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Guest Post: Ian McClellan’s One Undead Step

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One Undead Step full cover

Today, as part of the Summer of Zombie 2014 Blog Tour, we get a peek at Ian McClellan’s work:

Many people know that the 1969 moon landing was faked, but are unaware of the actual circumstances surrounding the event. Find out how the United States faked the moon landing to avert the zombie apocalypse as the lives of a disgraced B-movie director, a bar owner, some drunks, an Army Ranger unit, a bunch of gangsters, an affluent but very dysfunctional family, and a few cops come together in One Undead Step.

Just one year after George Romero shocked the world with his masterpiece Night of the Living Dead, a small city in the Midwest is rocked by grisly, random killings, the gory details of which are only known through hushed whispers and secondhand rumors. The government presence that makes the populace all the more nervous is unable to contain the impending threat that grows out of control on a hot, humid night in Mid-July. As the city’s residents barricade their doors and fight for their lives, the American Military rushes to make a film about two men landing a small spacecraft on the moon. Will their plan work? Will the infection spread throughout the rest of the country? Will it be enough to save the world from the burgeoning threat of the undead? Find out as an evil man finds redemption, some special forces soldiers choose between their mission and their duty, a young couple finds a forbidden love, an older couple reignites their passion, and a bartender gets stiffed for a lot of drinks in One Undead Step.

One Undead Step contains some bad language, many scenes of violence and gore, and a graphic but oddly amusing sex scene.

One Undead Step: A Zombie Novel

Ian McClellan

Excerpt (Explicit language follows.)

1. On the Set

Saturday, 19 July 1969

Christ, Mark Mathews thought to himself, how the hell did I ever get myself into this mess?

Drugs and statutory rape, his know-it-all subconscious answered. Mark was a fun guy, but his subconscious was kind of a blunt asshole. Of course it was right. If he hadn’t gotten obliterated that night and slept with that sixteen year old girl he wouldn’t be on a poorly constructed set on a military base in Nevada filming the greatest hoax in history with a bunch of guys who may be able to shoot rifles really well, but were total amateurs when it came to making movies.

When the detectives came to arrest him they’d found a smorgasbord of drugs in his home. Pot, uppers, downers, cocaine, L.S.D., mushrooms, and even some heroin. He never touched the smack, but there was a girl who came by from time to time who loved the stuff, and she made it worth his while to always keep a little on hand. The cops knew about the drugs. They knew about the parties, too. A successful b-movie director could get away with a lot in Hollywood, but you had to be A-list with a capital A to go deflowering underage girls and not see the inside of a prison.

It had been a typical hot and sunny summer day in southern California when the police came to his door. The two detectives in their cheap, off-the-rack suits and ties were sweating bullets, as were the officers donned in dark, city-issued uniforms who’d accompanied them. Mark had begged and pleaded with them and tried to state his case. “I’m not a bad guy, really. I just like to have a little fun. Who doesn’t? How the hell was I supposed to know that little slut was only sixteen? She had no business being at that party. You guys oughtta go arrest her parents!” He was told to tell it to the judge. He should have seen that one coming- he’d thrown the old cliché into a couple of his movies.

Bribery didn’t work, either. “Look, I’ve got ten grand in a bag upstairs. Take it. There’s more where that came from.” The detectives exchanged odd smiles that Mark would come to understand later, but they didn’t bite on his offer. What they did do was handcuff him and take him downtown in the back of a police car.

Mark was thinking of that car ride- the only time he’d ever been in the back of a police car- and how frightened and humiliated he was at the time, when something on the set got his attention.

“That’s one tiny step for a man…” the one fellow was saying. Nick or Neil or whatever the hell his name was. The one who just had to be the star despite the fact that he couldn’t take direction for shit. He just had to be the first one out. He just had to have the big line in the script. Of course he wanted it so badly, but couldn’t say it right for all the whiskey in Ireland.

Mark rubbed his temples and looked back beyond the “lunar module” that the fellow had just stepped out of. There was a hand emerging from one of the craters. His first thought was that it was some drunk key grip or janitor (it happens more than you’d think) until his brain registered the decay of the skin. “Christ Almighty!” he yelled. “Cut! Cut, God damn it. One of those fucking things is in here. Is this a military base or a fucking public library?”

A young man with a rifle ran up and shot the zombie between the eyes as it was hoisting itself out of the crater. It fell back in the hole and landed with a thud. He got on a radio and informed someone of a ‘security breach’ that was now ‘code eleven’ which Mark assumed meant that its brains were now scattered all over his set.

“Get that shit cleaned off my set,” Mark told his assistant as he rubbed his temples. “And get me a damn drink.”

About the author: Ian McClellan was born in a small harbor town in southwest Ireland. In an effort to be cliché his parents moved the family to New York when he was thirteen. Once a promising up-and-comer in the world of competitive eating, his career was cut short by an ACL injury. He now resides in Florida with his dogs and drives a truck for a living, but is crossing his fingers and hoping his writing career will earn him enough money that he can tell his boss where to stick it.

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The stench of rotting flesh is in the air! Welcome to the Summer of Zombie Blog Tour 2014, with 33 of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of June.

Stop by the event page on Facebook so you don’t miss an interview, guest post or teaser… and pick up some great swag as well! Giveaways galore from most of the authors as well as interaction with them! #SummerZombie

https://www.facebook.com/events/286215754875261/?ref_newsfeed_story_type=regular&source=1

AND so you don’t miss any of the posts in June, here’s the complete list, updated daily:

http://armandrosamilia.com/2014/06/01/summer-of-zombie-blog-tour-2014-post-links/

 

Filed under: Author profiles, Writers, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Another way your cover can promote your book (and who to hire)

We are all struggling to find new ways to get readers interested and invested in our books. How do you promote reader engagement and launch your book higher? By engaging them in your process, I suppose. Here’s one way I’m doing that for the launch of two books this weekend.

Short story:

I’m giving away an ebook of the Plague of Days compendium to one random commenter on the Plague of Days website.

To enter the draw for three free ebooks in one, all you need is an opinion, so click here to see the cover choices. 

Okay, now here’s what you need to know and who you really need to hire for your next book cover:

To be clear, the covers you’ll see at the link are my designs, not those of my graphic artist. Anybody who reads this blog knows my graphic artist is the great Kit Foster of KitFosterDesign.com. He’s the sweet, book art genius. I came up with this idea because I already have Kit working on other designs. 

If you don’t already love his work, when I unveil This Plague of Days, Season 3, you’re going to want to check out the rest of his professional portfolio, for sure. He’s a joy to work with at very reasonable prices. Kit’s done almost all my covers. If the cover’s crappy, it’s not Kit’s work, it’s my design for The Little Book of Braingasms. Now, compare that to this cover of gorgeousness in Murders Among Dead Trees. Look at those flames! POW!

Kit also does the web banners for my websites. Those spruce up any blog and really give readers the idea (illusion?) you know what you’re doing.

Kit has even done Quote Art for me to promote my books. Don’t know Quote Art? See it here and on my Amazon author profile. It’s another way to stand out from the crowd. Quote Art would make a great poster for your next convention, too.

Kit is working on my TPOD print covers in addition to keeping all his many clients happy. When does this man sleep? He doesn’t. While he’s helping me with other stuff, I’m pitching in with the draw. It’s a new way of getting readers involved in feedback on covers for This Plague of Days, The Complete Three Seasons.

My books about the autistic zombie apocalypse that will soon kill us all launches on Father’s Day and, because of the draw, I’m sure I’ll have a few more eyeballs for the release. Because of Kit’s TPOD3 cover, they’ll keep looking and check it out.

Eventually I’ll call in Kit for a much better cover for the compendium (because he’s the sweet, book art genius, that’s why, and, yes, you’ll find my efforts sad by comparison.) In the meantime, help me move more books through your input at ThisPlagueOfDays.com. You might be the one chosen to win a free book. So there’s that.

Reader engagement is often fun but it doesn’t have to be a one-to-one thing all the time. It feels great when people are curious enough to come find you. A for a nice prize and asking for an opinion is a solid way to do that.

Filed under: author platform, Publicity & Promotion, publishing, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Why I no longer swear in my books

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00004]When I wrote my crime novels, I wanted verisimilitude. I’d watched Goodfellas repeatedly, The Sopranos religiously and, of course, I’d been through high school. Naturally, I’m acquainted with an impressive list of swear words and they don’t bother me.

Swearing seemed like a good idea at the time.

Bigger Than Jesus is about a Cuban hit man who, after a very rough childhood and military service, ends up working for New York’s Spanish mob. The subtext is sad but the jokes and movie references come fast. The language reflects reality. In other words, the characters swear quite a bit.

(And the sex scene in Higher Than Jesus? It’s so steamy and frank, that scene was all my dad wanted to talk about after he read it. Sigh. That’s a different post.)

When I wrote the crime novels, I thought any dialogue that reflected the way people really speak was the only way to go for me. I thought that if readers didn’t accept swear words in fiction, they were reality-impaired. Suck it up or don’t read my books, was my policy.

I don’t feel that way anymore.

Well, I do still think people who don’t accept appropriate use of swear words in fiction (and author autonomy to write what they want to) are reality-impaired and intolerant.

But “Suck it up or be shunned,” made me intolerant, too.

Swearing will alienate some readers.

I knew that, of course, but I thought verisimilitude was more important. Now, after two volumes of This Plague of Days — which is devoid of such strong language — I’ve decided I’ve lost nothing by omitting obscenities. Those who aren’t offended by swearing don’t seem to miss it if it’s not there. There’s just no value added, or at least not enough value added, to keep the swearing in. I think I can attribute many of my happy reviews of This Plague of Days to the fact that I did without (though I do skirt it a bit. More on that in a minute.) 

Is my self-censorship a (possibly pathetic) bid to gain more readers?

The short answer is, yes.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00004]The longer answer is, it didn’t start out that way. Jaimie Spencer, the hero of This Plague of Days, is autistic. He’s seventeen, but he’s a sensitive kid. A book that included a lot of swearing just didn’t feel right for the tone of the piece. Much of the drama happens around the Spencer family in Missouri and somehow, zombies or no zombies, peppering the text with f-bombs just didn’t fit this story or the readers likely to enjoy it. I salted it with Latin phrases, instead.

The really long answer is that it saddens me that some readers are so sensitive to curse words. I hate that they wouldn’t read some of my earlier work because of that sensitivity. However, my writing is about much more than swearing. I can do without it and not hurt the dialogue or the story. This Plague of Days is effective suspense and horror and this stylistic choice doesn’t affect that. Many of the people who love This Plague of Days are related to people on the autistic spectrum. They’re more comfortable spreading the word about the serial and sharing it with family members and friends because I changed my policy on swearing.

The f-word can be a crutch.

Use it too much and dialogue risks a feeling of laziness and sameness. Increase the frequency and the impact suffers. Working around that obstacle has proved so minor, I wish I’d done without cursing from the beginning. “She cursed him as she sliced his throat,” can serve just as well, or better, than a string of expletives.

We all know the words. My kids knew the words when they were quite little. Amazingly, they didn’t learn those words from me. They had to go to school for that. There’s no shock to it and sometimes it just gets in the way and the reader’s eye skips over it. I want all my words to count. I insist on delivering impacts to brainpans and adrenal glands. Swearing doesn’t do the job.

I have not suddenly become a prude.

My daily vocabulary reflects the full range of human experience, though the monologue in my head contains much more swearing. (I get points for holding back, right?)

In This Plague of Days, a “damn” might squeak in from time to time. My mother said that was okay since that was her swear of choice. North Americans tend to find British people saying, “shite” kind of charming. I use that. However, even that little is very sparse in This Plague of Days. 

I’m not claiming that no one could possibly be offended by something I wrote. I’m sure someone will clutch their pearls over the discussions between the religious wife and the atheist husband. That’s sure to annoy both sides, in fact. Reviewers have described the story as “creepy”, “scary” and “terrifying.” Well, I should hope so. Swearing or not, it is still very much horror and suspense.

I haven’t gone soft and I’m not writing children’s books.

This Plague of Days contains many scenes that are descriptive of the gore of war. There are some whimsical touches, but much of the story feels real enough you might worry I’m not a horror writer, but a futurist. However, like Twitter’s 140-character limit, the omission of cursing in my zombie apocalypse has forced me to be more clever. Sometimes the omission of swear words has even opened up new avenues for character expression. By that, I mean that there are some really good jokes in This Plague of Days that hinge on the power of irony and understatement, not f-bombs.

Conclusions

1. This doesn’t mean I’m saying you shouldn’t swear in your books. I’m not here to tell anyone what to do so stop feeling threatened.

2. This doesn’t stop me from writing books with so-called “bad words” in the future, though I think I’ll continue to do without. This bears repeating: Those who aren’t offended by swearing don’t seem to miss it if it’s not there. I don’t miss it. Anybody read any Vonnegut and think, This isn’t bad, but it would be so much better with a bunch more f-bombs? (I did, however, note that Norman Mailer could have cut back by half and helped Tough Guys Don’t Dance.)

3. This doesn’t mean that I think swearing is bad. It might be right for your books and I admit that, when done right, a string of obscenities certainly has its place.

4. I also have to admit that I think doing without swearing (in the text!) has made me a better writer.

5. This isn’t a moral stand. It was a solid artistic choice that stumbled into a good business decision. I confess. I want to be read by a wider audience. This is one of the ways I’m accomplishing that.

Filed under: author platform, book marketing, Horror, readers, writing tips, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

This Plague of Days: Season One arrives in paperback! (Plus stuff for you)

Special thanks to Kit Foster of KitFosterDesign.com for his kick-ass cover skills! 

If you’re looking to get a cover, I always recommend Kit! Plus, he’s Scottish!

Have a look at the beauty below (i.e. buy it) and be sure to check out his portfolio.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00004]

This Plague of Days, Season One teaches Latin proverbs and brings you into the mind of a very unlikely hero on the autistic spectrum. Zombies attack and royal Corgis are in big trouble. Maybe the Queen, too. (That’s my motto: Give the people what they want.)

This book makes a great Halloween gift, Christmas present or something to scare the bejeebers out of friends, family and enemies. If you’ve been waiting for the paperback, here you go. Working on getting Season Two out in print next. 

Serialization pros and cons

Not into my books but want more about publishing in savvy ways?

Season 2 is the quest. Expect big trouble in Ireland and Iceland because I think countries beginning with I are narcissistic and need to be taken down a peg or two by bloodthirsty zombies.

Season 2 is the quest. Expect big trouble in Ireland and Iceland because I think countries beginning with I are narcissistic and need to be taken down a peg or two by bloodthirsty zombies.

Okay, if you came for the pithy stuff about the downside of serialization and why I collapsed to the haters and won’t serialize Season Three of This Plague of Days, you’ll want to check out this post: 

Why I won’t do this again

The contest that challenges you to find a secret hidden in plain sight

Yes, there’s also an intriguing contest going on and your immortality is at stake.

Find the secret, win a life everlasting in book and audio form.

I love a mystery wrapped in an enigma concealed in a burrito, don’t you?

~ Robert Chazz Chute is…writing in the third person again. Get your NaNoWriMo inspiration and hope for the publishing future by reading Crack the Indie Author Code in paperback and ebook. Just kidding about the Ireland being narcissistic thing. You know I love the land of my ancestors. But Iceland? Well, you’re on notice for realsies, Icepops!

Filed under: Amazon, Publicity & Promotion, publishing, self-publishing, This Plague of Days, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Defying expectations: When going the other way works.

Season Two is out today! To learn more about This Plague of Days, please head over to ThisPlagueOfDays.com. 

To order the book from Amazon, please click the affiliate links in the right sidebar at AllThatChazz.com. Thanks.

Now, on to some wicked confessions of incompetence, poor judgment and a sad lifetime of reflexive defiance.

Defying expectations has not, in general, worked well for me.

At an old job, I was joking with office staff one day. I’m a funny guy. I thought I was killing. Then I looked up and a waiting room full of clients gave me that look. You know that mean look? I smiled and said, “I’m sorry. I was showing too much personality again, wasn’t I?” I wandered away wondering why boring people get to control everything. Yeah. Bad attitude, I’m sure, but don’t boring people run the world? And look what they did with it!

And so it is with books. I have a defiant streak I’d probably do much better without.

Self-help for Stoners is a funny little book of short stories with a few preachy moments. I might have sold more books if I’d ditched that title. But I might have sold less, too. My thinking was, at least I’ll hit an identifiable niche. Try it, for stoners and non-stoners alike.

I was so flummoxed that Self-help didn’t sell more, I compiled my big book of short stories. I put together my award winning stories and, desperate to be taken seriously, made some “serious” fiction. Pathetic lack of confidence on my part. Murders Among Dead Trees has a lot of gems in it. I’m especially proud of the three-star review that acknowledged the great writing but said it’s full of violence and “bizarre themes.” Sounds like a winner to me! It sells worse than “the stoner book.”

With crime fiction, I called the books Bigger Than Jesus and Higher Than Jesus.

In crime fiction, titles that have to be explained! (It’s pronounced Hay-soose.) Worse? Funny crime fiction! Worse than that? The hero is a Cuban hit man, not a detective. Readers tend to have certain expectations and I defied them with quirky titles that may offend some people at first glance. We usually don’t get a second glance.

I still think those books are fun, fast-paced thrill rides and the people who like them, like them a lot. A pity there aren’t more of those readers, but I’m sure the charm of Jesus Diaz will be discovered over time. In fact, I have several more books planned in the Hit Man Series because apparently I don’t know when to cut my losses. (Try them. They’re damn funny.)

But it turns out having trouble with Authority isn’t bad all the time.

I lost/resigned from another job because I would not bow my head. It’s okay. It was a lousy job and that incident became fodder for Season One of This Plague of Days.

I switched to suspenseful horror with an unconventional zombie serial and lost some rebel cred.

Zombie fans might have hated it because it wasn’t what they expected. Instead, it became a bestseller on Amazon. I made it a serial to further handicap myself, but serialization seems to have worked for me.

A comedian I love by the name of Mike Schmidt named one of his enterprises “The Success is Not An Option Tour”. I love a guy who’s the underdog and Mike’s turned “underdog” into a profession with The 40-year-old Boy Podcast, a CD and flying across the continent to perform his one-man show to a loyal fan base.

I’m not as brave as Mike. I’m make stuff up in a bunker, afraid to go outside. I didn’t set out to proclaim that success is not an option, spit Life in the eye and try to make a living out of attracting chaos and making fine comedy out of it. When I wrote my books, my reasoning was, “That’s weird and different enough to grab eyeballs.”

How weird and different? In Season One, it’s a slow build. I didn’t start in the middle of the action. I showed how the plague began and developed and it didn’t even start with a zombie virus. It started with a world flu pandemic. All the zombie action remains in Europe until Season Two! (Out now. Did I mention that? Right. Good.)

You want weirder? I’ll give you weirder.

The protagonist is a boy on the autism spectrum. Most heroes in zombie books are gun-totin’ ex-military types. Instead, Jaimie Spencer is a selective mute who’s fascinated with words and dictionaries, especially Latin dictionaries! Also, all the chapter titles? They make up one long, dark poem with twisted clues to the future of the story. Poetry! In a zombie book! The survivors argue about God and struggle with finding compassion and worry about losing their humanity. Not much gun totin’ in Season One.

Hm. Maybe I was setting out to fail and screwed it up. That premise sounds ridiculous!

And yet…writing something unconventional worked this time.

Which takes us back to novelist and screenwriter William Goldman who said of Hollywood, “Nobody knows anything.”

I sure don’t. I was just being me. I was just writing the story that pleased me. I followed the Art.

What readers want?

That’s too nebulous, has too many variables and it’s a moving target. I write for me first. I could try to play it safe, but I really don’t know how. Until they perfect personality transplants, I gotta be me. I’m not bragging. I think it would be easier being somebody else.

Filed under: This Plague of Days, What about Chazz?, What about you?, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Dystopian Braingasm: For word nerds and horror readers who love autistic heroes

Click it to grab it free before midnight tomorrow night!

Click it to grab it free before midnight tomorrow night!

It’s time to glimpse your future. The plague is coming. The pandemic will hit us in waves. One strange boy with hidden talents will determine whether this is the end of the world or the just the end of the world as we know it.

Get Episode One of This Plague of Days free until midnight tomorrow night.

Horror lovers have plenty of surprises ahead with this dystopian serial. The infected are not what you expect and the heroes and villains of this zombie apocalypse are like nothing you’ve experienced.

Jaimie Spencer is a selective mute on the autistic spectrum. Read Episode One for free now and find out why parents of autistic children love This Plague of Days.

A savage virus spreads around the globe and society collapses. In Britain, the story has the flavor of the international thriller. In America’s heartland, you’ll see what happens when the Sutr plague comes for a family just like yours.

This serial is two books in one on a collision course.

Five stars from reviewers:

“Not your average Zombie story!”

*

I think this storyline is brilliant. It’s not your cliched, run-of-the-mill zombie apocalypse story. It’s character driven. It’s cerebral. It’s awesome.

The first episode of This Plague of Days is the perfect balance of back story, anecdotes, and the events of the present crisis. Jaimie, the main character, is fantastically written and surprisingly well thought out.

*

Plague of Days Episode 1 takes the reader into a new perspective-the autistic. A different concept, refreshing as well as illustrating the challenges faced in real life as well as in fiction.

*

I’ve read and watched several zombie novels and TV shows. This one is told from a unique perspective and I can’t wait to read the next episode. I think this would translate to a miniseries!

Can't have just one chip? Season One has five episodes. Get each one for 99 cents or get all of Season One at a discount for $3.99. Season Two hits this September.

Can’t have just one chip? Season One has five episodes. Get each one for 99 cents or get all of Season One at a discount for $3.99. Season Two hits this September.

~ Robert Chazz Chute is a former journalist, columnist and podcaster. This Plague of Days is his ninth book. 

Filed under: free ebooks, publishing, Science Fiction, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Video, Audio and Pixels: Hugh Howey hits and This Plague of Days launches Episode 5

And here, folks, are the announcements as promised. It’s a cornucopia of fun stuff to feed your hungry, hungry hippocampus:

See the rest of the interview on my YouTube channel here, or subscribe at CoolPeoplePodcast.com.

Also available on iTunes (or on Stitcher through the show link to the All That Chazz podcast.)

This Plague of Days: The first zombie thriller on the autism spectrum.

Episode 5 is now available! Get each ep for just 99 cents or get the discount deal and get all of Season One for just $3.99.

Episode 5 is now available! Get each ep for just 99 cents or get the discount deal and get all of Season One for just $3.99.

In Episode 5 of This Plague of Days, it’s all action as the Spencer family faces great loss in the Midwest and Dr. Sinjin-Smythe runs for his life in London. Dump your expectations of what a zombie apocalypse can deliver. The survivors of the plagues can be just as dangerous as any horde of rampaging zombies.

From the latest review on Amazon…

“The final episode of Season One did exactly what it was supposed to do. It twisted your stomach in knots, let go slightly, then snatched your stomach away until the second season is available.

All the immediate conflicts were resolved in a satisfying way, not rushed, not unrealistic. There’s plenty of ground to cover next season, and the last few lines will leave you guessing. Well done, Chute. You’ve crafted a high-brow zombie thriller that stands out from the rest.” ~ Ava Easterby

Coming late to the Apocalypse? No problem! 

This Plague of Days scares me to death! I just can’t put it down; I have to see what happens next.

A review from Victor Morin

The mind virus is created. Spread the infection. If you already have read it, please review it.Thanks! ~ Chazz

The mind virus is created. Spread the infection. If you already have read it, please review it.Thanks! ~ Chazz

 

Filed under: book trailer, Books, Horror, podcasts, This Plague of Days, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How I’ll sell more books by studying my author ranking

Before you read this article about author rankings, a quick heads up: I’m inviting you to something fun that could help you in your writing endeavours. The link at the bottom of this article will take you to ThisPlagueOfDays.com for a post you’ll like about the advantages of serialization. At the bottom of that post, click on The Link for the Curious to get a secret (not a spoiler!) about This Plague of Days.

Episode 4 releases today!

Episode 4 releases today!

Go to Author Central and have a look at your author rank. This shows you how you’re doing compared to other authors on Amazon. That’s not very useful information, but there is something to be gleaned from these charts.

Author rank on Amazon is interesting or depressing, depending on your score. However, the public never sees your author rank unless you’re in the top 100. As you click through and look at charts, the blue points are your highest rank on any given day (not your average for the day). The orange point is your placement right now.

These rankings are based on sales figures of digital, paper and audio. (So, as I’ve mentioned in this space, if you aren’t exploring your audio options yet, get on that.)

It’s good to own a genre if you can

If you’re really smart, you picked a genre and tried to dominate it. All or most of your books will be in one category and you won’t have many charts to click through. I’m not all that smart. I think focussing all your energy in one genre is probably a good idea. It is good advice I couldn’t take. I bubble over with ideas for books in various genres. Many of us are cursed that way.

For instance, I came up with an insta-book on doing business with the Vine app simply because (a) I was so enthused about the new app, and (b) I was working on the gargantuan This Plague of Days and felt like it had been too long since I’d published anything new. Not wanting to be forgotten, I wrote and published Six Seconds in one week. (Publishing gave my other books a bit of a boost, too, so there’s that.)

Gleaning what’s good to know from Amazon’s author rank 

I have three books in non-fiction (business and publishing).

For the Hit Man Series, I ranked higher in mystery than I did in thrillers, though I ranked consistently higher in action/adventure and science fiction and fantasy.

I don’t consider myself a sci-fantasy writer. However, This Plague of Days fits neatly in the sci-fi subcategory of apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic.

According to my author ranks, I rank best as a horror writer. I have several books of short stories on Amazon, but since they’re under the too vague “literature and contemporary fiction” categories, my rank there is weaker. Too general doesn’t help. I could and should put Murders Among Dead Trees under the horror category, too. It fits the tone for that collection.

Beware, however, of drilling too deep into a stagnant subcategory. The Hit Man Series sells better when categorized as action adventure and mystery. Hardboiled is a stagnant subcategory Bigger Than Jesus and Higher Than Jesus languished in too long. They were ignored because I messed up my category choice.

The mind virus is created. Spread the infection. Each of five episodes is only 99 cents each. Get the whole Season for the discount at $3.99. (And if you already have read it, please review it.) Thanks! ~ Chazz

The mind virus is created. Spread the infection. Each of five episodes is only 99 cents each. Get the whole Season for the discount at $3.99. (And if you already have read it, please review it.) Thanks! ~ Chazz

Bonus hint

How can you tell if a subcategory is too small or dead? Check out a few forums on the genre. If the board has few members or the most recent posts aren’t in the current calendar year, uh-oh!)

Don’t major in your minor

People major in their minor all the time. They’re lousy at formatting but they spend days on a task they should farm out to someone else. They should be writing but since they don’t want to delegate, they’re doing something other than writing and revising. The author ranking by genre shows us what we do best by identifying what books people want more.

Author ranking gives us clues how we should categorize our books on Amazon for greater discoverability and tells us what our major is. You could look at bare book sales, but with author rankings by genre, Amazon does that for you in a clearer way that doesn’t allow you to fool yourself with short-term variables. Look for trends across categories for clues to optimize your books’ chances.

What the clues from author rankings told me

1. As I studied my rankings, I was reassured that I made a good choice to pursue the horror category.

2. I have two more books in the Hit Man Series in the chamber, but I won’t pull the trigger on those until things slow down with my plague serial. This Plague of Days, Season Two hits in September, so Jesus Diaz fans will have to wait just a bit longer while I major in my major.

3. As I write the next book about my loveable but luckless Cuban hit man, I’ll amp up the mystery so it fits more comfortably in that category.

4. For the books that perform less powerfully, I have some ideas that will breathe life into old titles as I create new ones.

5. The work that stands alone doesn’t perform as well. I knew this, of course, but I can see it in the charts. This is bad news because I have another huge book that was to be a one-off. Then it occurred to me. This is good news. It’s so huge, I could serialize it as I’m doing with This Plague of Days.

For more on the beauties of serialization, click here.

(That’s also where you’ll find the link to my defiant secret.)

~ Robert Chazz Chute is the author of Self-help for Stoners, Murders Among Dead Trees, Crack the Indie Author Code, Six Seconds, Write Your Book: Aspire to Inspire, Bigger Than Jesus, Higher Than Jesus and the zombie apocalypse serial, This Plague of Days. Read, love, review and please spread the word.

Filed under: Amazon, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

This Plague of Days: What I brought back from the dead

When I worked in traditional publishing, author Anne Rice made vampires huge in popular culture. It seemed everyone was reading Interview with the Vampire (and then all her other books). Soon after, many agents and editors burned out on vampires. Vampires were done to death. The professionals were ready to put a stake through the heart of the phenomenon, so it must be so, right?

Episode 3 launches today! If you've been holding back on jumping in, now's the time!

Episode 3 launches today! If you’ve been holding back on jumping in, now’s the time!

Foolish humans.

After the pros declared vampires were finished, the next wave came: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Twilight series, endless graphic novels, fan fic and True Blood.

If you live long enough, you begin to see patterns repeat. It happens in products and news cycles and franchises. Interesting things don’t go away. They get made anew.

The challenge in resurrecting any subject is to make it fresh: Cheerleader versus vampires in a world secretly packed with demons; vampires that sparkle in sunlight, more sex and whatever else it takes to make the old seem new.

Today I ran across an interesting blog entry. The author is tired of zombies. Good news! Zombies are still undead, too. Whether it’s new fans discovering old material in new forms (e.g. the World War Z movie), zombies as love interests, or my new serial (This Plague of Days), fresh takes abound for new fans and for those who think they’ve seen it all.

For more video and to read the rest of this article at ThisPlagueofDays.com, click here.

Filed under: publishing, rules of writing, This Plague of Days, What about Chazz?, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How to Market A Spy Thriller With Zombies In 2013

MSG Cover

Armand Rosamilia is the badass author of Miami Spy Games and much more. Today he guest blogs on leveraging cross-genre marketing for more book sales and happier readers.

Is it a spy story? A thriller? A zombie tale? Yes. Yes. Yes. But so much more!

I’ve self-published many a novella and short story in my time writing, and they have been pretty straight-forward in regards to subgenre: the Dying Days series is about zombies, Skulls And Bones collection is horror, Keyport Cthulhu is Lovecraftian horror, Death Metal was a thriller, and the Birthday Series (writing as K. Lee Thorne) is erotica. Regardless, there were a few slight mixes of genre, but I could put a finger on each pretty quickly when asked.

Miami Spy Games? Not so fast. The fun, for me as a writer, is knowing I have a great publisher backing me up in Hobbes End Publishing. They set everything up and let me just write the story. I enjoyed that, and I got lucky with a great cover and marketing plan. But in interviews I get asked all the time what the genre is. My cheat answer? It depends on who I’m talking to.

Recently I was a guest on the Zombiepalooza Radio Show, and I talked about it and worked the angle it was a zombie story with spies and thrills mixed in. I’ve done interviews for websites that cater to thrillers and crime stories, and I don’t talk so much about the zombies. Obviously with a title like Miami Spy Games: Russian Zombie Gun, you can figure it out. But the focus on the spies and the thrills is the most important part.

This year, with so many eBooks and print books being poured into the already huge system of releases, you need to keep your head above water and see if you can get noticed. When I mention zombies to people, quite a few are turned off immediately. They have no interest, but if I hit them with the word thriller or spies, they might be. Or vice versa.

The key is to know your current target audience and see how you can hook them with something as simple as ‘yeah, I wrote a cool story about zombies.’ Adapt and market your book the way you need to in order to sell it.

67113_196559600480167_927925947_nIf you have any questions about the Miami Spy Games series, I’d love to hear them: armandrosamilia@gmail.com

Miami Spy Games on Amazon Kindle only $3.99!

 

Filed under: book marketing, Books, Guest blog post, 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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