From Random House to Kickstarter: PW Talks with Harry Connolly
After a traditional publishing deal and rave reviews, Connolly decided to go indie, turning to Kickstarter and self-publishing for his new epic fantasy trilogy.Harry Connolly's Twenty Palaces trilogy was published by Random House and received glowing reviews from Publishers Weekly, with the first installment, Child of Fire, named one of PW's Best Books of 2009. For his second trilogy, Connolly turned to self-publishing and crowdfunding. Within eight hours of launching his Kickstarter, he reached his goal of $10,000—and quintupled that amount by the campaign’s end.
Why did you choose to self-publish?
I did have publication offers for the Great Way [trilogy], but only after the Kickstarter met its goal on the first day. And, at least one of those offers was of the “You raised the money, we’ll help you spend it” variety. Before that, no one was interested. They wanted "grimdark," but I’d written something I could give to my pre-teen son. The nice thing about the 21st century is that I don’t have to trunk unfashionable books.
Where do you see self-publishing going and how do you think traditional publishing will react?Self-publishers have been waiting for Amazon to start treating them as a profit center and narrowing their margins. I think that’s already begun, as Kindle Unlimited skims off independent authors’ most avid readership. In the near future, I expect things to get harder for self-publishers.
As for traditional publishers, they’re already moving. For example, Random House set up a dashboard that lets me check sales figures whenever I want, just like KDP. A sliding royalty rate for e-books would be better, but it’s a start.
What are the pros and cons of crowdfunding?
A successful crowdfunding campaign gives the writer freedom, but takes away time. Precious writing time is spent shooting video, answering messages, working out pledge levels, and so on. Without crowdfunding, self-published authors give up less time, but spend more money.
Do you have any advice for authors going to the self-publishing route?
Kickstarter rewards creators with small fan bases. Modest, realistic budgets and a concerted effort to get out the word can make a campaign a success. If I did it, pretty much anyone can.