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

Write and publish with love and fury.

20 on Book Publishing, 1 on Making Money and 1 for a laugh

We’ve all listened to the Rocking Self-publishing Podcast, The Sell More Books Show and Self-publishing Podcast. However, there are more than those three. Here are some more publishing podcasts to look into:

1. The Digital Publishing Podcast (it’s on hiatus but listen to the archives)

2. Dead Robots Society

3. The Kindle Chronicles (Check out the latest Seth Godin interview!)

4. Self-publishing Answers

5. Writers Rebellion

6. Ebook Publishing Podcast

7. Books, Business and Beyond

8. Write 2B Read

9. Buddy’s Writing Show

10. Self-Publishing Questions

11. The Creative Penn Podcast (Listening now to The Story Grid with Joanna Penn’s guest, Shawn Coyne.)

12. Arm Cast Dead Sexy Horror Podcast

13. The Publishing Profits Podcast

14. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Marketing Podcast

15. And every Thursday at 10 PM EST, listen to the Self-publishing Roundtable. 

16. The Writing Biz

17. The Author Biz (Check out the latest interview with Kristine Katherine Rusch!)

Overwhelming isn’t it?

Just remember to write first. Podcasts are for treadmills, washing dishes, driving and down time.

I have two more recommendations. Though it’s not specific to self-publishing, I’d say we all have to listen to Pat Flynn’s podcast, Smart Passive Income.

Then, a palate cleanser. How about a little comedy? Last week’s target was Sarah Palin. This week, zee vorld!

Yes, I changed the format to the All That Chazz Podcast. Check out the latest episode here and have a laugh.

~ Robert Chazz Chute is your friendly lunatic suspense novelist. Find my weird at AllThatChazz.com.

UPDATE:

The first book about my funny assassin trying to get out of the mob is now finally FREE! Click the cover to grab it now!

Bigger_Than_Jesus_Cover_for_Kindle

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Filed under: 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, , , , , , , ,

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, , , , , , , , , ,

What if What We Think We Know About Writing, Publishing & Promotion is Wrong?

TWEAKED JESUS OMNIBUS COVER WITH CROSS

Problem:

Blogging is dead. I’ve been spinning out gold here for years. Maybe I should have spent more time writing books instead because my blog stats are fairly static. This site gets pretty decent traffic when I post, but it’s not growing as I’d hoped. Still glad to do it because it’s a compulsion, but I don’t do it as often and I don’t do it to sell books. I’m here to gain allies, share information and rant when the pressure builds too high.

My book sales come through Amazon promoting me, perhaps the occasional ad, pulse sales and, most important, word of mouth. I experiment with categorization and keywords and KDP Select. I write surprising books with many twists and turns and emotional gut punches. Sometimes it feels like I’ve been teetering on the cusp of success a long time and sometimes that’s lonely and sad. That’s when I stalk around the house naked, overcompensate for my doubt, pour a stiff coffee and start shouting, “Tonight I shall drink from the Chalice of Glory!” 

Solution:

We all need an author page, but do we really need to blog? Instead, go where it’s easier for consumers of information to consume. Twitter, when used well, is one option and less time-consuming.

Note, too, there are far fewer podcasts than there are blogs. I’m back podcasting after taking a hiatus. My podcast stats not only bounced up nicely with one new episode this past week, but the numbers were pretty steady in my absence. To catch the latest All That Chazz podcast (The Hit Man Edition) click here.

The Oft-repeated Wisdom May be a Lie.

Gird your loins because this is going to get scary. Here’s what we think we all know for sure:

Market your books by writing more books.

Well, yes and no. If you have a hit, your new adoring readers may want to read everything you write and then it finally will pay to have a huge back list. However, it amazes me how many readers are very genre-specific in their tastes. More books doesn’t necessarily translate to more sales.

I know this goes against everything you’ve read and it goes against what I believed until recently. But, as Tucker Max said on the Self-Publishing Podcast recently, “Book discovery is broken.”

My Evidence: 

1. Some authors are making good money writing fairly crappy books, and fairly few. (So much for the “Make-it-great-and-it-will-certainly-sell meme.”) What makes them hot? Genre choice is one major factor, I suspect.

2. It’s surprising how many authors seem to do okay with their first book or two. Or they get featured on podcasts and whatnot despite being relative novices. Is it their marketing machine, their genre of choice or luck? (More about the touchy subject of luck in a moment.)

3. It’s disheartening to find (in my informal and unscientific survey) that there are solid, experienced authors who:

(A) appear to be great at marketing,

(B) have an impressive number of books to sell, and yet,

(C) one of their series is actually selling and just about everything else is not. Read (C) again. Aren’t you glad your girded your loins? I know it’s counterintuitive, but it’s what I’ve been told by authors with a lot of books out there (as in more than thirty).

Some authors are blaming cannibalization from Kindle Unlimited for their recent sales dip. Or is it that the recession still rolls on in too many places? Or is it that readers already have too many free books to read? Can we blame our sales platforms? The narrow availability of Bookbub and the ineffectiveness of non-Bookbub sales tools? As a last resort, I suppose we could blame ourselves, but don’t wallow. I’m here to open the Box of Depression, not stuff you in deeper.

The Lie We All Need to Believe

On a recent publishing podcast, somebody who is making many thousands of dollars a month said something like: “Any author with persistence will make it big.”

Math says that’s not true. We won’t all make it big. Many of us won’t make it at all. Like the stock market, everybody can’t ride high by sheer force of will. If persistence alone were the issue, I’d have fewer writer friends constantly worried about money. I think some of us have to work smarter, but many of us are certainly working very hard. Telling us to bear down even more isn’t really helpful and may be damaging to our health, our relationships and our self-esteem.

HJ COVER FINAL LADY IN RED

About luck

People who do make it big will usually say something humble about being lucky. Then they’ll detail the strategies to which they attribute their success. They might be right or they may be rationalizing. They might not attribute enough of their success to luck and organic growth. But more important, can their experience translate to ours? If you’re not in the same genre and working in the same time frame with the same resources, can you replicate what they did to earn readers?

My strategies going forward:

1. Still blogging, but less so. Podcasting more. Worrying less.

2. I’m holding off on the spin-off of the Hit Man Series I’d planned. Common wisdom is that many thriller series don’t seem to take off until you’re at book #5 or above. Hollywood Jesus and The Divine Assassin’s Playbook, Omnibus Edition just launched and I’m at Book #3. I hope to bring the sales of my crime novels up as the charms of my funny Cuban assassin, Jesus Diaz, are discovered. Therefore, I’ll write more of the Hit Man Series, faster. Come for the action and stay for the jokes as he falls out of the frying pan and into the napalm.

3. Work in popular genres. I’m not talking about chasing trends so much as acknowledging that I can write in more genres than I’ve allowed myself in the past. To get where I need to go so I can write more on a full-time basis, the work needs to pay.

Choosing more popular genres first is the equivalent of choosing to paddle the white water to get where I need to be (and get there faster.) I can still make any book a labor of love without throwing away profitability.

For instance, I love my upcoming time travel book. I’ve been stunned to discover there are a lot of fans of time travel who are asking me to hurry up and put that one out. My next book is another crime novel, but I’ll get to it all. I am putting books out faster now, but it may be speed of production within a genre (not necessarily flat numbers of books) that helps me avoid the infamous Cliff of Visibility from which we drop after thirty days on the market.

I also produce more books because, as with this blog, it’s about doing what I love. Produce as much as you want, but don’t pin all your hopes on any one book. Just write because you want and need to.

Opening up to New Possibilities is Another Way Forward

Recently, a publisher approached me about writing a ghost story for an anthology. It’s an honor to be asked, but that genre doesn’t appeal to me. Or rather, it didn’t appeal to me.

I noodled with a few ideas. Then I started losing sleep over it. Unless we’re talking Poltergeist, my problem with ghosts is their lack of agency. What does a ghost want? How are they a threat? How could I make readers care? Did I really want to write this at all?

The key question I ask for all my book ideas persisted:

How could I transform an old idea into a fresh and cool story?

She Who Must Be Obeyed doesn’t ask about my insomnia, anymore. She just meets me at the breakfast table with, “Busy brain?” The insomnia finally paid off. I found the hook and the angle I needed to get into the story. I want to write for that anthology now because I found the key to the main character. I also want to write a series of books on that foundation.

I never looked down on ghost stories. I just figured they were for other writers to write. Now I know I can still write whatever I want. The difference is now I’m going to let myself play in a much larger playground.

Excuse me. I have to go write a metric crap-ton of books now. For the love of it.

 

 

 

Filed under: Publicity & Promotion, publishing, self-publishing, What about Chazz?, What about you?, writing tips, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

You are not an idiot Part I

“Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.”

~ H. L. Mencken

“Don’t be that guy.”

~ Robert Chazz Chute

Part 1 is about gurus.

I heard a podcast today in which the hosts underestimated their audience’s ability to think.

They worried their guest was giving advice that was wrong, which is fine. Then they worried the advice was too nuanced. Someone, the hosts worried, might be so stupid they’d misinterpret said advice. It made me angry because they ended up mocking, berating and talking over their guest. Eventually they hashed their way through to arrive at what the guest was really suggesting.

As Hannibal suggested, “Eat the rude.”

The show also irritated me because it implied I was too stupid to “get it.” I got it. I bet most people did. Yes, someone will always misinterpret whatever you say. But we don’t run the world catering to the lowest common denominator. If we did, no one would be allowed to drive.

If you somehow become a guru of wide reputation and stellar success, please try to remember that not everyone is stupid just because they haven’t reached your heights…yet.

Advice is not for idiots.

It wastes the breath of the advisor. Idiots aren’t interested in advice. Advice makes idiots talk more. No one wants that.

The hosts of the podcast (which I will not name because it’s unnecessary) are certainly not idiots. I wish they thought we were smarter, though.

~ My name is Robert Chazz Chute and the only guru I put full faith in is Kurt Vonnegut. He was a great writer and a constantly disappointed humanist.

 

 

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

What authors should stick in their ears and eyes to succeed

The following is a list of resources for anyone interested in writing and publishing. I’m going to head off any rancour immediately and tell you this is neither meant to be a comprehensive list nor is it in any particular order. Okay? Okay. Read on.

1. Joe Konrath’s blog: Arguments are made. Elucidation ensues. Many writers have become author/publishers after reading Konrath’s blog.

2. Self-Publishing Podcast: The guys behind Write, Publish, Repeat often have great guests, but it’s co-host David Wright who is the soulless soul of the show. Always NSFW. New episodes every Thursday. Joanna Penn appears this coming Thursday. (i.e. week of Valentine’s Day, 2014.)

3. The Creative Penn (podcast): Joanna Penn talks to movers and thumpers in self-publishing. Expect a plethora of brilliant pieces on book marketing. Joanna is very innovative so you’ll no doubt discover resources here you didn’t know you needed. 

4. Dead Robots Society (podcast): They recently had a really good discussion of the business of writing and publishing. Each week when they talk about the word count they’ve achieved (or not) the listener gets the distinct impression these guys are in it for the long haul, head down and bulling their way through no matter what.

5. Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s blog on publishing is a must. She pulls the fire alarm on bad contracts and often pokes holes in the bad thinking going on in publishing big and small.

6. The Passive Voice: A must-read. Sign up for the Passive Guy’s daily picks of stories from around the web about the state of publishing. He’s even featured a couple of my posts from this blog and from ThisPlagueOfDays.com.

7. I Should Be Writing (podcast): Author Mur Lafferty monologues and answers questions from listeners. Honest and no-nonsense.

8. Terribleminds: Chuck Wendig is your fun uncle who swears a lot. He’s informative and just might get you writing if you’ve been coquettish about it thus far. Read his blog.

9. The Self-publishing Roundtable is fun and filled with facts and you can see it on video. It’s a panel with many guests so you get diversity in opinion and experience.

10. The Rocking Self-publishing Podcast: Simon Whistler interviews a new author every Thursday. For the depth of his research and his listening skills, he’s easily the best interviewer among all the podcasts on self-publishing. I’m not sucking up, but yes, I’m scheduled to be on the show in late spring or early summer to coincide with the release of This Plague of Days, Season 3.

11. Renee Pawlish is a bestselling novelist (and, ahem, a former guest on the Cool People Podcast) who does some serious reportage about indie publishing. Don’t miss her analysis of the utility of and pricing at Bookbub.

~ A new episode of the All That Chazz podcast is finally up! First I dealt with an energy vampire and then I had to balance the demands of managing two businesses. I talk about that, exhaustively, for the first 30 minutes or so. Were I you, I’d skip my talk therapy and listen to the reading from my crime novel, Higher Than Jesus. This chapter is Some Like It Hot. Or you could just go ahead and discover the joys of knowing my funny Cuban hit man by buying Bigger Than Jesus and Higher Than Jesus. Yeah. Please do.

 

Filed under: publishing, writing tips, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The attitude (and the radio show) indie authors need to succeed

This week on a podcast I heard a couple of guys who own a small press quibble over what qualifies as “indie” versus what “self-publishing” is and OH MY THOR! WHO CARES? They don’t understand that any serious self-publisher is a publisher. I know of no one who attacks the challenge alone. We have editors and proofreaders and graphic artists. We recruit volunteers and call on experts. The distinction these podcasters were quibbling about is so two to three years ago and I’m sick of it. We don’t go it alone if we’re to have any chance at succeeding. Truly solitary efforts? Those stinkers sink like lead in a helium sea. They can keep talking. We’ll keep moving forward.

Someone else questioned the use of the word “revolution” in our little make-up-stuff context.

The tagline at ChazzWrites used to be “Join the Publishing Revolution.” I wrote that because the ability to publish and sell directly to readers on a large scale, without traditional gatekeepers, was and remains revolutionary. We’re a young industry, but we keep on proving we’re not as stupid as once accused. We pick ourselves rather than wait for anointment, but no, despite the hype and alarm, we really do understand that publishing is not just a button.

Quite a while ago, I changed the tagline for this blog to: “We are the publishing revolution.”

Since I started this blog, the publishing landscape has changed and we’re getting better. There’s a reason for that growing expertise and success and it’s about you and me and the friends we make.

I’ve never been in a business so firmly entrenched in what Joanna Penn calls “Coopetition.” Writing may be solitary, but publishing is still a team sport. Most indies help other indies. I am not threatened by any author. I’m inspired by them. I read their work. I’m often assisted by them. We’re allies. We have so few resources, we have to band together. The organization is loose and the data flow is more horizontal than vertical. We’re less isolated and we sure aren’t corporate, but you know what?

Banding together is better.

Nobody owes anyone else a helping hand. It’s not about owing. I’m talking about the joy of paying it forward. Sure, there are a few authors who don’t have time to help others. They come off a bit me, me, me. Sometimes that’s a pocket full of earned arrogance and sometimes they were born that way. They’re missing out. Suffering, even. 

Have you ever had the opportunity to help somebody out?

The answer is, of course you have. And when you do help somebody, doesn’t it feel fantastic? It’s a great feeling to pay for a stranger’s coffee at the drive-through. Random acts of kindness aren’t so popular because they help somebody who needs a boost. Random acts of kindness are so popular because they feel just as good (maybe better) for the giver.

As Indies, we need each other. We can’t afford to pay for all the expertise and experience we receive from bloggers, podcasters and fellow authors. But the rising tide of kindness paired with knowledge raises the industry’s boats. I have another recommendation, besides helpful blogs and podcasts.

Here’s a radio show for our revolution:

Friday night (and every Friday night) I listened to Friday Night Writes on Surf 17 on Flagler Beach Radio. Last week, authors Tim Baker and Armand Rosamilia talked about editing with Armand’s editor, Jenny Adams. They laugh a lot on that show and the music’s good, too. The show’s Facebook forum is active, the audience laughs along with them and they answer questions about writing and publishing in a fun way. (So see you all there Friday night. I listen in on the TuneIn Radio app.)

That’s the commercial. Here’s the point:

Writing is fun (or else maybe you’re doing it wrong). Publishing is a serious business populated with fun, intelligent and interesting people. Many of the most generous people I know are growing their readership, blowing up and getting better faster. I don’t think the intersection of generosity and success is a coincidence. Generosity not only feels good. It grows support networks, readers and fans. Energy goes out and comes back, drawing attention, interest and resonance.

We are a generous group. We are writers.

Our revolution is based not on conquering but on love of language and stories. Sharing our love of language and telling stories? It’s not frivolous. Fiction is an important way to keep the darkness at bay. It’s a welcome distraction from what ails us. Each novel is an opportunity to escape reality and a less painful way to better understand life.

We learn and share experiences through our stories. We grow and share and laugh together. We help each other. We entertain strangers from a distance for a long time very inexpensively. We’re givers and that feels awesome. Without cooperation, we would not be here. Generosity is the bedrock of our humanity. 

That’s love. 

We are the revolution we need.

 

Filed under: author platform, Media, publishing, self-publishing, Writers, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

TOP TEN: Publishing paradoxes and problems

1. We discount one-star reviews because of their typically venomous, dismissive hatred yet we read every one.

2. We strive to get on big media to help sell, but not much media is big anymore and it won’t move the sales needle anyway.

3. We hope to be picked up by old traditional media, but we’d connect with our audiences better and get more time, for free, going after podcasts.

4. We’re putting ourselves out there, daring to dream big, but get discouraged by people who do neither of those things.

5. We get jealous of the success of other authors when we should learn, emulate and be inspired.

6. We say “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” but that’s what covers are for.

7. We spend time thinking about being a writer instead of writing.

8. We all hope to catch fire with our first book, but if success came today, many of us would be unprepared for it and wouldn’t have anything else to sell.

9. We spend months or years on our manuscripts, but many of us aren’t taking a few minutes to make sure our hard work is safely backed up (in two different ways.)

10. We call it self-publishing, but it’s a team effort and the author who truly tries to go it alone is a fool or a monster.

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

Travesty: The Slate Culture Gabfest “bludgeoned” by books

Bad news

Some people have committed to never buying another book again. Their e-readers are stuffed full of all the free books they could load. They’ll probably never get to most of them. Downloads do not equate to reading. When they do give your book a chance, some nasties are predisposed to one-star reviews. They’ll give your books less of a chance than you dare hope. They’re far less invested in reading it because they’ve got way too much to read already. And “How dare you attempt to entertain me for free!”

It gets worse…

From several literate sources, I’ve heard intellectual folks complain about having a book recommended to them. On the Book Fight podcast (which I generally enjoy), the hosts — who honestly love literature! — talked about recommendation fatigue. Attempts to share the glory of a good story might be viewed with a cynical eye over there. Instead of an open hand of welcome for a recommendation, book boosters can expect to be seen as mindless parrots and promoters. Holy crapballs! These guys write and teach writing. Maybe they’re tired. One host yearned to have a job fixing cars instead of writing for a living. Somebody needs a vacation, or to remember how much hard labor can suck. This? From people who love literature?

But it gets much worse…

The Slate Culture Gabfest, a podcast you’d hope wouldn’t have room for cynicism, is not a safe space for books. You’d think people who talk about culture professionally wouldn’t be so disengaged and full of resentment when book recommendations come their way. One of the hosts even said they were less likely to read a book because someone suggested he should. I guess host Stephen “I hate everything but the counter-intuitive” Metcalf is past the giddy burble some of us feel as we read a book that genuinely excites us.

You know that feeling, right? When you consciously slow your reading to make the experience last longer? Remember those books that disappoint, not because they’re bad? Remember those books that, as you close them, it feels like the last roller coaster ride of the day is over and the amusement park’s closing up for the night?

Someone’s forgotten that wistful love. The three Slate podcasters felt “bludgeoned” because they got too many recommendations. (From here, that sounds like they’re complaining they get too many valentines.)

How’s their wariness and weariness working out for them? So far, they’ve successfully avoided A Visit from the Good Squad by Jennifer Egan, or any Barbara Kingsolver or any Alice Munro. This, from culture critics. Culture is their business, but I guess that’s no reason to get too bookish about it. Let’s nerd out over Michael Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate, instead. Lord knows that poor director never had his proper shot at fame and fortune. I guess I won’t hold my breath for them to give Bigger Than Jesus a go.

Where does that leave authors who don’t get to meet Stephen Colbert on their fabulous press junket?

(Hat tip to Slate’s Emily Bazelon. I still love you, Emily.)

Stuck in the desert with a cactus in our ass is where that leaves us. You can pump your books on Triberr and Twitter and Facebook and pay for all the advertising you can afford, but some people who review books are overstimulated and it seems to have soured their milk. One of the Book Fight guys suggested that if you hardly ever recommend a book and then you finally do, he’d give that recommendation more weight. That paradigm doesn’t fit into most authors’ promotional campaigns very well, does it?

That last point struck me as particularly disagreeable this week when I ran across a brilliant author who does no promotion. I won’t embarrass him here (but I’ll promote him later). For the purposes of this post, I’ll simply say that being brilliant might get you readers in the long-term, but he isn’t getting the attention he deserves without promotion. A good marketer who writes will outpace a better writer who fails to market well.

Slate’s jaundiced eye toward any recommendation I could make suggests his brilliance will stay a secret. The gatekeepers to publishing have been sent into the forest to learn other trades and reinvent themselves, but there are still gatekeepers to publicity and attention. And they are sick of us, no matter how casually and sidelong our book recommendations.

How am I going to pull this post out of its dive into a dark, hard place?

This has been a test of the emergency broadcast system. If this were a real emergency, everybody would feel this way about book recommendations. However, there are still plenty of readers who are not fatigued and may even thank you for reviewing and sharing. They might love our books. I sure hope they love mine. When you get depressed about people who seem predisposed to ignoring our efforts (or even despise us, our silly dreams and possibly even our dogs) focus your energy elsewhere. Continue with the quixotic! Quixotic is the most noble category of quests.

Now please go write something the critics can’t possibly ignore.

Or go write something someone will dare to recommend to someone, with shamefaced humility,

in a passive way that somehow won’t erect some critics’ inborn defences against a kind suggestion.

(And don’t tell them what kind of day to have.)

Filed under: book marketing, Media, Publicity & Promotion, publishing, readers, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

#VINE: A new way to use #VIDEO to get new readers & listeners

Tips and inspiration for the indie author's journey to publication.

Tips and inspiration for the indie author’s journey to publication.

What’s Vine? It’s video Twitter. Make a six-second movie and spread your word. I’m all over this and I’m telling you now as your fellow author and good buddy, get in early. Not a lot of authors are there yet, so join me, join the fun and build your platform, too. It’s a fun tool and toy. We need tools like this to muster more promo mojo and muscle our way into minds. I’ll explain why we need Vine to build our book cults.

I’ve used Vine so far to let people know about my podcast and books, but also just to let people know I can be witty in six-second bites. I hope they’ll conclude I’m worth more of their time in other media. (Oh, and not for nothin’, the new free All That Chazz podcast is gripping. The What’s Uncool Edition is available to your ears here and now.) 

Why video? Video and audio are easier for people to consume than books. Yes, there are still actual readers out there, but to stick a barbed hook in an eyeball, we have to reach out to them where they are. If rabid video consumers aren’t already readers, don’t complain. Convert them to your cult.

I expect objections from a few.

There’s a neo-Luddite reflex in many authors that says:

1. “I shouldn’t have to do this!”

Waaah! I don’t want to floss, either. However, I like my teeth. Besides, if you do it right, marketing and promotion can actually be fun and productive.

2. “Here’s another piece of technology that takes us away from books!”

Here’s another piece of technology to attract new readers to your books.

3. “Video is the death of literature!”

Video is another medium. People who really love reading books will still make time for reading books.

4. “Real book lovers won’t be watching six-second video loops of cats playing.”

Have you ever met a bibliophile? Your demographic loves cats to the point it may be unhealthy. “Real” book lovers have varied interests because, mostly, they’re intelligent. 

5. “This is yet another promotional thing to spam and annoy people.”  

Not if you’re clever and fun. (Are you saying you aren’t clever and fun? Get off my blog! You can’t possibly be a friend or fan of mine!)

6. “I don’t know…sounds hard.”

Check it out. It’s easy, intuitive and took the shortest time to set up than anything else I’ve ever set up. Vine is definitely worth the minor time investment and it’s free. You will need an iPad, iPhone or iPod. I use an iPod because it’s the cheapest option that makes my life better. If I couldn’t do that, I’d borrow an Apple device from a friend once a week for a few minutes.

7. “But how will people find it?”

It not only works like Twitter, it’s integrated with Twitter and Facebook.

8. “But what can you do in only six seconds?”

Remember when I told you the story about the editor who said of Twitter, “I can’t say anything of value in 140 characters.” Translation: She was telling the world she was a lousy editor. Lots of people manage it so we can, too.

9. “I heard Vine is just filled with porn.”

They had issues with pornography but Apple made Vine’s developers scrub it. That end of the story got a lot of media coverage as Vine launched. That was last week. That data is out of date.

10. “I’m already on too many social media and can’t take the time.”

To the second point, it’s six seconds. You can spare six seconds. (Okay, maybe it takes me a minute and six seconds to get it right and post it.)

Aspire to Inspire eBook JPGAs for being on too many social media platforms: Evaluate what’s working and delete what isn’t. For instance, if you’re not looking for a job, dump LinkedIn. I did.

We call them platforms because that’s where we climb up to speak to a larger crowd. Do it and, if you’re tragically unsexy like me, do what I do and let puppets do the talking.

As soon as you download the app and get set up, find me, follow me and show me your videos. It will be great to put voices and faces to all of you. Without video, I’m just imagining you’re all lingerie-clad Angelina Jolies, Joan Chens and Beyonces. Even the guys. Especially the guys.

 

Filed under: author platform, book marketing, podcasts, Vine, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

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