Why I did Xenowealth: A Collection as a Kickstarter



Clay Kallam has nice things to say about the collection, and recommends reading the Xenowealth collection in the first regular review of Xenowealth: A Collection.

He does lead off with this:

The brave new world of publishing can affect even the successful, including Tobias Buckell, author of “Xenowealth” and “Arctic Rising” books, who now must resort to crowdfunding to get all of his works into print.

(Via Worlds Beyond: Tobias Buckell revisits his ‘Xenowealth’ world with a new collection of short stories – San Jose Mercury News.)

I’m grateful to Clay for recommending the books.

To dig into why I did the Kickstarter, as opposed to selling it to a publisher: I make more off the Kickstarter. I’d talked to one publisher about it, and they turned it down. And I’ve run the numbers. A mid list author like me, for a short story collection, can expect something like $1,000-$5,000. $5,000 is high for a short story collection. The received wisdom is that short story collections don’t sell. It becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.

And to be fair, readers do seem to prefer longer pieces.

The reason I didn’t shop the project around any further was that I knew I could make more rolling my own. Xenowealth: A Collection got $7,105 on Kickstarter. Yes there were fees, shipping, printing costs, but there were also more preorders via backerkit. There were a lot of eBook preorders once I put that up as well.

When all is said and done, this will be a project that is looking likely to break $10,000, which leaves me quite delighted. Who would have offered me 10K on a short story collection?

The follow up question is: why don’t I do more novels this way?

Well, so far, there have been more advantages doing it the other way. Monetarily. But also growing my reach and audience. The Apocalypse Ocean is not the most I’ve made off a novel in all the publishing methods I’ve tried (crowd funding/direct digital/medium press/NY Publishing), but it’s middle of the pack. But, having roughly tripled what I could expect to have made on the short story collection, crowd funding is a tool in my kit that I can deploy if things ever flag elsewhere. If I have to flip that switch, I am happy to. I’m grateful to my readership for sticking with me in all the ways I publish things.

I made a lot of mistakes while doing this Kickstarter last. I’ve made due note of every single one. I was originally going to write a post called ‘All the ways I crashed and burned on my 3rd Kickstarter’ but that’s no positive learning and moving forward, it’s me feeling bad for myself. And the truth is, I don’t need more negativity. Mark what failed, avoid in future, learn. Always learn. The biggest error was a messed up print run using the wrong paper for the collection. After I sorted that out, I used the extra copies as advanced reader copies, sending them out to reviewers.

The fact that Xenowealth: A Collection is being reviewed by the San Jose Mercury News shows that there is a lot of potential, and the experience is ending up positive.


Xenowealth: A Collection

Xenowealth: A Collection

Series: Short Story Collections, Book 5
High concept, adventurous science fiction stories featuring the beloved characters and settings from Tobias S. Buckell’s popular Xenowealth novels. More info →
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Xenowealth: A Collection

UCR Today: Alternative Futurisms Series Continues



Authors Daniel José Older and Walter Mosley will speak on Wednesday, Feb. 3, followed on March 3 by a panel of award-winning authors discussing the expectations of science fiction and fantasy produced by Caribbean writers.

(Via UCR Today: Alternative Futurisms Series Continues.)

I can’t wait to be in California for this.

Why I Log



I don’t think I’m alone in this experience. Others have tried a similar diet, though perhaps for other reasons. Advocating for one particular weight-loss diet isn’t my point. My message is this: your weight is in large measure about your psychology. It’s about the hunger mood. Obesity is a crippling social problem, but to our detriment the research has almost uniformly ignored this aspect of the situation. Consider this to be a call to science to focus a great deal more on the psychology of the hunger mood.

In some ways, the hunger system is like the breathing system. The brain has an unconscious mechanism that regulates breathing. Suppose that system got shut down so that it was up to you to consciously control your own breath, adjusting its rate and depth depending on factors such as blood oxygen, carbon dioxide level, physical exertion, and so on. What would happen? You’d die in about 10 minutes.

(Via Hunger is psychological – and dieting only makes it ….)

I thought this was a fascinating article that Cory Doctorow pointed out on twitter.


I have some thoughts about it as I’m coming out of a long year of focusing on deadlines more than my health and trying to reverse a year of self neglect. By last October I’d gained twenty pounds free-basing skittles while sitting all day trying to make various deadlines. I wrote two novels, heavily revised a third, wrote two short stories in a year. I also doubled my freelance work in anticipation of Emily leaving her job.

I spent a lot of time in a chair last year.

And since I have a heart defect I couldn’t go run, or use high intensity interval training, or anything other than a mile or so of walking a day and diet. And I threw diet out the window as I ate my stress.

I’m a quantified self sort of person, and I’ve read a bunch about nutrition, so this was a cool article. One, I have some quibbles with it. But in general, I think it’s awesome because anyone who gives the advice ‘you shouldn’t be hungry all the time on a diet’ is giving fantastic advice.

I think the monkish self-hating of the body is super spread out in our modern world. Dieting becomes a form of self-scarification and exercise in self control in modern culture. I hate so many of its manifestations, as it leaves people who don’t succeed thinking of themselves as failures at a goal instead of on a particular journey.

I knew I was going to have to spend November and December restyling my life when I started down the path I did earlier this year.

And I have. I’ll blog about it some time. I’ve twittered a wee bit about it.

But, back to this article. You shouldn’t be hungry. Yes.

The author’s impression of ‘calorie counting’ is a bit off though:

But the most insidious attack on the hunger mechanism might be the chronic diet. The calorie-counting trap. The more you try to micromanage your automatic hunger control mechanism, the more you mess with its dynamics. Skip breakfast, cut calories at lunch, eat a small dinner, be constantly mindful of the calorie count, and you poke the hunger tiger.

This is where I’m like ‘no no no.’

Calorie tracking. Just track. Not after the day (where he says ‘most people don’t remember what they ate enough to track) but before it goes in my mouth.



But also, to manage hunger and eat the things I adore.

Because here’s the thing. Go on a low carb diet, it’s one of the coolest hacks for lost weight I’ve ever seen (and the article does link to something that dispels the whole ‘ketones’ and ‘chemistry’ and low-carb=magic chemistry woo woo bullshit I hate). I learned low carb first from a weightlifter who said to me ‘two weeks to supercharge weight loss at the start of a program and psyche yourself up and then the last two weeks before you’re on a stage, but the rest of the time, you need simple carbs.’

But the thing is, after that magic period…

Chocolate cake and Lil Debbie Nutty Bars still exist. And they’re manna. And you know it. Those are my favorites.

So you either have to become religious about it, cycle up and down and on and off low carb. Or you have to figure out how to eat the things you do love that aren’t protein and veggies.

Low carb works, as far as I can tell from years logging data, not because of magic chemistry, but because it takes a ton of protein to match the calories in bread. When tracking calories, when I eat mostly protein, I almost struggle to eat above my base metabolic rate. So when I see that I’m eating too much, I strip out the carbs for the next few meals to feel full and dispel hunger.

And I do this so that I can do things like eat donuts and Lil Debbie Nutty Bars every day (cheesecake with dinner).


But no matter what approach, starving one’s self is horrible. Everyone has a Base Metabolic Rate (BMR). I use the scale and a rough calculation. It means I make sure to never eat less than a certain amount. One of the things we talked about on a panel recently about apps is how they can push negative things, and most logging apps don’t set a minimum you should not go below, so I am hacking them to focus on tracking and positivity and mindfulness. But a lot of the apps need to refocus how they educate and encourage folks.

There’s such a simple correlation between my health and when I’m mindful through logging before I pick up the food that I am directly regretting the 9 month lapse last year. That was a bad decision on my part LOL.

But I agree starving one’s self is always a horrible proposition, and enjoyed the article.