POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — A Polk County resident is topping best seller lists and taking over the internet with his fantasy novels.
Will Wight is a University of Central Florida graduate. He has various novels, from “Traveler’s Gate,” “Elder Empire,” and “Cradle.” Many in the series have hit the New York Times Best Seller list in addition to topping the Kindle store.
Wight has exploded in popularity over the years after self-publishing his first novel on the Amazon Kindle store in 2013.
His passion for creating has been lifelong.
“As long ago as I can remember, I was probably 4, 5 years old. We played a game in my family where we would give each other three things, we would pick three random things… a teddy bear, an airplane and a crocodile,” Wight explained. “And we would then have to work those into a story. So we started doing that as little kids, so they’re nonsense stories.”
He said his father always told stories about his own life, but his love for fantasy content started early.
“To me, a story is only improved when there are supernatural elements in it,” he said. “It’s just better. It’s the same story, but better now. So I have always been very focused on the fantasy aspect.”
After getting his master’s degree at UCF, Wight’s family nudged him write that first book. He had previously only written short stories.
“So my family was like, ‘look, you need to put your money where your mouth is and you need to finish a novel.’ So I was like, ‘okay, I’m going to do it this time,’” Wight said.
At that time, the Kindle Select Direct Publishing Program was starting to get popular. Wight thought instead of trying to pitch his book to publishers right away, he’d put the book on Amazon to see if he would get feedback.
“I was going to try and put it on Amazon and see if I could build a following. See if people were into it, enjoying the kind of thing that I wrote. My plan there was to try and get some fan feedback, maybe make a little bit of money so I didn’t starve to death,” Wight said. “I was really trying to make like, $500 in a summer so maybe I could hopefully get a teaching position in the fall.”
“House of Blades” catapulted into popularity.
Then, came its sequel, and two more collections of books. Wight has currently written 20 books total, at the time of his next release.
Recently, he and his team created a Kickstarter to fund a release of books in physical stores, or to be ordered either in hardcover or paperback. The goal of the fundraiser was set at $10,000.
It far surpassed that.
“Our minds were blown. So we set the goal at $10,000 and that was the minimum amount we needed to complete the project [to do] a print run of the books. So we expected we would hit that. We thought it was a reasonable goal,” Wight said.
The fundraiser went live, and by the time Wight knew it was posted, it had already raised $50,000.
By the time it concluded, the Kickstarter had reached $760,462.
“The whole experience was really crazy, but it was crazy beyond anything I had expected,” he said.
Wight said the most amazing thing about his experience has been the community of fans behind his books and watching it grow. There are various forums dedicated just to his books, where he said people are constantly discussing them.
Wight said it’s fulfilling to see people get enjoyment out of his books, like he gets from his own favorite books.
He couldn’t say much about what’s in the near future, but it’s going to be an “eventful summer.”
You can keep up with him on his website and blog.