Stargate Monuments


Martha Wells

My Flying Lizard Circus

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Someone was asking about this, so I thought I'd go ahead and talk about it. Since around late November-early December, The Cloud Roads has been pretty difficult to find, and it's now been "temporarily" out of stock at B&N online and Amazon for about a month, and is pretty much on its way out of print. So yeah, not having the first book of a series available when the third book comes out is not a good thing.

When people have been asking me about more Raksura books after The Siren Depths these past few weeks, I've been trying to sound optimistic, but I'm not particularly optimistic about it anymore.

This is sort of the same thing that happened with the Fall of Ile-Rien trilogy, except in that case it was The Gate of Gods that was extremely difficult to find, so I still run into people who thought the third book never came out. (And that's also why there haven't been any Ile-Rien books since then.)

Anyway, there are a few independent stores I know of that are still listing one copy of The Cloud Roads: Powell's, Mysterious Galaxy, and The Tattered Cover. It is still available used, but sale of used books don't affect sales numbers at all so are pretty nonexistent for authors and publishers. It's also still available in ebook and audiobook for now.

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I don't know how foreign sales affect things, but it seems to at least be still available on the Chapters website in Canada? here... For now, anyway - it seems like they don't have a lot of copies left in their stores, either.

At least there's a few copies available there. Thanks for the link!

I'm so sorry, Martha. I've been coping with similar disappointment about my own series, which I'd also hoped would turn out to be more than 3 books. It's so hard when this stuff happens, but your books are wonderful, and I can't wait to read everything you write next.

Thanks, Stephanie. I loved your series and was hoping there would be more, too.

That's disappointing. The paperback does seem to be still available on Amazon UK with "9-13 days" availability, which is odd -- it looks as though they might have to order it from the US, so I don't know whether ordering it would actually succeed or just result in an apologetic cancellation a day or two later.

Yes, that means they're going to try to order it from the distributor. If there are some copies left in a warehouse somewhere, they might be able to get them to fill a few orders, but that's it.

That's sad to hear -- I do still see copies of the series in bookstores but never more than one of either one or the other. Night Shade seems to have more than a little difficulty getting books on the shelves and keeping them stocked.

The digital and audio versions will at least remain available forever -- right? No reason a digital copy ever needs to go out of print.

Thanks. That's pretty much the problem.

If the first book isn't available in bookstores, the series will have trouble attracting new readers, and sales of the third book will be much lower and sales of the ebooks and audiobooks will just keep dropping off as everyone forgets that they exist. It's the series death spiral, basically. The later books in the series don't sell unless the first book continues to bring in new readers.

The problem with using the ebook edition to show the book is in print means that the publisher will be able to hold onto the rights forever, with no chance for me to ever find another publisher who might reprint it. So Night Shade won't want to do any new Raksura books because the first three books aren't selling well (because they aren't available/are too obscure) and a new publisher won't want to pick up the series because they can't get reprint rights to the first three books.

Well, crap. I am sorry this is happening. Series death spiral sucks.

Thanks. Yeah, it's the second one for me.

I'm so sorry to read this! I just finished reading The Siren Depths, and was hoping for more Raksura books! I wish I'd bought my copies during release week, since I know that helps immensely, but it fell into the holiday-no-buy-period. I may have to amend the policy for my favorite authors who aren't as well-known as they should be.

That said, how committed are you to the publisher? If there were any way for you to write further Raksura or Ile-Rien novels with a different publisher, despite the earlier works being OOP, I know that people like me would probably still get interested. I've started new authors via e-book in this past year; I've started reading the later works of an author in an established world when the prior novels were not only OOP, but completely off my radar... And then, after I got very excited about said world(s), I hunted down the OOP copies, while also picking up future works as they came out. I've been doing that since sometime in late jr. high or early high school.

Part of me is tempted to suggest asking fans to write to the publisher, especially those who are having difficulties finding The Cloud Roads. I first started reading your books with a gifted (used) copy of Death of the Necromancer, and have a hc copy of Gate of the Gods.

Good luck, either way.

I think the buying-during-release-week thing only helps with books that have a chance at the NYT bestseller list, so it didn't really matter for Siren Depths.

I doubt I'll be doing anything else with this publisher, at this point. I don't know what effect the ebooks being available will have in the long run; I do know the sales of the ebook reprints I did drop off dramatically when there is no new book out, or no sale prices on the new books. When a book is in a bookstore, browsing readers can stumble on it. When it's an ebook on an online retailer and it's not featured anywhere on the site, then it's much harder for anyone to stumble on it. People who are deliberately searching for it will find it, but that's it.

I don't think writing to the publisher about out of print books ever does any good. They just assume the people writing have already bought the book, so they don't represent new customers or lost sales.

But anyway, thank you. :)

Waugh. Is there anything I - as a fan - can do to get it back in print? Beyond recommending it to everyone I know, of course, which I've already done. The Raksura series is my favorite book series. Would writing letters to all and sundry spur another printing, or... ?

Thanks for recommending it, that does help. I don't think writing letters to the publisher about out of print books does any good. They assume the people writing in have already bought the book.

Well, shit.

What about the ebook novellas that you had planned for this year? Are those still going to happen?

I guess so? I haven't heard anything, but somebody at the publisher would have to edit them and format them and get them to the online distributor, and at the moment I kind of doubt their ability/motivation to do that. I'm kind of afraid they're just going to sit in limbo once I turn them in.

Really sorry to hear about this. Raksura deserves better. Now I'm going to get a hard copy of Siren Depths before I can't.

I am very sorry to hear this. I've enjoyed these books so much and enjoyed recc'ing them to people.

Thank you, and thanks very much for the recs!

Sigh. I think publishers failing to reprint the first book or two in a series then blaming the author for the sales is a pretty cruddy thing for the publisher to do; it's outright unfair and unkind. But I've seen it a few times now, and not just with you.

The *last* book appearing less often in bookstores I think is more of a bookstore ordering issue, as the stores count on the computer to tell them what to pick up. So while I think it sucks equally, I can't really blame the publisher. But they're supposed to be on your side, sort of.

And your books are still some of the best.

Yes, it's not an uncommon thing to happen. But the fact that all three books were published within two years should have helped a lot, but didn't.

What happened with the Fall of Ile-Rien trilogy was more because Avon Eos acquired the books, then Avon Eos was bought by HarperCollins, who wasn't much interested in them, and I had lost my editor before the first book came out. They were pretty much doomed from the start.

Thanks. :)

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Yeah, that's what I've noticed too. Even if they buy ebooks, a lot of people still do their browsing for new writers in the bookstore.

Thanks very much, I appreciate that a lot. :)

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I am so sorry to hear this--as a new reader who just stumbled across you a few weeks ago (and promptly bought the whole Raksura set, a couple of your backlist, and an extra copy of The Cloud Roads for a friend) I was really looking forward to more Raksura books. Of course I know our disappointment is nothing compared to what yours must be. I hope there's an upside to this for you, somewhere.

Edited at 2013-01-08 04:16 am (UTC)

Thanks :) And I'm very glad you were able to find the books.

Night Shade has a bad rep

for dropping projects and not following up on promised promotions. And for not paying authors / editors, which may be part of the problem.

Very sorry to hear this as a fan of both series and City of Bones as well. Self-tanking of series by publishers who don't keep initial titles in print has never made sense to me.

Re: Night Shade has a bad rep

Thank you :) Yeah, It doesn't make a lot of sense.

Well, that sucks. I'm just finishing The Siren Depths. I buy a copy of every book of yours you publish ever since I read Death of the Necromancer when it first came out. When people ask me about any fantasy author I'd like to recommend you are pretty much the first I offer because every book you write offers an amazing world with wonderful characters. Each series is unique and that is a talent not found in a lot of today's authors. Good luck and I will always be on the look out for your next book.

Thank you, Angela, I really appreciate that. :)

I'm sorry to hear things don't look promising for continuing the Rakusa books or staying with Nightshade publishing. On a glass half full note, you've been down before and risen like a phoenix, so hopefully this is just a minor detour on your writing journey. You're an excellent writer and I've enjoyed your stories very much over the years, and hope you continue to find new audiences to support your writing - and write more books of course!

Thanks very much. :) I kind of needed to hear that this morning.

I'm so sorry this is happening to you again, Martha. Although in this case it may be just Night Shade being flaky - as someone else pointed out, they have a bit of a history of that. Regardless of the cause, though, it sucks.

However, I'm not convinced that fans contacting a publisher about something like this can't have an impact. Given how recently the third book came out, if people write in saying they think it looks cool but really want to start with the first book and why is it so hard to find, that might have some impact -- because then it's not just hardcore fans saying "Hey, you screwed over one of my favourite authors!" (although a few messages like that probably wouldn't hurt either), it's people saying "I want to buy this book! Why can't I?"

Another option is for people to say that they loved the trilogy and want to buy it as a gift for someone else, or read it from the library but want to own a copy, etc. Having already enjoyed a book or trilogy thereof does NOT necessarily mean that one might not still be making purchases...

Overall, I think this is a situation that makes me want to, as Jim C. Hines put it with regard to a different author/publisher dispute, drop the entire expletive-deleted internet on their heads.

For those who feel similarly, here are some ways to contact Night Shade:

Even as I was typing this, and talking to my girlfriend on Skype, she went to their Facebook page and posted that she really wanted to buy the trilogy but was having trouble finding the first book (which is actually true, though normally she mainly buys e-books).

Thanks, I appreciate the thought, but it's not going to do any good. If a million people wrote in, it still wouldn't do any good.

I was depressed enough when I thought the reason I wouldn't see more Raksura novels was because the author had lost creative interest and wanted to play in another sandbox. Finding out there's a purely practical/business reason contributing to it is doubly depressing.

It's been a long time since I found a series as warm and comfortable as the Raksura series. It's reminiscent of David Eddings at his best, with characters that feel like part of your family. I'm going to miss Moon, Jade and the others a great deal.

I'll definitely be checking out whatever you do next. :)

Thank you very much. :) I'm going to miss them, too.

It's a pity that such a great series won't continue.
I've got all 3 of them as e-books for my kindle and getting those wasn't easy. It took a while until I found them actually and I have the suspicion that the first one might not be completely legal cause it was a copy a friend sent me. Is sending e-books to your friends illegal? Anyway I bought the other two after that and now it's so sad that there won't be any more

I don't know about illegal, but it does mean I didn't get paid for the copy you have, and the publisher didn't count it as a sale. The publisher of the book (and future publishers who are considering publishing other books I write) look at the sales figures, not the number of pirated downloads. If the sales figures aren't good, they aren't going to be interested in publishing other books by me.

I'm glad you enjoyed it though I'm not sure why it was hard to find. The ebook has been available at all these places: Amazon Kindle Edition, Baen Webscription eBook (DRM-Free), Barnes & Noble NookBook, Kobo, Waterstones UK, Whitcoulls NZ, Kindle UK, Kindle Germany, Kindle France, Kindle Spain, Kindle Italy, Books-a-Million ebook since right after the paperback came out.

Those are all legitimate ebook retailers. Some pirate sites will sell ebooks too, but they keep the money, with none going to the publisher or me or anyone else, and those downloads don't count as sales, either.

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