Alternatives for delayed Aleph Extraction copies

Strange days, to be sure. Hope you’re all doing well, or at least as well as can be expected when you’re probably bouncing off the walls in your own home.

So, here’s the deal. This weekend, several folks on Twitter alerted me that they’d received emails from Amazon telling them that pre-orders of the paperback version of The Aleph Extraction, which are supposed to be released on May 12, have been delayed, with no new ship date offered. As a result, customers who ordered the book have been given the option to cancel or keep their orders.

I have it on good authority that I’m not alone in this situation; unsurprisingly, the coronavirus outbreak has had wide-reaching effects, and Amazon has responded in part by delaying shipments of non-essential goods, including books. Let’s be clear: authors—and, in many cases, publishers—have had no hand in these decisions whatsoever.

Obviously, this isn’t great for writers. Pre-orders, as I’ve discussed elsewhere, are very important to authors, as they contribute to first-week sales numbers, which are also generally the biggest week of sales for a book and can often make or break a title. And those sales are even more important for a book like Aleph, where I can tell you that the possibility of future installments in the Galactic Cold War series very much hinges on how well this book does. Plus, since Amazon is still the biggest game in Booktown1, it’s in a position to make unilateral decisions that no author or publisher has a say in—so my career is, quite literally, at the company’s whims.

That said, I know this is fairly small potatoes with everything else going on right now. Financially, I’m going to be fine; fiction writing is still only a small chunk of my income. If you’re content to just sit and wait until Amazon delivers your pre-order in its own sweet time, or, hey, if you feel you need to cancel your pre-order entirely, I don’t begrudge that in the slightest. I always advocate borrowing an ebook copy from your local library, via tools like Libby, Overdrive, and Hoopla—and, if the book isn’t available in your local library system, I bet they’ll probably even order a copy if you request it.

If, after all of that, you are still determined to get a copy of The Aleph Extraction as soon as humanly possible—for which I thank you and bestow upon you many blessings!—you have a few options:

  • The ebook version is still on track and will be delivered on May 12. You can order it from a number of places, including direct from my publisher, Angry Robot, which gets you DRM-free copies in both of the most popular ebook formats: ePub (compatible with iPad, Kobo, and other readers) and MOBI (the Kindle format).2 Moreover, Angry Robot is currently running a sale through April 11: you can get 50 percent off all ebooks using the code SHELFISOLATION. If you prefer a different platform, you can also pick up an ebook copy from Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.3

  • If it’s a print copy you have your heart set on, I obviously can’t guarantee when it will arrive, but you may have better luck with a non-Amazon vendor. Barnes & Noble is, again, always an option—given that their business is much more book-centric than Amazon, they may still be prioritizing those shipments—but I always recommend you contact your local independent bookstore, because a) local bookstores are the so-called knees of the bees and b) they are probably full of lovely people who will do their best to help you out. The good news is that there are a couple great resources to help you with that: Indiebound will help you find independent bookstores near you, and the new Bookshop will let you order directly from many of those establishments online. And hey, even if the book doesn’t arrive any faster that way, you’ll at least get a warm and fuzzy feeling from supporting a local business!

  • I can’t speak to the current status of the audiobook for The Aleph Extraction. I know it was being produced as of about a month ago, but as Mary Robinette Kowal points out on Twitter, there are reasons the current world situation may result in delays to audiobooks as well. I’m hopeful it will still be available on May 12, alongside with the ebook, but I don’t have any guarantees as of this writing.

Again, I know the problems of one little author don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world, but I do appreciate the support you’ve all shown me over the last many years. It’s a weird time to be releasing a book, for sure, but we have to play the hand we’re dealt. It’s just over one month until Aleph‘s release, and the good news is that we’ve got a few more things up our sleeves, so keep an eye out.

  1. Population: Me

  2. You can also convert ePub files to Kindle format, if you’re so inclined.

  3. And, of course, Amazon, if you must, though, for obvious reasons, I’m reluctant to send it more business ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

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My writing finances, 2019

So, I guess this is a tradition now!

As 2019 draws to a close, it’s once again time to take a peek at my—dare I say, “burgeoning”?—writing career and see how it’s fared over the last year. As I’ve written before, I’m fascinated by the daily realities of writing, especially when it comes to money.1 Finances aren’t something that everybody feels comfortable talking about, but I’m a firm believer that sharing information helps writers—whom big companies often have a vested interest in keeping in the dark—understand the weird business of publishing even better.

Before we dive in, let me stress one important point: this is my career and my career only. Talk to another writer and their experience will be totally different. Such are the vagaries of publishing. Don’t try to extrapolate too much about someone else’s career—or, frankly, your own—from mine.

So, it’s been a little more than five years since I was laid off from my last full-time job, and my freelance career has continued more or less stably since then, divided between tech writing, podcasting, and fiction writing. Here’s a look at the breakdown in my income for 2019.

Income Breakdown 2019

As in past years, I’m not going to share exact dollar amounts, but I will say that my gross income this year was within 2 percent of my gross income from last year, which, as I said then, was well under six figures.

A few things to take away from this. Last year was the first year I made more money from podcasts than from tech writing. While some of that is because I have a couple shows with very strong ad support—in particular, Clockwise—and several shows that have some degree of member support, a large part of it is reflective of where I put my energy in 2019. Other than my recurring gigs writing my weekly column for Macworld and blogging for Six Colors, I took on very few additional freelance tech assignments.2

But the big news here is fiction writing, which continues its upward trend. Last year, it made up 5 percent of my income—this year that more than doubled. Put another way: my income from fiction in 2019 exceeded all my previous income from fiction (2016-2018) put together.

I’m not going to lie: it’s hella gratifying. I’d love for that trend line to continue upward, but this was in large part bolstered by the fact that we retained the audio rights for both the books I wrote for Angry Robot and the deal with Audible for the audiobook adaptations closed in January of last year. That’s in addition to advances for both The Bayern Agenda and The Aleph Extraction, which are paid out in parts when certain milestones are hit (i.e. manuscript delivery, book publication, etc.). There is also some royalty income in there for The Caledonian Gambit, which is a nice little bonus, though it’s not exactly “hang it all up and live on residuals” kind of money.3 So, while it’s great that 11 percent of my income came from fiction, it necessarily follow that 89 percent didn’t.

As I’ve said in the past, my goal is to continue increasing the chunk of my income that comes from fiction writing, and I’m glad that I’ve been able to sustain that this year. But can I keep that trajectory going in 2020?

Well, here’s the thing about this line of work: stable it ain’t. The only certainty is, in fact, instability.4 Going into this year, I have The Aleph Extraction coming out in May, and…that’s it. Currently, I’ve got no other books under contract, though I’m hoping one or two other projects might hit maturity in the not too distant future. But barring a substantial increase in the value of my deals, I’m not confident that it will bolster the bottom line that much.

Let me illustrate this point. With five years of freelancing under my belt, I have a little bit of data to work with, and what that data can tell me is, again, volatility. Here, for example, are the changes in my gross income for the last four years.

Year Change from Previous
2015 N/A
2016 -10%
2017 50%
2018 -19%
2019 2%

All. Over. The. Place. Frankly, Mr. Toad might think this ride too wild.

From the viewpoint of January 2020, figuring out whether this is going to be an up-50% or a down-20% kind of year is impossible. And, again, I’m privileged to be in a position where I can weather the down years, thanks to diverse sources of income, savings I’ve socked away, a stable living situation, and a partner with a steady job.5

Anyway, thanks for reading along: I hope at least some of you found this perspective of one working writer illuminating. Again, let me disclaim that I’m an N of 1 and every writer is in a different situation. Check out posts from folks like Jim C. Hines, Kameron Hurley, and John Scalzi for different perspectives6. And hey, if you’ve got any broad questions, drop me a line or hit me up on Twitter. I’m always happy to talk about these things, because as I said before: the more information that’s out there, the more empowered all writers are. I appreciate all of your support over the past five years, and let’s all stick together in 2020, huh?

  1. And, I realize, I’m very lucky to be in a position where I can afford to be fascinated, instead of worrying where my next rent payment is going to come from.

  2. Looking at my records, it was literally two pieces I wrote for Tom’s Guide.

  3. I’ve only had one royalty statement for *Bayern* so far, and it takes a least a couple before you get an idea of just how well the book is doing.

  4. And taxes.

  5. Then again, if the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania has his maniacal way, who knows what kind of fuckery we might all be in for.

  6. If you see other posts along these lines, let me know!

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Awards eligibility, 2019

Seems like at the end of the year, it never rains but it pours. In addition to everything else going on, it is that fickle beast known as awards season. So this is my opportunity to say that if you’ve liked my work from this year, you might consider nominating it for an award. What kind of award? Well, there’s the Nebulas, which are open for nominations as of this writing to members of the Science-Fiction Writers of America. The Locus awards and the Hugos are coming up as well. There’s always the 2019 Upgradies. Or you might just want to accord my work a place of honor in your household—that’s great too! I recommend a plinth with some sort of engraving.

Anyway, what have I written that’s eligible for awards this year? Well, hard as it is to believe, my second novel, The Bayern Agenda, just came out back in March. I know, in this world we live in, every week seems like a decade, so March must have been back in, what, ancient Roman times? But nope, it was still 2019.1 That means it’s eligible for any Best Novel category for 2019, or perhaps Best Sci-Fi Spy Novel With a Red/Yellow Cover. Lot of competition for that one.

That’s it for this year—it’s been pretty busy on other fronts, so one book will have to do. I hope you enjoyed it, perhaps even enough to throw its hat in the ring for an award. (Do books have hats?) Thanks for reading!

  1. I literally checked, myself, just to be sure.

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Shirts happen!

Just in time for the holiday season, both Commonwealth of Independent Systems AND Illyrican Empire shirts are back at Cotton Bureau. Available in tri-blend and 100% cotton options, as well as a variety of colors.

Just a reminder that, as per campaigns over there, we need to hit a minimum of 12 orders in order for that shirt to get printed. So order early and if you know anybody who’s on the fence, give ’em a little nudge.

And if t-shirts just aren’t your thing because you’re a dapper suit-wearing professional, the Commonwealth insignia lapel pin is always available to compliment your personal style.1

  1. Also perfect for the pin-adorned messenger bag.

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Giving it all away: Signed copies of BAYERN, free audiobooks, and more!

Update 11/22: The Commonwealth of Independent Systems shirt is also going to print, so I’ve thrown in one of those as a prize as well!

Update 11/18: As my Illyrican Empire t-shirt is officially going to print, I’m adding a code for a free shirt as an extra prize!

Here’s the thing about publishing: it takes time. Last year, right about now, I was knee-deep in cranking out The Aleph Extraction; here we are, a year later, and I’ve just delivered the revised manuscript of the book, with only a last look-see before it goes off to the printer. And then, six months from today, it’ll be winging its way into your hands, ears, or e-readers—as though by magic.

In the meantime, however, what’s large left for me with this book—aside from a few last-minute tasks—is sitting and waiting. And, of course, encouraging all of you to pre-order.

I’ve explained before why pre-orders are important: in short, they feed into the number of first week sales for a book, which is the most important week of sales, because it’s generally the highest and most reflective of what kind of demand there is for a book.

If anything, pre-orders are more important than usual with this book, because I am not at present contracted for any future Galactic Cold War titles. So if you want to read more about the adventures of your pals Kovalic, Brody, Taylor, and Tapper1, the best way to ensure that there is a next adventure is to pre-order this one.

To that end, I decided it would be fun to do a little promotion. So, if you’ve pre-ordered my book, send a copy of the receipt (photo or screenshot) to contest [at] Make sure you send it from, or supply, an email address at which you can be reached.

On November 26th, I’ll do a random drawing from those who have entered for each of the following prizes:

And in case that isn’t enough, I may add one or two more prizes to the mix in the next week or so, in which case I will update this post accordingly. I appreciate all of your support and wish you the best of luck.

Official Rules

  • Entrants must be over 18 and live in the US. (Sorry, international folks, but that’s the way it is. You can always request a free signed bookplate though!)
  • If you’re a family member or personal friend of the author, you’re ineligible for this giveaway. (But I still love you.)
  • Enter by sending a copy of your receipt for The Aleph Extraction to contest [at] One entry per person! Your email will be used only for notification purposes related to the giveaway and will be discarded after the giveaway has concluded, unless you have opted to subscribe to my newsletter.
  • NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. To enter without a receipt, use this form; method of entry will not affect odds of winning.
  • Giveaway begins at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, Tuesday November 12th and runs until 11:59 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, Tuesday November 26th.
  • At the close of the giveaway, random numbers will be generated by for each prize to be given away. The corresponding number in the spreadsheet of entries will be declared the winner. Only one prize per person, so if the same number comes up again, a new number will be generated.
  • Odds of winning depends on the number of entries.
  • Once contacted, winners have 48 hours to claim their prizes or a replacement winner will be picked. And so on, until winners are found for all the prizes.

  1. Plus a few new faces from Aleph who I think you’re going to love.

Posted in The Aleph Extraction | Comments Off on Giving it all away: Signed copies of BAYERN, free audiobooks, and more!

The Aleph Extraction moves to May

We’re on the move! As mentioned on Twitter and in my newsletter yesterday, The Aleph Extraction, which was previously due in March of next year, has moved to May 2020.

This came out of discussion with Angry Robot; we agreed that the schedule for getting the book out the door was a little tighter than we liked, and that adding a bit more time would ensure that Aleph would be the best book it could possibly be.

I know many of you were looking forward to something to perk you up in the dreary days of March, but I think we can all agree that the superior weather of May means a great opportunity to lounge in the newly warm weather with a good read. My thanks to all of you who have already pre-ordered—it makes a huge difference to not only the success of Aleph, but also to helping advocate for further books in the Galactic Cold War series, which I’d love to continue writing. So, if you haven’t pre-ordered yet, well, what are you waiting for?

Oh, and if you are a subscriber to my newsletter, you’ll have also gotten a treat with that aforementioned email: a never-before-seen deleted scene from The Bayern Agenda. I’m hoping to share a few more of these here and there, but I figured that might be a fun little extra. Interested in seeing that and more? Sign up for the low-volume newsletter.

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Aleph’s well that ends well

What’s that, another book? Damn skippy.

Get ready for THE ALEPH EXTRACTION, book two of the Galactic Cold War series.1 Coming in March 2020, we follow our intrepid band of covert operatives as they infiltrate the luxurious starliner of a notorious gangster, attempting to track down a mysterious artifact that could have major implications for the fate of the galaxy.

Things certainly don’t look great for our heroes, if that spaceman below is any indication, but you can check out the lovely full cover designed by Georgina Hewitt, along with an exclusive excerpt, over at Barnes & Noble’s Sci-Fi Blog. And rest assured that there will be a lot more info to come over the next several months.2

  1. This time for real!

  2. Although I’m getting married this weekend, so it may have to wait a little bit.

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Get around, get around, get around the Internet

The Bayern Agenda has, like the kraken, been released!

It turns out book release weeks are quite the trip. Because in addition to doing the old tweetin’ and hootin’ and hollerin’, I’m also traveling around this wide Internet of ours, scribbling posts on others’ blogs, answering interview questions, and spontaneously showing up on podcasts. I know, it’s kind of a lot.

Anyway, should you have somehow not had your fill of me yet, you can check out the following places to get your fix.

Guest Posts

  • Five Things I Learned – Writing a book teaches you a lot, even when you’ve done it before. So I hijacked Chuck Wendig’s blog to enumerate five specific lessons I learned while writing The Bayern Agenda.
  • My Favorite Bit – Want to know which part of The Bayern Agenda was my favorite to write? Head over to Mary Robinette Kowal’s blog, and I’ll tell you what it was and why. (Don’t worry, no spoilers.)
  • Annotated First Chapter – Ever wonder what was running through my mind while I wrote something? Well, now you can take a peek. I’ve annotated the first chapter of The Bayern Agenda for Civilian Reader.


  • Interview with Paul Semel – Over at Paul Semel’s blog, I talked about the books, movie, and TV shows that inspired The Bayern Agenda, as well as discussing some fantasy casting.
  • Interview at My Life My Books My Escape – I’m talking about my favorite characters to write (it’s so hard to pick!), what people will be talking about after they finish The Bayern Agenda, and my feelings on “theme.”
  • Interview with Amanda Bridgeman – Fellow Angry Robot author Amanda Bridgeman interviews me about my formative writing experiences, my myriad podcasts, and my secret dream job.


  • The Incomparable – My friend and colleague Jason Snell and I talk about how The Bayern Agenda came to be and answer questions from readers and listeners around the Internet.
  • Alan & Jeremy vs. Sci-Fi – I chat with the dynamic duo about sci-fi, my book, and the art of swearing; we also discuss Brooke Bolander’s excellent short story, “And You Shall Know Her By The Trail Of Dead.”
  • Narrated – I give host Scott Ullery the behind the scenes look on authors’ involvement with audiobooks, and then he turns around and quizzes me about movie mashups. Hardly seems fair.
Posted in Appearances, The Bayern Agenda | Comments Off on Get around, get around, get around the Internet

Now hear this: The Bayern Agenda audiobook is available for pre-order!

I’ve gotten a lot of questions about the audiobook version of The Bayern Agenda, and I’m delighted to let you all know that a) there will be an audiobook version, b) it’s now up for pre-order on Amazon (and hopefully soon to follow on the Apple Book Store and elsewhere), and c) it should arrive on the same day as the print copy!

The audiobook is being produced by Audible Studios and narrated by Victor Bevine, whose dulcet tones you may have heard on the likes of Michael Lewis’s The Fifth Risk and many books in R.A. Salvatore’s oeuvre, which is some truly illustrious company.

So if you’ve been waiting for a version of the book you can read with your ears, well, there’s no reason left to wait.

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My writing finances, 2018

Writing is big business, right?

I’m always interested when writers like John Scalzi, Jim C. Hines, and Kameron Hurley talk about the economics of the writing business. I’m certainly not at the same place in my career as any of them, but maybe somebody out there is interested in what the finances of someone just starting out in fiction writing—but who’s also spent the last four years as a professional freelance writer and podcaster—look like. And, well, the only numbers I have at my disposal are my own.

As a freelancer, I have to keep a close eye on my finances as it is, because nobody else is going to do it for me.1 So since I already have those numbers, I thought I’d share this chart:

Yep, that’s my income breakdown from 2018. I’m not going to break out dollar figures here, as that’s just something I’m not comfortable with right now, but to put this overall chart in context, my gross income does not reach six figures.

This marks the first time I’ve made more from podcasts—which includes ad revenue from Clockwise and The Rebound, as well as memberships fees for Clockwise and my various Incomparable shows—than from tech writing, which is a fascinating swing for me, even though my overall income was still split evenly between writing and podcasting.2 In large part, that change is because I took on fewer tech writing gigs this past year, but also because podcasts have been doing well recently. I certainly hope that trend continues.

Fiction writing also made up the biggest percentage to date of my writing income, in part because last year I signed a two-book contract with Angry Robot, as well as seeing the first royalties from The Caledonian Gambit, which was published in 2017. Comparatively, fiction writing made up 2 percent of my income in both 2017 and 2016. In raw terms, I netted just slightly more from fiction writing in 2018 than I made in 2017 and 2016 put together.

I’ll take that as a pretty good trend, and while obviously I can’t insure that it continues in that direction, my goal has always been to slowly increase the percentage of my overall income that fiction writing brings in. But fear not, I’m not about to stop writing about technology or shutter my podcasts; they’re still bringing in the lion’s share of my income and, besides the fact that it would be economically foolish of me to toss them aside, I really enjoy those parts of my work and am extremely gratified that I can make a reasonable living off them.

As for 2019, I’ve already got a couple things lined up on the publishing front that I’m excited about, and I hope to develop more as the year continues.

  1. Without me paying them to do it, that is, which isn’t something I can afford at present.

  2. The miscellaneous income, if you’re curious, is mainly a tiny bit of Amazon affiliate revenue, and sales of my t-shirts and pins at the Cotton Bureau.

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