AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Matt Forbeck

Tell us about your latest novel.

The latest one released is Dangerous Games: How to Win. It’s the third in my Dangerous Games series, a trilogy of thrillers set at Gen Con, the largest tabletop games convention in the nation. It’s been called “Die Hard meets Gen Con,” and that sums it up as well as anything.

I started out as a tabletop game designer, and I’ve been to over 30 Gen Cons in a row. On top of that, I’ve been a guest of honor there for 11 years running. It’s my favorite time of year, and I think that shows on every page. Allen Varney, who is also the first murder victim in the first book (Dangerous Games: How to Play) called it “a blood-soaked love letter to Gen Con,” which is perfectly true.

You did a series of Kickstarters to write 12 books in 2012. What made you decide to try for such an ambitious goal that would require such a prodigious amount of output? And how did that go?

I’d often thought I could write a book a month if I put my mind to it, and the numbers lined up too well for 2012 for me to ignore that any longer. I also had wanted to try my hand at self-publishing, and I knew any publisher would choke on that many books from any one author in a single year. It made for the perfect confluence.

The Kickstarter drives all went as well as I could have hoped. All told, they brought in around $60,000 and set me off and running. As for writing all the novels, well, I wrote ten novels, nine comic books, a few short stories, and a number of other things that year. Technically, I failed, but I failed well.

If I’d only been writing the books, I would have made the deadlines easily. However, running a Kickstarter becomes a full-time job, and I ran four of them, one for each trilogy of novels. Handling the production and release of the books after they’re written is another job entirely, and between those two things and the actual writing, I had an overfull year.

Are you planning to sell any books via the traditional route, or are you going to be funding novels exclusively via Kickstarter for the foreseeable future? Might you end up selling any of your Kickstarted novels to a traditional publisher?

If a publisher wants to make me an offer, I’d entertain it. I actually sold a novel to Tor in the middle of running all those Kickstarters. It would have been the basis of the third trilogy if they hadn’t picked it up.

I’m happy to do what makes sense for the books and for me at any given moment. It’s wonderful to have running Kickstarters and self-publishing novels as an option though. It opens up all sorts of possibilities.

In fact, Noble Beast—creators of Steampunk Holmes, which had a fantastic Kickstarter success—recently announced that they’d picked up the rights to create enhanced ebooks of Shotguns & Sorcery, my second Kickstarted trilogy. I can’t wait for everyone to read them in their new editions too.

How do you think Kickstarter and self-publishing platforms (like Amazon’s KDP, etc.) are changing publishing?  

They do two huge things, which are related. First, they give writers another option. If you don’t want to go with a traditional publisher, or haven’t managed to garner interest from one, they give you another way to get your book out there the way you want it to be. Second, they put pressure on the publishers to keep and and remain competitive. Since we’re down to only five major publishers these days, that’s a huge issue. It means that if I don’t like an offer from a publisher, I can go do a book on my own rather than have to settle for a bad deal. That means more options and more creative freedom.

What’s coming up next for you?  

At the moment, I’m writing the next edition of the Marvel Encyclopedia for DK Publishing. I’m also writing this from Shanghai, where I’m working on an iOS game for Ubisoft. On top of that, I have a couple more of those Kickstarted novels to finish off. Plus the one I sold to Tor.

It’s going to be another busy year in many wonderful ways.