Wednesday, February 5, 2014

SPEAKING AT THE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA WRITER'S CONFERENCE

I'll be speaking at the Southern California Writers' Conference over Presidents' Day weekend, Feb 14-17. My discussion is called "Triple Threat: Author, Indie, Entrepreneur." Here's a class description:


This class deals with the business of being your own publisher, from writing content, selling books through various retailers, and getting reviews. Find the best ways of attracting readers and learn about the expected costs of packaging and uploading your novel, as well as the challenges of DEY: Doing Everything Yourself. By avoiding gimmicks, and by not getting sucked into the social media black hole, an author can focus on the the proven ways of selling books: content people rave about, a solid fan base, and being in those algorithmic rankings.




Hope to see you there!

Here's a link to the website: http://writersconference.com/sd/

My page on the site:  http://writersconference.com/sd/staff/christopher-john-chater/

Sunday, November 17, 2013

AQUARIUS RISING Now Available!

My new book, Aquarius Rising, is now available on Amazon. The print version should be ready in a few days.

Here's a summary:



Out-of-work architect Nick Fellows never suspects a job interview will lead to a fight for his life. It begins when he receives an email he discovers is encoded with numerological numbers, sent to him from a mysterious company named Atlantis Revisited. Against his better judgment, he accepts an interview with them in a park in Manhattan. He's met by their strikingly beautiful recruiter, Lisa, who's only allowed to tell him that the company's primary focus is civilization building . . . and that their last architect was murdered. 
Immediately following the interview both of their lives are put in danger. But what could the company possibly be building, and who wants them dead because of it? The only thing Nick and Lisa know for sure is that they need to get to a place called Aquarius and Aquarius is rising.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Chater Family Reveals Their Favorite Elizabeth Chater Book


First born, Elizabeth Patricia, has two favorite books written by her mother: The Marriage Mart, and coming in a close second, The Elsingham Portrait. The Marriage Mart is a top seller, reaching #2 on Amazon for Regency Romance, but the family is often surprised by The Elsingham Portrait's lackluster sales--it's easily one of her best!


 The Marriage Mart The Elsingham Portrait                     


Daughter Eve Lynn's favorite book is A Course in Murder. The book is dedicated to her and her college roommate. Rumor has it that Elizabeth used them as models for the young sleuths in the book!

Son Kerry Michael’s favorite is The Gamester. The book is dedicated to Kerry, “Who loves the gamble.” The book was in the top one hundred on amazon for several months.


Jerry Chater’s favorite book is also The Gamester: “Wonderful characters and a great love story!”

Chris Chater, grandson and publisher, has two favorites: The Big Sling and A Place for Alfreda. For me the character of Alfreda is one of her best, a woman who is looking for her place in the world.



Lynn Gillespie Chater’s favorite is Lauren's Designs.  


Grand daughter Jennifer Perry's favorite is Emerald Love.



Customer favorite: The Gamester has achieved the highest ranking, staying in the Regency Romance top ten on Amazon for several months, reaching a high of number four. A Season for the Heart has sold the most copies and has the most consistently favorable reviews. It has been in the top hundred on amazon for several months.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Thom Kephart From Amazon Speaks at PWSD


Thom Kephart, Community Outreach Product Manager from Amazon, was the guest speaker at the PWSD meeting today. Kephart has been working in the independent publishing industry for six years, starting with Createspace. Now with amazon’s Outreach program, Kephart is responsible for branding and expanding awareness of Amazon’s independent publishing platforms to the public. There were at least 150 people at today’s meeting, much more than organizers had anticipated. President Karla Olson was frantically trying to service a growing number of attendees, a huge line of people that circled the banquet room. I overheard her say, “We’ve never had this many people show up before.” Kudos to her, it went extremely well. And it proves that self-publishing is not only popular, but it’s still just beginning. There’s no telling how popular it will become. I once read a statistic that one quarter of the population of the planet writes fiction. That’s how many people could potentially use KDP.  

Kephart went over some of the basics of publishing on KDP and Createspace, and he did so fantastically. Here are some of the highlights:

Print sales are being helped by e-books sales. Often we hear that e-book sales are ruining the print business, but this isn’t true. Print sales are going up.

There are 40,000 publishers now on Amazon. And that doesn’t include independent authors who publish with Amazon.  

Metadata matters. What is metadata? Anything used to find, categorize, or describe your books on the internet, including tags, book descriptions, and author bios. Thom highly recommends having an author central page with a picture and bio. People want to know who the author is. Make sure to tag your book and find clever ways to reach readers with your description and categorization.

He recommends having your book on all POD platforms, not just Createspace. “You never know where someone is going to find your book.”  He also recommends buying the ISBN. This was a contentious spot for me when I was publishing on Createspace. I wasn’t sure how much it mattered, and Thom agrees that it’s not a major concern unless you have a huge readership, but he did recommend being listed as the publisher and owning your ISBN. Too late for me. Maybe next time.

He recommended the book “SEO For Dummies.” Let’s face it, most of us are writers, not computer wizards. But the internet is our marketplace and we should learn how to use it as best we can. First thing to know, what does SEO stand for? Search Engine Optimization. Business owners spend big dollars to make sure their websites are optimized, meaning that if someone types in “glazed donut” in Google, the site for their donut shop is more likely to come up first.

He said we writers have to help each other. Better to collaborate than compete.

In his opinion DRM is more annoying than helpful to readers, though he stressed that that’s just his opinion and authors should decide for themselves what’s best for their books. I say screw it. A simple search on the internet can get you free DRM stripping software.

KDP charges a bigger delivery fee for larger files than smaller ones. That’s probably common knowledge, but it was news to me. So if you sell picture books, make sure to check your delivery charges. They take it out of your royalty! The horror!

All in all it was a great presentation by Mr. Kephart. It also put a human face on the process. Sometimes we’re lead to think our books are being managed by twelve year-old girls in India or something, but thankfully that’s not the case. Thom was knowledgeable and helpful and said many times that he wants to hear from us authors personally. He said his department gets tons of drunken calls all hours of the night from authors who can’t figure out formatting or something. It’s good to know I’m not alone.

    

If you live in the San Diego area, check out PWSD: http://publisherswriters.org/

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Happy Birthday Elizabeth Chater!

Today was my late grandmother's birthday. She would be thrilled to see how well her books are doing. I started a .99 cent sale of all her books last Friday and it's been going really well. She now has four books in the top 100 Regency Romance on amazon!

These were the rankings when I last checked.

The Gamester ranked 20 

The Marriage Mart ranked 48

The Duke's Dilemma ranked 90

The Random Gentleman ranked 95

The sale will continue until Friday Aug 24th. But don't worry, I'm planning another sale in November.

Thank you all!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

WHAT TO DO WITH THAT NOVEL




I just read a blog by a well-known writer and I feel the need to respond to it. The author’s intent was to offer advice to unpublished authors who had just completed a novel. I used to read this type of stuff like crazy back in the days before self-publishing, when I was a starving writer desperate to publish in any legitimate market. The funny part is that this advice now seems completely antiquated . . . and potentially . . . unhelpful. Yes, maybe five years ago, ten years ago, definitely twenty years ago this advice might have been relevant. But now authors have choices and good ones at that.

This was the advice in a nutshell: after the author has completed a novel, and after all normal avenues have been exhausted to procure a publishing deal, such as querying agents or submitting to every publisher in town, even the small presses, the author should then forgo trying to publish the novel and instead look to the short story market to make a name for oneself, thus, in time, one might prove one’s merit to agents and publishers and maybe, just maybe, if the stars align just right, the author’s long list of short story credits (this could take years) might magically cause the publishing world to lower its drawbridge and let you into its kingdom.

The blogger qualified his advice with the fact that the publishing world is currently at a low point. If they aren’t interested in the work, it may not be your fault. You’ll never know this, of course, because they usually just give you a form letter. But now it’s an especially bad time to try and break into the publishing world because  . . . well, he doesn’t say, but apparently good authors are being laid off, submissions are being ignored, and midlist authors are not given the chance to renew their contracts.

Hmmm, hasn’t this always been the case? Was there a golden age when publishers were offering contracts to even a small percentage of querying authors? No. But apparently, now it’s especially bad. The author never said why. Just is.

The economy maybe?

So I’m thinking, well, if it’s so bad, why did they offer Amanda Hocking a two million dollar contract? There are a LOT of great writers out there, GREAT WRITERS, who never see two millions dollars over the life of their contracts. Why give two million dollars to a young girl who was self-publishing? I realize this argument has been made to death already—it’s old news for those of us who have been self-publishing for more than a year now, but this particular blogger didn’t feel the need to point it out, so I thought I would. So why give a self-published author such an exorbitant advance and then reject so many other authors? They could have offered her a quarter of that amount and it still would have been a lot for a new author. What happened to the standard advance for a first time fantasy author, which is usually about 15-35,000 on the high end?
We all know why. Because Mrs. Hocking represented a self-published author who was not only making a killing, but was getting a lot of media attention in the process. She was a thorn in their side. I’m not arguing her decision to sign or not to sign, I’m just pointing out the facts. She’s a good writer and deserves the attention, but so do a lot of writers.

The blogger then advised that the author might consider cannibalizing his novel and either turning it into one short story or several short stories. I’ve gone down this road as an author and here’s what I think about this issue, take it or leave it. The work wants to be what it wants to be. If it wants to be a novel, don’t cut it up into a short story. If you want to enter into the short story market, write something new. There are lots of fantastic internet magazines out there and entering that market is a great idea, but don’t trash your book to do it.

Here’s what I would do with the novel.

First things first. Is the novel any good? Your mom loves it. Your friends love it. Now you need honest feedback. Find beta readers. Go on librarything and put it up on their Early Reviewers program. If you get a significant amount of negative feedback, it might be time to rethink the work. If it’s your first novel, you might want to consider rewriting it or shelfing it and starting something new. My first novel was called The Third Dimension. You’ll never get to read it, and for good reason. But if the reviews of your book are mostly favorable, go to step two.

Pay someone to edit the hell out of it. Make sure it’s as clean as a whistle. A lot of first time authors resist this, but it has to be done. The number one complaint readers have of self-published work is that it’s grammatically flawed.

Next, get a great cover. The better the cover, the better chance it will have.

Learn to format it into an ebook or pay someone to do it.

Last, self-publish it everywhere you can. Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, everywhere. Get reviews. Promote it as best you can.

Take a step back and see how you like the process. Chances are you are going to love it. Don’t listen to anyone who says you’re going to go on some type of traditional blacklist. If you still want a traditional deal, you can still try for one. You’ll still have as much chance as anyone else—I would argue that you'll now have a better chance because now you understand what it takes to make a book sellable.

Repeat the process.

Meanwhile, there’s no reason why you can’t submit short stories to magazines. You could always self-publish the short stories, but getting $500 for your work and the street cred would be nice too. Many publications ask that you give them the rights to your work up to a year.

The downside of it all? It takes time to build a fan base, but if you’re diligent, it won’t take as long as it would take to get a publishing deal. Some self-publishers never make it. But more self-publishers are making it than those trying to break in via the traditional route. And, chances are, sooner than later, self-publishing will become the traditional route.

Updates:
Pricing Elizabeth Chater's book, The Gamester, at .99c has done wonders. It’s been in the top one hundred historical romance for more than a month, and it’s climbed as high as 37th in kindle UK historical romance! Check it out! UK Amazon. Amazon.
      
Omegasphere is now available in print. The print edition includes the short story “Progenitor.” Check it out here.