Why there’s no tipjar

A reader wrote to me today, suggesting that I put a tipjar on my website so that he could contribute to my earnings, since he gets my books from the library. I wrote back to him, but since other people might wonder about this, I figured I’d repost the content of my reply here to share.

Hi [redacted,]

For as long as I’m traditionally published, I’m not planning to do a tipjar. I really appreciate the thought, but thing is — you are contributing by checking out books from the library. The more lends and reservations a library gets for a particular book, the more books that library will purchase. And if it gets checked out a lot, they might prominently display it somewhere, which will (hopefully) earn me more long-term readers. So if you really want to contribute beyond what you’re already doing — and that’s completely not necessary! — then buy a copy of the book and give it to someone who does have the space. Maybe you’ll win me another reader. :)

Keep in mind also that the best way to contribute to me is buying books. That lets my publisher know I’m worth investing in — which means they’ll buy more books from me. I prefer to work with a publisher because I don’t particularly want to spend time on self-publishing tasks (e.g., marketing, copyediting, distribution) when I could instead be spending time writing. So every book you buy = time for me to write, if you want to think of it that way.

And basically, that’s it. I want to embellish a little on the library point, though. It really, really, really helps me to be in libraries. Not all traditionally-published books get that privilege; most self-published books certainly don’t. So if you’re feeling at all guilty over checking my stuff out from your local library — don’t. Consider: you’re helping to keep me on their “buy” lists, especially in these days of rampant budget cuts, which means several hundred (if not thousand) additional sales for me. You’re keeping me on their shelves long-term, which earns me future fans. Of course that helps me. When I was a child, my mom used to use the library as a babysitter; made me happy as a clam, kept me out of her hair while she ran errands. I have so many wonderful memories of those hours — free time, completely free time, with all the books in the world at my fingertips — that I’m proud to be there as an author now, maybe helping some other bored person fill her hours with a bit of excitement. I still visit libraries now, since I live in a tiny NYC apartment and space is at a premium; with new authors, I prefer to try before I buy. But once I’ve found an author I like, I buy their books on sight. And thanks to libraries, I can discover authors whose books are long out of print. Nowadays that usually means I hop online and try to find out if they’re self-publishing or e-publishing their backlist — which earns them new sales. In this way, libraries keep writers’ careers alive long after the publishers and retailers have gone away.

Sure, buying a book is the best way to help me, if you want to, and if you can. I just know that not everyone can. Getting it from a public library is the next best thing.

Silence Here = Busy Elsewhere

Apologies, Epiphanistas; I haven’t had much to say here in the past few weeks aside from launch announcements. Sorry! But I haven’t been silent. Here’s a complete list of the interviews, guestblogs, etc., that I have done and/or will be doing shortly.

  • Guestblog at FantasyBookCafe, for their Women in SF&F Month (read the whole series! Some great authors get profiled.)
  • Guestblog at the BookSmugglers on The Unexotic Exotic
  • Interview in the BookSmugglers’ Newsletter
  • (And just for completeness, here’s Ana and Thea’s review of The Killing Moon. It scored a 9! Warning for spoilers, tho’.)
  • At Goodreads, as part of their “Good Minds Suggest” feature, I list my favorite epic fantasies, and just to mix it up (because I get asked that one a lot) I added, “…for people who are sick of epic fantasy”.
  • Did another Big Idea over at Scalzi’s Whatever blog.
  • Did a reading and Q&A last night with Paolo Bacigalupi at Word Bookstore here in Brooklyn. The audio of the event was recorded, and will be posted on the bookstore’s website shortly; I’ll let you know when it’s up.
  • In upcoming events, I’ll be doing an “Ask Me Anything” on Reddit this Thursday; more once I have more details.
  • Also in upcoming events, if you’re in upstate New York, I’ll be doing a reading and signing at the Flights of Fantasy bookstore in Albany on Saturday.


Launch Day for TKM!

IT’S OUT IT’S OUT! The Killing Moon is officially out in the US! UKians, it’ll be out on Thursday for you. Not sure about Australia or other English-language markets, or the audio version (yes, there will be one), or anything else at this point. Tell you later. Too busy squeeing because IT’S OUT MY FOURTH NOVEL IS OUT!

Of course, the book has been appearing in stores for several days now, so we’ve had what most people in the business call a “soft launch”. Not a bad thing for readers, who don’t have to wait to get their hands on a copy; not the best thing for writers, since soft launches reduce that critical first-few-weeks sales velocity. Velocity is what dictates bestseller status. But I’m content that it already seems to be selling well. In a bit of purely anecdotal evidence, I stopped in at the downtown Brooklyn B&N last night and offered to do a stock signing — and couldn’t, because they had only one copy left. They’d had more, but sold them all. (And the clerk basically palmed the last copy once I signed it, saying that her son had been asking for it. Fortunately there were more on order.)

Chapter 3 of The Killing Moon is up now, by the way. In which we meet Nijiri, the third protagonist of the novel, who demonstrates how little Gatherers are made. (Hint: it involves violence and death.)

And to reiterate what I’ve said at every book launch thus far, if you’re interested in how best to use your dollars to help me (thank you!), here are some suggestions:

  1. Buy the book if you can. If you can’t, see last point.
  2. Read the book. (This is kind of necessary for the next step.)
  3. If you like the book, tell everyone you know. This includes everyone on Goodreads, Library Thing, and all the retail bookseller sites, especially if they let you post reviews. (The Amazon “post your own review” feature should be active now, BTW.)
  4. Under the category of “tell everyone you know”, blog about the book. Tweet it. Tumblr it. Status it on Facebook. You’d be surprised at how useful word-of-mouth is to authors.
  5. If you cannot afford the book, that’s OK. Put in a request for it at your local library. Readers often think this won’t help authors, but it does! The more requests a library receives for a given book, the more likely that library is to order more copies of the book. More copies = sales for me, and you get to read it for free. Everyone wins. Then please tell everyone about the book, blog about it, etc.
  6. And if you’re in a non-English-language country and you’d like to read the book, tell a local publisher! Start with any publishers who’ve imported and translated my other books in your country. Not all of them will be able to buy the rights; I know the recession’s hitting everyone hard, especially in Europe. But publishers are more likely to try if they know there are local people who want to see a book. (Though if you want it in English, you can get it here.)

In the meantime… The Dreamblood is very much a labor of love for me. It’s my homage to epic fantasy — as opposed to the Inheritance Trilogy, which was more my eyeroll at epic fantasy — and I’m hoping it’ll win me new readers from among those who missed or didn’t like the Inheritance Trilogy. But it’s also another of my Quixotic attempts to change the genre that I love so much from within, by putting my money where my mouth is on non-medieval-European settings, diverse casts, women who are strong and not “Strong”, and all the other stuff I constantly bitch about. Most importantly, though, it’s another attempt on my part to write a solid, thinky, exciting story that’ll keep readers hooked all the way to the end. That’s my only real agenda, ya’ll: a story that welcomes all, and satisfies most.

Hope you like this one.

Big! Announcement! NEW SERIES!!

Been sitting on this for a brief while, but finally got the okay to spill the beans. I’ve sold a new trilogy to Orbit! Can’t tell you much about it yet — it’s the Untitled Magic Seismology Project (UMSP) that some of you have seen me talking about here now and again; that was the reason for the research trip to Hawaii a few weeks back. I’m working on the first book now, but I don’t like talking much about my works-in-progress until they’re more complete. So suffice it to say that this will be a postapocalyptic epic fantasy trilogy, set in a world of seismic magic users and enigmatic nonhumans called stone-eaters. I’m experimenting with writing the kind of trilogy that follows a single character through mutliple books; this is the first time I’ve ever wanted to try doing so. And while the books have tentative titles for now, I think I’ll hold off on sharing those, given my usual track record with titles (i.e., they usually get changed. Lots.) Let’s just keep calling this the UMSP for now.

So, WOO HOO!! Wish me luck and steady wordcount!

All Purpose Cultural Cat NukuNuku, 1993ish-2012

NukuNuku, back to viewer

Not feeling the best right now, no. But almost-20 years was a phenomenal run for a cat, and she felt no pain at the end. We should all be so lucky.

I miss you, li’l cat, silly bat, Nunuku susuku bubuku. But wherever you are, give the mice there hell.

ETA Fixed the date. Wishful thinking there.



Fanart depiction of the Three: Nahadoth, Yeine, Itempas

Another entry in the “I get the best fans, ya’ll” category of Awesome, this one’s from Neondragonart, who sent it to me and gave me permission to post. Isn’t it amazing? She’s also done some kickass fanart of Martha Wells’ Raksura books, which I loved too. Go tell Neon how awesome she is!

Other shinies: I forgot to post here about it, but The Killing Moon got a starred review from Library Journal! And if you missed me squeeing about it all over Twitter last night, io9 liked TKM too!

THE SHADOWED SUN sample chapter 1 posted!

The Shadowed Sun comes out one month after The Killing Moon — but since it’s a sequel to the first book, I’m left at a bit of a loss as to how to advertise it without spoiling the first one! So I’m posting the first chapter of TSS, which is tightly focused on Hanani, one of the story’s three main protagonists, and doesn’t spoil anything for TKM. I think it stands nicely on its own. But I can’t post any more than that until after TKM comes out. Sorry!

Read it here.

THE KILLING MOON sample chapter 2 posted!


Look up. Are you reading this on the main page of this blog? Then in the header you should see the words “Chapter 2” all lit up underneath that photo of The Killing Moon. Reading it on a subsidiary page? Look up again, but this time scroll over the “Books” link, and go to one of the pages there for the Dreamblood or the first book. It’s linked there too.


“The Trojan Girl” online at Escape Pod

FYI for all — for those of you who missed it in Weird Tales last January, my “cybergoth” story “The Trojan Girl” is live now at Escape Pod. “The Trojan Girl” is part of a sequence of science fictional stories I’ve been working on — another of those stories, “Valedictorian,” will soon be published in the dystopian YA anthology After later this year– in which artificial intelligences that have risen spontaneously from a futuristic internet struggle to figure out their place in the world. An excerpt:

Fizville was where Meroe had been born. Such places littered the Amorph, natural collection points for obsolete code, corrupted data, and interrupted processes. It made a good hunting ground, since lesser creatures emerged from the garbage with fair regularity. It was also the perfect hiding-place for a frightened, valuable child.

But as Meroe and his group resolved between a spitting knot of paradox and a moldering old hypercard stack, they found that they were not alone. Meroe growled in outrage as a foreign interface clamped over the subnet, imposing interaction rules on all of them. To protect himself, Meroe adopted his default avatar: a lean, bald human male clad only in black skin and silver tattoos. Zo became a human female, dainty and pale and demurely gowned from neck to ankle to complement Meroe’s appearance. She crouched beside him and bared her teeth, which were sharp and hollow, filled with a deadly virus.

Fizville flickered and became an amusement park with half the rides broken, the others twisted into shapes that could never have functioned in the Static. Across the park’s wide avenue stood a new figure. He had depicted himself as a tall middle-aged male, Shanghainese and dignified, dressed in an outdated business suit. This was, Meroe suspected, a subtle form of mockery; a way of saying even in this form, I am superior. It would’ve worked better without the old suit.


There’s no such thing as a good stereotype.

Rantytime. Warning for profanity — although I’m going to try and rein it in, as best I can. Nobody listens to Angry Black Women, after all.

This rant has been partially triggered by yet another discussion of “strong female characters” circulating in the blogosphere. (A good jumping-off point for this discussion is this io9 article, where I butted into the comments for a minute to pretty much make this same point.) This isn’t a new discussion, of course; people have been talking about it for awhile on and off. It’s just the latest hiccup.

The strong female character (SFC) is a stereotype. It’s gone beyond just a trope at this point. It’s ubiquitous; we see this character appear in films, in books, in video games — and because it’s a stereotype, we’ve started to “see” it in real life. Conservatives love Sarah Palin because she shoots things, and Ann Coulter because she thinks women should never ask for help, and should tote guns (and vote the way their husbands tell them). We celebrate images like this one, which has been all over my Facebook feed this week. We warn that the Republican “war on women” will “awaken the sleeping giant” — with violent, threatening language re what will happen when women fight back.

This is a good thing, right? We all know women can be strong. Us women can wield the big guns like the big boys. We can bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan; we can do anything, everything, we can work and have babies and cut the cords with our teeth and then still get up and punch a motherfucker in the face with our brains

— Yeahno. See, that’s the problem with stereotypes. They contain a grain of truth, sure, but the rest is all melodramatic bullshit.
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