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/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/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.

Twenty Palaces not for sale

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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.

Twenty Palaces: Supernatural Noir For Your Loved Ones’ Stockings

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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:

Amazon.com

Barnes & Noble

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.

Tobias Buckell revives his moribund series via Kickstarter

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Novelist Tobias Buckell posted a longish (5K) analysis of his own successful Kickstarter project; his Xenowealth books were not as successful as he and his publisher had hoped and he stopped writing them after three books. With the support of his fans, he Kickstartered (<-- new verb, just to annoy people) book four. Then, being him, he analyzed it and shared the information. Of course, having finished the post, I found an email in my inbox directing me to it, with the idea that I could do the same with the Ray Lilly books. That's not going to happen for several reasons. His readership: My blog gets fewer than 10% of the hits that his gets. He has nearly five times the number of Twitter followers. Also, he’s much better connected with other pros who can spread the word about his books.

His series: The Xenowealth books were not sinking in sales, they were stagnant. In hardcover! Mine were mmpb and sales for each book was dropping by about 5K readers for each. Also, I have the ebook figures for the prequel, Twenty Palaces: while they’ve been okay for a book I already wrote, it’s not worth setting aside a year (or a large part of a year) for those sales. I’m planning a post on sales of the prequel, so stay tuned for that.

His productivity: Dude had major surgery and serious health issues, and yet he’s still way more prolific than I am. That matters because as I said: setting aside a year to write a book. Not to mention that, while he’s finishing his novel (and running his Kickstarter) he has short fiction coming out all over the place and blah blah blah.

Anyway, give his post a read. It’s full of interesting ideas and common sense. As for me, I’ll keep plodding along with EPIC SEQUEL WITH NO DULL PARTS.

For Halloween only, I’m giving away free copies of Twenty Palaces

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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: Download.

If you want it as an .epub: Download.

If you want it as a Kindle-ready .mobi file: Download.

If you want all three as a single .zip file: Download.

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.