How I planned my Kickstarter and why I think it worked out so well

So! As many of you know, last September and October I ran a Kickstarter for my new epic fantasy trilogy. My goal was $10K, which was barely enough to cover the cost of cover art, interior design, a map, printing, copy editing, etc. In my original budget I had about $80 worth of wiggle room, which I figured would be safe enough; if costs went over, I could cover them with the Twenty Palaces POD edition which is coming out soon.

Then this happened:

The project hit its goal in about 8 hours and doubled it the next day. This post is going to be about what happened, why it happened, what I did right and wrong, and what I learned from it. more »

Roleplay Twenty Palaces!

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.

And that’s $40,000

The Kickstarter topped the $40,000 mark. That’s over 400% of goal with 47 hours left to go. Thank you.

Only two days left in my Kickstarter drive

I have generally avoided asking people to help spread the word, but the whole purpose of writing these books was to bring in new readers. At this point in the campaign, I’m going to create this as a resource for people willing to share news in their own social media spaces.

For friends who prefer ebooks:

At the $12 pledge level, they’ll get THE WAY INTO CHAOS, the first book in the trilogy (including the Chris McGrath cover). The basic description of the series is right on the main Kickstarter page:

The (pre-edited) sample chapters start right here:

They’ll also get A KEY, AN EGG, AN UNFORTUNATE REMARK, the urban fantasy novel with a protagonist in her mid-sixties. The book is sort of like The Dresden Files if Harry Dresden was actually a cross between Auntie Mame and Gandalf. A more complete description can be found here:

They’ll also get the comic fantasy novelette my son wrote as part of the homeschool project, with cover art by Kathleen Kuchera:

Finally Also, they’ll also get a copy of TWENTY PALACES, the prequel to the books in my Del Rey series. More detail here:

And finally, we’ve just this morning unlocked the last book, a short fiction collection that will include the Twenty Palaces short “The Home Made Mask” along with other new and reprinted stories from me.

That’s a short fiction collection and three novels (plus the novelette my son wrote, with cover art) for only $12. For someone who is unfamiliar with my work, that strikes me as a pretty good deal.

At the $25 level, they’ll get all of the above and the other two books in the trilogy. That’s five novels all together, including all three of the Chris McGrath covers, plus the short fiction collection and the novelette.

If they’re gamers, too, then only $5 more will get a game supplement, too, so backers who play FATE Core can run a game in the setting of The Great Way. Also, as I write this, we’re only 30 new backers away from unlocking a FATE Core supplement for KEY/EGG It’s unlocked. There will be two FATE Core supplements for everyone at this level.

For people who prefer paper books,

Well, that’s a heavier lift, because the reward levels for the trade paperbacks are well above the typical market rate for books.

Twitter-friendly sample posts:

If you’re new to Harry Connolly’s fiction, the last hours of his Kickstarter have some good deals.


Four ebooks for $12 and six for $25. Be sure to check out Harry Connolly’s fiction:

Also! The hardcover omnibus edition offered at the King/Queen level and above is not going to be available after Saturday evening when the Kickstarter closes. If you’re the sort of person who likes rare (if not necessarily valuable) books, this will be the only opportunity to score a copy.

ADDED LATER: The new stretch goal is STRETCH GOAL: YOU, which means that backers can set a goal for them to create something they can share with all the other backers.

One of the option is an expanded writeup of the FATE Core Voidcallers game setting. Now, I’ve had people asking me for a Twenty Palaces rpg for a while and frankly, FATE’s Voidcallers is it. They capture the feel of the setting and the magic far better than I ever could.

So if you would like a Twenty Palaces rpg, help the campaign reach 1200 backers.

Also on offer in Stretch Goal: You: audio fiction, music, and I know someone else is working on a historical 20P game writeup.

I can’t pretend this isn’t exciting. Not just because of the numbers, but seeing other people jump in with their own ideas is a real thrill.

Thank you, everyone, for the support you’ve given me so far.

How your spending can improve (or do nothing for) your happiness (Twenty Palaces announcement)

If you’ve been following the recent research on happiness, you might be surprised by some of what has been discovered. Yes, buying material objects can increase your happiness, but only in the very short term. Buying new clothes or a new hat is nice at first, but we quickly become accustomed to it and the happiness fades.

What makes us most happy–and makes for long-lasting happiness–is experiences, especially experiences that will be happening sometime in the not too distant future. The reason is that it’s not so much the experience (the vacation, the concert, the road trip) itself that brings joy, but the anticipation of it. Read this article in The New Republic for a magazine-length discussion:

What you can learn about the new science of smarter spending: Yes, money can make you happy.

One interesting finding was that people enjoyed TV shows more when they included commercial breaks, because that little teasing delay between acts increased their anticipation.

Why do I mention this? Well, books are both material objects and experiences, and sometimes it can be a long wait for a book to come out. That seems like the best of both worlds.

But I’m not bringing this up because of my Kickstarter, which ends this Saturday and which promises a fun experience some months from now when the trilogy (plus the unlocked bonus books) are finished and released. I mean, sure, you might think this topic would be a good way to promote a Kickstarter, but that’s not why I’m here.

I want to officially announce a paper edition of TWENTY PALACES, the self-published prequel to CHILD OF FIRE and the other Twenty Palaces novels.

No, it’s not available yet. I’m still trying to get the cover to work (that’s today’s task, alongside setting up a new Time Capsule) but telling you now so you know it will be out soon increases happiness, right? If, that is, you’re one of those people who wants to read the prequel but doesn’t do ebooks.

Why has it taken two years to get a paper edition? Two reasons that are really one reason: It’s a lot of work, even with help, and it was too depressing. When the cancellation of the series happened, I was really really down about it, and doing all the work needed for a self-published POD Twenty Palaces would have been too painful. Now, with a little distance, it’s more manageable.

With luck, it will be available by Christmas time.


I am interviewed about my Kickstarter

I did an interview for HELP FUND MY ROBOT ARMY a Kickstarter anthology I’ve agreed to contribute to.

I’d sworn off short fiction for the next several months to focus on my longer work, but when John Joseph Adams asked me to add a story I had an idea immediately, one I absolutely have to write.

Anyway, in the interview I talk about the success my own Kickstarter has had.

Also today I posted a writeup of A KEY, AN EGG, AN UNFORTUNATE REMARK, which is an urban fantasy with a protagonist in her mid-sixties. Everyone who pledges at $12 or more will already get an ebook copy of this new book (that stretch goal has already been unlocked) but the next stretch goal will unlock a game supplement so folks can roleplay inside this setting.

Finally, the Kickstarter has broken through the $35,000 level (twice now, actually, because this is a time when people will cancel or downgrade their pledges). That’s pretty wild. Thank you for all your support.

Kickstarter Stretch Goal Achieved! New Stretch Goals!

Avert your eyes if you can’t bear to read it!

First of all, we broke through the $34,000 mark and made Stretch Goal: Image. That means I can afford Chris McGrath covers for all three books.

I don’t need to tell you how HUGE that is.

I’ve just posted some new stretch goals if you want to check them out: Desktop wallpaper for the Chris McGrath art, another FATE Core supplement, and my upcoming short fiction collection, which will include a new Twenty Palaces short story. Follow the link to find out more.

Finally: Wow.

Just wow.

THE GREAT WAY mentioned on

It seems my Kickstarter campaign made the list of’s crowdfund recs, which is a whole barrel full of awesome.

Welcome, readers. If you like the sample chapters, I should also mention that a pledge at the $12 level will get you the first book in THE GREAT WAY trilogy, called THE WAY INTO CHAOS (those are the sample chapters you’ve been reading) along with an ebook of my TWENTY PALACES prequel (cleverly titled: TWENTY PALACES) along with some other fiction mentioned in Kickstarter Update 5.

If you’ve already backed mine, check out some of the other project featured in that io9 article; some of them look pretty hot.

Oh what the hell: Here’s part of chapter 6, too

I know I just posted Chapter 5 of THE WAY INTO CHAOS a little bit ago, but here’s some of Chapter 6, too.

But first! Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Here’s the next part of the story:



Cazia couldn’t help it; the idea of learning to fly a cart thrilled her.

Then she saw Lar scrabble across the gray tiles and she flushed with shame. He slipped and fell to one knee but quickly regained his footing, heading toward the chimneys at the front of the building. His red coat looked almost comical, and she wished he’d chosen something that would not stand out like a rose in the grass. Col followed close behind; Timush must have been still climbing on the rope.

She couldn’t look away from them. Yes, she’d just been promised a lesson in flying–flying–but the one person she loved most in the world, her own brother, had just rushed onto a battlefield–and he’d brought his two best friends. A strange feeling she couldn’t identify filled her like wind blowing into a tent. She felt hollow and fragile, as though the next misfortune would make her pop like a bit of froth, destroying her completely.

This is the feeling that comes just before grief. You are about to see your brother murdered in front of you because he is trying to be a hero which is your fault because this was your idea. This is how you feel just before grief overwhelms you and makes you wish you could die with him.

more »

The Way Into Chaos, Chapter 5

Free fiction! Here’s the next chapter for book one of THE GREAT WAY. If you missed the earlier installments:

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Here’s today’s chapter:



The weight of the creature astonished him. It slammed against the side to the cart with a sound Tejohn was sure signaled the death of them all, but the wood held.

Tejohn’s shoulder, however, did not. Great Way, the whole city must have heard it pop. The creature’s momentum dragged him down until the rail gouged deep into his dislocated armpit and the whole cart dipped like a rowboat about to capsize.

The driver must have anticipated that because the cart didn’t turn over. Tejohn felt the others fall heavily onto his back, pinning him to the rail for a moment, until the cart rocked back the other way and they fell away from him. The pain was intense. Manageable, but intense.

The beast had hold of his bracer with its right hand, then reached for a higher grip with its left, hooking its claws into his flesh below the elbow. It was climbing his arm toward the prince, its jaws gaping.

Tejohn didn’t think, didn’t pretend he had time to strategize, didn’t waste his time on regret or resentment. He did his duty. He straightened his legs, sliding his torso over the rail. It wouldn’t take much. They were already over-balanced and the monster’s terrible weight would easily pull him over the edge. Fire and Fury, but his arm felt like it might tear right off. At least hitting the paving stones would be a quick death.

Tejohn would never see his children again.

There was a dizzying moment when he felt the full weight of both bodies drag him over the edge. His injured arm jerked, nearly shaking the beast free, but that didn’t matter because it was already too late, he was going over–

more »

The Way Into Chaos, Chapter 4

Free fiction! Here’s the next chapter for book one of THE GREAT WAY. If you missed the earlier installments:

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Here’s today’s chapter



Without any warning, a creature burst through the gate, bounding onto the stone dais and sniffing the air. It was as large as a mountain bear, but its frame was almost human. Its long arms and legs both ended in monstrous hands, and it was covered with pale purple fur.

It roared at them, displaying the fangs of a grass lion. more »

So. Many. Things. To. Do.

Lots going on here. I’m going to do a brief recap to share news and try to catch up.

1) If you’ve been waiting for my rpg game tie-in novel to be released, the publisher is selling it on their website right now. KING KHAN. If you buy the paper version, you get the digital version gratis.

2) Not an hour ago I put my wife on a bus to the airport. She’s spending three weeks back east to attend a family wedding, make some tough decisions about her late father’s artwork, and generally get some time with her siblings. There was a lot to do to get her ready and out the door, but now I’m a single parent again, so things family/house obligations are not exactly going to shrink.

3) If you missed the announcement yesterday, my Kickstarter passed the $30,000/ 300% of goal. Which is a lot of whoa and thank you and I hardly know what to do with myself.

4) If you haven’t backed but are thinking about it, one of the stretch goals is based on new backers that show up starting this week. I’ve been talking about growing my audience for a long time, so new readers are welcome

5) As a followup to number 4, my son has made some pixel art to demonstrate the progress of the stretch goals, but I need to fix it up and post it before we actually reach the goals. Time is flying by

6) I owe a ton of responses to emails and things. I’m sorry. I’ll catch up as quickly as possible.

Now, back to working on my stuff.

The Way Into Chaos, Chapter 3

Free fiction! Here’s the next chapter for book one of THE GREAT WAY. If you missed the earlier installments:

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

In case you’re reading this somewhere the Kickstarter figures don’t show, yesterday we passed the $30,000 mark, crossing 300% of goal. That is way beyond what I ever could have expected. Thank you:

Here’s the chapter



Lar’s valet had laid out three suits for the prince to choose from. While Tejohn stood against the wall and waited, they discussed each at length. Eventually the prince combined two, choosing a bright red linen coat with a green and yellow check shirt. Tejohn wouldn’t have dressed a clown in those colors but the prince could do as he liked. He always seemed comfortable with his choices, even when he made them sober. The queen wouldn’t like it, but she had asked him to make sure the prince arrived sober, not fashionable.

Eventually, they made their way into the main courtyard. Controlled chaos was a kindly way of describing the work being done there, and the king and queen were in the thick of it.

“My prince! There you are!” Kolbi Arriya raced up the stairs and clutched at the prince’s sleeve. She was the king’s shield bearer, which had once been an honorable position for a talented and well-born young warrior, but in these luxurious imperial times had become a counselor and royal secretary.

She scowled at the prince’s clothes, then at Tejohn. Kolbi herself wore the Italga grey and red, although her clothes were rumpled and soaked through with rain, sweat, or a combination of both. She would not be joining the royal family at the dais looking like that. “You know where to go, my prince? Be sure to let Sincl know if you want to sing first, last, or somewhere in between. He will accommodate you.” She rushed breathlessly toward the food tables without waiting for a response.

Lar laughed, then stopped at the top of the stairs and looked out over the throngs of people. The king covered his face with his hand and turned away in irritation at something one of the chief servants was telling him; the queen stepped in smoothly to resolve the problem. Lar seemed to find the whole thing amusing. “Twenty-three years between Festivals. Do you think my bride will do as well?”

Lar was betrothed to the daughter of the head chieftain of the Indregai Alliance. The girl lived inside the Morning City and was as much a hostage as the Freewell children. When she came of age, they would marry, forging a peace with the people of Indrega and allowing some troops stationed in East Ford to be relocated to the querulous west.

Tejohn could not help but notice that the prince had asked if his bride would organize the festival as well as his parents, as though he himself couldn’t be bothered. “I have not met her, my prince.”

“She’s a terror. Only twelve years old and already thinks she’s sitting on the throne.”

more »

The Way Into Chaos, Chapter 2

Here’s chapter two of THE WAY INTO CHAOS, my epic fantasy about the sudden collapse of an empire. It’s longer than most of the chapters I write, but like I said: epic fantasy.

Chapter 1 can be read here

Obviously, this is all a big plot to interest you guys in my Kickstarter. By the time you read this, I should have released my completely huge and awesome news about the new stretch goals. Click on through if you missed the announcement.



“Enough!” Doctor Twofin shouted. He rushed at Cazia, and the furious expression on his face froze her with terror. The sharpness of his voice had already disrupted her spell gestures, but he clasped her hands to be sure. “My dear, you don’t need to protect the prince from his own weapons master and bodyguard. Never cast at this man again! Do you understand?” The old teacher’s voice became high and shrill.

Doctor Twofin had the authority to bar Cazia from the Scholar’s Tower and he would do it, too. The idea made her sick. She looked down at her feet and said, in a carefully miserable tone: “I understand. I’m sorry, Tyr Treygar.”

more »

The Way Into Chaos, Chapter 1

The one joke I’ve been meaning to tell is: Hey, have you guys heard about my Kickstarter?

For most people, the question is when will they *stop* hearing about them. Well, one thing I promised to do was start posting sample chapters from the books I’m Kickstarting. Hopefully, this will make increase the number of backers rather than the other way around.

So here it is, the first chapter of THE WAY INTO CHAOS, called “Tutors”. If you like it, please consider spreading the word.


Without his armor, Tyr Tejohn Treygar thought he must have looked like a man disgraced. It was ridiculous, of course; by Festival custom and royal decree, everyone went without armor today, even the guards at the gates. Still, he felt odd as he strode into the morning chill onto the promenade of the Palace of Song and Monument in the soft, slipper-like shoes Laoni had bought for him. His steps were so quiet he felt like a sneak thief.

The queen wanted to speak to him. Again. Tejohn had not and would not be officially summoned to the throne for an audience, but she was not a woman who would ever let anything rest. What’s more, he would never hide from her–not ever.

However, if he happened to be away from his chambers in the early hours of the day, he could hardly be blamed if her servants didn’t think to look for him on the lonely northern end of the promenade.

She found him anyway, of course.

more »

The State of the Kickstarter Address

Well, you can see how the Kickstarter stands right here:

As I type this on Thursday night (I plan to schedule this for Fri morning, when I should be out of the house working on my chapters), the project is at 280% of goal. First of all: Wow. Second of all: thank you.

A lot of people, when they run a Kickstarter campaign, send a month flooding their social media asking for help. I’m not doing that. I am putting these little widgets in each of my posts, because what if an infrequent visitor comes to one of my spaces and doesn’t know about the project? But I think it would be kinda crass to press people for money when I’ve already vaulted over the bar with so much clearance.

So I’m not going to push. I will keep mentioning it, and I do plan to write about my experiences with it when it all blows over. Also, as I write this, my project is listed as one of the six entries under “Popular” on Kickstarter’s Discover/Publishing page, which can’t be a bad thing.

I’ll also mention that the hardbacks I’m offering are a one-time thing. I won’t be doing more after the Kickstarter ends; that wouldn’t be fair to the backers who paid for them.

So the state is busy, still, and frustrating as I try to do new things for the first time.

Also, frankly, pretty wonderful, so thanks.

Oops, almost forgot: I am revising the beginning of THE WAY INTO CHAOS so I can post those chapters on my blog, hopefully next week. The really weird thing is that they’re pretty solid. I know this isn’t my first pass through them, but I’m usually harshly critical of my work. Not this time. I like them and I hope you guys feel the same.

The Great Way Book Trailer (such as it is)

Part of the homeschool project surrounding the writing of my epic fantasy trilogy was that my son would make (with a very little bit of help from me) a book trailer with his Legos and the music software on his computer.

He’s a clever kid. My only input was to explain what happened in the books that he should animate and to ask him to reshoot things that were out of focus.

I think the music is especially nice. Check it out.

Stepping back from the internet for a day

As I mentioned on Twitter, last night my Kickstarter passed 200% of goal. This morning it’s at 213%.

I’m waiting to hear back on some emails I sent, but in the mean time I’m going to take a day away from the internet to work on the actual book. I know, right? Crazy! A writer who’s writing.

Enjoy your Saturday.

20 Sep 2013, 11:45am
making books:

Comments Off

Kickstarter Stretch Goals

So… yeah. Yesterday was crazy. In case you were off the internet, here’s the short version: I launched a Kickstarter and it got funded in less than eight hours.

Onward: At the moment, I’m contemplating stretch goals. Actually, I’m soliciting advice from the project backers. Do people want high-end cover art? An audiobook? Co-op placement (or the online equivalent) on to drive sales? A fourth novel?

The answers are interesting (even though no one has yet suggested “electrolysis for the author’s back” which is… okay. For now). If you’re a backer who doesn’t read those “Project Update” emails (or someone who is not a backer but would like to be) Check it out.

  • The prequel to Child of Fire: see here for more details

  • Starred review from Publishers Weekly

  • Starred review from Publishers Weekly

  • Named to Publishers Weekly's "Best 100 Books of 2009" list. Get the audiobook here.

  • Tags