All posts by Tobias Buckell

18 Dec

The Xenowealth novels are now available to non-US eBook readers

While I sort out the administrative stuff for the recently successful Kickstarter for Xenowealth: A Collection, I have another piece of exciting holiday news. I’ve been working really hard to get the eBooks of Crystal Rain and Ragamuffin up for the holiday season in non-US territories.

Buckell CrystalRain

They are available on Amazon in non-US, non-Canada, and non-Philippine areas (Tor owns the exclusive rights to the US, Canada and the Philippines on them). So for example, UK readers, here is Crystal Rain (it is actually popping up the steampunk top 100 list, so yay).

The bookstores that allow sales in that particular geographic region are Amazon, Kobo, and iTunes. So if you are outside the US, Canada, and the Philippines and look for the eBooks in either of those stores you should find them.

I am still learning Google Play.

So the books are now available in English, world wide.

Particularly of note to my Caribbean readers: you can now snag the Xenowealth eBooks easily as well.

Pricing is $2.99 for Crystal Rain, $3.99 for Ragamuffin, and $4.99 for Sly Mongoose and $4.99 for The Apocalypse Ocean.

Lastly, Sly Mongoose is going live on January 2nd. That’s my birthday. I wanted to celebrate it with a book launch.

But all three eBook outlets are set to take pre-orders.

09 Dec

Authors reading one star reviews

Have you been paying attention to the Worldbuilders charity that Pat Rothfuss runs? It’s up to $574,508 raised for Heifer International. One of the stretch goals was just blown right past (450K), in which I and many other cool writers read one star reviews of our work.

You can help out Heifer International via Worldbuilders here by just buying great signed books, or other cool items, as well as entering a lottery.

The next stretch goal is getting Hank Green to perform an angry acoustic of “Shake it Off.”

What’s that you say? You want to make the world a better place while winning fabulous prizes?

Well today is your lucky day.

Heifer International is our favorite charity. It helps people raise themselves up out of poverty and starvation. Heifer promotes education, sustainable agriculture, and local industry all over the world.

They don’t just keep kids from starving, they make it so families can take care of themselves. They give goats, sheep, and chickens to families so their children have milk to drink, warm clothes to wear, and eggs to eat.

(Are you ready? I’m so ready. Let’s do it.)

Pay attention now, you’ve got a couple different options for donating.

The Lottery

The Sure Thing

The Auctions

(Via How It Works | Worldbuilders.)

08 Dec

More on Kindle Unlimited

When I said half the stuff indie writers are now saying in the comments here about Amazon I was called some heinous names and ‘legacy’ writer, a ‘trad pub house slave’ and many other objectionable things. All I’ve done is note in the past that putting all your eggs in the Amazon basket will one day lead to sorrow.

Porter Anderson has a pretty thorough roundup over at theBookSeller.com:

Odd how those squeals of “this is the best time to be an author!” start to fade when you hear about a major self-publishing author’s struggles to pay a child’s medical bills because 75 percent of her Amazon income evaporated in the advent of KU, isn’t it?

Trial and so much error, obviously by Amazon’s folks — who are good people inventing a new  wheel — as well as by authors.

What comes next? We don’t know. As usual. 

That’s the bottom line: the way, the truth, and the lightheadedness of it all.. We just don’t know.

(Via Is the honeymoon over? KU comes between Amazon and its self-publishers | The Bookseller.)

There’s still a lot of sorting and settling out.

But we are the little insects under conglomerate giant’s feet. It’s not that I’m going to say other corporations are better. Just that I have a cynical eye toward them all! The idea peddled a few years ago that Amazon cared about writers and nothing but writers was silly then, and we’re starting to realize it.

Amazon cares about customers first, and gaining more of them… also first. Giving them free books for signing up to their service is a win for Amazon, even if it’s not a win for writers.

If that means at the writer’s cost, so be it. I warned about this with the cuts that were made in audio royalties, and the cuts made in certain foreign markets if you didn’t go Kindle Select. And even though I sold as a hybrid author, I was consistently attacked for pointing these moves out.

eBooks are a great option. I’m happy to see more arrows in the quiver.

But now we’re seeing the reality set in. There’s lots of work ahead of us. And the gold-rush mentality is fading. Which is a relief.

I’m not giving up on being a hybrid author, but I sure am making sure my books are for sale in multiple areas and in multiple ways.

08 Dec

They as a pronoun

I’ve noticed some reviews catch that I do my best to adopt they and them as a neutral pronoun. I’ve seen Zir and Ze around, but I’m not sure if that’ll take off. Them and they for a neutral works. Whether or not a character is gender neutral, I prefer to try to keep the character reference neutral. If the character’s gender is truly unknown, it seems fair.

It looks like it’s something younger generations are doing, and their teachers are trying to catch up:

As language catches up with culture, new pronouns have been invented to acknowledge gender-variant identities. Just as importantly, the gender-neutral plural pronoun “they” and its inflected forms, “them”, “their”, “themselves” (and “themself”!), are being used to refer to one person. To mark gender inclusivity, “they” has arrived at the party.

(Via ‘They’ has arrived at the pronoun party | Opinion | Times Higher Education.)

Though I’d submit in SF/F and other circles questions about non-gendered pronouns have been floating around a while.

addendum: Good point by David Thomas Moore on twitter:

08 Dec

Reminder: How to Get Signed and Personalized Tobias S. Buckell Books for the Holidays, 2014

I’m bumping this back up, reminder, you have until the 10th (that’s Wednesday) to snag signed books for the holidays if you want them:

Winter’s coming! Which means we’ll soon be shopping for gifts for each other and doing our best, if we’re too far away from the equator, to keep coldwarm. And there’s nothing better than sitting inside a warm home with a book, right?

At John Scalzi’s excellent suggestion (he’s been doing this a few years), I’m teaming up with Jay & Mary’s Book Center, the closest independent bookseller to me, to offer signed and personalized books. You can get a great gift and support a independent book store, which is a double win.

How to do it?

1. Ring up Jay & Mary’s Book Center, via their 800 number (800-842-1604) and explain that you want to order signed copies of my books. And they’ve asked that everyone please call rather than send email, as they find it easier to keep track that way.

2. Tell them what books you’d like and whether you want it just plainly signed by me, or if you’d like me to sign it to a specific name (great for gifts), and if there’s something specific you’d like me to write in the book. Do remember to make it clear if you’re ordering the book as a gift who’s name the book is being signed to. If it’s unclear to me, I’ll avoid using a specific name.

3. You don’t have to order just my books. For example, John Scalzi will be in to sign books at Jay & Mary. You could get *two* New York Times Bestelling authors signing your books at once.

4. Give Jay & Mary your mailing address and billing info. This is open to US Residents only, alas, due to shipping issues.

5. After that, I’ll be swinging by Jay & Mary’s to sign the books for you!

If you want the books by Christmas, the deadline for that is December 10th in order to make sure they get to you!

Here are the books of mine that are available:

Current Hardcover: Hurricane Fever.

Paperback: Arctic Rising. The Xenowealth novels Crystal Rain, Ragamuffin, and Sly Mongoose may still have some warehouses holding them, the best thing to do is ask and find out. As the trade paperbacks are coming out this January, they may be harder to order this season around.

Anthologies I’m in: Upgraded, Dead Man’s Hand, The Book of Silverberg (you’re free to ask about others, but again I wouldn’t be sure about their availability).

Good luck shopping, and thanks so much for supporting Jay & Mary’s Book Center,. When John took me over to show me the store I was excited to realize there was an independent I could do this with (and pick up a couple books from while I was there). They seem like a great store, and I’m thrilled to be working with them.

Best!

06 Dec

Kindle Unlimited may be cannibilizing eBook sales. I’m unsurprised

Amazon is disintermediating general eBook sales with Kindle Unlimited:

When Kindle Unlimited launched in July, it was hoped that the increase in fees paid for loans would counteract the loss in income from authors not being able to sell their ebooks outside of the Kindle Store.

Sadly, a lot of authors are reporting that that is not the case.

(Via Author discontent grows as Kindle Unlimited enters its fifth month – The Digital Reader.)

Expect impacts due to Oyster and its like as well. For a canary in the coal mine, check out singer/songwriters/musicians and the Spotify effect.

So if you’re exempt from Kindle Universe exclusivity (as certain Amazon boosters are, because they’re used as figureheads), it’s a good gig.

Everyone else is in a different spot. And as I’ve been saying for years, if you depend on one marketplace or avenue, you’re effectively non-diversified and you’re at risk if a business model changes.

I’m happy to diversify into Kindle (I have some new stuff coming out over the next quarter), but it’s one avenue of income among many.

The best thing you can do is Courtney Milan’s advice to make sure you built up a great email list serv of people interested in your next book.

Why?

Consider your current career as just one variation on many you’ll experience. Assume that algorithms will change. That tastes will change. Things will shift. Empires grow and die.

A mailing list of fans?

Doesn’t matter if you use Kindle, direct brain-to-brain interface, burst into scripts, or start serializing on your blog for Patreon subscriptions, if you have a growing list of subscribers you’ll always be able to reach them.

Facebook changed how you could reach the people you’d gathered up as an audience. Twitter might as well.

Control your own website and mailing list (physical too, they’re still A Thing), and always think of distribution as a business partner matter, not a matter of revolution or what tribe you’re a member of, and these swings will come as less a surprise and more of just part of the constant shifting that is trying to make a living as an artist or trying to reach many people as an artist.

Because no matter how you do that, it’s actually way harder than it looks.

If it wasn’t everyone else would be doing it, right?

04 Dec

Xenowealth: A Collection Kickstarter is halfway through. Some quick thoughts.

As of today we’re just over the halfway mark on my Kickstarter for Xenowealth: A Collection. I promised I’d burn some social capitol promoting this, but Thanksgiving break and holidays hit at the halfway point as well, so I’ve just been letting things go quiet.

When I built this Kickstarter out, I wanted to tweak some of the things I’d done in the past. For one, in the past I’d put the eBooks at too high a value. Lowering them to $10 seems to have boosted our numbers, and included some drive-by backers who aren’t already part of my core readership. So that worked.

I noticed from some other Kickstarters that a decent tranche of trade paperback backers existed. I’d shied away as that being ‘more logistics’ in the past. But I think I was wrong. It fills in a ~$30 backing level. There’s a logical $10 eBook, $30 trade and $50 hardcover set of steps.

I’m noticing my higher ones aren’t as popular though, so while I nailed the lower ones, I’m having trouble with those. But I can’t call it a failed test until the very end. We shall see.

The $30 trade level also offers a great transition into the post-Kickstarter selling. Get a trade paperback ready to sell via CreateSpace, because if you have the rights, you should do that anyway. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for The Apocalypse Ocean, Mitigated Futures, and I haven’t. Putting in there will make me do it. While the limited hardcover will be limited, the trade allows me sell physical books.

People still really like those. I need to test those waters out more than I currently do.

I need to put out a call for artists soon. That’ll be fun to have some of the stories illustrated.

As far as progress so far, I’m happy. People asked why I set the goal so low at $1,000. As Mitigated Futures hit $3,280 (and a last minute backer came in the next day to push it to $4,280 and commission a custom story), I had a feeling we could get to $4,000 or so. I set up stretch goals all the way through $10,000, trying to make sure to keep the project interesting. And because, hey, a guy can dream, right?

That said, I wasn’t expecting the first day to go so well. To be at $5,220 here halfway through is amazing. Lots of Xenowealth fans out there.

I am questioning whether I should have set a $6,000 stretch goal with the third novella there, instead of putting it in with the $7,500 omnibus. Maybe that would have kept some excitement during the slower bits here in week 3.

But week 4 always picks back up.

I have no idea where this is going to end, but it’s been quite a ride so far.

Thanks all for the signal boosts and enthusiasm. Short story collections get the short shrift often enough in an author’s career. They’re a hard sell. It’s interesting to see that crowdfunding opens up a space here for me to do these in a way where everyone wins.

When I talked at O’Reilly Tools of Change about crowdfunding I mentioned that Kevin Kelly’s ‘1,000 true fans’ concept could be used to do interesting things even at smaller levels. 169 readers made Mitigated Futures a great project, 191 gave me the space to write The Apocalypse Ocean. 192 are on board for the Xenowealth collection. The next 13 days should be interesting!

NewImage

02 Dec

Juggling projects

I mentioned last night on twitter that I’m grateful I took the time a month ago to rethink my to-do list management.

Years ago I was using Things, but it stopped syncing to my iPhone reliably. Plus, managing the list was starting to crumble and take time. I switched to a simple piece of software inspired by paper lists called TaskPaper, which I’ve used for almost three years now.

It did the trick, but as project management started getting more and more complex over the last year, year and a half, I started dropping the occasional ball.

This was extremely frustrating.

I spent time in November trying to figure out what was happening, and I realized that I wasn’t checking in on TaskPaper frequently, and that I was relying on my calendar and a simple document in Evernote more and more.

Why was that?

Well, one thing that’s important in modern task management for me is not leaving emails in an inbox as a to-do, as eventually that just overwhelms me. The psychic weight of emails that aren’t handled is a big issue in modern workflow. I was moving stuff to TaskPaper, and it helped me visualize everything that needed done.

Problem was, TaskPaper was too much like a paper list. There was no way I could tag it to alert me on a certain day that something needed done. And it didn’t work hard at screening unscheduled tasks away from me unless I created tabs based on tags. So although it was a simpler user interface, it was secretly more complex for me in that I needed to actively sort tags to achieve a ‘work on this today’ sort of screen.

I tested out over fifteen different apps over three days. Time I didn’t have, but basically I was thinking this:

NewImage

I settled on 2Do, an app that is a bit clunky and imperfect (requires a couple too many clicks to get core info into a to-do), I think Todoist was cleaner and simpler (and yes, please do assume I tested [insert your favorite software here] but had my own personal reasons for not using it) but at some point, imperfect, you have to make a choice and roll with it.

2Do had a lot of focus on skeudorphic design that I didn’t like in past years, but the current iteration works.

And only seeing today’s projects, or this week’s, is a huge relief.

Because I’m trying to:

-get Crystal Rain ready for sale in English digital stores that I have the rights to sell it
-set up pre-orders for Ragamuffin and Sly Mongoose (after above)
-run a Kickstarter
-finish revise a YA novel
-write an outline for a novel due later next year
-revise an outline for a novel I have to start writing ASAP due early next year
-prep all the rewards for said Kickstarter
-finish some paperwork for incorporation
-finish banking details for incorporation
-tax payment information for incorporation
-convert business cards to new corporation, change business cards, set up a retirement account
-read two books for blurbs
-several tweaks needed on website
-publicity followup and outreach for Crystal Rain’s trade paperback launch in January need tackled now
-write an outline for a collaboration I’ve been planning for a few months
-keep track of an already written novel’s progress, sub rights on other novels, some possibilities
-keep an eye on 4 different checks owed to me (as a freelancer, you’re the business dept.)

That’s just the writing stuff. I have eBooks to design for clients and solar tubes to make sure are installed in the house to get sunlight for the winter, and possible projects around the house as well.

This is all in the next week or so.

In Taskpaper I’d just see everything like that and blanch. Then get overwhelmed and panic. So with 2Do, I just see the couple of things I have marked myself to work on for today.

So I can just put my head down and focus on that. Tomorrow it will surface something different. I have to-dos plugged in to surface three months down the road, and now they’re just out of my head and not cluttering things up.

That’s a relief.

26 Nov

New covers for the METAtropolis novellas, which will be available as eBooks for the first time early next year (but much sooner for Kickstarter backers)

The METAtropolis series is the multiple Audie-award winning and Hugo nominated series that I wrote three novellas for. I am turning these novellas into eBooks that will go on sale early next year.

A lot of people have loved the audio versions, but wanted to have text versions to read, and not everyone listens to audio. I asked Jenn Reese at Tiger Bright Studios if she would work on the covers, and she came up with these. I love them:

METAtropolis Stochasticity

 

METAtropolis Byways

 

METAtropolis Tensegrity

I’m including these three novellas, which are only available as audiobooks right now, as free eBooks in the stretch goals for my Kickstarter of Xenowealth: A Collection.

These books will be delivered some time in December to Kickstarter backers, after the finish of the whole Kickstarter (the novellas will launch individually for sale in January or February, for novella prices, so you don’t just get them for free, but get them a couple months earlier than anyone else).