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

Write and publish with love and fury.

TOP 10 Tips: KDP Ads, Updates and the Writing Biz

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This Plague of Days OMNIBUS (Large)

The only zombie apocalypse with an autistic hero. If you liked The Stand, you’ll like this.

Tip #1: Tweak your print descriptions. 

I use the Author Marketing Club description tool to develop my book descriptions for Amazon. The template makes ebook descriptions look great. Don’t just copy and paste your ebook descriptions to your print book descriptions, though. The text will run together into one big block.

Add editorial reviews and more information to your author sales page Author Central. Give the readers more reasons to check you out and revisit those descriptions from time to time to try out fresh ad copy.

Tip #2: Update old books.

I know it’s a pain, but after a new book comes out, go back and reload old books to update your calls to action. I used to give readers too many choices when they were done reading. Now I just send them to AllThatChazz.com and encourage them to subscribe for updates.

Tip #3: When something isn’t working, change it.

I realized I was getting behind in podcasting because I hate reading my own work aloud. I remember being called upon to read aloud in class in fifth grade and I don’t like it anymore now. (If you must read, don’t rush it like I did.)

It took me forever to get through reading a book I love when I turned on the microphone. Lesson learned: renew the All That Chazz podcast. Changing the format. Go back to my comedy roots.

Also, I’ll get voice over artists for my audiobooks. Podcasting is so much fun as long as I’m having fun. I’m back to that with the latest episode. Click below to hear some jokes.

ALL THAT CHAZZ pod pic

Tip #4: Experiment

KDP Select came out with an advertising tool within Amazon that’s sort of like Google Adwords without all the bells and whistles. The beta test of this new discovery tool did not go well and the changes since the beta run are not apparent to users.

So far, according to my totally unscientific survey of players in the know and my own testing with three campaigns, it’s not working…yet. It may not. However, it’s CPC (cost per click) so, it’s not like it’s a huge risk. It’ll either work or it won’t.

Opt in or opt out for your books within Select via your bookshelf. Don’t decide to avoid early adoption because your still angry about Kindle Unlimited. These are business experiments and business decisions.

By the way, not for nothing but once again, Amazon innovates and experiments while the other platforms watch and wait for…something.

UPDATE: So far, a lot of impressions but no clicks. I imagine an underground marketing bunker on high alert far below Amazon. The accounting and IT departments are running in circles like they’re at Defcon 2 and they’re screaming at each other, “Figure it out! Figure it out! Why is this so much worse than Adwords?”

The experiment continues.

Tip #5: Tweak pricing

If you go through Draft2Digital, for instance, notice from your pricing dashboard that you can manage pricing for individual territories. The automatic pricing tool is based on the US dollar.

I fiddle with pricing a bit. For instance, the book price they set for India is always high. The figure you see on Amazon that is commensurate with the US dollar exchange could buy you three books in India. Also, when I see an odd number, say $4.11, I change it to $4.25 or 3.99. If I see a price where I’m also charged the VAT, I bump up the price a bit more to cover the VAT in that territory. People are used to prices that end in .99 or .25, .50, or .75. Odd numbers look too odd.

Tip #6: Perspective.

I won an honorable mention from Writer’s Digest for the This Plague of Days Omnibus. This is my eighth writing award, but the truth is that, sadly, these awards don’t really matter much.

The win did boost my sales of the Omnibus a bit. However, unless you win first prize, it’s not going to change your life (and not even then.) I’m happy to win an honorable mention. Also, the judge said nice things about TPOD I used for a strong editorial review. I got $50 worth of WD books that cost me $30 to ship so that puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?

Entering the contest cost $100, so I hope the prestige pays off in the long-term. I’m leveraging the happy as much as possible. The book is up forever so that balances out the expense somewhat, but the usefulness of the recognition is an unknown value. I don’t know how to solve for x in this case.

Tip #7: Productivity

If you missed last night’s podcast with Mat Morris, it was fun and informative. For instance, Mat talked about what he has learned from an app called Rescue Time and I’m a new disciple of that software. You can watch that episode of the Self-publishing Roundtable here.

Good tips amongst the hilarity, though sadly you missed my Sean Connery impression in the after-party. Tune in every Thursday night at 10 PM EST.

Tip #8: From to-do until to-done

Since the beginning of January I’ve added an old-school method of tracking my work, daily sales and expenses. I mark it all on a paper calendar. I don’t write down what I will do. I write down what I’ve accomplished at the end of the day. (And now I’m adding metrics from Rescue Time).

That which is not measured will not be changed, so word counts are of prime importance. You can use your project targets and stats in Scrivener to keep on track, too. It feels good to fill up that calendar each day and it tells me when I’ve gone off the rails. 

BEST (1)

Coming soon! Get The Haunting Lessons now so you’re ready for Book 2! THL is about a young woman from Iowa trying to stop Armageddon while dodging ghosts, demons, a bad doctor and a dead boyfriend. Come to New York. Join the Choir Invisible. Fight for the future.

Tip #9: Reassess

This Plague of Days is by far my flagship, but I have other books that sell well on Amazon. As long as that continues, I’m still exclusive to KDP Select with those products. I take note of the books that aren’t moving. That’s when I give the other sales platforms a chance at selling my brain babies.

On Amazon, my branding is diffuse. On Kobo, I appear to be a crime novelist and only a crime novelist. I’m told thrillers can move on Kobo. We’ll see, but I do like that my brand is more focussed on other platforms.

Tip #10: Consider teaming up

I am collaborating with three authors on three separate projects this year in addition to my own lonely and solitary writing. If you find the right partners, you can divide the work and multiply effort and resources.

Keeping up with their pace on Google Drive is motivating. I often write faster by the power of pure excitement. I don’t want to let my writing partners down, so guilt works, too.

~ I hope you found one of these suggestions helpful. Find out about deals, review copies and advanced review copies first by subscribing for updates at AllThatChazz.com. In the new podcast, I do terrible, terrible, entertaining things.

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#NaNoWriMo: How to make reading like cardio

A quick-moving plot with lots of surprises and a clear-eyed examination of addiction.

 Get all the details of the Seven Words or Less Contest and enter here.

Last night I wrote two more chapters for my next crime novel, Hollywood Jesus, starring my Cuban hit man, Jesus Diaz. The first chapter worked very well, but the second needs tinkering right away. Here’s what happened and my rationale for how I’m dealing with it.

The first chapter of the day was a fast-paced and clever chase (even if I say so myself). Good guy* chases bad guy/reversal/good guy’s now at a disadvantage and, as they say, the hunter becomes the hunted. The tension cranked higher when I put the good guy in a seemingly impossible situation. He’s either dead or going to federal prison or maybe even Gitmo if he’s caught. The latest police tools, tactics and technology are used against him and Diaz has to figure out a solution.

Actually, it would be awesome if my hit man figured out the solution himself, but I wrote him into a corner and I had to find a plausible way to write him out of that trap. Whenever I stick him in a bad situation, he’s looking at me going, “Get me out of here, you sadist!” I did get him off the meat hook again and it was both funny and sweat-inducing. Yay, me. Now what about the next, problem chapter?

The tension has to be cranked down from that high a little bit so there’s some kind of emotional range for the reader. However, I messed up. I cranked the tension down too far with a transitional chapter. I hate that. In the transitional chapter, I had too much exposition with not enough events occurring. After a daring escape, my hero gets picked up by his Sancho Panza with fresh clothes and a new mission to add to his growing pile of trouble. The chapter is devoted to explaining to Diaz what happened in his absence.

There’s a lot to fill in for Diaz and for the reader: A friend and an enemy are in hospital, the ultra-bad guy is on the loose and the cops are investigating the violent and creepy events of the night before. The hit man has to find these things out, but changing clothes while going for a ride in the back of a van slows the pace too much. I want the reader to have a breather for a moment, but I don’t want the reader to actually recover. For cardio and thrillers to work, you have to keep the heart rate up.

The Fix: After the perilous escape, Jesus Diaz will be picked up by his aide. However, the chapter must start at the next beat where, aside from being a fugitive from the LAPD and the FBI, he’s got a new client thrust upon him by the old client. Both are beautiful, intelligent women in danger and at the moment, both hate the hit man’s guts. I’m sticking with the conflict instead of allowing the congenial conversation with the buddy who gives him a safe, friendly ride.

But why not plunge forward, blow up the word count for the day and “fix it in post”? I see the problem now so I’m fixing it now. Dealing with the problem immediately saves me revision time later. When I go into full revision mode, I want little puzzle pieces that have to fit, not big chunks that throw off the trajectory of the story, kill the fast pacing and make me go all the way back in order to move forward.

Besides, I was already well past the word count for the day with the previous chapter. On those days I’m productive, I sleep well. The sleepless nights after a non-productive day are torture. There are only so many days.

Speaking of the next book, have you entered for a chance to get your name in Hollywood Jesus yet? Get all the details of the Seven Words or Less Contest and enter here.

* I use “good” guy here loosely. Jesus Diaz is a killer, but funny and ultimately, a sympathetic vigilante. I think of my books as Bad versus Evil.

~ The sweetest  fig Chazz ever loved was the one he stole from a tree in the former Yugoslavia. Robert Chazz Chute is the author of Bigger Than Jesus, Higher Than Jesus, The Dangerous Kind & Other Stories, Self-help for Stoners and Sex, Death & Mind Control as well as the guides for writers and self-publishers, Crack the Indie Author Code (free until Friday) and Write Your Book: Aspire to Inspire. For links to all the books and to hear the latest All That Chazz podcast, slip over to AllThatChazz.com.

Free until Nov. 30, 2012. Click it to grab it now!

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

The New Seven Words or Less Contest

A quick-moving plot with lots of surprises and a clear-eyed examination of addiction.

As I wrote Higher Than Jesus, the second in my crime novel series, I held the Six Words or Less Contest. It was so much fun, I’m doing it again, but with an extra word to give you the flexibility you need for a great entry.

Here’s the deal:

You can have a character running around in a crime novel with your name on him or her. All you have to do to win is come up with the funniest slogan for the side of a bakery delivery truck you can imagine. The catch? It has to be seven words or less and it has to be original, funny, memorable and somewhat plausible (so swearing is out for this one.) The contest ends December 7. Enter as many times as you like in the comments section below. 

The winning entry will be used in my next crime novel, Hollywood Jesus. (You guessed it. It takes place in California.) The winner will be chosen by a vote held from Dec. 7 to Dec. 10, 2012. The top three entries get a digital copy. The grand prize winner will get a free copy of the book in digital and paperback. Have fun with it! 

~ Robert Chazz Chute’s favorite bakery product is chocolate croissants with rich coffee. He’s also written two guides to writing, publishing and promotion. Crack the Indie Author Code is currently #1 in publishing and #4 in writing, and FREE this week on Amazon. Get your copy of Crack the Indie Author Code before Friday at midnight or before the sun explodes, whichever comes first. For more publishing and promotion tips, get Write Your Book: Aspire to Inspire. For more on books by Chazz and to hear the All That Chazz podcast, go to AllThatChazz.com.

Free to you Nov. 26 – 30, 2012. Click it to grab it now, please, or I shoot this puppy.

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

Writers: Check out the Pay It Forward Contest

Cover of "Pay it Forward"

Cover of Pay it Forward

This post is a little  about a writing contest.

It’s mostly about being a better, happier and richer person.

Over at Market My Words, there’s a great contest for writers. The author will pluck the right query and sample from the entries and push the winner’s name to her agent. It’s a chance to get out of the slush pile. If your manuscript is worthy, this contest could save you an awful lot of time and energy.

What pulled my attention was that she called it the Pay It Forward Contest. Do you remember the movie? (SPOILER ALERT) It wasn’t cynical. It was inspiring. It might have caught on even larger if the ending hadn’t been such a downer. Still, it was a reminder we must all use our time well.

And it made me think of how I’ve been paid forward. I have a very successful friend. By the force of his mind and personality, he’s achieved a lot and continues to achieve a lot. People are always glad to see him coming. He’s gone out of his way to help me on several occasions. That spirit defines him and, precisely because he is so generous with his advice, time and money, his success is multiplied however you choose to measure it.

Too often we associate business success with a dog-eat-dog mentality. To succeed, we’re often told, others must fail. Instead, my friend looks for opportunities to reach out to people. He helps them and in turn, he is helped. He’s genuinely interested in other people’s problems and tries to help them.

It takes very little effort to slip into the human network to, with kindness, grease the wheels of interaction and eliminate friction. S.R. Johannes, the author of the Pay It Forward Contest is doing it. Though I must decline to specify how I’m doing the same, I can tell you I’m already on it (promise!)

You know what’s great about paying it forward?

It feels fantastic!

Key question:

Somebody’s helped you at some point.

How are you paying it forward?

Filed under: agents, authors, Contest announcement, DIY, movies, writing contests, , , ,

Writing Contest Prize: A cover design for your book

Collaborative writing exercises—such as the cl...
Image via Wikipedia

Write a little.

You might get a lot.

Details here:

The Writing Bomb‏

Filed under: Contest announcement, Writers, writing contests, ,

Slap (on) a happy face

I just read some advice for short story writers (from The Writer’s Handbook) where a rather harsh critic slams stories where the protagonist is an unlikeable character and bad things happen to him or her.

Uh-oh. In my stories, that’s my thing. I think just about anyone will disappoint you if you get to know them well enough. That’s my worldview. To be successful by this critic’s estimation, I’m going to need a brain transplant. But I gotta be me.

When a short story of mine won an award, lots of people focussed on the torture. However, the reason it won was that in the last sentence there was a twist of transcendence. It wasn’t about torture. It was about the second chance. Read it here.

 I got a reply from another judge (different contest, same story) who was very dismissive. He seemed not to have read it very carefully, perhaps deciding early on it wasn’t something he would care for so he wrote it off quickly. For instance he said, “This doesn’t make sense. Why would a collection agency pursue dead files?” Because I made it clear the bill collector is a bad guy. If I spelled it out more, they’d call me pedantic. Sometimes you can’t win.

I’ll have to ignore that particular advice from The Writer’s Handbook I guess. I’ll keep on writing about flawed people and I’ll keep doing bad things to them. (Flawed characters make some of the best characters. Examples? Plenty, but off the top of my head, Breaking Bad, Dexter and Battlestar Galactica and Portnoy’s Complaint.)

Filed under: manuscript evaluation, short stories, writing contests, , ,

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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