Friday, June 19, 2015

Signed, sealed, and delivered.

It's been a big week at the Sullivan household. The creative juices are flowing, and I'm 70% through the writing of The Death of Dulgath. Near as I can calculate, I'm about two weeks ahead of schedule and will have the book ready for alpha reading in mid-July.

On the Kickstarter front, the generosity of my readers (both new and veteran) is nothing short of amazing. We're not even two weeks in and have already attracted more than 1,000 backers, who have contributed more than $43,000!  We funded the hardcover print run in the first two days, and we're well on our way to funding a paperback print run. It's the next stretch goal. Speaking of stretch goals, we've unlocked four of them which will provide all kinds of added perks including new maps, a poster, signed bookmarks, signed ebooks, and print upgrades.  If things continue to go well, we might even get The Jester adapted to a graphic novel.

But the most exciting news of all is the four-book contract with Random House's Del Rey imprint is finally signed.  This takes a huge amount of pressure off of Robin (who has been doing the contract negotiations) and makes it easier for me to plan what I'll be writing next.  There was a fairly substantial "bump" in the road on the way to signing, and I'd like to take a minute to talk about it as it will effect release schedules.

There were several items that came about as part of the contract that would affect what I could release and when.
  1. No books released before the books Del Rey was publishing.
  2. No books based in Elan to come out during the term of the Del Rey contract.
  3. The first Del Rey book to be released in the summer of 2016.
With those restrictions, I didn't think we could sign. The last Riyria book came out in 2013 and it could mean that another one wouldn't hit the street until 2020. Seven years was just far too long. I didn't think that would be good for the Riyria fans (and therefore not good for me). It was sad, but I felt I would have to decline this contract even though it was (a) providing a very high advance (b) going to elevate me to hardcover status and (c) providing a nice income "safety net" for the next six years.

It was a shame, especially since all the parties wanted this deal to go through.  Not to be deterred, Robin (my wife), Laurie (my agent), and Tricia (my publisher) started working on some "creative solutions" which saved the deal.

So, what was changed?
  1. An exception was made for the Third Riyria Chronicle, as long as it was released before the end of 2015 (which would keep it a good distance from the debut book of The First Empire).
  2. We swapped out one of the First Empire books with an Elan-based book.  I have several planned, and I'm not sure which one it will end up being. A lot will depend on how well received The Death of Dulgath is. If people read it and still want more Royce and Hadrian, then it is likely it'll be another Riyria tale. Other choices include The Fall of Percepliquis (a book featuring Essrahadon and the events that toppled the first empire), a post-Riyria book that I've outlined several years ago but haven't gotten around to writing, or a new series featuring Jerish and Nevrik. But no matter what it turns out to be, we can advance more than one "Elan" series simultaneously.
  3. I'm also able to release other "non-Elan" books between the ones Del Rey is releasing.  Again I have several choices for what they may be. A sequel to Hollow World is definitely on the table, as well as a new trilogy that has been waiting in the wings. It's even possible something new will come to mind that's not even on my very long list of books to write.
With the contract finally signed, we'll be able to make announcements soon on things like "official" release dates, covers, titles, and so forth.  Keep in mind that from Del Rey's perspective their clock just started now. So although it was announced in February (and we agreed to the terms in January), they are only now able to do "real work" on the project. From my perspective, I've done what I needed to do. I submitted the final manuscript on April 28th and I'm waiting on changes from my editor.

I'm pleased that we were able to find some common ground, and I'm looking forward to partnering with Del Rey for both The First Empire and some Elan-based work. I'm also enjoying the heck out of reuniting with Royce and Hadrian and it's nice there will be a book out in 2015. All in all good, but very busy times.


  1. You are by far the most interesting test case I've seen for hybrid publishing, and I read posts like this with great interest. This is certainly a good argument for having an agent and/or business manager (Robin) to handle these sorts of things while (I assume) leaving you to focus on creating the product. I know most artists cringe at having their works referred to in that way, but that's the business reality of what we (okay, you) do.

  2. I found you by searching for highly rated audible authors and I am glad I did. To this day you appear to me to be the most approachable (yet successful) authors I have seen in a while. Most times readers are going through an assistant... I really think the interaction with your readers helps tremendously. Keep it up, and good luck to you.

  3. . Current schedule has me finishing up today or tomorrow, and I'll probably only need a week for pre-alpha changes. That means Robin might get the book as early as July 15th. Website