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

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Beware the Guru and Groupie Gap

The whole Amazon store went down. It was just for an hour or so, but no one knew what was going on. Probably a little glitch while they performed an update. Some authors checked their profiles and, naturally, assumed it was only their sales page that had transformed into an error page. After all, what seems more likely? The whole store crashing or just a few lowly authors getting it in the shorts? Worried, sweaty, and stressed, a few dared to ask on social media, “What’s going on?” Veteran authors mostly ignored the problem, confident that an army of Amazon techs were on it and would soon set things right. Those at the top of the heap didn’t sweat a drop.

Neither reaction was wrong, or at least, not exactly.

Successful authors sell a lot of books and good on ’em. We all want to be read and appreciated for the sweet gumdrops we are, claiming literary turf, inspiring awe, and whatnot. Those who have “made it” in the monetary sense have a cushion of comfort. They didn’t always enjoy such a margin for error, but they’re secure in their word empires now. Sometimes, safe in their bastions, they forget the stress of being an up-and-comer, a slogger, or a might-be. Masters of their domain often have vast newsletter lists, staggering backlists, connections, and more projects in the editorial pipeline. And Money with a capital M, of course. Sincerely, good for them! Anybody who can gain legions of fans in this environment (Earth) is impressive. A few may need an extra dose of compassion, though, especially when they get overly self-congratulatory about not sweating the small stuff.

No Kale for Kisses

Many moons ago, Amazon paid late. This was and is unusual. Used to receiving my cash infusion on the last day of the month, I was concerned. A reasonable human response, right? I did not panic, but I did make the mistake of posting to an author group about it. I even began the post with, “Nobody panic, but …” I was about to contact Amazon to look into it because, y’know, money. It makes the world go round (or is that love? No, it must be money because my grocer eschews my kisses even if all I want is kale.)

I digress. Back to my post in the author group: Quick as a flash, I got scolded for airing my petty worldly concerns. A fabulously oblivious author, immune to the struggle or forgetful that others may have rent to pay and children to feed, popped on to order me back to work. A delay in payment wouldn’t bring her down to ruin and desperate survival mode, so why worry? She’d just returned from a month-long writing retreat in Bali, so fiddle-dee-dee and fuck me, I guess.

I mention this because you may be an up-and-comer, a slogger, or a might-be. Those who dispense great advice sometimes develop a blind spot with age and experience. What helped them in 2012 may not apply to you. There are many variables, of course. If you don’t share the same genre, for instance. That said, successful people often have fantastic advice and can provide useful models to emulate. Cast a skeptic’s eye everywhere, including here. I’ve got the best of intentions, but how are you to know? I don’t say, “Ignore me at your peril.” I say, “Here’s what I see,” and hope you find value. If not, not.


The point is, when people make it big, they often rewrite their biographies in their heads. They forget how many people helped them along the way. They emphasize their go-getter affirmations and attribute their popularity to a wealth of talent. After the fact, nobody thinks they’re lucky, just hard charging and brilliant. This is a natural occurrence visible in all fields of human endeavor. Bill Gates infamously played down the free contributions of hordes of anonymous programmers in the early era of computing. Donald Trump claimed he got a “small loan” of a million bucks from his dad. (It was much more than $1,000,000.) Studies show BMW drivers are less likely to stop for pedestrians at crosswalks. Test subjects given a distinct advantage in a card game attribute their wins to intelligence and talent and mock other players even though they know they cheated! Humans are weird.

Sometimes, even the best masters fail to show compassion to the problems of those following in their wake. They may become indifferent to the struggles of their students. Those who sell tons of books have more resources than someone closer to the beginning of their writing career, or even mid-career. (Ahem. This is where I sheepishly raise my hand at the back of the class.) If someone who claims mastery has a huge mailing list and you don’t, that’s a gap in resources. Instructing you to announce your launch to your small list won’t be very helpful. Showing you how to develop said list and collaborate with others in advance of your launch would be much more on point.

Old joke: I moved here with nothing, phoned my rich uncle, and he sent me $2,500,000 to start my real estate business. Why can’t you do that?


You may be frustrated because you aren’t where you thought you’d be by now. Please have patience with yourself. Learn all you can from everyone whose strategies make sense to you. As long as being a writer makes you happy, keep going. Enjoy the trip because it’s not all about the destination. Day to day, the fun is found on the page, building stories, filling in plots, discovering characters, and expressing yourself. The static state of being an author is ultimately less important than the magic verb: write!

If you do make it to the summit, please have patience with others. We can’t all see your grand vistas from where we stand on our journey up the mountain, but we are climbing.

Bonus self-care hint: If you confess your honest troubles and someone replies with, “All you’ve got are excuses,” they’ve forgotten themselves. Remember who you are.

~ I’m Robert Chazz Chute. I write apocalyptic epics and killer crime thrillers. You’ll find many entertainments on my author site, AllThatChazz.com. This is the call-to-action part where I ask you to buy all my books. Do click over for the links. Whew! That was awkward, putting it all out on Front Street like that.

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

Writers: Chazz Law versus Masnick’s Law

A cropped photograph depicts singer Elvis Pres...

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Thanks for all the nice feedback and e-mails about Monday’s blog post on Amanda Hocking. There was so much, in fact, that I need to do a follow-up about the mistakes we make when we compare our potential for success with another’s. Some people see another author’s success as a door slamming shut on their own noses. These are people who believe Masnick’s Law (which comes from the music industry.) The idea is that only a certain band at a certain time had certain advantages that can’t be replicated. They came along at the right time or had just the right choice of sound, or the moon was in alignment with the stars etc.,….

In other words, if they make it, you won’t.

Wussies.

You might make it in a different way (Elvis ≠The Beatles) but if you have a great book, success can be yours. Amanda Hocking isn’t stopping you from succeeding. Not writing your book is keeping you from succeeding. (Not revising or hiring an editor, too.) Hocking took a machete and cut a path into the jungle. JA Konrath, Barry Eisler and many other authors who went the self-published way are forging ahead. When you see others succeed, take it as inspiration. Masnick’s Law isn’t a law. It’s a self-defeating fallacy.

CHAZZ LAW:

Art inspires more art.

Read it.

Rock it.

Roll it out.

(And don’t be a wuss.)

Filed under: authors, Books, DIY, ebooks, Editing, Editors, getting it done, links, publishing, Rant, Rejection, self-publishing, Writers, writing tips, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Writing Productivity and Success: What’s in Your Way?

Flat on my back, weak as a weak kitten and sick as a very sick dog, I’ve had some time to think about what may be holding me back in my publishing endeavors. I’ve got a lot going on and somehow I always manage to push through. I tend to write in spasms according to deadlines I set for myself. I could do better and now I think I know why I haven’t accomplished more. My health isn’t what it should be.

One of the things I’ve noticed creeping over me for awhile is a lack of motivation and listlessness. I’ve been easily distracted. I often sleep poorly at night and need to sleep during the day. Last week the headaches were coming frequently and staying longer than my occasional tension headaches. Then I had a bad reaction to eating oatmeal. Then things got pretty bad. I had to cancel appointments. I had a hard time moving at all. I haven’t been diagnosed yet, but I suspect gluten intolerance is the culprit.* The gastrointestinal symptoms fit, but so do the non-abdominal problems.

Mold, chronic illness, excess sugar, decreased fitness, sleep disorders, addictions, poor food choices, ADD, depression… There are all kinds of medical reasons for a cloudy head, inactivity, irritability, loss of energy and mood swings. Maybe your parents were wrong and you really aren’t lazy. (It’s a possibility, and won’t that be a fine thing to throw in their faces at the annual Thanksgiving argument?)

Good news: I’ve been eating a gluten-free diet for several days and I think things are improving. I can tell my system is slowly recovering. Most important to me, I feel like my mental clarity and motivation are returning. Writing is a tough business. I have to diet and exercise to be a part of it. Maybe you don’t, but now I know I do. To succeed in writing, you need to be prolific. Dilettantes won’t make it anymore, no matter the reasons that hold down their creativity, positivity and production.

*If you suspect gluten intolerance—or worse, Celiac disease—see your doctor.

Want a bigger kick in the butt? Read a great Slate article on the “active non-accomplishment” of taking too long to write a novel.

Filed under: getting it done, , ,

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

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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

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