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

Write and publish with love and fury.

What are you waiting for?

Here are Ten Rules About No One:

1. No one is waiting for you to get your life together. They want results, not excuses.

2. No one is waiting for your next book. They say they are, but they will forget you soon and they have plenty of other things to do. Be memorable and come back quickly.

3. No one is waiting for your next blog post, so don’t apologize when you miss a day or three. Get to the topic instead.

4. No one is waiting for you to organize or self-actualize. That’s your business. Organize to build your business. If business is good, you’ll get closer to self-actualization, too.

5. No one is waiting for you to get past your procrastination, so write now.

6. No one is waiting to rescue you. If you need help, ask. Otherwise, everyone assumes you’re fine. Chances are good you’ll still have to pull off your own rescue, though. We are all struggling.

7. No one is trying to hurt you…probably. What’s more likely is they’re taking a verbal or written swing at you because of their own crap issues. You did nothing wrong. You’re just the nearest target. Or they’re wrong. Or they’re just too stupid to see (or care) what you’re doing. Or, worst case scenario, they’re right. 

Never mind. We are sharks. To live, we move forward or we die.

By the way, if it’s a physical swing they’re taking at you, be brutal enough to get away, smart enough to stay away and strong enough to call the police.

8. No one is an extra in the movie that is your life. Each is the star of their own movie.

9. No one remembers what you said. They remember what it’s like to be around you. Give them a reason to come back for more.

10. No one needs you to succeed and some would prefer you didn’t. You need to succeed and you won’t succeed with everyone. You can succeed with someone, though. Start with you.

What are you waiting for?

~ Robert Chazz Chute is a suspense novelist. And tonight? He is pissed at himself and others. Make him happier. Buy a book. Thank you.

Now off to get some more writing done, because Chazz DOES NOT WAIT. WAITING IS OVER. Happy Monday!

 

Filed under: author platform, What about Chazz?, What about you?, , , , , , , , , , ,

Writers: Fire Your Guru

As I suggested in my quotes for this post at tripthroughmymind.com (by Jerry Benns), we learn more from our allies than from self-publishing’s outliers and traditional publishing’s pundits.

Time for a reality check about perception and consequence.

This week I met a lovely and lively someone who was pleasantly surprised to learn I’m friendly and actually quite nice in person. After reading this blog for a long time, she thought I’d be snarky and “difficult”. I was a little shocked by this news. I thought I was funny, but I guess sometimes I do have a tone. I regret that when it leaks out. Mostly, I try to be a people pleaser. She suggested I let people in on my secret niceness by saying a spider crossed my desk and I let it live. That made me laugh because any spider meandering across my desk must die. Horribly.

Anyway, that experience got me thinking about the way we come across online.

For instance, I read a review of a friend’s book about book marketing. The nastiest review I’d read in a long time shredded his work at length because the reader claimed to already be familiar with all his suggestions. The problem with this is that not everybody has the same level of expertise. For the neophyte (at least!), that book would be very helpful. For this self-proclaimed expert, the book is less than nothing.

Worse, the nasty review got praise. “Thanks for the great review!” Really? Don’t ever praise anyone for a review designed to make the author feel bad. It only encourages dickishness. (I will not name the book I’m talking about, to discourage any further acts of dickishness.)

As for me, I wrote two books about writing and publishing. I think they’re very useful to anybody and the reviews reflect that. However, when I pitch it, I always lower the bar of expectation and tell people they’re for newbie writers, to inspire them to write and publish. If I had more confidence, I guess I wouldn’t sell it so short. But those reviewers who insist you write just for them, at their level of knowledge and no lower (or higher!), are waiting. For some egos, criticism is oxygen. It’s easier on my psyche to pitch Crack the Indie Author Code as an entry level book.

YMMV

Often online, when we come close to pontification, we add “Your Mileage May Vary”. That’s pretty elegant and humble. Few of us really want to tell others what to do for free. We’re trying to be helpful. 

When I was a kid, I visited Bermuda. I rented swim fins. I’d never worn fins so huge in the ocean. I tried to put them on while I was at the edge of the water and I was having trouble. A stranger came up to me and suggested I get into the surf first and then put them on. I ignored him and then he said, “I’m trying to help you.” When somebody tells me to do one thing, I really want to do the opposite. (And no, often that attitude has not served me well.)

Anyway, I’d thought he was bossy, but when I looked in his face I could see his intent was pure. I thanked him. I did as he suggested and, once wet, it was easy to get those big fins on and go swim.

Now some people seem to say your mileage won’t vary.

Since I’m resistant to telling anyone what to do, it irks me when anyone gets too full of themselves. Lately, I’ve noticed some authors who have achieved a little success, are getting bossy. They are laying down rules instead of suggestions. Even if they sell non-fiction and you sell romance, they’re sure all books are marketed the same in all venues. They’re assuming there’s only one way to go and it happens to be their way. Isn’t this why we got away from agents and other gatekeepers and published ourselves?

There’s an element of luck and timing involved in any success.

Results aren’t necessarily duplicable. I suspect some pontificators don’t really know why any particular book hit big or even semi-big. Or, they do know, but the market has changed since they hit it big and we can’t replicate that strategy now. Maybe they can afford Bookbub and you can’t, or they got into Bookbub and you can’t break past the application process. Maybe they had a track record and a fan base first. Maybe they have a huge mailing list and you don’t. Maybe they succeeded because of grassroots support and the author is attributing their success to their marketing brilliance in error. Maybe their book is simply better than yours.

Here are a few things you probably won’t read elsewhere:

Maybe [insert successful author name here]’s book is not so good, but it caught on anyway. We all push perfection pretty hard. We all fall short of perfection. Often writers and reviewers are hypercritical and, thank Thor, the average reader is not. Sometimes an author’s marketing skills are far superior to their writing. Meanwhile, some brilliant authors would be better known if they gave one crap about marketing. To each his or her own.

There are too many variables for one opinion to reign supreme. There are many paths up the mountain. There is no one way.

The writers who are too sure of themselves think that everyone is waiting for their next book. They should be more humble because people like me, who are easily irked by condescension, won’t buy their books. Lots of people are popular. That shouldn’t be confused with respect.

I’m sorry.

If I’ve come across too snarky here from time to time, I apologize. I don’t want to be one of those pontificators I complain about. I know I’ve said it occasionally, but maybe I should add the disclaimer more often: I try to help fellow writers and publishers. What I try to do here is make suggestions in an entertaining way.

Look in my face and I hope you’ll see my intent is pure. I’m trying to help.

Fire your gurus. Keep your friends.

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Banding together is better.

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

Have you ever had the opportunity to help somebody out?

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

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

Here’s a radio show for our revolution:

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

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

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

We are a generous group. We are writers.

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

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

That’s love. 

We are the revolution we need.

 

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

Books: Ventures, Misadventures, Adventures and Brutal Honesty

Crack the Indie Author CodeWhen George Lucas screened  Star Wars, most of his fellow filmmakers in the room looked at each other and said, “American Graffiti was awesome, George, but this space opera thing…yuck!” It was Stephen Spielberg who played the contrarian. “You guys don’t get it!” he said. “This is going to be huge!” And of course, Spielberg was right.

My personal Lord and Saviour of The Written Word, William Goldman, famously said of the Hollywood film business, “Nobody knows anything.” It’s true, no one can know what will hit and which will miss. Someone comes up with the somewhat moronic expression YOLO (the idiot’s “Carpe diem”) and it’s suddenly on t-shirts everywhere. True for us, too. You may write a heavy, ambitious tome, but it’s a tiny book like The Little Prince that captures the hearts and imaginations of generations of readers.

So it is with marketing books.

Agents say they can “guide your career”, but if that were true, anyone with a sentient agent would have a fabulous career. No one knows anything in publishing, either. That’s not meant as an insult, but as a reflection of reality. Publishing is famous (or infamous) for placing bets on many horses, hoping the big bets will pay off and cover the losers’ ubiquitous failures. Few industries have a miss rate as high as book publishing (though Hollywood’s screwing up even more than usual lately.)

So it is with my books, too!Self Help for Stoners JPEG

The summer is winding down and I find I must split my mania among many ventures. I’m in a philosophical mood and looking back at what took off, what has not, and why. We at Ex Parte Press are not lounging in the money, chocolate and champagne pool at the moment. (But we still have high hopes.)

  • Bigger Than Jesus and Higher Than Jesus are critical successes among the few critics who are aware of my funny Cuban hit man and his tragic past. Alas, hardboiled and funny suspense isn’t trending at the moment. Nonetheless, I have more Hit Man books planned. Jesus Diaz will just have to wait a bit longer as I concentrate my efforts where readers have demonstrated more enthusiasm. I love Jesus, and can’t wait to get him back on the warpath in Hollywood. An assassin who can make movie references and quick quips while getting beaten up deserves more books. He’ll get them.
  • My first funny short story collection, Self-help for Stoners, sells just a little but steadily. It’s a tribute to Kit Foster of KitFosterDesign.com that the cover is repinned on Pinterest several times a week, every week. Later this fall I will stop using an intermediary so I can take back control of marketing that book. I have no doubt I can take it much higher once that happens. I’d have done it by now but I’ve been perpetually swamped for months with This Plague of Days.
  • Six Seconds, my book about using the Vine app to market your business was an instant book with lots of great advice. I’ve moved books and marketed my podcasts having fun with mini videos. Though Vine remains the superior product, Instagram changed their app to ape Vine so Instagram has many more users. I bet on the wrong horse, not every at bat is a home-run, insert your metaphor for failure here.
  • This Plague of Days, Season One is getting traction. It might even be on the cusp of taking off. I’ll find out when Season Two hits at the end of September. (Here’s my latest post with hints and expectations for Season Two.) Early feedback is very encouraging. As in this, from the beta team: “Suspense and plot and action – all of them are on steroids in this book…overall impression is you have brought this thing to the next level.”

Mind the towering caveat in the following paragraph:

My luckless hit man is a funny guy in big trouble.

My luckless hit man is a funny guy in big trouble.

So you see, I’m no better (or worse) at stabbing at the imagination of readers than anyone else. I don’t know what will sell buckets of books. No one does. It’s something that happens to you, as long as you pretend your destiny is under your control and do everything you can to get discovered. You can hit the target. We’re all shooting blindfolded in the dark, sure, but if you take enough wild shots, aiming matters less. You write the best book you can and engage more readers and attend some sad, ill-attended bookstore signings and do whatever else you can think of to fire off signal flares without becoming a Twitter pariah.

This is not to say that good advice isn’t out there. It’s just that so much good advice conflicts!

The great Chuck Wendig talks about voice (or the force of personality) being more important than “brand”. Others can’t talk about anything else but brand, stats and system gaming. Hugh Howey is the outlier that didn’t really market anything when he started Wool (though he says Facebook helps him most these days.) Some insist on lots of links to your other work in the back of each book. Others say that’s overkill and intelligent readers will find you easily if they love you enough to bother with a google search. Some book marketers are passive as a policy (or lazy.) Others are so active, it’s pretty close to obnoxious.

And still, nobody knows anything. Not for sure. There are too many variables to success and the situation is fluid. We, writers and publishers all, dance on tightropes while juggling feathers in wind storms and hope readers will cast a glance our way and enjoy the silly monkey dance.

Still, you’ll find advice about tactics everywhere.

Just this week, I pushed the Author Marketing Club and Bookbub. Solid advice I stand behind. But keep in mind, these are tactics. The potency of tactics can wax and wane according to many variables. That’s what’s hot now and into the near future. After that? New tools will emerge because good ideas get copied. Sometimes imitators are new and improved and often the copier doesn’t have enough toner.

Strategy is long-term thinking. Strategy says: Write more. Get more feedback. Write more books. Get better. Higher+than+Jesus+Front+1029

This is the only advice I know that lasts. (You’ll find that and much more about the writing and publishing life in Crack the Indie Author Code and Write Your Book: Aspire to Inspire. Crack sells a bit while the second book hardly moves at all. Why? Who knows? Nobody. Nobody knows anything! My Lord and Saviour told me so.

However, I’ll let you in on a little secret: I have a third book about writing and publishing in the chamber ready to fire. When This Plague of Days hits big, readers will pick up all my books about writing and publishing. After the fact, they’ll say, “Well, no wonder.” 

The Johnny-come-latelies won’t know what you know. My overnight success wasn’t overnight. Success always seems inevitable, but only in retrospect. Until you make it, no one cares about you and your book. Those who do give you any thought probably think you a fool. (Insert an image of your disapproving in-laws here.)

Ah. But, afterwards? You’re a genius.*

~ *Afterwards, You’re a Genius is a wonderful book I recommend for anyone interested in scientists with lyrical sensibilities.

For more on the rising action and scary high stakes in the spiralling weirdness of an autistic boy fighting zombies, read this post at ThisPlagueOfDays.com. 

For more on my adventures in self-pubishing, swallowing bitter pills and my peculiar brain mania, there’s this post on the writing life at my author site. 

 

Filed under: author platform, getting it done, 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

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

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