Category Archives: Writing

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

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

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).

21 Nov

Xenowealth Kickstarter update: tweaked stretch goals include free METAtropolis novellas (first time in text format for readers) & other updates

The Xenowealth Kickstarter is rocking it at 380% over it’s goal. 144 backers, and we’ve unlocked several stretch goals.

You’re all blowing me away.

One of my readers asked if I’ll include an essay about the origins of the Xenowealth and how I came to build it. I thought that was a great idea, and updated the Kickstarter and table of contents to include that I’d be doing such an essay.

But I’ll also open this up. I know some of my readers of this blog have read the books repeatedly in order to do in depth reviews and some scholarship on the books and stories, which means you might know more about the Xenowealth than I do. If you’re interested in writing an essay as well for the appendices, email me at tobias@tobiasbuckell.com. I can offer $50 for a short essay, and I’ll include that in the table of contents if we come to an agreement.

Okay, I’ll get to the point of the blog post, stretch goal updates! You’re all amazing me, so let’s up the fun a bit.

The METAtropolis series is the multiple Audie-award winning and Hugo nominated series that I wrote three novellas for. I’m including these three novellas, which are only available as audiobooks right now, as free eBooks in the stretch goals.

These books will be delivered some time in December, 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).

So let’s add this up.

If we hit the stretch goal of $7,500 the Kickstarter delivers all this:

1) Xenowealth: A Collection, featuring art and new story, and essay from me
2) A free eBook of my short story collection ‘Tides from the New Worlds.’
3) A free copy of eBook of the Xenowealth novel ‘The Apocalypse Ocean.’
4) a free copy of eBook of my short story collection ‘Mitigated Futures.’
5) free eBook of the novella Stochasti-city, from the award-winning METAtropolis series.
6) free eBook of the novella Byways, from the award-winning METAtropolis series.
7) free eBook of the novella Tensegrity, from the award-winning METAtropolis series.

That’s a ton of value for $10 if you just jump in at the minimum: 3 story collections, 3 novellas, and one novel.

20 Nov

Well, Xenowealth: A Collection had a heck of a first day on Kickstarter

I stayed up late the night before yesterday, and at 12:03 I launched the Kickstarter for Xenowealth: A Collection.

The last time I did this was in 2012. In 2011 I Kickstarted my Xenowealth novel ‘The Apocalypse Ocean,’ something that created a lot of buzz as it was still pretty rare more for a novelist at the time.

The last collection I did was Mitigated Futures, in early 2012. So I have those two campaigns to draw from and compare.

I launched at just past midnight to take advantage of evening West Coast backers. I wanted it up for morning Europeans as well in the wee hours (for me), as I have a larger UK readership now than in 2011/2012. Time zones; they’re a thing.

This launch really blew away previous opening day results, though. The Apocalypse Ocean had $2,074 in pre-orders at the end of day one. Mitigated Futures was $1,741. Xenowealth: A Collection, was at $3,354. So as far as launches go: shit, you all blew this one right out of the water!

A lot of people are pinging me that they hope we reach high enough to unlock a Xenowealth novella. Heck, sounds cool to me! What are the chances of that? I have no idea. This is a giant question mark moving forward. The average chart of a Kickstarter daily campaign chart looks something like this:

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But this chart from Kicktraq shows Mitigated Futures:

NewImage

If Xenowealth: A Collection follows the same pattern, there should be a stunning drop off starting today, with occasional single orders until the last day, where an additional 21% jump happens. That suggests we may get close to the Tobias S. Buckell Omnibus of short stories stretch goal for everyone, though the first day’s blow out is still more than the entire Mitigated Futures Kickstarter. So who knows if this has the juice to go that far?

One thing is, while I plugged the Kickstarter hard on day one, I can’t keep that up for 29 days. I’ve burned social capital, sure, but I don’t want to set my entire twitter feed on fire. So it will still until the last few days.

Some people are reaching out for interviews, and I’m happy to do anything like that for the project.

Another question asked is why I didn’t put a higher goal amount on the Kickstarter? That was mainly because this wasn’t a project I was trying to fund the actual writing of, but I was looking to turn into a physical book for fans of the Xenowealth. For single-author collections, I want to put the amount low, as we all know I’m doing the collection. The question is more: how many people want pre-orders, and in what format?

That’s what we are now finding out.

Either way, this is a fun way to tie-in to the relaunch of the Xenowealth books, and it’s a great way to get some physical copies out to fans so that they have all the Xenowealth material in their libraries.

No matter where we go from here, I think we all won.

19 Nov

My latest short story collection, Xenowealth: A Collection, now live on Kickstarter

Wow, the last time I did this was well over two years ago. My crowd funding fu might be a little rusty. But here we go:

I’m using Kickstarter to take pre-orders and crowdfund my latest short story collection, which will be coming out as an eBook, paperback, and hardcover. And this is going to be something special to me, because it’s the collection of all the Xenowealth stories.

The working title as I planned this out and waited for the rights to all arrive was ‘Pepper Unleashed.’ So if you like the character, you might enjoy this…

Here are the deets:

In early 2006 my novel Crystal Rain launched the first book in the Xenowealth series. It was followed up by Ragamuffin in 2007, which was a Nebula award nominee, and Sly Mongoose. I get a lot of mail about these books, and to satisfy reader requests, turned to crowdfunding to create The Apocalypse Ocean, the fourth book in the Xenowealth series.

The books will be relaunching this 2015. In January, Crystal Rain will come out in a trade paperback format from Tor Books, with other books to follow. To celebrate the relaunch, I set out to answer another popular fan request: combine all the short stories I’ve written in the Xenowealth worlds into a single collection.

If you’ve wanted all your Pepper stories bound into one volume: here’s your chance.

And there will even be some stories you may not have encountered…

There are different pledge levels, from $5 all the way on up, for things like eBooks and paperbacks and hardcovers. There should be something for everyone.

And there are stretch goals. Lots of them.

Go check out the Kickstarter here.

Here is the cover, by Jenn Reese of Tiger Bright Studios.

Buckell Xenowealth Flare