[Doctorow-L] My first-ever Kickstarter: the Attack Surface audiobook (Little Brother III)
doctorow at craphound.com
Tue Sep 8 11:16:22 EDT 2020
I have a favor to ask of you. I don't often ask readers for stuff, but
this is maybe the most important ask of my career. It's a Kickstarter -
I know, 'another crowdfunder?' - but it's:
a) Really cool;
b) Potentially transformative for publishing.
Here's the tldr: Attack Surface - AKA Little Brother 3- is coming out in
5 weeks. I retained audio rights and produced an *amazing* edition that
Audible refuses to carry. You can pre-order the audiobook, ebook (and
previous volumes), DRM- and EULA-free.
That's the summary, but the details matter. First: the book itself.
ATTACK SURFACE is a standalone Little Brother book about Masha, the
young woman from the start and end of the other two books; unlike
Marcus, who fights surveillance tech, Masha builds it.
Attack Surface is the story of how Masha has a long-overdue moral
reckoning with the way that her work has hurt people, something she
finally grapples with when she comes home to San Francisco.
Masha learns her childhood best friend is leading a BLM-style uprising -
and she's being targeted by the same cyberweapons that Masha built to
hunt Iraqi insurgents and post-Soviet democracy movements.
I wrote Little Brother in 2006, it came out in 2008, and people tell me
it's "prescient" because the digital human rights issues it grapples
with - high-tech authoritarianism and high-tech resistance - are so
present in our current world.
But it's not so much prescient as *observant*. I wrote Little Brother
during the Bush administration's vicious, relentless, tech-driven war on
human rights. Little Brother was a bet that these would not get better
on their own.
And it was a bet that tales of seizing the means of computation would
inspire people to take up digital arms of their own. It worked. Hundreds
of cryptographers, security experts, cyberlawyers, etc have told me that
Little Brother started them on their paths.
ATTACK SURFACE - a technothriller about racial injustice, police
brutality, high-tech turnkey totalitarianism, mass protests and mass
surveillance - was written between May 2016 and Nov 2018, before the
current uprisings and the tech worker walkouts.
But just as with Little Brother, the seeds of the current situation were
all around us in 2016, and if Little Brother inspired a cohort of
digital activists, I hope Attack Surface will give a much-needed push to
a group of techies (currently) on the wrong side of history.
As I learned from Little Brother, there is something powerful about
technologically rigorous thrillers about struggles for justice - stories
that marry excitement, praxis and ethics. Of all my career achievements,
the people I've reached this way matter the most.
Speaking of careers and ethics. As you probably know, I hate DRM with
the heat of 10000 suns: it is a security/privacy nightmare, a
monopolist's best friend, and a gross insult to human rights. As you may
also know, Audible will not carry any audiobooks unless they have DRM.
Audible is Amazon's audiobook division, a monopolist with a total
stranglehold on the audiobook market. Audiobooks currently account for
almost as much revenue as hardcovers, and if you don't sell on Audible,
you sacrifice about 95% of that income.
That's a decision I've made, and it means that publishers are no longer
willing to pay for my audiobook rights (who can blame them?). According
to my agent, living my principles this way has cost me enough to have
paid off my mortgage and maybe funding my retirement.
I've tried a lot of tactics to get around Audible; selling through the
indies (libro.fm, downpour.com, etc), through Google Play, and through
my own shop (craphound.com/shop).
I appreciate the support there but it's a tiny fraction of what I'm
giving up - both in terms of dollars and reach - by refusing to lock my
books (and my readers) (that's you) to Amazon's platform for all
eternity with Audible DRM.
Which brings me to *this* audiobook.
Look, this is a *great* audiobook. I hired Amber Benson (a brilliant
writer and actor who played Tara on Buffy), Skyboat Media and director
Cassandra de Cuir, and Wryneck Studios, and we produced a 15h long,
It's done. It's wild. I can't stop listening to it. It drops on Oct 13,
with the print/ebook edition.
It'll be on sale in all audiobook stores (except Audible) on the
*But!* You can get it for a *mere $20* via my first Kickstarter.
What's more, you can pre-order the ebook - and also buy the previous
ebooks and audiobooks (read by Wil Wheaton and Kirby Heyborne) - all DRM
free, all free of license "agreements."
The deal is: "You bought it, you own it, don't violate copyright law and
And here's the groundbreaking part. For this Kickstarter, *I'm the
retailer*. If you pre-order the ebook from my KS, I get the 30% that
would otherwise go to Jeff Bezos - *and* I get the 25% that is the
standard ebook royalty.
This is a first-of-its-kind experiment in letting authors, agents,
readers and a major publisher deal directly with one another in a
transaction that completely sidesteps the monopolists who have profited
so handsomely during this crisis.
Which is where you come in: if you help me pre-sell a *ton* of ebooks
and audiobooks through this crowdfunder, it will show publishing that
readers are willing to buy their ebooks and audiobooks without enriching
a monopolist, even if it means an extra click or two.
So, to recap:
* Attack Surface is the third Little Brother book
* It aims to radicalize a generation of tech workers while entertaining
its audience as a cracking, technologically rigorous thriller
* The audiobook is amazing, read by the fantastic Amber Benson
If you pre-order through the Kickstarter:
* You get a cheaper price than you'll get anywhere else
* You get a DRM- and EULA-free purchase
* You'll fight monopolies and support authorship
If you've ever enjoyed my work and wondered how you could pay me back:
*this is it*. This is the thing. Do this, and you will help me
artistically, professionally, politically, and (ofc) financially.
PS: Tell your friends!
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