback is through CreateSpace, which is POD and they’d need stock on hand. After a light scolding, they told me to go to CreateSpace for a similar promotion program.

Asia_Unbound

Are we ever free from our secrets? Find out here.

Lower: CreateSpace said they’d call back. Then they sent me an email instead saying they have no idea what Amazon is talking about. (Note that CreateSpace is owned by Amazon, too, but never the twain shall meet, I guess, even if the plan would have made a buttload of money.) Once again, Chazz hurts moms. So much so, he begins to write about himself in the third person. With loathing,

Lowest: As I write this, I’m feeling a bit emotional and teary. The sum of the message so far is: Nobody knows me, I don’t matter and as good as the book is, it still doesn’t matter if I can’t convince anyone to try it out. And a fresh pile of bills arrived yesterday. There isn’t an author on earth who hasn’t felt this way, yet the lash feels equally new for every person every time.

Clawing and climbing out of the mire: So there are a few things I am doing which I’m more positive about. Writing and revising the new stuff is going well. (Three new novels this year! Whoo, and also hoo!) The Writing World will run an interview with me in early March. My friend Eden Baylee will also run a saucy little interview with me soon. I’ve sent out a couple more copies for book reviewers and will continue to seek out reviewers for all my books. The Self-help for Stoners podcast continues weekly and I had a clip broadcast on Succotash, a popular comedy clip show. I think I’ll have an excerpt from Self-help appear on the next The Word Count Podcast, in support of #IndiesUnite4Joshua (fun and a great cause.) I’m also getting quite a few nice mentions on other podcasts, like Logical Weightloss and The School of Podcasting.

But wait, Chazz! How do you account for that blip where sales came up a bit? It could be my promise on my podcast to gain converts individually by tying each new reader up and torturing them with sexual delights to gain converts. It could be that some new people I met lately have checked out my books or some found me through the Kevin Smith event when I was on

Get Vengeance and get surprised.

camera. Maybe the press release had some effect, but I tend to doubt it, at least until more evidence arrives through Google analytics.

So what have we learned about promoting our books? So far? We need more data.

I’d say I’ve learned this much:

1. Triberr has helped me get more new traffic to my blogs than anything else. I can see that clearly in my stats and my Twitter feed.

2. I have to find more innovative ways to get the word out. I’m working on that. (More later.)

3. I have to get more reviews. I have had excellent feedback on much of my work, but even when people are enthused, it doesn’t necessarily translate to reviews. I am soliciting reviews as my writing schedule allows.

4. I have to remember how much I believe in my books, because in the beginning, no matter who you are and no matter your experience, you’re just another schmo until you’re discovered. After you’ve made it, you’re a genius. Until then? Schmo. The writing awards and all the experience don’t matter. Yet.

Most important?

Did I mention I have more books coming out?

That will be what counts more than anything.

I have to provide a larger target for my readership to find me. 

My people are out there. I will find them. They will find me.

UPDATE: In keeping with the theme of getting thwarted, the Smashwords website is down at the moment, so the links from the short story covers are directed back to the author site until Smashwords is back up. The links in the The Dangerous Kind, Self-help for Stoners and Sex, Death & Mind Control (for fun & profit) covers work fine. You can still get everything I write across most digital book platforms, of course, (i.e. search Kobo and there they are) but as long as Smashwords is down, you can’t grab the short stories directly from that site. I will update as soon as the Smashwords server is back up. It’s all very…consistent with today’s theme, isn’t it?

LATEST UPDATE: SMASHWORDS IS NOW BACK ONLINE AND THE SHORT STORY COVERS NOW LINK BACK TO THAT SITE. Find out more about these short stories here.

~ Robert Chazz Chute is the author of Sex, Death & Mind Control (for fun and profit), the novella The Dangerous Kind, Self-help for Stoners and several suspenseful short stories with gut-punch endings, available at Smashwords. He’s in suspense, figuratively and literally and his comedy podcast, Self-help for Stoners, airs each Friday on Stitcher and iTunes. Visit the author site, AllThatChazz.com,  for updates on Chazz’s fiction and to download the podcast.

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Filed under: Publicity & Promotion, publishing, Rejection, reviews, web reviews, What about Chazz?, What about you?, Writers, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Using mass press release distribution to let the world know about your books

Hi everyone. This post is meant to be a helpful preliminary review of a press release service you could use to promote your books. Then it devolves into a self-pitying, snarly, snarky rant in which a tiny, hairless pig feels threatened. No animals were harmed in the making of this post…I think. Okay, he may be psychologically wounded.

I’ve had an eventful week. I got to meet director Kevin Smith and Jay Mewes (of Jay & Silent Bob fame) and handed them each a copy of my book, Self-help for StonersNext, how to capitalize on that?

I tried to organize a confluence of events around the book.

It’s basically a fiction collection of dark suspense with a self-help twist. (Yes, not an easy categorization which is both an advantage and a curse.) I’d met Kevin Smith in unusual circumstances in that when I handed him the book, thousands of his fans were watching on movie theatre screens across North America. I didn’t think the press release would be as hard as it was, especially since my training is in journalism and I’ve seen hundreds of press releases (and dumped hundred of press releases in the wastebasket.)

Then a friend of mine convinced me I should send out a press release. Well…a bunch of them. I sent them to several CBC shows and my local newspaper. The local columnist bit and me and my books will be profiled. So there’s that.

Then I remembered PR Web.

It’s basically a press release distribution service. It cost me $240 and to meet their editorial guidelines was a real bitch. Their marketing guy assured me they work with authors “all the time”. Non-fiction authors, maybe. They gave me a lot of hassle about getting into the widest distribution channel. (They offered to let me print it the way I wanted, if I were to accept a smaller distribution channel. For $240? Hell, no! I kept banging my head against the wall four or five times and they kept pushing the goal posts back to get into that wider distribution channel.) Finally, today it went out and was reprinted verbatim on a major website. (ONE website so far with little appreciable increase in blog traffic or sales. So far. UPDATE: By the way, here’s the link for the final draft: http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/578381. It’s not what I envisioned at all, but it’s okay I guess. )

On the other hand, it just went out this afternoon. It was delayed for “editorial reasons” They wanted it to be more newsy, fewer back links etc., no opinion… Basically they require that it look like any other press release, which isn’t what I was going for, but maybe I’m wrong and maybe they know what they’re doing. I’ll be the judge of that in coming days.

In the meantime, I have an ad running soon on the Smodcast Internet Radio network and one of the bits from my podcast (also called Self-help for Stoners cuz mama didn’t raise no dummy) will run on Succotash, a popular comedy clip show podcast. I just recorded a podcast today that will air Friday that details the whole experience meeting my DIY hero. The cult is into it.

And frankly, I am so tired of marketing! I normally don’t mind it, but with the PR Web delays and frustrations, I just want to crawl into bed with a coffee and write the next book uninterrupted, under the covers in my cowboy jammies with Alfred bringing me M&Ms (he brings the cape and cowl at midnight.)

This morning I screamed bad words at no one several times. The kids’ skinny pig is above my office and he probably shit himself in terror.

I haven’t finished my evaluation of PR Web yet, but I’d say go over their editorial guidelines to be sure you can meet them. As a fiction writer, it’s obviously difficult to be “newsy” enough. I had a very specific hook, several references to new technology (a first, in fact) and a major celebrity to piggyback the story. And they still didn’t zoom it through.

Even if I get a thousand hits tomorrow morning, here are the things I didn’t like:

the editorial person I spoke to on the phone wasn’t friendly (and I was… I only scream at empty rooms and tiny, terrified pigs); the marketing guy started out bouncy and helpful but then seemed anxious to dump me after he requested the draft (and his department couldn’t communicate with editorial); their user interface wasn’t all that intuitive; you pay before you can actually see the template you’re using to create the press release and they artificially delay the release of the news. (On that last point, I was concerned the information was getting more stale by the minute, but they make you pay more for the express line and I thought $240 was plenty, especially since $40 of that was to get a “star” to bump me up a list to improve visibility. Frustrating.)

I hope this helps someone here. Biggest issue for sure would be: being just another fiction author without a big hook. I had it and still encountered resistance I hadn’t anticipated that was a huge time drain.

Back to writing and revising…and lower blood pressure.*

 I wrote this post on Devin O’Branagan’s writer’s forum first, a couple of days ago and I’m sharing it here again for my blog readers.

__________________
~ Robert Chazz Chute is the author of Self-help for Stoners, The Dangerous Kind, and Sex, Death & Mind Control (for fun & profit). I’m in suspense, literally and figuratively.

Filed under: Publicity & Promotion, publishing, self-publishing, Social Media, What about Chazz?, What about you?, Writers, , , , , , , , , ,

Met Kevin Smith at Live From Behind in Toronto! He and Jay have my book!

Kevin Smith

Image via Wikipedia

Last night I shook hands and had a chat with Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith (Jay and Silent Bob for those not in the cult). Each now have a signed copy of my book, Self-help for Stoners. They couldn’t have been more gracious, interested, warm or friendly. It was a big moment for me, especially when Kevin recognized the book and said, “Hey! I know you!”

Each got a personalized recommendation for stories they might particularly like from Self-help and it was a genuine pleasure all around. We laughed a lot. As always, of course, Kevin spoke inspired and inspiring words about writing and the creative process.

I’m a bit emotional today. It was a milestone in the evolution, not just of the book, but for me taking the leap to writing full-time. It was just over a year ago that I decided I needed to “stop chasing the puck” and quit my job of twenty years. Things went full circle last night. And now? Onward. Three novels are coming out this year with my name on them. Hoo-ha!

I must make this writing thing work.

Bonus? As I walked up onstage, Jay sang Paperback Writer. Yes!

Filed under: All That Chazz, authors, Books, ebooks, My fiction, What about Chazz?, What about you?, Writers, writing tips, , , , , , , , ,

How Kevin Smith Changed My Life

I had a secret worry.

Our walls are full of books. My curse was that many of my books are about publishing and how to write. There’s a good chance I’ve read every book in English on how to write and edit. My secret worry was that I would die and my children would be left with all these books, each one a reminder of the books I had failed to write. The idea of my wife and children seeing me that way scared the shit out of me. But I still wasn’t betting on myself. I wasn’t all in.

Then in November 2009

(UPDATE: Whoops! That was actually 2010 so I made the jump in one year)

I saw director Kevin Smith onstage in Kitchener.

I expected to laugh a lot and I did.

What I didn’t expect was inspiration. 

I had thought about writing full-time but I only thinking, not doing. I attended writers’ conferences and wrote novels I kept secret from the world. I had a few drafts written but hadn’t polished and submitted them anywhere. I’d won seven writing awards, but hadn’t leveraged that fact. I wrote the back page column in Massage & Bodywork magazine for several years, freelanced some speeches and marketing materials, ghosted a bit and edited for writers and publishers on the side. Still, I hadn’t committed to making a real change for me. I was helping to make other people’s dreams come true. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I was ignoring my dreams and I wasn’t setting goals for myself.

I was waiting for…something.

Kevin Smith

Image via Wikipedia

Don’t wait. Take your shot.

Life is too short to wait to pursue your dreams.

I figured out the math. The risk I wasn’t taking was more dangerous than failing to try.

No matter how this experiment turns out, I can say I tried.

As you can see from the video, things have changed for me.

I’m having more fun. I’m putting myself out there.

Self-help for Stoners, Stuff to Read When You’re High, is now available in paperback.

 The Self-help for Stoners podcast is on iTunes and Stitcher and six ebooks are up for sale just about everywhere.

Look for three novels coming in 2012.

Thanks for the laughs and the inspiration, Kevin!

I went all in before it was too late.

The curse is broken.

Filed under: book trailer, Books, DIY, ebooks, getting it done, publishing, self-publishing, What about Chazz?, Writers, , , , , , ,

TOP TEN: What used to be cool

I used to think people don’t change, but we do, around the edges.

Here’s my list of what used to impress me…overly.

1. Movie memory: My wife remembers where we were on vacations. She recalls the restaurants, the sights and the good times. I can’t remember any of that. My memory box is stuffed with movie dialogue. In fact, that’s my super power. My parents owned a video store and I watched at least two movies a day for years. If you’re watching a movie with me and I feel the urge to show off —a sad, dependable occurrence — I’ll jump in and tell you the next line before the  actor can deliver it. It doesn’t have to be a great movie like The Karate Kid. It could even be The Karate Kid 3.

I’m briefly, ridiculously, proud when this happens and She Who Must Be Obeyed smiles tolerantly. But it’s not a super power that saves babies from house fires. I can’t monetize it. Any memory that’s at all useful, and much that isn’t, can be found on the web. Every time I hear a podcast where the host and guest speculate about what happened, which movie was what and who was Miss October 1993, I think: Look it up! We don’t need our pitiful brains anymore for trivia!We’ve got Wikipedia and the hive mind! Google it!

If our experience makes us what we are and all I’ve got is movie dialogue?

I. Am. Screwed.

2. Unguarded moment memory: Yesterday I chatted with a college buddy on Facebook. We have a strange friendship because: on the political spectrum, I’m Lefty Lefterson, he’s to the right; he loves debate and I love people who agree with me too easily; and we weren’t that tight in college. We even came close to getting into fisticuffs once. And what’s more? He doesn’t remember it. I have joked with him, somewhat passive aggressively, that I remember all his unguarded moments. We spent very little time together at school, but for some reason, as soon as I was around him, my brain box was wired in to his every utterance as if he were on film. (See #1)

One incident in particular became a source of hilarity: In the journalism school newsroom, he looked at me and then he ogled my girlfriend (who years later became my wife.) “How could a guy like you get a girl like that?” he asked, genuinely dumbfounded. I was a tad sandpapered by that at the time. Now, as I write this, I’m suppressing a giggle. He’s a supportive, funny guy who manages to think and smile, often at the same time. I don’t have that capacity and I admire it. But my wife’s still hot.

When I bring up unguarded moments from the past, my buddy has a certain lopsided smile of chagrin. I confessed to him yesterday that I have an eidetic memory for everything he said or did in college whenever I was within ten feet of him. (No, Marvel Studios won’t be making a superhero movie about this mutant power, either.) I told him that if I were him, I’d kill me.

But we’ve found transcendence. We laugh a lot. And I’d rather laugh than remember #2 sandpaper moments from the dead past.

(I’m an asshole for carnivoring yesterday’s conversation and bringing this up at all, so this was the last time.)

3. Domination: I used to watch Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, Jackie Chan and a host of Hong Kong martial arts movies obsessively. The idea that one man could dominate others with precise kicking skills was attractive. Now it strikes me as silly, simplistic and repetitive. Back then, I aspired to — this is really embarrassing — a whole whack of macho bullshit. As I edit my books, the theme that macho doesn’t mean mucho comes up a lot. Many of my stories explore how men relate to men, how men relate to women and how to be a man without devolving into a bully or a pussy.

I’ve figured out that my need for domination wasn’t rooted in strength.

That bullshit was all about fear.

4. Being a loner: I grew up in the ’70s and ’80s, so I wasn’t brought up by parents, but by movies. And what do all cool movie gods have in common? They’re alone.

Dirty Harry didn’t have to pick up the kids from daycare. Except for Casablanca, even bulldog-faced Bogey got the girl. The movie was about the getting, never about enjoying the having. Bachelors are available and open to romantic and adventurous opportunity. They don’t have to arrange a babysitter before they go on safari or take up a mission. Martin Sheen wasn’t on screen debating about who left a ring in the tub after the crazy caper to tunnel into the bank vault in Loophole. Heroes were alone and liked it until they chose, at the end of the story, to start a new, more mundane, domestic story. The few female heroes of that era were largely  indistinguishable from men. The glamorous life was not a life that included children. All movie heroes (who aren’t superheroes) were, and are, marvellously egocentric.

Since I’m not-so-marvellously egocentric, emulating The Loner with a Mysterious Past or The Last Honest Man seemed a good thing. I need space and a buffer zone and time to myself, too! I’m a writer. Of course being a loner was the key to happiness!

But I was confusing fiction and reality. 

Being a loner in real life isn’t glamorous. It’s lonely. 

5. My library: I’ve been getting rid of a lot of books, but I still have a lot of books. My collection not only conveys to visitors that I’m bookish. It says, I’ve found an alternative way to further insulate my home. Look at all those books! See? I must be smart. Please love me! Respect me even though I prefer books to interacting with people!

SAT question:

A doughy guy in a midlife crisis is to an expensive red sports car

as you are to…?

Choose one:

A. The hypotenuse of the square

B. John Adams

C. the Bill of Rights

or D. books.

Yes, D was the correct answer.

As my e-readers fill up, the walls of books look less like a personal statement of integrity and more like (Krom forgive me) clutter.

My new policy with paper books is to sell them or give them away once I’m done with them.

If all that macho bullshit was about fear,

my hoarding is about low self-esteem.

6. Anger: I mistake self-righteousness for being right. Often.

I always loved that line from Dr. Bruce Banner just before he turned into the Hulk: “Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.”

You know what I’ve figured out about readership with all the blogging I do?

People don’t like me when I’m angry.

People like me when I’m honest and authentic.

Well…most people. Fuck those trolls.

(See what I mean?)

7. Heroes: My daughter asked me who my heroes are. Her first guess was, “Kevin Smith, right?” A few glib, funny answers sprang to mind, but she had that earnest look on her face, so I went serious and gave her the true, complicated answer.

I like Kevin Smith a lot for his independent spirit, wit and smarts. We agree on a lot. He’s definitely Top 10 material, though I get the feeling he’s also a mercurial god who can be moody. Maybe that’s why I relate to him. But I’m lucky because I know my top heroes personally. They aren’t nationally known, but they should be.

My heroes are celebrities in small circles who lead by example:

Anne is the bravest woman I’ve ever known. She suffered greatly from a terrible disease, nearly died several times, and overcame it all to rise again from her electric wheelchair and walk again. She remade her life long after most of us would have given up.

The late, great Reverend Johnny T. Collins was the single best Christian I’ve ever known. My love and respect for him hasn’t changed a bit though I became an atheist after his death. It would grieve him enormously to discover that I became an atheist largely because of his death.

One of my best friends (I’ve mentioned several times in this blog) is Peter. He has a super power that’s much more useful than mine: Peter makes friends easily and unselfconsciously. Few people have so deep a capacity for joie de vivre. He’s forever the Big Man on Campus no one can hate. (As opposed to the other Big Man on Campus, the smug bastard who led the football team and everyone secretly hoped would get leprosy.) Everyone is richer who has Pete in their lives.

And number one? I’m a very lucky man because my wife is hero number one. She’s the single most kind and generous person I know. (Also, as previously, pervilly mentioned, hot. Really can’t go without mentioning that.) It makes sense that the woman I’m married to must be a paragon of patience.

The heroes I know as individuals are beyond cool. But heroes as a class of people to look up to? No. Heroes as a group are overrated. Kevin Smith, for instance, idolized Brice Willis until he worked with him. I’ll never forget Kevin’s look of regret and disappointment when he stared at the floor and said, “Never meet your heroes, man.”

My heroes are stellar people who are my friends and family. They are people I can rise to be among and still belong. Any hero worth the title empowers you, assuring you that you can be a hero, too.

Don’t just watch heroes. Be one. 


8. Greatness: Perfectionism is self-hatred or, as writer Mur Lafferty says, “It’s okay to suck.” I write books. I’ll begin making them available to the universe this fall. The universe may or may not notice. That’s okay because this is what I do now, whether it goes big or stays small. Of course I want all my books to be made into movies and checks in the mail, but that sort of all-or-nothing thinking will hurt and hold me back. Last night I was up until two finishing a draft of my third book. I had stamina because I was excited about what I was creating. I wasn’t living in the future, thinking about accolades from strangers from whom I desperately want love, respect and money. I do want those things. But writing is about how to make the story more clever, more funny and more surprising. I get brain tickles from the dopamine kick of doing my thing.

Enjoying the journey is the only way to get to the destination.

BONUS:

We learned in The Matrix “There is no spoon.” There’s also no destination. It’s all a journey.

CHAZZ PARADOX:

Knowing there is no destination allows you the chance to get to the destination

(Yup, I have a minor in philosophy, studied Zen and yes, that was annoying!)

9. Ego: When I started out as a therapist, I put on my ID badge and my shoulders went up and my chest went out, much the same way Erik Estrada always substituted posing for acting on CHIPS. I walked into my clinic, “The Expert.” I didn’t know it at the time, but this was self-aggrandizing bullshit I used to meet challenges I wasn’t sure I equal to.

Ego can make you do stupid things. Longer. Everybody needs self-esteem, but too much ego pushes people away and makes you a prick. As a prick in rehab, I know.

Ego leads to stupid shit, like planking. All over the web you can see pictures of people doing the latest thing: Somebody had the balls to stand up and call it planking. Or, as we used to call it, “Lying down.”

Too much ego betrays the truth about ourselves:

NOT. ENOUGH. SUBSTANCE.

10. Certainty: I used to want to know exactly how things will turn out. That’s part of the whole, living-in-the-future disease. I thought that if I could just get this one thing right, everything else would fall into place and success would be mine. Certainty is poison, though. Success comes from doing a lot of little things right along the way, not from sweeping mission statements (like this.) A need for certainty can lead you to avoid tackling those little things.

For instance, I don’t know how to format my manuscripts for ebook formats. Yet. If I had to know it all before I could start, I’d never get it done. Instead I’m learning as I go and nibbling away at it. I’ll never know it all and get it “perfect”, but eventually I’ll be able to digest enough to get my ebooks done and out there.

Recently I listened to a podcast about how to podcast. There is a staggering amount of trivia to know about podcasting. But you don’t have to know it all to begin. You just have to begin. A need for certainty can give you paralysis by analysis (a confident, oft-spouted aphorisms which must be true because it rhymes.)

George Bush elevated certainty as a virtue over intelligence. (Obama doesn’t convey any certainty, so the culture may have over-corrected on that one. Oops.)

Certainty is a conceptual synonym to dangerous things like patriotism and zero tolerance. When someone comes at me with too much certainty, my bullshit detector rings an alarm. Absolute certainty tells me there’s a loss of nuance, somebody’s a quart low on compassion and probably suffering a dearth of thinking.

And I’m sure of that.

Filed under: Books, ebooks, self-publishing, What about Chazz?, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

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