In Ashes Born

The new book is out! Yay!

It’s only on Amazon! BOO!

Yeah. Unfortunately, I’ve had to take a hard look at my business and I just can’t afford not to be in Amazon Select any more. I totaled up the sales on all the other platforms combined and it amounted to just under 6%. Even paperbacks have generated more revenue than that. I started re-evaluating the market and came to the realization that I just don’t know what’s going on. I need more data.

So, I pulled the books in the middle of September and enrolled everything (except Light in the Dark) in Select. The page reads more than offset the income from Kobo, iBooks, and Nook combined already — by a factor of ten. I’ve got a marketing plan that will include running some promotional activities, buying ads, and developing audiobooks in addition to podcasts.

I’m giving it six months and then we’ll see if I stay with Amazon. The Nook marketplace is probably going to die. The iBook store is next to useless. In a year there I sold as many books as I sell in a day on Amazon. Kobo was only slightly better, but they’re trying to give Amazon a run. I’d love it if Kobo could become a contender in the rest of the English speaking world. So far, I’ve been unable to gain any traction with them. Google Play isn’t accepting new titles and until they solve the “random discounting” problem, I’m unlikely to list there anyway.

I hate to boil it down to money, but I also have to be realistic. When Select offered nothing of use, I could afford to ignore it. My thinking was that the secondary markets needed time to develop and grow, and that I needed to be in them to grow with them. My ratio of sales in the secondary markets is not growing. It’s shrinking. And now Select is offering new revenues that – at least for the moment – offset those secondary market sales in a huge way.

In the end, it comes down to money. I was willing to leave a bit on Amazon’s table to get into a wider global marketplace, but things have gotten way beyond “a bit” and I had to make a decision that – frankly – I’m not happy about.

But the bottom line is: I have to make a living at this or I have to get a day job.

The next book out should be the first in the new Smuggler’s Tales. It’s due at the editor’s desk November 1 and I’m still fumbling for the story line. Nothing like a good deadline to get my fingers moving.

The next Seeker’s Tale is due at the editor’s on December 1, and a new Smuggler on January 1.

Between the new titles, the changes in market, and the new promotional activities, I’m hoping that I’ll be able to keep writing.

Stay tuned!


  1. Charlie Russel says:

    First, YEAH! I immediately bought In Ashes Born when I got the email this morning, and passed on the option to “read it for free” (yes, I’m in Kindle Unlimited), since I knew I’d want to have it in my library for a re-read. Besides, at the prices you charge, I can hardly not buy!

    As for Amazon Select — sadly, it’s a commentary on what the market looks like these days. Amazon simply does eBooks and ecosystem better than anyone else by orders of magnitude. The good news is that anyone who is not using a Kindle to read your eBooks can easily solve the problem of format with Calibre, since you don’t use DRM on your books. So while I was surprised to see you show up as a KU title, I shouldn’t have been. One does need to pay the bills.

    IAC, thanks for destroying my proposed workday.

  2. Awesome, I’ve been looking forward to this for a while now. It’s a bit disappointing that it’s only on Amazon but I understand your reasoning, we’ve all got to eat. It’s a shame but Amazon seems to be the 800 pound gorilla when it comes to eBooks. I hope it works out for you.

  3. What about using Smashwords ?

  4. Hi,
    Please say you are going to be releasing In Ashes Born as an audiobook. As I’m dyslexic audiobooks are the best way for me to get lost in a book. As Audible is part of Amazon it would fit the plan.

    Also we have Quarter Share in hard back, are any of the others ever coming out as hard back? (I know way is someone with dyslexia wanting a hard back book? There is just something about hard back books that paper back don’t have and if you are not/can’t read them, way not get the best)


    • Yes, but it’ll be sometime in 2016 before I get back into the booth. Sorry.

      I’ve had a few requests for hardcovers. I’m seriously considering it. I just don’t know when that might happen.

      • Great news! I picked up the latest book as soon as I heard about it. I’m almost done with it and can’t wait for the next.

      • Nuts. Was hoping the audio book was available when I bumped into this on Amazon. Listening to you read your own work in the Solar Clipper series kept me and squad mates sane over in the “Stan”. Hope you find time to read it to us soon.

        • Please, please, please do an Audible version of this book.

          I have a long drive to work and I live by Since they are an Amazon company, hopefully in the future you can release your book on Kindle Select and Audible at the same time. I am assuming your revenue from is more than the E-book and I like to ‘support the author’.

          I felt guilty in the past by downloading your Podio books ( that I bought the e-book from Amazon just so you could have the much deserved revenue.

          • I’ve just signed with Podium who will produce the Audible versions of Ishmael Wang stories over the next few years.

      • Chris Taylor says:

        Please do. I am physically incapable of reading the print version of your books.

        The audio you made for the trader tales was SO insanely good. was so spectacularly engrossing (and I really do mean that I post links to your audio books all over the place as “the” example of an spectacular audio book that is better than reading it. the voice. the emotion the quality is simply second to nothing out their. The destroyermen series is close but not near the equal to your audiobooks.

        I actually cried when he left his ship for the first time. damn your stuff is good. 🙂

        I would buy hardbacks.

  5. Charlie Russel says:

    Congratulations, Nathan. Not only is this an excellent book, but the numbers look very, very good. I just logged on and saw “Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #426 Paid in Kindle Store “. That’s in the entire Kindle store, so very promising for the long term “avoid a day job” plans. 😛

    Meanwhile, I’ve caught up on the lost sleep you caused, and trying to decide if I want to do a complete re-read of the Ishmael Wang books, or just this one and Owner’s Share. Though I’ll probably wait for another week or two before starting. I need to actually get some work done. 😉

    • Thanks, Charlie. It got as high as #183 but it’s slowly sliding down. Everybody jumped on it at once 🙂

      • Lars E Duryee says:

        Well i sure hope it will be going up…i have been trying to promote your books to all my friends (that likes sch-fi) and hoping that soon they will be hooked as well.It was pure luck that i found out about the book because its been a little quiet lately.I went to amazon (as i do quite a lot) and guess whats the first catching my eye…ehh no need to guess really because it was your new book.I didnt even hesitate to buy it and i guess that goes for everyone else as well.We all remember the good old days on podiobooks waiting for the release of the next chapter…to see what more would happen to Ish.I hope everything goes up because this is a great serie.Sure its many good series but yours are great…the best serie i have been reading for a long time and i hope you will continue writing and make good money out of it at the same time.I just hope the rest will come out in hardcovers as well so i can put them beside my signed version of quarter share 😀

      • Charlie Russel says:

        Still at #186 overall today, #1 in Space Opera, and #7 in SF overall, which sounds like you’ve got some legs there. I’m really glad and hope it stays up there. Well done!

  6. Dougie Brown says:

    Great to hear that its now been published. Im on holiday just now so will purchase it right away. I dont pretend to know about commercial side of things with Amazon and authors, but would just say that Kindle is where i discovered yourself and Ishmael so im pleased to know its where i can still find you both.

  7. Bob Archambault says:

    I just bought In Ashes Born, and am looking forward to a good read. Just wanted to say thanks for keeping Ishmael with us. Best wishes to you.

  8. I definitely support your need to make a living doing the writing and am glad you’re doing what you have to do to make sure you get to continue. I’ve loved your Solar Clipper series and will have to check out your Seeker’s Tale. And now I see your Lammas Wood book has more than the one I found on Podiobooks years ago?!

    My nonfiction books also do better with KU than all the other platforms combined, so all I ever do is release the ebooks that way now.

    • The first Tanyth trilogy is complete, Madison.

      I’m hoping to get back to Korlay one day. 😉

  9. W. Kristler says:

    Love the new book. Can’t wait for more! I have bought all you books via Amazon (Kindle). This time I borrowed it via Unlimited and read the whole thing (page turns count is my understanding). I finished up last night and now have bought it out right. I am hoping you get the revenue from both that way! Keep them coming please!

  10. Maggie Leber says:

    Don’t know where you stand with Baen, just a thought.

  11. Gwen Patton says:

    I bought it IMMEDIATELY. I read it in one sitting, over the course of a morning. I cried no less than THREE times. You rock, Nathan.

    As for Kindle, I have one, but I almost never use it. (I don’t even think it’s charged!) I read using the Android Kindle app. There’s also one for a PC desktop, though the Cloud Reader is perfectly adequate. So you don’t have to use Calibre if you don’t feel like it or must for some strange platform reason.

    I’m one who would like an audiobook, eventually. My eyes aren’t as good as they once were, and I far prefer audiobooks for enjoyment, and reserve my eyestrain for things I must read rather than just want to read. I’ll buy it again in audio when you get to it!

    • I do the same thing.

      My phone is a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and I read on it almost exclusively these days.

  12. Mark Grooms says:

    Thank you for continuing the series. I have listened to the pod casts of the first six books so many times I am close the knowing them by heart. I have purchased and read them on my Kindle as well. I am a fan. The Solar Clipper series speaks to my soul. Your incite, wisdom, and understanding of humanity come out in your writing and your books feed my soul.
    I am a fellow sufferer of depression and listening to or reading from the Solar Clipper series lifts me up and is very real therapy for me.
    Thank you,

  13. so happy too read more of your clipper series, I love both sci fi and age of sail books so your stories are a great read. thank you so much for returning too them. I shall be happy too buy and read everyone you write 🙂

  14. I am shocked and dismayed ! In what solar clipper universe does Ish. drink take-out coffee for several stans as owner and Captain of his own ship ?

    • The one where priorities and practicalities outweigh his need for good coffee.

      He snaps near the end there … but there’s coffee to calm him. 😉

  15. I snapped up Seeker’s Tale like a dying man in a desert desperately grabbing at proffered water. I burned through it (on my Samsung Galaxy Tablet) in two days only because I had to go to work early the next day. Spent the entire day wondering where the story was going. I came home and finished rapidly. I was very pleased and eager to read on.

    I can’t wait to read more about the Captain Wang’s interactions with the crew. Somehow I always get a kick out of that.

    Put me down as someone who’d gladly buy an audiobook, even if the “Share” books are still on podiobooks! Shoot, if you put the entire “Share” series on Audible with improved production qualities I’d buy that too. That’s how much I’ve enjoyed your series. Anyhow you have to shake things around to earn a living from your creations, I *want* you to earn a living from it.

    Anyhow, I’m really happy you are on fire again. Thanks!

  16. 🙂 what can I say your great. I just love your wrighting I have everything you have published on kindle .
    yes kindle is the only format I read books on , so love that you have moved to it.
    my fingers are crossed for second book in seekers 🙂 now I have read the first.
    congrats on your new story lines and pray your income starts flooding in to you

  17. I was so excited when I got the email last night alerting me to the new book! I was a good girl and waited til I got the kids off to school before settling in on the couch with the cats for the new adventure! Absolutely loved it and can’t wait til the next book is out to find out what the boys gets themselves into out in the deep dark! So very happy things are calm enough for you to be sharing their world with us again. Thank you ever so much for sharing your gift with us….

  18. I would echo the podcast request. You do such an extraordinary job it is like reading the book in color.

  19. Not being an author, I’m not sure just how badly amazon savages writers, but I read almost exclusively on my kindle fire. Im hoping that if you someday decide to not post with amazon that those of us who love your work will be able to keep reading them on our kindles – in some form.

    • Amazon treats indie authors very well. Much better than Nook and slightly better than Kobo.

      If Kobo can get its act together to put indies on equal footing with traditional, I’d consider going back there.

  20. I read Ashes in one gulp and went straight back and re-read the entire Ishmael series and am now halfway through Ashes a second time. One word: EXCELLENT!
    I have sent my paperback copies to my brother, (and bought the books again for my kindle) in hopes of bringing him into your circle as well.

    Don’t get a day job. Write faster.

    Thank you

  21. I loved the book, I have amazon unlimited but I bought it the minute I got the email saying it was released. I then read it within 3 days and have been listening to the Trader’s Tale again (I think this is my 10th time). I love all your books!!!

    Thank you for all your hard work.

  22. Bought the book as soon as I got the email. Read it as quickly as possible and loved it (as usual).

    Thinking about the back story and what is in this book, I wonder if the next book will have:
    – Ish working on the standing orders.
    – I assume that the system spares issues were resolved by the Chief even though the book didn’t mention that.
    – I wonder how the “black” ports handle cargo orders. Regular ports have enough producers and shippers. Who makes the market for cans in the black ports? There aren’t any real planets/economies in those ports. How is the market communicated to the shippers?
    – Could Ish meet with the captain of the fast packet that he saved (in Captain’s Share?) who visits Odin’s for junkets to get him an idea of what cans Odin’s would be interested in buying/selling?
    – I wonder what Pip’s software will turn up?
    – Can Ish use the longer legs of his new ship in some way like he did with the fast packet? Is there a market for single jump long distance freight?

  23. It’s a fun read. I can’t wait for the next.

  24. Is it possible to get this in an epub format at all? I don’t have a kindle or other mobile device that can run the kindle app.

    • Anita Lewis says:

      Max, Nathan’s books do not have DRM, so one may convert to different formats. I use calibre ( It’s great for organizing my ebooks as well as conversions for those with no DRM. It has a function to send books to your reading device as well. When I send an epub to my Kindle, it does the conversion before sending. This program is very actively updated by the author. I’ve used it for a few years now with never a problem.

  25. Anita Lewis says:

    Max, Nathan’s books do not have DRM, so one may convert to different formats. I use calibre ( It’s great for organizing my ebooks as well as conversions for those with no DRM. It has a function to send books to your reading device as well. When I send an epub to my Kindle, it does the conversion before sending. This program is very actively updated by the author. I’ve used it for a few years now with never a problem.

  26. Tom Perham says:

    I truly love this series. I have not looked forward to the next book in a series since I was much younger and reading everything by Heinlein. Your development of the characters is great. Please take good care of yourself and keep writing. Regarding DRM – I can afford to pay full price and do to balance someone who can’t. I appreciate that you have some of the same qualities of Captain Wang.

    • We have many ways of getting around the KDP limitations. 🙂

      Thanks for your kind words, Tom.

  27. Thanks so much for brining Ishmael back! He has become one of my favorite charaters in all of fiction. Once I saw Ashes I had to go back and re-listen to all of Traders to get back into the swing of things, so when I read Ashes it seemed to be your voice in my head- or at least a decent imitation.

    I sounds like you’ve got your hands full with all the new projects coming up. I’ll do my best to geep you from resorting to a “day job” by ordering copies of the Tanyth series for my Mom and Sister in paperback for Christmas- I’m not sure I’m up to teaching Mom how to use a Kindle 🙂

    Keep ’em coming and I’ll keep reading/listening/reccommending!

  28. you know i normally use kindle unlimited to find authors of book that i have not read. Kind of like a method to see the author writing style and see if it is a style i enjoy reading. I recently read “in ashes born” and have to say for a book i normally would glance at in a book store and would of probably not given it another chance beside that first look i think i found a new author to add to my amazon library. As until i saw that book of your i have never read any of your other book. I think you may be one of the series i reread yearly like my “Tower Series by anne mccaffrey” I look forward to seeing more of your works in the future.

    A new reader

  29. First, I love your Clipper works. In fact all of your works. I buy every book you put on Amazon. Kindle is my only format. If you cease there, I will greatly miss your would works. I hope you continue there.

    Will, Hopeful

  30. SorchaRei says:

    I somehow missed this release. The second I learned about it, I paid for the book. (I have Kindle Unlimited, but I always pay full price for books by authors I especially cherish.) Now I am off to wallow in the world of Ishmael Wang. Thanks!

  31. Steve Monroe says:

    Your books are like crack for the avid (rabid more like it) sci fi reader like me. I own and read through the age of the solar clip books in less than a month! So much for being ADD! I just bought In Ashes Born and can’t put it down. I think for me I just relate to Ismael so well. Not that I experienced death of a loved one – but, his ability to “work through” his emotions feels so familiar. Well done Sir, well done.

  32. I hope that the time comes when this is out in hard copy – hard cover or paperback – as I love this series and find kindle difficult on my eyes.

  33. I am also delighted to see more from the Golden Age of the Solar Clipper. Trader Tales is my favorite of your works. I echo the requests for an audiobook. I know you said it’s coming. I’m just saying I’d pay a lot more for audio considering that is how I’m accustomed to getting the book from you. I have a feeling a lot of your fans share this sentiment. Reading it is nice, but I really, really, really enjoyed the podcasts. 🙂 So glad to see that your writing has taken off. Your success is well deserved!

  34. I hate works of fiction most all the time. That being said, never have I been so in-love with a modern work of fiction. I appreciate that the vocabulary has not been at a primary school education level. I look forward to more about Ishmael Wang and his fantastic journeys. Keep up the amazing work!

  35. Michael Krug says:

    Hello Mr. Lowell,

    Like one of your other fans, I too enjoyed the trader tales series on podiobooks. However, I have not purchased the books in print. I did make a donation to podiobooks in your name so I hope they honor their statements and ensured you received the percentage indicated.

    That being said, I am so eager to read this new book. I flew through the trader tales and am excited to here more about Ishmael and pip. I am not much for reading but I am hooked on the series and don’t want to wait for audio. What can I say, you’ve inspired me to read a book the old fashioned way. I guess that’s what a great story does.

    Thanks for the amazing stories and incredible characters.

    Michael K
    Charlotte, NC

  36. Joshua Harris says:

    Don’t know where I have been but so glad to revisit the Golden Age again. I’ve missed Ish and it good to see him again.

    So glad to hear you signed with Podium for the audiobooks! They are absolutely killing it right now. Over half of the audiobooks I have listened to in the past year have been from them.

  37. Dam I have a nook and didn’t know your books were there….they don’t advert. very well do they!! Anyway I do have an audible account so will be looking for them there!! I understand about the money…everybody who has bills should !!! Please keep us up to date on what’s going on !! Don’t want to miss out!! Thanx for the email!!

    • Nook is very much a Fifth Avenue store. They feel their bread is buttered by traditional press and see no reason to make room for the indies.

      Yeah. My nook will be a tablet by the end of 2016, I bet.

  38. I’m sad to hear that the indie books are going through a hard time. I hope amazon works out for you. I get all my ebooks from kindle. But REFUSE to be an unlimited member. I know a couple of authors have pulled out from amazon kindle because of the unlimited pricing model. It’s disturbing to think that the other markets are not growing and giving you alternatives. After all if there is competition it will keep the publishers honest. If all your eggs are in one basket amazon can start playing with your profits. Remember early on when the ebooks took off that it was good that amazon was giving you freedom and putting money in the hands of the author as publisher were getting too much of the profits. But this was several years ago and the article said even then once amazon gets the main market share they will be doing the same exact thing as the old publishers they replace. I love the indie market. I love that it gives new authors a chance and a voice. A platform to be discovered. I heard some of my favorite authors talking about the really tough early years of self publishing. I just hoped that the market would keep growing and getting stronger. Not return to the early years. For what’s it worth it will NOT EVER BE AN UNLIMITED READER. and will aways buy your books. Nathan I hope your sales build and are always viable to share your gift as a profession and not a hobby. Your books and expecially podcasts have always seemed to be released at times I most needed it. There’s be deaths , sickness and sudden job loss after 30 years. For what it’s worth thank you. And I’ll always be routing for you.

    • Thanks, John.

      Indie books are not “going through a hard time” and I’m sorry if I implied that.

      The indie marketplace is shrinking to the point where Amazon is the only really viable market. I keep hearing that Kobo is beginning to make a move to support indies more than the traditional press, but my back channel feedback hasn’t indicated that they’re succeeding yet.

      As for Amazon playing power games with indies, I’ve long maintained that they’d be foolish to do so. Their business model depends on having a robust and active indie component. They never know which indie will break out and make them a million dollars and even the worst performer makes them at least a few cents. I could be wrong and Amazon’s management might cut off their own nose, but only time will tell.

      FWIW, I’m not a member of Select either. 🙂

  39. Busy reading “In Ashes Born” for the third time. Its a very uplifting story, and always inspires me when I’m feeling down. Thanks once again. (Bought the kindle version on Amazon)

  40. OMG i just got the adio book for this one.

    you realy need to change the voice its like listening to a sledgehammer.