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

Write and publish with love and fury.

Your blog does not matter

 

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

Instead, write for readers!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click to get Bigger Than Jesus here

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

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

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

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

And by “your”, I mean “my”*

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

*More on this tomorrow…

 

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

Find out if you win the great popularity contest

Imagine how perplexed I was when I discovered this website is most popular in Wichita.What? According to

Fisherman's Wharf sign

Fisherman’s Wharf sign (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Alexa.com, “the global leader of analytics”, it’s true. Before you plug in your URL into Alexa’s Popularity Contest Scanner, brace yourself for a stake through your ego. But it’s also fascinating. More women read this website and a bunch of readers here have grad school education.

You can actually get a breakdown of your audience for free using Alexa. Just plug in your URL and you’ll get a lot of clues about SEO. You can find out how people found you with these analysis categories: Search, Audience, Reviews, Clickstream (indicating for percentage of unique visitors) and Traffic stats. Be sure to click for details. That’s how I found out I’m popular in Wichita. (Hello, Wichita! Never been there. Don’t know anyone there. Thanks for reading! Keep clicking!)

Another site to consider is Klout. It’s really a data farm, but it’s no less fascinating and measures your overall influence, not just your websites. (Just resist tweeting your laudatory notes from all your new friends.) Through Klout I learned that my Facebook marketing extends my reach and influence more than my three Twitter accounts. That amazed me. I got my cool new business cards (from Moo) as a perk through Klout, so there’s that. Also, Klout allows me to give a note of acknowledgement and gratitude to people who contribute to my neural net. I especially enjoy seeing how influencers are classified. I’m an expert in a niche according to Klout. One day, maybe there will be fame and riches, too, but Klout says, “Not yet!”

I wrote about starting up a podcast of your very own (below). Libsyn shows me, not only the numbers, but where my podcasts are consumed and on what platforms. My podcast, Self-help for Stoners, is most popular in San Francisco — way to hold up the brand’s stoner cliche, Frisco! (Hey! Pick up your feet, Wichita!) Chicago, New York and Alberta count among heavy listeners to the podcast, too. What does it mean? I don’t think anything. Hm. Except…maybe in a future book in The Hit Man Series, Jesus Salvador Diaz will wreak some entertaining mayhem in Wichita on his way to San Francisco. (Actually, in Higher Than Jesus — coming soon — Jesus already admits to a visit to San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf and Alcatraz (as a tourist.) I wasn’t pandering when I wrote that, though. It was relevant because I spent some time there and everything I do is research. I am looking forward to pandering to my audience, though.

These are the dubious rewards of the flip side of the great popularity contest.

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

Author Blog Challenge 19: Choose how to grow your author platform

The Author Blog Challenge writing prompt was: What are the three most important things you are doing to grow your platform? This is such a good question and everyone has so many different answers. I don’t have an answer. I have a survey of what I do. How to grow your author platform? Eh…I have a menu of stuff from which to choose. Choose to do what you’ll enjoy so you can be effective and sustain it.

Just today I read a fellow indie author opine that one day a week of concentrated social media, pumping and pimping, hadn’t helped him a bit. Mind you, his sample was a bit too small. He was only talking about a month, which translated to four workdays. However, he’s not alone in the complaint. You can do a lot of work and still not move the needle in a measurable way, and measurable is really what counts. I suspect what was missing was connection. You have to be interested in people and what they’re doing. Interacting is better than spouting (he spouted.) Failing earnest interaction, when you just can’t bear to rip your heart out of your chest again for another blog post or comment thread, do what I do and make more jokes about strangling mimes.

I’m really very consistent in establishing my web presence. I do something every day and here’s what I’m active in: three Twitter accounts (though the main one is @rchazzchute); Facebook pages; a podcast broadcast two times a week; the author site (AllThatChazz.com) and, of course, this site. I even do a little bit of Google Plus. I always think of G+ last, but I know I picked up a new reader (who promised to review my book!) through G+ today. I know that’s a lot. This is part of my full-time job, no whining. The rest of the time, I’m writing, and no, there’s not time for much of anything else. Most people can’t devote the amount of time I do to marketing and promotion, and yes, I realize I’m very lucky to have such a supportive spouse in She Who Must Be Obeyed.

When you do a lot of social media, you do risk annoying people. I certainly risked that today. My Amazon free promo day was plastered across my podcast, my Twitter and retweeted across at least 50 other Twitter accounts. I emailed some people and reached out a bit through Facebook. Somebody must have thought, “Yeah, yeah, we get it. You’re excited about your book but I got a sammich here!” Even as I was promoting, I noticed a fellow author got cussed out severely on Facebook for his pleas. In my defence, everyone who tweeted me got my support, too. I share. They share. Some would say that adds up to a lot of noise and signal degradation. On the other hand, my novel rose from a dark place in my skull a couple of days ago to #545 on the general Amazon list last I checked (UPDATE: and #73 in Mysteries & Thrilers! Yay!) Self-help for Stoners shot up 140,000 places as a collateral benefit so something’s selling in addition to all those free books.

I curate a lot of helpful information for indie authors. On the one hand, this blog brings me a lot of traffic, but they (well…you) aren’t necessarily interested in reading suspense, funny and weird self-help in the form of fiction, strange humour and crime novels. Some people say writing about writing is a complete waste of time. I say write what you’re passionate about and you’ll never run out of blog posts. I don’t want to blog about animal husbandry. It’s icky hanging out with naked animals.

When I joined Klout, I had assumed most of my influence came through this blog or Twitter. Klout says it’s Facebook where I make the most impact (though my Ex Parte Press page only has 37 likes and my personal page only 177 friends. That’s lousy, though it’s almost 177 more friends that I ever had elsewhere.) I doubt Klout, but it’s hard to say. Besides, maybe that’s too reductionist. In layered marketing, you do a lot of things in order to appear to be just about everywhere at once, like The Flash or herpes.

So what are the three things I do that are most effective? I’m sorry. No easy answers. I couldn’t narrow it down that much. I think my podcast, though small, helps me reach out to new people around the world and when the podcast went up at 6 pm this evening, listeners snapped up the free promo. Triberr is effective. World Literary Cafe Tweet Teams help. I’m exploring new ways to advertise on a tiny (to zero budget) like Masquerade Crew, Kindle Nation Daily, and Kindle Book Review. I have to reach out to book reviewers to get noticed. I have to find crime novelists or suspense writers willing to give up a blurb for Bigger Than Jesus.

There’s only one thing I am sure will help me sell more books: I have to get the next book up. And the next, and the next and so on until I am discovered, die or you decide you want you r kids back with all their thumbs attached.

What to do?

Do what you can. Do what you love. Get the writing done first. Nothing should cut into your writing time.

How do I do it? I don’t sleep much. It’s like cramming for finals every day and night.

It would be hell, except I’m having fun.

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.

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

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

See my books, blogs, links and podcasts.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 9,754 other followers

Brain Spasms a la Twitter

%d bloggers like this: