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

See all my books at AllThatChazz.com.

A good ending

If we must expire, most of us aspire to leave this dimension while in our sleep, oblivious to pain and our passing. For books, writers and readers have differing ideas about a good ending. In this post, I’ll tell you how I navigate that fetid swamp to make the happy voyage out to sea.

In my writers’ group meeting, we zoomed over a couple of ideas about what makes a good ending. In a short story, there is some room for ambiguity. Don’t try too much ambiguity with a long novel, though. Bring it in for a three-point landing or more readers will be disappointed that they invested so much time in a narrative that lacks a solid conclusion. For romance, the couple have to get together in the end. If they don’t, it’s not romance, it’s some other genre.

A vocal group of readers insist they hate cliffhangers. However, if you’re writing a series, there’s got to be something there to seduce your readership to continue the journey into the next book. That’s really no different from many dramatic movie or television series. Don’t pay too much attention if a tiny minority of reviewers kick up a fuss about it. However, with cliffhangers, the key is to answer a lot of questions and close loops while still managing to keep the intrigue going. If it’s all a tease for the next book, readers will have a valid complaint. If your sales copy is on point making it clear this is a series, you’ll catch less flack from the kibitzers, snipers, and moaners. Not no flack, but less!

Many readers think they want a happy ending. As a writer and a reader, I don’t care for that strategy if it feels forced. Instead, I recommend writers strive for a satisfying ending. I like a roller coaster, so I avoid hitting a single tone as if the entire orchestra is smacking a triangle all night. For instance, it’s very possible to place irony, or even a belly laugh, amid horrors, as long as you are judicious with the ratio. (One reviewer made me smile with the comment that one of my dark stories was “appropriately hilarious.” Mm-kay. Thank you, I know what you mean.) I write killer crime thrillers and epic apocalyptic novels, but I also look for opportunities to give readers a bit of hope even when events appear bleak.

My three criteria to achieve a satisfying ending:


1. The ending must be logical. Stick to the rules of the world you’ve established.
2. No cheating with deus ex machina or “….and then the child fell out of bed and realized it was all a dream.”
3. The ending should feel inevitable, but only in retrospect. Deliver a surprise.

To achieve these writing goals:


1. Plant seeds along the way and disguise the clues. (This often happens with the second or third draft.)
2. Don’t settle for the obvious ending. It’s the same principle as telling a good joke. If the reader thinks they see that final twist coming, they will be less pleased.
3. Red herrings are allowed, of course, but most elements you introduce should propel the narrative forward. Keep it tight.

If you’ve written a book or two, you know this is all harder than it sounds. Write the story straight in the first draft. By your final draft, it will be closer to the rich tapestry you imagined when you first sat down to dream in pixels and on paper.

Want a prime example? My crime thriller, The Night Man, is free on Amazon for the next 24 hours. Here’s your universal link: http://bit.ly/TheNightMan for your complementary badass kickass adventure. This offers lasts until Monday, February 8, 2021, 11:59 PM PST. After that, it’s $4.99, so you know the drill.

~ I’m Robert Chazz Chute. Your mileage may vary, so don’t give me any shit about this. I’m all about helpful suggestions here, not rules and absolutes. You can check out all my fiction on my author website, AllThatChazz.com. And please do. Thank you!

Filed under: writing, writing advice, , , , , , , , ,

My Book Marketing Mistake

The Night Man is Thriller of the Day at Kindle Nation Daily today!

Every author is asked about their mistakes.

In every writer’s forum and podcast, eventually someone will ask veteran writers what they’ve did wrong. The question is posed in different ways. The most common form is, “If you could tell your younger self what to do differently, what would it be?”

Many will say that they should have invested more in editing their first books. Others will say they should have ponied up for better covers, focused on building their mailing lists, written only in series, or listened to their mum and become a forensic accountant instead. I wish I’d spent more time learning book marketing.

I’d worked in traditional publishing and sold millions of dollars worth of books for other people, but that’s a different story about a dying industry. I began Ex Parte Press in 2010. Back then, there weren’t as many marketing avenues to travel. Many authors didn’t really have to work very hard to get eyeballs on their work, though. Our tools were few and dull, but the competition wasn’t as stiff and Amazon’s Gold Rush was on. There weren’t nearly as many courses out there showing authors how to amp up their media presence and ad buys. We were just feeling our way, often writing as many books as we could as fast as we could and flirting with burnout.

Some publishing guru asked recently, “You wouldn’t launch a book with a tweet, would you?” Well, no. Not now. But it used to be that it didn’t take much more than that if the book was good and cover and sales copy were on point.

I admit, I got stuck in some old thinking. I focused more on the editorial content and less on the marketing. My approach was not balanced. It’s a different world in plenty of ways and we all have to adapt. Yesterday, I attended three marketing webinars. To be honest, there wasn’t much there for me to take action on immediately. That’s the way of these things: Three hours in, you’re usually lucky to pick up on a one to three tidbits to use later.

Today’s tidbit:

Focus on what you can do to balance your writing and publishing business. You can’t depend on passive, magical thinking to pull readers’ attention. Book marketing is not osmosis. You have to write and market. Most authors are probably putting too much weight on one side of that scale. If you’re writing for yourself, that’s fine. If you’re writing to be read, the passive approach to too anemic to be healthy.

In that spirit, I’m promoting a suspenseful and surprising novel of which I’m very proud. My killer crime thriller, The Night Man is free to download today and tomorrow. I used Freebooksy, Kindle Nation Daily, Ereader News Today and Instagram to give away thousands of copies to get the attention of Amazon’s algos so they can sell it for me, aggressively, not passively.

Follow this link to see what a Thriller of the Day promo looks like. (And please do give it a click while you’re at it. Thanks!)

~ You’ll find all my books at AllThatChazz.com.

Filed under: book marketing, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Audio, Tweaks, Smarts and Readers

It’s Friday again, already? Anybody else feel like they can’t tell time anymore? 8 pm seems to take me by surprise every damn day.

This week’s update is all over the road but you’ll find a gem that’s just for you from my daily blogging on my author site, AllThatChazz.com.


Behold!

Enjoy your audio sample of Citizen Second Class

Audiobook creation can be prohibitively expensive and time-consuming. I plan to expand my work on audiobooks later this year. I’m sitting in my blanket fort/studio as I write this. It’s my world HQ for DIY audiobook production.

Though the audiobook process is lengthy, there’s no need to wait to start using audio to hook readers and get them eager for more.

Try out this recording from Citizen Second Class. It’s just 17 minutes long, including the maracas.

What I talk about with readers

Wary of the newsletter grind and less than excited about sales funnels? Me, too. I’d prefer genuine engagement with excited readers. Here’s how.

Engaging with readers doesn’t have to be a chore or cut into your writing time significantly. I love it, especially because I can curate my crowd. In this article, I talk about how I stay in touch with core readers daily. It’s not a chore at all. It’s a fun, creative outlet wherein I stay in touch with great people who dig what I do. I like them, too. I still do newsletters, but not nearly so often.

Plus? If you struggle to figure out what to say to your readers, I have some ideas on how to handle that.

How to be smarter than people smarter than you

An interesting video packed with a very specific and helpful reading list. Get smart. Read!

A Review of Netflix’s Into the Night

I take downtime through the week, too. This is my review of some bold Belgian sci-fi, available on Netflix. (Also known as: What the heck to do when the sun is trying to kill you?)

Why you can’t focus and how to fix that

Many of us are having trouble focusing now. Gee, I wonder why. Don’t worry. Help is on the way with this video. Focus!

Easy and The Night Man Cover Tweak

With one minor cover tweak and the addition of a subtitle, I’m making it more clear what I’m offering my audience when they browse The Night Man.

Even better? I did it without losing the powerful cover image I really wanted to keep.


~ I’m Robert Chazz Chute. I write apocalyptic epics and killer crime thrillers. Subscribe to my author site at AllThatChazz.com.

Filed under: updates, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Marketing Experiments, Promotional Pricing and Free Books

Written Word Media came up with a survey that found optimum pricing to boost author income in fiction ranges from 99¢ to $4.99. Not surprisingly, the more books you write the more you are likely to make. There’s a ton of useful info in their report. Here’s the link.

Here’s how I’m applying that information to my situation (and more)


I’ve been running a lot of experiments with my book marketing this fall. (For instance, after watching the Game Changers movie, I’ve gone vegan.) But you want to hear about my book marketing experiments, not what I’m eating.

From running a ton of Amazon ads to Bookbub ads and featured deals, it’s been a tough go to get visibility and traction. If I hadn’t been publishing since 2011, I’d be in more trouble. You want the what, not the how. Rather than get into the weeds of how I arrived at my conclusions, I’m going to skip to the end and tell you what I’m going to do moving forward based on my experiments.

Here’s the no-bullshit skinny:

  1. I’m no longer interested in running Facebook ads for a variety of reasons. More than the expense, the ethics of a company so willing to subvert democracy by publishing lies and advocating racist news outlets means I’ve got to be out of it. So Ex Parte Press doesn’t commit suicide, I will continue to use it as a free service so I can connect with readers in my FB fan group. That’s the best I can do right now.
  2. Paying for Bookbub ads to go at the bottom of their newsletters? That’s out, too. I tried to make it work. The budget got spent too fast and it did not pay off.
  3. In the past month, I’ve had two Bookbub featured deals. The first was somewhat successful. The second was a disaster. I ignored applying for BB featured deals for their newsletters for too long. Despite the uneven results, I love Bookbub! They’ve been the most reliable book promotion service. However, after getting knocked in the dirt yesterday, my enthusiasm is somewhat deflated.

    The trouble was that they didn’t allow me to promote to the American market in those adverts. For thrillers set in Michigan and New York, that would have been great. I will continue to apply for Bookbub promotions but I’m more willing to say no to a promotion that doesn’t match well with my best market. I make 65% of my income from Amazon.com. Amazon India is just not a factor for me.
  4. By the close of the year, I will have written and published five books in 2019. I’ve written down my plans for 2020 and the pace is going to be about the same. That is my pace. If I write faster, the quality of the reader experience may degrade. No disrespect to anyone who writes faster or slower. That’s just me. However, four of the five books I have planned will be more carefully aimed at a niche market. One of the books is more literary rather than genre so I might shop that to publishers.
  5. I intend to take one series “wide” beyond Amazon’s ecosystem in 2020.
  6. I’m trying to get new covers for my most popular series. Nothing wrong with the covers, necessarily. Just needs a fresh face after being on the market for several years.
  7. I will continue to work with the Amazon ad platform because I can control the budgets better. Unlike Facebook ads, for instance, Amazon ads don’t blow through their budgets as quickly and I feel more in control of the variables. Still, it takes a lot of monitoring and tinkering. I don’t love it but it’s necessary. (Beware of any set-it-and-forget-it marketing schemes.)
  8. No Instagram ads. Tried it. That dog won’t hunt for me. Love the platform but also don’t want to give any money to Zuckerberg.
  9. I’ve become a big fan of BookBrush. For $8 a month, you can make beautiful images for marketing, blogs, posts, etc. I also like cheap image editing services like Crello and Canva. Picmonkey is also useful for a small fee.
  10. I used to appear on several podcasts quite often. I’d like to do more of that again. Remember Author Strong and the Self-publishing Roundtable? Damn, those were fun. A recent study says podcasts help move the needle, too.
  11. That’s a lot of what’s out. What’s else is in, Rob? Give it to me faster!
    (A) Continuing to connect with my readers personally through my Facebook fan group. I post there daily. They get me. I love them. It’s personal and real and real fun.

    (B) I’ll be using free promotions for first in series more often. I’d abandoned that for a long while and focused all my energy on writing. I have to allot a couple of hours a day to tinker with ads, blurb copy, blog posts etc. I write for three or four hours a day. Then I hit the wall and have to sit back and think a bit.
    (C) Focus. I’m tracking time better. I write full-time and work with a great editor (strawnediting.com). That helps me get those five books a year out there. Conscious time management makes me more productive.

    I have a big backlist and a lot of work to do to promote that catalog. However, completing one project at a time would be better. I occasionally do book doctor work, for instance. When I’m doing that for another author, I don’t do any work on my own books.
    (D) Audiobooks. We’ve completed the sound booth in my basement AKA the Blanket Fort. I’m taking an excellent audiobook narration and production course from Udemy.com. Audiobook recording and editing take a lot of time but that’s where the market is going. I hope to have two audiobooks on the market by this time next year.
    (E) Community knowledge and support: The 20Booksto50K Facebook group is a great resource for authors. My resolution is to check in there once a day to see what’s up and what’s new. I don’t post there but I lurk quite enthusiastically.
    (F) Ordinarily, I would be doing NaNoWriMo but that doesn’t fit my schedule this year. I have to come up with a series bible for Item G below and I’ll be editing my new dystopian thriller. That pushes out writing new stuff in November. However, if you’re looking for support and community while you write, sign up for NaNoWriMo now.
    (G) Starting in December, I’ll be writing two books with my buddy Armand Rosamilia. Team writing is a little like tennis. We lob chapters back and forth so writing two books will be more like writing one in terms of word count. If you want to write more, cooperate and coordinate for greater gains, consider teaming up with a co-author.
    (G) According to Written Word Media: Promo sites are the most effective marketing channel. I will be focusing on a few lower-cost sites and sites that are specific to my chosen genres. There is Bookbub, but there are lots of other services, as well. I like Freebooksy and Bargain Booksy, for instance.

Please note: These are my conclusions based on my experiments over the last few months. Your mileage may vary. Educate yourself and experiment to find what works for you. There are no guarantees in this business. Sometimes book sales will take off and we aren’t even sure why. Good books can fall by the wayside and that’s an irritating mystery, too. Only one thing remains constant: Someone helpful and condescending who doesn’t know all your variables will come up with plenty of ideas about why you messed up. (Sorry. Still wincing from yesterday’s failed experiment.)

Okay, deep breath.

What else you got for me, Rob?

More? You want more? How about this:
Two free thrillers and a fan-priced thriller. This is your universal Amazon link to pick them up, binge and love.

Also, here are my latest posts from my author site, AllThatChazz.com.

Eight Things You Didn’t Know

Why The Night Man?

Titles, Arcs and ARCs

Sign up for my newsletter while you’re visiting AllThatChazz.com.

And here’s that universal link to my Amazon pages again because, hey, bills to pay and lettuce to buy. Thanks!

Filed under: book marketing, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Back from the brink, here’s the latest

I’ve been out of commission for quite some time. In March, I had the flu. That was followed by a nasty bout of pneumonia. I felt terrible and my energy was gone. I’m only just beginning to feel better now and starting to work on getting my stamina back.

Amid Mortal Words - High ResolutionWith the help of my excellent editor (Gari Strawn of strawnediting.com) and my beta reader (thanks, Russ!) I managed to get my latest book published only a couple of weeks behind schedule.

Amid Mortal Words is a sci-fi action thriller that asks the question, if you could eliminate all the people who make the world worse, would you? How much collateral damage would be okay with you? Throw in a mysterious stranger on a train, one deadly book and a trip to NORAD’s missile command and you’ve got a binge read waiting for you.

At the beginning of 2019, I had not planned on writing this Amid Mortal Words. I published The Night Man and expected

THE NIGHT MAN COVERto spend the rest of the year revising several books that had been patiently waiting for me to get to them. Revising and publishing were what this year was supposed to be about. However, the plot to Amid Mortal Words kept waking me up at four in the morning. I’ve never had a book so insistent on being written. Getting it out of my head and on the page was the only way to get some sleep. Now that it’s done, I’m working on Amazon ads, revisions and getting back to a normal life. I’m so glad I write full-time now. I don’t know how I could have accommodated this much illness if I had a regular job.

I’m getting back to blogging, as well. Check out four of my latest posts on my author site at AllThatChazz.com:

  1. My Top 10 List of Books. These are my all-time favorites from back in the day.
  2. Story Tensions. These are the underlying themes of 15 of my books (#14 is the exception.
  3. What I’ve Learned (and something I haven’t). Decades of mistakes summed up in one short post.
  4. The War is Here. Where do ideas for my fiction come from? From the chaos we’re living in now.

Wherever you are and whatever you do, I hope you’re healthy or at least that your self-care is pointing you in the right direction. Better health, fun writing and grinding, sanding and polishing revisions are what I’m working on.

~ I’m Robert Chazz Chute. Best known for This Plague of Days, I write killer crime thrillers and epic apocalyptic adventures. Find links to all my horror, science fiction and suspense at AllThatChazz.com.

 

Filed under: blogs & blogging, Books, , , , , ,

Your Useful Saturday Updates

all empires fall cover #2

All Empires Fall: New Cover Reveal

I changed the cover on this SF anthology. This post tells why.

I love this collection. You will, too. You can get it for free on Amazon tomorrow (Sunday, January 20.)

BookBub Release Announcement

Are your books listed on BookBub? When you gain followers there, BB can help you gain traction and awareness. Also, this service doesn’t cost authors a thing.

After I released The Night Man recently, BookBub contacted me with this reminder:

THE-NIGHT-MAN-COVER.jpg

 

“Ask other authors to recommend your new release on BookBub! Their recommendations will reach all their US BookBub followers, increasing your visibility and helping you reach new fans.”

Claim your BookBub author profile here.

Feel free to recommend The Night Man to your BB followers! Thanks!

 

Do You Feel Trapped Sometimes?

Times are tough but escapist fiction can still reflect reality. Many of us feel trapped financially and that’s the case with my characters in The Night Man. Medical bankruptcy is the trigger that gets all the other triggers pulled in the story.

~ I’m Robert Chazz Chute, a suspense writer. If you want to inject some fuel in my fiction engine, pop over to my author site, AllThatChazz.com.

Filed under: All That Chazz, Books, publishing, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Finding a Great Book Cover

 

Please note: I posted this article this week on the 20Booksto50K Facebook group.

One night I was browsing designer websites quite aimlessly and checking out pre-made covers. One cover jumped off the page at me. The trouble was, I didn’t have a novel for that cover. The solution was to write a new thriller to the design. I had never done that before. It worked out. I just hit publish last night. Great cover and very inexpensive. (I think the thriller lives up to the cover so I’m very pleased.)

But the story doesn’t end there. One night soon after I was cruising covers on a different designer’s site. I spotted another cover that was based on the same image but it was cut and manipulated in such a way that (a) looked very cool, and (b) meant I had to purchase it for the sequel! It looks planned out but it was entirely serendipitous.

Suggestions:

1. I would not have tried writing to a cover for my first or second novel but I am more confident now. My first novel was many books ago now.
2. I used to work for a great designer and respect the art. Chances of getting what you need are still best with custom design. Not all pre-mades are gems that match your words. Don’t settle. If you did settle and you know it, commit to getting new covers in the near future.
3. Got an artist with a style you dig? Consider the pre-mades of your favorite designers.
4. Give new, unknown designers a chance, too. (I found that second cover on a site that was nowhere near the front of the google search.)
5. Getting a pre-made cover is a great option for tight budgets and authors in a hurry (though it is best not to be in a hurry.)
6. If a cover jumps off the screen and smacks you in the brain, that is a solid cover. If you are iffy about a cover, it probably isn’t awesome enough. In this case, first reactions are strong indicators. I looked at hundreds of covers before I spotted the one that demanded I write 85,000 words and commit months to it.
7. The bonus is pre-mades can be bought with confidence because you know exactly what you are getting.

Hope this helped somebody. 

ADDENDUM:

For some authors, there might be a bit of a stigma around pre-made cover offerings. They might believe that they are only seeing covers that other authors commissioned and rejected. I don’t think that is necessarily true. In my experience, much of the art you will find among pre-mades was designed by artists who enjoy creating without worrying about any particular author’s specs and proclivities. Cover designers often create for the joy of it, to experiment, to add their portfolio and to add a side gig to supplement their custom work. Let an artist off the leash and they’re free to do something great.

When I worked as a VA for a designer I noticed authors of long experience tend to trust their cover artists more. There was less back and forth with the veterans about minutiae. People betting hard on one book (their first) were often far more exacting with their requests and that was not always to their benefit. I’m a firm believer in trusting my designer to know their stuff rather than majoring in my minor. It took me a long time to figure out what makes a great cover but book cover designers are out there doing their thing every day.

~ For more articles and links to all my books, check out my author website, AllThatChazz.com.

 

Filed under: podcasts, publishing, , , , ,

Friendly Friday Updates: What you need to know

THE NIGHT MAN COVER

I just hit ignition on my new killer thriller set in Lake Orion, Michigan.
Come for the action and plot twists, stay for the jokes.

When Earnest “Easy” Jack returns home after a long absence all he wants to do is train dogs and be left alone. Times are tough living on the shady side of small-town America. Between a billionaire’s bomb plot, dirty cops and a high school sweetheart in distress, Easy has a lot of hard problems to solve. This is going to be fun.

I’m blogging regularly on my author site, AllThatChazz.com. Here’s the latest on what you need to know for Friendly Friday. Click the links in the headers to check out my thoughts on thus and so. 🙂

This is Marketing: A Review

Marketing guru Seth Godin wrote a great book could help you figure out how to build your business. You may even love negative reviewers more in the end but this book’s significance goes way beyond marketing. Godin articulates a different way to see the world and how it works.

2019 Writing & Publishing Goals: Specifics

This is a very ambitious to-do list. I’m very aware I might not be able to complete all these goals. However, I get 3/4 of this accomplished in the next 11 months, I think my future and legacy of my writing career will be secure. (I can’t go back to the day job so it’s TO THE MOON OR BUST!)

Big goals = a big push.

Writing with Cultural Sensitivity

No matter how evenhanded I try to be, this post will surely piss off somebody. That’s never my intent. See what you think.

Starting in February, I’m going to be a regular contributor to the Mando Method Podcast!

My friend Armand Rosamilia has invited me to do a ten-minute segment on the Mando Method. With each episode on the Project Entertainment Network (available wherever you eat your podcasts), Armand and Chuck Buda deliver wise and sassy advice on building a writing and publishing career. I’ll be sending in my take on those topics so Armand and Chuck can debate, disagree, break balls and stab me in the back. Oh, and maybe occasionally agree with me. This should be fun. I’ve already got a psychotherapist on retainer.

Scheduling Facebook Live Events

I haven’t been able to do Facebook Live events due to illness. However, I’ll crank up the camera next Wednesday night, 8 p.m. EST. Friend me on Facebook to join us. Here’s the link to my Facebook profile.

I am always on the hunt for Super Readers.

If you read more than a few books a year, please do subscribe to my newsletter at AllThatChazz.com. Subscribers get a heads up about upcoming deals and freebies.


Already a fan of my fiction? Want to join the Inner Sanctum?

Here’s the link to the Fans of Robert Chazz Chute page. That’s where I share works in progress and talk with friends about writing fiction (with some assorted goofiness.) The goal is fun and fun interaction with readers. I post there daily and you could name a character in a future book.

Hit this link to teleport to all my books, if’n y’all get the fiction itch.

Filed under: Friendly Friday Updates, 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

Join my inner circle at AllThatChazz.com

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