Sunday, February 27, 2011

Tuesday should have been a good day...

Tuesday at least started out well. The announcment that Orbit was going to release my series was like graduating from a thirty year college. At long last my dream achieved. I was anxious to share this with those who helped, who cheered me on, those who supported me. I was pretty happy…for about two hours. After that I had to seriously ask myself if I ever wanted to write again.

While many comments here and elsewhere have been positive, there has been a good number that have not. Readers have vented frustration at not being able to obtain a complete set of the printed series. Some have accused me of orchestrating this in order to resell the series to make more money. Others have directed their anger at Orbit (apparently because all publishers are the devil incarnate.) Still others are just mad that they will have to wait eleven more months for the final book.

I suppose it was naive of me to expect everyone would be happy at this turn of events. I knew that those who had purchased the print editions would want the full set. To be honest, I want the full set, too. I spent six years making this series. I wrote it, edited it, designed the covers, the interior layouts, all the little symbols, and the back cover texts. Just imagine how much I would like to have the series that I created sitting on my shelf at home.

So why am I signing with Orbit if that won’t happen? It’s not because of the money. Orbit did offer me a generous advance, but given my present sales, I would very likely make more money selling independently. The reason is despite the surge in electronic sales, ebooks still only make up a fraction of the total books sold. There are venues I can’t access with Ridan. These are audiences I can’t reach without Orbit. Also the legitimacy of a major publisher allows for an increased chance to offer the books worldwide.

While I greatly regret disappointing all of you who wanted that six book set (and disappointing myself as well,) I had to weigh that frustration against all those others who will never have the chance to know my books exist. There is still a large segment of the population that refuse to purchase anything through the Internet. Most of my family is this way, which is why you don’t see reviews by them on Amazon. I thought it was more important to give the largest number of people the chance to read these books.

Why is Orbit producing a trilogy as opposed to a six book set? Actually that has more to do with you readers than Orbit. I have read numerous comments and emails where readers have berated my books for their length. Fantasy readers have come to expect thick books. Anything short of six hundred pages is considered a cheat. Some have even accused Ridan of purposely dividing the story into six books as a means of making more money. (Once again denouncing publishers as the devil—not realizing that Ridan is a company my wife created.) The interesting thing is that the Orbit’s version of Riyria will very likely be cheaper as readers will be getting two books for the price of one. Orbit’s reasoning is that readers appreciate longer books for their money, and that it will make it easier for readers to find the whole series on bookstore shelves. With six books, invariably there will always be one or two volumes missing. So for those of you who think Orbit is the “bad guy” here, you might want to reconsider.

In any case, I’ve asked Orbit to help those who want that last book. I did this knowing that if I were Orbit I would refuse. The vast majority purchased ebook versions, and producing a small run of the sixth book would be logistically difficult to make available. I fully expected Orbit to immediately, refuse, and yet they haven’t. At the present time they are considering a POD and ebook solution for the last book. The subject is still being debated and I’ll keep you informed as to what can be done. For those that are interested, send an email to indicating how many copies you are interested in so I can get an idea of the counts required.

After reading the barrage of messages I received, many of them surprisingly negative, I have to admit, I felt like crap. The deal with Orbit will grant me the ability to devote more time to writing and make my work available to a larger audience. I would have thought this is what you would have wanted as well. But now, quite frankly, I’m so depressed I can’t even think about doing the remaining edits on Percepliquis, much less writing anything else.

All I can say is, I’m sorry I let some of you down. I have only ever wanted to do the best I could by everyone—including Royce and Hadrian.


  1. You are a fantastic author and I am thrilled your books are going to hit the big time. People tend to get angry very quickly at things and write things they don't really mean. As long as we get to read the final book, it doesn't really matter how in the grand scheme of things. Objects are just objects that will fade and be forgotten in the end. Hopefully most of your, initially angry fans will come to see that. Please don't be depressed.

    I would definitely purchase a limited run if one so happened, but I won't be emailing you as I simply want to read the story, and don't believe you should have to deal with this tomfoolery.

    I'm happy you made it big. I hope your books bring smiles to other peoples faces, as they do mine.

  2. I regret my previous "entitled book reader" post. I plan on gifting the trilogy to internet friends when it comes out to make up for my wrong-doings. Though that will not make up for my unkind words entirely it's the best I can do. I will also not be buying any limited runs as I regret my internet-asshole behavior too much.
    Remorsefully yours,

  3. Michael, there's one very important thing you're overlooking (understandably so) about these negative emails; the way I see it, the people who are frustrated and angry are feeling this way because of how much they enjoyed your work. :) Think about it - they enjoy the novels so much that they voice their opinions! That's *!incredible!* Sure, they are frustrated and angry - if Steven Erikson had said that The Crippled God would have been released a year later than it was supposed to, the reaction would have been the same, but that reaction comes from enjoying his series so much.

    I really think that everyone who has voiced their opinion are massive fans of your work - they feel personally invested in the books and the characters and the story, that's why their reactions are so strong. They may sound pissed off, but they are actually suffering from withdrawal, because they'll have to wait to finish the tale begun in The Crown Conspiracy. :)

    Sales are one thing, but generating this kind of reaction is absolutely awesome, because they are all true fans - they want to read the book, and they *will* read the book - you've created something that resonated (and will continue to do so) with many, many readers, and when such strong reactions rear their heads it's an indication of just how much people enjoy what you've written. :)

    I bet none of those emails condemned the characters or the story, right? The focus is on the wait. That says volumes about your fans. :)

  4. Hang in there, brother.

    I saw those comments coming in and felt bad for you. Being in the trenches (and taking my own set of lumps for the last book in my own series) I can relate.

    As others have pointed out, you can't please everybody and the complaints are largely based on a huge emotional commitment to your books.

    That's the kind of attachment you have to earn word by word, story by story and it doesn't come easily and it's not free.

    Hang in there.

  5. Oh, good, you're back. :) Take a deep breath. Read Kipling's "If." The readers who are giving you grief aren't the reason you started writing, and they won't be the reason you stop.

  6. As my husband used to say about tuning a dish, when he owned a satellite installation business in the 80s, the picture quality doesn't only ever get worse (he literally would scream that at me from the backyard by the dish).

    It's 'human nature' to criticize, find fault and bring attention to the negative.

    The best antidote I found came from one of my son's competition judo coaches at a national camp. As a coach (and this can be applied to anyone, not just coaches), find ten positive things to say before a negative one.

    So try not to take the negativity personally. And, as Dave said above, you're readers wouldn't be upset unless they loved your work.

    Congratulations again for the Orbit contract. I will happily await the publication of the end of the series in whatever form and on whatever timeline you work out with Orbit.

  7. I was disappointed with the fact that I won't get to read Percepliquis in April because I was really looking forward to it but I am absolutely thrilled that you and Orbit may release an e-book version sooner rather than later. Thanks so much for caring for us, readers!

    Yes, I'd definitely be buying an e-book version! Please feel better!!!

  8. As it has allready been stated by people more eloquent than me: people are emotionally invested in your works and they want it now, and in all probability they never even want the story to stop as they have come to love the characters. The anonymity of teh interwebs have a tendency to do unfortunate things to how people express themselves.

    I find the story of your way to success aswell as that of Ridan Publishing to be quite inspirational, and I tended to refer to both as primary examples whenever I discuss the new wave of media and publishing with friends and family.

    For my part, anything not e-book is to be considered bad news as I am required to drive 4 hours each way to pick up a parcel from amazon (and I don't have a car), so I was initally upset about the possibility of not ever being able to buy and read the final book, aswell as future works (clearly ridiculus in hindsight).

  9. I'm sorry that it's been so awful. I really am so excited for you, and I can't figure out why people are saying you are a sell-out.

    Any chance you can explain the new names? I realize that by combining the books, they needed new titles (or some weird combination), but how did you/Orbit come up with these particular titles?

    Best of luck with everything before you.

  10. The world needs to meet Hadrian and Royce - they, as Scott said in a previous blog, need to be household fantasy names. Orbit can help Michael introduce them to more and more people. This is TERRIFIC news! Some of the fans are so concerned about how this affects them only that they have missed the big picture. But they will realize the error of their ways. Don't let it get you down, Michael! We love you and your wonderful, wonderful story!

  11. Michael, I apologize.

    I'm one of the negative, accusatory commenters. Perhaps my comments would have been less cutting if I hadn't just been taking out the books from boxes where they have been housed while new bookcases were being installed. I took the five books from a box, turned to my wife and said "I really love this series, and Ridan has done a beautiful job with the books. I can hardly wait for the final volume!"

    The next morning I read your post on signing with Orbit, and the previous days' statement rang in my mind.

    Sometimes we collectors of books get pretty touchy about things like matched sets, as I'm sure you know. But I did overreact. I absolutely would love to have the matched set. A POD solution sounds like a great plan to me. (Not an e-book only because I'm really, really a paper-and-ink person, being 66 years old can do that). Otherwise I'll be buying the three volumes, like so, so many others.

    What Dave-Brendon de Burgh said, above, is spot on. If I didn't love your writing, the plot, characters, setting, sense of place, world you've created, I wouldn't care two hoots. Matter of fact I wouldn't have bought the second book, let alone the rest.

    You should be very proud of your accomplishment, and as a reader I can only hope for even better things in the future, and great success for you. That means digging in and finishing the edits, making the three volume set as good as it can be and allowing it to be published as soon as possible!

  12. I didn't see the negative comments posted by Blueberry Muffin and Richard R but I wanted to give them respect for writing public apologies. It's none of my business but I think that takes a lot of guts and heart.

  13. I would like to share a short conversation with you. I was speaking to a friend that I had shared your works with, "You remember that great Indie author that I told you about? The one with the wonderful characters? I checked his blog to check #6 and sure enough the series has been p/u by Orbit." "So what does that mean for the series?" "They are changing it from 6 books to a trilogy that comes out in Nov." "Oh no we have wait!" "Yep but it's pretty cool that he got picked up! We have great taste the rest of the world will catch up hahaha!" "No doubt, we get to say we were reading MJS when he was indie!" ........My point in sharing my conversation from Friday night is to let you know your readers true feelings! Of COURSE we are bummed that we have to wait to see if our "knight" & "theif" are going to save each other and the kingdom! But we are loyal and happy for you, just a tad selfish. We love your writing and your characters and we know they will be hugely popular! I will be purchasing the trilogy for my bookshelf and my children. Passion through heated words is passion just the same and that is all you have generated, feel blessed and talented not depressed.

  14. Libby - I didn't think the dialogue was served by my leaving my negative, frustrated comments up. Basically I suggested it was a bummer to have to wait, to be forced, for gain, to have to re-purchase book 5 and that I really, really wanted a book 6 that matched the existing set I'd bought. I can't say I still don't want that stuff, but the suggestions that Michael was a bad person were just inappropriate. Anguish is one thing, accusation another very different one. I was out of line and it was right for me to admit it.

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