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

Write and publish with love and fury.

Kindle Unlimited: Connection and Market Correction?

Kindle Unlimited is up and running at Amazon. For about ten bucks a month, readers can read a lot and authors will get paid if 10% of the book is read. Across the writerverse, we are speculating. Is it good news or bad news?

I suspect it’s good news. Here’s why I’m not worried:

1. There are other subscription services and there wasn’t really much outrage about them. Questions, certainly. Usually the question was, “Is this new thing I’ve never heard of legit?” Since it’s Amazon, the question is often, “Why are they out to destroy the world?”

The answer is, they want to own it, just like every other company. Competition and all that. That’s all of us. We’re all selling something, so let’s keep calm and bang a gong. 

2. Those other subscription services have failed to usher in The End Times. This is one marketing idea among many. Some of the loudest concerns seem to be raised from a section of the marketplace that generates no new ideas. I’m suspicious they are decrying Amazon’s potential for success because they’ve failed to remain agile and open to new ideas. New ideas are always scary, but being scared and playing a defensive game is no way to score. 

3. Amazon often knows what it’s doing. They test and survey ideas and probably didn’t come up with this just last week. They want reader and author participation so they want to make the new service profitable for Amazon and for us. If it doesn’t feel good, too many authors will drop out. A lot of authors left KDP Select’s Clause of Exclusiveness. This will probably bring a bunch back, to test the waters if nothing else.

4. You can limit your participation. It’s just for those titles enrolled in KDP Select so, just like always, any 90-day commitment you may choose today is only 89 days long if you change your mind tomorrow.

5. Anyone who subscribes to this service is a hardcore, enthusiastic reader. Different rules apply to power users.

The parallel to piracy is obvious. Some authors worry about pirates, but there is evidence that pirates are power users. They take a lot, but they also tend to be power buyers. Ultimately, I most want to connect with readers who want to read the next Robert Chazz Chute book. Power readers are more oriented to author brand and less so to particular genres.

To build 10,000 true fans, I need to find those people who say, “I liked the autistic boy versus the apocalypse. But I wonder how that voice shows up in Murders Among Dead Trees or his crime novels?”

6. Subscribers who will go for this deal are a subset of the reading public. It’s not for everybody. Many will stay away because they’re already paying for a gym membership they don’t use. They’ll prefer to buy books one-by-one because they’re already stressed out and guilty about they’re TBR pile.

7. If you’re making money from other platforms, stay diversified. If you’re unknown, this is another avenue to consider to become better known.

If you’ve already got it made, there is an argument that you might make more money if you lived in a plane of existence that doesn’t include Kindle Unlimited. If that’s you, you may need to work your massive email list harder, diversify further, sell direct or use a few dozen other strategies to stay relevant.

However, we have no data on that group yet. The good news is, they’re in a good position to finance adaptation.

8. When Amazon innovates, it makes me more hopeful because it’s more pressure on other platforms to up their game. The market is changing, but once again, it’s Amazon that’s innovating and trying new things to reach readers, not trad publishing or the other sales platforms.

If I were CEO of another sales platform, I wouldn’t be sleeping well. I’d be offering bonuses to my creative teams to be creative. Come up with new tools and plans to boost market share. KU is pressure that may squeeze a diamond out of their competition’s butt.

9. However, I’m not “all in” for Amazon. Some people think that. They don’t know I’m moving more of my books across many platforms and I don’t have anything in KDP Select at the moment.

I am in favor of experimentation.

I’ll have another couple of books ready soon. When they are ready, just as before, they’ll go into KDP Select and therefore into Kindle Unlimited automatically, too. I’ll see how they do and make more decisions from there.

We need more data, but cautious optimism seems reasonable at this point. Let’s try it out, maybe find more readers. Let’s write more, read more and worry less. In the end, it’s all about you, you, you and the readers you have not yet met.

Me B&W~ Robert Chazz Chute is a suspense novelist who does not tend to be Zen about anything so, in light of today’s post, maybe there really is nothing to worry about in this one, tiny regard. Otherwise, we can be sure the universe is indeed out to get us. And it will.

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Video, Audio and Pixels: Hugh Howey hits and This Plague of Days launches Episode 5

And here, folks, are the announcements as promised. It’s a cornucopia of fun stuff to feed your hungry, hungry hippocampus:

See the rest of the interview on my YouTube channel here, or subscribe at CoolPeoplePodcast.com.

Also available on iTunes (or on Stitcher through the show link to the All That Chazz podcast.)

This Plague of Days: The first zombie thriller on the autism spectrum.

Episode 5 is now available! Get each ep for just 99 cents or get the discount deal and get all of Season One for just $3.99.

Episode 5 is now available! Get each ep for just 99 cents or get the discount deal and get all of Season One for just $3.99.

In Episode 5 of This Plague of Days, it’s all action as the Spencer family faces great loss in the Midwest and Dr. Sinjin-Smythe runs for his life in London. Dump your expectations of what a zombie apocalypse can deliver. The survivors of the plagues can be just as dangerous as any horde of rampaging zombies.

From the latest review on Amazon…

“The final episode of Season One did exactly what it was supposed to do. It twisted your stomach in knots, let go slightly, then snatched your stomach away until the second season is available.

All the immediate conflicts were resolved in a satisfying way, not rushed, not unrealistic. There’s plenty of ground to cover next season, and the last few lines will leave you guessing. Well done, Chute. You’ve crafted a high-brow zombie thriller that stands out from the rest.” ~ Ava Easterby

Coming late to the Apocalypse? No problem! 

This Plague of Days scares me to death! I just can’t put it down; I have to see what happens next.

A review from Victor Morin

The mind virus is created. Spread the infection. If you already have read it, please review it.Thanks! ~ Chazz

The mind virus is created. Spread the infection. If you already have read it, please review it.Thanks! ~ Chazz

 

Filed under: book trailer, Books, Horror, podcasts, This Plague of Days, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Writers: Fantasy, Reality and the Awful Lessons

(Editor’s Note: FYI, release of the Hugh Howey podcast and Episode 5 of This Plague of Days has been a little delayed. But not by much. Explanations  to follow. Some will be somewhat hilarious, especially if you’re a sadist.)

Here’s the writerly fantasy:

Crack the Indie Author CodeYou know that dream you have of being a writer? We all have it with minor variations. Sometimes I picture a tiny writing cabin like Mark Twain had, perhaps by the water so I can watch the paddle steamers push up the river. Clacking away at an old typewriter with black and white ivory keys with a butler to bring scones would be awesome. At tea time, I could retire to an English country garden with a labyrinth and mull the next plot twist. Mm…okay, a Mac with black and white, fake ivory keys and coffee, not tea.

On me mudder’s side all the way back, I’m Irish. Maybe I should be scribbling in a moleskin notebook at the back of a gray pub hiding behind a tall Guinness and romantic, brooding despair. I’d run my hands through my hair a lot.

Analyze that fantasy and you’ll see it’s really about the power to be left alone and fear of people. We want to be at play in the fields of the mind. We don’t want to get retail jobs and interact with humans. We desire the protective distance a cyber interface allows. We crave the fantasy existence so we can do two things: Create Art and Not Deal. (Um, I’m not alone in my agoraphobic misanthropy, right? Right?)

Here’s the reality of writing:

We have to deal.

1. My cell phone just died and I stubbed a toe on my treadmill desk when I got up to charge the battery.

Lesson: Never move.

2. I’m behind schedule writing Season Two of This Plague of Days and I don’t have enough reviews on Season One yet.

Lesson: Kill self.

3. Someone got sick so the cover art for Episode 5 was delayed. (They’ll be okay, though.)

Lesson: Shit happens. Expect delays so you can schedule them.

4. I had technical issues with the Hugh Howey interview so I’m publishing the Cool People Podcast tonight or tomorrow morning.

Lesson: I have to deny my nature and be patient.

5. The cover art arrived but then my computer was attacked by the spinning beach ball of death.

Lesson: Have fewer than dozens of tabs open in the browser at one time. Apparently my mind doesn’t work the same way computer guts function.

6. Then, just as I tried to publish to Kindle this morning, my security software decided that was the perfect time to download a major update.

Lesson: Stab someone in the face with a #2 pencil. I’m not too picky about whom just now.

7. The update slowed everything down so much I knew I was a few minutes away from a heart attack.

Imagine your car is on fire and you’re trapped behind crumpled doors. Now imagine the seatbelt is jammed and cinched tight across your chest. You’re trying to get out but you’re pinned and the car’s filling up with choking, toxic, black smoke and your broken hands scrabble uselessly at the jammed buckle. Somehow, the radio is jammed on and it’s playing Kenny G.

It felt something like that.

Lesson: Get some cardio today. Listen to Stacy’s Mom by Fountains of Wayne. Cheer the #$!! up.

8. While dealing with the computer trying to kill me, I was making my son late for his piano lesson.

Lesson: Make son play video games to the exclusion of everything else all summer so I won’t be alone in my agoraphobic misanthropy.

9. I have no minions to bring me venti skinny vanilla lattes. Taking the boy to his lesson allowed me to go get that indulgence because, by then, I surely deserved it.

Lesson: If things are going badly, I deserve an overpriced sugar fat coffee with healthy pretensions. If things are going well? Same.

10. I’m working on a few hours of sleep and, as I survey my tiny writing bunker…hey! There’s a startling lack of scone butlers, minions, interns and fans begging to slip money through the mail slot!

The mind virus is created. Spread the infection. Each of five episodes is only 99 cents each. Get the whole Season for the discount at $3.99. (And if you already have read it, please review it.) Thanks! ~ Chazz

The mind virus is created. Spread the infection. Each of five episodes is only 99 cents each. Get the whole Season for the discount at $3.99. (And if you already have read it, please review it.) Thanks! ~ Chazz

Lesson: Write more, and faster, until I blur into another dimension where paddle steamers and garden labyrinths are the norm. In this new dimension, I’ll be loved and Guinness will come from the kitchen tap. We’ll never get old and we’ll never die. And no one will ever look like Wilfred Brimley.

So, the awesome Hugh Howey interview is on it’s way (I’ll let you know with the very next post here.)

Episode 5 of This Plague of Days will be up today, as promised.

However, it takes up to twelve hours for books to publish to Amazon so it will arrive later today. 

I’m going to go kill someone in Season Two of This Plague of Days now. With a #2 pencil.

~ To learn more about This Plague of Days, go to ThisPlagueOfDays.com. Subscribe to the Cool People Podcast in iTunes or check it out at CoolPeoplePodcast.com. Follow me on Twitter @rchazzchute so I try to remember what love feels like. Check out all the books and podcasts at AllThatChazz.com or break down and go on a bargain book shopping spree here. Thank you and have a wonderful day.

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under: publishing, self-publishing, Writers, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Not Free Much Longer: The Dangerous Kind & Other Stories

The Dangerous Kind & Other Stories (2nd Edition) is free for the last time for just a bit longer.

Here’s an excerpt I’m sure many writers can relate to.

Grab The Dangerous Kind & Other Stories here.

Stay-at-home dad.

40.

Broke.

This is not the future I did not plan. The future I did not plan, but thought somehow would take care of itself, is not taking care of itself. Squeegee kids aren’t broke like me. They aren’t still paying for a vacuüm they bought on credit last Christmas. Credit card debt is kicking my ass, or was, until my dad intervened and I discovered there are prices to be paid which are much higher than the interest on VISA.

I have no excuses and, like the rest of my generation, no clue. My wife, Cecelia, has a nursing job at an old folk’s home and I take little freelance editing jobs here and there. My main occupation is to watch our two boys and rub Cecilia’s feet when she gets home after a long shift. We have her tiny retirement investment plan. The statements go unread because neither of us read Bewilder, an alphanumeric language only understood by people in the financial services industry. We hope it works out.

My father learned his financial skills from his parents during the Depression. Grandpa was an Episcopalian preacher in Poeticule Bay before the roads were paved, when everything arrived by boat. The congregation often fed the minister’s family with cod and lobsters rather than feed the collection plate a few coins. Dad scraped up a little money here and there and somehow became what it seems no one can be anymore: The mythic Self-made Man.

Dad would lie in bed and plot his escape from poverty while his brother counted pennies into a mason jar each night. Childhood was so short then, it was almost imperceptible. They did escape. My father’s generation had smaller dreams and the discipline and savvy to make those lies true. They made something of themselves and I have no idea what that might feel like. Instead of selling things, my wife and I had kids and bought stuff off the TV because that was our little slice of the American dream. We trusted the Future, but the banks killed it and the government never arrested anyone for Future’s murder.

My uncle is still alive, too. He gambles his ample retirement fund with various Vegas casinos and heart by-pass specialists. Dad and Mum were snowbirds. After she died, he gave up on Poeticule Bay, Maine permanently and moved to Boca. He watches the sunrise and the sunset, takes pictures of pelicans wheeling over the water like pterodactyls and ponders his only son’s squandered potential.

“We never needed much, certainly not near as much as kids today think they need. I still don’t need much,” Dad says. “If it comes down to it, I could live off a greased rag for a month.”

Dad’s speaking to me over the phone, but he sounds like he could be talking to himself. I guess that’s true since, while he talks, I’m thinking of my boys and how all their friends have iPods now. The technological future is finally here and the party rages on without my kids.

Dad graduated from pennies to folding money, mason jars to stock portfolios. When I was a kid asking for a few dollars to buy something, his answer was always the same. “Why do you think you need that, boy?”

I was not deprived exactly. Dad provided clothes, food and shelter. But my wants? My wants eclipsed the sun. I wanted to fill my room with books and toys and music because that is how you buy happiness. Less is not more. Less is less.

My father wanted my childhood to be as short as his was and my room to be as bare as a monk’s meditation chamber. I denied him that satisfaction so long, I still don’t feel like a man. And yes, he still calls me “Boy.”

In this book, people are desperate to escape small-town Maine and maybe even elude themselves. The novella, The Dangerous Kind, is psychological mayhem and my tribute to Stephen King’s suspense.

Dad owned Poeticule Bay’s only hardware store. Early each morning he went off to work freshly shaved and optimistic. Each night he shambled home to supper, miserable. By the last spoonful of dessert he resolved that tomorrow would be better. What I did not understand then was that the tomorrow he was thinking about was the far-off tomorrow, the arthritic future wandering Floridian beaches alone collecting shells.

Retirement is not in my future. I have fitful dreams of being a writer. That is the same retreating mirage I saw on the distant horizon when I was eight. There are haphazard moments of clarity when I compose eagerly. Then I turn on the TV and fall asleep. Words with promise have died. Clever lines form skeins of sentences. I reach in spasms. I worry I’m already too late. The bills mark time.

Awake and rubbing my eyes, I am smack in middle age on the brink of last chances. I am halfway between those early promises and the sum of me. That distant horizon still recedes. I am not a bestselling author whose book is soon to be a major motion picture. I’m not even a grown-up.

Yet.

In this frame of mind, I made excuses to Dad why I could not load the whole family in a jet and wing off south for a visit. I let slip that I could not come because my wife and I had to pay off credit cards. I said too damn much.

Dad called back at seven the next morning. My debt had been gnawing at him through the night. The kids were still in bed so I was, too. “Time you got up, boy! I suppose Cecilia was at work an hour ago!”

He’s not big on preambles. Why don’t I have call display on the phone by the bed?

I didn’t tell him I was up till three last night writing. That would just be another mistake to hold on to and bring up at Christmas. “Is the book done yet? When do we see it in stores and how much will you be paid? How much, boy? That doesn’t sound like much.”

I thought about telling him the kids were painting each other with glue again and that I had to hang up. I didn’t, though. I listened because he was talking about giving me money. His was a generous offer of an interest-free loan to kill the credit cards and raise the possibility of a future without debt.

I’ll owe him.

Instead.

Again.

I said I’d think about it, like I still had a choice and pride.

Later, when I looked upon my innocent boys’ debt-free faces, I had to remember how to build a smile. Each grim facial reconstruction soon fell from my lips and I had to rearrange my face again. When they want the latest robot dinosaur, will my card be maxed out again? Will their memory of me be The Failure Who Always Said No? How different is that from the Self-made Man who says, “Why do you think you need that, boy?”

What will happen when they grow up? When they go to college and fall into the same — or a deeper — debt trap, I will pull them out of that hole if I have a rope. No money? No rope. No hope. There lies the soul of shame’s pain.

Each New Year’s Eve, Cecilia and I say this will be the year we “get some breathing room.” We’ll save money…somehow. We’ll win the lottery or I’ll sell my novel or…something. What’s likely to change since we aren’t doing anything different? We never speak of this secret aloud for fear that, like some magic curse, the danger will only be made real in the speaking.

I’m worried about the slow, spreading stain in the bedroom ceiling. Will roofers even accept a credit card? How much will new eaves troughs cost? Will the furnace die this winter?

“How much?” Dad asked.

“Ten thousand,” I said. I braced myself but he did not say anything. The weight of the silence on the phone line stretched out. His disappointment was that heavy. My scalp burned and my body felt skinned by rusty carrot scrapers. “Five hundred a month okay?” I ventured.

“Yeah,” he said. “Promise you’ll cut up your credit cards?”

The next pause was mine, the startled kind.

“Yes,” I lied. What if I have to rent a car or get a hotel room for some ugly, unforeseen reason? I think about the roof, the furnace, the eaves troughs, the latest dinosaur robot and the look on my boys’ faces when a classmate gets a new computer. My father will not understand why I will never cut up my credit cards.

I must have that safety net for emergencies, even if it could hang me. I could try to explain my situation, what my real life is like. That’s definitely what I should do.

“Um…Dad?”

Go ahead, I say to myself, sweating and now out of my body. Tell him! Tell him that the best things in life aren’t free! Tell him iPods buy love and happiness. Explain how you’re asking for $10,000 because that’s all your stupid pride can bear to ask but you could ask for twice as much and still not cover your debt! Tell him there’s little hope but you wish he shared your dreams for success, anyway. Give him another reason to call you “Boy.”

“Yeah?” he says.

All he’s got waiting for you is the sucker punch of a loan, judgement and condemnation.

“Thanks, Dad.”

“Yeah.”

I hang up the phone, my head hot and pounding. The kids are watching a SpongeBob rerun. My wife won’t be back from work for another hour. I could steal a nap.

Instead, I sit down. I dream big.

I write.

Grab The Dangerous Kind & Other Stories here.

 

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Author interview with Robert Chazz Chute

Over at Forgotten Realms, a fun interview awaits, including why the people at Staples were so mean to me last week.

I’d never been asked free association questions before. Tarek asked  “Child?” I thought “Money.” “Ocean?” “My answer was, “South Pacific”, but I meant the musical. My next thought was SpongeBob. Of course I also talk about Higher Than Jesus: bigger, even funnier, more hardboiled, more skip tracer tricks and The Major Chapter of Sex will melt your wallpaper.

By the way, Bigger Than Jesus, the first funny, clever, hardboiled thriller in the Hit Man Series is free this week! That’s right! FREE, until Nov. 9. Click it to grab it. If you love it, please review it. Thanks! 

Filed under: Author profiles, Books, , , , , , , , , , ,

My Kindlegraph adventures: a little more tech helps

Last week I posted about using the kindlegraph, a neato tool for autographing ebooks. Soon after I blogged about it, I made my books available on kindlegraph. (Simple. All they need is the ASIN for each of your books and you’re set.) Soon after that, the nice man at kindlegraph informed me that I had received my first request for an autographed ebook. When someone asks for an autograph in person, I feel weird about it. Dealing with people over the Internet, though? That’s inside my comfort zone, along with the hot almond milk, the crackling fire in the wood stove, my blankey and teddy. I mean I’m wearing a very comfortable teddy.

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

You can type in a message or choose a font and enter that for your signature. That felt like kind of a cheat to me. A reader had requested my signature on their copy of The Dangerous Kind & Other Stories. It didn’t seem right just to type my name and say, “See ya!”

I tried writing my signature with the mouse. It looked like I’d written my signature drunk, with my eyes closed, in kindergarten. (That brought back some memories of Scotch breath and reciting my ABCs, I can tell you.) At one point I actually did close my eyes to try to get a closer approximation of my signature through pure muscle memory. My penmanship approaches Level: Wicked Awesome, but no matter what I did, the scrawl looked just as bad. Unconvinced by my writing, my new loyal reader was sure to think I was a clumsy  idiot. I simply can’t write with a mouse.

Fortunately, every time you screw up your signature, you have the option of clearing the field and beginning again. It’s very frustrating to get two-thirds through your signature, almost make it and then screw it up hideously. I felt like Batman attempting to climb out of Bane’s prison, only I had the good sense to give up.

Then I got out my Bamboo tablet and plugged it in. I should have gone with that from the start. The Bamboo comes with a pen so you can write your name like a human. Without the tablet and pen, I felt like a dull rhesus monkey with a full bladder and hives, wearing an extra thick Hazmat suit while trying to figure out the safety catch on a machine gun and balancing on a spiked ball while testy penguins are thrown at him by taunting, white-coated, angry grandmas. Uh…that was a tad hyperbolic.

Anyway, Kindlegraph is cool and I’m always ridiculously pleased to sign my books (with the burnt end of a stick if necessary.) Any of my books. In fact, I’ll sign other authors’ books, tag a subway car and sign somebody’s tits if asked nicely.

Not you, sir. Let’s just stick with the kindlegraph for you.

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Amazon: My last stab

GET BIGGER THAN JESUS, FREE ON AMAZON TODAY, TOMORROW AND FRIDAY

Free promotions sure aren’t what they used to be. Last December, with Amazon’s old algorithm, friends of mine made big money. Success on the free list actually translated to success on the paid list. Then everything changed and many of us have been slow to react, me included. I notice that, among my writer friends, many (most?) are selling their books on KDP Select exclusively, five free days and all, for the first three months and then they aren’t renewing with KDP. They’ll continue to sell on Amazon, but there are plenty of other places to sell besides Amazon. After that first three months of trying to take advantage of the Amazon advantage, they put their work up everywhere else, too. That’s what I’m doing with the foundation book of my crime novel series, Bigger Than Jesus.

BY THE WAY: 

Bigger Than Jesus is available for free in ebook form

until Friday, and then that’s it.

As The Hit Man Series continues, I don’t know if I’ll go exclusive at all, even for those first three months. The math just doesn’t seem to add up to a marketing strategy that’s advantageous. In truth, it hasn’t been helpful to many indie authors for some time. I stuck with it because of the timing as my previous books launched. I have three books to release before Christmas and the eggs won’t be going into one basket anymore.

Someone asked me recently, “What’s the latest success strategy for indie authors?” I encountered some resistance when I replied, “There isn’t one.” We’ve had the publicists, advertising, press releases, blogging, podcasting, Twitter (and various  derivative Twitter strategies), Facebook, Pinterest (maybe?), the 99 cent strategy, blog tours, free, Goodreads, book bloggers, etc,…. Some combination of these elements may work for someone. Though they’ve all been effective for someone individually in the past, no one strategy seems to deliver a knock-out punch. When I say there isn’t one, I don’t rule out the possibility of their effectiveness in the plural, if you have the time to do all that. (You don’t. Go write instead.) 

Which brings up the question: Will Amazon change its algorithm again so it makes sense for us to stay exclusive with KDP Select? Who knows? Amazon’s algorithms and their rationale may be deduced, but are never made explicit. That information is solely on a need-to-know basis. (Apparently, we don’t need to know.)

Amazon is good at what they do — or has been — but it’s unreasonable to expect they’ll be right all the time, even with their vast resources. More to the point, Amazon’s looking out for Amazon, not me. My evidence is they aren’t making the exclusivity clause worth it for a lot of authors (even the true believers who, in the past, made a lot of dough.) I’m losing sales on other devices because I’m not selling enough with KDP. The Amazon sales don’t make up for lost sales elsewhere. Listening to my writer buddies, it’s clear I’m not alone in that assessment.

This is a business decision and has nothing to do with damning Amazon. I’m not one of the haters whining about monopolies and painting Amazon as a bully. The market is a competition and Amazon is on top because they made a lot of great decisions early on. However, I’m not looking for a new mom to take care of me, either. Being indie doesn’t mean supplanting one boss with a new boss just because it’s easy to go on inertia and formatting anew is a pain in the ass. Next month, as soon as my three months are up, Bigger Than Jesus will be available more widely (Hello Kobo, Nook, Sony, your smart phone, your iPhone, your iPad…maybe even your toaster.)

As for book marketing’s next knock out punch? People will tell you they know what the next big thing is. Some will even try to sell you books based on giving away one ultimate secret of indie author success. I think those people are often well-intentioned and they give out a lot of good information. I’ve read a bunch about marketing ebooks lately and, frankly, I’m also skeptical about some of those easy, plug-and-play answers.

Only one strategy I know of seems like anything close to a sure thing and (WARNING!) it’s a slow, steady grind. It’s not a popular idea because it’s not easy and quick. 

Write more books.

(Do a great job!)

Put them up.

(Do what promotion you can that doesn’t interfere with your writing schedule.)

Write more books.

(Make sure they are wonderful.)

I aspire to inspire, but as for marketing? Hm. Sorry.

“Write more books” is honestly all I’ve got in stock at the moment.

I’ve said it before and it’s still all I have to say on that subject.

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UBC #31: Ebooks are the new slush pile. Are they the new blog, too?

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

I once had a business meeting to attend in Toronto and, despite a snowstorm that put a lot of cars off the road, I kept going after it was clear I should turn back. After three hours of white-knuckling the steering wheel, I made it to the meeting on time only to find that I’d risked my life for nothing. The meeting was cancelled because everyone else who was to attend had their priorities straight. Clearly, I have a stupid character flaw. Once I commit to something that isn’t working, I often don’t abandon the task, even when it’s obvious it isn’t working. 

It’s time to examine priorities, not just for me but for you.

What are we doing that helps us get closer to our goals?

What needs to change? I have a cool idea.

First, let’s talk blogging. Lots of people are interested in yesterday’s blog: Your Blog Does Not Matter. I learn a lot from research and it’s fun, but the Law of Diminishing Returns is a knee in the groin. If I’m right that our blogs don’t matter as marketing tools, why blog? I should clarify that it’s not that I think writers don’t read. May Thor help them if they don’t. But a lot of power readers love books — and buy them to read copiously — without a thought to ever writing books themselves. That frees up a lot of time to read and buy more books. Writers are logophiles, but, to be read more widely, we need to reach bibliophiles and plenty of them.

We need to reach out to book reviewers and book bloggers to get word of mouth going, yes, but I think there’s a way for our blogs to matter more to the general book buyer, especially if your blog is information-oriented.* I’m going to have to try a different blogging strategy because, blogging the way I am, just for the love of it, isn’t helping my writing career. Whenever you choose choice, you choose freedom. That’s good, but, even with the old blog heater running full blast, it’s snowing so hard my windshield wipers can’t keep up and there are too many indie authors in the ditch.

Case in point: I’ve blogged a fresh entry on this blog every day for the last two months. June was the Author Blog Challenge. My blog traffic shot high consistently. I made new friends, gained subscribers and have fresh contacts. July was the Ultimate Blog Challenge (and this is my last post, #31, for that challenge.) The former had under 100 participants and I’m told the latter has five to ten times that. Still, I earned far more traffic during the Author Blog Challenge. It doesn’t take too long to figure out why the ABC was so successful for me. I talked to my audience rather than a more diverse, disinterested crowd and that crowd had to come to me. Not many did. They were into blogging qua blogging, as my old philosophy prof would say. They weren’t necessarily into suspense or the intense indie book reading proliferation experiment I promote here. I’m not blaming the Ultimate Blog Challenge. Nobody owes me their patronage. This isn’t about that. It’s about finding strategies that actually help me (and you) get discovered by new readers who care about what we write (and might even — egad! — pay for our work.)

The only strategy for growing a readership that anyone seems to be sure of is: WRITE MORE BOOKS! So, first, spend more time on your books than your blogs. The core writing has to be scheduled before any other writing you do. I haven’t been as good at this as I should be lately because I was too focussed on the Ultimate Blog Challenge. That’s stupid, stubborn me, driving through a snowstorm again. I knew the latest challenge wasn’t garnering more traffic a couple of weeks ago, but I’d made a commitment. I learned something more, though. I can blog like crazy and still not matter because I’m not publishing my blog posts where new readers and book buyers gather.

There’s an alternative marketing strategy that makes more sense. 

There’s a way to go to where readers are and

build more ebook presence on the web

instead of hoping readers will somehow discover our blogs.

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

Here’s how: In time I’d otherwise use for blogging, I can put together a micro ebook to increase the size of my cyber bookshelf and build name recognition. It’s already been observed that Amazon is the new slush pile for traditional publishing. Maybe self-publishing isn’t just the new slush pile. Maybe ebooks are the new blog, and vice versa. I’ve already noted that I intend to make a book out of blog posts, distilling down the sweetness and goodness for indie authors. I’ve been missing out on other opportunities to expand my bookshelf for new  readers.

For instance, today, I noticed a free book on iBooks that was 10 Strategies to Something or Other. Regular readers know I have a fondness for top ten formats for blog posts and they’re pretty popular, quick and fun to write. That’s really not so different from many of the offerings on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks and so on. Why not blog for free where it can do me (and you) more good? On those platforms. You know. Where the readers are. 

CLICK: You can already publish your blog to kindle here. Or check out any top free lists to see the sort of things you can write about that hits readers where they live. In the back of every ebook/blog you publish, link to your paid books. Depending on what you write, you could even write the equivalent of a few blog posts and (gasp!) actually get reimbursed for your time, trouble and expertise. Imagine the possibilities.

Click to get Bigger Than Jesus here

Publishing our blogs on self-publishing platforms is one way, largely unexplored, we can make more sales because we’re reaching people who are already in the book marketing venue. I know most of us don’t think of blogging as publishing, even though we write our blogs and hit a button that says “Publish” every day. It’s time to slow down, turn on the GPS and figure the alternative routes out of this blinding snowstorm. It’s time to get flexible and find what works so I can find my readership, help them find me and sell more books. Maybe you, too, if you’re interested.

No, I’m not discontinuing blogging here. Now that the blog challenge is over, though, I’ll do a little more curation via Scoopit! and post a little less. I’ll prioritize better than I have done and maybe get outside while it’s still summer. I still have podcasts coming out every week and three books in the editorial pipe this year plus Bigger Than Jesus coming out in print soon so…yeah. Lots to do and, like everyone, our waking, working hours are limited. Now that I’m through the blog frenzy of the last two months, I will concentrate more of that time on coming out with more books…and maybe a few blog posts/ebooks on iBooks and Kindle. I’ll let you know how that experiment works out. 

~ BONUS: I had a fun interview on Sandi Tuttle’s show last night. We talked blogs, the publishing revolution, being indie, inspiration and ritual goat sacrifice. Have a listen here.

*Publishing more short stories could help you, but I doubt it. That might double down on getting ignored, but that’s a different post for another day.

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

GET BIGGER THAN JESUS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Author Blog Challenge 18: The Top Ten Reasons You (yes! You!) Crave This Book

Please click here to get Bigger Than Jesus

To whom will Bigger Than Jesus appeal? I have serious and much less than serious answers to this Author Blog Challenge writing prompt:

1. People who like a fast beach read of a crime thriller that’s hard to put down. I got the idea for my pacing from Blake Crouch’s Run. There’s a cliffhanger or an aha moment, or several, in every chapter. The tension only cranks up.

2. People who like old caper movies, like To Catch a Thief, Sneakers or The Italian Job. My fondest childhood memories are getting lost in movies to shut out everything else.

3. People who like Coen brothers‘ movies where simple solutions lead to more and more complex problems and the hero is thwarted again and again. Rock? Meet hard place. And now a badger is chewing your jugular as you try to do your taxes.

4. People who like funny, punchy dialogue, including a debate between two hoods: Who shot first, Han Solo or Greedo? (Yes, that’s one of the serious answers and the question does bear on the action at the time.)

5. People who like a lot of twists and surprises. I modelled my plot after screenwriter and author William Goldman‘s penchant for sucker punches where, just when you think you know what happens next, it goes a different way.

6. People who value clever more than gory. For a book about a hit man trying to escape the mob, there’s a lot of word play and when the violence does occur, it’s realistic yet somehow funny in the same way Pulp Fiction could be. The chapters skip along with logical complexity offset by humour.

7. People who like genre fiction that reaches up. Much of the novel has a lighthearted slant, but underneath, when you discover some of the main character’s history, it’s unexpectedly disturbing and heartbreaking. Are you worried I’ve just spoiled  something? Don’t be. I like magic tricks in all of my fiction. I’m telling you up front that I’m going to deceive you and you’re going to watch to catch me at my sleight of hand. The game is, I’m still going to fool you anyway. “Consider the gauntlet thrown,” he said smiling. I know this will work because I often surprised myself while writing Bigger Than Jesus.

8. Movie buffs with an Elmore Leonard sensibility in their reading tastes. Jesus Diaz, the anti-hero of the novel, is a movie buff and, since movies were a large part of his education, he sees the world through a Hollywood lens. The action is definitely influenced by Elmore Leonard’s take on shady characters having strange dialogue.

9. Readers who like a book that plays with them. The entire book is written in present tense, second-person. I loved Bright Lights, Big City for that and I decided that, after twenty-seven years, somebody should try that again. But it’s not just my personal preference or a gimmick at work. There’s a reason. Late in the novel, you get a strong hint as to why the narrative is told as it is.

10. Readers who enjoy a story that ends up in some unexpected places, like a discussion of Salvador Dali’s life, for instance. Bigger Than Jesus is a fun game and a puzzle box of a crime thriller that packs serious emotions behind it.

Some of the less serious answers to this Author Blog Challenge writing prompt include: Everyone with a Kindle or anyone who gets the free Kindle Reading app for any device, NMD (Not my dad), people who enjoy breathing, gorgeous and empowered Latinas, New York pizza joint owners who bought it thinking it was about Jesus Christ but will get sucked in anyway, criminals plotting to go straight, intelligent people (so if you don’t get it…eh, you figure it out), Beatles fans who also love the SIG Sauer, and the authorities who put me on a watch list for my Google searches because of the research for this book.

The second part of the writing prompt asked: How do I connect with them to market to them?

Um. I’m not sure. Have I convinced you yet?

Click the book cover if yes.

GET BIGGER THAN JESUS

If not, send me your email address at expartepress@gmail.com.

Maybe I’ll come to your house.

Maybe I’ll send you something in the mail.

Maybe you’ll wake up hanging upside down.

We’ll work it out.

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.

See my books, blogs, links and podcasts.

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