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.