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

Write and publish with love and fury.

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.

 

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

The Great Review Controversy, Take 2

From The Telegraph: A best-selling British crime writer, RJ Ellory, used pseudonyms to pen fake glowing reviews about his “magnificent genius” online while simultaneously criticising his rivals.

Read the link? Wasn’t that frustrating?

This time it’s a writer from the traditional side of publishing who has disappointed and embarrassed himself. As bad and individual as the act is, I’m relieved he’s not an indie author. Blame has been spread  around like confetti at a clown rally lately and I don’t want any more glitter in my jock. Will the fact that he’s traditionally published buy indies any more slack? No, but it probably won’t make things much worse for us. It’s so difficult to get reviews and build an audience that I find it disheartening to be painted with mile-wide brushes. I’m trying to make a living as a suspense novelist here!

Instead of distrusting five-star reviews — or automatically believing one-star reviews — I wish more people paid attention to reading samples. I encourage everyone to read book samples before clicking “buy” (even when, perhaps especially when, it’s “free”).

Reviews get too much weight in some people’s minds. My tastes aren’t necessarily yours, so why give so much power away to another when making reading choices? I read book samples to avoid unpleasant surprises. The first chapter usually gives me a glimpse of the quality and tone of what’s to come. Some people fail to exercise the reading sample option and then blame the author. “I wanted romance and this is fantasy! How dare she?” That’s like getting angry because the drugstore doesn’t sell coconuts.

Is Amazon really “Spamazon”? It’s the Internet. Is the fault in our tools or in ourselves? To confront the problem of bad reviews, fake reviews and attack reviews, we need to grow up, do our due diligence and keep things in perspective. You don’t believe everything you’re told. Fine. Enjoy those free reading samples and make better informed choices before the too-easy click.

Indies are mostly beautiful dreamers and bold, generous storytellers. We are not all evil scammers out to fool readers. Many of us tell entertaining stories with few resources and we perform this service for the equivalent of couch change. It’s churlish to make all authors collateral damage for the offences of others.

When the NY Times story about paid-for reviews broke last week, I was initially forgiving and didn’t take it so seriously. John Locke, for instance, may have paid for reviews, but he said he was open to honest opinions as well and he still wrote all his books which, nicely reviewed or not, a lot of people like. I wished he’d mentioned the paid-for-review strategy in his how-to book in the interest of full disclosure, but at first I figured his tactic just sped up his trip on the success train. However, when I saw so much negative reaction from potential buyers, I got sad. Unfairly or not, it hurt our reputation.

Then I realized I couldn’t approach Locke to ask for a cover blurb for my next book in The Hit Man Series. He was on my short list of authors I planned to ask for an endorsement. I’m not assuming he would have gone for it. I’m just terribly disappointed because of the damage done. (That cry of “I’ll never read indie again!” really got to me, silly as it is.) I read a few of Locke’s books and enjoyed them, but now his name is tainted with the “Paid for Reviews” badge. He’ll recover from this. Locke has a huge fan base who don’t care about this controversy. It’s probably too inside baseball for most and for people who are already fans, why would they care?

It hurt me and fellow indies, though (and we don’t have that big cash cushion to ride out the bad weather.) You know that saying, “Save a horse, ride a cowboy”? Indies need a bumper sticker, too: “Save an author, buy a book.”

Hm. That’s not near as sexy and catchy. Suggestions?

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

Ultimate Blog Challenge: I am an artist, not a beggar

A forum post out of the cyber-ether really irritated me,

and not just because the person who posted was biased against self-publishing.

She was horribly misinformed and self-centered.

Her complaint is about “all these self-published authors begging for likes on their Facebook pages” and that apparently angered her by…okay, I’m not sure how that could bother her so much. Cluttering up her world, I guess. The strength  of venom I detected is usually found in a rattler’s fangs. Anyway, let’s flesh out the ugly misconception in her deluded subtext:

1. It’s not just indie authors. All authors with a Facebook page ask for “likes”. The more important likes are the like and buy buttons of our Amazon pages, but we all want to be liked. Most traditionally published authors understand that their publisher’s publicists are already stretched too thin, are often less effective than publicity that comes directly from authors and what resources that are channelled toward their books tend to be minuscule and fleeting.

2. It’s not begging. It’s asking politely and you often get something in exchange, like free entertainment, free education (like this post) and books that are much cheaper than what you’d pay a traditional publisher. All my books are currently priced at $2.99. That’s couch change — an impulse buy — for professionally published books. For less than the cost of one Starbucks coffee you get hours of entertainment I am happy to provide. I am an artist, not a beggar.

I’m not asking for loose change in exchange for nothing. I’m offering you a chance at relaxed Sunday afternoon with a book when it’s too hot to go outside; a cozy read on a winter’s night when you can’t sleep; suspense that won’t let you go to sleep;  a euphoric discovery that will delight you and might even change you. Yeah, you betcha that’s a bargain. If you refuse, no hard feelings.

3. Providing you with information or the opportunity to help out is not spam. It’s a question you don’t even have to answer. Get over yourself or turn off your Internet connection and take a break. I’m sorry the world isn’t catering to you. It’s not catering to me, either, but I suspect I hate fewer people than you do. I’d define spam as bombarding people with ads that provide no value, are out to scam you and a steady stream of blaring that gives you no opportunity to opt out. (i.e. You don’t get to complain if you decide for yourself you’re going to read it.)

4. Ignoring  the request takes nothing from you. Simply ignoring a request takes the bare minimum of tolerance. This person must be a nightmare in real life. How would she handle a real problem?

5. Why all the animus toward authors? Helping out costs nothing and I don’t think authors have any bad feelings toward those who don’t bother to “like” their books on Amazon, click “Agree with these tags” button on Amazon (it’s toward the bottom of each sales page) and “like” their Facebook page. (Thanks for helping to spread the word. And if you didn’t, no hard feelings.)

6. Ads are only irritating if you aren’t interested. On the computer, I click away. If assailed by the TV, I ignore it, fast forward, check my email or get up from the couch and get a glass of water. Indie authors (well, everyone) deserve more compassion than the complainer was willing to bestow. Sadly because the complainer might even love our work if she gave it a chance.

7. Despite my frustrated tone here, I know authors are not entitled to sales any more than Wal-mart or Toyota “deserves” your sales. We don’t even “deserve” your attention. That’s the myth of the entitled author I hear so much about. I honestly haven’t met many authors who suffer that delusion.

We get it. It’s a book. To most, “just” a book. We write them and lots of people don’t care. A lot of people don’t even read! Still, we stand behind our work and hope to find our audience. We hope our audience finds us. If I’m speaking to a crowd, I’m not speaking to everyone and I know it. Please be patient and polite while I direct my audience toward my books. I promise I won’t take long doing it and I’ll be as entertaining and quick as I can as I ask these things. You can always opt out.

Whether you’re indie or traditionally published, the promotion for your book really is up to you, your tribe, your followers and your readers. Publishers do very little for most authors. Stephen King gets a big promotional budget. That’s right. The authors who need the promotion least get the biggest boost because it’s a simple business decision: the publisher banks on the biggest title. Big publisher or small, these are the evaluations we all have to make.

I make that same evaluation every week. I have two very new titles just released in June. One is a short story

Get Bigger Than Jesus

collection bundled with a novella, The Dangerous Kind & Other Stories. The other is my crime thriller, Bigger Than Jesusthe first in a series. Which do I spend my limited resources promoting? Obviously, the crime thriller.

No short story collection will sell as well as a thriller. In all likelihood, my short story collections’ sales (there are three collections in all) will come after readers decide they like my flavor by discovering the novel. Some of the stories include characters and references that cross books, so there’s cross-pollination going on, too.  The short story collections are great, but they’re harder to sell (though they will be a valuable long term sales avenue.)

Yes, we have to interact and connect and make connections and help others to be heard.

Endure a little promotion amid all that for art’s sake.

Everybody’s trying to make a living

and civility is the grease to the gears of civilization.

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

I can’t come to the phone right now. I’m dead.

A man speaking on a mobile telephone

A man speaking on a mobile telephone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Usually I laugh at the weird stuff that pops up in my spam filter. However, this morning I seem to be inundated with crap and the spam filter isn’t catching it for some reason. It’s not that it isn’t easy to spot: Yoda-like syntax and the fourth or fifth word is always twisted around.

But this one annoyed me very much:

“You are an excellent wrietr even if I have thought your writing seems sad sometimes! I am so glad you are honest! The truth will set you free, is true! I love you and I am so blessed to be your Mom!”

Thanks for the shitty surprise reminder, spambot! My mom’s dead. Lung cancer. When I call my dad and he doesn’t answer, the voice mail kicks in. The recorded voice is my mother, saying just two words: my father’s name. After she died (and a long and terrible decline, it was) I wrote some fairly bad and very dark poetry. I mulled mortality’s cruelty and our shared helplessness. I was crying after the funeral when my wife came into my childhood bedroom. I pretended to be asleep on the bed and when she covered me with a blanket, I pretended it was my mom, covering me one last time. Later, I called to hear my mother’s voice again and again and again.

Maybe I should leave a new voice mail message: “I’m sorry I’m not here. I’m elsewhere, or maybe I’m not, but if I could get back to you, I would. If I can’t, know that I tried. I really wish I could talk to you right now. But whatever we talked about, it would all come down to the same thing: I love you.”

PS I reject helplessness to the end. Go here if you reject helplessness, too. And spread the word for Indies Unite for Joshua.

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

What treasures are in your spam filter?

Yoda

Yoda (Photo credit: davidyuweb)

Just got this in my spam filter today:“This is the reverse About Chazz | Chazz Writes blog for anyone who wants to act out out almost this content. You observation so overmuch its nigh effortful to argue with you (not that I really would want…HaHa). You definitely put a new reel on a theme thats been shorthand virtually for geezerhood. Metropolis bunk, simply great!”

I must start collecting these! Almost every day I find a little gem in my spam filter. Often the first clue to spam is a syntax that is positively Yoda-like. (e.g. “Excellent, your blog is!”) Or, it’s the ubiquitous, “My cousin told me about your blog. Good informations! It saved MUCH time!” Or, it’s simply gibberish.

Usually it’s a waste of time, but I get a few funny ones: “Up the prematur now to optimize your webpage tracings for better permeability upsell doodle!” At least it sounds positive and up with people, doesn’t it?

Clearly, the universal translator isn’t perfected.

Send me your funniest spam filter catches and I’ll feature them in a future post.

Filed under: funny, What about Chazz?, What about you?, , , , , , , ,

Book Promotion: To spam, or not to spam

no spam!

Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday I posted a too-long comment in reply to a post at The Taleist. (I recommend The Taleist heartily. Love his blog and bought his Kindle formatting kit, too.) However, I felt some despair at a guest post that seemed to imply it was awfully easy to offend people. The guest blogger, Norman W Wilson, is a Professor Emeritus, so what do I know? Still, my heart cried out, “What would you have us do?” Zip over here for the original post and below is my reply from the comment thread, reposted for your consideration. (Yes, I might very well be in the minority on this one.)

Often these strategies are not effective with many people. But they are effective with some people. I often get phone calls and email solicitations etc.,… and I, too, wonder, who would be interested in that, or who would fall for that? But spam must work in some small percentage of cases or the strategy would have been abandoned long ago.

My concern is that all that hectoring gives rise to cynicism. So an author asked you to buy his or her book in a place that offends you. I get that it offends you, but “inexcusable”? That’s an overcorrection. We excuse many offences that are far less egregious. Similarly, anyone with a new book is excited about bringing their baby out into the world. It’s the most natural thing in the world to make your cover into your avatar. What’s the real harm in that (except for a sensitive minority)? I skim right past that if I’m not interested. Are you offended for yourself or is this a perception that we just can’t take any more advertising? Some people really do like the taste of spam.

I’m not advocating tantrums and sedition in your forums. I’m saying let’s keep perspective and have some compassion for our fellow artists. When I get spam, I don’t get offended. I just ignore it as most people do. My book isn’t pollution in your space. It’s an option and an invitation you are welcome to ignore. (Who knows? You might love it.) I agree that aggression isn’t the answer for book promotion, but neither is obsequious timidity. No one ever succeeded hiding their artistic  lights under bushels of shame.

I especially worry that new authors who could have been helped are getting scolded instead. One example cited: Typical lines go something like this: “I just finished signing a contract for my new novel No Name with XYZ Publishing and would like to know how to set up a book signing.” That could easily be a genuine request for input from an excited, nervous newbie who looked to her more experienced peers for assistance.

I have no doubt your heart is pure, sir. However, too wide a net and too dim a view can catch  up innocent authors and batch them with the rabid spammers. It is not spam that has turned me off several Linked In groups (where I lurked but never posted, by the way.) I clicked “leave group” because of what I perceived as chronic incivility from veterans in the field who posted with their own sense of entitlement. Not all posters were impolite, of course, but enough were so cranky and cynical that I turned to bloggers because they have a vested interest in being sweeter to the less informed. I believe that’s how the less informed become better informed.

Filed under: blogs & blogging, Books, Publicity & Promotion, Rant, , , ,

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

The first 81 lessons to get your Buffy on

More lessons to help you survive Armageddon

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

Available now!

Fast-paced terror, new threats, more twists.

An autistic boy versus our world in free fall

Suspense to melt your face and play with your brain.

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

Jesus: Sexier and even more addicted to love.

Write to live

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