Print Price Increases

Forget the cost of living–my printers have raised their prices. I have no choice but to do the same. $25 in 2018 is $29.50 today.

Unfortunately, back in 2011 I decided that I wanted my tech books to look like Real Books. You know, from Real Publishers, whatever that means. He put prices on covers. Younger Me had lived through several periods of inflation, and while he had learned the lessons of inflation on the demand side he failed to extrapolate for when he became a supplier. If he thought about prices on covers becoming invalid in five or ten years, he would have sneered Like I’ll still be making a living doing this in 2023. I assumed my writing career was unsustainable. I have to file updated, priceless covers with the printers.

I tried a different page layout on the new edition of DNSSEC Mastery, tightening the text to reduce page count so I could hold prices the same. The result was functional, but unattractive. The topics of my tech books are already unattractive, so doubling down on that theme is unwise.

I’ve also hit the point where maintaining my business is interfering with making new words. I’m hiring a part-time contractor to help with the web site. He’ll want paying, because despite what the oligarchs think you can’t just ship your flunkies a crate of cheap instant ramen and a box of coffee and get quality labor out of them.

So, price increases. Sorry.

I’m starting with the more popular books, like SSH Mastery. The price will be set to $29.99 by the time you read this, but it’ll take a few days for the respective databases to churn through.

Folks who follow this blog are the most likely to buy my books, so I wanted to give you advance warning. If you’ve been waffling on grabbing a book in print, this is the time.

Quarterly and Annual Patronizing

As frequently requested, I’ve enabled options for Patronizers using to pay quarterly and yearly. If you want to switch away from monthly, you’ll need to unsubscribe and resubscribe. This only applies to my site; I have no control of how Patreon handles payments.

Do I care what option you pick? Not really. The “See the Sausage Being Made” and “Digital Reader” tiers were already annual and quarterly to reduce fees to acceptable levels. If you want to pay quarterly or yearly and save me a few cents I’m down with that, but I’m not going to sweat them.

Everything should auto-renew so long as you pay with a credit card. Please let me know if you have problems. I have double-checked everything, but that only means I’ve looked at my errors twice.

More Stuff In My Ebook Store, and a mega-deal on Absolutely Everything

You can now get my in-print short stories and novellas (aka “chapbooks”) at The coupon code ZONLESS will get you $1 off each of the short stories. Yes, it works multiple times. Buy 5 shorts, get $5 off. There’s also a bundle with all of them. I’ll have a blog post in a day or two about the economics of this. The math is ugly, but putting them on my store makes it less ugly.

You can also get the Absolutely Everything bundle. It contains Absolutely Everything on the site, for over $50 off. Tech books. Novels. Audiobooks–er, audiobook. Everything.

As a special offer for my previous customers: if you have previously purchased the current editions of items in the Absolutely Everything bundle, or smaller bundles like Total Mastery or All the Novels and Collections, and would like to upgrade to Absolutely Everything, email me at mwl at mwl dot io from the email address used in your account. Use the subject “Absolutely Everything.” I will give you a coupon code for the value of current editions of what you’ve bought from the store, valid for your account, good until the end of May 2023. If you bought the newest SSH Mastery and Sudo Mastery direct from me for $9.99 each, and want the whole thing? I’ll give you a coupon for $19.98.

This offer expires at the end of May 2023. (I would like to offer this permanently, but I need a way to automate it.)

For the record, I would like to be wrong about the Absolutely Everything bundle.

When I first put up the Total Mastery bundle I thought This is stupid. Nobody unfamiliar with my work is going to come in here and buy all my tech books in one lump. People keep suggesting it, so I’ll try it just to shut them up.

I was wrong.

I sell a few each month. Someone comes to my store searching for, say, SSH Mastery, sees the bundle, and decides to splurge/invest/binge.

People also suggested that I put up a bundle of fiction. Fine, the novels are in the store, I’ll bundle those too. I was confident nobody would buy them.

Again, I was wrong. A few each month.

I am confident that nobody will buy Absolutely Everything. Being wrong would delight me.

Order Books for BSDCan Delivery

BSDCan 2023 is happening in meatspace.

Folks like getting books from me personally, so normally I bring a few copies of each old title and about ten copies of each book released since the previous con. I’ve released eighteen books since the last meatspace BSDCan, plus innumerable chapbooks and collections and anthologies and who knows what all. 18 titles, ten of each? I am fifty-six years old and am not lugging one hundred eighty books into a con knowing full well that most won’t sell and I must lug them back to the car and unload them at home and let them collect dust. Nope. Ain’t gonna. Can’t make me.

Plus, there’s this.

One copy of every edition of everything I’ve written, 2023 February

I have written too many books to drag “a couple copies” of everything anywhere, let alone to BSDCan. Also, I haven’t done cons for years and have methodically reduced inventory. Other than the copies on this brag shelf I own very few copies of anything. I can buy more from the printer, but I’m not going to buy 180 dust collectors books.

The obvious answer is to let y’all preorder for delivery at BSDCan. I can get exactly what I need, plus a couple extras here and there.

To order a book for delivery at BSDCan, check my meatspace catalog for titles of interest. All prices are USD. Send your list to mwl at mwl dot io on or before before 1 April 2023, specifying paperback or hardcover when there’s a choice. Use the subject “BSDCan Preorder.” I will confirm the total price.

Payment? If you want one or two books, you can pay me cash at BSDCan. Three or more books, I need payment before 3 April. (Otherwise, some jerk who isn’t even attending BSDCan will order thousands of dollars worth of crap just to screw me and call it a joke.) I’ll use my tip jar for prepayments because it takes credit cards or paypal, or you can paypal to accounts at tiltedwindmillpress dot com.

I will place my order on 2 April. I must have prepayments by then.

I will deliver at BSDCan, 19-20 May 2023. Folks who haven’t prepaid should pick up on the 19th (or tell me why not), otherwise I’ll assume you’ve changed your mind and try to get rid of them on the 20th.

Will I bring books for people who don’t preorder? Yep. A few. Not many. You’re better off preordering. Price increases on print books are coming this month, but I will honor these prices for these preorders.

While the meatspace catalog includes everything I can get, here’s what’s come out since the last BSDCan.

Tech books since BSDCan 2019

  • Sudo Mastery, 2nd edition
  • SNMP Mastery
  • The Networknomicon
  • TLS Mastery (Beastie Edition, Tux Edition, and combined hardcover available, be specific, although I’m sure you fine folks will all want Beastie or the hardcover)
  • DNSSEC Mastery, 2nd edition
  • OpenBSD Mastery: Filesystems

Other Nonfiction since BSDCan 2019

  • Cash Flow for Creators
  • Only Footnotes
  • Domesticate Your Badgers
  • Letters from ed(1): The FreeBSD Journal Letters column, years 1-3

Fiction Since BSDCan 2019

  • Drinking Heavy Water (Montague Portal)
  • Terrapin Sky Tango (Beaks #2)
  • Aidan Redding Against the Universes (Montague Portal all-inclusive omnibus)
  • $ git sync murder ($ git commit murder #2)
  • Prohibition Orcs (collection)
  • Frozen Talons (Prohibition Orcs #2)
  • Devotion and Corrosion (collection)

Huh. I feel like I’ve been slow during the pandemic, but this is a modestly respectable number of books. The years know things that the hours and days cannot.

Anyway. Check the meatspace catalog for what you want. Send me a list. Specify paperback or hardcover. I will verify price. Three or more, pay me beforehand. Pick up at BSDCan.

Otherwise, take your chances that I’ll bother to bring the book you want and won’t sell it before you can grab it.

Selling Direct and Customer Support

I have my ebookshop at, and it’s a great defense against online retailers deciding that they don’t want my business. But sometimes it comes back to bite me.

I don’t want your personal information, unless things go wrong. But when it goes wrong, I have no way to contact you.

I got an email today from antonio@z*****.com, saying they hadn’t gotten the BookFunnel email for their purchase. They had received the receipt from me. It happens. I replied, and my maillog spat out:

Mar 1 12:00:54 mail sm-mta[17756]: 321H0qc5053731: to=, ctladdr= (1001/1001), delay=00:00:02, xdelay=00:00:02, mailer=esmtp, pri=31211, [], dsn=5.7.1, reply=554 5.7.1 : Relay access denied, stat=Service unavailable

In between them getting the receipts and BookFunnel sending the email, their mail server broke.

I have no other information by which to reach this reader. They did provide an address, which is nice. I could send a postcard. To another country. Assuming that address is even correct, which is dubious given the privacy habits of y’all. (Yes, I collect addresses, this is why.)

So, what do I do here?


Presumably, the customer will notice that they aren’t getting any email and reach out again.

Although I do see that the customer has four MXs, and they’re all the same priority. It might be one of them is misconfigured. I’ll send another message, see what happens. Or, maybe the customer will see this blog or my fedi post and see that they have email trouble.

If I demanded phone numbers for ebook purchase I could text them, but that would require I collect phone numbers and I want to not have that information.

Comparing Kickstarters

Comparing how two different books sell is foolish. Books are not fungible. Comparing how two different marketing campaigns do is likewise foolish. Neither marketing, nor readers, nor economic conditions are interchangeable.

But bear with me for a moment while I do it anyway.

The Kickstarter campaign for the Prohibition Orcs duology brought in about $11,000. Which, while not Brandon Sanderson’s millions, was way cool.

I intended to use the Devotion and Corrosion campaign to compare “Kickstarter with Twitter” to “Kickstarter without Twitter.” That seemed sensible, right? The videos are comparable, the campaigns are comparable. The story for the orcs is stronger, because “Orcs in Prohibition” is a solid hook, but still, it’d do something, right?

But then Kickstarter did not give D&C the “Projects We Love” button, which meant that they won’t promote it for me. My attempted comparison fails. I suspect this is because D&C has less Big Idea and more gentle philosophical ambiance. We don’t like to think, we want orcish face-punching.

The campaign funded anyway, which is great. But I can’t do even my lame, heavily-caveated comparison. Facebook spreads my posts to a few of people I know and a couple of the folks who follow my fan page. While the Fediverse shares my posts more broadly, it’s definitely a less commercial space.

I had hoped D&C would hit $4,000. My marketing has saturated the people I know, however, and now I’m hoping it breaks $3000.

Disappointing? Not really. Thinking about it in pure financial terms is wrong.

D&C is doing “well enough.” A bunch of people, wonderful people, will get ebooks and paperbacks. A handful of folks (those with disposable income as well as exquisite taste) will get fancy leather-cased books covered in rats and brains and knives. I will cover expenses and most of a mortgage payment.

And I can be confident that my readers who follow me on the fediverse or my mailing lists or my blog or even on Facebook will at least consider at my next project, no matter what any CEO or billionaire has to say about it. Eventually, a fiction book from this no-name nobody will pretty reliably cover a mortgage payment.

I have what Twitter’s owner can never have.


But if you want that fancy leather-cased book, you better grab one quick. Once the campaign is fulfilled, I’m not getting Studio 42 to make any more. In fact, let me post that picture, because it really is spectacular.

Comparing one book to another, or one Kickstarter to another, is foolish, but I can guarantee that you won’t find that many rats on any other leather-cased book.

Shipping OMF

I spent today dealing with the “OpenBSD Mastery: Filesystems” sponsor, Patronizer, and pre-order shipments.

The first lesson I’ve learned is, I was too flexible for someone so easily perplexed. If I do pre-orders again folks will get the option to buy just the one book, in paperback or hardcover. That’s it. Checking and double-checking all the possible option takes up a lot of brain space.

More annoyingly, I’ve had to delay a full third of my non-US #omfilesystems preorders, and a few of the US ones, because folks didn’t include a recipient phone number in their order info.

Data is like medical radioactives in the oncology ward; necessary, but I want as little of it as possible and must dispose of it safely. I have no desire for phone numbers.

For some destinations, however, I must provide the carrier a recipient phone number before they’ll sell me postage. I have no way to tell if I’ll need a phone number until I try to buy postage.

I don’t want to demand phone numbers for everyone. I actively want to not require that information.

But I’ve spent hours today chasing folks for phone numbers, interrupting my flow of packaging because someone kindly got back to me ASAP and I really do want to get these out of my house and in your paws.

I fear I’ll need to make the hard choice next time I open sponsorships. Ah, well.

But I have all the sponsor, Patronizer, and multi-book pre-orders packed and either picked up or ready for pickup. What remains is single-book shipments, plus all the folks who owe me phone numbers. I’m calling it for the day.

“OpenBSD Mastery: Filesystems” hardcovers are here

By “here,” I mean “in my living room.

64 of them. A nice even number!

I’ll be packing Patronizer and sponsor books first, then complicated preorders, then single-copy preorders. I don’t know if I’ll have them all done today. I might. Paperbacks arrive tomorrow, so I hope so.

You know, maybe one of these days I can do some writing? Sigh…

Updates to Print Bookstore and FAQ

I’ve sold print books via Aerio for a few years, but they are shutting down at the end of February. I just overhauled every single book entry on my site to point print sales at my new bookstore. Sales through this store pay me a larger cut than sales through other print bookstores, even though I don’t ever touch the books. You’ll pay shipping charges, however, so anything bought there is a pure Lucas Charity Purchase. Some folks buy under those terms, though, and I appreciate them, so it was worth switching.

Auditing my web site for references to Aerio led me to review my FAQ. I’ve made some updates for the pandemic age, updated and clarified a few Q&As, and puttered with the text.

The One Lone Audiobook now exclusive on my store

I started work on the Savaged by Systemd audiobook in the summer of 2019, thinking it was short enough to be affordable, long enough to be a legit audiobook, and the right length to listen to on a commute. As an SbS audiobook is completely ridiculous, I planned to release it on 1 April 2020. I had no idea that commuting would no longer be a thing in 2020. Ah, well. I uploaded it to the various stores and forgot about it.

The audiobook was available in every store I could reach, but the biggest retailer is Audible. I supposedly get 25% of cover price on every sale. This is atrocious. They claim to have sold 48 copies, which should get me about $119.

A quick check shows I’ve received less than half of that, because Audible’s policies make the 25% payment optional.

Most of the other stores pay about 40% of cover price, but their sales are negligible.

I have pulled the audiobook from all retailers, effective today. Some stores might still have copies, but as the databases churn they should disappear. Audible in particular is being difficult, because they can’t imagine anyone deciding to stop doing business with them so they don’t provide an “unpublish” option. (I contacted their helpdesk, which gave me the secret email address to contact, who will send me questing to collect three tokens from the Fallen Angels of… well, you get the idea.)

Instead, it’s now exclusively on my bookstore. You can listen in the BookFunnel app, a browser, or download DRM-free MP3.

It’s not that I expected this audiobook to sell millions. It was an investment in exploring audiobook technology. J Daniel Sawyer charged very reasonable rates to record and produce it. I am pleased with the end product. It would be nice if the audiobook would sell enough to repay that investment. That’s impossible if the main sales channel is Audible.

BookFunnel, my ebook distributor, recently opened an audiobook beta. It’s free while in beta, but will cost $10/month when it enters production. That’s enough time for me to test passive sales through my site. Selling 13 audiobooks in a year will let me start to pay back the investment.

Will I do more audiobooks in the future? Unlikely. I’m a fringe author. My books don’t sell enough to justify audiobooks. I could save a bunch of money by using AI narration, but you might as well use your ereader’s text-to-speech feature. Voice actors, real live humans with emotions and inflection and character, are the whole point of audiobooks.

I’ll post a follow-up in a few months.

Also: 1 April pranks should have meat on them. This one generated so many agonized groans that I heard them echo in from all around the world. Worth it.