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

Write and publish with love and fury.

Writers, Readers, Nonsense and the Perpetual War on Anonymity

I have secrets to reveal about the true source of my fearsome power. And jokes. And weird East Coast expressions. Click the cover to get that article.

I have secrets to reveal about the true source of my fearsome power. And jokes. And weird East Coast expressions. Click the cover to get that article.

We complain about having to market our books. It is tough and I wish there were more and better missiles for the War on Anonymity. A few things to keep in mind:

1. Traditional or self-published, you’re still stuck doing most of your own publicity. No one will save you. You’ll have to save yourself. If you’re in the right mood, that statement can, theoretically, feel empowering.

2. Some strategies won’t work. Dump them and move on. You will, however, have to make some forays and investments here and there. Don’t let holding on to a little money now hold you back from making more money later. The risk-averse always arrive late to the party after all the daring, beautiful people have gone home with each other for a Chess Orgy…or whatever it is the beautiful people do.

3. You are not above marketing. I mean, unless you don’t care if anyone reads your work. Hm…actually, that would be quite freeing.

4. Everybody can and should do something to sell their books. Too shy does not serve you. Bookbub costs money, sure, but it’s effective. There’s also a lot you can do that costs nothing but time. I’m doing it right now and you’re watching. Is it hot in here, or is it just you?

5. When something is less effective than it used to be (Bookbub, KDP Select, pleading for sex) that doesn’t mean it’s not at all effective. You may have to spank your rump harder to get going, that’s all. 

6. When I see those tweets from collectives trying to sell books for authors, more often than not, I’m turned off.

By the way, Crack the Indie Author Code 2nd Edition is out in paperback at $9.99. Smaller format, same old information if you need a NaNoWriMo kick in the inspiration. With jokes.

By the way, Crack the Indie Author Code 2nd Edition is out in paperback at $9.99. Smaller format, same old information if you need a NaNoWriMo kick in the inspiration. With jokes.

Sorry, it’s a visceral thing that is not routed through my brain. I’m not saying they’re all bad or that you shouldn’t use those services. It’s that image of one person acting relentlessly enthusiastic about the constant steam of recommended books that bothers me. Equally enthusiastic and paid to be so. It doesn’t feel organic.

I would say that if outsourcing to others is your only strategy, your rocket needs more fuel.

7. The best is when an actual reader loves your neuro-fudge book mojo so much, she has to spread the word to share the adventure to her friends so she will, in turn, gain love, respect and immortal life. Word of mouth is the hardest cake to find, but it’s the tastiest. You start by asking friends to read your book. If you’re like me, you run out of friends fast, so you have to get used to engaging strangers. I’ve made a lot of friends out of strangers lately. I like it. I wish I’d known how to chat in high school.

Facebook is your friend (except, of course, when Facebook is evil.)

8. Stop just looking for mentions of your Twitter handle and go discover more people through Twitter.

Blogs lie there, hoping to be discovered. Blogs used to be so come-hither and stick your tongue in my…um…ear. Now blogs are feeling entitled to the attention they no longer receive, getting drunk and screaming at the DJ to play Copacabana. (See, this is a blog and you’re losing interest now, but I’ll mention Silver Surfer, Klingon and a date gone bad soon, so read to the end.)

With Twitter, you go find people who are talking about your areas of interest. I’m fascinated by neurology, psychology, brutish and funny poetry, autism, comedians, alternative health, weird facts, pathology, writing, publishing and righteous vengeance as a lifestyle choice. I will never run out of new strangers who might become friends. You won’t, either. We’re writers. We’re at least a little interested in lots of things. (Search hashtag #zombies and #vampires and #agoraphobia, #writing, #insomnia, #anxiety, #depression and #headaches, slam-bam-boom…the info-cornucopia only ends when the EEG is a flat line and your heirs start arguing over your Hummel figurines.)

Aren't you sick to death of me telling you what to do? Click the cover to read jokes and confessions about my life in Not-Maine.

Aren’t you sick to death of me telling you what to do? Click the cover to read jokes and confessions about my life in Not-Maine.

9. Big-time authors who have an assistant tweet for them? Nobody’s “big-time” enough for that. Galactus could write a book and (even though he’s his herald!), if the Silver Surfer tweets about Eating Planets for Fun and Profit, we riot and unfollow.

10. There are dozens of technological solutions to most of your marketing problems, but you have to get out there. I appear, at times, curmudgeonly and a contrarian. The jokes make that easier to take…in short bursts. No technological solutions can help you if you’re a pain all the time. Don’t do that.

Do this: Be friendly. The more readers you gain, the easier it is to be friendly. Get out on Twitter and meet people. Learn about them. I like learning things. That’s an excellent place to start, and think of all the high school trauma I could have avoided if I’d known how to talk to humans.

Also, get off Twitter and meet real people at book signings, fairs, conventions and readings. Be the best you that you can attain and all that rah-rah Anthony Giant Within Robbins stuff. (Hey, that works for some cult members!)

I rush in where devils fear to tread.

On November 14 at 7 pm I’ll be interacting with actual humans in the Meatspace of London, Ontario’s Central Library. Author Mark Rayner and I will give readings and answer questions about publishing, writing and discuss the people of Whoville and how we can fight The Great Suessian Nostril Menace.

I will drink champagne from an old lady’s boot while doing a ventriloquist act with Mark on my knee. Then he’ll breakdance for about two hours straight while I recite Klingon love poetry. We work without a net, so if you’re in the area and want to see me stammer while being bludgeoned, this is the best blunt force trauma event of the night. (Lesser blunt force trauma will be at play after the show at Joe Kool’s.)

Last chance to read the blog post about Not-Maine. People with ten toes will want to check this out. Unless all the toes are on one foot. Those freaks need to move out from under the power lines and then click the link and get a few grim laughs at ThisPlagueOfDays.com.

~ Not to be too forward, but you’re very attractive and I’m feeling very drawn to you. Feeling down and vulnerable and mad at your dad? Oh, good! I thought you looked like the sort of adventurous person who needs something special tonight. The way that dress clings…I mean…wow, have you even tried fabric softener? How about you come with me? You can lie down, put some Nina Simone on low so she won’t burn, and have a sweet, hot book. C’mon back to my place. The drinks are on the bar and the books are in the sidebar. I’m Robert, by the way. Robert Chazz Chute…Isn’t that last name quite unfortunate? Buy my nonsense! Hold my books! Ease the pain…sir? It’s one night early for Halloween. I didn’t recognize you in that dress…dad. Well, this got awkward fast.

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

Book Marketing Top 10: When less is more

Some marketing efforts are hurt by doing too much. Here are 10 examples:

Season One: Sponsor of the Cool People Podcast.  Can't have just one chip? Season One has five episodes. Get each one for 99 cents or get all of Season One at a discount for $3.99. Season Two hits this September.

Season One: Sponsor of the Cool People Podcast.
Can’t have just one chip? Season One has five episodes. Get each one for 99 cents or get all of Season One at a discount for $3.99. Season Two hits this September.

1. First there were big author tours. Then radio. Now, podcast and blogging niches are more effective.

Many marketing efforts benefit from going small, personal and specific. Instead of getting a few minutes on radio (while people are in their cars or having breakfast and definitely not buying) better to get on a podcast. Instead of planes and multi-city tours and paying for plane fare, podcasts yield more exposure to a smaller, targeted and invested audience.

Podcasts are usually easier to access. You’ll get more time and sell more books with a podcast interview than by trying to squeeze in a few words between car ads and the giggling Morning Zoo Crew. 

The same principle applies to blogging. I’d rather be featured by a big book blogger than in a local newspaper. (Ask your dad what a newspaper is. If he’s old enough, he might even still get one.)

2. Curation with commentary from bloggers is valuable. Bots drawing from dozens of tweets are not.

Before I knew what Paper.li was, I emailed someone to thank them for including me in their daily electronic newspaper. I soon realized that there’s nothing special about inclusion by bots in an array of harvested tweets. However, when someone reblogs my posts, that’s a personal recommendation that’s much more effective. (Thanks for all the reblogs, Armand Rosamilia!) When someone gives me the mucho bump of love on Twitter, it means more and helps more. (Thanks for your ongoing support and enthusiasm, Eden Baylee!)

Curation tools like Scoopit! are also valuable, as long as the post includes commentary. The difference is that a human makes those choices. “Set it and forget it” is nice for thermostats, but bleating out content without evaluation and recommendation is craptacular, both for the tweeter, the tweeted and, most importantly, our readers.

3. Too much email contact leads to friction. Ease off.

I have a couple of newsletter subscriptions that hit me daily. They’re too relentless. When I fall behind, the emails pile up in my inbox. I tell myself I’ll get around to reading it all, but deletion is more likely. I do open newsletters that fire at me at a slower rate. Give me a chance to look forward to hearing from you.

How much is too much? Wait until you have something to say, something new to announce or something to offer. Too much rah-rah-rah is so much blah-blah-blah.

Similarly, If you’re relying on book event promotions that arrive in an email blast crammed with other book events, find a way to stand out. My morning Goodreads email feels like a firehose aimed at a teacup. (Sadly, the teacup in this analogy is my brain.) Do something different and approach potential readers in varied ways. When one nail is hit too much, too often, it cracks the wood. (That’s a better analogy!) See Item 5 for what I’m doing differently and Items 7 and 8 for effective e-blast options.

4. Use a professional to get things sorted out.

I was briefly part of an affiliate program on another of my blogs. The product was good, but the program was plagued with technical problems. A day didn’t go by without an update on how said problems were being fixed. Then they weren’t. Again! I dumped the program.

I am an Amazon affiliate on my author site. It’s relatively simple. I get updates from them once a month and each update is relevant to me. That’s what to aim for.

5. Complications make us weary.

Make your offers uncomplicated.

My first draft of my viral video offer (details here) was too complicated. I ran it past a friend who suggested tweaks. I had explained too much and made too many jokes instead of getting right to it. I make a lot of jokes in my books, but when it comes to offers and promotions, people just want to know their rewards and prizes and what they have to do to get them. That’s all.

6. Tweet to content.

I use tweet teams sometimes, but much less than I used to and only for special occasions. We all have book tweet and email fatigue, don’t we? Make your tweets funny or intriguing. Tweet to your blog. Your website is the proper locus of sales. Twitter is not where to sell hard or often. Twitter is a place to help people find good stuff.

This has several positive effects:

Helping people tells them you’re not an ass (and if you are an ass, you can’t hide.)

You build your mailing list on your website, not on Twitter.

Your author site is your public face. Potential readers connect with you there, not through a sales link.

Twitter can still be useful, but when it’s not hooked up to content, readers stop paying attention.

7. Aim at targets.

Bookbub works best as a book promotion service because it doesn’t send out a long list of books to everyone. Bookbub knows what genres subscribers are most interested in. Romance readers don’t get sales copy to horror books. Fewer people receive the message, but those people are more likely to buy and less likely to saddle you with one or two-star reviews because they just aren’t that into you.

in the marketing war for our attention, sniper rifles work at long distances. Shotguns do not.

8. Be choosy.

For the last two days, I’ve done a free promotion of Episode One of This Plague of Days. (The sale ends at midnight and, as I type this, it’s the last few hours of the sale. Grab it free or, if you got this too late, Episode One is only 99 cents so, you know the drill.

I’ve held #1 in Dystopian and #1 in Post-apocalyptic for most of the two-day run. That’s probably mostly due to being chosen as a featured author on Freebooksy. They’re choosy, so their email blasts are taken more seriously than some other book promotion services.

Thanks to everyone who helped me give thousands of copies of Episode One away to spread the word. I appreciate your Facebook entries, tweets and clicks. And I don’t forget who helped me. Sincerely, thank you. I have a lot of friends and allies through this blog and I’m grateful.

9. More text = more confusion.

You’ll notice I have a lot of sales links to the right. This blog has gone through several redesigns over the years and I’ll be renovating again soon. However, the other day as I was researching book promotion services, I ran across a website that was literally like reading a phone book. The crammed type fuzzed the signal to noise. It was nearly unreadable. That’s not a good sign when the blog owners set themselves up as book marketing experts. More white space adds focus and more punch to the text. (See below for my post on blog scanning vs blog reading.)

Crack the Indie Author Code10. Small is an attitude that’s easier to relate to.

My writing and publishing guides are journeys through the mud of independent publishing. I chronicled the struggles more than the success. Success teaches less than mistakes can. I was (and continue to be) very honest about my mistakes over the last couple of years of steering the Ex Parte Press imprint. Instead of telling anyone what to do, I did research and gave opinions and examples. I experimented. I tell you what worked for me and what didn’t work. I’m just now beginning to feel like I have a solid idea of what I’m doing. Mostly because now we have more tools at our disposal than we used to have. Independent publishing has matured.

We’re walking together to find our way here. I don’t listen to some experts because their viewpoints come from such a different experience. One indie guru’s solution to marketing problems is to throw money. I don’t know what he’s talking about or to whom. Others are well-established because they came to self-publishing early with trad publishing inertia and lineage mojo. 

They aren’t us. We’re small, but we are getting bigger.

We’re getting traction. We have better tools now and we’re honing them.

No matter what, we’ll remember where we came from and the friends who helped us up and out.

 

 

Filed under: blogs & blogging, book marketing, book trailer, Books, getting it done, Publicity & Promotion, publishing, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Triberr: Problems and Solutions

A kronosaurus, the prehistoric sea monster, ate my blog traffic. Many blog subscribers will already have seen the wonderful and helpful posts listed below (even if I say so,

Kronosaurus queenslandicus

Kronosaurus queenslandicus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

my own damn self). However, due to some technical glitch with Triberr, a lot of people missed these ChazzWrites.com posts (and crucial extras, like links to my new book sites, ThisPlagueofDays.com and onlysixseconds.wordpress.com or tap the grooviness at CoolPeoplePodcast.com or hear a reading at AllThatChazz.com).

Disaster

I discovered the other day that my Triberr marketing teams haven’t been retweeting my blog posts for quite some time. Curses! Foiled again! What to do? And why is Triberr so important for bloggers, marketers, authors and, ultimately, readers?

Woe

My blog traffic and Twitter mentions had slowed remarkably. I blamed myself for a lack of awesomeness at first, of course. I mean, self-loathing? That’s just what I do! However, I put my head down, close to the keyboard, and tried to double up on the awesome. When that didn’t work, I began to look for other reasons for the aching distance between me and the popularity of Dos Equis’ Most Interesting Man in the World. Perhaps the new cologne wasn’t working out? Then I discovered the Triberr problem.

Frustration

I’d been diligently retweeting the best of the tweets from my tribes (and I’m in awesome tribes with wonderful bloggers and writers). However, my blog posts weren’t getting sent out to their followers in turn.

As soon as I discovered the problem was somewhere in Triberr settings, I tried to solve it myself. Result: Failure.

Then I asked for tech support from Triberr. I received no response.

I waited several days, became impatient, sent another plea for help and…still didn’t hear from tech support.

Then I figured out what was missing and finally fixed it myself yesterday.

However, I come to praise Triberr, not to bury it.

This is not an indictment of Triberr, but when it didn’t work recently, the social media marketing tool certainly showed me its value. Good posts get more hits, anyway, but they get even more traffic with a boost from Triberr. Without Triberr, I’m not spreading the word as effectively. With Triberr, my reach is, theoretically, 6 million people plus whoever the 6 million retweets to. That’s a lot of eyeballs coming here to taste my flavor, fall in like, buy some books and tumble into full-force love. 

Now that the problem is fixed, my traffic stats are bouncing back up. My Twitter connections are ablaze again. Soon, this very post will be sent out through the cyber-ether by my tribes and who knows where it will land, or how many new subscribers and Twitter followers I’ll gain? (Crosses fingers, strangles a mime for good luck.)

People appreciate value and boy, do I try to give it. However, hiding our lights under  cliched bushels and waiting for it to happen magically and organically doesn’t help new readers discover us quickly. Triberr gives more people the chance to fall in love with what we can provide. Where else are you going to read about publishing and mime-stangling? See? I’m so unique.

Triberr helps.

And usually? Triberr works

.

In case you missed my redesign of this blog, thoughts on optimizing books and sales, podcasts, announcements and changes in publishing strategies, here are some those articles. Also, please enjoy the odd mime-strangling. (Don’t do it every day, though. If it’s every day, it’s not a treat.)

Odd and Unfamiliar Literary Genres

Book Marketing Problems and Solutions

Amazon Goodreads. Mostly? So What? 

How to End a Chapter: Shorter Chapters, Better Books

On Writing Well: The Challenge of the Slow Open

Ebook: What Makes a Good Cover? What Makes a Bad One?

Rebelmouse: How I got all my blogs and podcast on one glorious page

The All That Chazz Podcast: More Fury

Amazon Throttled

Getting a Bigger Boat: Adapting to be a More Effective Publisher

Writers: Shorter is Better

Blog Comment Rules and How to Become Batman

What Jedis Know About Fear

Author Platform: Problems, Solutions and Stuffed Speedos

Filed under: blogs & blogging, book marketing, ebooks, publishing, Rant, Triberr, Writers, writing tips, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How to stop hurting yourself on #Twitter

I’m in a bind. I hate scolds, but occasionally I fall into that category. Usually, I stay silent when a righteous rebuke is all lined up for the tee off. Not today.

CASUAL INDIGNITIES AT THE MALL

When the cashier at A&W refers to the restaurant as “the store” and my dinner as “your chicken product”, I’m embarrassed to be there. I bite my tongue and swear again I’ll learn how to cook.

When I redeem  a lotto ticket and the counter guy says, “You’re a gambler! Come around to this counter, not that one!” Even though no one else is in the store (and, no matter what, I AM F#$@!%! NEXT!) I say, “Sure.” Then I walk around to the other counter. The controlling nit doesn’t move. I get a lousy two bucks and my dose of humiliation. I swear never to return to this inconvenience store and never again shall I lay eyes on the smug bonehead who runs his petty fiefdom with an iron fist of passive aggression. 

I try to be a nice guy. But the rage…these urges. No wonder I write about killing people. Crime fiction is my passive aggression at work.

BUT NOW…THE CALL TO END TWITTER PROMO MADNESS

It’s time to assert. I try to appear somewhat adorable and mask my true whiny/murderous nature, but the time to stay silent and patient has passed. I’ve asked this before. I’ve reasoned and cajoled. I’ve stopped short of insisting. I said please and thank you. I’ve led, but few followed. It’s time to say it again and to get tougher:

Authors, stop just tweeting Amazon links! Please!  Stop it!

Okay, there are times to do it. If you’re launching a book or doing something different and new, fine. Free days on Amazon spawn a lot of lookalike tweets and we can’t help that. Tweet away! I don’t believe in spam per se, but I do believe in dumb and dumb is dangerous.

It is, of course, entirely up to you what you decide to commit on social media. However…

I’M STEPPING UP BY STEPPING DOWN

I won’t be retweeting those repetitive tweets from now on. To interest readers, you need to offer fresh content and many of my fellow aspirants aren’t doing that. The practice does not help your book and it hurts my Twitter following. I have to tweet content, not air to grow my cult. You do, too.

I’ve retweeted many authors, happily and generously. Well…lately it’s been less happy because I’m too often asked to sow the same seeds in the same field. That’s not healthy for us or the crops. And consumers? They hate it. It tastes like rerun roadkill when they see the same tweet repeatedly. Grow your reader farm: Tweet and retweet more randomly.

Book promotion laziness has fallen into too many Twitter streams. For instance, how about more of a clue what your book is about and/or what genre it is? I know it’s only 140 characters, so be clever and craft your message so we understand. Use hashtags or a short quote. Telling is not selling.

Not everybody’s on board with using fresh, imaginative tweets to seduce new readers so I must participate less. It should be that the more I take part, the more followers I gain. I don’t see that in my stats at the moment.

WHAT WORKS ON TWITTER

What I see is, the more I tweet and retweet fresh content that’s funny or useful, the more followers I gain. The more I retweet stale links, the more Follow drop off I suffer. I want to help with RTs and I often do, but I won’t do so if what you want me to retweet hurts me.

HOW TWITTER FAILS AS ADVERTISING

Unless your title screams exactly what your book is about and you’re hitting the Twitter browser at just the right time, broadcasting your title and a link isn’t effective. This is exactly what it’s not like:

“Oh, there’s an Amazon link to a book called Survive Your Ambulance Ride! and I happen to be having a heart attack right now! Tis kismet! Uh-oh! I can’t feel my left arm! Quick, Helen! Before calling 911, help me click that Buy link! Good thing I have one-click buying! Um…oh, god, the blinding pain! How’s your speed reading, Helen?”

THE MYTH OF HELPFUL REPETITION

Small business owners have always been told that, for ads to be effective, they have to be seen over and over, between nine and twenty-seven times, depending on how greedy the salesperson is. The people telling them that were selling Yellow Pages advertising (or, as I now call it: Yellowed Pages.)

The Crazy Expensive Repetitive Advertising Model might even have been true then. We have more choices now. When I detect you’re trying to skate by on the same bland tweets, it feels less like a marketing plan and more like blackmail: “Buy my book and maybe I’ll stop asking you to buy my book.”

Good news: You can run as many ads for your books as you like, but bury that ad in new, better and varying content. For instance, the content always changes on this blog, but I hope my book covers at least look familiar by now, right? Right?! (What’s left of Chazz’s soul dies a little more under the crush of ice-cold anonymity.)

SOLUTION: GET SOMETHING NEW TO TWEET

Write a new blog post (with plenty of links to your books). Go ahead and go crazy. It’s your blog. Just make the posts helpful or funny and new. We all love New.

Write about the setting for your latest novel (especially if it’s exotic and you had angry monkey sex in a hot tub under a palm tree on your last vacation there.) Tell us what true events inspired you. Get on a podcast and tweet about that. Write a guest post. Reblog more for easy, fresh content your readers will appreciate (and the original blogger will thank you for.) Stop depending on the same tweet to get us to buy that same book. Change it up! Rotate tweets at least! Say something amusing, interesting, offensive, odd, surreal, whatever! Anything! Just stop pounding that same key hoping for a new note. Resolve now to tweet new stuff.

And for Thor’s sake, for readers and for your career,

write a new book!

~ Robert Chazz Chute has recoiled, turtle-like and appalled, at having published this post. He wishes it wasn’t needed. He feels bad making anyone feel bad. He’s distancing himself from this post even now by writing this in the third person. Sure, he means well, but who cares about that? You can hear his latest rant about something else entirely at the All That Chazz podcast. 

Filed under: Publicity & Promotion, Twitter, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Stuff about Twitter that bothers you (but doesn’t bother me)

It’s interesting what grinds other people’s gears. Here are some complaints I’ve seen about Twitter etiquette. Let’s discuss, with fencing

English: The content of tweets on Twitter, bas...

English: The content of tweets on Twitter, based on the data gathered by Pear Analytics in 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

terms*! En francais! Commence! En garde!

Duel 1

Attaque indirecte: Some consider it a breach of etiquette to have too many #hashtags in your Twitter post.

Froisssement: How many is “too many” and who made you king? Got any other arbitrary rules? Are you the one who made spats go away? If there were still spats, I’d definitely be one of those guys wearing spats! I’m still rocking the fedora.

Duel 2

Coup droit: After being followed, some consider it bad manners for the followee to have the audacity to send a message with a welcome autotweet. As in, “Thanks for climbing on board! If you want to know more about me, here’s my website etc.,…

Septime haute: This is another arbitrary one and I could very well argue that (a) you followed me and that’s how I run my show. You don’t like it, you know where the “unfollow” button is. (b) It seems an awfully friendly gesture of politeness to welcome someone to your Twitter stream if they thought you were cool enough to follow in the first place. You say “rude” and I reply “friendly”. That is the stalemate of our conversation of crossed swords.

However, so we don’t end in a draw and since so many people took this bit of etiquette as the new social contract on Twitter, I capitulated. I don’t do the gentlemanly thing anymore. I’m glad to have new followers on Twitter, but I don’t send out the auto-welcome anymore. If you follow me (@rchazzchute), you now have no idea that I give a shit.

Bravo. You win. Touché!

Duel 3

Opposition: But Chazz, autotweets are rude!

Passata-sotto: If that’s all you have to give, yes. However, autotweeting had its place as a useful time management tool. If you have a decent following on Twitter, it’s impossible to “engage” everyone. Then somebody made up a rule that autotweets are rude and too many people believed them.

There’s always somebody who wants to round up the cows and put a fence around them when they were just fine in the open field minding their own business. Scolds are awfully boring people, aren’t they? I should know. I’m being one right now.

Duel 4

Coup droit: If you can’t engage everyone adequately, you must be following too many people.

Balestra & beat: If you don’t follow enough people, maybe you’re a narcissist who isn’t really all that interested in the world.

Presser: But what’s with all these people spamming us all the time? They’re shameless!

Double: Maybe they just aren’t funny or useful enough, but that’s not spam. I don’t believe in spam. It’s only spam if it’s fraud from a Nigerian prince who wants to give you money from a needlessly complex banking transaction that start’s out, “Dear beloved, I’m going to prey upon your desperation, gullibility and greed…”

Mal-parry (in your Monty Python voice) SPAM! SPAM! SPAM! 

Remise: When you cry “SPAM!”, I hear that you aren’t interested. But if you wanted it — whatever it is — you’d be pleased to be made aware of the opportunity from a brilliant author, entrepreneur or artist. We’re not all into the same stuff, that’s all.

Coup de taille: When I look at Twitter, I see no spam. I see stuff I ignore and stuff that intrigues me. I do not cast aspersions on people who try to sell me on anything sports-related. I pity them because they don’t know that I have no interest in cheap Superbowl tournament tickets. (Is “tournament” the right word for a swimming competition such as the Superbowl?)

Attaque au fer: Seems petty to be mean to people who are just trying to get attention to their art and support their families. If you tried their wares, you might even enjoy yourself. We’re all just squirrels trying to get a nut and chances are, you have a job, too. Either you’re advertising your business to keep eating or someone is doing it for you. Advertising is so easy to ignore, it’s impossible for me to get upset about it.

Coup d’arret: It’s not that the drumbeat of “Buy my books” is offensive. The problem is that it’s ineffective. We have to be funnier, smarter and more creative than that.

Me B&W~ Confession: I, Robert Chazz Chute, fenced in college. The most fun I ever had wasn’t the formal training. It was in practice when we’d fence without supervision, sometimes three at a time! It was less like a stuffy fencing school and more like The Princess Bride. Everything’s more fun when it’s less stuffy, including Twitter.

If you’re interested in the meaning of these fencing terms, check them out here. And click here for the latest All That Chazz podcast and links to my books of bizarre themes and intense violence. And don’t cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war. Cry freedom.

 

Filed under: Publicity & Promotion, Twitter, , , , , , , ,

Twitter Etiquette, Book Promotion & the Narcissist Inversion

How much should authors tweet to promote our books? Buckle up, because I’m about to get a little contrarian on your brain. We are told that Twitter is a conversation and if all we do is promote our books, we deserve to be unfollowed. Agreed! Let’s be clear about that. I agree. Okay? We get it!

But…there’s always a but… it’s tough to find the balance. If all you get from an author is “BUY MY BOOK!” then, yes, absolutely, the complainers are right. That’s too much. I’m not sure how they feel about all the promotion I do of other people’s books. Maybe that’s offensive to somebody, too. Anyway, work out your own cost/benefit analysis and do that UNFOLLOW math.

Now comes the contrarian counter programming: You want me to find the balance? I’m trying.

But is your view balanced?

I’m going to turn the narcissism charge around on the accusers and usual suspects for a change.

1. One person’s sensibility isn’t everyone’s sensibility. We’re taught in school to never start a rant, argument or sentence with the words, “I think.” This programs our brains to think they aren’t subjective machines. We mistake our words for universal law. I call this “King (or Queen) of the Universe Syndrome.” K(orQ)US is a common affliction which makes the afflicted think everyone should share their opinion. For example, I’m infected right now. (The only antidote I know is to go for a walk at night and look at stars.)

2. You’re telling me what to do. I don’t like to be told what to do. I’m interested in what other people think, but I like to decide things for myself. I don’t wear a collar well — everybody gets the devil’s advocate thing — but there’s a larger point: There are no rules. It’s the Internet. The only rules are in service contracts. Etiquette changes. Etiquette is not universal. Aside from the blogs of hyper-marketing gurus and scolds, we can do what we want. It’s the Old West and that’s what we love about the Internet. You and your tin badge don’t have no jurisdiction outside of town, Sheriff.

3. Twitter is a microblogging platform. People use it in all sorts of ways: to search out new customers, to find new friends, to discover grisly pictures of weird roadkill and cute baby animals. Some use it like it’s Instant Messenger. To some, a blog; to others, a flog. There’s a lot more diversity to our choices than simply insisting that people “engage” you all the time.

4. If I’m filling up your feed, you’re the narcissist for not following enough people. My incoming tweet stream is a roaring river of information, diversity and neural input. I love that. Even the most verbose can’t dominate my stream for long because I’ve got so much input coming at me from so many cool people.

5. What’s your problem? It’s free. Twitter is free and opting into someone’s stream is free. Complaining about something you got for free is beyond the “First World Problem” category. It seems rude to me.

6. The agony I’m putting you through is voluntary and your safe word is UNFOLLOW. If you are following anyone against your will, please call the police and take jujitsu so no one can snatch your autonomy from you again.

7. Just because you’re not interested, it’s not necessarily spam. It might just mean that you’re not interested. That doesn’t make all authors spammers. That makes you a Lookie-Lou. You’re a browser who has no intent to buy. What good am I doing you? What good are you doing me? What is this “Some pigs are more equal than others” con you’re trying to pull on me?

8. You’re a delicate doily. With Netflix, PVR and DVDs, the populace is trained not to sit through commercials to get to the good stuff. We used to have to sit through ads and now we don’t. (Tangent: Have ad rates come down significantly to reflect this fact?) But Twitter is not Netflix, PVR, or DVDs. It’s live people and a bunch of them are offering you the opportunity to sample their wares and delight you for hours for less than the cost of a Starbucks coffee. And it’s not killing you. Ignoring stuff is easy. The people who are delicate doilies stopped reading after the first paragraph of this post, for instance. They only read stuff they agree with. Hm. I should try that. It sounds peaceful.

9. You’re limiting my creativity. One morning I watched Kevin Smith’s Twitter feed fill up as he wrote a long treatise on art and aspiration. I loved it and couldn’t wait for the next tweet of argumentation and inspiration. However, some people complained he was filling up their feed. His answer was, “I’m expressing myself here! If you don’t want to read it, don’t.” That unfollow button is so darn handy.

Some people take a dim view of following too many people, but I think that means your interested in your world. However, if you’re really not interested in what someone has to say on Twitter and it offends you in some way, maybe you’re meant to follow only those for whom you’re a true fan. And if you’re a true narcissist (or weak-minded or insecure in your convictions) I suspect you follow no one on Twitter because this is Sparta and following is for sheep! Or some such macho BS.

10. To write, narcissism is necessary. It takes a truckload of delusion to write and allow the words outside of your house for others to read. Why should anyone care? Most won’t. Writing is a quixotic affliction. If we had a choice before birth, the smart babies would choose to be better at math so they could get a paying gig. Writers don’t choose writing. It chooses us. The crazy narcissism of expecting a readership to discover us? That’s what keeps us writing (and from stepping off that high ledge.)

11. We are all narcissists. All social media taps into the secret we keep from ourselves. We are all the stars of our own movies and the little people are waiting for our grand pronouncements. Let the extras eat after me. Deliver the pheasant under glass to my trailer.

12. I won’t miss you. I’m not into making rules for others, just the odd argument that is hopeless in the face of cultural entrenchment. However, if pressed for a rule it would be: When clicking unfollow, don’t tell anyone. “I don’t like what you’re saying, so I’m announcing to everyone that I’m leaving! I’m taking my marbles and going home!” How petty. That’s the ultimate douchey, narcissist move.

There once was a guy who was very rude to me on Twitter. I unfollowed. I never listened to his podcast again, either, but I will never name him. I’m sure he didn’t notice my absence or care. We’re both better off.

13. You’re not engaging me in conversation, either. That’s what Facebook is for. Seriously, I have noticed that the people who insist the loudest that they be “engaged” in conversation, are waiting for me to come to them. They’ve never tried to “engage” me with anything. They don’t retweet anyone. They wouldn’t pee on me if I were on fire. They are princesses, sitting on pillows, waiting to be asked so they can experience the delight of pointing their noses at the ceiling and saying no.

14. There are too many people on Twitter to have a conversation with everyone. That’s a silly, unrealistic requirement. That’s math. If you insist I engage you constantly and personally you, who’s the narcissist?

That’s the equivalent of requiring authors to go door-to-door…and…and…hey! Waitaminute! That’s the answer! I could sell my crime novels door to door! Excuse me. Gotta run.

No, before I go pound on strangers’ doors, one more:

15. Somebody I kind of like said that the only way to sell is by not selling. To me? That seems like a slap in Art’s face. Maybe that’s shame and fear masquerading as etiquette and high-mindedness. Whenever we tweet about our books, yes, we risk turning someone off. That’s focusing on the wrong end of the equation. What about all the people turned on to our books? Don’t focus on the I Hate Everything Cult. (There’s a clue. They hate everything! They only download books for free so they can crap on the dreams we are fulfilling!)

What about readers who actually enjoy reading a good book? What about your fan base, out there somewhere, searching for you? You’ve got a Twitter beacon but they can’t find you because you’re being so darn polite, you won’t risk a shout into the darkness. You don’t want to risk annoying people who don’t care about you, anyway! Grow a spine and tweet. Yes, for the love of all that’s chocolate, balance it out as best you can, but go ahead and tweet about your book without all the worry. You won’t kill anyone. And if you do, call me. I know a guy who’s good about making bodies disappear.

Does beating Twitter followers over the head with sales offers work? No. But keeping our magnificence a secret shame sure won’t do the job, either. Authors: toughen up and find your balance. Twitter etiquette fascists: for the sake of Art and your own enjoyment, ease up and toughen up. Or get out.

~ I’m Robert Chazz Chute, the award-winning writer and author of the world’s first bathroom/marijuana/suspense/humor book Self-help for Stoners and the twistiest, funniest crime novel Bigger Than Jesus (among other things.) 

Follow me on Twitter @rchazzchute.

Or unfollow me on Twitter @rchazzchute.

 

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

Social media: Twitter Etiquette & Maybe Myths

 

Get Bigger Than Jesus

We’re told content is king, one-to-one engagement is paramount and direct messages on Twitter are rude. Maybe not. Before you swallow somebody else’s rules, we need to be careful we aren’t hiding our lights under bushels again. As the resident introvert pretending to be an extrovert, I’m not suggesting “rules” here. I’m suggesting not all rules are for everybody all the time. Question the rules and let’s rethink what’s rude when you’re on Twitter. Let’s examine the self-appointed arbiters’ assumptions about marketing manners with some Maybe Myths. I may not change your mind with this contrarian post, but I’ll be happy you made up your own mind.

Maybe Myth 1: Content is king.

Sin: Last week I promoted more authors than ever through Twitter. In return, they promoted my new books, Bigger Than Jesus and The Dangerous Kind & Other Stories. The Tweet Teams at World Literary Cafe and me friends at Triberr helped sell books. It’s a tricky balance, figuring out how much to tweet, how much to retweet and how much to engage. I thought I was risking my follower count by tweeting a drumbeat of, “Buy my book! Buy these books!” I promoted others more than myself, but it was still a big stack of book flogging. It was, you might well argue, what many people object to when they think of desperate authors trying to get attention and yell past the ambient sound.

Redemption: Or, if you think of it differently, it’s helping out and giving more people more opportunities to discover cheap entertainment they might otherwise have missed. Silence or too much self-conscious inhibition would not have connected with people or moved any books. Besides, my numbers of Twitter followers increased with this promotional campaign. No, don’t harangue anyone, but don’t be so shy, either. Be proud. Assert. Declare. Let yourself be known.

Maybe Myth 2: Engagement is queen. 

Sin: You can’t get more followers, and you don’t deserve more followers, unless you engage with people. “Twitter is a conversation,” the gurus say. I think that’s often right, but what I did last week wasn’t much of a conversation. The signal went out, not back and forth.

Redemption: I want to be clear: I remember my pleases and my thank yous. I do engage with people on Twitter a few times a day. I’ll respond to a question or a comment here and there. However, I follow 2,000 interesting people on just one of three Twitter accounts. How much real engagement is logistically or reasonably possible to expect?

Before you answer, “So follow fewer people”, nope! I follow a lot of people for all that great neural input. Information and joke tweets stimulate my brain and I want to keep my brain stimulated. I value their tweets and all that fresh data.

3. Maybe Myth 3: Everyone’s a delicate little princess.

Sin: Some people object to auto-tweets welcoming new followers because they think direct messages to strangers are rude and bot tweets suck. (Who handed down that law to begin with, anyway?)

Redemption: I’d argue that if you follow somebody, it indicates a good faith act that you don’t want to be just strangers. You might not have them over for a barbecue yet, but the condemnation of a friendly, welcoming auto-tweet with a little more about me, my website and my book babies seems a wild overreaction. Please  don’t go to Defcon 1 and condemn one auto-tweet with the same vehemence as world hunger or skinning live puppies.

Some people complain welcoming auto-tweets are annoying. I think that’s a very vocal minority, probably the same subset of people who insist on validating Twitter accounts. I don’t do that, either. I tried it and it was cumbersome and if somebody’s that stiff and vituperative about a simple follow, they probably aren’t my crowd. I’ve had followers thankme for letting them know I have books (of Doom!) and podcasts (of Doom!) that they may want to check out. One person’s spam is another person’s tasty meat product in a can.

Small-town terrors and psychological mayhem in Maine.

More about the auto-tweet debate: Consider the case of Claude Bouchard, a brilliant author, who uses Twitter very effectively. I know this because his following is closing in on 273,000 people. Um. Wow. In a recent post, How I Really Got a 1/4 million Twitter Followers, he explained that he takes a few minutes each day to unfollow the people who don’t climb aboard his party boat to make room for people who get him. Click that blog post link for more information on his strategy and thinking. I would not presume to summarize it here. (You could also set TweetAdder to take care of unfollows and other tasks automatically, though Mr. Bouchard doesn’t trust such bots and does it manually.)

I read someone condemn the welcoming tweet idea as useless. My answer: Do you have half as many Twitter followers? Have you sold as many books? Then maybe Mr. Bouchard has something to teach, not learn. I’m glad I ran across his post.

Think you’ve heard it all? I’ve watched a couple of people on Twitter castigate someone who dared to hit “reply” to one of their tweets. These dicks, a couple of celebs so minor as to be nearly microscopic, took the minimalist  approach to Twitter engagement and made up a new rule: How dare you speak to someone you don’t even know? (Answer: um, so we might get to know each other?) For these guys, Twitter is a place for everyone to sit quietly while they talked. I think applause was allowed, as long as it was quiet golf green applause. You can monologue on podcasts, but when people declare that Twitter is only for people who already know each other? Really? Isn’t that what email is for? Unfollowed.

To the vocal minority: I make free podcasts, free blog posts (that are usually wittier, far less cranky and more fun than this one), cheap but pretty damn awesome books and give friendly-but-not-needy engagement to my Twitter friends. That ought to suffice, shouldn’t it? Sorry if I annoyed you last week, but if it did annoy you, apparently you were a small group and, respectfully, I hope you unfollowed so I won’t bother you further. I don’t want to bother anyone. Let’s just keep things in perspective. Twitter is free and you don’t have to listen to anyone you don’t want to listen to. I wouldn’t have it any other way. You no like? Unfollow. Don’t tell me you’re unfollowing. Just do it, no hard feelings. Not everybody likes mocha coffee. Crazy, but true.

What some people call spam, others thank you for. I fractured the royal rules and made them into Maybe Myths, gained more Twitter followers, helped a bunch of readers and writers connect, and sold some books. And not just my books, either. Maybe the Internet scolds need to reconsider the accepted dogma. I’m going to continue to let people know about my books as they keep coming. Lots of people seem to appreciate that. Those who do board my party boat and go for a fun fiction cruise with me have no idea how grateful I am for their enthusiasm and support.

Truly. Thank you.

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

Your No Apologies Tour: What’s your Twitter ratio?

Follow me on Twitter logo

Image via Wikipedia

Many people on Twitter make a big deal about unfollowing anyone who tries to sell them something.

That’s screwed up.

I wish I could remember where I saw it so I could give the glory to the Google+ person who came up with this powerful observation:

“I’m amazed at the number of people who don’t understand what spam is,” she said. “The definition seems to have expanded to include anything you don’t want to read.”

Some people have a problem with being asked for something (even when there’s no obligation to read, to buy or even to acknowledge the attempt to sell a product or service.) It’s not enough for some people to simply refuse to read the commercial link. They get self-righteous and announce they are unfollowing anyone who dares try to sell them something.

That attitude casts aspersions on my intent. The first salesperson who trained me told me two things I’ll never forget: He said “ZZ Top is right. Girls do go crazy for a sharp-dressed man,” and “I’m not here to sell anyone anything. I’m here to help them buy.”

Okay, let’s grant that I’m a pig if all I do is pester you to buy, buy, buy! Agreed. But what’s the corollary? What’s your responsibility? I propose that you’re an ungracious snot if you can’t tolerate anyone who gives you the opportunity to check out something you might like (or even love.) 

If you say you value reading but get pissed if an author tries to get you to look at their book, that’s unfair. Not interested? Just don’t read it. Why get angry that someone tried to share their work with you? No one’s polluting your timeline. Just choose what you pay attention to without the drama. I don’t care for Carrot Top’s comedy. That doesn’t mean I have to hate his guts and declare a fatwa. I just change the channel (quickly!)

Does that mean Twitter should only be commercials? No, that wouldn’t be effective. Eventually you’ll tire everyone out. Some misguided fools use trickery or even make the mistake of trying to extort attention through Twitter and alienate people who could have helped them (see Eden Baylee’s weird experience below.) But if we can find a reasonable Twitter ratio of fun/information/helping others/even shameless self-promotion, there will be no need to apologize. Unless you’re royalty or a lottery winner, everybody serves somebody and we’re all selling something.

If you’re such a delicate doily that you can’t handle the mention of a blog post, a book or a service, just unfollow…just about everybody. Use Twitter as quick email among your friends and leave it at that (or don’t use it at all.) Don’t feel you have to announce you’re going, just go. The rest of us will take part in the world and try to feed ourselves off the proceeds of our labors.

What’s your Twitter Ratio?

How often do you tweet your blog link before you let it go? How much of your feed is commercials versus fun and informational? How often are you tweeting about other people’s work to help them meet their dreams? We give  and we get. If you resent it when someone asks for your attention, maybe your expectations are screwy. 

Maybe those people you despise aren’t pigs. Maybe you’re just dealing with reality poorly.

Filed under: Rant, Rejection, self-publishing, Social Media, Twitter, , , , ,

Book Promoters: Will Google Plus kill Facebook, similar to how I slowly strangled Grandma?

For a full breakdown of the advantages of Google+, check out Gizmodo’s video summary.

It may be premature to say Facebook is in decline. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say its mercurial rise is flattening and it’s too early to declare its demise. Everything grows or dies, whether we’re talking about your business, your fan base, or your favorite social media.* Entropy rules and things change. Facebook is feeling entropy’s effect, so maybe they’ll adapt and improve and grow again (but that’s not the way to bet.)

I’ve got my problems with Facebook, but they’re mostly the same problems everyone else has: privacy issues; King Nerd arrogance; I don’t have enough Facebook friends; and, one day, I’ll suffer artificial limits on the number of friends I can have.

Note that though I love Twitter, I’m still chafing at the restrictions on the number of people I can follow there.

Please solve that problem and follow me @rchazzchute goddamnit!

Google+ (I’ve titled this post with Google Plus to emphasize the difference) is coming, and it might solve a whack of those problems if Google gets it right. One of the things I like is that you can make circles of friends, so you can choose who gets your message. Haven’t we all suffered the social stigma and financial pain of announcing on Facebook how much we’re looking forward to Grandma’s funeral, only to find Grandma’s still checking her account from her hospital bed and she’s cut you from the will? Petty old bitch.

Keep an eye out for the Google+ launch. They’re still working out the kinks with the beta version so right now the only way to join is by invitation. I’m pretty excited about the social and business possibilities Google+ offers. If it lives up to its promise, I will enthusiastically migrate away from Facebook to set up shop at Google+.

*MySpace is in a coma waiting for us to be merciful and finally pull the plug, for instance. If you still have a MySpace account, please, get your affairs in order. It’s almost as dead as Grandma.

UPDATE: This just in! MySpace has been sold. Details here. They’re starting with a workforce reduction and somehow Justin Timberlake is involved, so…nah, MySpace is still dead in the water. Like Grandma!

Filed under: Publicity & Promotion, Social Media, , , , , ,

Old ideas about publishing, Twitter and your worldview

The M2 tidal constituent. Amplitude is indicat...

Image via Wikipedia

Sometimes it feels like we’re fighting the tide.

The world as it was is the tide.

1. There’s the tide of institution, wherein the established people put down those who aren’t established because they aren’t established…or just because they’re different. I wear a black fedora and a long black coat with a red scarf. I look like a bad immortal from Highlander. Some people look at me funny. And what fearful mortals must they be.

2. There’s generational inertia, where old ideas get enshrined and people don’t want to change.  I made the mistake of trying to have a conversation about theoretical physics with someone who thought the field of physics had stopped developing in 1964 (coincidentally the year of his graduation from university.)

3. There’s the know-it-alls who can give you lots of reasons why you’re wrong and shouldn’t attempt anything new. Just. Like. Them. Doing something creative and new and different takes are certain amount of unreasonableness. We’re nice. But we have crazy ideas that just might work. “Put away your market analysis and focus groups and look what I made!”

4. There are envious people who feel safe in their rut if you get down in that rut with them.

5. There are people who are afraid and don’t know the way out is to act brave, especially when you don’t feel brave.

6. There are people who have their opinions and those opinions were true a short time ago. Those outdated opinions were dead on, but things changed and now they are dead. I’m hearing people worry about the death of newspapers who haven’t ever given a single thought to the end of home milk delivery.

7.  Some opinions were snarky and funny for a short time, like Twitter being all about what you had for lunch. This is usually from people who haven’t tried Twitter…yet. Are these people still going around saying, “You are the weakest link!” How about, “Where’s the beef?” Move on, please. And spring for dial-up, will you? You’re Internet connection is nearly unusable.

8. There are know-it-alls, but many more know-nothings. Don’t cast your pearls before swine.

9. Then there are people who have a vested interest in keeping things as they’ve been. (Publishers holding back on e-books to squeeze a little more out of trees and authors comes to mind. Outmoded contracts are bad. Trying to retrofit old contracts to new markets is criminal conspiracy.)

10. And sometimes we’re wrong to fight. Sometimes we’re on even ground and don’t know it.

Story time: When I graduated from the Banff Publishing Workshop, one of the faculty said, “Welcome to publishing. Come to create, not to destroy us.” It hit a rather defensive note. They had put us through the wringer, so maybe they had some reason to expect us to be a little pissed.

I stood up and said, “We aren’t coming to destroy…but we value our opinions just as much as you value your own and this is a subjective business. Nobody has to feel bad about that. No one knows what’s going to be a bestseller, so let’s not pretend we know. There is no secret to selecting the right book to publish. That’s the secret.”

And yet, we were expected to feel bad, even in areas we had experience if not expertise. I often felt too young to have an opinion, year after year. With every one of my birthdays, the establishment got a year older, too. Screw that. I’m old enough to see the pattern now. Or am I too old to have these opinions?

Below is a link to an interesting article about how Twitter is changing.

It starts a bit slow and the lead is buried, but once you get to the charts, you get the real chocolate flavour.

As Dennis Miller used to say—way back when he was good and relevant “Of course, that’s just my opinion. I could be wrong.”

How Twitter is Changing: A new study reveals Twitter’s new direction

 

Filed under: publishing, Rant, Rejection, Unintentionally hilarious, Useful writing links, What about Chazz?, Writers, writing tips, , , , , , , , ,

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

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