A letter to Baby Author Me

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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.

I don’t hate Valentine’s Day

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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…

Twenty Palaces fading

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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.

Reviews, Part 32

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1) David Marshall at Thinking About Books didn’t much care for Circle of Enemies: “However, there are so many people who wander in and out of view during this novel that there’s little time to get to know any of them and no incentive to invest any empathy in caring what happens to them. There’s a lot of action, as I said, but although we are advancing steadily towards the end, this book feels less satisfying than the other two.”

2) Martin Sutherland at Legends of the Sun Pig gives positive reviews to the entire series: “I love finding new series, and this was a winner.

3) Kate Shaw at Skunk Cat Book Reviews liked Twenty Palaces: “Like the other books in the series, this one’s a helluva ride. The action starts fast and doesn’t let up.”

4) Jim Henley at Unqualified Offerings liked Twenty Palaces but was unhappy with the typos: “But Twenty Palaces stands right now as the most recent representation of Harry Connolly in the book market. It deserved more care in its presentation. Happily, the story is good enough to make it worth overlooking the vessel’s flaws.

5) Thomas Galvin at Book Club liked Twenty Palaces: “If you like stories about the world behind the world, Lovecraftian monsters, and the nigh-unstoppable badasses fighting against them, the Twenty Palaces series is for you.

6) Bethany Warner at Word Nerd has listed me as the 2011 Discovered Author. Thank you!

7) Screenwriter Bill Martell at Sex in a Sub liked Circle of Enemies very much: “Makes a great holiday gift for people who like twisted violent stuff!

New site bookstore, and other things

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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. [Deleted]

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.

Twenty Palaces update

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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.

For folks ordering Twenty Palaces through my website

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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.

The Twenty Palaces post

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As promised, finally, I have the Twenty Palaces prequel ready for sale. Here’s the cover:

Twenty Palaces Cover

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.

Buy here:

Amazon.com | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | KoboSmashwords

Thanks for reading, folks.

It’s Official: The Twenty Palaces Series Has Been Cancelled (long)

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(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.)

(Third update: This cancelled series is sort of uncanceled. Self-published novellas seem like a viable path forward, and that’s what I’m trying. Check out my books page for new entries into the series.)

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.

What? Why?

Well, Pretend Questioner, let me address that in a very long blog post Continue reading

SFBC Omnibus Editions Have Arrived

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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.