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

Write and publish with love and fury.

Sell More Books Top 10: Variables that build success

We often don’t know for sure which strategies sell more books so we have to fire a lot of bullets into the darkness. Last week, the best advice I heard, repeated from a couple of authors, was about the willingness to experiment.

When it comes to radioactive isotopes, infant juggling and indie publishing, it’s good fun to mess around. Play with the variables to sell more books. What are some of those variables? Here we go:

1. If your cover doesn’t sell the book hard enough, change it.

Write Your Book: Aspire to Inspire wasn’t selling the numbers I wanted. I changed the cover.

WYB NEW COVERcover

2. I played with categories for the Hit Man Series.

My funny and luckless assassin is Cuban, so I tried the Hispanic & Latino category. Didn’t work. I switched it back. Each failure is a refinement. It’s not permanent so relax and fire more shots into the dark.

3. I’m experimenting with keywords, too.

Did you know you don’t have to use a single word (i.e. crime, thriller, action, romance) for keywords? You can add up to seven phrases and it can pay to make them less generic. Cater to your niche and, for more on this strategy, listen to Nick Stephenson’s interview on the Rocking Self-Publishing Podcast with host Simon Whistler. It’s called “Quadruple Your Kindle Sales.” That got your attention and turned you into a podcast listener, didn’t it?

Don’t forget to play with changes to your book descriptions, as well. Use keywords where appropriate. Don’t fall into the trap of awkwardly stuffing keywords into the description so it sounds like you’re straining to please search engine robots.

While you’re plugging podcasts into your head, please do listen to my interview on Episode #60 of Rocking Self-publishing. We had a lot of fun talking about how to enjoy marketing your book.

4. I changed the cover for my poetry book, too.

Poetry is hard enough to sell so don’t handicap your efforts with a sad cover like I did. I changed the cover using an image from Pond5 and switching back and forth from two photo editors, Picmonkey and KD Renegade. 

As always, I recommend the awesome cover design work of Kit Foster of KitFosterDesign.com. He wasn’t available this week, so I improvised. It’s an improvement on the original cover (which was my fault, not Kit’s. The original crap cover was my design, too.)

BRAINGASMS FINAL cover

5. My biggest change was long overdue.

My first book was a fun, funny and thoughtful short story collection to read on the toilet. It’s called Self-help for Stoners. Unfortunately, I uploaded my first indie published foray through an intermediary. To make changes to the text cost a lot of money. It needed another edit so I have reclaimed the book from the intermediary. Huzzah!

I did the edit for the second edition. I added bonus material (big tastes of two of my series) so it could act as an introduction to my kind of crazy. Finally, it’s also a sales funnel to my newer books. 

Self Help for Stoners JPEG

I can do more with this book now, like experiment with variables. I can play with the price, keywords and categories. I can change strategies as needed and put it in KDP Select and try countdown deals etc,….

The print version of the second edition will be for sale again soon so I’ll have more to sell for the Christmas season. Most important, with these changes, I’m delivering a better reading experience along with all that awesome hilarity. It’s a relief to be back in the driver’s seat.

6. Speed.

I’ve been thinking a lot about production speed as marketing. I’m changing my production timetable. The third book in the Hit Man Series hits October 1.

HJ COVER FINAL LADY IN RED

The goal is to put out another crime novel thirty days after that. Thirty days later, the plan is to put out a time travel novel. The books are all written and in the editorial pipeline. I’ll also add an omnibus edition of the first three books in the series.

TWEAKED JESUS OMNIBUS COVER WITH CROSS

The goal is to avoid falling off the cliff. All authors experience the cliff. After a month on Amazon, your beautiful baby is old news and sales tend to begin to slide as you disappear from the list of freshly minted books. Publish a new book more often and all your sales may be buoyed…assuming all the other variables are properly in place. For instance, if the story sucks, nothing can save us.

7. Accept failure as part of the play in the gears.

Please keep in mind that you can put all the sales variables in place, but that does not necessarily mean the book will move. It should move more, but there are too many variables we can’t control. Maybe you’re going head to head against a book with tons of mojo and money behind it. Maybe you’re at the top of a genre that is stone cold. Maybe the book just isn’t that good or you’re an unrecognized genius. (So many of us are. I empathize.)

All we can do is write more books and play with the variables that we can control. I should get a blurb for the Self-help for Stoners cover, for instance. That task is on my list. Blurbs help. More reviews help. Maybe more review copies to book bloggers is something to change up. Or do you need to change the book bloggers on the list you already have?

8. Make plans.

This might be a new idea you want to resist because you’re an artiste, dammit! I know, but work to word count or page count goals and editorial deadlines, anyway. I always get more done when I pretend I’m a grown up.

9. in that vein, establish systems.

When you learn the steps to how to do something once (e.g. putting out a podcast or compiling manuscripts in Scrivener), write what you did right. That way, you don’t have to start at zero knowledge each time you repeat the task. Systems are flow charts of mistakes you corrected. It’s a great way to avoid making the same mistakes with your next project. Put it in a binder within reach of your desk. Update it as you go.

Sure, taking the time to put what you’ve learned into binders sounds like drudgery. However, systems actually make you efficient and eliminate the drudgery of reinventing the wheel each time. Tiny course corrections steal far less from our precious writing time. (Tip: Take screenshots of your winning Scrivener process to make it less tedious.)

10. Speaking of finding efficiencies, track results.

That which is not measured cannot be improved. Repeat the variables that seem to work. Dump what doesn’t work, no matter how much you loved those seemingly brilliant ideas. Old ideas that don’t work can weigh us down as we climb the mountain.

BONUS:
Get better with each book.

This will happen organically. It will happen faster if you organize the variables in that binder.

Pretty soon, you won’t be firing bullets in the dark. You’ll see what hit and become a sharpshooter.

 

Filed under: author platform, Publicity & Promotion, publishing, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sweet Book Pie: Bonuses for readers, a tip for writers

When ebooks first emerged, the goal was to make them appear as much like paper books as possible. Generally, we’re still doing that and that’s a good thing. I’m not a fan of “enhanced” ebooks that pack in distractions. I don’t want the soundtrack to the battle scene as I read. I want to immerse myself in the story. A movie is a movie and the media don’t mix well. The movie we make in our heads from reading is usually superior, anyway.

I did use video in a different way to reach out to readers in This Plague of Days, but it’s a link buried in the back of the TPOD Omnibus, not something to accompany the story. (I told you about that secret video and the free ebook bonus last week, so click here if you missed that.) 

But yet another secret awaits in the This Plague of Days Omnibus.

Many readers may not really be aware of it. This is where thinking about ebooks as ebooks comes in. I did something fun with the Table of Contents, but you have to look for it to see it all at once. The key is, the Table of Contents doesn’t have to go in the front of ebooks.

Go find it Scooby Gang! 

To get the TOC in This Plague of Days, Omnibus Edition, you have to “go to” the TOC (which I placed in the back of the book.) I did this for several reasons. The main one is that it’s another Easter egg for TPOD readers. 

The TPOD TOC is one long, dark poem. It contains veiled hints and clues to the story arc from beginning to end. Much of the poem will make more sense in retrospect. To get all of it at once, it’s in the back of the TPOD Omnibus Edition, but the individual ebooks (Seasons 1, 2 and 3) yield chunks of it, as well. 

 

Why I love it:

It was fun to create. I like poetry, especially dark and mysterious poetry. I enjoy the fact that readers will see how it all comes together upon finishing the trilogy. I love the fact that I did something different from the expected. That’s my thing. To be perfectly honest, I love that I’ve done something a mainstream publisher probably wouldn’t allow me to do. I don’t consider myself an experimental novelist, at all. I just think it’s a fun add-on in this case.

Sure, readers could skip from chapter head to chapter head to get it, but that’s awkward. Most people won’t do that and you don’t get the full effect reading it piecemeal. Will it gain more readers? Nah, probably not many. I think of it as a little extra for people who are deep into TPOD. Cater to them what dig your grooviness and you’ll get more of those groovy people.

But there’s a much more important reason to put the TOC in the back of your ebook.

It’s about the size of the free sample on your sales page. When readers look at samples, they want to get into the story quickly. With non-fiction, I do want a peek at the TOC up front so I can grok what will be covered. With fiction, the TOC gets in the way of the narrative and cuts down on the sample size. To get readers deeper into the story, we have to get that TOC out of the way so we give the reader a bigger sample of sweet book pie.

Whenever possible, give the readers more pie so they can decide if they like your flavor. I’d rather have thousands read the sample before buying and say no than have dissatisfied readers who were looking for dragon/Big Foot erotica and, inexplicably, bought my book instead. Unread samples are where most bad reviews come from.

Generous samples get people to buy cartloads of stuff from Costco every weekend. Much of it they didn’t know they wanted until somebody said, “Would you like to try a taste?” 

Add value. Add fun. Play with the reader. Give ’em more pie. Always give more pie. Put your next novel’s TOC in the back of the book.

 

Robert Chazz Chute Bio Picture~ This Plague of Days book bargains continue. Find out about that here. 

Or not. I mean, geez. It’s a low pressure situation, man. Chillax and enjoy as the apocalypse unfolds all around us. You’re already soaking in it so you may as well soak it in.

Filed under: author platform, Books, ebooks, writing tips, , , , , , , , , , , ,

What we aren’t reading that might help our writing most

braingasm cover

On sale now for a mere 0.99 cents. Click away!

“Poetry: the best words in the best order.”

~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge

How does poetry help your prose? Why is poetry still important even though so few people buy it? Here’s why:

1. To paraphrase comedian Greg Proops: “Because George Bush and Dick Cheney. That’s why.” Poetry is a salve for our minds and times.

2. To take off on the Coleridge quote: Poetry is the least words in the best order. Capture a scene with fewer brush strokes and the reader will appreciate the efficiency of your storytelling.

3. From “A Late Walk” by Robert Frost: 

And when I come to the garden ground,
The whir of sober birds
Up from the tangle of withered weeds
Is sadder than any words.

To capture images with imaginative language that illuminates the scene in the reader’s mind, practice by reading and writing more poetry. So much prose is linear to the point of telegraphic minimalism. I love a spare writing style, too, but there’s room for art as long as the story remains unobscured. The point is not to make the reader work harder to see the picture you’re painting, but to grasp it all in a pleasing way. Many readers won’t notice how you’re doing it, but they’ll feel what you’re doing. Prose shows, true, but poetry engages.

4. I have a penchant for dark poetry. It’s fun and I found a way to integrate it into my zombie apocalypse. Sure that sounds insane, sure, but here’s what I did:

All the chapter titles in This Plague of Days make up a long, dark poem with clues to the plot. There’s a secret in This Plague of Days no one has yet guessed. I’ve offered to name characters after the first three people who guess right. So far, the secret remains undiscovered. (To see the entire poem for each season, you can find all the verses in the paperbacks. In the ebooks, search “Table of Contents”. If you care to guess, DM me on twitter @rchazzchute and keep the secret so Season 3 remains spoiler-free.) Here’s a piece:

TPOD season 1 ecoverMiles away in the Last Cafe,

We count every cost, each rueful day, 

But knowing will not lessen the surprise

when you see the truth beneath the guise.

The puzzle is not Death, but Life Neverlasting.

The answer is under the stars and moon shadows casting

Now in paperback!

Now in paperback!

Light, revelation and fearful truth

The stuff of old age and disappointed youth.

In dreams we find the connection to what will last, 

what won’t survive and what’s best left in the past.

~ from Season 2, Episode 2 of This Plague of Days

5. Read poetry for the pure love of language.

The more you read, the more sensitive you become to the sound of rhyme and the beat of meter. Power lies where the syllables fall and ring. Poetry doesn’t have to be dense, flowery or meaning-adjacent, communicating only by approximation. Poetry’s gift is in its precision. Poets choose their words carefully. Writers of prose can, and should, choose their words carefully, too. Do it right and even a grisly dismemberment can reach high lyricism.

6. Play with words because it’s fun. Unless you insist, poetry doesn’t have to rhyme.

Work it right and find the time

to light up your readers’ minds.

With a little poetry to your prose,

fans will love the words you chose.

7. Poetry doesn’t have to be dusty and academic.

Check out a poetry slam on YouTube sometime. You’ll see, hear and feel raw emotion communicating points and pictures. When I want to hear a modern poet who writes imaginative rhymes that fit together, tight and smooth as puzzle pieces, I listen to Eminem rap.

That’s the sort of poetry that still sells, but I love it all no less.

~ Robert Chazz Chute is the author of a bunch of horror, a couple of crime novels (so far) and a lot of suspense. To check out all his books (many of which are on sale now, awaiting your anxious clicks and happy reviews), find them all here. For his podcasts, check out AllThatChazz.com and CoolPeoplePodcast.com. For more on This Plague Of Days, go to ThisPlagueOfDays.com.

Filed under: Poetry, writing tips, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Charles Bukowski Quote

Charles Bukowski

Image via Wikipedia

From the novel, Hollywood:

The screenplay went well. Writing was never work for me. It had been the same for as long as I could remember: turn on the radio to a classical music station, light a cigarette or a cigar, open the bottle. The typer did the rest. All I had to do was be there. The whole process allowed me to continue when life itself offered very little, when life itself was a horror show. There was always the typer to soothe me, to talk to me, to entertain me, to save my ass. Basically, that’s why I wrote: to save my ass, to save my ass from the madhouse, from the streets, from myself.

~Charles Bukowski, Hollywood, p. 88, 1989, HarperCollins

He’s an ordinary guy who transcends ordinary. His poetry inspired me to write poems (that he would hate.) His prose reminded me how easy writing should feel, even if I don’t share his ease at the keyboard all the time. He was a bewildered, unapologetic drunk. He didn’t write from his brain or his heart. Bukowski wrote from his balls. If you’re unfamiliar with his work, I recommend it (whether or not you enjoy the image of writing that seems to originate from the genitalia.)

Hollywood takes a delicious stab at Jack Kerouac for whom Bukowski obviously had no respect. It’ a fun read, especially when Norman Mailer shows up in a disguise so thin you can imagine Bukowski giving you a funny little wink.

Bukowski is the uncle you’re supposed to hate, but you can’t bring yourself to think he’s unredeemable. There is an innocence there, like a child unaware of social norms that define good behavior.

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Filed under: authors, Books, Poetry, Writers, , , , , ,

Disturbing Poetry

 The following is not for the easily offended. Or the sane. But you? Yeah, sicko, you might groove on this. Now take your medication.

Behind you

I focus on the space between people,

never seeing eye-to eye.

My position is always peripheral.

People say I’m way too shy.

But I am watching

especially when you think I’m not.

I’m stealing smiles and taking names

and trying not to get caught.

I’m surfing the net and hacking your man.

I stay to the shadows, surveilling things,

watching you undress and making plans.

 It’s like dead to alive, the rush that brings.

You should leave him

or you’ll wish you had.

I’ll treat you right, hardly ever bad.

I’ll help you get there and make you see.

That man is doing very bad deeds,

worse even than me.

He disgusts me, knelt behind you,

sweating and gritting and looking grim.

Lucky for you, I’m just behind him.

I know you’ll understand my sweet thoughts

and why he really had to be stopped.

He only wanted you for your body

and doing things real ladies know are naughty.

Please don’t scream and stop the cursing

or my transgressions shall certainly worsen.

What do you mean you don’t know who I am?

I’ve rung up your filthy purchases again and again.

Pepsi and condoms and personal lubricant.

Don’t say you didn’t flirt with the drugstore man!

You looked me in the eyes

and didn’t look away.

You gave me a smile and said thank you.

What else was there to say?

You sent me coded messages in sheer blouse fashion.

Now we’re together forever in crimes of passion.

You have bound me in irredeemable love.

I proved it by the sticky blood on my gloves.

And I have bound you in duct tape and leather

one garroted boyfriend on the floor

and a four-poster awaits our mutual pleasure.

Too much has been done

for any more to be said.

Now lick your lips, darling, red and wet.

I’ve come for your head.

 

Filed under: Poetry,

Enough

I will never be enough.

I will never be perfect.

I will never make enough money.

I will never have enough toys.

I will never be a best-selling author.

I will always be found wanting.

I will always want more respect.

I will never have enough to satisfy my father.

I will never be enough to satisfy my mother.

I will always be up on this cross.

I will always be down in this hole.

I will always be hungry.

I will always be empty.

Every unkind word buries me.

Every thoughtless comment drowns me.

Every harsh remark casually dropped from your stupid mouth

pierces my heart.

I am sadness.

I am rage.

My loser tattoo is indelible.

You will never see me as more than this.

Worse, I will never see me as more than this.

And I will never be happier.

Any happiness I do manage to scratch up won’t last longer

than the next chocolate chip cookie

fresh from the oven

but cooling fast.

Then the next ugly thought kills me again

and again

and again

forever.

So there is a hell after all.

You know what’s best about youth?

It isn’t the vitality, though that’s good.

It isn’t zero responsibility, though that was awesome.

It’s the road that stretches out before you

and you can’t see beyond the horizon.

You could be anything

(even the successful writer you dream you could be.)

But the best thing about youth is when you look

in a girl’s eyes and she sees the man you wish you were

and,

best of all,

you haven’t fucked up yet.

Filed under: Poetry, ,

Winner of Writer's Digest's 2014 Honorable Mention in Self-published Ebook Awards in Genre

The first 81 lessons to get your Buffy on

More lessons to help you survive Armageddon

"You will laugh your ass off!" ~ Maxwell Cynn, author of Cybergrrl

Available now!

Fast-paced terror, new threats, more twists.

An autistic boy versus our world in free fall

Suspense to melt your face and play with your brain.

Action like a Guy Ritchie film. Funny like Woody Allen when he was funny.

Jesus: Sexier and even more addicted to love.

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

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