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

Write and publish with love and fury.

The power of the pulse giveaway: 99 cents or nothing?

This Plague of Days OMNIBUS (Large)

When I did my Bookbub promotion of This Plague of Days, Omnibus Edition, my dentist said, “You’re giving it away? Really?”

“Yup.”

“Okay.” He chuckled at me. He also didn’t know what I know.

That giveaway boosted my author rank and sales after the promotion was over. Most important to me was getting more reviews on that property. I got more reviews, thank Thor. The giveaway met my goals. If I had stuck to one genre (horror/fantasy) I would have seen more profits, too. However, I write across genres so that’s on me. My crime novel readers are not typically my horror and fantasy readers. Though there’s a little cross-pollination, readers are often fiercely interested in only one genre, no matter how much action and fun they’d find in Hollywood Jesus (my favorite of the Hit Man Series.)

"Perhaps the most underrated crime novel of all time." ~ Robert Chazz Chute

“Perhaps the most underrated crime novel of all time.” ~ Robert Chazz Chute

 

This week I’ve put just about everything except the Plague of Days series up for sale (just 99 cents!) on Amazon. That sale will end soon, but in the meantime, my strategy seems to have worked. But perhaps not as you or I expected. 

Here’s the thing:

You never know which book will crash hardest or fly highest until you put it out there.

Murders+Among+Dead+Trees+1121-1

I happen to think Murders Among Dead Trees might be my best book. However, it’s a collection of short stories. Collections are notoriously difficult to sell. The collection features several award winners yet it still only has four reviews on Amazon. My Cyber Week Sale hasn’t moved more than one or two copies of Murders Among Dead Trees.

A few more people bought Self-help for Stoners this week, but the sales numbers don’t bowl me over. Self-help for Stoners is a fun and quirky little short story collection that sells a little at a time, but steadily, and the paperback sells more than the ebook, especially this time of year. (You’re thinking it sells because of Christmas. I think it sells because there’s a great story about how to get away with murder using a skunk.)

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

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

 

A cursory glance might make you think that big free works and little 99 cent pulse sales don’t work.

That’s not what I get from this sales experiment. My sales of This Plague of Days (which stayed at their old price) went up.

99 cent pulse sales can boost visibility, but readers still have their favorite things to read and This Plague of Days outsells everything else I’ve done. I promoted everything else but buyers still gravitated to what are already my most popular books even though they weren’t on sale! 

Price matters less to some buyers. For those who are price sensitive, they still have the opportunity to pick up some great books for 99 cents. I have no regrets. The occasional pulse sale can move books…just not necessarily the books we think they will move. I’m also happy to give readers a break on price this time of year. Without cheap ebooks, a lot of people don’t feel they can afford to read more books. Believe me, I understand. This is a tough time of year for a lot of us and I’m glad to help stretch a dollar’s value.

My conclusions:

Write more books to get more shots at the readers’ sweet spot. Write more books to figure out what readers want most from you. (Authors can be terrible judges of what readers want unless we have empirical evidence, like sales numbers.)

To get more out of pulse sales, consider promoting them more than I did. I relied on my G+, Twitter and Facebook networks for my Cyberweek giveaway. Bookbub and several other sites promote 99 cent books as well as free books. I didn’t plan ahead with paid advertising, but I didn’t want to spend money on the giveaway if I could avoid it at this time. (Holding back might have been a mistake.)

Many authors prefer the 99 cent buyer to free seekers. That tiny commitment may tend to attract more committed readers instead of hoarders who may never get around to reading the books they download. (And why not? Supermarket chains have figured out that a mere quarter is enough to reduce the drastic loss of very expensive shopping carts.)

If you’re trying to make a living from your writing, write more books like the ones that are already successful for you. That’s why my next book is The Haunting Lessons, now available for a short time for free on Wattpad. It has some commonalities with This Plague of Days, but is more upbeat, faster and funny. I’ll put the whole book up on Wattpad, but I’ll take it down when it’s published on Amazon, closer to Christmas 2014.

Until then, you can read The Haunting Lessons for free by clicking the cover below. Enjoy it now because its time on Wattpad is running out.

Have a look at the beginning of my new series, free on Wattpad.

Have a look at the beginning of my new series, free on Wattpad.

What’s your experience with free versus 99 cent sales?

~ Please check out my author site at AllThatChazz.com.

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Filed under: author platform, book marketing, My fiction, writing tips, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Winter of Zombie Blog Tour 2014: John O’Brien’s New World

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The stench of frozen rotted meat is in the air! Welcome to the Winter of Zombie Blog

Tour 2014, with 10 of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of November.

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! #WinterZombie2014

 

AND so you don’t miss any of the posts in November, here’s the complete list.

Storm cover large5

 (Editor’s Note: NSFW words to follow in the excerpt, so you may not want to read it aloud at the office…)

Excerpt from A New World: Storm

As we make our way along, several exits lead into darkened interior hallways. Each of

the wall corners are rounded and house nurses’ stations. I look behind one to find a figure on

the floor, clad in the torn remains of scrubs. Dried blood covers the floor and is splattered on the

walls. Staring at the sight, I’m confused. The building entrances and perimeter didn’t show any

evidence of night runners, but the bodies and the other evidence points to the fact that we may

not be alone. I’m not sure how they are getting in and out of the building.

I peel away an escape route plan taped to one of the walls. Sending Red Team to the

next intersection of hallways, I motion Jan forward.

“Where is the lab?” I ask.

She studies the map, and points to a large room in the interior.

Taking the map, I advance to the next hall, where Red Team is standing guard. Looking

down the corridor, I see that it intersects other hallways. The ambient light doesn’t reach far,

leaving the corridors and rooms beyond in a deep gloom. The interior halls will be in the dark.

“Looks like this won’t be the walk in the park it seemed,” I state to Lynn.

“What do you think?” she asks.

“I don’t know. We’ll have to assume that we aren’t alone. We have a safe corridor along

the outer halls, but who knows what we’ll face in the darkened hallways.”

“Do you think the equipment is worth the risk?” Lynn asks.

“I have no idea. Seems that is happening more frequently. I mean, what if we get her

equipment and she finds an answer to the night runners? If she does, then yes, it’s worth almost

any risk. However, I sadly lack the ability to see into the future. Sitting here staring at darkened

halls, and knowing how much I love hospitals, I would say we turn around. But, it’s about the

chance, isn’t it? If we don’t go, then there is zero chance,” I comment.

“Are you having a nice conversation with yourself?”

“No, not really,” I answer.

I stand at the intersection, pondering. It seems that I always knew what to do in the past,

was able to see the right choice. I momentarily wonder if the move hasn’t altered my ability

to choose clearly. I may be thinking too far ahead, to finding a truly safe haven in the midst of

all this chaos. And with that looming possibility, I may be taking the easy route instead of the

right one. If that is truly the case, then I’m in no condition to be making decisions. I’ve second-
guessed decisions in the past, but not my whole reasoning ability.

Shit, even these thoughts bring more doubts.

Taking a deep breath, I shake my head. “Okay, fuck it. We’re going in. Red Team, you’re

at the next intersection covering our six. Lynn, you’re with me. Have Black Team cover Jan like

At the next intersection of hallways, Red Team covers the corners. Although there is a

faint amount of illumination, the area is still cast in a deep gloom. There may be enough residual

light to keep the night runners away from this position. Only a couple of feet into each branching

corridor, the light ends completely, leaving only darkness.

Lynn and I turn the corner. Assuring that my carbine is set to auto, I raise it and creep

into the hall leading to the lab. I sidle near the wall, stepping silently. Slowly, I make my way

down the hallway, Lynn keeping pace on the opposite wall. My heart feels like it’s in my throat

and I slow my breathing to calm my heart rate. Once again, I find myself snaking down a

hospital hallway. The air within is stuffy and cold.

All of the doors along the hall are closed. I pause at the first one, listening. Reaching

down, I slowly push on the handle. It’s unlocked. I’m not sure that night runners have mastered

the art of doors, but I’m not chancing it. It would be my luck that I run into a pack that can

saunter in and out of them with nary a thought. After all, they must be entering and exiting the

building somehow. That is, if they are leaving at all. Perhaps they are feasting on the food within

the hospital. Of course, the evidence I’ve seen could be from weeks ago.

I nod at Lynn, open the door, and step silently into the room. I’m not sure what the room

is used for, as curtains are pulled in places. No shrieks or sudden movements accompany my

entry. I exit and slowly close the door. Lynn checks a door on her side with the same result;

there’s no one inside. We creep down the corridor, checking the rooms but never leaving the

doorways. Black Team follows quietly behind.

Reaching the doors that Jan indicated as housing the lab, Lynn and I stack against the

wall. It would really suck if night runners were inside and we had to start shooting. Knowing my

day, I would put a round into every piece of equipment she needed. Of course, if there are truly

night runners within, we’ll just turn and run for the light.

We check the door and verify that it’s unlocked. On a nod from me, Lynn swings the

door open and I dart in. The room is large, with long counters and stations along the walls and

in the center. I check the dead corner as I make my way along the right hand wall. Lynn follows,

sweeping left. We pause half way down. There’s nothing inside except beakers, vials, and

equipment. We head back to the entrance and motion Black Team forward.

“The room is clear. This has to be done quietly. Don’t disturb anything, and gather the

equipment Jan indicates,” Lynn tells them.

They enter. As Jan passes, I grab her arm. “Do this quickly?”

She nods and enters with the rest of the team. Lynn and I station ourselves in the

corridor. She holds the door open and we both cover farther down the hallway. Even though I’m

on the opposite side of the hall, I still hear very faint whispering coming from inside the room.

Other faint sounds emit as they gather equipment.

Fucking keep it down, I think, hoping there aren’t any night runners nearby that can hear

A little way down is another intersection of hallways. For some reason, the ambient light

that reaches the intersection behind us doesn’t reach there. It could be that the hall doesn’t

reach the outer corridor. Minutes pass that seem like hours. I hear the clang of something

metallic come from within the room. It’s a soft sound and not very loud, but to my ears, it sounds

like a train crashing into a semi. Lynn turns her head sharply to the interior. Shrieks erupt,

coming from a side hallway; they sound close.

Fuck, that doesn’t sound like a night runner shriek, that’s more like a kid screaming, I

think, tightening and pulling my M-4 tight.

“Lynn, get Jan and the equipment out, now!” I sharply whisper. “Head for Red Team and

get to the outer corridor where there’s light. I have our six.”

Lynn calls inside, softly yet sharply. Black Team exits, surrounding Jan, who is pushing a

steel cart loaded with gear.

What the fuck?!

“Go, go, go.”

As they quickly retreat down the corridor, I rise and being backpedaling. Lynn stays with

“Go,” I say, rising. She shakes her head.

“Dammit,” I mutter.

John O'Brien

John O’Brien

Screams fill the interior, echoing down the hallways. Amongst the din, I hear feet

slapping on the linoleum. As I step backward, I have my carbine aimed near the corner where

the night runners should appear. My aimpoint is aimed where their heads should be. They round

the bend in a hurry. As they come into sight, my reticle is above their heads. I lower my barrel a

touch and begin squeezing the trigger. Their ghostly pale faces register.

Fuck, they’re kids.

There are six of them, all dressed in torn and deeply stained hospital gowns, looking to

be about ten or twelve years old. I feel sick to my stomach as I watch, unable to pull the trigger

as they streak down the hall. I am backing up as fast as I can, but they are rapidly closing. For a

split second, I tightly shut my eyes.

Fuck this…dammit!

Placing my glowing crosshair on the nearest one, I fire, almost point blank. The child’s

head snaps to the side as my bullets strike. Blood sprays from the multiple impacts. With

feet flipping into the air, its head hits the hard floor with a whack. Strobes fill the scream-filled

hallway. More kids fall to the ground under the torrent of rounds fired by Lynn and me. In

seconds, six small figures lie bleeding in the hallway. Another shriek rises and a larger night

runner female, dressed in scrubs, appears at the intersection. Upon spotting the young ones

down, she pauses, then screams like I’ve never heard a night runner shriek. Other smaller

figures appear behind her.

Screw this, I think. Lynn and I turn and run.

Racing down the darkened hall, with shrieks sounding behind, I’m reminded of a similar

chase with Lynn. This time though, friends await at hallway intersections. Black Team is

nowhere in sight. I yell to Red Team to pack up and go. Rounding the corner, hard on the heels

of Gonzalez and company, we reach the full light. Behind, the night runners continue shrieking

I feel incredibly sick. The sight of those small faces, pale or not, will haunt me to the end

of my days. My legs feel weak and I sink to my knees.

“That was messed up…I mean, really messed up,” I say, panting.

 

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

Number One in #SciFi #Free today: All 3 Seasons of This Plague of Days!

This Plague of Days OMNIBUS (Large)

The First Season is The Siege. The Second Season is The Journey. The Third Season is The War.

Think The StandStranger in a Strange Land + The Walking Dead.

That’s the This Plague of Days Omnibus.

Free. 

Today.

You know what to do.

Bravery is not required. Action is.

Filed under: ebooks, , , , , , , , , ,

Why I Went Into Podcasting

Guest post by author Armand Rosamilia

Armand            I know the general consensus for doing something is because you see or hear someone else do it and think (in your infinite wisdom and arrogance) that you can do it better. I am here to tell you, at least with me, it was not the case. I went into podcasting because it was my next challenge.

            I’m a blessed man. I am truly living the dream, being able to write full-time and stay home in my Big Bang Theory sleep-pants and drink coffee and get even fatter (almost at will, that last one). I do two music radio shows from the comfort of said home as well. I have a wonderful fiancé and great kids and I keep doing what I want to do: write books.

            In fact, let’s get the heavy-handed plug out of the way right now. I have a new book out, Dying Days 4, which is amazing. And I’m not just saying it because I wrote it and I want you to buy a copy. I’m saying it because our gracious host had this to say about it:

“Level up with Rosamilia’s take on smarter, scarier zombies! They don’t sleep and neither will you. Read this now!” ~ Robert Chazz Chute, author of This Plague of Days

            I’m sure our gracious host will now add a direct link to the Amazon page to purchase the book so I can keep living this dream. (Editor’s note: Yeah, yeah. Here’s the link! Darn, that Armand is subtle.)

Dying Days 4 Print 2

Click the cover for the Amazon UK link.

But onto other things…

Arm Cast

            I started a new podcast a couple of weeks ago. As you read this, the second episode went live last Friday. Conveniently, it features Robert Chazz Chute (this is getting to be quite the lovefest, I know) in an interview that went almost an hour. Because once my Mighty Canadian Author Friend and I get together on Skype, we don’t shut up.

            The first episode of Arm Cast: Dead Sexy Horror Podcast (I know, brilliant name all around) had interviews with zombie authors Mark Tufo and John O’Brien, two great authors and great guys.

            And that was my only goal for doing the podcast: to get to chat with horror authors, filmmakers, podcasters, editors, artists, heavy metal and punk bands, and anyone else I was interested in. I not only wanted an excuse to talk with them but wanted to record it and share for posterity.

            No written questions, no fancy opening jingle, and I’m not even killing myself in edits. In fact, so far I’ve just kept everything in and let the listener hear what really happened. The goal is to have two interviews per week. Yes, this is a weekly, and new episodes will be released via my rss feed on http://armcastpodcast.com and through iTunes and Stitcher, so subscribe and don’t miss an episode. Every Friday you’ll be treated to a new one.

            Upcoming guests will include authors TS Alan, Thomas M. Malafarina, Jack Wallen, filmmaker David Karner, and a bunch more people I wanted to hang out with. I have a wish list of people I want to interview, so more will be added once I get confirmation they actually want to talk to me. And I love finding new authors and podcasters and anyone else interested in horror to chat with, so don’t be a stranger… get in touch.

            As long as Robert Chazz Chute and I aren’t on a marathon Skype chit-chat, I’ll interview you, too.

            Oh, and here’s the Amazon link to Dying Days 4… just because you know you want to buy it and read it while listening to my podcast and wearing matching Big Bang Theory sleep-pants and eating M&M’s…

~ To find out more about Armand and his many books, check out his blog at ArmandRosamilia.com.

 

Filed under: author platform, podcasts, , , , , , , , , ,

The Business of Writing Top 10: How to have more fun

Have you ever watched shows like World’s Funniest Commercials?

This Plague of Days OMNIBUS (Large)When the show took a commercial break, did you sit on your couch and watch the regular commercials and wonder why they had to be so bland? Or did you go make a sandwich or run for the bathroom? Commercials don’t have to be as bad as they often are. Think of the annual hype around Superbowl commercials. How is it that the rest of the year, commercials are background noise for making sandwiches and flushing? The ad industry should try harder.

And so should we. Book promotion can be fun. We should take fun more seriously.

When we write our books, we are at our best. We’re witty and play with ideas and irony. We tell stories. We’re in the entertainment business. So why lose all that buoyancy when it comes to promoting our work? Advertising is writing, too. Yes, writing back cover blurbs and advertising copy is a somewhat different skill set, but this is not rocket science. Examples of good and bad sales copy are all around us. Emulate what works on you.

Some copywriters will enthuse that, sure, maybe you can write a book, but leave a couple of paragraphs of sales copy to a professional. That sounds rather convenient and self-serving, doesn’t it? IRobert Chazz Chute This Plague of Days: Season 3 don’t believe it. It’s great to be able to hand off such work to others with confidence, but for most of us, we’re writing our own promotional copy. Let’s loosen up and raise the bar.

If you can write a book, you can promote your work effectively without falling back on the cliché of “Buy my book!” I admit, there are writers who only say “buy my book” on Twitter and they are derided everywhere. I think this happens because no one has given them permission to be as imaginative and bouncy as they are when they write their books. It’s all writing, not a separate challenge. If it feels too different from writing books, it’s probably erring on the side of bland.

This is your permission slip:

1. Have more fun. There’s a reason it’s Rule #1. It’s that important, for you and your readers.

2. Use more pull quotes from your work of genius.

3. Make a joke. Be self-deprecating. Be different. Dare to show some personality. Let the joy leak through from your usual writing.

4. Craft something you’d want to read and act upon as a reader.

5. Relax. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Your sales plan doesn’t have to come together within a week or two of your book launch. Ebooks are forever and there are plenty of kicks at the marketing can ahead.

6. Sell less and interact more. Conversations are good. Blaring at is bad.

7. If you can’t interact, curate.

8. Selling effectively is never about selling. It’s about helping your tribe identify their want and need for you. I’m not here to sell. I’m here to help you buy. Stop being so self-conscious and apologetic about what you’re doing and do what you do in books: Put on a show!

9. Not all books are for everyone. Identify where your readers hang out and go there. Advertising for a niche and to a tribe willing to spread your good word is more important than trying to be all things to all people.

Smile. Rejection is a gift. It relieves you of the stress of dealing with boneheads later.

10. Tell more stories, not just in writing books, but in your promotional efforts, too.

Here’s an example of some fun I had on Facebook today:

Newspaper

“Abandoned to an unfeeling universe, an increasing number of Americans are turning to This Plague of Days to confront ‘the horror of it all,'” an anonymous State Department official said. High-level advisors at the White House confirm, “An autistic boy named Jaimie Spencer, 16, of Kansas City, Missouri, may be key to resolving existential ennui. There are jokes, too, but mostly it freaks us out.”

Senator John McCain stated that Congress still can’t decide if Chute’s book is “literary bull****, zombie bull**** or ‘some other bull****.'” The gridlock continues.

Senator Rand Paul is threatening a filibuster, stating, “This is not horror per se! This is dark fantasy and President Obama knows it!” The secret of This Plague of Days remains classified to all but those who read to the end. Rumors of secret video and an offer of a free ebook are confined to those who read the TPOD Omnibus Edition. While Progressives call that anti-egalitarian and elitist, Secretary of State John Kerry said (in a speech that felt like three hours), “That’s capitalism. Whaddaya gonna do?

Meanwhile, the US Congress approval rating has sunk to a new low of 8%, still above public approval of McDonalds’ fishwich and slightly below mononucleosis as a diet strategy.

However, in a stunning break from party lines in a gracious “hands across the aisle” gesture, Speaker John Boehner and Liberal Senator Harry Reid did come to some concord and issued a joint statement. “The pace really picks up in Season 2 and the gross outs were balanced by some high-minded stuff neither of us really understood. We are all frightened for the Spencer family and keep them in our prayers.”

Robert Chazz Chute Bio Picture~ That was fun. I wrote a post recently answering reader’s questions about This Plague of Days. Find that here.

Filed under: author platform, book marketing, Publicity & Promotion, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Art matters. Writing matters. We matter.

Graphic designers make a big difference to readers and the success of authors. A snarky writer once told me I was a hack, too concerned about the look of my book covers. Once.

Everyone else knows, yes, of course we do indeed judge books by their covers.

You can say it shouldn’t matter all you want, but beautiful people and beautiful things get more attention. I won’t find out if you have a great personality and keen intelligence if, when I spot you from across the room, you appear to be surrounded by flies because you’ve rubbed dog feces in your hair. That’s life. That’s science. 

My graphic designer is the brilliant Kit Foster of KitFosterDesign.com. Check out his portfolio.

Kit is my friend and ally. He helps to make my existence matter. He’s helping me get my message out, subliminal and subtextual. It’s that important. All my books are about escaping who I was. They’re about all of us rising to the higher potential of what we could be. Everything I write is about making our existence — yours and mine — matter. Book covers are the come hither stare that lets me into your brain, to play in the Mindfield, to turn the words, to entertain, laugh and think. That’s what it means and why Art matters.

That’s the why. A book cover with solid art is part of the how.

Here is the new cover for the This Plague of Days, Omnibus Edition. It’s not at all what I pictured for the Omnibus cover. It’s better. I just let Kit do what he does best so I can concentrate on what I do best.

This Plague of Days OMNIBUS (Large)

To find out about more about secret video and to get a free ebook with your purchase of the TPOD Omnibus Edition, click here.

~ I am Robert Chazz Chute and, even though I occasionally write books with zombies in them, I am not a hack. It’s not the subject matter that makes the hack. It’s a lack of passion. Ultimately, with every twist, turn, joke and murder, I’m writing about me. And you. 

The suspense is in making our existence matter. Can we do it?

We will.

 

Filed under: book marketing, self-publishing, This Plague of Days, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Writing: Where the money is

Everybody wonders what the next big thing will be in our expanding industry. In other words, “Where’s the money?”

As it relates to writing as an industry, money looks sparse at first glance. I mean, banking, drugs and guns is where the big money is. However, for our industry? The big money in writing is in the beams and braces. Infrastructure. The money will go to people who service our needs as indies. So ask yourself, what do we need?

1. Book apps. We don’t really understand book apps. Programmers do. Book apps with a subscription service could work, especially for certain authors who are in traditional publishing now but will soon make the leap to self-publishing.

2. Author cooperatives. Box sets may already be on the way out, but I think more authors will share resources and trade skills, either in small, structured groups or as part of a time bank organization, or both.

3. Organization provision: Many of us cringe at the idea of a union because it reeks of gatekeepers. I’d say that’s only because the writers unions that have been proposed for indies so far stink of more gatekeeping. Innovators out to advocate instead of control could do better than that, for us and for themselves.

4. An alternative to ACX that’s more generous to creators. ACX was awesome. Technically, it’s still awesome though the creator share is down. Have you noticed that, since ACX lowered the pay rate, we aren’t talking about ACX near so much anymore? We’re still using it because audiobooks are our future. For some, they’re our today! We’d like more choices and we’d like to get back to the bigger cut, though. (The obstacle is effective distribution, so that will have to be bankrolled.)

5. Selling direct from websites will become more popular. You can use Gumroad to sell digital products now. The problem is, no one wants to sideload their kindle with a pdf. Find a way around that problem and we’ll all be doing it to some degree. Fewer buttons, one click. That’s key.

6. Discoverability tools are more important than information. Make more discoverability tools (like you’ll find at Author Marketing Club, for instance.) Information is free everywhere, including here. Ways to help readers find us are harder to come by.

7. Services that promote indie authors will make money. Bookbub is at the top of the heap now, but BookGorilla is cheaper. The Fussy Librarian is very low cost. if I recall correctly, the latter was built partially in response to Bookbub’s fees. Bookbub has big lists of subscribers, sure, but they have competition and it’s growing because Bookbub is so hard to get into and can be so expensive.

8. The company that finds a way to make it easier for books to be printed and distributed (cheaper, faster and easier than it can be done at present) and get it to libraries and bookstores will make a lot of money. Be the new Lightning Source, for instance, but make it as easy to deal with as CreateSpace. (LS has improved in this regard, but I’ve checked it out and it still feels like a hassle.)

9. Translation houses. Everybody knows foreign language publishing is going to be huge. What we don’t know is whom to trust to translate our work and whom to ask to make sure the translations are any good. We’ll also need people (formerly known as agents) whose sole occupation is dealing in foreign rights sales. The markets are waiting, but most of us aren’t ready.

10. The next destination website for our readers. We need a destination website that operates as a cool magazine that curates our work to readers. We need to provide a way for readers to find us and vice versa. We don’t need another Writer’s Digest. We need a Reader’s Digest, if you will, for our work but catering to readers. If there aren’t click to buy and click to explore buttons at the end of each story or sample, it will still miss the mark.

You could, of course, simply write the next big thing.

We are writers, after all. We don’t want to think about all this tech stuff. That’s why someone with the skills to fulfill these needs will eventually appear and get paid.

If you’re still bent on writing to make money, the trouble is that no one knows what the next big thing really will be. No one saw Fifty Shades of Gray coming. It’s not like it was the first book of erotica to go on sale, but it went huge. Its imitators didn’t make near as much dough. Breaking out is not something you can chase, exactly. It happens to you and there are too many variables outside your control.

Just write the best book you can. When your book is ready, I really hope those trusty translation houses will be up and running and ready for business.

What are your ideas for the support structure our industry needs?

~ The good news. I’m now in the Top 100 Horror Authors on Amazon! The book launch bargains continue for This Plague of Days here. See what all the fuss is about, see the video and find the secret.

Filed under: author platform, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Why I unpublished from Amazon (it’s about sales pages, not Hachette)

This isn’t a story about getting away from Amazon. It’s about sales page management, and you need to be aware, sales pages are not something you can just “set and forget.” You have to keep an eye on them for glitches. A glitch just happened to me.

Today, I had a shock.

In the middle of my book launch for This Plague of Days, Season 3 and the TPOD Omnibus Edition, the Omnibus suddenly wasn’t on my Amazon sales page anymore! I checked and that’s the only reason I knew it had disappeared.

Gone! Oh, no! Not now!

I refreshed the page and knocked back a vodka.

Still gone!

I cursed my fate and invoked Thor’s intervention.

Still nothing. Dammit, Thor!

Naturally, after those early strategies failed, I contacted Amazon. They said they’d get back to me within 24 hours. If this had been my first rodeo, I would have pooped kittens. However, they generally get back faster than that and, in this case, I had the fastest response I’ve ever had.

The email assured me there was a “slight glitch” that deleted the book from my sales page. Maybe a slight glitch to them, but I just launched! My interviews are appearing across various blogs promoting my latest books. It was a big deal to me. The email further assured me that the problem would be corrected within “one to three days.”

One to three days?

Vomit.

No, not really. Like I said, this ain’t my first time on a horse. Those emails always allow a long time for their fixes, but the Amazonian techs have, invariably, acted much faster than that. And so it was. This Plague of Days, Omnibus Edition featuring the complete three seasons of the apocalyptic saga with the autistic protagonist trying to save the world? We’re back, baby!

They fixed it within a couple of hours. I have it on good authority other sales platforms don’t swoop in to fix problems nearly so quickly.

Check your pages and make sure all your books are there from time to time.

Further thoughts on sales pages and serialization

After I brought out Season 3 in my series, I had a problem. The sales page looked cluttered and my work is not displayed in the order I’d prefer for greatest sales advantage. What to do? I skipped calling on Thor since he doesn’t show up unless I dress up as a hot chick. (I’m still carrying some winter weight and can’t sell the hotpants.) I sent another email to Amazon:

Could I, perhaps, edit my sales page to make it less cluttered and show my wares to greatest advantage? 

The reply was, for now, a polite no. My Amazon contact did agree that mine was actually a good idea and they would pass the suggestion up the line. Currently, the order of book display is based on sales figures. Self-help for Stoners has been on sale longest, so it’s up top. That’s not the problem. Serial episodes are. 

My Serialization Problem. 

Season One of This Plague of Days was released as one book, but also as five episodes (and each episode’s price was 99 cents.) My Season One episodes sat there, clogging the page and confusing customers. 

I came up with a solution that fit my longer game plan.

I unpublished the five episodes from the first book and set the price for Season One at just 99 cents.

This presents several advantages:

1. At 99 cents, Season One is a low barrier to entry into the series.

2. It gives readers a break on price. 

3. It promotes my visibility and my other books. Sales are up, author rank is up.

4. It avoids (I hope) angry reviews from people mistakenly purchasing Episode IV and V at 99 cents each when they could have had all of Season One (which contains all five episodes) for one incredibly low price. It’s couch change, yes, but some reviewers go nuclear over such things and outrage is rarely expressed with a sense of proportionality. Angry? Burn down somebody’s house! Mildly annoyed? Burn down somebody’s house! See what I mean?

A note about the trouble with serialization.

Serialization certainly has its advantages and helped Season One  and Season Two get more attention. However, no matter how much you might explain it and lay it out in the descriptions and vary the cover art, some readers seem determined to confuse Seasons and Episodes despite a lifetime of watching television. Quick to click, I guess.

I’m very sensitive to criticism (so yes, wow! I know! I am in the wrong business!) Anyway, the last thing I want is for readers to be confused or feel ripped off. That’s another reason Season Three is one huge book instead of broken into episodes. Serialization put me on the map, but the Law of Diminishing Returns has kicked in.

I still have episodes of Season Two on Amazon obstructing the view on my sales page. It is, as it has always been, cheaper to buy the season than to buy the episodes. I can’t let it go at 99 cents, though, so those episodes are going to stay up for a long time. Until Amazon changes its policy and allows me to control title placement, they stay and Season Two is priced as low as I will make it. When I do get control, the eps will go to the back of the sales page. I could just unpublish them, but I don’t want to leave the few who just bought Season 2, Episode III in the lurch.

How long is long enough to wait for those readers to catch up and complete their S2 episode purchases? A year? Two? I don’t know.

~ The TPOD book launch bargains continue.

 

Tell me when you discovered the secret of the TPOD Omnibus and I’ll send you my next thriller as an ebook. Details here.

Filed under: author platform, Books, free ebooks, self-publishing, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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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http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IK9RQV4?tag=authl.it-20

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http://politicalhorrorstory.weebly.com/

https://www.facebook.com/politicalhorrorstory

https://twitter.com/@ianmcc2010

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, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How to reach readers in a way most writers don’t

When you think of using video to promote your book, you probably think of a book trailer, like this:

I made the trailer above and it turned out pretty slick, I think. But there’s a better way. A book trailer broadcasts out. I want to motivate readers to find me, not just talk at them. Sure, book trailers can be cool, but there’s little to no evidence they motivate people to purchase more books. (Click on my old post here for thirteen options for using video. I especially like the Scott Sigler strategy.)

Here’s how I added value to This Plague of Days, Omnibus Edition.

The better way is to use video is to thank readers and engage them with a question or a reward. I opted to do both with a link to a secret video at the back of the TPOD Omnibus Edition. It’s three books in one, so, for those who care to, they can make one purchase and save a couple of bucks.

Here are the specifics of my latest launch strategy:

1. I’ve just launched two books, This Plague of Days, Season 3 and This Plague of Days, Omnibus Edition.

2. I dropped the price on the first novel to 99 cents and marked the second book down to $2.99. I’m selling the Omnibus (three big books in one) for $6. 

3. At the back of the Omnibus, exclusive to those readers, is a link to a private video. In it, I talk about the saga. It’s been years in the making. This is my Star Wars. Putting it to bed is a big deal to me and I give some behind-the-scenes origin information.

4. I ask a sincere question. A secret has been buried in this series from Season One and it pays off late in Season 3. It’s a huge surprise that a lot of people tried to figure out but they only saw it in retrospect. (My beta readers all said the same thing. “Oh! Of course! You dog!”)

5. As long as Omnibus readers answer the question in the comment thread at the private video link this year, I’ll send each of them my next thriller ebook as a gift. Free. No strings or demands for a newsletter sign-up. The new thriller comes out later this summer and it even ties other books together. It’ll be a fun ride and also a solid bridge to my other books even though it’s not in TPOD‘s genre.

6. Video is a more personal way to thank readers. By adding another book to the six-dollar Omnibus, readers won’t just save some bucks. They’ll get four books (three huge ones and one decent-sized novel.) Readers will benefit and I hope to gain readers who are already enthusiastic about my particular brand of crazy. 

7. I know this approach trips some fear alarms for some authors. Please don’t tell me I’m devaluing literature by pricing it too low and giving too much away. I’ve lowered the price, not the value. The literature that is devalued most is that which is read least. Times are tough for a lot of people, me included. But I still believe that generosity and helping others wins over greed. Give more and you’ll attract the people you want to be your readers. When they find you, they’ll buy all your books. Don’t chase anyone. Count the giveaway as the cost of advertising, something any business does. Let readers come to you willingly and they’ll bring you joy instead of heartache. 

How did I do it?

I used iMovie, but you could use a cell phone. It doesn’t matter as long as it uploads to Youtube and designate the link “unlisted” so only those who have the link can access it. It doesn’t have to be slick and fancy or have a kickass soundtrack that sounds like it’s calculated to accompany an invasion of Libya.

Your video might even be better if it’s not slick. I love my energetic little book trailer, but heartfelt and speaking into the camera? Heartfelt is more important than slick.

But how did I sell the TPOD Big Deal Book Launch to readers?

Here’s exactly how I did it.

~ I’m Robert Chazz Chute and no one can begin to fathom the depths of my exhaustion at this moment. I am puddin’. But I’m also happy. Anxious and happy. Mostly anxious. Go make a video. Of love. (No, I don’t mean like that!…okay…maybe like that.) 

Filed under: author platform, book marketing, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Write to live

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

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