The 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.
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.
[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.]
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:
making books: mac hate mac love publishing Twenty Palaces words
by Harry Connolly
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:
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.
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.
making books: a blessing of monsters internet publishing the auntie mame files Twenty Palaces
by Harry Connolly
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. http://kck.st/18DEKAL
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.
making books personal Twenty Palaces Books: a blessing of monsters internet people publishing Twenty Palaces
by Harry Connolly
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:
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.
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.
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.
[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?
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|
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.
Some folks might have noticed that certain online sellers no longer show Twenty Palaces, my self-published prequel novel, as available for sale.
There’s a brief, frustrating story behind that: I lowered the price just before Giftmas and now some sellers don’t seem able to get the message that the price should return to it’s previous level. It’s the “channels” through Smashwords that are causing the basic problem, which of course means that Amazon is cutting the price on their site, as they do.
I’m not sure what the problem is. Sony, et al, got the update that lowered the price, but multiple attempts to revise it since have gone unnoticed.
So I’m in the process of pulling it from all of those stores. Once they’re all gone, I’ll begin listing them again, but at the price *I* set.
It’s frustrating and a waste of time, but I don’t have a lot of choice. In the meantime, B&N and iBookstore have been responsive and are currently selling the books. You’ll have to buy them from there for now.
Ho ho ho!
Many of the people reading this will remember that, for most of the day on Halloween, I gave away copies of Twenty Palaces. I know there are folks who grabbed copies (and even read them) because I received a few nice notes about it.
For first-visitors who aren’t familiar with my work, my debut novel Child of Fire, was on Publishers Weekly’s Best 100 Books of 2009, and the two sequels, Game of Cages and Circle of Enemies both received starred reviews.
Sadly, sales were not as high as expected and Del Rey passed on the fourth book, which was a prequel to the series. Luckily, this is the 21st century and I self-published that book myself.
Why mention all this? Well, from now until the day after Christmas, I’m going to reduce the price of Twenty Palaces to only $2.99. Three bucks. If you know someone who reads ebooks and who likes supernatural thrillers with a noirish touch, take a quick look at these links:
Smashwords (These guys offer multiple formats for several different brands of ereader, like Kobo).
Unsure how to give an ebook as a gift? Open Road Media has a number of short instructional videos for several of the major ebook retailers, including iBookstore and Kobo. If you decide to buy from Smashwords, they have an instructional right on the linked page above.
And since Shopp, the WordPress plugin I use to sell my stories has stopped working, I’m just going to link to them here. Everything is DRM-free. Use these files as you will.
If you want to read the book as a .pdf:
If you want it as an .epub:
If you want it as a Kindle-ready .mobi file:
If you want all three as a single .zip file:
Happy Halloween, you guys.
Edited: Sorry, but the giveaway is all done now. You can buy the book from the usual online shops but not from my website. Not until I find a replacement for the plugin I’ve been using.
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 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.