Friday, February 27, 2015

One of a kind

Not long ago I did a giveaway for one of my books, The Crown Tower. I wanted to make it special...really special. So, I asked my daughter to personalize the book by doing a drawing in it. I thought she'd do a doodle of Royce or Hadrian...instead she did an excellent montage from the novel. It was so good that I thought I should share it with everyone.

If you want to see some of Sarah's other Riyria inspired artwork, you can view them here.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Hello, my name is Майкъл Дж Съливан killed my father...ah, okay, maybe not.

Sorry, I couldn't resist. So, for those that didn't see my Facebook post, I recently discovered that Майкъл Дж Съливан is how the people of Bulgaria spell Michael J. Sullivan. I'd love to know how it is pronounced. That in itself is a new revelation...but I also discovered some covers that I didn't know about previously.

When it comes to foreign translations, sometimes the author is the last to know. Yes, I'm aware of contracts I've signed but knowing when the books are released is another matter.  I apologize to the people of Bulgaria for not being "up to date" on the releases of my books.

But now that I know about them, I'm so pleased with how they came out, and I wanted to share them with everyone else.  So first up are the covers for the six books of The Riyria Revelations. The covers are from the amazing Marc Simonetti.  The first three were done for the French editions and re-licensed for the Bulgarian editions. But then the publisher from France decided to switch over from the "six book" versions to the "three book" versions so they didn't have graphics for the remaining three books. MBG Books was releasing the books quickly and needed a fast solution for the last three book's covers. So they picked some other images by Marc,  of the series and so there  weren't corresponding drawings for the other books. Thinking fast, the publisher utilized some existing art from Marc and all in all they work pretty well.

With a little more time under their belt, the publisher commissioned covers for the two Riyria Chronicle books.  I'm not sure who the artist is, but when I find out I'll let you know.  I really like them.  The first depicts the famed Crown Tower, which Royce and Hadrian scale on their first job together.  The second one I can't tell you what it depicts, as it would be a spoiler to the book.  But those who have read Revelations could probably guess about what "past fire" it shows.

The titles of the books (and series) are:

Откровенията на Ририя » Revelations of Ririya
  • Конспирация за короната » Conspiracy to crown
  • Авемпарта » Avemparta
  • Нифрон се въздига » Nifron rises
  • Изумрудената буря » Emerald storm
  • Зимният фестивал  » Winter festival
  • Персепликуис  » Perseplikuis 
Хрониките на Ририя » Chronicles of Ririya
  • Короносната кула » Koronosnata tower
  • Розата и бодилът » Rose and bodilat

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Best Books of 2014: SF Signal Special Needs in Strange Worlds

Sarah Chorn has a great recurring column at SF SIGNAL: Special Needs in Strange Worlds
where she highlights books focusing on and celebrating disabilities in science fiction and fantasy. What a great idea! Yesterday, she came out with the best books in 2014 and I'm thrilled to find Hollow World on it.  That's the twelfth time my little science fiction project has made a "best of" or "most anticipated list."

Sarah asked Mieneke van der Salm and Paul Weimer to help her come up with the final list of 13 titles:
  • Half a King by Joe Abercrombie
  • Stranger by Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith
  • Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis
  • Binary by Stephanie Saulter
  • Premonitions by Jamie Schultz
  • War Dogs by Greg Bear
  • Full Fathom Five by Max Gladstone
  • Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley
  • Lock In by John Scalzi
  • Afterparty by Daryl Gregory
  • Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop
  • We Are All Completely Fine by Daryl Gregory
  • Hollow World by Michael J. Sullivan

So if you like characters who are slightly off the norm, then check out some of these books...and tune in for Sarah's ongoing column where she reviews books and interviews author's. I've found some very entertaining reads through the column. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

First Empire Giveaways

The giveaways for the limited edition copies of Rhune are going AMAZINGLY well. I'm so glad people are excited for this new series. There are already more than 3,000 people signing up on goodreads. How crazy is that?

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Rhune by Michael J. Sullivan


by Michael J. Sullivan

Giveaway ends April 15, 2015.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

If you want significantly better odds, don't forget the parallel giveaways:

All giveaways are open to people from all countries, and you can enter in all four to increase you chances of winning.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Riyria Facebook Page

Way back in September 2011, Orbit made a Facebook page for The Riyria Revelations. At the time they were doing some pretty cool stuff with "like unlocking." Every time we hit a new milestone a bit more of Theft of Swords would be posted for people to read.  It was a cool idea.

Over the past several years, they have been running the page for me, and from time to time I'd give them some information to post.  They did a nice job, but still it was frustrating having to go through them for the updating...especially given they have more than just me to worry about ;-).

So, they have turned admin of the site back over to me.  I'm expanding it to be a site for both the Riyria Revelations and The Riyria Chronicles - so I've changed the image on the top, and started adding in some new stuff.  Here is what it looks like now:

I'm definitely NOT an expert when it come to Facebook, but seeing when people comment or post to it will certainly help with how timely my replies will be.  Hopefully I'll get better with it over time. If you haven't "liked it yet" - then please do. It's a great way to share your love for Riyria with your Facebook community.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Labyrinth of Flame Kickstarter

Anyone who knows me, knows I'm a huge fan of Kickstarter. I've only done one so far (for Hollow World) and it was a huge success. My plan was to raise $3,000 and by the time it was done, I had raised more than $32,000.  Part of why I did the Kickstarter was to prove to myself, and other traditionally published authors, that a Kickstarter might be a great way to launch their own works.

Too many times I've heard about projects that get "shelved" because no publisher would make an offer (or the offer was just too low to consider), or a series has been "orphaned" (some books released through a traditional house but not the entire series).  Usually the orphan comes about about because something bad befalls the author:
  • They missed a delivery deadline and the publisher didn't offer more time
  • The acquisitions editor left the company and the new editor assigned just isn't enthused. 
  • The publisher goes bankrupt
  • The publisher is acquired by another organization
  • Sales were too low to justify additional books in the series
To me these are GREAT reasons to run a Kickstarter! 

Today, I'm here to tell you of one such case.  And it's for the book The Labyrinth of Flame by Courtney Schafer.

Courtney was one one many authors who went were published through Nightshade Books, and ran into any number of hiccups because of it. For those that don't know, Nightshade ran into some hard times, as many small presses do, and as it neared bankruptcy it sold it's assets (author's books) to two different entities (one who handles print, the other who handles ebooks).  At the time, Courtney had already signed the first two books of her series to Nightshade (The Whitefire Crossing and The Tainted City) who released them.

But given what had been going on in the series, she retained her rights to the third and final guessed it. The Labyrinth of Flame.

Courtney did the best thing she could do in such a situation. She took control of her own intellectual property, decided to release it the BEST way possible, and started a Kickstarter to help fund the process.  Hence, the Kickstarter was born!  Courtney is self-publishing "the right way" - by hiring the same professionals that worked on the traditionally-published versions of her books.  So you can trust that the quality will be "top notch" because the Kickstarter has helped to make that so.

Courtney has already funded, which I knew she would, and now comes the really exciting time...reaching stretch goals.  This is where backers can get extra special things that are just really hard to do in anyway outside a Kickstarter.  Her first goal is to reach $6,000 and that will unlock a short story created from the point of view of a character of the backers choice! (There will be a poll to vote on).

As soon as the Kickstarter went life, I became a backer...and my wife, Robin, even helped Courtney when she was going through the process to setting up her project. I hope you'll at least take a look at it and see if this might be a series you'd be interested in.  And if you've already read and loved any of Courtney's other books, then you absolutely should back this as it will get your hands on copies of this yet to be released book.  In case you missed the four other links I added to the Kickstarter elsewhere in this post, I'll include it here as well!  Just click on the graphic below:

Friday, February 20, 2015

New books and audio

Now that the news is out about Riyria Chronicle #3 in 2015, and Rhune in the summer of 2016, I want to talk a bit about the audio releases. Two reasons for this. First, the reader/listeners are very curious about the audio versions of these books. Second, it might help some authors as they are navigating their careers.

Let me start by jumping in the way back machine to the time I was moving the Riyria Revelations from self-publishing to traditional.  I was negotiating my first contract and trying to get my agent to withhold the audio rights.  She tried but failed.  My thought was if I didn't control the works, there would be no audio.  They would be "sat" on...and I hate rights that are "tied up" and not doing anything for me.

Well, not long after Riyria started coming out, Recorded Books, the largest independent audio producer approached Orbit and asked to buy the rights.  Because it was a subsidiary deal, I had no say in the decision...not whether it could be done, not who the narrator would be, nothing.

I got VERY lucky.  Tim Gerard Reynolds was picked to be the narrator, and he did an AMAZING job. Without I doubt I credit him with the huge success of my audio books.  If you  haven't heard Tim, I highly recommend you do.  And here is a free way to do so.


Above are two free short stories. Just click on their covers and you'll go to their pages on They are around an hour long, and well worth the listen.

Okay, so back to my story.  The audio books sold amazingly well.  So much so that if you look at my sales for The Riyria Revelations in the first year and a half the break down is...

Yes, I was selling more audio books than print!  That was the good news.  The bad news was that I was getting very little money for this because there were so many fingers in the pie.  For each audio download, I had to split the money I received  50/50 with Orbit.  Why?  Because they held the right and sold it to Recorded Books through a subsidiary arrangement. Ouch!

Okay, so it came time to negotiate the contract for The Riyria Chronicles.  Again, I told my agent, "You have to hold back the audio rights."  I wasn't worried about them being "sat" on, but I had two different concerns.  First I wanted to make sure that Tim Gerard Reynolds continued to be the "Voice of Riyria," and second, I didn't like losing half the money.

Again, we failed at keeping the rights.  Orbit wanted to hold on to them again, but they would move the production to Hachette Audio, which means I wouldn't have to split the income.  From a money perspective that was better for me, but I worried about moving the books away from Recorded Books.  So, when all was said and done we decided it was worth the cut in pay to keep "the winning formula."  I don't regret that decision.

All right, so keeping back the audio rights didn't work, and I had my doubts if I would EVER be able to retain them. So it was time for a new approach...sell them FIRST.  This way, by the time the new books would be negotiated, the right would already be gone.  There was a gamble with this could be that if the publisher couldn't have these rights, they wouldn't make any offer.  But given how valuable the audio market was, I just couldn't afford to continue as I was.

Of course, Recorded Books was interested in signing me directly, and another audio company started calling, then audible jumped into the Fhrey (little First Empire joke). The books weren't even written, so there wasn't even something for them to read, but they didn't care.  They believed in me and my works.

But I had a condition...a very big one. Tim Gerard Reynolds had to be the narrator for the project.  All three said that wouldn't be a problem.  It was a hard decision. Recorded Books was offering me the least amount of money, but promised to enroll the books into their library distribution system. Adding that would significantly increase their exposure...this was huge, as the number of books in that program is very small.  Plus, they had been so good to me in the past.  I felt they really valued me and my work, and that goes a LONG way with me.  The "big cheese" of the company came down for the book launch of Hollow World and wined and dined me. But, later that night they sealed the deal.

Over dinner, I was lamenting how everyone gets rich on audio books but two and Tim. Audiobook narrators are usually part of a union that works hard to increase their pay, but it is still not very much when you consider the millions a successful audio book brings in.  As the Recorded Books people were leaving, the publisher came up to me. "I heard what you said, and you make a good point, I'm going back to the office, and when I get there, I'm going to give Tim a bonus equal to what he was paid for his work to date.  And, if you sign with us, I'll commit to doing the same for The First Empire books...he'll get paid double his usual rate," he said, and I was sold.  Deal done.

So, the First Empire series was sold to Recorded Books.  They will be releasing them the same time Del Rey does; I don't have to split my money with the publisher, and Tim gets double his rate. Hooray!

Now I had to decide what to do with the next Riyria Chronicle book. I mentioned how "good to me" Recorded Books has been, but I also get worried when all my eggs are in one basket. In addition, Audible has also been really good to me.  They have featured my books in a number of big promotions and produced and pushed my "freebie" short story, The Jester. Having this available has also been a huge part of my successful audio presence. In addition, they offered a very attractive advance and presented some fabulous marketing ideas. Having the power of their marketing could raise the level of all my books. So, I signed that book over to them.

That's a rather long story, but I thought some might find some of the "behind the scenes" stuff interesting. For the TL:DR crowd: I found a way to keep my audio rights, ensured Tim Gerard Reynolds would be the narrator, and have two partners I'm really happy about.