Twenty Palace Print Edition Now Available Through Ingram

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Twenty Palaces cover, small imageThe process of setting up my book in Lightning Source is now complete. That means you can buy it from Barnes & Noble or any other brick and mortar store that sells books. If you like buying from indies, swing by your local shop and ask them to check the computer for you.

They might ask you to pay ahead of time, because the discount is thin and I made them non-returnable (to keep the price low) but the books are finished and ready.

One thing: a friend offered to do the interior design for this one, and she matched the book design of the other books in the series beautifully. Seriously, I’m not sure if she wants credit for this, but she did a fantastic job; the inside of the book looks fabulous.

Any complaints about the cover are on me.

In other news, I have a lot I want to blog about and no time to write it. My life is consumed by homeschooling, revision, and trying to get enough steps every day to satisfy the FitBit parasite attached to my wrist. More on that another time.

Print Edition of Twenty Palaces Now Available

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At the moment, I have finally, FINALLY created a POD edition of Twenty Palaces for people who prefer to read (or gift) in paper. Yes, it would have been better if I’d managed this before Giftmas. I know this. I wish it had been possible.

Lightning Source being what it is, the book is currently only available through Amazon.com and CreateSpace. I hope it will be available to all stores everywhere through Ingram in the new year.

[Added later: Yep! Now available at Barnes & Noble, which means your local indie will be able to order a copy for you through Ingram. They may ask you to pre-pay, though.]

If you’ve always wanted to read this book but never have because you only read paper, or you’ve wanted to give it to someone who only reads paper, now is the time.

And if you hate Amazon.com with an icy fire and refuse to give them your money: watch this space. I hope to have more options soon. Very very soon.

If case you forgot what it looks like:

Twenty Palaces cover, small image

Thank you.

Project Ditch Smashwords Distribution and Fatten My Bank Account: Completed!

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Like a lot of authors, I uploaded my self-published ebook to Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords a long time ago. The benefit of Smashwords is not the direct sales they make (which are pitiful) but that they distribute to many other book vendors who, generally speaking, sell only marginally better than Smashwords itself: Kobo, Flipkart(?), Sony, Oyster(?)… actually, you can tell that I haven’t visited my Smashwords Dashboard in a while because some of these I haven’t even heard of before. Yeah, they pay quarterly instead of monthly, and yeah, their “meatgrinder” requirements are tedious and annoying, but once the hoops are properly jumped through, they do what they’re supposed to do.

They also upload to Apple’s iBooks.

However, I recently pulled my books from iBooks distribution and created an iTunes Connect account. You have to be vetted by Apple and of course you can’t sell your book by simply uploading a file and filling in some data. Apple makes you download a special program to enter all the metadata, select the proper files, then upload in one go.

Why go to all this trouble? For this:

Mac Discount

This year, we might be forced to buy two iMacs (low end ones, but still) to replace my rapidly-aging current equipment and I’m hoping we’ll qualify for the 20% discount for both.

Anyway, we obviously haven’t ditched Smashwords completely. It turns out that Flipkart is an ebook seller in India, which is nice since I refuse to let Amazon take a 65% commission or force my book into their Select program to sell there. Oyster turns out to be a subscription-based book service like Netflix or Spotify: users pay $X a month and read as many listed books as they like. I get my money if they read 10% of my book. (So hey, Oyster-users, why not slowly page through my ebook while you’re watching TV or something. My bank account will be grateful.) I’m pleased to be distributed to both services plus Kobo, plus Sony, plus whatever.

But I do my work on Apple computers and the savings I will get this Giftmas was worth a little extra fussing with the distribution of my books.

Roleplay Twenty Palaces!

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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.

Only two days left in my Kickstarter drive

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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:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1179145430/the-great-way-an-epic-fantasy-trilogy-by-harry-con

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

http://www.harryjconnolly.com/blog/index.php/the-way-into-chaos-chapter-1/

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:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1179145430/the-great-way-an-epic-fantasy-trilogy-by-harry-con/posts/628459

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

http://www.pinterest.com/kathleenkuch/my-art/

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

http://www.harryjconnolly.com/blog/index.php/twenty-palaces/

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. http://kck.st/18DEKAL

or

Four ebooks for $12 and six for $25. Be sure to check out Harry Connolly’s fiction: http://kck.st/18DEKAL

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)

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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.

Thanks!

Progress report

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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.

More later.

So, Smashwords won’t publish to Kobo anymore? Apparently?

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I published TWENTY PALACES (now only $2.99!) through Smashwords so it would also go to other stores through Smashwords’s distribution system. However, a week and a half ago I realized that, for whatever reason, Kobo wasn’t selling the book. They have my others, but not the one I published myself.

I emailed Smashwords about it the week before last and received a chirpy response that there was nothing they could do about it, and had forwarded the issue to Kobo. A followup email brought the same response. Cheerful nothing.

I know Kobo will let you set up your own account, so I assume they’re rejecting or delaying books submitted through Smashwords to drive people to them directly.

Because I don’t have enough to do.

When I finish this book and revise KEY/EGG, I may need to take a week off just for business stuff: find a new WP theme I like that’s similar to what I have, set up a functional store on my site, create accounts on all the book vendor sites to sell my stuff directly, and so on. Very annoying.

Added later: Fixed. I should learn to skip customer service and take my problems straight to Twitter through my blog. Timeline: Complain (late) on a Friday. Hear back from Smashwords on Wednesday. Still nothing by the Tuesday after that. Complain on my blog so company name is right in the automatic tweet. Fixed by the end of the day.

(Not So) Permanent Price Drop for Twenty Palaces

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[Edited 1/30/2014: Dropping the price did very little for sales, so I'm returning it to $4.99.]

Folks who follow me on Twitter might have heard this already, but sales for TWENTY PALACES, the self-published prequel to CHILD OF FIRE, have dropped to the point that they are genuinely disappointing, so I’ve dropped the price to $2.99.

That price is already live at Amazon and B&N, but I’m still waiting on places like iBooks to update. I publish there (and to Kobo along with others) through Smashwords, and it can take a while for the prices to propagate.

The old $5 price point made sense when CHILD OF FIRE was still being offered at the promotional price of 99 cents, but that ended a while ago and I haven’t made the time to change it.

I also have short fiction for sale on those sites, but come June I’m planning to wrap them all up (along with a few new stories) in a single collection. You can buy those short stories and novelettes individually for now or get them all at once later. Your choice.

One other thing: the prequel has “lending” enabled and it makes a cheap three dollar gift. If you read and liked the books, would you mind sharing them, in some fashion, with others who might like them?

Thanks.

Twenty Palaces sales: the first year

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A few weeks ago, the November 2012 sales numbers for self-published books became available to the people who published them. Since I first published the Twenty Palaces prequel (cleverly title Twenty Palaces) in November of 2011, I thought it would be a good idea to post the sales figures. Why not?

Looking at this, you might be tempted to look at the price I’m charging and try to work out how much I’ve made. That won’t work. For one thing, not all of these sales came at Amazon’s 30% sales commission (I refuse to call them royalties; Amazon isn’t my publisher). Despite setting the price above $2.99, they charged me 65% on a surprisingly high number of them.

Which sucks, but that’s the price of doing business with a company like Amazon. So, if you think you can figure out what I earned, it’s actually quite a bit less than that.

Also, the first month’s sales were small because I posted it just in time for the last week. December was the first full month.

Anyway, the Smashwords sales cover Kobo, iBooks on Apple, Sony Reader, and Smashwords themselves, and since I didn’t start them until months later than Amazon and B&N, I didn’t break them out by month. I would have had to break out each seller and that was too much work. They’ve been small players for me anyway.

Here’s the table:

Month Amazon US Amazon non-US B&N Smashwords Group Total All
11-Nov 83 6 0
11-Dec 902 27 54
12-Jan 430 25 55
12-Feb 281 19 40
12-Mar 211 13 42
12-Apr 182 2 20
12-May 131 16 31
12-Jun 126 14 32
12-Jul 98 8 27
12-Aug 96 11 27
12-Sep 71 8 17
12-Oct 62 5 14
12-Nov 44 0 11
 Total 2717 154 370 170 3411

Christmas! The Christmas season is worth a few sales, and that’s a fact. Checking the numbers for Giftmas ’12, there was another small bump not reflected above.

Anyway, the numbers aren’t terrible but they aren’t fabulous either. I’m certainly not going to be touring Europe by rail on this novel, and it doesn’t inspire me to Kickstart The Twisted Path, which would have been book number next. Still, for a book I’d already written, I’m happy enough with the results and grateful to everyone who bought a copy.

If you haven’t bought a copy, I put some handy links into the table above. Knock yourself out.

Finally, I know some authors post their numbers every year, but this was sort of a pain to do. I’m not seeing it becoming a tradition.