SEARCHING FOR MALUMBA free today and tomorrow

My teaching memoir Searching for Malumba is free today!  So, if that implies any action on your part, go for it.


Luther M. Siler’s long-awaited book about teaching, SEARCHING FOR MALUMBA collects nearly 150 of the best of his essays and blog posts from 15 years of writing about American urban education. Alternately hilarious, sad, furious, horrifying, and touching, as well as frequently profane, Siler’s writings shed a light on the reality of teaching in America’s urban schools during the reign of the No Child Left Behind Act and the rise of standardized testing.  Available as an ebook and in print.

REBLOG: Why teaching is terrible…

Hilary Custance Green just published a great review of SEARCHING FOR MALUMBA over at her place.  Here’s a quick excerpt, and check out the rest of it at her site.

Each entry comes hot, often scorchingly so, off the keyboard and varies from hilarious to heart-breaking. You read this with your mouth hanging open in shock about where these kids are coming from and what kind of homes they go back to. You also read it with sympathetic fury at the authorities wilful misunderstanding about testing, teacher pay and worst of all the nature of children themselves. In contrast, you also read with delight and outright laughter about children and teacher’s successes and gaffes.

Source: Why teaching is terrible…

In which I guess I’m on a watch list now

IMG_2872So that was interesting.

Any of you who have read Searching for Malumba closely have no doubt noted the dedications page.  If you haven’t, feel free to click on that link right there and check out the “Look Inside” feature and you can go see it for yourself right now.

Then buy the book.

Ahem.  Anyway. SfM is dedicated generally to all the teachers I have known and/or worked with in my life, and specifically to about a dozen or so who have been my teachers, ranging from my second grade teacher to graduate school.

One of those professors is Bill Ayers.  Yes, that Bill Ayers.  Y’know, the guy who gave DeRay McKesson the idea to wear a vest everywhere he goes.

This week, I got in touch with Bill and another former professor and asked them both if they would be interested in me sending them copies of Malumba, seeing as how they’re mentioned in it and all.  Both were incredibly gracious about it and managed to actually seem excited about me sending them some of my nonsense through the mail.  Now, Bill still lives in Chicago.  The other professor is on sabbatical in Rome right now, but actually works at the Catholic Theological Union, so both packages were going to the same ZIP code.

I have mailed dozens of books from my local post office, and my PO box is there, too.  This means that the employees recognize me and that, furthermore, I’m always mailing the same thing— a book or two in the same damn kind of padded envelope I used last time, book rate, and yes I want a tracking number because I send people the tracking numbers.

I have never been hugely fond of the woman who took care of me today.  She always seems to be in a bad mood and has the type of pinched. harried look about her that brings to mind the old adage about having the face you’ve earned once you turn fifty.

I hand her my (identical) packages.  “Book rate,” I say.  The one on top is Bill’s.

She takes a long look at Bill’s, frowns rather conspicuously, and says something that no post office employee has ever said to me when trying to mail a book.  And, again, I’ve been in there dozens of times in the last couple of years.

“You understand that any postal employee may open and inspect any book rate package at any time and for any reason, yes?”  She stamps the package with something, then looks at the other one, hesitates for several seconds, and stamps it anyway, which seems to indicate that she didn’t have to stamp it.

I keep my face neutral, neither laughing at her nonsense nor arguing with her.  Just said yes.  You just better package that shit up correctly when you’re done with it.

She takes care of business, carefully putting the book off to the side (note that this isn’t suspicious; she put it where they always put my books when I mail them) and then suddenly remembers that the second package is there too.  Stares at that one for a second.

“Are you sure that this address doesn’t need an apartment number?”

What the fuck, lady.  Just mail my shit, okay?

“It’s the Catholic Theological Union,” I say.  “No.”

I leave out that the professor I’m mailing it to is the CTU’s professor of Islamic Studies.  Because I think I’ve had enough shade thrown at me today.

The end.

An entertainment and an announcement

augustus_primaportaFirst, a bonus story for those of you who have read Searching for Malumba, particularly those of you who have gotten to the chapter called “A Long Day, Pt. 2.”

Out of nowhere, my Bruce Banner Facebook account just got a friend request from Caesar, of all people.  I haven’t heard from Caesar since the last day of the Washington DC trip I took him on when he was in 7th grade.  Technically, I wasn’t supposed to do that, because he had transferred out of our school earlier in the year, but the adults involved basically looked around and went hell, he’s a good kid, let’s just not tell anybody, and it ended up working out fine anyway.

Caesar, and this will only be funny to those of you who have read Malumba, is a politician now, as in “he is actually running for state office in 2016,” and he has a Facebook page full of pictures of himself in a nicer suit than any of the ones I own, standing next to important politicians, including one former President and at least three people currently running for office.

I approved the request immediately.  This is one of the ones I have wanted to be able to keep an eye on.  🙂

And now, the announcement, and this one’s a big one:  I have just received confirmation that I will have a Small Press booth at C2E2 2016running from March 18th-20th of next year.  This means that I have three convention appearances currently planned out and official: Starbase Indy later this month, C2E2 in March, and IndyPopCon in June.  I’m still trying to get into one more in August that I’ve not been to before (and which will also be a really big deal), and I’m thinking about going to next year’s InConJunction, which was the one I want to last summer.  If Starbase Indy is fun and profitable, I’ll seriously consider doing that again next year too, but we’ll see how the first one goes.

That’s a big deal.  That’s tens of thousands of people who I’ll have access to next year in person and not through my blog or Twitter.  2016 could be a very, very big deal for Luther Siler.

I’m excited already.  🙂

Saleswanking extravaganza! (Saleswankstravaganza?)


I have had an immensely productive day; it’s almost like I have to go back to teaching tomorrow and I’m trying to keep myself from going crazy.  I disassembled and reassembled (correctly!) two different sinks today, for fuck’s sake.  I’m like some sort of freakish monster.

Anyway, the two of you who are big number nerds like I am, click for large:


While I didn’t have a 300-download day like I did last month, at least I can be certain that all of those represent actual downloads to actual humans.  I broke away from the Siler Saturday formula a bit this month and sprinkled some free book days on various days of the week to see if anything made a difference, and given that my level of promotion on the day where I had 300 downloads in September was just about exactly the same as the two 25-download days in October, I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that the main factors in a free promo are 1) how generically busy Amazon is on that day, and 2) how highly ranked the book is as paid the day before the free promo starts.  In other words, it’s good to do a free promo right after you have a day with a couple of sales for that book, because that’ll push you into the low six figures if not the high five figures just on the strength of those couple of sales, and I think it gives the book a bit of a bump.  Again, though, this is all theory; I don’t have a lot of data.

Here’s how actual paid sales went, by the way.  This will easily be my most lucrative month from Amazon, especially once I work KENP money in there– more on that in a minute:


In other news, I’m immensely pleased at how well Searching for Malumba has done.  It’s had 24 sales in its first five days since official release, half of which were in print, which is outstanding, at least by my standards.  It’s moved twice as many copies as The Sanctum of the Sphere did in its first five days, and it already has more reviews than Sanctum does, although that required an email to my beta readers a couple days after the book came out that I’ll characterize as “pushy” and which reasonable humans would probably call “fuckin’ rude.”

I still love you guys, I swear.

Sanctum continues to be my redheaded stepchild, and I’m not sure why.  It’s my only sequel, but it’s a sequel to my most popular work and it’s good, goddammit.  I gotta figure out how to market it better.  Weirdly, it does just fine when I’m selling it in person– it just struggles online.

Anyway.  Let’s talk about KENP.  I am fascinated by this.  I just started seeing KENP reads recently– note that these are pages read by people who downloaded my books for free through Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program, and that I get paid about half a cent per page:


Here’s the same range of dates, only it’s just KENP pages for Skylights:KENP-skylights-only

I swear those are two different graphs.  Look carefully, you’ll find the differences!

There are 13 pages for BA Vol. 1 in there somewhere, and that little blip at the end is about 80 pages for Malumba.  Every single other KENP read I’ve had is for Skylights.  Now, Skylights, cover-to-cover, is 535 “Kindle Edition Normalized Pages” long, which is what KENP stands for.  Note that that means that on October 26 two different people read the book goddamn near cover-to-cover, or at least a lot of people read smaller chunks of it.

KENP doesn’t pay well– those thousand pages in a day of reading earned me less than six bucks– but overall for October I’m looking at about another $20something on top of what I made from sales.  Which isn’t nothing, I guess?  And I’ll freely admit that, while I love selling books, it’s actually even neater to log in and discover hey, someone’s reading one of my books RIGHT NOW, because that number was smaller than that earlier today.  

I’d love to know why Skylights is the only one getting any love, though.