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

Write and publish with love and fury.

UBC #31: Ebooks are the new slush pile. Are they the new blog, too?

To check out all the books by Robert Chazz Chute, click here.

I once had a business meeting to attend in Toronto and, despite a snowstorm that put a lot of cars off the road, I kept going after it was clear I should turn back. After three hours of white-knuckling the steering wheel, I made it to the meeting on time only to find that I’d risked my life for nothing. The meeting was cancelled because everyone else who was to attend had their priorities straight. Clearly, I have a stupid character flaw. Once I commit to something that isn’t working, I often don’t abandon the task, even when it’s obvious it isn’t working. 

It’s time to examine priorities, not just for me but for you.

What are we doing that helps us get closer to our goals?

What needs to change? I have a cool idea.

First, let’s talk blogging. Lots of people are interested in yesterday’s blog: Your Blog Does Not Matter. I learn a lot from research and it’s fun, but the Law of Diminishing Returns is a knee in the groin. If I’m right that our blogs don’t matter as marketing tools, why blog? I should clarify that it’s not that I think writers don’t read. May Thor help them if they don’t. But a lot of power readers love books — and buy them to read copiously — without a thought to ever writing books themselves. That frees up a lot of time to read and buy more books. Writers are logophiles, but, to be read more widely, we need to reach bibliophiles and plenty of them.

We need to reach out to book reviewers and book bloggers to get word of mouth going, yes, but I think there’s a way for our blogs to matter more to the general book buyer, especially if your blog is information-oriented.* I’m going to have to try a different blogging strategy because, blogging the way I am, just for the love of it, isn’t helping my writing career. Whenever you choose choice, you choose freedom. That’s good, but, even with the old blog heater running full blast, it’s snowing so hard my windshield wipers can’t keep up and there are too many indie authors in the ditch.

Case in point: I’ve blogged a fresh entry on this blog every day for the last two months. June was the Author Blog Challenge. My blog traffic shot high consistently. I made new friends, gained subscribers and have fresh contacts. July was the Ultimate Blog Challenge (and this is my last post, #31, for that challenge.) The former had under 100 participants and I’m told the latter has five to ten times that. Still, I earned far more traffic during the Author Blog Challenge. It doesn’t take too long to figure out why the ABC was so successful for me. I talked to my audience rather than a more diverse, disinterested crowd and that crowd had to come to me. Not many did. They were into blogging qua blogging, as my old philosophy prof would say. They weren’t necessarily into suspense or the intense indie book reading proliferation experiment I promote here. I’m not blaming the Ultimate Blog Challenge. Nobody owes me their patronage. This isn’t about that. It’s about finding strategies that actually help me (and you) get discovered by new readers who care about what we write (and might even — egad! — pay for our work.)

The only strategy for growing a readership that anyone seems to be sure of is: WRITE MORE BOOKS! So, first, spend more time on your books than your blogs. The core writing has to be scheduled before any other writing you do. I haven’t been as good at this as I should be lately because I was too focussed on the Ultimate Blog Challenge. That’s stupid, stubborn me, driving through a snowstorm again. I knew the latest challenge wasn’t garnering more traffic a couple of weeks ago, but I’d made a commitment. I learned something more, though. I can blog like crazy and still not matter because I’m not publishing my blog posts where new readers and book buyers gather.

There’s an alternative marketing strategy that makes more sense. 

There’s a way to go to where readers are and

build more ebook presence on the web

instead of hoping readers will somehow discover our blogs.

Small-town terrors and psychological mayhem in Maine.
These are the foundation stories of the coming Poeticule Bay Series of suspense novels.

Here’s how: In time I’d otherwise use for blogging, I can put together a micro ebook to increase the size of my cyber bookshelf and build name recognition. It’s already been observed that Amazon is the new slush pile for traditional publishing. Maybe self-publishing isn’t just the new slush pile. Maybe ebooks are the new blog, and vice versa. I’ve already noted that I intend to make a book out of blog posts, distilling down the sweetness and goodness for indie authors. I’ve been missing out on other opportunities to expand my bookshelf for new  readers.

For instance, today, I noticed a free book on iBooks that was 10 Strategies to Something or Other. Regular readers know I have a fondness for top ten formats for blog posts and they’re pretty popular, quick and fun to write. That’s really not so different from many of the offerings on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks and so on. Why not blog for free where it can do me (and you) more good? On those platforms. You know. Where the readers are. 

CLICK: You can already publish your blog to kindle here. Or check out any top free lists to see the sort of things you can write about that hits readers where they live. In the back of every ebook/blog you publish, link to your paid books. Depending on what you write, you could even write the equivalent of a few blog posts and (gasp!) actually get reimbursed for your time, trouble and expertise. Imagine the possibilities.

Click to get Bigger Than Jesus here

Publishing our blogs on self-publishing platforms is one way, largely unexplored, we can make more sales because we’re reaching people who are already in the book marketing venue. I know most of us don’t think of blogging as publishing, even though we write our blogs and hit a button that says “Publish” every day. It’s time to slow down, turn on the GPS and figure the alternative routes out of this blinding snowstorm. It’s time to get flexible and find what works so I can find my readership, help them find me and sell more books. Maybe you, too, if you’re interested.

No, I’m not discontinuing blogging here. Now that the blog challenge is over, though, I’ll do a little more curation via Scoopit! and post a little less. I’ll prioritize better than I have done and maybe get outside while it’s still summer. I still have podcasts coming out every week and three books in the editorial pipe this year plus Bigger Than Jesus coming out in print soon so…yeah. Lots to do and, like everyone, our waking, working hours are limited. Now that I’m through the blog frenzy of the last two months, I will concentrate more of that time on coming out with more books…and maybe a few blog posts/ebooks on iBooks and Kindle. I’ll let you know how that experiment works out. 

~ BONUS: I had a fun interview on Sandi Tuttle’s show last night. We talked blogs, the publishing revolution, being indie, inspiration and ritual goat sacrifice. Have a listen here.

*Publishing more short stories could help you, but I doubt it. That might double down on getting ignored, but that’s a different post for another day.

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Your blog does not matter

 

“Writers should not write blogs for writers!” some expert declared.

Instead, write for readers!

Small-town terrors and psychological mayhem in Maine.
These are the foundation stories of the coming Poeticule Bay Series of suspense novels.

I understand the argument, but what about writing about where your passion lies? I’ve written about writing for years now, drawing on my experience first as a journalist, publishing insider, freelancer, then as an editor and finally as an independent author who publishes his own work. I’ll be coming out with a book about writing later this year, so that’s one solution to the problem of writing for writers. But I keep thinking about that advice to write your blog for readers. I think I just figured out why it doesn’t matter.

Blog marketing does not matter. An author’s blog is usually something you discover after you’ve already found the author. Seth Godin’s blog is popular, but I found out about him through media first. Despite his high traffic, JA Konrath is sure that A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing doesn’t net him any new readers. He writes for writers and they come for his opinions and information, not his books. The readers of his blog and the readers of his books are two subsets of his readership with very little overlap. True, I read voraciously, but I still haven’t got around to reading any of his books. (Or John Scalzi’s or Chuck Wendig’s, either, though I love their blogs.) And what of all those successful novelists who blog little or not at all?

John Locke came up with a blogging strategy that helped him sell a lot of books, but he didn’t blog every day to do it. In fact, Locke blogged sparingly. He crafted each blog so he could leave it up for months and, using keyword searches and Twitter, drive traffic to his blog by going out and getting potentially interested parties. (Read Locke’s book on marketing to find out more about that.)

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

There is a caveat to these grand pronouncements. I’m not saying don’t blog. I’m saying that it’s unreasonable to expect a tiny engine to move that mountain. You need a website, but fairly static pages might do. Yes, I know (we all know by now, don’t we?) that a blog that changes often and has a lot of posts is smiled upon by search engine spiders and that boosts rankings. But that website you love so much isn’t the burning bush that’s converting believers. That website is where you send readers when you attract them by other means.

What should you spend more time on (and by you, I mean me)? Well, tomorrow night (Sunday at 9 PM) I’m going to have a chat on Blogtalk Radio with Sandi’s Tuttle. Tune in here. So there’s that.

Have a podcast, make personal appearances, show up on other people’s podcasts, do campus radio, do press releases (and make follow-up calls when they ignore you.)

Time for an angry tangent: A reader on a forum called on indie authors to send out press releases because she didn’t think we were brave enough or bothering to do so. She didn’t know what the heck she was talking about. Traditional media has a history of ignoring us because they don’t realize there are no gates to keep anymore. They’ll get over that. Too late, but they’ll get it. In the meantime, I’d love to sit down with that reader who thought we don’t do enough to help our cause and let her know all the things we do any given day, many of us after the full-time job is done. As if sending out a press release was a brilliant and heretofore unknown marketing strategy. She does not know the struggle. Indie authors are some of the bravest people I know in business. That grenade-thrower didn’t understand that just because you can read doesn’t mean you know anything about the writing biz.

Paranormal persuasion and scary stories (including two award winners.)

There are plenty of things you can do that could help your career more than writing a blog: Optimize your sales page on Amazon so readers can find you, for instance. Play with Amazon categories to get listed in the top ten of a subcategory to get traction. According to Klout, Twitter and Facebook help me reach more people than my blogs do (and my Goodreads blog presence doesn’t make a dent.) Becoming a star on YouTube could help more than a blog. If I’d starred on SCTV and become rich and famous at 22, I’d be better off now. (Time machine’s broken, so I’ll have to fix this the old-fashioned way: I’m going to need a DeLorean, a broken town clock and a bolt of lightning.)

What else can you do? You can do all the things you’ve heard about (or have already done): guest post, blog hop, do giveaways, comment up a storm, use free day promotions (to less and less effect), hold contests, pay for ads (though I rarely recommend that), send out more copies to reviewers, contact book bloggers, do signings, approach bookstores, make an app, cultivate powerful friends, save the life of a celebrity or write a book about cute cats.

Click to get Bigger Than Jesus here

So why blog? To serve the burning passion of a thousand stars going nova, I suppose. To express. To help. To have an active site for readers where I can send people who are interested in finding out more about me and my books and my process. On this site, I write for writers. On my author site, yes, there are plenty of links to my books, but mostly I talk to readers directly through my podcast. (Every week this summer and fall, I read a new chapter of my crime thriller Bigger Than Jesus for free. Those who can’t wait for the next instalment can get it all at once here.) Most of all, I write my blogs to discover what I think about things. (Like today.)

Do I expect any writers will convert to my book readership? A precious few, if they like my voice here because there’s some transfer of style in my other writing. No matter what I write, I’m a fan of twisting expectations, sneaky surprises and lots of jokes. I’ll expect most conversions will come when I publish the non-fiction books about writing. There are also niche blogging opportunities. For instance, I think if you’re a crime novelist and you blog about forensics in depth, you might gain interested readers from your blog to your books. Niche marketing is a buzzword, yes, but it does mean something.

The single most important thing you can do to help your career is write your next book.

If your blog is getting in the way of your book, then it’s time to take another look at your priorities.

And by “your”, I mean “my”*

To check out all the books by Robert Chazz Chute, click here.

*More on this tomorrow…

 

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UBC #28: The zero money approach to book promotion

Small-town terrors and psychological mayhem in Maine.
Reached #18 in shorts on Amazon!

Each morning, author Al Boudreau asks a question about the writing life and publishing on Facebook. This morning, he asked which we preferred: A big launch of our books or a soft launch? Other people have their own answers. Here’s mine, as I wrote it this morning:

My short answer is: Hint and be clever about promotion rather than try to spend our way to success.

Sorry about my long answer, but it could have been even longer: I used to work in trad pub, so I kept all details secret. Now I hint and promote a bit for upcoming books (especially those in a series because, knowing it’s a series, that appeals to readers more.) The hints comprise things like the odd progress report, tweeting love and my Six Words or Less Contest in which the witty and pithy winner will have his or her name in the next book in the series. That’s really selling the foundation novel as it promotes the next one.

[Wanna play? Scroll down the page for the SIX WORDS OR LESS CONTEST. Entry deadline, July 31.>

With respect, I think there’s still a bit of inertia from old to new model with thinking in terms of a big launch. Except for ARCs to media and long lead times on seasonal books, Trad publishing is much about keeping it under wraps and then blasting PR and promotion for a short period of time (in part because they have so many other books to move on to and because the obsession is short tail vending and beating quick return deadlines in bookstores.) We’re kind of like classical music. We don’t get rock star tours and roadies, but we can sell lots in the long term because our books are available until we evolve past the Internet and start reading each other’s minds. (Or heat death and an ugly extinction, whichever comes first.)

With long tail marketing, though we don’t have the resources for a huge launch with cap displays and buying bookstore space, all our energy isn’t spent in a tiny retail window, either. Publishers have largely abandoned big launches anyway. Most midlisters never get that dreamed of release party and all their publicity is really up to authors who thought they’d get more logistical support.

Our books can go up faster with low overhead and they are on sale forever.No returns. Rather than blast potential

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

readers, I hint because I wouldn’t want to tire anybody out. “Oh, there’s Chazz talking about Self-help for Stoners and Kevin Smith again,” wears me out, too (hence more books are critical.) That’s okay, though, because we’re better at social media than trad publishing has been. Social media is personality based. Who cares what Random House’s twitter is on about? I want to hear from individual authors, not faceless corporate entities. Corporations are not people, my friend.

Big launches feel like putting all the chips on one roll of the dice, which is an awful way to start your trip to Vegas. I just hint and hope the dribble never becomes an embarrassing orgiastic fit or a drone. Just my opinion as the author of the hilarious crime novel Bigger Than Jesus. (See what I did there? Um…yeah. See, there’s such a fine line between fun promotion and self-loathing.)

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UBC #27: Use Google Search Stories to tell your stories

Every day, there is a lesson. This new video was created with Google Search Stories. It’s easy and quick. The only trick is finding the video creator because Google will send you, nine times out of ten, to an old site that doesn’t actually have the video creation tool anymore. There are a lot of angry people out there who would love to use this tool, if only they could find it! 

Here’s the link: 

https://searchstories-intl.appspot.com/en-us/creator/

Bookmark it.

But before you go, there’s something else that’s important to be learned here. Go back through your links and see what you need to update. I just realized last night that I hadn’t updated my book page on my author site for awhile ( as in not since two books ago!) The page was out of date. Then I realized I needed to update my tags on a couple of my books on Amazon. I know we all have long to-do lists, but from time to time, go back and look at the pages you hardly ever look at. Revisit old blog rolls and see what links are dead or inactive. (I recently overhauled this page so I got rid of my blog roll completely and instead, to your left, you’ll see a nifty grid of blogs I follow.)

You don’t have to do it all at once, but little by little, cut out the dead wood, weed your garden and revamp. There’s surely stuff there that needs to change. When everything works right, your readers won’t thank you, but when something’s broken, it will  really annoy them. Sadly, they still probably won’t tell you. They just won’t come back.

~ Robert Chazz Chute is the author of Bigger Than Jesus, Self-help for Stoners and other titles that bewilder, intrigue and mostly annoy. Ah, but you saw that in the video. Never mind. If you visit my author sales page, do a brother a solid and click “LIKE” and at the bottom of the books sales pages, please click “Agree with these tags.” That would help me, make you a better person and possibly cure your scurvy. Cheers! 

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The Six Words or Less Contest that could get your name in a thriller

UPDATE: And now it’s time to vote for

the wittiest and pithiest entries in the

The Six Words or Less Contest

Choose your favorite from the comment thread below and e-mail your first choice to expartepress AT gmail DOT com.

Voting closes August 10. Three winners will be chosen.

The grand prize winner will get in my next thriller, Higher Than Jesus. (Details below.)

Click to get Bigger Than Jesus here

I’m holding a contest that could get your name in my new thriller.

The follow-up to my crime novel, Bigger Than Jesus is called Higher Than Jesus and it’s coming this fall. 

Here’s the challenge: My hit man passes a homeless person in the street and gives him some money. The homeless person wears a black hoodie. I want something catchy and memorable on that hoodie. I thought about making an inside joke and making it a Self-help for Stoners emblem (my first book). I considered using a meme that’s already out there but kind of hipster, like the inside joke from Portal: There is no cake.

But no, I’m calling on the readership! What’s the short, punchy, pithy, memorable phrase that should adorn that black hoodie on the homeless guy on a cold winter’s night in Chicago? It could be funny. It could be pointed and political. Let’s hear it!

Leave your suggestion in the comment thread.

What do you get for your contribution?

(Yes, there is metaphorical cake!)

The winner gets lots of that cake!

“You will laugh your ass off! The skill of a journalist with the flair of a stand up comedian.” ~ Author Maxwell Cyn

A. I can name a character after you in Higher Than Jesus. (No guarantees whether the character will be good or bad, alive or dead. It’s crime fiction. I don’t have many characters who are good or get to live.)

B. When I get the print edition, I’ll send you a free autographed copy wherever you are in the world.

C. I’ll gift you a copy of the kindle ebook as soon as it’s available.

D. On my podcast, I’ll mention the top three entries and the grand prize winner will be exalted. Your name and  your six words or less will be talked about in glowing terms.

E. BONUS: For the overall winner with the best six words or less, I’ll promote your book, business, favorite charity, website, podcast, pet’s name, shout out or whatever on my podcast (as long as the thing you want to promote isn’t some psycho white supremacist thing. Sounds good, yes?)

Please leave your suggestions in comments. On August 1, I’ll ask for a vote for the top three, so somebody’s getting bragging rights no matter what. Let’s have some fun with this. (I have to reserve the right to not use the top phrase in case there’s a legal or editorial reason not to use it, but the grand prize winner still gets the sweet cake of A, B and C. The decision of the judge — that’s me — is final since it’s my name on the book. No purchase necessary, void where prohibited and all that crap. I can’t think of any other rules we need, but I’ll make them up if necessary. Hopefully that won’t be necessary.)

With the details out of the way, have at it! This will be fun. Submit as much as you’d like.

Check out all the books by Robert Chazz Chute here.

Impress us with freshness and originality.

Make us laugh.

Make us think.

Just, please, do it in no more than six words. Thanks!

~Robert Chazz Chute is the author of Self-help for Stoners, Bigger Than Jesus, The Dangerous Kind & Other Stories, and Sex, Death & Mind Control (for fun and profit). Learn more at the author site or see the fun Amazon bio here.

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UBC #23: Loves & hates & the Fab Blog Award

Future Pull awarded me a Fabulous Blog Award. Cool! Thanks so much! Part of the deal is I thank the blogger who gave me the award. (Ding! Done!) Then I  a. name five fabulous moments; b. name five things I love; c. name five things I hate; d. pass the award on to five other deserving bloggers.

Fab moments. The first three, you’d expect:

Click it to get it.

Click for Self-help for Stoners.

1. Marrying She Who Must Be Obeyed AKA The High Queen.

2. The birth of The Princess.

3. The birth of the Prince.

4. Healing a woman confined to a wheelchair for 12 years. She’s still walking, driving, travelling and living independently.

5. Meeting director Kevin Smith and giving him an autographed copy of my first book, Self-help for Stoners.

Loves in no particular order:

1. Celebrating with chocolate croissants when I finished my first crime thriller, Bigger Than Jesus. It was an orgy.

2. A good book  and me by the fireplace during a snowstorm.

3. Hot, sweet coffee.

4. My Mac.

5. See 1, 2 and 3 of Fab Moments above.

Click to get Bigger Than Jesus here

Hates:

1. Power-mad twits.

2. Hateful twits.

3. Bigoted twits.

4. Right-wing radio (That’s pretty much 1, 2, 3.)

5. I guess it really all comes down to twits.

Bloggers (tough one):

1. Writing is Hard Work  Helped me in my struggles with Scrivener.

2. Let’s Get Digital  David keeps me informed on the latest in digital publishing. Smart fellow.

3. Eden Baylee’s Blog She’s an erotic writer who writes erotica (and that was a really fun author interview).

4. Matthew Iden He’s been especially helpful on keeping me current on the new Kobo platform.

5. FUONLYKNEW Cool reviews. (Love the animated graphic on her blog, too.)

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The Jedi mind trick for entrepreneurs & other high wire acts

FYI: TODAY IS THE LAST FREE DAY FOR 

Click here to get this fun book of suspense FREE until tonight at midnight.
Small-town terrors and psychological mayhem in Poeticule Bay, Maine.

THE DANGEROUS KIND & OTHER STORIES

IF YOU HAVEN’T GRABBED IT YET, PLEASE DO SO AND IF YOU LOVE IT, PLEASE REVIEW IT. THANKS!

And now the mind trick that could change your life, if the force is with you:

A buddy of mine runs a business. He found his employees weren’t getting invoices done at the end of the day. Memos down and promises up weren’t working. To solve the problem, he went around to the employees one-by-one in the last half hour of each day and asked for them to put the paperwork on his desk before they left. No, they shouldn’t have needed babysitting. Yes, they should have understood that getting the invoices recorded daily is fuel for the engine of business. However, it was necessary so he made them aware he was watching. It worked.

Accountability works. Measurement works.

Now how can we who are solo entrepreneurs and artists use that management strategy?

We have to manage ourselves. What to do?

No one is checking on me so when I want to get something done, I don’t use a to-do list I’m going to ignore and/or fail. I use my imagination. Want to lose weight, complete a project or be a better person? Imagine a film crew is following you around and catching every move. Maybe it’s an inspiring documentary or maybe you’re the hero of your own action thriller. What do heroes and heroines do?  Do that. The camera’s eye might make you cook with a little more flair and crack eggs one-handed.  Maybe it sounds stupid, but this Jedi mind trick made me a better tennis player.

The key is decide who you want to be. Now be that.

Embrace the role. Method act. Fake it till you make it.

Pretend! Play!

And kill anyone who stands in your way.

(Depending on what type of movie you’re making.)

Don’t have a Kindle? You don’t need one. Download a free Kindle reading app for any device here so you can read The Dangerous Kind & Other Stories here free. Today is this book’s last free day ever.)

UPDATE: Hear the audio of

Love & Nookie, Chapter 3 of Bigger Than Jesus

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UBC TOP TEN: Everything we know is wrong. Stop That!

July 16, 17, 18

The Dangerous Kind & Other Stories is FREE 

My son asked me if someone was as smart as they think they are. “No one is as smart as they think they are. A

Click here to get this fun book of suspense FREE until tomorrow at midnight.
Small-town terrors and psychological mayhem in Maine.

guy can be an idiot, but if you agree with him, you think he’s a genius.” It got me thinking what else we often get wrong.

1. Two heads aren’t better than one if the dumb, loud guy does all the talking.

2. Instead of instantly deferring to somebody who says, “Listen to me because I’ve done X for twenty years,” wonder this: Have they been doing it wrong for twenty years?

3. When you correct someone, are you out to help them or to feel superior? If it’s the first, thanks. If it’s the second, shut up. (And no one likes you.)

4. Are you reacting out of fear? Are you worried about terrorists when you’re far more likely to die from heart attack, cancer or a slippery bathtub? (Yes, you’re more likely to die from a slippery bathtub.)

5. Do you feel compassion for others or have you given up already because it’s all just too much and what can one person do? One person can make a big difference with one person. Start small. If you can’t handle actual  human interactions and social contact, start with that lovely person in the mirror.

6. Are you paralyzed by analysis or waiting for permission? Don’t wait until conditions are perfect to change your life. Perfect never comes but the Good Enough Train is always on time. If you’re waiting for permission, chances are excellent you have lots of people in your life waiting for you to ask so they can refuse. (Choose allies carefully. Dump enemies in the river.)

7. Are you certain about something? Beware! Certainty is the cardinal sign that you aren’t as smart as you would like to think. Serial killers are very confident and have high self-esteem. Scientifically, the less informed we are about a subject, the more certain we are in our opinions. (Though I’m not sure about this. Don’t be too sure. Intelligent people are about nuance, which is why they often lose elections.)

8. Are you mad at someone? They know, but are you sure they understand why? They might change their behaviour if they knew. (Yes, I’m saying don’t be so passive aggressive and spineless and state your needs. And, for God’s sake, if they have spine enough to look at you perplexed and apologize, take the apology and move on. Don’t hold on to your resentments. If they don’t apologize, dump him, girl, because if you don’t stop him now, you will be picking up after him forever.)

9. Some people are very negative, hurtful even, and add, “I’m just being honest.” Really? Or are they congratulating themselves for being nasty? You already know the answer to that question if you have one of these miseries in your life. If you are one of these miseries, stop. If you’re putting up with one of these miseries, go back to #8.

10. People put too much faith in top ten lists, don’t you think? They sure sound authoritative. But I’m just another nit on the interwebs, pontificating. You shouldn’t listen to me. (Or am I using mind fu in a cheap ploy to ingratiate?) Make up your own mind about stuff. You can do that as long as you distrust your brain. It’s not just that people lie. It’s that your brain lies to you all the time, mostly to distract you from the existential horror of the abyss. and to protect us froth knowledge that, yes, we really do look that fat in these jeans. In fact, we’re fat all the time. Hm. Maybe a few lies aren’t so bad. Keeps us off the ledge.

Ancient people thought they knew everything there was to know about the nature of the universe. 

Every age is the most modern age and the best minds from each age now sound stupid on lots of subjects.

The chances we now know what we’re doing is, statistically speaking, lousy.

~ Robert Chazz Chute is the author of Self-help for Stoners, The Dangerous Kind & Other Stories, Bigger Than Jesus, and Sex, Death & Mind Control (for fun and profit). The Dangerous Kind & Other Stories is the foundation of the Poeticule Bay suspense novels that are now in the works. This novella and short story bundle is free on Amazon until Wednesday night. Please go grab it and, if you love it, please review it. Thanks!

(To see all of Chazz’s books, click here.)

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Ultimate Blog Challenge: Considering free ebooks

July 16, 17, 18

The Dangerous Kind & Other Stories is FREE 

FREE FOR 3 DAYS.
Small-town terrors and psychological mayhem in Maine.

Last week I read a couple of debates about whether free is good or bad. JA Konrath is all for it. Blake Crouch isn’t so sure. There are good points on both sides of the debate. You’ll notice I’m offering one of my short story collections for free for three days this week in the hope that I will gain some readers who wouldn’t otherwise find me. I do so wholeheartedly and hope you’ll go grab it. It helps to get on lists like “Customers Also Viewed…” and so on. This post is about book promotion. I think Free is still a useful tool, though its edge has dulled considerably.

The root of the back and forth on the issue of using free as a promotional tool seems to break down along two main lines:

1. Argument against free from principle (i.e. Art shouldn’t be devalued and lowering readers’ expectations of price is a stupid strategy in the long term.) Argument 1 might be right in the long-term, but if I don’t get into your consciousness now, there may be no long-term for me as a writer. Also, the exclusivity that KDP Select requires — three months at a time — rubs many authors raw. Amazon has certainly lost some of its shine and if you lose too many sales because you aren’t up on Kobo etc.,… as well, free days on Amazon probably don’t make sense past your first three months of offering the book. It’s also argued, often effectively, that free feeds the trolls of the one-star review brigade who review harshly because they didn’t pay attention to what they were “buying.” Or they’re just it in to be mean trolls, I guess. So you can argue that free hurts not only the cause of enlightened literacy generally, but it hurts author’s feelings and review ratings individually.

2. Argument for free because it works (i.e. If you can write, you can sell books, but not if no one knows who you are. Give away to get new readers.) Argument 2 is weakened because, since Amazon changed its algorithms, free doesn’t work nearly as well as it did a few months ago. People are loading up their kindles, but are they ever getting around to reading all that hoarded goodness so they could, theoretically, become a fan and buy the rest of my books? (If you don’t have multiple books for sale, free surely won’t help you now. Have multiple books going before you dive into KDP Select’s free days.)

So here’s my strategy:

A. I try not to confuse an Ought with an Is. The Dangerous Kind & Other Stories is a collection of fun suspense and small-town mayhem in Poeticule Bay, Maine. In the future, I plan a series of suspenseful novels set in Poeticule Bay. Many of my stories have characters who cross-pollinate other stories. (For instance, Jesus Diaz, my luckless Cuban hit man, shows up first in a story in Self-help for Stoners.) There is worthy cross-promotion in this.

B. I added value to this collection. The novella, The Dangerous Kind and several of the stories were previously published individually and sold for 99 cents each. I added two more stories to the collection, including the award winner The Sum of Me (which brought down the house when I gave a reading at a writers conference a few years ago.) The Sum of Me appeals to writers or anyone who has struggled with credit card debt. The usual price of the collection is only $2.99 and for three days, it’s free. Good deal.

C. What I put up on Amazon for free will only be available for a limited time. After my three-month exclusivity contract with KDP Select is over, I’ll put the books up on the other platforms. (As mentioned last week on this blog, Kobo, as one instance, is changing things up and coming on stronger. Keep an eye on them.)

Questions remain: When I read a guru with a big name say we should do this or that to sell our books, I wonder, does the same strategy work for a big name as a small one? Is every bit of advice fungible? Things change. If we were still on Amazon’s old Free List to Paid List formula (and maybe if we weren’t in the middle of a glut of free) I’d already be sitting pretty.

Good strategies are realistic, doable, measurable, timely (and are always declared “good” after the fact and without factoring in luck.) I’ll let you know if this strategy moves the needle.

Free might not be as good as it once was,

but now I don’t know what else to do to get off the bench besides write another book.

I’m already doing that.

PLEASE GRAB THE DANGEROUS KIND & OTHER STORIES HERE

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Find out if you win the great popularity contest

Imagine how perplexed I was when I discovered this website is most popular in Wichita.What? According to

Fisherman's Wharf sign

Fisherman’s Wharf sign (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Alexa.com, “the global leader of analytics”, it’s true. Before you plug in your URL into Alexa’s Popularity Contest Scanner, brace yourself for a stake through your ego. But it’s also fascinating. More women read this website and a bunch of readers here have grad school education.

You can actually get a breakdown of your audience for free using Alexa. Just plug in your URL and you’ll get a lot of clues about SEO. You can find out how people found you with these analysis categories: Search, Audience, Reviews, Clickstream (indicating for percentage of unique visitors) and Traffic stats. Be sure to click for details. That’s how I found out I’m popular in Wichita. (Hello, Wichita! Never been there. Don’t know anyone there. Thanks for reading! Keep clicking!)

Another site to consider is Klout. It’s really a data farm, but it’s no less fascinating and measures your overall influence, not just your websites. (Just resist tweeting your laudatory notes from all your new friends.) Through Klout I learned that my Facebook marketing extends my reach and influence more than my three Twitter accounts. That amazed me. I got my cool new business cards (from Moo) as a perk through Klout, so there’s that. Also, Klout allows me to give a note of acknowledgement and gratitude to people who contribute to my neural net. I especially enjoy seeing how influencers are classified. I’m an expert in a niche according to Klout. One day, maybe there will be fame and riches, too, but Klout says, “Not yet!”

I wrote about starting up a podcast of your very own (below). Libsyn shows me, not only the numbers, but where my podcasts are consumed and on what platforms. My podcast, Self-help for Stoners, is most popular in San Francisco — way to hold up the brand’s stoner cliche, Frisco! (Hey! Pick up your feet, Wichita!) Chicago, New York and Alberta count among heavy listeners to the podcast, too. What does it mean? I don’t think anything. Hm. Except…maybe in a future book in The Hit Man Series, Jesus Salvador Diaz will wreak some entertaining mayhem in Wichita on his way to San Francisco. (Actually, in Higher Than Jesus — coming soon — Jesus already admits to a visit to San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf and Alcatraz (as a tourist.) I wasn’t pandering when I wrote that, though. It was relevant because I spent some time there and everything I do is research. I am looking forward to pandering to my audience, though.

These are the dubious rewards of the flip side of the great popularity contest.

Filed under: 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.

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

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