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

Write and publish with love and fury.

Ebook pricing, free promotions and you

The complete first season is FREE for two days. Click now.

The complete first season is FREE for two days. Click now.

Generosity feels great and, in this incarnation of the book business, generosity is a marketing strategy if done right. Today, a giveaway and a case study in real time. (If you don’t know anything about This Plague of Days, check out ThisPlagueOfDays.com for sneak peeks.)

I released This Plague of Days, Season 1 as a serial. There were many reasons for doing it this way. I wrote it like a television mini-series and serialization opens up marketing opportunities. On the first day of Season One, I published the complete first season and Episode 1. Four more episodes followed each Monday. The episodes sold for 99 cents each or readers could get the whole season for $3.99.

For my initial giveaway, I put the first episode up for free for two days. I don’t believe in long promotions. By the time you’re done more than two days, you’ve exhausted your connections and momentum slows. I gave away about 1500 downloads of Episode 1 and stayed at the top of the Post-apocalyptic and Dystopian charts on the free side of Amazon for those two days. It’s really exciting sitting at #1 and #2 beside Hugh Howey.

An interesting thing happened next:

A bunch of readers liked Episode 1 but they stuck with the individual episodes. I watched my dashboard charts light up green with sales of Episodes 2, 3, 4 and 5 as people who got Episode 1 for free worked their way through the serial. The complete book of the season sold a bit, too, (at $3.99) but it seemed for readers to jump from episodes to the season at once, the discount would have had to be even deeper.

Pros and Cons of This Strategy

Pro: I gained a bunch of reviews for This Plague Of Days. Most readers dug it.

Con: Readers of Episode 1 only see the dad is an atheist and they may not stick around for the sweep of the story’s longer arc. The atheist dad has doubts about his lack of belief and his religious wife has doubts about her faith. I don’t dump it all in Episode 1 so, with serialization, you get judged by what you lead with. I’m not complaining. If you do something similar to what I’m doing, stay true to your vision, but don’t expect everyone to wait patiently for the payoffs later on. I have secret seeds planted in Season One that don’t bloom until Season Three.

Con: You’ll always get your worst reviews from free promotions.

Con: Some people who click free will never click “buy”. (Actually, that’s unfortunate, but it’s not really a “con” per se. I mention it because I anticipate resistance to these tactics. However, it’s not a true deficit in that it’s mostly irrelevant. These readers aren’t in my long-term equation for the same reasons the cobalt industry, Cadillac and Vera Wang don’t target me as a customer. Just as I’ll never be in those businesses’ target demographics, I’m hunting for converts, not free book shelvers.

Pro: All those downloads got me Also-bought listings and Amazon started selling the book for me with their mailing list. That’s a major plus on the brand visibility side of the argument.

Pro: As summer sales of Season One ebbed, I saw the momentum from July evaporate. I did what few say makes sense. I put the price up to $4.99. No one’s buying the episodes now, but they are buying the complete first season at the higher price. That could indicate that Season One was underpriced. Probably, but as I’ll argue below, that’s okay. I’m in this for the long-term. Discoverability is more important than sales for now.

What I’m doing differently for Season Two

In This Plague of Days, I’m trying to give a B movie an A treatment. To get traction for an unknown serial aimed at a smart crowd in an unfamiliar format, I think the starting price was fair and good for Season One. If you didn’t jump aboard before, for two days only, Season One of This Plague of Days is free to download on September 18 and 19th. (If you love it, please review it.) Season Two will also have some bonus material in the back.

Why give away an entire book? Isn’t that evil and the death of literature?

Season One is the gateway drug to Season Two and, for two days only, the first taste is free.

I’m using Freebooksy and Bookbub to let the world know. This publicity does cost money, potentially a few nasty reviews and maybe I’m leaving money on the table. However, it will get my name and Season One into the hands of at least 5,000 people. (If that doesn’t sound like much to you, consider that 5,000 paid sales equals a bestseller in Canada. I expect to hit #1 and #2 again and have some sales momentum behind me as I slide into the October launch of Season Two. This is marketing as an exercise in delayed gratification. I’ll sell more of Season Two because I’ll get more readers in on the ground floor of the serial. Besides, it’s a one-time only sale. Most readers will find the cash for the full price under their couch cushions, so let’s not get too dramatic about the losses or gains.

To put it another way, a la Seth Godin, “Too many people are reading my free ebook is not a problem” (as long as there are other books to sell.) To paraphrase author Cory Doctorow, Free isn’t my problem, “obscurity is my problem.” And finally, I quote myself for emphasis, “Generosity feels great…(and) discoverability is more important than sales for now.”

Season 2 launches Oct 1.

Season 2 launches Oct 1.

The Rationale: Season Two of This Plague of Days launches in a couple of weeks.

The story and the virus evolve together. This time out, TPOD has a different pace. Season One was like a television serial. Season Two is the action movie. It gets more paranormal and it’s loaded with surprises, chills and blood spills. Expect new villains and more twists from Ireland to Iceland to the Indianapolis Speedway. You’ll see the invasion of New York, the Midwest and the terrible events at Canada’s border with Michigan. It’ll sell for $4.99 this fall. In a month or so I’ll do a giveaway of Season Two, Episode 1 only.

Eventually I’ll put This Plague Of Days across more platforms and go for a price match so Episode 1 of Season One will be perma-free. I’ll experiment with price points, but the complete Season Two will never go free. The law of diminishing returns kicks in if you’re trying to get people to jump into the middle. (Ironically, you could jump straight into Season Two without reading Season One and you wouldn’t be lost at all. However, people don’t believe that. I never got into Ally McBeal because I missed the first episode.)

About Audiences

People who love zombies were very patient with Season One. The zombies don’t show up immediately but the dread keeps rising so I guess the suspense satisfied them until the heavier horror kicked in. They don’t have to wait for any action in Season Two, so I expect this phase of TPOD will go big all the way to Christmas (especially as other promotions kick in.)

The other thing that surprised me was how readers with family connections to autism, developmental delays and handicaps responded to the story. The protagonist is on the spectrum and those readers enjoyed seeing the world through his eyes. It’s not a long screed (and certainly punchier than this post) but those readers responded well to discussions of what it’s like to be the parent of an autistic kid. The family loves Jaimie, but they don’t romanticize his disabilities and his sister treats him like a normal kid treats a sibling who is often difficult to live with.

About Price Resistance

Selling episodes at 99 cents with 30% to me won’t keep me in cat food, but it did help with visibility. I gather those who started buying episodes in Season One will mostly choose to get the complete second season so they can find out right away what happens to the Spencer family and the British refugees.

It seems the greatest resistance to price increases lay not with the readers, but with yours truly. More readers are discovering my books at higher price points. I guess those higher prices make them confidant I know what I’m doing. So, while I’m still advocating short-term discount promotions, the trend with all my book prices is for them to climb. Done right, with a giveaway of sufficient numbers, free can still work. If I thought I could get more traction on other platforms, I’d try a different strategy. However, regarding promotion, it appears the other platforms are still lacking.

If you’re reading this on September 18 or 19th, 2013,

grab your free copy of the complete first Season of This Plague of Days here.

And please tell a friend. Thanks!

 

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

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, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Rebelmouse Review: How to Gain Readers and Listeners with a Collage of You

Click it to grab it. Just 99 cents!

Click it to grab it. Just 99 cents!

My author platform is a sprawl of social media. I’m bringing my voice to a more effective public address system with Rebelmouse.

Recently a social media expert told an author to bring two blogs together, amalgamated to one site for better SEO. That way, more people would discover her awesomeness. The problem resonated with me. I have (deep breath) three WordPress blogs, two podcasts, three Twitter feeds, a tumblr site, a Facebook page, Google+, a Pinterest board and occasionally I send out a SONAR pulse from my one-man attack submarine. I wondered, how could I possibly bring everything together without becoming some expensive programmer’s buttockal pain? I wanted to curate all my content so my readership and podcast listeners could hit the highlights in one convenient place and receive one harmonic signal. Tough problem. I now have an easy answer, and it doesn’t include hiring a programmer I can’t afford. In fact, the solution was free. It’s me on Rebelmouse.

Showcase pics and vids

You’ll notice at the top left there’s a new Rebelmouse follow  button. Please click it for The Full Chazz Experience. It’s free and ready for your unending delight. As for signing up to curate your own stuff, you can pay for premium services at Rebelmouse (starting at $9.99 a month). I opted for free now and may upgrade later. When you go to my page, it looks remarkably like a Pinterest board. The difference is, Rebelmouse pulls the feeds from the far reaches of my book and podcast empire (mmmkay, tiny kingdom) so you get the latest from the All That Chazz podcast, The Cool People Podcast, ChazzWrites.com, AllThatChazz.com, my primary Twitter feed (@rchazzchute), Facebook and Pinterest. I even added a few videos from YouTube, which, until now, most of my readers were unaware I even made. That’s the power of Rebelmouse.

Advantages for selling books

The move to Rebelmouse was especially important to me so I could show off the work and play I do with the Vine app. I make announcements about my books and podcasts on Vine amongst quick videos of our skinny pigs chattering and having fun as a six-second comedian. I wrote an instant ebook about Vine (Six Seconds, The Unauthorized Guide to How to Build Your Business with the Vine App). I wanted to draw more attention to the book and show the fun I was having with the app all in one place. Potential readers could see what I was so enthused about in Six Seconds and I could help them with the decision to buy my book and join up by showing them vines (that’s videos made on Vine). Traffic to AllThatChazz.com shot up since I joined Vine so there’s definitely value there (and the book’s just 99 cents on Amazon, by the way. Please and thank you.)

Pros

I’ve already noticed another increase in visitors since adding Rebelmouse. One easy curation page obviously makes it much easier for readers to consume my content. You can also share your offerings on Rebelmouse back to your networks. When visitors arrive to check out one offering, they can quickly check out what else is on display and get my flavor. That’s a funnel and funnels are valuable in building an audience and getting fans who buy all your books.

The front page on Rebelmouse even has further curation options. You can click on the tabs at the top so you only see the podcast page, books page or Pinterest page. (These pages were suggested by Rebelmouse based on the tags in my feed content.) Comparisons to Pinterest are obvious, except it’s a collage of the Magic that is You instead of a collage of the things you like. The beauty of this solution is an attractive page with everything in one place that’s easy to take in. When you click on the link, you’re whisked back to the original page. Not many authors are on Vine yet and very few are on Rebelmouse (I noticed Jane Friedman is there, for one). The time to get in early on these tech solutions and enhance your author platform is now.

Cons

I did have a glitch or two when I put the page up but I figured it out pretty quickly. Be careful about which feeds you authorize and be hesitant to hit the auto-update when it is offered. That got overwhelming when everything came in at once. I clicked on auto-update and then couldn’t figure out how to switch it back. I also changed the name of the page to my name (rather than confuse readers with another All That Chazz page.) That change messed up my first announcement link so eager readers got a “404, Page not found error” when they tried to follow. That fixed, I’d say most of Rebelmouse’s interface is fairly intuitive and I really like the page now.

There are certain posts I’d like to be sticky at the top, but that might be a premium feature in my future. The Pinterest look is effective, but if you never or rarely use pictures or video on your posts, it won’t work so well for readers. Like Vine, Rebelmouse is a visual medium first and text comes second. That’s fine. We’re visual creatures. Your future boyfriend or girlfriend across the dance floor might have a great sense of humour and a powerful intellect, but your first impression is eyes, hair, cheekbones, build and how well they fit in those jeans as they do the funky chicken.

Conclusions

Rebelmouse looks great for authors, photographers, musicians, graphic artists and anyone who wants a more social pitch site (compared to a pricier, upscale, hard sell, sales site like Crushpath). As we continue to search for new ways for authors to find readers (and help readers find us), Rebelmouse is one easy way. It’s the free solution I was looking for to create a magazine experience of all that I offer in one convenient page.

Book promotion and marketing is damn tough. It just got a little easier to curate ourselves in a happy way.

Filed under: author platform, book marketing, podcasts, Publicity & Promotion, publishing, rebelmouse, Vine, web reviews, What about Chazz?, What about you?, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Free ebook offer: How to drive traffic to you with Vine

This the first book about Vine. The Vine app is the most fun available on the Internet since all that nakedness. It’s quick and easy video that could help you promote your blog, website and business.

Six+Seconds+copy

My new book, Six Seconds, The Unauthorized Guide to How to Build Your Business with the Vine App is now available on Amazon. It’s Ex Parte Press’s first instant biz book (Instabiz book?). If you liked the breezy tone of Crack the Indie Author Code, you might like this even more since it’s mercifully short at 18,000 words. Come for the jokes, stay for the Internet marketing ideas.

It’s about Vine, invented by Twitter but video Twitter. It’s the wave of the future and damn fun, so you need to get in early (like a Twitter do-over.) I fell in love with the app as a toy and then figured out how it could be a tool. When I mentioned my podcast, traffic to my author site shot up. I’m relieved to find a fun way to promote my work and enliven my Twitter stream with video.

The free ebook offer:

I’m giving away 20 copies to anyone willing to have a look and give the book an honest review.

Send your email address* to expartepress AT gmail DOT com

I’ll send a kindle copy your way immediately, no questions asked.

There won’t be any free days in the future since I’m opting out of KDP Select and making it available across all major platforms. This is the freeness here and now. (I’m doing a separate offer on Facebook. FYI: this is an additional 20 copies.)

And now a special note about your email privacy:

*I won’t keep your email address and I won’t give it away or sell it. And I’ll lobotomize the ninja monkey clone assassin who acts as my assistant in the lab if he even glimpses your email address.

Igor! I have some bad news for you!

~ On the other hand, if you’d like to receive my All That Chazz newsletter, you can subscribe to that at my author site, AllThatChazz.com. Thank you.

Filed under: Publicity & Promotion, publishing, Video, Vine, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Marketing Your Books: #11 is really harsh. Sorry.

 

More tips and tricks to steer your authorship. This book is free to you until Saturday, Dec. 15! Please click to get it now.

More tips and tricks to steer your authorship. This book is free to you until Saturday, Dec. 15! Please click to get it now.

Write Your Book: Aspire to Inspire is free on Amazon Tuesday to Saturday. 

Here’s where to get it on Amazon. 

 

(No Kindle? Get a free kindle reading app here.)

 

Now, continuing from yesterday’s post, let’s talk more about book promotion:

6. Try a variety of approaches. In Crack the Indie Author Code and Write Your Book: Aspire to Inspire, I talk about my successes and

Click here to get Higher Than Jesus, #2 in The Hit Man Series

Click here to get Higher Than Jesus, #2 in The Hit Man Series

failures. I learned a lot from the failures and I hope you will, too. What has worked best is appearing in more than one spot at a time. (Amazon free days plus blogging plus World Literary Cafe Tweet Teams plus appearing on other podcasts, for instance, is an example of repetition across different platforms.) Too often, we bet the farm on one thing and end up disappointed. Some guest blog their brains out, but their level of success varies widely. Pace yourself to avoid burnout.

7. Be willing to be flexible. There’s still a lot of resistance to podcasting among authors, for instance. They worry about the cash outlay (which is minor by most standards) and the technology obstacle (which is easily dealt with, especially if you get help as I suggest.) Resistance to marketing isn’t any different from resistance to sitting down to write or a reluctance to dealing with paperwork or exercise: Begin and it’s not so bad. I’m sympathetic. I put off getting my tax number for the IRS for some time. When I sat down with a scotch to finally deal with it, it was over and done long before the scotch was gone.

8. There is no magic bullet. I’d be very suspicious of anyone who says they have The Answer. I’ve read many books from people who say they have it, but they sometimes suggest things that don’t make sense to me, don’t apply to me or my book or are unethical. Look at these proposals as if you’re the consumer. Have you ever bought anything off a Facebook advertisement? I haven’t, so I’d never buy Facebook advertising. That’s not being inflexible. That’s doing what makes sense to you.

9. Beware of gurus. In my writing and publishing guides, I warn authors to be careful about one-track prescriptive advice. Instead, I present encouraging information about what you can try, but to help, not to pontificate on how to “Do it my way!” There is no one way for all books or all authors! Some experts have been in the field so long, they should be appreciated for their experience, but some of their information is dated. I approached the writing guides as a fellow traveller. I’m not the guy telling you what to do to succeed. I’m the guy walking beside you saying, I tried that trail. It’s pretty steep and dangerous. Try this. See what you can handle. See what works for you. 

10. The only sure thing is to write a good book and put a really good cover on it. Okay, there are good books that get ignored all the time. However, when you go through all those heavy marketing efforts, make sure you’ve hitched your wagon to a star, not a stump. The answer is certainly not to put out a bad book with an ugly cover. I tried a do-it-yourself cover and it hurt. Write the best book you can. Put the best face on it you can. Then write more good books to expand your chance at being found. A big bookshelf is your friend at home and on the web.

11. (Given the title of this post, you skipped right here, didn’t you?) Here’s the blasphemy you’ll hate: You are not above marketing. If you think you can poke along and do nothing to be discovered, your odds of failure shoot way up. Brilliant prose doesn’t count for near so much as we’d like to think. Writers tell other writers that the prose is paramount. Meanwhile, readers flock to Fifty Shades of Gray. I wish literature mattered as much as writers say, but the readers’ sensibility determines our success in the market. I’ve read plenty of suspense that, frankly, I don’t think is all that great. Though I can write rings around them, those authors are doing better than me financially. Bitter pill. I’m sorry. I hate it, too.

12. Ease up on the gas pedal. Your daily word count and the editorial side of production is your first priority. Do not exhaust your network and blow out the marketing engine by trying to push too much all the time. The guy who announced he now hates Rafflecopter might lighten up if he saw fewer half-assed promotions with uninspiring prizes.

13. Get help. I read as much as I can stand about publishing, of course. (Note to anyone writing about writing and publishing: Please make it more fun. Thanks.) But I also mean delegating where possible. I have been resistant to advertising in the past, but for a few dollars, Masquerade Crew helped me move more books recently than I could have on my own. I’m seeing the benefits of that small outlay now as I roll closer to achieving escape velocity. I had to admit to myself that I can’t do it all. I tried and it led to sleepless nights, bad health and my wife crying.  Progress is being made because I asked for help. Friends and fans and colleagues stepped forward to assist. (Thanks again, guys!)

14. Change a losing game. Most indie buddies of mine are going the same route. Either they’ve already abandoned KDP Select’s exclusivity or they do it once for 90 days and then open up to the wider market on more platforms. Market share is in flux. Amazon is still the big dog with about 60%+ percent of the ebook market, but iBooks are getting bigger because Apple’s devices are becoming more ubiquitous. Kobo’s revamped their platform and they’re present in more countries. When I first approached Kobo, they acted like they were trying to get rid of me. They’re apparently much more user-friendly now and I look forward to taking them for a test-drive after Christmas when my own KDP exclusive contract runs out.

Those are my thoughts on book promotion. What are yours?

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

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

~ Robert Chazz Chute is the author of Self-help for Stoners, Bigger Than Jesus, Higher Than Jesus, The Dangerous Kind & Other Stories, Sex, Death & Mind Control (for fun and profit), Crack the Indie Author Code and Write Your Book: Aspire to Inspire. Check out all the samples here or for all the links and the All That Chazz podcast, check out AllThatChazz.com.

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Book promotion: Don’t trust the ferryman Part 1

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

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

The Bigger Than Jesus Finale is up on the All That Chazz podcast. It’s the last two chapters of Bigger Than Jesus in which Jesus does battle with Salvador Dali and the FBI.

Advice doesn’t last. Yesterday someone said how sick he was of Rafflecopter giveaways. It seems it wasn’t so long ago that Rafflecopter was a new promotional tool. Many reading this are asking, “What’s Rafflecopter?” It’s still new to many, but for this expert, it’s over. At least, he thinks so.

You can argue that many giveaways aren’t big enough to bother with or you can argue that a giveaway doesn’t make anyone read a book. However, I do think proclaiming a popular promotional tool dead is premature. Everything does go away, though: It looks like free isn’t so effective anymore and may hurt  paid books this season. Remember when MySpace and Friendster were, briefly, the new thing? Remember when 99 cents was a huge deal? Nothing lasts. What conclusions can we draw about book promotion from this knowledge? Let’s mull:

1. Not everything works forever, so keep your eyes open for the next new thing. Yesterday’s post mulled the question of adapting books to your audience. I’m also trying a reward program where I give more free books to the people who read my books and free advertising on my podcast for signing up for a free newsletter. Free may be out, but generosity and interaction haven’t given up their place among vital promotional tools yet.

2. Not everything works. Some authors are sure Pinterest is an excellent promotional tool. I think it’s been big for crafters and it’s certainly fun, but most people are just there for fun, not shopping for books. Personally, I’m doubtful of Pinterest’s power to help me that way. (Still love it.)

3. Not everything works right away. A fellow did an Amazon KDP Select giveaway for a few days. He didn’t really give away that many books. He failed to promote the promotion. In my opinion, he’s declaring KDP Select free days dead for the wrong reason. He took one sample and he didn’t let enough people know he was doing it. He wasted his free days because he expected the free days to do all the work on their own. A one-prong attack is betting big on one roll of the dice. Bad strategy in Vegas and a bad bounce for authors.

More tips and tricks to steer your authorship.

More tips and tricks to steer your authorship.

4. One promotional approach doesn’t work for everyone. One of my points in Crack the Indie Author Code is that no one really knows The Answer to selling gigabytes of books. There is no one answer and, if there is, it never lasts long. There are many ways up the mountain, but you can’t necessarily take the same route twice. What worked for one author won’t necessarily work for you now. For instance, many of the authors who do very well now were traditionally published first. Their cult followed them into self-publishing. They didn’t start from scratch and you can’t duplicate their career highs. Learn, yes. Copy, no.

5. Promotional strategies change fast. Last year at this time, before the change to Amazon’s algorithm, if you managed to do big giveaways of books, you were rewarded handsomely. Less than twelve months and it’s a new game with few rules.

~ In tomorrow’s post, I’ll lay out #6 to #13 on more book promotion options. In the meantime, please check out the samples from Crack the Indie Author Code and Write Your Book: Aspire to Inspire. The first three reviews are in on the former and they’re happy. (I wonder if, despite my protests that there is no one way, people are still looking for a book promotion panacea. Tomorrow I’ll tell you why I’m so suspicious of panaceas.)

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Quote Art: A new way to promote your books

This is not a book cover. It’s Quote Art for my suspense novel, Bigger Than Jesus. The quote is pulled from the book. The art is by Kit Foster of KitFosterDesign.com.

Jesus Diaz is my luckless Cuban hit man in the first of the Hit Man Series: Bigger Than Jesus. (It’s pronounced “Hay-soose”.) Follow his exploits as he tries to escape New York’s Spanish mob with a fortune in stolen mafia money and the lovely Lily Vasquez.

Great book covers sell books. Now picture a quote pulled from your book with another compelling, related image. See it on Facebook, as a Twitpic, on your author site or as a poster at your next book signing. Quote Art is a different way to promote your books to new audiences. It’s a clue about your characters and another chance to intrigue potential readers. Why try to grab them with just one image when you can hold their attention with more using a new, integrated and savvy marketing tool?

Click it to grab the paperback or the ebook. Thanks!

Kit is my graphic designer. If you’re a regular reader, you know I’ve already sung his praises. Now I’m complimenting him for his innovation in doing something a little different to help me spread the word about my books. Thanks again, Kit!

To find out more about his book cover designs and to see samples of his art,

go to KitFosterDesign.com.

Want another marketing tool to build buzz?

I need a couple more volunteers for my Next Big Thing Blog Hop post. If you have a work in progress you want to build some buzz about, I have two more spots available for this event. All you have to do is answer ten quick questions about your WIP and post them on your blog a week from Wednesday. You link back to me and I link to you and the word spreads farther. Volunteer at expartepress@gmail.com and I’ll send you an email with the blog hop specs.

I’m doing another blog hop in the near future, so watch this space.

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

Get heard: Podcast Your Book

Twenty-three episodes ago, I started a podcast to help market my short story collection, Self-help for Stoners. The Self-help for Stoners weekly podcast evolved in directions that surprised me. At first I thought I would just talk a little and read a lot of my fiction. I did that, but then I ended up doing a lot more. I found that podcasting was as creative an outlet as writing is, and in many ways it’s a similar process. Since last November, I’ve talked ancient personal history, TV shows, odds, ends, trivia, movies and ranted  about all the ills of the world. I appeared on seven other podcasts, played around with a few skits and scenario (writing some out at first and later, improv). Often I delivered a word spew in my accursed, stilted, Shatnerian delivery. I’ve gone on too long, repeated myself and sometimes I went too far and got boring, just like real public radio! I’ve done it all for free and for fun. It’s still fun. Before I started, I saw it in the cold terms of a marketing device. What I didn’t expect was to have so much fun doing it. I even got a bit better.

Now it’s time to change it up. What’s past is prelude.

I looked at my stats and, unlike stats you study in school, podcast stats are fascinating. You learn geography lessons looking at podcast stats because the breakdowns are so detailed. I could see where people downloaded my nonsense and conscience from around the world. California (especially San Francisco) loves me. My family back east aren’t too keen. I’m guessing 129 people in Beijing are using my podcast to help them learn English. (God help them.)

All podcasts drop off in terms of how long listeners can stand to listen. There’s a formula (no one knows what the formula is) that correlates how interesting your podcast is/listening time/length of commute and/or how long people can stay on a treadmill while listening to an angry man rant and ramble. I looked at my drop off and decided shorter, punchier podcasts with only the best, high energy stuff was the way to go. As fun as podcasting is, I can’t let it cut too much into writing and revising time, so shorter is better for me and for listeners. I’ll take the time to be more brief and more frequent.

What’s coming:

1. Shorter podcasts will arrive twice a week starting immediately (first new one’s Tuesday and, by the way, MITT ROMNEY IS GOING TO GET IT! GIRD YOUR LOINS WITH THAT SPECIAL UNDERWEAR AND COVER YOUR EARS, WOULD-BE PRESIDENT MITTENS! PREPARE FOR A STERN TALKING TO!) A note to people who are very easily offended: I don’t care for you. I’m not trying to piss anybody off, but weak opinions are boring just as opinions without facts are stupid. Some people think authors should never say anything controversial that might offend and avoid any discussion of religion or politics. On the other hand, those same people believe in paint-on hair for bald guys. I do not hold with being weak on opinions. You wind up making friends with people who’d hate you if they knew the truth instead of being honest and gathering friends you understand and who understand you. Readers and listeners want authenticity more than they want bland and stupid. People who want bland aren’t my readers, anyway, so they can move elsewhere. Via con dios.

2. I will podcast my new crime thriller (coming soon!) one chapter at a time, on Fridays.

3. The new book will be available free as a podcast, but for those who can’t take the rising tension and tearing suspense, they’ll be able to purchase it as a download from Audible.com, in paperback or, of course, as an ebook. The crime thriller will be a series.

4. Surprise! An instructional book is coming this summer.

5. I’m writing The Poeticule Bay series (suspense in rural Maine) and another, apocalyptic book, is on its way.

6. I’ll be going with Amazon’s KDP Select, at least at first.

7. I’m really excited about publishing with Audible. Had I not got into podcasting, the prospect would be intimidating. After experimenting with 23 podcast episodes, recording a book isn’t scary at all.

8. If you aren’t podcasting, choose a niche, get a friend and consider how you can make podcasting part of your book promotion. You might even find you enjoy it. As an indie author, you love creativity, so the mic might have allure you never suspected. 2011 was the year comedians took over podcasting. Maybe this is the year many more of us podcast our books into earbuds worldwide.

Here’s what I announced on my author website today:

Hi fellow babies, as Dr. Johnny Fever used to say. I’m going to be taking the Self-help for Stoners podcast in new directions soon. Hm. That sounds like corporate-speak uttered by a soulless robot in a suit at a vast corporation easily parodied on The Simpsons, so let’s put it this way: I’m changing the format for the Self-help for Stoners podcast starting this week.

I was shooting the wild crapola on the Skype serengeti with my buddy Dave Jackson from The School of Podcasting the other night and he mentioned he likes the variety I present here weekly. Another way of putting it is that I’m all over the road, ranting one minute and doing a skit the next and reading short stories from my collections here and there. I podcast like a chimp with ADD.

So here’s my nefarious plan for world domination: I’m going to podcast twice weekly, but with shorter episodes. I will podcast my new crime thriller, one chapter at a time, once a week, as soon as it’s ready. That’s just a few weeks away as I finish revisions etc.,…. The full version of the book will be available as an ebook, paperback and with Audible.com so if you can’t wait to get your suspense doled out a week at a time, you can go get the whole thing in one fell swoop (or one foul swoop if you don’t care for my peculiar brand of whimsy.)

In the meantime, expect a couple of episodes of ranty fun each week as I go off on my lefty liberal rants, confusing an Ought with an Is and suffering from I Wish I Were King of the Universe Syndrome. There are lots more goodies to come as I ramp up my book and podcast production, my web presence, my readership, my listenership and my army of ninja monkey clones. Stay tuned.

If you like the podcasts, please leave a happy review on iTunes or hit the thumbs-up button on Stitcher. It really helps with the ranking so more happy people can join in the fun, too. And your grudging approval keeps me from jumping off this high, thin ledge. Thanks for listening.

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

Quote Trailers vs. Book Trailers: What’s a Quote Trailer?

Don’t feel bad if you’ve never heard the term “quote trailer”.

I just made up that term up yesterday at about the same time I created my first one.

What’s a quote trailer? See the post below this one for my example, but basically it’s a short trailer that hooks new readers with intriguing quotes from your book. You could add in a short description of what the book is about if you like. Do more of that and you push the book promotion spectrum toward a book trailer. I’m not saying you shouldn’t try making a book trailer, but book trailers are notoriously difficult to do well.

My problem with most book trailers is that they are almost always too long and underproduced. We are a cynical audience, accustomed to slick Hollywood graphics created by professionals. When we see a cheap book trailer, it’s usually a long commercial. If it were on TV, you’d change the channel or you’d hang in there just to laugh at the clunky acting and low production values. Occasionally, some book trailers rise above average. Scott Sigler made a competition out his book trailers. Amateur and student filmmakers rose to the call at no cost to Sigler. Better, all the contest submissions went up on YouTube so readers and new readers could vote for the winning book trailer. The contest became a free book promotion proliferation tool.

A quote trailer sets your Unconscious Expectations Bar (I just made that up, too) back down  to limbo level so you can easily step over it. Take a look at the post below this one and you’ll see what I mean. Nothing fancy. It was quick and fun to put together and if the words whiz by a little too quickly for anyone, they can always pause it. Better too fast than too slow. I don’t go into too much detail because this is just an invitation to go to my author site to learn more. I’m not getting sucked into a big pitch for one book on this video project. It’s designed to tickle your brain to check out all my books. Please, resist the urge to put up ten minutes of quotes. I dared to go as long as one minute in my first quote trailer. Instead of hoping someone will sit still for a long video, I’ll create a bunch of short ones for all my books over time. You may want to consider doing the same.

Filed under: book trailer, Books, Publicity & Promotion, What about Chazz?, What about you?, Writers, writing tips, , , , , , , ,

How to Create Your Writer’s Brand Online

Via Scoop.itWriting and reading fiction

Gail Kavanagh gives you something to think about: what keywords are associated with your brand? What keywords are you allowing to define you? Click the link to read her post.
Via www.writing-world.com

Filed under: Publicity & Promotion, publishing, self-publishing, , , , , , ,

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

The first 81 lessons to get your Buffy on

More lessons to help you survive Armageddon

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

Available now!

Fast-paced terror, new threats, more twists.

An autistic boy versus our world in free fall

Suspense to melt your face and play with your brain.

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

Jesus: Sexier and even more addicted to love.

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

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