You’ll notice a few minor changes: the publisher, some details in the book description, and the digital list price. It’s listed as “pre-order for May 14, 2013”, but I have it on good authority that it will be available for purchase again shortly.
To abide by the terms of my publishing contract, I can no longer offer Terms of Enlistment directly as of today.
If you want to purchase a copy, you’ll have to wait until May 14th, when 47North releases Terms of Enlistment again on Amazon. The good news is that this time, there will also be a dead tree version available, and an audio version as well. But because I can’t compete with my new publisher when it comes to selling copies, I can’t sell them from the blog or other sources anymore.
To all you people who purchased the first, self-published edition: thank you. The success of the little Space Kablooie novel has exceeded my most optimistic expectations. There aren’t very many novels that sell as many copies as quickly as this one did, especially not in the self-publishing arena. I’m still utterly dazed by what has happened in the last eight weeks.
The hilarious Amazon product review page of the month: the Wheelmate Laptop Steering Wheel Desk. (Yes, it’s a desk you can put on your car’s steering wheel.)
The comments are gold, but pay particular attention to the customer images.
I released my short story “Lucky Thirteen” on Amazon Kindle. It’s a very slightly edited version of the one some of you may have read already when I released it on the blog a year or two ago, so if you’ve already read that version, those $0.99 won’t get you anything new except a cover and a convenient Kindle download. If you haven’t read the story yet, then THIS IS TOTALLY FOR YOU. It’s a short story in the “Terms of Enlistment” universe–the tale of rookie Lt. Halley’s first drop ship command.
I’ve also uploaded a revised version of “Terms of Enlistment” that should make its way to all the purchasers automatically within the next 48 hours. I fixed the typos found by readers (and thank you for the ones you’ve emailed me), improved the formatting a bit, and added a Table of Contents.
The short story is only available on the Kindle right now because I’m running an experiment with KDP Select, which requires that the content stays exclusive to Amazon for a while. If you don’t have a Kindle, you can read it on the desktop, or download the MOBI file to convert it to a format of your choice in Calibre. (None of my ebooks are DRM-enabled, so there’s no copy protection to fight.)
Terms of Enlistment is finally live at Barnes and Noble’s NOOK store:
Still on iBooks:
And of course Amazon:
You can also get it from me directly by clicking the PayPal link on my sidebar. I will mention that I send those direct PayPal copies out via email as soon as possible after you purchase them, but if you buy a copy at 1am Pacific time, chances are I won’t see your email on account of being sound asleep. Smashwords offers all the common formats for download, and their download system is instant, so if you want a .PDF or .TXT or other off-the-wall format and don’t want to wait for me to email you your copy, I suggest you buy through Smashwords.
Thus endeth the self-promotion. I’ll try to keep these to a minimum, I promise.
I had this long and very clever blog post witten in which present-day Marko rebuts the arguments of 2011 Marko in opposition of self-publishing, but it came across all braggy and smarmy, so I deleted the draft and decided to start over.
Yes, two years ago I wrote a lengthy blog post detailing why I’d never, ever self-publish. Rather than refuting all my points from back then, I’ll make a short list of reasons why I finally decided to put the novel out myself.
Firstly, and most importantly, I was out of patience with the traditional dance of Query > Submit > File Rejection in pursuit of an agent or publisher. I finished the novel in 2009, sent it to a major SF publishing house in the summer of that year, and didn’t hear back at all. No rejection, no “I still haven’t gotten around to looking at it”, no acceptance, nothing. I might as well have put the manuscript into the stacks at the local library, hoping that an editor might stumble across it accidentally while looking for new reading material in our village library by chance. That’s three and a half years waiting for a response. In the meantime, I shopped the manuscript around to half a dozen other publishers and about 30 or 40 agents, and got no bites. I was simply at the end of my rope with patience.
Secondly, the market for self-publishing has changed quite a bit in the last two years. In 2011, ebook readers were still just getting off the ground; now they’re so mainstream that everyone and their grandmother has a Kindle or an iPad with a reading app on it. Sales of Kindle books have gone up accordingly–that awful Fifty Shades of Kink book sold twice as many Kindle copies than print books. While self-published authors are still looked down upon somewhat (and there is a lot of awful self-published shit out there), there are now plenty of self-pubbers whose books have sold well enough to get their authors offers from traditional publishing houses, and quite a few who can actually make a decent living off their self-published books. Economically, the field has become more viable for self-publishing.
Now that I have the novel out there, I must say that I also like the control I have over every aspect of this endeavor. I went with Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), and their control panel lets me track my sales numbers pretty much in real-time. KDP also pays royalties out monthly (traditional publishers pay twice a year), so there’s no guesswork involved in when (or how much) I’ll get paid.
So there you have the reasons why I changed my mind on self-publishing: I was sick of the traditional submission treadmill, Kindle publishing seemed like a good way to get my work in front of a lot of readers, and I very much enjoy the transparency and speed of the sales and royalties model offered by Amazon. Times and circumstances change, and I can admit that I’ve been wrong, and that my fears about self-publishing were (luckily) unfounded in my case. Your mileage may vary, of course.
Somewhere out there is a literary agent (who shall remain unnamed here) who asked for science fiction submissions on Twitter the Friday before last. I was in bed at the time, reading my Twitter feed on the iPad (as one does), so I got out of bed again to send that agent a query letter that followed the requirements of the agency in question.
I woke up the next morning to find a form rejection in my inbox. That agent had rejected the query without having asked for sample pages–without even having read a single word of the novel. And it was a nice, short, courteous, and professional query letter, not two lines of HAY U WANT TO B MY AGENTZ? CHK YES OR NO LULZ.
I said a very naughty word at the computer screen and felt something in my head go SNAP. Then I had Scrivener compile the ebook files for the novel, bought some cover art, made a book cover, uploaded everything to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing service, and told people on my blog that the novel is available for sale.
Right now that novel is #245 on the Kindle Store, #2 in Military SF on the Kindle, and #13 in the entire Science Fiction category (all print, Kindle, and audiobooks) on Amazon. Right now that novel has sold an ungodly amount of ebook copies for a self-published first-time novel by an unknown author.
Right now I’d like to kiss that agent square on the mouth for being the catalyst that finally made me decide to take the novel’s fate into my own hands.
I’m sort of a late adopter, but I love Pandora now. I was suffering from severe Playlist Fatigue Syndrome with my iTunes library, and Pandora has fixed that issue for me rather handily.
We paid for the annual subscription to get commercial-free streaming. It’s nice to have an infinite playlist matching a particular mood or kind of song, but it’s also damn nice to discover stuff you hadn’t heard of before. I like writing to movie soundtracks and instrumentals because there are no lyrics to distract me from what’s on the page, and some of the very best stuff I’ve found has been by the Nick Cave & Warren Ellis collaboration. The soundtrack to The Road, for example, is very powerful and haunting.
But the best of the Cave/Ellis albums so far is the soundtrack to The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. It’s a great, great album of elegiac mood music, and the last track (“Song for Bob”) is worth the purchase price of the album all by itself.
I’ve discovered so many of my favorite writers or musicians this way–there’s a sample or a free copy available online, you sample, you like, you buy. Reading the free copy of John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War, for example, resulted in me buying all the rest of Scalzi’s books with cash money, so I’d say that the “First One’s Free!” strategy really does pay off.
Well, this is a nice thing to wake up to:
#4 on the Kindle in Military SF. #32 in the entire SF category. #699 in the Kindle Store. Dang.
All of you who bought the little Space Kablooie novel: you have my thanks. If you liked it enough to review or plug it on Amazon or your blogs or the TwitFaces, I thank you again, and I think you’re uncommonly pretty/handsome and brilliant.
That really takes the sting off having to wait for the school bus in ten-degree weather this morning, packing the kids into the van after 30 minutes of No Bus…and having the bus finally drive by just as I’m pulling out of the driveway to cart the youngins to school myself.
So I bought one of the new Samsung Series 3 Chromebooks, and for all its limitations, I really like the little thing. It has a great keyboard, boots insanely quickly, has seven-hour battery life and a no-maintenance operating system, and doesn’t break the bank. (Oh, and THANK YOU for using a matte screen, Samsung. I hate the glossy ones with a passion, but you can hardly get a laptop without one anymore.)
It’s not a great primary laptop (all you get is the Chrome browser and whatever can run in it), but as a mobile web futz-arounder to toss into your European carry-all on the way to the latte shop, it’s close to ideal. Yes, you need to be connected to the Interwebz to get proper use out of a Chromebook, but there are damn few places I go where there’s no Wi-Fi available (and there’s always cell phone hotspot use). Plus, Google’s document editor has an offline mode, so I don’t need a web connection just to write.
For $400+, the Chromebooks were a little ridiculous, but for $250, it’s a good buy if all you want is a quick and easy little portable web browser with a proper keyboard.