Yep! The Fate books I pledged for on Kickstarter arrived, and so did my first ever author copies of one of my translated novels. The German language translation of CHILD OF FIRE turned up a mere four (?) years after selling the rights. Maybe it was only three years. Anyway, Russian, French, and I believe Polish books are still out there waiting to be mailed to me.
making books Twenty Palaces Books: a blessing of monsters everyone loves blue dog harvest of fire interesting things man bites world publishing Twenty Palaces
by Harry Connolly
Last night my Kickstarter hit 925 backers, unlocking Stretch Goal: Monitor, the second to last stretch goal. This morning we reached 1000 backers, which unlocked Stretch Goal, Mask, the very last one.
So I created something new: Stretch Goal: You. I encouraged backers to create their own stretch goals so they could create anything they wanted and share it with the other backers, if we hit their goal.
Already we have an indie composer who has promised 20P music, and…
Fred Hicks and Rob Donoghue have promised that, if we reach 1200 backers, they will expand on the Voidcallers section of the FATE Toolkit to let people role play in a Twenty Palaces-style setting. See here.
I’ve said before that there was no need for me to create a 20P supplement because Voidcallers is already it. But if you want sample stunts, special character creation rules, the whole deal, you probably want to join in on this.
We’ve already gone far, far beyond anything I had a right to expect. Can we manage to hit this goal, too?
I have to run out for a meeting, if you can believe it, but I can’t wait to see how this plays out.
And if you have something you want to share with the other backers, please do.
personal: a blessing of monsters everyone loves blue dog harvest of fire man bites world progress publishing Twenty Palaces
by Harry Connolly
Let’s see if I can briefly cover everything that’s been going on.
First, I’m revamping the Kickstarter page pretty thoroughly. As I mentioned before, I asked some folks with KS experience to check it over and I made a bunch of changes. Then my agent had a look and she told me that I was underselling everything. Like a lot of writers, I’m not the best advocate for my own work. She encouraged me to explain why the books are actually fun instead of, you know, doing the whole “Here’s a thing I wrote you might like it maybe” bit that writers do.
So, revisions. I have new text for the main page ready to go and I’ll be shooting a new video this week. As some of you folks know, I get ugly red blotches on my face when I eat certain foods, so I’m trying to be super careful about every meal until then. I don’t think it would help me make my goal to have leprosy face.
By the way, if you want to know when the Kickstarter launches before anyone else, you should sign up for my newsletter in the form on this page.
The print edition of TWENTY PALACES is still a few weeks off. Everything takes longer than you think it should. That’s the law.
Finally, while the Kindle version of TWENTY PALACES is still only $2.99, there’s a sale price of $5.99 for CHILD OF FIRE, GAME OF CAGES, and CIRCLE OF ENEMIES. If you read from the Kindle and have been meaning to pick up some or all of my books, you’re not going to get a better price.
I recommend starting with the prequel, although I wrote each book to stand alone.
There are shiny new ideas for me to work on, but I have so much revision and other work ahead of me that I don’t expect to get to any of it before the end of the year. Yeah, that sucks; we only get so many productive years in this life, but it needs doing.
making books: harvest of fire internet publishing
by Harry Connolly
(Announcement buried below)
If someone from Del Rey/Random House is reading this, please feel free to put my books into Amazon’s MatchBook program.
If you haven’t heard of this new program, it works like this: For publishers who sign on to the program, readers who buy (or have bought) a physical book from Amazon.com will have the opportunity to also buy the ebook edition at a discounted price. Some books will be as low as $2.99, some will be free.
So, if you bought CHILD OF FIRE when it came out in 2009, you could (if Del Rey signs the contract) pick up an ebook copy for cheap.
I’ve already seen some authors speaking against this deal. They don’t like the bundling and they earn part of their living from people who buy replacement copies for books that wear out.
Another strike against is the fact that I could buy a copy of a book, give it to my buddy Jim as a gift, then pick up a cheap/free version for myself.
Yeah, what Amazon is doing is selling the content, but what the have the right to sell is the copy. The whole point of copyright is that I make copies of my IP and sell them to people who want to buy them; if I’m selling the right for another person to make more copies, that person is a publisher and we need to have a publishing deal.
Except that model has been under serious strain for a long time. It’s now trivially easy to make copies of other people’s work, and some people can be amazingly clueless about it:
Email of the day: "Hey, my wife downloaded your book from [piracy site] and the file was p%rn instead! Can you fix that?"
— Brent Weeks (@brentweeks) September 2, 2013
“Help me download a copy of your book without paying you!” I mean, Jesus.
But these are just bumps in the road. I think that selling the content over the copy is the way of the future and I’m surprised it took so long for a program like MatchBook to get started. Yes, the readers who want an author to fix their torrents are annoying. Yeah, getting a free copy of a book you intend to give away is a pretty nice deal.
It’s good promotion, though. There are a handful of books out there that won’t need it, but most do. I don’t blame any author for shying away from this deal, but I think that, overall, it will be a good thing for those who sign up.
I also strongly suspect that this is part of a plan to drive self-publishers to CreateSpace, which they should have been doing anyway.
What’s that? you say. How can you talk about using CreateSpace when TWENTY PALACES is still ebook only?
Well, here’s the BIG ANNOUNCEMENT: Lately, with the help of a saint of a human being, I’ve been working on creating a paper edition of TWENTY PALACES. If you’ve never read it because (like me) you don’t read ebooks, you will soon get a chance. Also: to buy a copy for your friends. Also: to buy a copy for your friends and get a discounted ebook for yourself.
The book won’t be available for some weeks yet; there’s still a lot to do. Frankly, one of the reasons I’m prepping this is to buffer the budget for my upcoming Kickstarter on The Great Way (I wrote a status post about that over the weekend). The other is so we’ll get to have Christmas this year. Yeah, it’s getting to be like that.
But… MatchBook: I’m surprised it took this long and while I expect there to be bumps, this should be a great thing.
making books reading: a blessing of monsters everyone loves blue dog harvest of fire man bites world Twenty Palaces words
by Harry Connolly
Rachel Manija Brown posted something provocative about so-called “portal fantasy.” For those who didn’t click the link: essentially it’s a Narnia-style story, in which a person or persons from our mundane world is transported to a second-world fantasy setting. Apparently, agents reject those stories at the query stage without ever requesting a full manuscript, and the reasons described in the post (all frustratingly second-hand) strike me as extraordinarily bogus.
They’re talking about non-adult books: YA and MG, but I don’t remember seeing a lot of adult-oriented portal fantasies.
But it’s only after I read a post on Making Light that I realize I myself have been All Over Portals in my books.
Now, that Making Light post is talking about Fantasy With Portals In Them rather than Portal Fantasies, which is not exactly a subtle distinction. For one thing, modern person transported to fantasy world setting is a very specific thing. Still, Circle of Enemies and Twenty Palaces both contain literal portals in which Things Intrude Into Our World, and the other two books have implied portals.
What’s more, EPIC FANTASY WITH NO DULL PARTS is full of portals; the barely-Iron-Age society conducts trade through them and they are the center of the plot.
It’s not portal fantasy, per se, but… is this my subconscious calling to me? Has the online discussion finally made me look into my heart and realize that what I’ve really longed to do all this time was write a book about a mafia hitman transported to pseudo-Narnia? Or a pipe-fitter in Osgiliath?
Well, maybe not, but it’s fun to think about.
making books: a blessing of monsters everyone loves blue dog harvest of fire man bites world progress publishing the auntie mame files Twenty Palaces words
by Harry Connolly
I’m writing this ahead of time because I expect to be hanging with my son at the tournament when this posts, but today is exactly one year since I announced that Del Rey would not be picking up any new Twenty Palaces novels and that I was putting the series on hiatus, with all the ominous implications of the word.
And that fucking post is still the most popular thing on my blog. More people have read about my failure than ever read my books.
What has changed since then? Well, A Key, An Egg, An Unfortunate Remark is on indefinite hold. The book itself is a major misfire–not in concept but in execution. It needs a massive rewrite before it’s ready to be shown anywhere and that’s not a very high priority for me right now.
What about Epic Fantasy With No Dull Parts? aka A Blessing of Monsters? Well, shit. We’ll see, won’t we? One big change is that I seriously underestimated the amount of story there; what I’d planned to complete in one volume is not, in fact, complete after 140K words. So it will become two books. Possibly three. We’ll see what my publisher says, assuming I find one for it.
As for me, I’m working on a Twenty Palaces short story, which won’t be told from Ray’s POV. I’m hoping to have it finished soonest so I can get to work on Epic Sequel With No Dull Parts. I’m still waiting on editorial notes for King Khan, the game tie-in book I wrote for Evil Hat’s Spirit of the Century role-playing game, and that will likely be the only book release for me in 2013.
I know. 2012 saw only two anthologies: Don’t Read This Book and Tales of the Emerald Serpent, and next year will almost certainly be a single game tie-in novel. I like all of that work and I’m proud of it, but I need to put out original novel-length fiction if I want to keep my career going.
making books personal: harvest of fire Twenty Palaces words
by Harry Connolly
On her blog, novelist Ally Carter wrote a letter she wished she could send to herself back when she was just starting out. I thought it was funny and interesting enough that I stole the idea. Being me, this particular letter might not have the wide applicability that Ms. Carter’s does but I’ll share it anyway: a letter to myself in 2008.
First of all, old self, today isn’t the day your agent sent your first book on submission. That was back in mid-January some time. So yeah, this is late. Then again, you’re the guy who received a birthday card that his sister had bought for his birthday the year before then never got around to sending. You’re a Connolly; you’re used to it.
Second of all, Twenty Palaces was not rejected because of the story. It was the writing. You haven’t realized this yet, but you’d be better off not sending it to your agent or editor. The truth is, you made a big leap in your understanding of the language while you were revising Harvest of Fire, and you haven’t realized yet how rough that earlier book is. Seriously. Keep it to yourself until after you have a chance to revise it.
Third, don’t bother scrounging for reviews. Interviews are great. Definitely do that Big Idea piece for John Scalzi. Guest blogging is also cool (in fact, ask around if anyone would like you to guest blog).
But that thing where you spend hours and hours looking for reviewers, working out what sort of books they review, try to judge their readership, contact them and mail off books? Just don’t even bother. You’d be better off spending that time working on new books or being funny online.
In fact, being funny and/or interesting online is really the best marketing you can do. Have fun with that and skip the reviewers. The ones that find and review your work on their own will be good enough, but beyond that it’s too big a time sink.
Fourth, you aren’t really going to find yourself joining a new community of writers and genre fans, the way so many others seem to. Don’t worry about it.
Fifth, and last, I’m not going to spill the beans about how well your books are going to do, but I will say this: Write the books the way you think they should be written, and don’t agonize about it too much. Whether you succeed or fail, you’ll at least be doing it on your own terms.
Okay, that wasn’t the last. Here’s the last: You’ve worked pretty hard to get to this spot, but you’re going to have to work even harder to stay there.
making books: everyone loves blue dog harvest of fire man bites world publishing
by Harry Connolly
I’ve been sitting on this news for about two weeks as I tried to get some further information on it, but SDCC is this week and I’m not going to wait any more.
Now, I didn’t know this was going to happen. I didn’t even know there was a audio deal in the works. I went back to my email and searched for the word “audio” and found that the only mention was back in September 2009, when my agent mentioned in passing that she had received a note of interest from an audiobook company, which she forwarded to the publisher (since Del Rey had retained the rights).
After that, I never heard a thing about it until last month when I went to Amazon.com to create a link to the book and notices a new line in the “editions” box. I know there are some authors who are pretty heavily involved in the creation of their audiobooks, but I knew so little about it that I’ve been telling people there was no chance of an audiobook because of low sales.
So! The question you might be asking is “What about Game of Cages and Circle of Enemies? Will they be out as audiobooks, too?”
Unfortunately the answer is still “I don’t know yet.” I’m still waiting to hear back, and I don’t expect an answer on the week of (or after) SDCC. However, when I do hear, I’ll blog about it.
I should also mention, apropos to yesterday’s post about whether book reviews actually sell many books, that the initial note of interest was based on early positive reviews, so reviews can have that sort of positive benefit at least.
By the way, author and bookseller Michele Sagara weighed in on the review conversation yesterday on my LJ. She’s a smart person and if you don’t follow her you should.
Pretty cool, huh? Apparently it came out last May. I had no idea.
making books personal The outside world: everyone loves blue dog harvest of fire internet man bites world moi?
by Harry Connolly
I just returned from the SFWA business meeting, where I learned All The Secrets. Sure, it was 40 minutes long and I left home at seven am to get there and only arrived at the library to start working at noon (thanks to a missed bus connection) but those secrets were totally worth it. 
I probably should have loitered afterwards to socialize, but Saturdays are a big writing day for me and I really really didn’t want to lose any more work time today. Besides, I suck at socializing. I’m the boringest guy ever, so it’s best for everyone if I just walk into a room, sit quietly, then walk out again later.
Actually, here’s a tip: If you hear there’s going to be a SFWA business meeting going on at a convention or whatever, just go ahead and crash it. No one checks IDs or anything; just walk in, help yourself to a coffee and a danish, then sit somberly while the nice folks run through the agenda. If they pass a paper around to record who attended, just write “Harry Connolly” on there or some other unrecognizable nobody, then you’ll be able to kick back for some private time with a bunch of pro writers.
The meeting was at Norwescon, which I attended last year. Considering the public transit times involved, I’ve decided it’s just too far to go. Sure, the crowds will also keep me away, and my weak chat fu, and my general disinterest, but the travel times are another arrow in my quiver.
At least I got to use the nice hotel bathroom rather than the downtown library.
Other news! I created a Facebook Page, and will slowly be changing my FB time to that, and trimming back my “friends” on my regular FB account. Nothing personal, but I need to recapture some of my time. If you find yourself unfriended over there, it’s only because I don’t know you really or I see the content you post elsewhere.
Finally, I have something else I need to mention that keeps coming up. I shouldn’t bury it in a weekend post, but what the hell:
I’m not going to do a Twenty Palaces Kickstarter.
Yes, I’ve been involved in two Kickstarter campaigns. The Spirit of the Century one panned out pretty quickly, and the Tales of the Emerald Serpent shared world anthology is still working its way toward the goal.
But neither campaign has been “mine.” I placed fiction there, but I haven’t set the goals, the pledge benefits, the timelines, none of it. I haven’t made the videos and I don’t post the updates. Those projects are someone else’s babies.
A number of people have asked: why not Kickstart a new Twenty Palaces novel? Here’s the answer: While I’m sure I could set a pledge level that people would be willing to meet, it’s not money that’s stopping me. It’s readership.
Each of the Twenty Palaces books sold fewer and fewer copies than the one before. They diminished. As much as I loved the series (and believe me, I love them like crazy–those books are ten years of my life) continuing to push them would be career suicide.
I have new books I’m working on. Some of you will hate them, some will like them–I’m comfortable with that idea. But I have to be writing books that increase my readership, not shrink it.
The Twenty Palaces setting is a dead horse, and my whipping arm is tired.
Okay. Time to make pages.
 I’ll even share one with you: It’s hard to get rich in sf/f publishing. You heard it hear first.
 As far as you know.
 Confidential to the dude in the next stall: Holy Christ, you have my utmost sympathy.
 Stupid timeline.
 Check out the $5 and $10 pledge levels. They seem like a great bargain.
 Circle of Enemies has sold one-third as many books as Child of Fire, and the numbers have pretty much played out. These books are not going to make a surprise resurgence.
making books The outside world: everyone loves blue dog harvest of fire man bites world people words
by Harry Connolly
Bestselling author (and my new BFF) Pat Rothfuss did a Google Hangout–aka, a webcam video interview–for Trey’s Variety Hour while I was offline dealing with my father-in-law’s passing. It’s a long interview, guys, but of course I assume you’ll want to listen to the whole thing, since my new BFF is totally interesting.
But if you want to skip straight to the good part (which would be the part about me) go to the 1 hour, 19 minute, 50 second mark where he talks about reading all three books in two days, and what he thinks about them.
Let’s embed, shall we?
I’m glad he liked the books, but whenever someone says: “They’re really different,” the tiny, pitchfork-wielding, scarlet-skinned dude on my shoulder says: “Too different!” Not that I listen, says the guy writing an epic fantasy at the end of the bronze age.
Anyway, new readers! New two-star reviews on Goodreads! It’s all a blessing, and I’m glad people are still finding the books.
making books: everyone loves blue dog harvest of fire man bites world people the wife Twenty Palaces words
by Harry Connolly
I don’t love it, but I don’t hate it, either. Even before I got together with my wife, I didn’t begrudge a holiday for love, lovers, and people with strong romantic feelings.
Still, for me it’s as private as most every other part of my marriage. And I know there are lots of folks out there who hate the day with a passion.
In that spirit, let me offer my sorta-annual pitch for the Twenty Palaces books: The male and female leads do not romance each other, and do not fall in love (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Magic! Violence! Problematic work relationships!
They’re in the little-recognized genre of Paranormal Unromance.
I assume most of the people reading this post will have either read them or decided they’re not interested, but if you know someone looking for some Anti-Valentine’s reading…
making books: harvest of fire internet publishing Twenty Palaces
by Harry Connolly
Twenty Palaces, the prequel to Child of Fire and the other Twenty Palaces novels has been doing fairly well in online sales, but the numbers are going down, as I expected.
I often have people tell me that the series will become popular once enough people find out about it, but the numbers say otherwise. When I see writers posting about their self-publishing success, the month-by-month numbers always go up. Yeah, I know: December. Also: First month of release of a book with a built-in audience.
Still, January sales are less than half what they were the month before, and they’re slower at the end of the month than the beginning. What’s more, Del Rey still has Child of Fire at the 99 cent price point.
If the series was ever going to take off, it would have happened by now. I’ve decided that is vindication for my decision to move on. We’ll see how the next thing does.
reading The outside world: everyone loves blue dog harvest of fire internet man bites world
by Harry Connolly
personal The outside world: everyone loves blue dog harvest of fire internet man bites world people
by Harry Connolly
I wish I didn’t have to drop this note on the weekend, but the email came yesterday. I’ll be posting about this again next week when more folks are actually looking at the web.
News: Pat Rothfuss’s Worldbuilder fundraiser has two copies of my SFBC omnibus edition of The Wooden Man–as I mentioned on Twitter, these are the only two copies I’m planning to sign. One is in the general lottery: you donate ten bucks, you have a chance to win one of the items being offered at random. The other is up for auction. I guess several readers sent notes to him asking for a more direct chance to buy it, so thank you!
But once I saw my book was in the auction, I wanted to sweeten the deal. I took the ghost knife prop for the book trailer–the only one I kept–and popped it in an envelope.
So! If you’re the winning bid on this auction, not only will you get a rare signed 20P omnibus, you’ll also get your own ghost knife to use as a bookmark. Best of all, it’s for a really good cause. Here’s a direct link to the auction.
Pat’s a good guy for running this, so I hope we can help bring in a few extra bucks for his favorite cause. The auction ends on the 29th, so don’t wait to make your bid.