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

Write and publish with love and fury.

AuthorStrong.com: A New Daily Writing and Publishing Podcast

Mat Morris and Nancy Elliott are the hosts of a new publishing podcast you’re going to want to check out. What sets them apart is they’re going for a relatively short show compared to most, but they’re doing it daily. They aim to top out around thirty minutes for each show, so put your ear buds in while you’re doing dishes or on your commute. Pack in some motivation every day and you’ll have fewer days in which you do not write. 

Mat is a friend of mine who is so analytical, I call him Math Morris. He’s the guy who has written 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo in one day, several times over. Successful and making money as a pseudonymous writer from the shadows, he’s crushing it. The podcast is a bouncy good time but he doesn’t miss some deeper questions. His first question to me was, “What was your greatest failure?” Yikes. (So many to choose from!)

You can find out my greatest failure in episode #3. Check out AuthorStrong.com here.

Listen. Listen daily. Enjoy. Learn. Review. Write more. Sell more.

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

Top Ten: Sell better. Sell Sideways with Video, Podcasts, Pop-ups and Free.

I’m always mystified by people who use the hard sell. Telemarketers hear me say, “No, thanks.” Then they charge forward anyway, following their sales script:

“Can I ask you one question, Mr. Chute?”
“Is that question designed to verbal judo, Jedi mind trick me into thinking I have to buy your duct cleaning service or else I’m doomed?”
“I…beg your pardon?”
“No means no! No means no!” Click!

You get the idea. 

And so it is with everything, including books.

Sometimes someone snags my attention with a come-hither headline I can’t resist. I click the link and bang! The pop-up comes at me a little too fast. I know nothing about the seller but they want to skip the first date and go straight to marriage and demand an email address. She Who Must Be Obeyed is awesome, but our engagement was thirteen years long. Do I sound like a guy who commits easily?

A fast pop-up is okay if I come to the seller from a blog or if I already sort of know them. I just need a formal introduction to get comfortable. But to come in blindly and have a stranger demand commitment? Slow down and buy me dinner. Seduce me. Talk slow. Tease me and…um…where were we?

Red flags and suggestions:

1. If your pop-up comes in so it obscures your content completely, I feel ambushed. There are times for a sign up or go offer, but for that to work, I think you have to give the potential subscriber something free and good (e.g. a white paper on how to make a million, a free course, killer book extras.) If you’re going for the email address early on, give them something they want.

2. Do install a pop-up on your author site, though. People say they hate pop-ups but they work and if they’re into your flavor, readers do need to be on your email list. Don’t call it a newsletter though. Call it an update or an info hub or a friendly reminder about new deals and opportunities, exclusive to subscribers.

3. Tweets from accounts with no picture but the default egg look shifty. It suggests the tweeter is a bot or clueless and we don’t follow or sign up for anything. We run away.

4. My new buddy, Buddy Gott (see the crazy fun interview below) has a nice take on Twitter. Check out his twitter account here. He tweets jokes and shows his personality. It’s not just links. He’s clearly having fun with his Twitter account so his followers will have fun, too. When I meet a fun writer, I wonder if their books are fun, too. Then I check them out.

5. If you’re going to tweet and it’s not fun, make it useful. Easy to share, useful content is good. But don’t forget to have fun, too. Follow others and promote good content that’s not coming just from you. Curate.

6. Yes, it’s okay to ask for the sale. But say hello first. Don’t push. Establish some kind of relationship. If I know you and you ask for the sale, that’s cool. If that’s the first thing I hear, or all I hear, you’re a clueless bully. Yes, tweet links to your new book, but if “BUY MY BOOK!” is all you’ve got for Facebook and Twitter, you’re headed for the circle of hell reserved for salespeople who believe Glengarry Glen Ross is a training film for humans.


7. Establishing relationships can be difficult, especially when you’re talking to a crowd. It helps to ask about them, not tell them about you. Unless you’ve got a really funny story about waking up drunk and naked in an unfamiliar bathtub, listen more than you talk, take part and respond. Come at me sideways instead of a full frontal assault.

8. You don’t want to be out there building relationships so much that you don’t have time to write your next book. Tweet in spare moments and, once you’ve established you’re not a dick, send those interested to interesting content. 

9. Stop being so afraid and precious that you can’t give something away. For instance, go grab a free thriller from me here. Yes, it’s the first in a fun and fast series about a Cuban hit man who’s quite adorable. There are three books in that series so far. Click the link, get a free ebook and maybe you’ll love your new addiction.

10. People are willing to watch video longer than they’re willing to put up with text. That’s why the TV show Lost still had some viewers at the end. (Lost wasn’t about castaways on a mysterious island. Lost referred to the people in the writing room as the series went on.) 

So, never mind my Lost snark.

Use video as a friendly get to know you. Like this.

BONUS: Based on a True Story

Check out the new episode of the All That Chazz podcast in which I discuss the relationship between bands and their sex toys. I also discuss my latest brush with the law. Have a listen. Have fun. Sell sideways.

Filed under: author platform, book marketing, publishing, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Is blogging dead? To blog or not to blog?

As we move into 2015, I’m reevaluating what works and what doesn’t. In talking with another author, I suggested that blogging is all but dead. I could boost traffic to this blog by posting twice or more each day and pushing hard. However, I’d be luring back many of the same people. Blogging, for me, doesn’t pass the evaluation required by the 80/20 rule. There are ways to blog better and draw more eyeballs, but I don’t think that’s the most efficient use of my time. (Your mileage may vary, as always. I’ve got too many books to create to devote that much writing to blogging.)

It’s not that blogging hasn’t helped me in the past.

If blogging was all I did and if I was working a different business model, it could work. However, the odds against are steep. There is little time and plenty to do and not that many destination blogs. By “destination blogs,” I mean blogs we feel we have to visit every day. The best blogs are those that don’t need to remind you to check them out.

Sure, there are a few blogs that stand out.

I anxiously await the latest from The Passive Voice each day. Seth Godin’s blogs are short, pithy and easily digestible. Copyblogger is a place I should visit. However, the truth is, I only check out a few blogs on a regular basis.

A fellow author challenged my thinking on my stance.

His said blogging isn’t dead. It’s just that too many bloggers do it wrong.

I really took my time thinking about that. If true, that means that most of us are doing a bad job, and by most, I mean a staggering majority. We’re not all that dumb are we? Gee, I hope not. So…

Nope. I don’t buy it. Reading habits have changed from 2006. Those popular blogs are the few outliers. If you don’t have heavy traffic to your blog, don’t feel bad about it. You’re with the vast majority.

What am I doing instead of reading a lot of blogs?

I’m listening to podcasts. We’re listening to Smart Passive Income, the Sell More Books Show and the Rocking Self-publishing Podcast. 

YouTube and podcasts are where the action is. Through podcasts, I’m reaching out to readers on the Cool People Podcast and the All That Chazz Podcast. Blog reading time (and sadly, much book reading time) has been displaced with conversations overheard and videos shared. We’re multitasking, running on treadmills, doing dishes and commuting while listening to conversations from Stitcher and iTunes. Maybe my podcasts aren’t huge, either, but there is less competition there and there are other audiences to reach worldwide.

Besides podcasts, we’re also listening to audiobooks whilst doing the hamster wheel thing at the gym. (So create audiobooks.)

That said, I do continue to blog.

I’ve made a lot of friends through this blog, several of whom I’ve worked with. I came up with two books from this blog. However, my Pareto Principle Assessment stands going forward. I don’t blog every day but, when you subscribe, you’ll get a notice in your inbox when I decide I have something to say. That’s usually 2-3 times a week, not 2-3 times a day.

If you want to build your author platform around your blog, I’m not saying you shouldn’t. I’m saying it’ll take more effort than I’m willing to invest. That’s a project that’s a challenging time management problem and it’s not for me. I do enjoy blogging and, like all my writing, it’s a compulsion and an itch to be scratched.

Going forward, I’ll be creating and co-creating a lot of books this year. The math is, fiction that sells forever has to be the focus.

The choice isn’t really binary, of course, but I’m putting my weight behind more books and podcasts. I’m not alone in this assessment, either. I’ve noticed several more authors who are turning their efforts to video and audio and leaving blogging to trail behind, almost forgotten.

What’s your choice? Have you noticed you are reading blogs and books less and listening more?

Filed under: author platform, blogs & blogging, , , , , , , ,

What’s next? More. Much more.

In a plot, the question is always, “What’s next?”

Here’s what’s next for me in the publishing business:

1. I’ll be in a horror anthology next spring. 

2. I’ll be in a self-help anthology next spring.

3. I have a new collaborator in an urban fantasy series. The first book in the Ghosts & Demons Series launches later this week. It’s called The Haunting Lessons. It’s a fast and fun supernatural story packed with a powerful female protagonist and lots of jokes. (More on that on launch day!)

4. I’m teaming up with another author for a secret project and I expect big things in 2015.

5. Increased speed of production. I’m getting more help and a larger beta read team so I can focus on a narrower range of tasks. 

6. The focus for the first six months is going to be more paranormal/urban fantasy books. This Plague of Days has become very popular and I need to write more supernatural stories. The new work has a lighter tone with more laughs per page instead of straight horror.

7. I’m diversifying on the non-fiction end of the business doing some author management work in 2015. 

8. More podcasting. I’ve been so busy writing, I haven’t been Skype-social enough with cool people for the Cool People Podcast. I also have more planned for the All That Chazz podcast.

There’s lots to do, but I’m not overwhelmed. I’m excited. I’m using some Tim Ferris sorts of life hacks to focus and manage my time so I can do more through collaborations, competition and coopetition.

What are your plans for world domination in 2015?

Filed under: author platform, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Simon Whistler: How to find your People

[Editor’s note: Today we welcome Simon Whistler of Rocking Self-Publishing Podcast fame. He’s got a nifty and useful mastermind group going, too. Don’t miss checking that out at the end of his post to leverage the power of podcasting for greater success for authors! ~ Chazz]

Eighteen months ago I started a little side project. A podcast called Rocking Self-Publishing.  

Eighteen months later, I’ve talked to over 80 authors, for around 100 hours of interviews. I’ve reached thousands of people though 600,000 podcast downloads. I’ve emailed, Skyped, and met, with a number of people I admire. I’ve even started a small online community for successful and hungry authors; the group of people that I hope my podcast resonates the most with.  

When Chazz asked me to come and do a guest post for his fantastic blog, I knew I didn’t need to write an article, I needed to answer a common question:

Should I start a podcast?

I’m sure Chazz would be the first to agree with me, being a man of many podcasts himself, that podcasting is not “talking to someone and sticking it on iTunes.” It is hard work.

But that’s good news.

Hard is good.

Hard means people don’t do it. Hard means people don’t put in the effort to put out great content week after week. Hard means that if you have grit, you can make it. You can distinguish yourself from the masses, and reap the rewards of being exceptional in the space you carve out for your show.

What space should you carve?

That all depends on what you want to get out of your podcast. What is your perfect end result? I’m going to run with the assumption that you want this podcast to add to your bottom line. And while there are plenty of ways to add to that bottom line, let’s stick with the basics: sell more books, make more money.

Now for the big question, and please, don’t immediately write it off as daft:

Do you want your future listeners to buy your books?

I can hear you thinking: “Simon! I’m not starting this for fun, I thought we covered that?”

Okay fine, we’ll start with the type of show where your listeners will buy your books.

The niche podcast. One that appeals to the readers in your genre.

The process? Work out who is buying (or will buy) your fiction. Create a podcast that appeals to that reader base. Build the listener base. Sell books to them.

What’s awesome about this type of podcast is that you’re probably going to really love doing it! If you write horror, you’re probably into horror, and so are your readers. Let’s break it down:

  1. Who buys your fiction – Survey if you can, there’s nothing better than info from the horses mouth. If you have a mailing list, get on SurveyMonkey, present some podcast options, and ask them! If you don’t have a way to get in touch with your audience directly, check out your Facebook fans, what sort of things are they into?
  2. Create a podcast that appeals – This is more than just the topic. What angle are you going to take? What’s are other, similar, podcasts doing? If there isn’t competition, why not? Also think about tech, quality audio is important, but that’s a discussion for another day.
  3. Build the base – iTunes is important, and audience building through that platform is vital. I really recommend checking out PodcastAnswerMan.com for details on this (and much more about podcasting).
  4. Sell books to them – The good part. Listeners like you, they’ll buy your books, the books were written for people like them (if you did your targeting right).

Super important caveat: Platforms launch books, they don’t continually sell books. Once you’ve hit your audience up a couple of times, everyone who is going to buy has bought.

What about the podcast where your listeners don’t buy your books?

I told you we’d get to this one.

The podcast for writers.

Do you think if I wrote fiction, my audience would buy it? My audience are writers not readers. Yes, there would be some spillover, but if you want to sell fiction to your listeners, don’t start a show about writing. It is inefficient.

If you want to sell fiction to your listeners, you need a listener base who have an interest in your fiction, not your writing process.

Let’s say I put out a spy thriller. The RSP audience might buy it to check out my writing chops (and mock me), but they don’t care about my Jason Bourne wanna-be protagonist.

If you want to sell a book about writing though… well, start a podcast about writing. I myself launched my first book to 80 five-star reviews in the first 10 days. Podcasting in this way can be very effective for non-fiction authors.  

Now, don’t discount the podcast aimed at writers for helping with your fiction sales, I’m about to get to the good part.

Indirect sales.

The most incredible thing about the self-publishing community is the community. When I started RSP, I wondered, “Why would anyone get on the phone with me?” But I wanted to podcast. I wanted to be on the mic. It was going to be fun.

I had less than ten posts on KBoards (the author community a friend told me to check out). Within hours I was setting up digital meetings with people who were selling hundreds of thousands of books.

A niche podcast is a way to “network up.” A way to connect with people who you admire, people you can look to as mentors, people who you might even be able to work with. If you make a quality podcast, it is a ticket to talking to people you admire. I can’t remember where I first heard this, but it has always stuck with me:

“Most successful people you can’t get on the phone for an hour of consultation, even if you pay them. Stick the microphone on, call it a podcast, and you’re in business!”

A network of other authors around you is something that authors at the highest level have. Podcasting is an enjoyable way to build that network, if you are up for a challenge.

But what do you do with this network? Learn from it, work with it, take advantage of the opportunities it presents. Having the ability to call on the expertise of a group of successful people is epic.

It a Wrap

The question, “should I start a podcast?” Pops up in my inbox on the regular.

My reply is usually more succinct when I’m writing an email back to someone, so I should be able to wrap this up nicely:

“Dear Podcast Listener,

Starting a podcast brings many advantages and opportunities, whether you start one for your readers or other writers.

It’s not as easy as we make it sound though, and high quality, regular, podcasts are the ones that make it. So prepare to commit some time. If you can see the return, and will enjoy it, then rock and roll and let me know when you’re live.

Cheers,

Simon

simon@rockingselfpublishing.com

I’m such a proponent of the value of a network that I decided to interconnect mine through an online community. I created a group for the kind of successful authors who come on my podcast. For a limited time, we are looking for outside applications. If you are towards the head of the indie pack, I’d check out the info page at http://writerscircle.rockingselfpublishing.com.  

~ Simon Whistler is a podcaster, author, and audiobook narrator. He podcasts long-form interviews every Thursday at RockingSelfPublishing.com.

Filed under: author platform, podcasts, , , , , , , , , ,

Why I Went Into Podcasting

Guest post by author Armand Rosamilia

Armand            I know the general consensus for doing something is because you see or hear someone else do it and think (in your infinite wisdom and arrogance) that you can do it better. I am here to tell you, at least with me, it was not the case. I went into podcasting because it was my next challenge.

            I’m a blessed man. I am truly living the dream, being able to write full-time and stay home in my Big Bang Theory sleep-pants and drink coffee and get even fatter (almost at will, that last one). I do two music radio shows from the comfort of said home as well. I have a wonderful fiancé and great kids and I keep doing what I want to do: write books.

            In fact, let’s get the heavy-handed plug out of the way right now. I have a new book out, Dying Days 4, which is amazing. And I’m not just saying it because I wrote it and I want you to buy a copy. I’m saying it because our gracious host had this to say about it:

“Level up with Rosamilia’s take on smarter, scarier zombies! They don’t sleep and neither will you. Read this now!” ~ Robert Chazz Chute, author of This Plague of Days

            I’m sure our gracious host will now add a direct link to the Amazon page to purchase the book so I can keep living this dream. (Editor’s note: Yeah, yeah. Here’s the link! Darn, that Armand is subtle.)

Dying Days 4 Print 2

Click the cover for the Amazon UK link.

But onto other things…

Arm Cast

            I started a new podcast a couple of weeks ago. As you read this, the second episode went live last Friday. Conveniently, it features Robert Chazz Chute (this is getting to be quite the lovefest, I know) in an interview that went almost an hour. Because once my Mighty Canadian Author Friend and I get together on Skype, we don’t shut up.

            The first episode of Arm Cast: Dead Sexy Horror Podcast (I know, brilliant name all around) had interviews with zombie authors Mark Tufo and John O’Brien, two great authors and great guys.

            And that was my only goal for doing the podcast: to get to chat with horror authors, filmmakers, podcasters, editors, artists, heavy metal and punk bands, and anyone else I was interested in. I not only wanted an excuse to talk with them but wanted to record it and share for posterity.

            No written questions, no fancy opening jingle, and I’m not even killing myself in edits. In fact, so far I’ve just kept everything in and let the listener hear what really happened. The goal is to have two interviews per week. Yes, this is a weekly, and new episodes will be released via my rss feed on http://armcastpodcast.com and through iTunes and Stitcher, so subscribe and don’t miss an episode. Every Friday you’ll be treated to a new one.

            Upcoming guests will include authors TS Alan, Thomas M. Malafarina, Jack Wallen, filmmaker David Karner, and a bunch more people I wanted to hang out with. I have a wish list of people I want to interview, so more will be added once I get confirmation they actually want to talk to me. And I love finding new authors and podcasters and anyone else interested in horror to chat with, so don’t be a stranger… get in touch.

            As long as Robert Chazz Chute and I aren’t on a marathon Skype chit-chat, I’ll interview you, too.

            Oh, and here’s the Amazon link to Dying Days 4… just because you know you want to buy it and read it while listening to my podcast and wearing matching Big Bang Theory sleep-pants and eating M&M’s…

~ To find out more about Armand and his many books, check out his blog at ArmandRosamilia.com.

 

Filed under: author platform, podcasts, , , , , , , , , ,

Writing and Podcasting: Blog Highlights from The Week That Was

A cross-genre flurry about  society's collapse under the crush of the Sutr Virus combined with a boy's love for odd words, Latin dictionaries and his father.

A cross-genre flurry about society’s collapse under the crush of the Sutr Virus combined with a boy’s love for odd words, Latin dictionaries and his father.

The book I lost a job for…and why zombies? at ThisPlagueofDays.com

This post is as much about writing, characterization and process as it is about my horror serial. You’ll want to check this out.

Cool LeRon Barton Writes Straight Dope at CoolPeoplePodcast.com

I sat down with LeRon Barton to discuss drug culture in America for the Cool People Podcast. LeRon interviewed a host of people in the drug Cool+People+Podcast+Finaltrade and looked at it from all angles, from meth users to legal marijuana growers. Then he wrote a book, Straight Dope, about those candid interviews. It was a great conversation you’ll want to hear listen to and ponder. We dare to ask the question, “Why does Lindsay Lohan get so many breaks?” The answer we come up with is surprising.

The One That Gets Sexy on the All That Chazz podcast

Each week I read from Higher Than Jesus, my crime novel. In this episode, Jesus Diaz (my loveable Cuban assassin) deals with fallout from a life Dark Higher Than Jesus banner adof violence as he gets busy for the first time with Willow Clemont AKA the future Mrs. Diaz. The childhood trauma that shapes Jesus’ life is the core of the book, but it’s the erotic unveiling that will keep you riveted as this chapter gets sexy. (Yes, I use my sexy voice.)

Photo on 12-12-05 at 4.33 PMThey versus We: From Slave to Immortal in One Manifesto 

This is an artist’s cry of defiance. We need to be defiant. We must be unique to survive. There are dark forces united against us in a system that does not care about us. Consider this manifesto our rallying cry in the war of Art.

This Plague of Days: The Pitch

If you’re looking to see how a pitch is constructed, here it is. I’m not sending this off to agents, but if I were, this would be what the TPOD pitch wouldThis Plague of Days III look like.

First it was kale shakes. Buttered bulletproof coffee is next!

Behold! The awesome power of the kale shake!

Time Management for Weight Loss and Everything Else

DecisionToChange.com is my fastest growing blog. You’ll find all sorts of interesting tidbits about health, food diaries and more here. Don’t forget to like, subscribe and spread the word as I work on my weight loss journey. You may even want to join me.

Uncomfortable answers to questions about blogging

This was my most popular post by far this week. If you missed it, you’ll probably want to have a look for ideas about when to post, how to improve the look of your blog and how much to post. Plenty of issues tackled here, including the most troubling answer to a question rarely asked: Why blog at all?

What new on Vine?

Click it to grab it.

Click it to grab it.

Have you updated your author site’s links and pages recently? I updated several pages on my author website this week. Perhaps most important this week, I added an update page to supplement my guide to the Vine App, Six Seconds. This book, about marketing using this very cool app came out not long ago, but each month the developers have tweaked it somewhat. I’ve added notes about those improvements on a timeline as the upgrades come in. Note to all: Vine had 13 million users last week, but it’s on Android now, too! That’s a lot of eyeballs and a free way to spread your word on video Twitter.

I appear on the Inverse Delirium podcast

POD Chazz 2I love podcasting. I love comedy, stand up and otherwise. I love it so much, sometimes I appear on other podcasts. I did a comedy sketch for Inverse Delirium, a podcast from Baltimore. I play Professor E. Coli. I’ll be in another Inverse Delirium later this summer, sort of playing myself.

(This week, I was briefly mentioned on The School of Podcasting and The 40-Year-Old Boy podcast, too! Love those guys! Checkout their podcasts and subscribe to them, too.)

Filed under: All That Chazz, blogs & blogging, book marketing, Books, getting it done, podcasts, Publicity & Promotion, publishing, readers, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Grab more business mojo: What Jedis know about Fear

Crack the Indie Author CodeI have more changes to make at Ex Parte Press and those changes involve some of you. (Heh. Didja hear that nervous giggle from across the globe, too?) It’s time to be the Jedis we secretly are, even though we’re Jedi school dropouts and Yoda said that thing about Fear leads to Hate…no wait, Hate leads to Fear and…um…gingivitis? Yoda talked backward a lot, okay?! Stupid syntax!

Anyway, I’ll be unveiling new plans for the Deathstar soon. I’d tell you everything right away, but I have to chaw on it to refine the details and call up a few people to bounce some ideas off their heads.

THE BROAD GOALS

1. Get more subscribers to my email list to enjoy my newsletters and giveaways (please sign up in the sidebar at AllThatChazz.com.)

2. Get my podcast to pay for itself and grow the listenership. (Try any of the current 67 episodes here.)

3. Find more allies, readers and reviewers, build a small cult, raise a large army for world domination and finally fix shit. I’ll start with the first three items on the list (i.e. allies, readers and reviewers) and sell more books. There’s much to do.

THE LONG-TERM GOALS

Eventually? Wi-fi for everyone and use Tesla’s secret plans for free electricity from the air. Everybody gets fed, lives in peace, low calorie ice cream will actually taste good and even make you thin. The new job for cancer cells will be to eat pollution since people will be made immune to the disease through the power of hemp oil. We’re going to cut down on a lot of the fear that rules our lives. That’s the Jedi way! (The Chicago  way — he brings a knife, you bring a gun — bodies everywhere.)

Anyone who doubted me will be cast in a remake of BJ and the Bear and will never be allowed off air, even when they need to poop. (They will, however, be broadcast on one of those cable channels high up no one watches on purpose. Am I not merciful?) Oh, and, of course, all coconut trees will be genetically engineered to sentience and yield coffee beans the size and flavor of coconuts in exchange for hyper-intelligence and all that free wi-fi. See, I’ve thought the big stuff through.

THE SHORT-TERM GOALS

Sure, everybody wants all those tiny miracles, but I’m working on the how of optimizing my micro-publishing empire. It’ll involve a little more technology, dancing outside my tiny comfort zone and opening up other income streams based on what I already do. It will involve calling up people to ask for help and, of course, continuing to smash through those writing and production deadlines. It ain’t all just sit back and be witty for a living, y’all.

THE REQUISITE MARATHON METAPHOR

It’s really about doubling down on this crazy bet I made on myself. It’s about not stopping as I hit the wall at mile 22. (Whispers) It’s mile 22 right about now actually. My shins are killing me.

This is where most people quit, but if I did that, I’d hate myself. There are only a few more miles to…well, that’s not the finish line. It’s the end of the beginning. But up ahead, past this hard part? The slopes are more gentle. Up ahead, I get a bike! The race isn’t as frenzied and I can coast a bit here and there. Sure, eventually we’ll all fall on our knees before our coconut-coffee hybrid overlords, but I’ll reign for 1,000 years first, so it all evens out.

GOOD FEARS, BAD FEARS

I’ll reveal the details when all the hunter-killer satellites’ particle beam arrays are in place. My most important point today is more general. I’ve been listening again to The Four-hour Workweek by Tim Ferris. No, as an author, I don’t expect to get all of Ex Parte Press’s business done in four hours a week. However, the book pushes my buttons and tells me where I have operated out of fear. Fear has held me back from projects which could help my work immensely…like that particle beam thingy, for instance. 

In my heart — left ventricle  the big decisions are already made, but the ghostly voice in the back of my head asks: What if it doesn’t work? What if you don’t have enough time? What if it’s already too late? What if you don’t have enough money to make it work? What if it’s all too much? (Smother? Is that you?)

And yet, in the big picture these are small gambles with potentially big payoffs. I don’t have that much to lose and I might gain everything I need. Fear keeps you from doing stupid stuff, like parachuting without a parachute, eating old meat or jogging in winter (or summer).

But fear can hold you back from the most important bets you make on yourself. And when I say “you”, I mean “definitely me” and “maybe, probably you.”

THE CLICHED BUT NECESSARY FISHING METAPHOR

Aspire to Inspire eBook JPGThing is, the good fishing is in the far fishing hole, where most people won’t go. The better fishing hole is not a secret. It’s just that, for many, it’s too far for the hike and the trail is a bit narrower up there. I might fall in and get cold and wet and cry a bit. Chances are better than average I’ll come back with big fish, though.

Stay tuned for more…All That Chazz.

~ Robert Chazz Chute is a crime novelist. They aren’t mysteries. They’re grab-you-by-the-cojones thrillers, with obstacles and surprises, twists and explosions. They’re also funny amid the sex, violence, psychological chaos, bon mots, general smart-assery and the cool hit man with the divine name. Chazz has also written several suspenseful books with bizarre themes. He wrote two writing and publishing guides, too — the only funny ones. The All That Chazz podcast is broadcast everywhere weekly but never weakly. You can get the podcast from AllThatChazz.com, Stitcher, iTunes and you can even receive the kick-ass signal on your braces Marsha! Marsha! Marsha! Join Chazz’s revolution, or suffer the wrath of the chimp named Bear. 

Filed under: book marketing, self-publishing, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Seven tips about book marketing very few will heed

What can we do to market our books better? Here are my ideas for a happier 2013:

If you don't go for new year's resolutions, you can still get tips and inspiration for your writing life with Crack the Indie Author Code.

If you don’t go for new year’s resolutions, you can still get tips and inspiration for your writing life with Crack the Indie Author Code.

1. Over the last few months, I’ve noticed the power of Twitter losing traction. Since Triberr loosened the chains, there’s too much to retweet so we’ve had to get very picky about what we retweet so Twitter timelines don’t become spam sluices. Getting pickier is a good thing. I’ve blocked a couple of people and, for a retweet, I’ve got to be confident my following will appreciate it. I read articles before I retweet them.

World Literary Cafe Tweet Teams remain a healthy approach, though I encourage more people to participate so the reach extends beyond hitting the same Twitter followings too often. I appreciate the people who retweet my stuff very much. New people in the mix makes this approach stronger. 

2. I’ve gently encouraged my fellow authors to provide more in their tweets than the title of their book and Amazon links. We need content with value. Write something your readers want to read and keep in mind who your audience is. For the aforementioned WLC tweet teams, I more often than not tweet links back to my blog posts rather than trying to send strangers straight to Amazon. It’s a noise versus signal battle. Noise loses.

One writing guru went so far as to actively discourage others from blogging about writing (though she does) because writers aren’t your market. I say, blog your passion and write books about your passion so your marketing chakras are aligned. (I write about writing and publishing and turned several years of blog posts into two books on the subject, so there’s that. My next step is to snag more strangers who aren’t writers. More on that in a sec.)

More tips and tricks to steer your authorship.

More tips and tricks to steer your authorship.

3. Whatever you write, your unique voice comes through. It will probably be at least somewhat consistent. Ergo, sexy on the blog means sexy in your books. Funny here, hilarious there, and so on. When you provide a valuable link back to your blog, you’re inviting people into your home. Give them more to look at and book covers to click so they can buy and read more of your stuff if they’re moved to knock back more of The Magic That is You. There are many bookselling platforms besides Amazon. The most effective one, where there’s no immediate competition for their attention, is here on my first bookselling platforms: ChazzWrites.com and AllThatChazz.com.

4. Innovate. Most writers don’t have podcasts, therefore I podcast. I actively encourage more authors to join me, but since most of you certainly won’t, I’m secure enough to be honest with you. My personal podfather, Dave Jackson from the School of Podcasting, recently pointed out that the marketplace for blogs is millions upon millions. Podcasts? There are only a few hundred thousand and they’ve become easier to access and enjoy than ever. The barrier to entry can be really quite negligible — don’t try to do it free, but you can do it cheaply — and potential readers are on treadmills right now with headphones in their ears. They aren’t hearing about you though, are they? Not yet, anyway. (That’s my strongest, boldest and borderline rude pitch for you to consider podcasting. If that won’t give you pause, I don’t know what will.)

5. Be different. The All That Chazz podcast is vamping and amping. I’ve serialized my fiction on the show and will do that again. I’ve incorporated the use of more music and I’m getting in touch with my inner badass. That translates to less crying from me and more value to listeners. The first year of All That Chazz was therapeutic and I got some stuff off my chest. Expect more interviews, more value for those who are not-me plus a new attitude: I’m coming for you, worldwide. Being different means daring more.

"A quick-moving plot with lots of surprises and a clear-eyed examination of addiction."

“A quick-moving plot with lots of surprises and a clear-eyed examination of addiction.”

6. Go deeper. There’s much more to be done with my author site besides making it prettier. I’ll soon serialize my first crime novel as blog posts chapter by chapter once a week as I dive into Higher Than Jesus a la audio.

There’s much more coming: I’m beginning a new challenge to add to the author site. I’m using bio-hacks and (some would say) extreme measures to get to phat from fat. The past year of working full-time as a writer has been awesome, but the sedentary nature of the work has taken a great toll on my health. Weight loss and life improvement are issues a lot of people face so I’m going to blog and podcast about that at AllThatChazz, too. I’m taking steps to widen my repertoire of subjects as I narrow my waistline and bring down my blood pressure. That’s a rabbit hole I’m sure a lot of people will follow me down. Why? Because I’m still blogging my passions, whether it be writing and publishing on this blog or my journey to lose 90 pounds at AllThatChazz.com.

7. Grow up. We love the idea that we can just write good books and our throngs will magically find us. When there were fewer media options, long ago when most of us were de facto quasi-Amish, that might even have been a slim possibility. It’s not now. Get over it. Give up that idea along with hopes for your privacy and that the profession of milkman will make a comeback.

The key to growing an audience is selling yourself, but being honest. Abandon any delusions you aren’t part of the marketplace. Whatever you do, you aren’t just selling your book. You’re selling you. Spare me any complaints because, inevitably, whiners confuse an Ought with an Is. This is the marketplace and if you’re out to make a big splash with ripples, you’re in it.

This is my promise to you:

In my fiction, I’m a great liar. On my blogs and podcasts, I’m brutally honest about myself. 

This is your call:

Whatever your hobby, career, quest, challenge, problem or greatest aspiration, get in the game. Blog, podcast and write books about your passion and be honest. Your audience will find you, but you have to put yourself out there.  

 

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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.

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.

Write to live

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

See my books, blogs, links and podcasts.

I interview the people you need to get to know.

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