How “Pounded In The Butt By My Own Butt” changed the way I saw books forever
Books are changing. Our idea of what a book is is shaped by certain forces, and those forces are changing.
Books do not have to be a certain length. The spine doesn’t have to be wide enough stand out amongst the other books on the shelf. The per-unit cost of each Kindle book is zero.
Books don’t have to take a year to write, and another year to market. There isn’t a huge stack of books sitting in a warehouse that you have to liquidate. There isn’t a publicist on staff whose time you have to reserve in order to have a huge launch.
And, of course, a book doesn’t have to be “blessed” by an agent and publisher.
The most profound realization I had that books were changing was when I saw the work of Chuck Tingle. Here’s the cover of his book, Pounded In The Butt By My Own Butt.
The first Chuck Tingle book I saw was Domald Tromp Pounded In The Butt By The Handsome Russian T-Rex Who Also Peed On His Butt And Then Blackmailed Him With The Videos Of His Butt Getting Peed On. But that just didn’t seem to make a good title for this post.
After I wiped the tears of laughter from my cheeks (okay, so I have the sense of humor of a 13 year-old), I noticed some things about Chuck Tingle:
- His books are short. They might be 4,000 words, or 10,000 words. (My newest book, The Heart to Start is 25,000 words. Most business books are 40,000 to 60,000 words).
- He publishes often. It’s early March, and he’s published five books this year already. That’s a pace of two books a month.
- He has a cult following. His books actually get bought and reviewed. Space Raptor Butt Trilogy has 21 Amazon reviews, with a rating of 4.3 stars—not bad at all! His Reddit AMA has hundreds and hundreds—maybe thousands — of comments.
- He’s making a decent income. KDP Rocket (affiliate) estimates that Slammed In The Butt By My Handsome Laundry Detergent Pod is bringing in $239 a month. While few of his books are currently doing that well, he has over 100 books.
I’ve never bought nor read a Chuck Tingle book. I still can’t figure out if this is all an act, or of Chuck Tingle is just a very unusual person. None of that matters. Chuck Tingle sells books. Here’s why Chuck Tingle sells books:
- He does something remarkable. Chuck Tingle’s books are ridiculous. I could be wrong, but I don’t think many people take the gay-dinosaur-space-erotica genre seriously. Each time I tell a friend about Chuck Tingle, they literally cry laughing. Then they tell everyone they know.
- He gets traffic to his books. To get your books bought, people have to see them. Chuck does this not just by making his books remarkable, he also “newsjacks,” by releasing books based on topics in the news. He released Slammed In The Butt By My Handsome Laundry Detergent Pod as jokes about detergent pods were circulating the Internet. He released Domald Tromp Pounded In The Butt By The Handsome Russian T-Rex Who Also Peed On His Butt And Then Blackmailed Him With The Videos Of His Butt Getting Peed On as a similar story was circulating about a guy with a similar name to Domald Tromp. He even gets seasonal, with Pounded In The Butt By The Sentient Physical Manifestation Of Valentine’s Day, and Pounded In The Butt By The Handsome Physical Manifestation Of Holiday Shopping.
- He creates a network of books. Kindle books don’t have spines that have to stand out on the shelves. No matter the length of a book, it gets an Amazon page of the same size. That Amazon page is a chance to tell people about your other books (through the “also-boughts”). The book itself is also an opportunity to tell readers about your other books (through “also by the author,” or by including sample chapters). By having lots of books, Chuck Tingle makes full use of this real estate.
A traditional publisher would have never published Chuck Tingle’s books. A traditional publisher would never publish books as short as Tingle’s. They also could never move quickly enough to crank out books that tap into current events.
Is the lesson to go out and start writing velociraptor porn? No. The lesson is to re-think what a book is from the ground up. Look at the parameters that make books work, and go from that.
I can’t believe I’m saying this: Chuck Tingle’s work inspired me to write a short “book.” How to Write a Book: An 11-Step Process to Build Habits, Stop Procrastinating, Fuel Self-Motivation, Quiet Your Inner Critic, Bust Through Writer’s Block, & Let Your Creative Juices Flow.
Here’s how I use what I learned from watching Chuck Tingle:
- The book is short. It’s 7,000 words. It took a couple weeks to write. It gets to the point, and it still has an Amazon page as big as that of War and Peace.
- The book gets traffic on Amazon. Newsjacking isn’t my thing, but SEO is. The title and subtitle of How to Write a Book takes up almost all of the 200-character limit. There are more keywords to help relevant readers find the book when searching on Amazon. It’s like having a wide spine.
- The book gets traffic on the web. Again, no newsjacking, but the book has at least one other way to get traffic. I’ve released How to Write a Book as a blog post—for free—on my blog. The post is of course called How to Write a Book. The hope is that post gets search traffic, and some people opt to buy the Kindle edition.
- The book leads to other books. How to Write a Book is only 99 cents, and Kindle Unlimited members can read it for free. It’s a cheap entry point into my work, through which readers can discover my other books, such as The Heart to Start and Design for Hackers, and get on my email list, where they may buy my courses.
Just how successful my Chuck Tingle-inspired book will be remains to be seen. I published it with the exciting though in my head of “this might not work.” What I do know is that it’s another step in my learning process. Even after writing a couple of books, I’m always learning more about just what a book is.