Even if the popular demand is just from me the marketing department at Starstream Publications, we prove once again that we listen to our customers. My standalone novel, The Rapture Effect, is once more available in ebook format, this time from my own imprint and Book View Café!
Here’s the blurb:
War between the stars. It was started by an AI, and few humans even knew there was a war at all. But now people are dying, not just robots and aliens—and the AI wants it to stop. But a war is easier to start than to stop, and the computer can’t alter its course without outside help. When the Gnostic Control System searches for conspirators, it chooses its friends carefully…
Pali: a public relations director, who broods far too much on her unfulfilled ambitions.
Ramo: a flamboyant senso-dancer and sculptor, who prefers a musical jamdam to serious conversation.
Sage: an awkward systems designer, for whom the AI rapture-field is realer than life.
And three of the alien Ell: Harybdartt, who would rather die with dignity than betray his people; Lingrhetta, who tries to unravel the meaning of human dance and music, pain and love; and Moramaharta, the binder, who must persuade his fellow decision-makers to risk everything for the sake of a fragile bridge of understanding across the stars.
A thought-provoking novel of the not-too-distant future, from the Nebula-nominated author of Eternity’s End and The Chaos Chronicles.
“The Rapture Effect is a lively dance of ideas—first contact, interstellar war, artificial intelligence, alien culture—and it moves at a rapid pace, from Earth through cyberspace to the Horsehead Nebula, and various points between. It’s well-worth the trip ticket.” —Roger Zelazny
Art by David B. Mattingly, cover design by Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff
Q. Then the . . . war . . . is being fought by . . . AI-units? A. Yes. Q. And who is the enemy? A. Unknown. An alien race. Q. You mean our first contact with an alien race is a war? A secret war? A. Yes. Q. Who manufactures the AI-units? A. The Company. Q. Who is conducting the war? A. The Company. Q. Who knows about this? A. The Company, the government, and you.
I’ll be your server this week, Mesdames and Sirs. We only have one Special this week, but it’s one I’m certain you will enjoy—and an amazing value for your entertainment dollar. That’s right—this week we’re offering Eternity’s End for less than that dollar, in fact a mere $0.99. That’s less than you tipped the parking valet to get into this joint. And it’s way less than the regular price of $5.99! Can you believe it?
I’ll be honest—at first I thought it was a misprint. But I checked with my manager. And yes, it’s $0.99, with no limit on the number of copies you can buy! One for the bathroom, one for the bedroom, one for the living room, six to give to friends! Oh wait, it’s an ebook, so I guess you don’t need to buy one for each room. But you could, if you wanted to. For one week only.
Eternity’s End is a big-scope science fiction novel. I mean, BIG scope. In one place you can peer all the way from one end of eternity to the other! (Except that eternity has no end, unless, um… well, never mind that.) Eternity’s End is set in my Star Rigger universe, and it was a finalist for the Nebula Award the year it was first published. It’s also a book that I feel very good about having written, a book that I would have wanted to read, if someone else had written it. Plus, it has a dog in a minor role, and cool amphibious aliens, and space pirates who might not be all they seem. Oh, and a Flying Dutchman of the stars.
I did some further upgrading of the interior formatting of the book for the occasion. If you’ve already bought the ebook, you should be able to download the newest version of the book from the store where you bought it. I can’t swear that every store allows this, but if they don’t, they should.
Yes, I’m working with Bookbub again—conspiring, I hope, to sell a lot of copies and become rich beyond my dreams of avarice. Or at least, you know, to sell a lot of copies. Some of which, I hope, will generate favorable reviews. Which will help, down the road, in drawing in even more unwary readers.
If you’ve held off before, why not give it a try? What have you got to lose? The supersize option on your next Starbucks coffee? You shouldn’t be drinking that much coffee anyway!
Happy New Year, everyone! Here at the Starrigger Ranch, we celebrated New Year’s Eve by watching Guardians of the Galaxy, this time on Blu-ray—and by completely forgetting to note the actual time of transition into the new year.
Space selfie, from my vacation home on the Moon
I thought I’d give a few highlights of the last year, from my own perspective. By and large, I’m going to ignore the big, public events, which you already know about anyway. (Okay, let’s get it out of the way. Politically it was a depressing year in the U.S., where everything that was already broken got even more broken. Overseas, the words ISIS, Ukraine, and Russia pretty well set the tone. But, the landing of the European probe on a comet was a breath of fresh, minty air, and so was the first test flight of NASA’s new Orion spacecraft.)
It was a pretty good year for the family. Our older daughter made two trips to the Middle East, pursuing her interest in building bridges between the Muslim world and the Christian world. Our younger daughter accompanied us to London for the SF Worldcon, which was an adventure for all of us. (For me it was mostly an adventure in trying to enjoy a trip while gradually being brought down by bronchitis or pneumonia, depending on which doctor you believe. But my wife and daughter had a great time.) Our two furballs, Moonlight the cat and Captain Jack the dog, remain in good health.
Julia with furballs Moonlight and Captain Jack
Writing-wise, I continued to make slow progress on the rewrite of The Reefs of Time. It continues to be a hard book for me to write, and I don’t know exactly why, but I’m getting there, and God willing, I will finish it this year. After all, I still have The Masters of Shipworld to write when that one is done. And none of us is getting any younger, at least not that I’m aware of. People say that writing is a lonely business, and it is. But I get lots of support, for which I’m eternally grateful: from my family and friends, including my long-standing SF/F writing critique group, and also my writing and spiritual support group through my church, and also my fellow writers at Book View Cafe. I write alone, but I don’t feel that lonely in it.
In 2014, a lot of my work time was devoted to issuing new ebook editions of my backlist, and I’ll still be working on that into 2015. It’s way more time-consuming than you might think (a subject I’ll explore another time), even with the ton of help I’m getting with the formatting. But it’s also a lot more rewarding—gratifyingly so. 2014 was a year in which many of my colleagues reported declining sales—battered by rising competition, changing sales algorithms at the retailers, new subscription models (especially at Amazon) that cut into sales, and who knows what all. I was more fortunate, thank you. My own ebook sales took a quantum leap upward, primarily owing to a steady series of successful promotions. This means not just more income, but new readers.
To give you a handle on what I’m talking about, let me throw out a few rough numbers. Here are some approximate totals of ebooks I sold in the last few years through my own imprint (there were additional, modest sales through various publishers):
2011 — 4000 ebooks 2012 — 8100 (including a big jump in the UK, for unknown reasons) 2013 — 7800 (the UK jumps even higher, while the US declines) 2014 — 22,000 (the UK craters, while the US vaults)
Let’s put that into perspective. For guys like George Martin and Hugh Howey, that last annual total would probably be a disappointing month. For many equally talented writers, it’s an impossible dream. Me, I feel blessed and thankful to have gotten here. I have no idea what caused the UK surge in 2012 and 2013, or what made it stop in 2014. But I do know what caused the big total upswing in 2014: my almost monthly promotions in concert with ads through places like Bookbub. Also, bringing more of my books under my own imprint, where I can design my own covers, set my own prices, do my own promo. Publishing direct at Kobobooks also helped, in concert with promotions Kobo sponsors. Many of those new sales were at steeply discounted prices. But the specials brought along waves of readers to other books selling at the regular prices. Bottom line: I reached more paying readers with more different books this year than in any year I can remember. And that’s good for the family budget. It’s also good for connecting with whole new populations of readers. And that may be the biggest reward of all.
From time to time, I like to brag about some of the great work my former students are doing. (I may be taking too much credit in calling them “my students.” They participated in my writing workshops, but they came loaded for bear with talent.) One of them, Chris Howard, created the cover art for The Infinite Sea, and is working on art for Seas of Ernathe. Another, LJ Cohen, has come out with several books, both SF and fantasy, leaning toward young adult.
I don’t think I’ve mentioned KJ Kabza before, but the time is long past due. KJ is a short story writer more than a novelist, and as such he is one of the brightest and most original new talents I’ve seen in a long time. He’s been selling to magazines such as Fantasy and Science Fiction, Daily Science Fiction, and Nature (yes, that Nature, the one with all the science). He’s come out with not one but two collections of his stories, available right now in ebook format.
You’ve squandered another perfectly good hour listening to… no wait, that’s Car Talk.
This is Bookbub. That’s right, starting today, I’m practically giving away another book: Star Rigger’s Way, which only recently came back into e-print via my Starstream imprint. Ninety-nine big ones for this novel, for one week only. That’s 99 Lincoln pennies, neatly lined up with all the dates right-side up, please. That’s less than a dollar, and much less than half of a Starbuck’s coffee! What’s not to like about that?
Fun facts about Star Rigger’s Way:
1. A minor character in this book, Legroeder, became the main character of a later book, Eternity’s End. 2. Characters only mentioned in passing in this book—i.e., space-faring dragons—became the central element of two other novels, currently available in one omnibus, called Dragon Space. 3. The original Dell paperback cover for this far-future saga appeared to feature a guy in a NASA-issue spacesuit, taking a space walk from Skylab. (Remember Skylab?) It was a very pretty cover. But a tad anachronistic.
You can get this deal in any of the following book pubs:
I’ve just finished spending a lot of time over several days fixing typos that a reader found in the three-book omnibus of The Chaos Chronicles. The irony is that I had just put up a new version of The Infinite Sea, with a new cover—and with several typos (or formattos) fixed that I had found myself while rereading the book. (I’ve been reading through all the Chaos series, to refresh my memory on the story details as I write the fifth book.) The very next morning, I received an email from Kindle support, listing four typos that “readers” had reported in the Chaos omnibus. I checked, and sure enough, they were real typos. They were also spread across all three books—so I had to correct, not only the omnibus volume, but all of the individual novels as well. (The two in The Infinite Sea were different from the ones that I had found in my own reading.)
I have no idea how many times these books have been gone through, by me and by others, trying to catch any lingering mistakes. It just goes to prove how blasted hard it is to catch everything.
I’ve written before about how time-consuming it can be to fix typos in ebooks, especially when you have several slightly different versions distributed across a bunch of different outlets, in two different ebook formats. I took the opportunity this time to fix something that was already on my to-do list, and that was to change all the quotation marks from straight quotes to curly quotes. When I first created these books, ebook reading devices could not be counted upon to display curly quotes correctly, and I avoided them like the plague. Now, though, it’s normal to have curly quotes in ebooks, and the lack of them in these books made them look a little less professional than I would have liked. So, that’s done now. (Changing them is quick—a simple Find and Replace in Word. Checking for all the insidious ways in which Word can screw it up is not nearly so quick.)
If you own any of the first three Chaos Chronicles ebooks, you should be able to go back to the store where you got them and download updated versions.
And if you’re one of the readers who reported the typos to Kindle support . . . (sigh) . . . thanks. I really do want the books to be as error-free as humanly possible.
Many of you have asked me, “Jeff, why can’t I buy your books in the Google Play Store?” Well, okay, no one has ever asked me that. But now you don’t have to. Because all my books, or almost all of them, are now up in the Google Play Store.
Why the delay? Well, to be honest, when the Google store (which everyone thought would be an Amazon-threatening game-changer) opened, it was kind of a train wreck. The listings were scrambled and inaccurate, the interface for an individual author wanting to list books was incomprehensible, and in general it was a place you really didn’t want to hang around in. But that was then, and this is now. They’ve cleaned things up pretty good, and the interface for both those putting their books up and those wanting to buy books is generally up to the standards of all the other stores.
Do people actually buy books there? Well, so far my own listings are off to a slow start. But when I had books with E-reads, and later Open Road, I did see some sales there but not a lot. It used to be I didn’t sell much of anything at Kobo, either, but their regular promotions have turned that around, and now Kobo is a significant player in the big picture (my personal big picture, that is). One can hope that something like that will happen with Google.
My third Chaos book, The Infinite Sea, has been out as an ebook for quite a while, but I’ve been waiting to put it up at Book View Café until I could get a new cover designed for it. I’ve been wanting a new cover for a long time, but I couldn’t find the right art. (On my budget, the art on my books usually comes from stock art web sites, sometimes with significant massaging, or combining of images, by whoever does the design work for me. On my more recent books, that design work has been expertly done by my fellow BVC writer, Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff. Sometimes I can use the original art from the print edition, with permission of the artist, and that’s cool, when it happens.) But in this case, I just couldn’t find what I wanted: an undersea tableau on an alien world.
Enter Chris Howard, writer and artist, whom I first met when he enrolled in the Ultimate Science Fiction Writing Workshop that I’ve run from time to time with my friend Craig Shaw Gardner. Chris is a gifted writer. It turns out he’s also a terrifically talented artist. Take a look at his website, saltwaterwitch.com, and tell me he’s not. I commissioned a piece of original art from Chris, and I couldn’t be more thrilled with the results.
For those who like history, here’s what the future looked like in print from Tor Books, and also its previous ebook cover, which I created myself, using Chaoscope, a chaos image generator. I liked the Tor cover a lot, and I liked the chaos image, though my hand-made cover had a, well, hand-made look to it. I’m really psyched to be moving on to the new image, from Chris Howard (type design by Maya). It will replace the versions currently in all the other stores, as well.
And these last two covers will retire, with honor.
I can’t believe I just said that. I hate all the Black Friday and Cyber Monday crap, and the whole BUY BUY BUY ramp-up. Nevertheless, Kobobooks has a one-day 35% off sale today on selected ebooks, and it’s pretty good. My selection is Dragon Space, an omnibus edition of Dragons in the Stars and Dragon Rigger, a pair of books in my Star Rigger universe. You can find it here, and use the coupon code CYBERMONDAY35 to get your discount. Today only!
To see the whole list of books in the sale, go to this page. You have to keep hitting Show More Results at the bottom to see all the books. My favorite book cover in the sale: Pet Noir, by Pati Nagle.
In case you’ve been sitting on a fence biting your nails, trying to decide whether to plunk down your hard-earned ninety-nine cents on a copy of my ebook Panglor during its Bookbub sale, you’ve got through tonight to make up your mind. Then the price goes back up, and there’ll be nothing I can do to help you, except pat your shoulder as you learn to live with your regret. But you don’t have to live with your regret. Just visit any of the major ebook stores, and be decisive! Join the other 2500 wooterssuckers readers who have, er, joined in! (That’s a real number, by the way. It’s been a great promo!)