Friday, September 24, 2010

Strange Attractors on Smashwords

Strange Attractors, the second volume of The Chaos Chronicles, went up for sale at $2.99 a few days ago. It and Neptune Crossing are migrating out from Smashwords to Sony, Apple, and other retailers. I haven't gotten it onto the Kindle store yet, but that's next. [Edit: It's now on sale in the Kindle store, as well.]

Strange Attractors at Smashwords / Kindle

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Short, Sweet Life of Pippa

We buried a 5-month-old puppy yesterday. Her name was Pippa, and she weighed less than ten pounds. She came to us from Puerto Rico with Allysen, where she had been rescued and made briefly part of Allysen's parents' household. She was adorable and sweet and alert, probably part border collie but tiny.  We decided that she was of the breed Foxbat, or Borinquen terrier, and she captured all of our hearts. She made friends with Hermione, our boxer, who doesn't always like other dogs. Moonlight the cat was a slow adopter, but I was sure it was just a matter of time before they bonded, too.

Pippa never got that time. She was here for just four days before she started having seizures during the night. The seizures subsided for a short time after we started her on some meds from the vet, but soon they returned—frequent and severe. Monday night, late, we took her to the Mass Vet Referral Animal Hospital, where we got the grim news that the outlook was poor without major medical intervention, way beyond anything we could undertake—and even with the intervention, there would be a lot of uncertainties. And so we made the heartbreaking decision to let her go peacefully, which she did while we held her in our laps. We brought her body home, and the next day laid her to rest in the back yard. With her we put the ashes of Sam the beagle and Mattie our first boxer—ashes we'd kept on a shelf for years because we couldn’t bear to do anything about them at the time. It comforted us, thinking that Pippa was in good company.

Here's Pippa, as I imagine her right now on the Rainbow Bridge

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Saturday, September 11, 2010

On to Smashwords

Neptune Crossing is now available on Smashwords, from which it will go out to the Sony ebookstore, Barnes & Noble, the Apple store, and others. $2.99, in a variety of formats.

I've tweaked the cover a little, because the red type just didn't display well on the store pages. (Scroll down a couple of posts to see the original.) Wondering a little if I should hire a professional to make it look better—a couple of people have told me they didn't care for it very much—but I'm not sure. What do you think?

Neptune Crossing -- Smashwords edition

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Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Bidness Model, Shmidness Model

The arrival of Neptune Crossing in the Kindle store is part of a grand experiment, begun with my free downloads and continuing into the indefinite future. The business model of how to make a living as a writer has been shifting on a daily basis, it seems. Just selling to a publisher and waiting (and waiting) for the check doesn't work anymore for most of us. (It never worked that well to begin with. Most of us have always had to do other work to pay the rent, whether by teaching, speaking, doing another kind of writing, or serving venti lattes.) But self-promotion, networking, blogging, ebooks, self-publishing—and on and on—have become increasingly important jags and peaks on the tectonic upheaval that we call "the writing life."

Back in the good old days, when men were real men, and little furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were—no, wait, that's Douglas Adams's line. Back in the day, though, we used to be able to tell aspiring writers that self-publishing was for niche-marketers and losers, with the occasional "exception that proved the rule." (Did that expression ever make sense?) That's no longer so obviously true. Publishers Weekly has begun paying attention to self-published books, and if that isn't a sign of the times, I don't know what is. One thing that has become obviously true is that more than a few established writers are going to their backlists and getting their out-of-print books back into circulation on their own through places like Amazon and Smashwords, or through newer companies that exist for this very purpose. 

Here are some examples:

  • Thriller writer J.A. Konrath, whose high-profile blog has described his success in self-publishing his early and o.p. novels, and now new work as well
  • Bookview Café, a consortium of SF and fantasy writers, including Vonda McIntyre and Ursula K. LeGuin, marketing their own previously published books and stories
  • Closed Circle, a collaborative run by CJ Cherryh, Lynn Abbey, and Jane Fancher to sell their o.p. SF and fantasy novels
  • Diane Duane, self-publishing some of her own o.p. fantasy novels and marketing directly from her website
Count me in. Trying, in my own way to pick a path through this chaos, I've now managed to get all my novels, past and present, into ebook format—and some into print-on-demand trade paperback. But which path to take? I've taken the broadband approach. As of now, I have ebooks available through the following channels:
  • Three ebooks from traditional publishers, with traditional royalties — priced at $6.99 - $9.99
  • Nine ebooks from E-reads, at a higher royalty (50% of net) — priced at $9.99, but discounted in some stores
  • Three ebooks released already or soon directly to Kindle (and eventually to other stores), at a 70% royalty — priced at $2.99
  • One ebook free for the download on my website — not available for sale, but with Paypal donations encouraged
  • Five of the books on sale are also available for free download in limited (2) or full (3) selection of ebook formats, Paypal donations encouraged
I haven't made up my mind what to do about the free downloads. There's no question they've increased my readership. There's some question about whether they're helping or hurting sales of the books that are for sale. The next six to twelve months, I hope, will be telling. What they tell, I'll post here. (Not exact sales figures, probably, but trends.)

Wish me luck. And tell your friends!


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Neptune Crossing Goes Kindle

Now—for the first time in human history!—you can download my novel Neptune Crossing direct to your Kindle, and start reading in seconds, from anywhere in the solar system that you can get Whispernet!  All for a mere $2.99, DRM-free.

This won't seem earthshaking to those who have downloaded the book for free from my website. But for the Kindle shoppers who, until now, could browse their way wirelessly to my Kindle page and find Sunborn, but not the first three books of The Chaos Chronicles, I hope it'll make a difference. Strange Attractors and The Infinite Sea will follow. As will uploads to other stores.

Here's the new cover, designed by yours truly, with the help of Chaoscope. Hope you like it. [Edit: I've changed the type color. I liked the red, but it just didn't show up clearly enough online. Here's the old and the new.]

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Monday, September 06, 2010

Roger Zelazny's Alien Speedway: Clypsis in Kindle Store!

Back in the 1980s, I took on a lively and challenging project, which was to write a young adult novel based on a series outlined by one of my writing idols, Roger Zelazny. I'd never done anything like that before: sharecropping, they called it. Byron Preiss Visual Productions did a lot of that for a while. Big-name writer creates a world for newer writers to play in. Who could resist a world created by Roger Zelazny—especially when that world is a solar system dedicated to faster-than-light spaceship racing, and the protagonist is a young man whose desire to fly, and fly fast, I could feel burning in my own veins?

This turned out to be one of the best times I've ever had writing a book. I enjoyed the story, begun by Roger and sculpted by me, and I enjoyed the characters. It even gave me the chance to have someone believably say, "Eat dust, Earthman!" Clypsis was published by Byron Preiss through Bantam Spectra, and it got great response from readers. I got rave letters from strangers (this was before email). In the end, it was published just as an SF novel, not a YA novel. But the kid in me lived in the book.

 Clypsis cover art by Bob Eggleton

Then it went out of print. And so it remained, year after year. Byron Preiss (who owned the copyright) intended to reprint it in some fashion. Then Byron died tragically in an auto accident. His company went into bankruptcy. Eventually the literary assets were purchased by John Colby of Brick Tower Press. By this point, I had lost the trail; it took me years even to establish who owned the rights. Finally, we established contact, and I prepared the text of the book for ebook publication (with the assistance of Anne King, who had helped with several of my ebooks). And now...

It's out! It's in the Kindle store! The Sony store will be next. I'm not sure where else. I'm delighted to see this book return to life. And with this publication, every book I've written is now available in one form or another as an ebook!

Here's a link. (If you buy it through this link, I'll see a bit more return in the form of a referral fee. Thanks.)

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