Linda Nagata: the blog at Hahví.net


American Gods

June 18th, 2017

I read Neil Gaiman’s American Gods not too long after it was first published. With all the publicity surrounding the television series — which I haven’t seen yet — it seemed like a good time to revisit it. This time, instead of reading, I listened to the audiobook edition. In summary: Highly Recommended!

The audiobook is full cast. Different narrators read different voices, and Neil himself contributes some of the interludes. I advise you not to be in a hurry as you listen to it. It’s a long and complex story populated by many characters. The epilogue — also long — is structured to remind us of those many characters and also serves as a lesson in how to effectively tie off plot threads one by one.

Not a complaint, just a wry observation:
Our protagonist, Shadow, is described as a young man, big and tall, with long dark hair. For me, one of the peculiarities of the audiobook was that Daniel Oreskes, who voices Shadow, sounds a lot like Vin Diesel. Now, Vin Diesel has a fine voice and so does this narrator, so this wasn’t a problem. Still, my identification of that voice with Vin Diesel meant I was visualizing a young Vin Diesel instead of a young man with long dark hair. Oh well.

If you’re looking for a terrific audiobook, you won’t go wrong with this one.

The Business of Writing

June 17th, 2017

In my last post I promised to take a look at expenses versus income for my newest novel, The Last Good Man. The novel has been on preorder for several weeks. As of yesterday, preorders had been placed for 542 copies. I estimate the net income from those copies will be roughly $2,415, which I’ll receive in two to three months.

So what about expenses?

As the saying goes, time is money, and time is by far the biggest expense incurred in writing any novel. Suffice to say, this novel took most of a year to write. Other expenses include editing, cover art, copyediting, software fees, setup fees for the print edition, advertising, and postage. Right now the partial total of stuff I actually paid for stands at $3,627. Some of the postage was paid on a different card and I’m not going to track down the amounts right now. I’ll just note that the actual dollar figure for expenses is a bit higher.

Not all indie writers spend this much. I didn’t spend this much when I indie-published The Red. For that book, I had only one round of paid editing, I had a free copyedit, and free cover art from my daughter. But I’ve had a few years since then to realize the value of good editing, so I indulged this time, wanting to make this book the very best I could. I also wanted a copyedit consistent with standard practice in the American publishing industry. And I wanted a specific sort of cover art. I definitely got my money’s worth there.

I believe that The Last Good Man is well written and well laid-out. I believe it compares favorably to most traditionally published books and it’s already earned some enthusiastic reviews. But as you can see from the figures above, it’s got a long way to go before I can call it profitable.

Why am I publishing these figures? In part because it’s a glimpse into the industry that might be useful to other writers planning their careers, and in part because it’s an explanation of why I’m doing so much promotion. But it’s also because most articles about writers and their incomes focus only on the very successful, and that’s not most of us.

I’ve been in this business a long time, I’ve had many novels published, both traditional and indie, I’ve won awards and been short-listed for more, and my books have been well reviewed — yet my sales have always been tepid. Maybe The Last Good Man will change that. I hope so!

If you’d like to help out, buy the book! (I know most of you reading this already have. THANK YOU.) Ask your local library to order it. Post a reader review at Amazon and Goodreads. And do the same for any other author’s books that you’ve especially enjoyed. Writing is an art but it’s also business — and readers get to decide if we stay in business.

Tracking Preorders – June 16

June 16th, 2017

Just a few more days until publication!

To review for those new to my blog, I’m publicly tracking preorders on my forthcoming novel The Last Good Man. The novel has already earned a Publishers Weekly starred review, and several glowing endorsements from other writers. But it’s a crowded marketplace…

My goal was a modest 500 preorders before the June 20 publication date. And you know what? I made it! The print orders did it. There were a total of 153 as of this morning — VERY small potatoes in the grand scheme of things — but enough to let me reach my goal. Thank you to everyone who preordered a copy, whether ebook or print!

Date Total Preorders Events
May 5 31 Social media announcement of preorder links
May 12 84 Email to 1800+ newsletter subscribers**
May 19 164 New review by Michael Patrick Hicks
• probable inclusion in targeted Amazon emails
May 26 225 New review at Barnes & Noble blog
June 2 285 • Email to 525 newsletter subscribers(++)
• Included in a list of summer reads at Kirkus
• Included in a list of summer reads at The Verge
• Included on 3rd pg of “NOOK Press Presents”
June 9 377 Includes some print preorders
June 16 542 Figure includes 153 print preorders.

So what does this mean in dollar terms? After all, I need to contribute something to the family income…

The ebook is priced at $7.99. For most copies sold, I earn 70% of the list price less a few pennies, so let’s say $5.55 per copy. That’s a nice cut, much better than I’d get in traditional publishing. If all preorders go through, I’m looking to net around $2,175 from the ebooks.

By contrast, print — specifically print-on-demand — is expensive. So despite the $18 cover price, I’ll be netting only about $2 a copy for the preordered print books.

Adding estimated income from ebook and print preorders gives me a total of $2,415, which I won’t see until two or three months after publication. Not exactly high finance, eh? But it’s a start.

I’ll write more on income versus expenses in another post.

Find all related posts here.

Find preorder links and info here.

Details:
++ The 525 newsletter subscribers are a separate list, newly signed up via a recent promotion. It should be assumed that most are unfamiliar with my work.
**Around 350 subscribers have been long-time subscribers. The others are mostly new to my work, having signed on during recent promotional events. Only 39% of emails sent track as having been opened.

Back From Japan

June 15th, 2017

It’s not really a good idea to go on vacation right before a book launch, but circumstances worked out that way so I spent the last week in Japan with Ron, my daughter Dallas, her husband Ed, and a new camera which I don’t know how to use. For most of the trip I had the camera inadvertently set on some kind of burst mode and I haven’t had time to figure out how to pull individual shots, so all but the first of the photos below are from the second to last day of our trip.

We started in Tokyo — my first visit to that city — then headed out to Nagano for a few days. From there we were able to visit Matsumoto Castle and attend a firefly festival in Tatsuno. This was the first time I ever saw fireflies! They are amazing and wondrous little creatures. I did not realize they are so bright.

We also took a long day trip, starting with the Shinkansen to Itoigawa. From there we transferred to a one-car train that headed into the mountains — the “Japanese Alps” — following a spectacular narrow gorge with a white-water river. We were heading for a nature preserve, so we left the train and took a bus up to a ski town, nearly empty in June. From there, a twenty minute gondola ride with more spectacular views, and then a five-minute tram. By this time it was late afternoon and we had only twenty minutes at the top where the nature preserve was located. We didn’t see the green meadow in the brochure though because there was still several feet of snow on the ground! The scenery was gorgeous all the same and well worth the adventure.

We returned to Tokyo and visited some sites around the city. Our first day was rainy, but a sunny day followed and we were able to visit the Meiji Shrine Inner Garden and the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. Photos below.

Street of umbrellas. 😉


Read the rest of this entry »

Tracking Preorders – June 9

June 9th, 2017

To review for those new to my blog, I’m publicly tracking preorders on my forthcoming novel The Last Good Man. The novel has already earned a Publishers Weekly starred review, and several glowing endorsements from other writers. But it’s a crowded marketplace…

My goal is a modest 500 preorders before the June 20 publication date — only eleven days away! This is the first week print preorders have shown up. Only 36 so far, but it’s a start. Thank you to everyone who ordered. This number has been included in the total below.

Date Total Preorders Events
May 5 31 Social media announcement of preorder links
May 12 84 Email to 1800+ newsletter subscribers**
May 19 164 New review by Michael Patrick Hicks
• probable inclusion in targeted Amazon emails
May 26 225 New review at Barnes & Noble blog
June 2 285 • Email to 525 newsletter subscribers(++)
• Included in a list of summer reads at Kirkus
• Included in a list of summer reads at The Verge
• Included on 3rd pg of “NOOK Press Presents”
June 9 377 Includes some print preorders
June 16

Details:
++ The 525 newsletter subscribers are a separate list, newly signed up via a recent promotion. It should be assumed that most are unfamiliar with my work.

Find all related posts here.

Find preorder links and info here.

**Around 350 subscribers have been long-time subscribers. The others are mostly new to my work, having signed on during recent promotional events. Only 39% of emails sent track as having been opened.

Tracking Preorders – June 2

June 2nd, 2017

I’m publicly tracking preorders on my forthcoming novel The Last Good Man. The novel has already earned a Publishers Weekly starred review, and several glowing endorsements from other writers. But how is it doing in a crowded marketplace? Not so great.

My goal is a modest 500 preorders before the June 20 publication date. During this past week I passed the halfway mark, and it’s possible the numbers are a little better than what I can show here. More on that below. First, the current statistics:

Date Total Preorders Events
May 5 31 Social media announcement of preorder links
May 12 84 Email to 1800+ newsletter subscribers**
May 19 164 New review by Michael Patrick Hicks
• probable inclusion in targeted Amazon emails
May 26 225 New review at Barnes & Noble blog
June 2 285 • Email to 525 newsletter subscribers(++)
• Included in a list of summer reads at Kirkus
• Included in a list of summer reads at The Verge
• Included on 3rd pg of “NOOK Press Presents”
June 9
June 16

++ The 525 newsletter subscribers are a separate list, newly signed up via a recent promotion. It should be assumed that most are unfamiliar with my work.

I can’t see preorders at iBooks, and I didn’t ask my distributor for an updated count, but it’s unlikely to have changed much from the five copies reported last week.

The print edition is available to preorder and I know that at least two books have been ordered, but those numbers have not shown up in any report, so I’m going to assume I won’t see print numbers until the books actually ship. That means print is a big mystery, and the numbers above reflect only ebook sales.

By the way, both Barnes & Noble and Amazon are offering the print edition at a 23% discount as of this writing.

Find all related posts here.

Find preorder links and info here.

**Around 350 subscribers have been long-time subscribers. The others are mostly new to my work, having signed on during recent promotional events. Only 39% of emails sent track as having been opened.

Summer Book Lists!

June 1st, 2017

It’s June 1st! The Last Good Man publishes later this month — and it’s already showing up on some lists of summer books.

Barnes & Noble has included it in their “NOOK Press Presents” collection for June and July.

The Verge has included it in a list of thirty-nine science fiction, fantasy, and horror novels coming out in June.

Kirkus has listed it among a dozen science fiction and fantasy titles to “Kickstart Your Summer Reading.”

Both the ebook and print editions are available for preorder. Find links and more information here.

Demographics of Disdain

May 31st, 2017

Twitter can be a rough-and-tumble place. People have opinions and most do not hesitate to share them. I don’t claim innocence and I do recognize that nuance is often lost with 140 characters.

But what is it with the grand sweeping condemnations?

Grand sweeping condemnations –– that’s my term for when people choose a demographic characteristic common to a large and otherwise diverse group — and accuse all of being guilty of some shared sin. In my Twitter timeline white men and baby boomers are common targets. It will be different for you depending on who you follow — and who you unfollow. Damn right I’ve unfollowed people for excessive GSCs.

(Yes, #notAllMen is either a legitimate dissent or an ironic comment. Hard to be sure in all cases.)

I don’t understand the logic of GSCs. What do people expect to gain by using them? Shore up the perceived tribe by casting disdain on others? Maybe.

As a baby boomer, it’s hard not to notice how the baby-boomer hate routine has become increasingly common. Otherwise fine folk who would not for a moment consider themselves bigots are happy to play this game. No big deal if you want to insult me. I know how to unfollow.

In the abstract though, when baby boomers are held up as the worst generation, reprehensible in all aspects and particularly in their regard for the environment, I get offended on behalf of people like my husband.

Ron devoted his career to Haleakala National Park. He worked long hours for limited compensation because it was his goal to protect the park’s unique and fragile natural areas from the ravages of invasive species, and when he retired from the park service he left those wilderness areas in a far healthier condition than they’d been when he started. The ecological recovery has been amazing.

In essence, Ron picked one place in the wide world and poured his heart and soul into making it better. That might be a strategy to consider, for those of you who want to point fingers at his generation. Better to act, do something, than to accuse and complain and alienate those who actually have contributed to the betterment of the world.

And one more bit of motherly advice from the old lady: Don’t determine your tribe by simplistic demographic dividers. There is more diversity in any group than many of us care to admit. Yes, even those heinous baby boomers.

Here are four baby boomers, celebrating the completion of a fence to keep feral goats and pigs out of Maui’s amazing national park:


Left to right: Ross Hart, Ron Nagata, Mike Ing, Ted Rodrigues
photo credit: Dallas Nagata White

Tracking Preorders – May 26

May 26th, 2017

I’m publicly tracking preorders on my forthcoming novel The Last Good Man. The novel has already earned a Publishers Weekly starred review, and several glowing endorsements from other writers. But how is it doing in a crowded marketplace? Well, it’s not setting any records…

My goal is a modest 500 preorders before the June 20 publication date. Right now I’m closing in on the halfway mark. Here are the current statistics:

Date Total Preorders Events
May 5 31 Social media announcement of preorder links
May 12 84 Email to 1800+ newsletter subscribers**
May 19 164 New review by Michael Patrick Hicks + Amazon(?)
May 26 225 New review at Barnes & Noble blog
June 2
June 9
June 16

I can’t see preorders at iBooks, but I had my distributor check and they reported five copies sold there as of last Monday.

The print edition became available to preorder during the past week. It’s listed at both Barnes & Noble and Amazon. (BN has a 23% discount as of this writing.) But I haven’t seen any record of print preorders yet. It’s possible I won’t see these until they ship and the purchaser is billed. At this point, I just don’t know.

Find all related posts here.

Find preorder links and info here.

**Around 350 subscribers have been long-time subscribers. The others are mostly new to my work, having signed on during recent promotional events. Only 39% of emails sent track as having been opened.

Round-up of Recent News

May 25th, 2017

Barnes & Noble
A new review of The Last Good Man has gone up at the Barnes & Noble SFF blog. Read it here.

And, perhaps not by coincidence, Barnes & Noble is offering a 23% discount on preorders of the print edition. I have no idea how long this discount will last, but here’s the link.

Giveaways
On Twitter, I’m doing a giveaway of The Last Good Man. All you need to do to enter is retweet this tweet — and by doing so you’re helping me get the word out to potential new readers! So if you’re on Twitter, I’d really appreciate some more RTs:

Don’t forget, there is also an ongoing Goodreads Giveaway.

New Arrivals
Two new arrivals have shown up recently in my mailbox. Here, Xena is keeping an eye on the Polish edition of The Trials, translated by Mirosław P. Jabłoński, and published by Rebis:

Here are print copies of Cosmic Powers, a short story collection that includes my contribution “Diamond and the World Breaker.” Cosmic Powers is available in simultaneous hardcover and trade paperback editions: