The end is here.
BLACKOUT, the final book in the post-apocalyptic Breakers series, is now live. It’s available in all major online bookstores:
BLACKOUT is the eighth book in the series. If you’re catching up, or missed an earlier book, here’s a complete list of the series:
- Breakers (Book 1)
- Melt Down (Book 2)
- Outcome (Novella)
- Knifepoint (Book 3)
- Reapers (Book 4)
- Cut Off (Book 5)
- Captives (Book 6)
- Relapse (Book 7)
- Blackout (Book 8)
The first three books are also available in one volume: The Breakers Series, Books 1-3. If you’re new to the series, the box set is currently on sale for $0.99. Find it on Amazon, iBooks, B&N, Kobo, and Google.
BLACKOUT is, without doubt, the most bittersweet book I’ve ever written. The Breakers series — and everyone who’s read them — gave me my career. I’ve lived (and in some cases died!) with these characters for the last four years of my life. The series is a million words in total. It’s taken me well over 3000 hours of work. After that much time spent in this world, it’s going to be incredibly hard to leave it behind.
As an author, it’s always tempting to stick with a series for as long as people keep buying it. But I wanted to go out on a high note. To finish the series before it had the chance to get stale. As much fun as it is to live in this world, all of the best stories have an ending.
As I neared the end of BLACKOUT, I started my work day at 9 AM. By the time I stopped, it was 4 AM, I’d written thirty pages — far more than I’ve ever written before — and finished the book. Because I couldn’t wait to find out where everyone was going to wind up.
I’m sad to leave Breakers behind. But giving an ending to these characters has been my proudest moment as an author.
Don’t worry, I’ll still be writing for a long time. I might even revisit this world some day. For now, though, we’ve reached the end of the road.
Thanks for reading.
The Cycle of Arawn is now on audiobook. By me, Edward W. Robertson.
And I don’t just mean The White Tree — I mean all three books: The White Tree, The Great Rift, and The Black Star. The complete epic fantasy trilogy in one collection.
In total, it’s 66 hours long. That’s nearly three days of listening. All narrated by Tim Gerard Reynolds — the voice of Red Rising, the sequels to Hugh Howey’s Wool, and Michael J. Sullivan’s Riyria series.
I’ve listened to several hours so far, and the work Tim did in bringing Dante, Blays, Cally, and everyone is to life is just incredible. When I write future books in this world, it’s going to be with his voice in my head.
I’m not the only one who’s gotten a kick out of it. From a couple weeks ago:
Now, I’m quite certain George R.R. Martin has far better things to do with his time than haunt the audiobook bestsellers lists to ensure his dominance goes on unabated. But I like to imagine that he woke up one morning, happened to see this interloper in the midst of all that Game of Thrones, and thought, “The Cycle of what?”
More good news: the crazy success of this trilogy (it’s been as high as #27 in all audiobooks in the US, and #12 in the UK!) guarantees that The Cycle of Galand, the next trilogy, will make it to audio, too. I don’t have a release date for The Red Sea yet, but as soon as I do, I’ll post it here.
In the meantime, hope you enjoy The Cycle of Arawn. Thanks, everyone.
Now live unto the world: STARS & EMPIRE. Ten books of space opera and military SF. Ten of indie science fiction’s biggest authors. All for just $0.99.
And, if you’re one of my readers, the best part? My contribution to this set is a completely brand new book — REBEL, available exclusively within this set. Book zero of the REBEL STARS novels, it kicks off a new series — one set a thousand years in the future of the BREAKERS books.
To my Breakers readers: Don’t worry, the series isn’t over yet. And there are no spoilers in REBEL (besides, I suppose, the one that humanity survived). It was tremendous fun to leap forward in the universe and into space opera, which might be my favorite genre of all.
I hope that comes through in the new book. Hope you enjoy!
Yep. Got a new book out. Here’s the deal:
IN THE YEAR 2010, an alien virus nearly wiped out the human race. A thousand years later, mankind has recovered and ventured into space. There has been no sign of the aliens since. Humanity remains confined to the Solar System.
All that is about to change.
Mazzy Webber is a lowly janitor on a third-rate cargo ship. Deeply in debt, when his captain decides to turn pirate, he leaps at the chance.
A modern Robin Hood—minus the part where he gives back to the poor—Webber lays down a few ground rules. No attacking manned ships, and no stealing from anyone who can’t afford it. Within months, he and the crew are out of debt. Their next target will make them rich.
But the attack goes all wrong. The target’s cargo could be the death of them—or it could be the key to reaching the stars.
AVAILABLE HERE at $0.99:
By the way, if that description sounds familiar…it should. OUTLAW is the first book in a new series set in the far future of the Breakers universe. While you absolutely don’t have to read the Breakers books to follow along, having that as background should add an extra layer to the fun.
It definitely made it more fun to write. I love space opera and have been wanting to start a new series for a long time. Putting it in the future of my particular world has given it its own unique history and flavor.
On top of that, looking at this as a publisher, this gives readers more to check out. Like the Rebel Stars stuff? Good news! Its apocalyptic history has already been chronicled in the Breakers series. Like Breakers? Well, clear up some space on your ereader! Because here’s what happens long after humanity bounces back.
I really can’t say how much crossover there will be. I can say that combining these series into the same universe pleases the heck out of me as both a writer and as a publisher.
I now have delusions of chronicling the complete history of this world. That might be too ambitious — or possibly too boring! — but it’s an exciting possibility.
That can wait for a later date. For now? Buy buy buy! Buy like the wind! A thousand years of silly fictional history depends on you.
Yesterday, Amazon touched off something of a firestorm by emailing hordes of readers and KDP authors for help, requesting authors email Hachette CEO Michael Pietsch to explain why lower prices are better for readers and the publishing industry.
Today, Pietsch has been responding to everyone who’s emailed him. I find his response reasonable enough — for the most part, he claims, Hachette’s ebooks fall beneath Amazon’s preferred $9.99 cap — but there’s one part that stuck out to me.
“The invention of mass-market paperbacks was great for all because it was not intended to replace hardbacks but to create a new format available later, at a lower price.”
This is false.
Well, technically, it isn’t false — it’s true that mass market paperbacks weren’t invented to replace hardbacks. But they weren’t published in the modern fashion, with a publisher releasing them months after the more expensive hardback. Rather, paperback rights were purchased by competing publishers who were able to sell their paperbacks for 10% of the price of the original hardcovers.
In other words, they were invented to disrupt the hardcover industry.
In 1939, the average hardcover cost $2.50-3.00 — the modern equivalent of $40-50. The new paperbacks cost $0.25 — a little over $4.00. Presumably, the first paperbacks were reprints in order to ensure the audience for those titles was already in place and minimize the paperback house’s risk of printing a dud. However, paperbacks blew up the market so well that by 1950, publishing houses were publishing paperback originals. It was feared these paperback originals would “undermine the whole structure of publishing.”
And they might have.
For more than twenty years, paperback prices held steady. They even declined; in 1961, some paperbacks cost as little as $0.35, just $2.79 in modern dollars. Then a funny thing happened. Starting around 1966, costs climbed to an adjusted $4-5. By 1975, they hit $6-7. And by the mid-1980s, mass market paperbacks cost the equivalent of $7-9.50. They’ve hung around $7.99-9.99 ever since.
After 25 years of steady prices, what happened to cause paperback prices to triple over the next twenty years?
When I first did this research two years ago, I stumbled onto the fact that this timeline coincided precisely with the conglomeration of the publishing industry. Beginning around 1958 and accelerating in the ’60s, small and medium publishers were gobbled up by the majors, culminating in today’s environment of the Big 5 (formerly 6). I assumed that the decrease in competition allowed the major houses to increase prices.
However, I think that’s only part of the puzzle. I am now entering the realm of speculation, so take the following with grains of salt. But I believe two more factors are at play.
First, most of the independent paperback publishing houses were bought up by larger houses. In other words, not only was competition decreased, but in many cases, it was gone. Meanwhile, tenfold disparity between the price of hardcovers and the price of paperbacks may have felt like far too much. Undermining the value of literature, if you will.
Second — and this is pure intuition; more research is required here — I expect that major publishers quit selling off their paperback rights. Likely, they used their newly acquired paperback imprints to handle publication of that format. No longer did you have two different publishers competing on price for the exact same title. Rather, you had a single company whose interest, obviously, was that these two separate editions wouldn’t compete at all.
That, I expect, is when Pietsch’s model finally came into play: a company releases a new book in hardcover, selling to all those who prefer the format or can’t wait to read it. Sometime down the road, months or even a year later, a paperback format is released, picking up a second market of readers.
Whatever Hachette would like us to believe, this is a radical change in intent from the paperback’s original role.
As a result, rather than selling a hardcover for $50 and a paperback for $4, they’re selling the hardcovers for $25-36 — often discounted by Amazon to $15-20 — and the paperbacks for $8-10.
Meanwhile, ebooks are lodged messily in the middle. It’s 2014. You can’t delay the ebook release the way you can delay the paperback release. You’d lose out on all those readers who now primarily or solely read ebooks. But so long as it is less than the hardcover, it’s still a bargain. Sort of. $8-15 is less than $15-20, right? Just make sure to drop it to $6-10 when that $8-10 paperback is finally made available.
It’s no wonder traditional publishers and Amazon are at loggerheads. Like Penguin and Pocket Books in the 1930s, Amazon essentially invented a new format of book. One that, with no per-unit production costs and negligible returns, could be the cheapest format yet. A format capable of opening up a new market of readers.
Or, more accurately, of resurrecting it.
Hello! Here is the part where I pretend this post doesn’t have a headline and say: I’ve just published CAPTIVES, the latest book in my post-apocalyptic Breakers series.
For readers of the series, you can pick it up at every major online bookstore using any of the links below. For not-readers of the series, you can find the first book for free. Once you have finished whipping yourself, anyway.
Remember, all purchases go to the Fund to Convince Ed to Resume Blogging About Publishing Numbers (And Also Some Beer). Thanks as always for your support.
What are you looking down here for? Wasn’t the cover enough to make you go buy it? Oh, fine. I will tell you about it, too:
In the fast-paced BREAKERS series, humanity faces not one apocalypse, but two: first a lethal pandemic, then a war against those who made the virus.
ONCE, Walt Lawson saved the world. Lately, he’s lived in peaceful anonymity with his girlfriend Carrie. This morning, she’s been kidnapped.
Walt has a single lead: the van that took her. Its trail points him up the coast to San Jose, where survivors have banded together against the gangs who’ve overrun the north. With the aid of a local guide, Walt homes in on the kidnappers, who are days from shipping Carrie far away.
But Walt’s past is about to crash down on his rescue plans. For six years, Thom James has been on the hunt, blaming Walt for the death of his brother Raymond. Now that Walt’s come up for air, Thom finally has a lead—and he won’t stop until he’s put Walt six feet underground.
Two months ago, I took a look at how many of the bestselling Kindle genre titles were self-published. I had two purposes in mind: first, to see whether there were any differences in the success of self-publishing between the big four genres (Romance, Mystery/Thrillers/Suspense, Sci-Fi, and Fantasy).
The second purpose was to provide some more data for the initial Author Earnings report. The report indicated that self-publishers were doing incredibly well within genre ebooks, but one of the more widespread criticisms was that the report was just a snapshot that might not represent anything more than that moment in time.
I thought that was a valid critique, but I also suspected it would prove false — Amazon is amazingly consistent from day to day and month to month, and the AE report looked at a substantial chunk of data. I was betting that later studies would show similar results.
Among the report’s conclusions was that genre fiction accounted for about 70% of all Kindle ebook sales, and that self-published titles accounted for roughly half of that. I used a different methodology, and a worse sample size, but when I checked in February, self-publishing’s share of the bestselling Kindle titles was as follows:
- Romance: 49%
- Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense: 11%
- Science Fiction: 56%
- Fantasy: 49%
Three of the four genres were roughly 50% self-published, with the glaring exception of the thriller market. Meanwhile, here was each genre’s overall share of the Kindle market (methodology explained in the original post):
- Romance: 40%
- Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense: 20%
- Science Fiction: 5%
- Fantasy: 6.33%
This added up to 71.33% of all Kindle ebook sales. I pulled my numbers a few weeks after the first Author Earnings report collected its data, yet my conclusions mirrored theirs: about 70% of all Kindle sales were in these four genres, and of those sales, close to half were of self-published titles.
It’s been two months since then. How do things look today? First, here are the four genres broken down by method of publication — self-published; through a small or medium press; Amazon publishing imprints; and by the Big 5, which includes major genre houses like Harlequin and Baen, where appropriate.
- Self-published – 59%
- Small/medium – 3%
- Amazon – 12%
- Big 5 – 26%
- Self-published – 26%
- Small/medium – 1%
- Amazon – 15%
- Big 5 – 58%
- Self-published – 53%
- Small/medium – 7%
- Amazon – 12%
- Big 5 – 29%
- Self-published – 45%
- Small/medium – 6%
- Amazon – 8%
- Big 5 – 41%
There are a few differences between the first grab and this one. The percentage of bestselling self-published romance titles is up by a good percentage. Thrillers are way up, more than double the initial look. Meanwhile, self-published sci-fi and fantasy titles are slightly fewer. Amazon’s publishing imprints are up, representing just under 12% of the total, compared to a little over 9% the first time.
I wouldn’t draw too much from any of these changes, though. You can hardly conjure a pattern out of two whole samples drawn from a methodology that’s prone to variance. What’s most interesting to me here is how little is different: in three of the four major genres, self-published titles still represent about 50% of the bestsellers. Thrillers continues to lag behind, but this month’s look suggests it’s not quite as tough for self-published titles to compete as the original breakdown suggested.
Okay, so what about the genres’ overall market share? Here’s how it breaks down this time:
- Romance – 35.2%
- Thrillers – 26%
- Science Fiction – 5.4%
- Fantasy – 6.4%
This adds up to 73% of overall Kindle ebook sales. Crazy.
Compared to February, sci-fi and fantasy are essentially the same. Romance is somewhat smaller, but thrillers are up by a decent percentage. As before, however, I wouldn’t try to read patterns in the differences — I’m not at all sure that romance sales are actually down. The sample sizes involved make this part of the data prone to a fair amount of variance.
Again, what’s most interesting to me isn’t the differences. It’s how similar these numbers are a full two months later — these four genres continue to comprise ~70% of Amazon’s ebook sales, and roughly half of those sales are of self-published books.