Checking in on the Humble Bundle

I’m pretty well chuffed at how well the Humble ebook Bundle is doing; in a little less than 24 hours we’ve pulled in just a shade over $370,000, and there are still 13 days left for the bundle’s availability. Clearly things will taper off after the publicity dies down, but, still and all, it’s hard not to be thrilled with the result, even after a single day. If people who donated left the default amounts where they were, we’ll have raised just a shade under $125,000 for Child’s Play, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and, of course, SFWA. I feel pretty good about how that shakes out. And again, 13 days to go yet.

I’ve also been asked how it was I got involved in the bundle in the first place, and the short answer is that Cory Doctorow asked if I would be interested, and I said I would be. I like the idea of the Humble Bundles in a general sense, combining as they do the promotion of creative work with a charitable component, and I also think it’s not a bad way to reach new audiences (i.e., the regular Humble Bundle crowd, who are a group similar to but not exactly contiguous with, science fiction readers) and give them a low-risk opportunity to check out my stuff. Someone who tries Old Man’s War and likes it will be happy to learn there are three — and soon to be four — other books in the series.

I’m going to make some money off the Humble Bundle, which is nice, to be sure. Probably not as much as people expect, since I a chunk  whatever I gross (roughly 7.9% of the pie, if people keep the defaults, which they don’t have to) with Tor, which is totally fair, before some of you get spun up, as contracts are contracts, I wouldn’t be where I am without Tor, and anyway, it’s not like I’m hurting.  But I did it primarily for the charitable aspect, and for what I hope will be a knock-on benefit for my career.

On the subject of money, someone on Twitter asked me what I plan to do with my Humble Bundle gains, and my response was the same as it always is for stuff like this: Until the check’s actually been cashed, I don’t make any plans at all. This is not to suggest that the Humble Bundle people will be anything other than absolutely scrupulously accurate in the apportionment of  funds — they wouldn’t have gotten this far if they hadn’t been so. It is to suggest that on the practical level of my day-to-day life, I think of it on a “cash in hand” basis, i.e., if the money is not actually in my wallet or my bank account, it doesn’t exist and I can’t use it for anything. This kind of thinking is no fun, sure. but I have have fun in other areas of my life. Dreaming about wacky adventures with money I don’t have yet (and therefore don’t have, period) doesn’t have to be one of those areas. I think this is not a bad idea for most writers, and most people.

15 thoughts on “Checking in on the Humble Bundle

  1. > since I a chunk whatever I gross (roughly 7.9% of the pie, if people keep the defaults, which they don’t have to) with Tor,

    I suspect there’s a ‘share’ missing in this sentence. :)

  2. ” reach new audiences (i.e., the regular Humble Bundle crowd, who are a group similar to but not exactly contiguous with, science fiction readers)”

    Should there be a comma between to and but?

  3. So even after you have the cash in hand and Tor and the taxman have their shares, will you then begin to consider adventures for this money that is any more whacky than other income from writing.

    Suppose that a college kid stops me on the street and gives me $100 dollars for my pocket lint so he can win a scavenger hunt. Is there anything special about this money? Does it have a different size, or color, or not work in stores whose name contains an ‘e’? Should I do something particularly whacky with it other than spend it on things that I usually spend money on?

    I think this sort of thinking is particularly prevalent in casinos where people tend to regard their winnings as something other than their own money. If they lose it through further gambling, it isn’t as if it cost them anything. I think this way myself from time to time, but it is a bit crazy.

    There are a couple of ways where this thinking makes sense:
    It doesn’t make sense to take on a recurring expense if it’s being paid for by a one-time source.
    If one receives money as a gift, it may make sense to use it for something a bit special so that you don’t have to tell the giver that it went to pet food.

  4. Has “chuffed” really made it as a common expression in the US? I learned it 7 years ago when I moved to the UK, and I use it pretty frequently now, but I’ve never heard any of my stateside friends or relatives use it.

  5. Hey John,
    I don’t know whether you already know it by other means, but heise.de has an article on the humble bundle!
    As a professor of mine once said, heise.de is something akin to yellow press for IT guys. The article is about the fact that the humble bundle for the first time contains e-books that are even DRM-free.
    The link to the article is
    http://heise.de/-1726908 . It says that it is currently the most read article of the open news items… Thought you might be interested!

  6. This was the first time that I had heard of the Humble Bundle, so I was glad to subscribe to this one. (Now to get an ereader…….)

  7. You may not be able or willing to answer this, but I’ll give it a shot:

    Old Man’s War and Signal to Noise are the “bonus” books, for those who give more than the current average. Are you compensated differently than the other authors because of this? Do you get a bigger share because you’re more recognizable names, or a share only on the sales that are above the average, or something else entirely?

    I know you might be under an NDA/might like to keep contract stuff private, I was just curious about it. I bought the bundle last night, and am very pleased to finally have an eBook copy of Old Man’s War (and the rest!) to go with my dead tree version.

  8. I’m also well and truly chuffed by this development.
    My kindle is a bit fattened but oh the glorious reads that await.

    I had OMW already both on kindle and hard copy but hey – the other titles look interesting too.

    Off for a reading binge.

    Thank you Scalzi for the heads up.

  9. What’s really gigglesnortmongous about “Chuffed” is how “I’ve done a chuff” is quite common colloquial British English for “I have broken wind”.

    Did you, John? Did you chuff? Did the cat glare and the dog pass out? Is Chrissie a blonde now due to air-biscuit bleaching effects?

    Okay, I shall stop now.

    But the giggling will go on.

  10. I’m glad to have gotten this bundle, but what’s a bit annoying is that I want an e-reader now. I love the books (Old mans war reads better in English than in German), but reading more than just blogs on the iphone is a bit annoying.

  11. Has anyone tried reading Signal to Noise (or any other graphic novel for that matter) on a monochrome screen? I have an e-ink Kindle and i’m not sure how well it would work for a graphic novel. Amazon won’t even sell it to Kindles, not even Fires.

  12. I want to thank you for participating in the Humble Bundle. I picked Old Man’s War to read first at random and bought the sequels immediately after finishing. I’m glad I discovered your work and look forward to your other books.

  13. Have you ever ever had a very unforgettable glass of wine?
    How about a unforgettable bottle? Which was far more vital for your practical experience, the corporate or maybe the wine by itself?

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