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.
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.
making books personal: a blessing of monsters internet moi? progress publishing the boy Twenty Palaces
by Harry Connolly
1. The plugin I was using to sell Twenty Palaces directly from my website wasn’t working correctly, so I’ve switched to something else. This new thing is quite complicated, almost like getting an iPhone just so you can tell the time, but I hope soon to have more fiction to sell from my site, so here it is.
The only problem is that I can’t make the PayPal Sandbox work so I can’t test drive the whole thing first. It’s annoying, but if someone wants to buy Twenty Palaces through the site, would you let me know how it goes? I assume I’ll hear from people who have problems, but… you know. It’d be nice to be sure all this works. (Added later: It doesn’t.)
2. Can I mention again how good it was to work with George Cotronis? When I was first looking for a cover artist, I asked a whole lot of people which I should choose, George or [other guy]?
Maybe 80% recommended [other guy]. They didn’t like George’s website, or his stuff was too dark, or it was just not to their taste.
And I understood what they were saying. But I went with him anyway. See, [other guy]‘s stuff was really good–very polished–but George’s work was idiosyncratic. It was odd in a way I found appealing, even though I generally don’t like horror illustration. And I’m really happy with the result. I think he did a great job.
3. I have the first eight(ish) chapters of A Blessing of Monsters ready to send to my agent. My wife is reading them first to catch anything deeply stupid (not that… ahem… there’s anything… oh hell). She’s not what you’d call a fan of epic fantasy, but she’s giving it a go anyway.
4. And having the new book is helping me deal with self-publishing Twenty Palaces. I can’t say I’m pleased to be releasing it this way. Yeah, I’m glad readers who love the series get this story, too, but it also makes me mourn a bit more.
Which is why it’s good to have something fun and cool to work on.
5. If I can get decent cover art together, I’m going to add short fiction to my online bookstore. Assuming the bookstore is any good.
6. And yes, I’m up late. My son is having a bit of trouble getting to sleep.
making books personal: a blessing of monsters progress Twenty Palaces
by Harry Connolly
Sales through the website have continued, and I’m grateful to everyone who has bought a copy from me. At this point, as soon as I see the payment notification from PayPal, I’m emailing the file to the reader. I’m sorry that there’s that delay, but I will do my best to get it to you as soon as possible.
Also, by this point, everyone who has purchased a copy of the book should have received one. If not, please let me know. I’ll do my best to fix it quickly.
One more thing: if you bought and read Twenty Palaces, would you consider reviewing it, please? I would appreciate the help.
Today I have to get the hell out of the house and work on A Blessing of Monsters. What with the plugin/direct sales ordeal and the holiday, I haven’t worked on it since Tuesday. That’s bad. So I’m going to run some errands, have more pie for breakfast, and sneak out to the Starbucks and the library so I can make a few words. Wish me luck.
I’m finding that about
15% 20% 24% 50%(!!) of the people who order Twenty Palaces are contacting me afterwards to say they haven’t received an automatic email with a download link. What scares me is that there might be folks who are waiting for me to send it manually. Guys, if you ordered the books and didn’t receive an email in ten or fifteen minutes (and it’s not in your spam trap) contact me directly. I’ll be happy to send you the files directly.
Added later: Damn. I need to find a new sales plugin for WordPress. I’d tried eShop but it was too complex and had too many screens to click through. That’s annoying. However, the one I chose seems to be TOO simple, and it doesn’t work.
Because this is how I want to be spending my writing days… grumble grumble.
Better yet, when I get the PayPal notifications for the sales, I’ll just email the file to you directly the next time I check email.
Later still: I have some errands I absolutely need to run, but I’ll do my best to find another way to sell these tonight, if I can. Has anyone used http://www.e-junkie.com/ ? A reader over on LJ suggested it as a smart alternative.
evergreen posts Twenty Palaces Books: Twenty Palaces
by Harry Connolly
As promised, finally, I have the Twenty Palaces prequel ready for sale. Here’s the cover:
Looks terrific, doesn’t it? It’s by George Cotronis, who will also be doing the cover of Don’t Read This Book, the Evil Hat anthology I wrote a story for.
Here’s the book: When Ray Lilly was 13 years old, a handgun accident landed his best friend, Jon Burrows, in a wheelchair and turned Ray into a runaway and petty criminal. Fifteen years later, Ray returns home after a stint in prison; he’s determined to go straight, but he knows he can’t do that without making peace with his old friend.
What Ray doesn’t expect is to discover that Jon has just received a mysterious cure–not only is he out of his wheelchair, he seems stronger and faster than… well, pretty much anyone. Worse, his cure has drawn all sorts of unwanted attention: the media are camped out on his block, the police are investigating him for insurance fraud, and weird shadowy figures have begun to draw closer, figures who clearly do not mean to do Jon any good.
Can Ray atone for the biggest mistake of his life by protecting his oldest and best friend? What’s more, should he?
Yeah, this is the book where Ray meets Annalise, creates his ghost knife, and sees a predator for the first time. It’s also going to be the last Twenty Palaces novel for a while.
Because I’m self-publishing it, it’s going to be ebook only. I’ll post Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble links when those go live, but I’ll also be offering the book for sale directly from this website. For $4.99, paid through PayPal, you get a DRM-free epub, a DRM-free mobi, a pdf file, or all three if you prefer.
Buy here. (Update: actually, you can’t buy it from me because the shopping plugin didn’t work) Or you can buy from one of the links in the sidebar.
Thanks for reading, folks.
making books Twenty Palaces Books: a blessing of monsters everyone loves blue dog harvest of fire life is great! man bites world moi? publishing the auntie mame files Twenty Palaces
by Harry Connolly
(Update to this post: I’m shutting down comments because it’s been over a week and they’re still coming. What’s more, I don’t really want to keep talking about it. Thank you.)
(Second update: Disabling new comments hid the old comments, which I didn’t want, so comments are back on again.)
Yep. It’s true. Based on the sales of Circle of Enemies, Del Rey has decided not to offer me a contract to write more Twenty Palaces books.
Well, Pretend Questioner, let me address that in a very long blog post more »
making books Twenty Palaces Books: beautiful Twenty Palaces
by Harry Connolly
Just a few moments ago I received a box of my author copies of The Wooden Man, the omnibus edition of my three Twenty Palaces novels. You can see the black satin ribbon bookmark that marks it as that month’s “Sliver of Night” selection (aka the featured urban fantasy for the catalog) for the Science Fiction Book Club.
And you can see my Halloween table cloth, too. I think that’s appropriate.
Anyway, if you want the omnibus, you’ll have to get it from SFBC or buy it second hand from one of their members. There’s a special introduction I wrote for it that you won’t find anywhere else.
personal The outside world: beautiful everyone loves blue dog film harvest of fire life is great! man bites world Twenty Palaces
by Harry Connolly
Previously, I’d posted a teaser trailer for my Twenty Palaces books, but we’re finally ready to share the whole thing. This version includes all the special effects, characters and short scenes from Circle of Enemies (not spoilery), Catherine Little, Charles Hammer, the ghost knife…
And of course, Annalise doing some damage.
Here you go:
Swear to god, the guys at Wyrd did a fantastic job on this. Above and beyond, really. If you follow that link to their site, you can find out more about their award-winning genre documentaries, including H.P. LOVECRAFT: FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN.
Hey, if you like the video, please do let other people know about it. Almost forgot: if I can work out the formatting, I’ll post the original trailer script tomorrow, so folks can see the differences and how things change.