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

Authors Helping Authors: 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.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Third Riyria Chronicle planned for 2015 - Welcome back Royce and Hadrian!

This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone, as I've talked about in other posts and various forums (goodreads, reddit), but I'm making an "official" announcement.  There WILL be a third Riyria Chronicle book, and if all goes to plan, it will be released in 2015.

Let me back up a bit and discuss the existence of a third book. When I wrote the first two books in the Riyria Chronicles, I did so knowing there was a very real possibility that they would be the only books in this prequel series. The reason is simple...I didn't want Royce and Hadrian to overstay their welcome and be "that guy," the one who doesn't know when to stop and winds up ruining something that was once enjoyable.

So, my plan then, as now, is to release a book, and then put my ear to the ground and see if there is still interest in more. If there is, then I have plenty more stories that I would love to share. If not, then I'm grateful for the time we've all had with these lovable rogues. It didn't take long after the release of The Rose and Thorn to determine that the readers still wanted more, but the question was when and how.

As most know from other recent announcements, I've been busy with The First Empire. Writing this series turned out to be a longer project than I anticipated (growing from 3 books to 5).  Now that I have the publishing details of that project determined (sold to Del Rey for release in the summer of 2016), I can turn my attention to the release of this third book.
One thing that I think is very important to an author's career is frequent book releases.  So far, I've been successful at that.  My releases have been:
  • Oct 2008: The Crown Conspiracy released through AMI  
  • Apr 2009: Avempartha was released through self-publishing
  • Oct 2009: Nyphron Rising released through self-publishing
  • Jan 2010: The Crown Conspiracy rights revert and it is re-released through self-publishing
  • Apr 2010: The Emerald Storm released through self-publishing
  • Oct 2010: Wintertide released through self-publishing
  • Nov 2011: Theft of Swords released through Orbit
  • Dec 2011: Rise of Empire released by Orbit
  • Jan 2012: Heir of Novron released by Orbit
  • Aug 2013: The Crown Tower released by Orbit
  • Sep 2013: The Rose and the Thorn released by Orbit
  • Apr 2014: Hollow World released via self (ebook) and Tachyon Publications (print)

Since Rhune's release won't be until the summer of 2016, that left a big gap (more than two years) between it and my last book. Releasing the third Chronicle between during that time becomes the obvious choice.

Because this book is not yet written, there is no way I could use  traditional publishing and have it released in 2015.  So, I've decide to self-publish this release, and shoot to have it out later this year. While I'm making this announcement, I should also discuss the audio book version. I'll make a more detailed post tomorrow, but for now let me just say two things.  First, the audio rights for this title have been sold, and the intention is to release it simultaneously with the print/ebook.  And secondly, Tim Gerard Reynolds has been attached to the project, and he will be doing the narration.

Oh, and two last things I should mention...I do plan on having various pre-sales promotions for this book: giveaways, signed copies, bookmarks, bookplates, sample chapters, short stories, etc. If you want to be notified of such things, then you can sign up at this link.

Also, if you are on goodreads, you can  already add the book to your shelf by clicking on this link.  There are two very good reasons for doing so.  First, goodreads will notify you when the book is officially published, so you won't have to keep checking back with me on that date.  And second, some of the promotional giveaways I mentioned above will have "extra" entries for "early adopters."  For instance, those that shelf the book in February may have five entries in drawings while those in March might get four and those in April three, and so on.   Well, that's about all for now.

As you can see, it's been a very busy time for me...and Robin (who handles all this "business stuff"). But I'm trying to keep everyone updated as soon as possible. Tomorrow I'm going to dig a little deeper into the audio side of things.  Until then, I hope you are as excited as I am about more Royce and Hadrian.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Do you want to read Rhune before Summer 2016?

Well, some lucky people will be able to.  I printed up a few copies of the "beta" version of Rhune and these signed, numbered, and limited edition copies will be available through a  number of giveaways.

The contest is open to people from all countries and there are a number of ways to win.
Most of these are pretty straight-forward, but I should explain "The Dark Room" a bit.  This is a secret and private group on goodreads for fans of my writing. Because it's secret, it doesn't show up on your group list, and any posts you make in it don't appear in your friend feeds.  The fact that it is private means you have to be invited and approved...which I'll do as part of this giveaway.

So what goes on in the Dark Room?  Well, all kinds of things such as:
  • This is where I pull beta readers from
  • I can leak information that isn't public yet
  • We can talk about books
  • You can ask me questions
  • I can giveaway stuff not available to the general public
  • Other cool things but you have to join to see them
It's a really cool group, and I hope you'll join us there.
Now, about the copies that I'm giving away.  These are NOT the final version of the book.  What we have here is essentially the version that went to the second beta group (with a few fixed typos). There will definitely be changes, such as:
  • Feedback from the second beta test
  • Some things that need to be adjusted once I finish the last book
  • Editorial feedback from my editor at Del Rey
  • Copy edits, line edits, and final proof reading
So yes, the final book will be different, and yes, you will find typos and grammar issues, but it's still "pretty clean." For the winners, they'll be able to see the difference between an interim and the final version that won't come out until the summer of 2016.  So what is the book about?  Well, here's the initial "back of the book blurb."



In the land of the Rhune, trees can tell the future; raow can’t sleep before adding more human bones to their beds; crimbals steal children through secret doors in the forest, and the gods are beyond reproach. But Raithe does the unthinkable when his father is slain…he fights back. From this act of aggression rises the legend of the God Killer, the seeds of rebellion, and the question of whether the Fhrey are truly gods, after all.

 Before the Dark Ages, there was the age of Myth and Legend. Before kings and castles, there were mystics and heroes. Before Riyria, mankind lived in the shadow of the Fhrey, but that is about to change. Discover a new world by Michael J. Sullivan, the best-selling author of The Riyria Revelations and The Riyria Chronicles.

 The First Empire is a standalone series, and all five books were written before the first one was published. While set in the same world as the Riyria books, it takes place thousands of years in the past. As such, no prior knowledge is required to enjoy the book to its fullest. For those who have read Riyria, you’ll discover certain details about Elan’s past weren't entirely accurate—the difference between myth and reality. Now you can learn the true story of how Novron/Nyphron saved mankind from extinction and founded the First Empire alongside Persephone, the love of his life.

Books in the First Empire include Rhune, Dherg, Rhist, Phyre, and Fhrey.

Note: Covers and titles are interim only, and final versions will be produced by Random House's Del Rey design team.


Saturday, February 14, 2015

Royce Blackwater has never looked so good!

I don't think there is any honor greater than having someone name a child or beloved pet after one of your characters. Some time ago on Facebook, I was contacted by Andrea, who had recently named her new black dog, Royce. Well, it's been a few months and Royce is now almost seven months old.  Oh, where does the time go? She was nice enough to share some pictures of her "Royce", and they were so adorable I asked if I could share them here.  So, without further ado, I give you Royce as you've never seen him before, all he needs is a hooded cloak, but that would obscure his wonderful face.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Details about the release dates of The First Empire

Since Wednesday's announcement about The First Empire being picked up by Del Rey, I've been getting a lot of questions about scheduling and the new series. If you missed the announcements here are some links:
Now, I need to take a step back and explain something for those people who aren't familiar with how I write.  Before the first book in a series is released, I write all the other books so I know where the whole story is going to wind up. (An exception for The Riyria Chronicles which isn't so much a  "series" but a string of books with the same characters.)  But there is a big difference between "written" and "ready for publishing." I mention this because it relates to release dates.  So, since so many people have been asking about those, let me fill in some details relating to when the books will come out.

Summer 2016 - Release of Book #1 - Rhune

Knowing that I write the entire series, the first question people are asking me is, "Why is it taking so long to release the first book? Does it really take a year and a half?"  Well, let me explain. In general, a publisher needs a year (or sometimes longer) to do all their magic, including editing, cover design, promotion, early reading copies, and so forth. But at this time Del Rey can't  even start any of that stuff.  So while the "waiting clock" is starting to tick for the readers, the "production" clock hasn't yet started for the publisher.  So why can't they start?  Well, several reasons. 

  • We don't have a signed contract yet. All we've done is agreed on the "big items" but until we both have signatures on paper, it makes no sense for them to start working on a project.

  • Del Rey doesn't have the "official manuscript" yet. What they have is what I sent them in January, with is essentially the state of the book as it entered the second beta.

Okay, so let's dig a little deeper and explain what will need to happen from here. Let's start with the contract, it can take weeks to get it to me, then the parties will "negotiate" minor aspects of each clause. We've already agreed on the "big items" but getting all the i's dotted and t's crossed could take months.  For the Orbit deal, I think we agreed on terms in October 2010 and signed in March of 2011.

As to the "official manuscript,"  I'm still writing the last book. If all goes well, it'll be finished in April or May. But until that story is written, I don't want to give Del Rey a manuscript because I might need to make changes. In fact, I already know of a few things I need to adjust, but there is no reason to start those until after I finish the series.  Plus, the second beta is finishing up and Robin has a number of changes for me to consider from that. Again, I want to work on Rhune (book one), and once I have all the facts I will. Given what's outstanding I predict that the earliest Del Rey can have their "official manuscript for acceptance" will be June or July.  So their plans to release in Summer 2016 is in line with a "year after the book is received" timeline.

What will be the interval between books?

Because all the books are written, there are a lot of people who are expecting to read them in quick succession. This is probably complicated by the fact that Orbit released all six books of the Riyria Revelations in a 69 day period (Nov 2011 - Jan 2012). 

I should point out that there is no bit difference between The Riyria Revelations and The First Empire.  First, five of the six books of Revelations were already published when Orbit was handed them.  So they were fully edited at contract signing.  Yes, they still had to do their structural, copy, and line editing, as well as final layout and proofing. But they were fully polished when we signed. The books of The First Empire are not at that level at this time.

Just as the first book still needs some attention by me, the other books will as well...and they need a lot more attention than Rhune does You see that first book has been through:
  • An alpha read and critique
  • Edit from me based on the alpha
  • A beta read and critique
  •  Edits from me based on the beta
  • Another beta read and critique
And as I stated it still needs another round of edits from me before submission.  But books two through five have only had their "alpha read" completed.  All those other steps are still pending. I don't have a list of issues yet, and even if I did, I couldn't start working on them now. I still have to finish the last book and make the changes to the first book.

The alpha critique can take several months to finish, and the beta read process generally takes three months as well. Because there is only one of me and Robin (who does the alpha reading and organization of the beta), alpha), we have to work serially, not in parallel.

The other thing to keep in mind is that Del Rey is doing both a hardcover and a paperback release. Generally, there is some period of time between these releases...and that also has to be taken into consideration. Maybe I'll discuss the reasons for this in a future article. But in any case, they need some distance between these two releases.

Right now, my focus is on book five and soon it will shift back to book one.  Once those are done, and I know what changes will be required, the people at Del Rey and I will discuss the various possible release schedules for the other books. Then, I'll work backward from those dates to ensure the other books are ready by the deadlines we come up with.

What about other books?

This is another factor that will affect the release dates. I'm constantly being asked by readers for more Royce and Hadrian (Riyria) and additional stories featuring Ellis and Pax (Hollow World).  I really don't want to put off those readers while The First Empire is being rolled out.  Ideally, I'd like to progress each of the three series a bit at a time. So, my plan is that between First Empire books, I should be able to release other titles. But this can only happen if there is a "distance" between the First Empire stories. It's important to me that my other projects don't interfere with Del Rey's marketing efforts. The way to prevent this is to have a "window" around their release dates, in which I won't put out my other books.  I did this with Orbit and I plan on doing that with Del Rey as well.  So, since the books can't come out in back-to-back months anyway, I'll be putting out my other books in the gaps between their books.  Make sense?

How big of a gap will that be?  Again we haven't finalized that yet, but the bottom line is I plan on having  a steady stream of books by both me and Del Rey to keep the readers "well fed."

Wrapping it all up

I know that really didn't help much as far as exact release dates, but hopefully it helps to describe the process and some of the details about how such things are determined.  Of course, as soon as I know more, I'll let you all know.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

I have a new 4-book deal!

The announcement was made official yesterday in Publisher's Marketplace so I can now openly talk about this.  My new series will be released through Random House's fantasy imprint Del Rey, and I couldn't be happier!

Since that news is now out, I can also announce the audio deal, which was actually inked last year. I wanted to keep it on the low-down until we made it through the print/ebook acquisition process. If you would like to read the official press release put out by my agent, you can read it here.

Here are some details:
  • The books will be released in hardcover with simultaneous ebook and audio releases, a paperback version will follow afterward (I'm not sure of the timing on those, yet).

  • Del Rey has the English print and ebook rights, Recorded Audio has the English audio rights, and now that the announcement is official, my foreign rights agent will start working deals for translations.

  • Tim Gerard Reynolds will be the narrator for these books. I had three publishers vying for this series, and for each I had only one requirement...Tim had to be the narrator. The publisher I went for values both mine and Tim's work, and even sweetened the deal by kicking in some extra income for Tim.

  • The audio book producer, will once more be Recorded Books, and they will be put into a special program, which will mean a much larger library distribution than the Riyria books.  More on this at a later date.

  • Release dates are still being worked out, but the first book, Rhune is tentatively set for Summer 2016.  That sounds like a long time, but really it'll only be a year from when I'm able to supply them with a "final manuscript." More on this, and the timing of subsequent books, in tomorrow's post.

  • The fact that these books are being published by Random House and not Hachette isn't because of Amazon/Hachette dispute last year. Although I can't deny that being with the biggest publisher in the world, who has more leverage wasn't "part" of the decision.

  • The fact that these new books aren't published by Orbit/Hachette is not an indication of dissatisfaction between the two of us. Like the audio books, I had one requirement for this new series. I wanted to "take my career to the next level" and this meant a hardcover release. I think Orbit was right to put the Riyria books out as trade paperbacks, but I had no interest in doing that with The First Empire Series.  Sometimes a writer's vision for their career doesn't align with the publisher's. There is no harm or foul in such determinations. Fortunately, other publishers agreed with my vision.
I'm sure I'll have more posts about this deal, and what it means for the First Empire series and my other projects, but these are the high points that I wanted to get out today. Stay tuned for more!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Publisher's Marketplace Deal Levels

For those that don't know, there is a site called Publisher's Marketplace where agents and publishers announce when they sign a new deal.  They classify the deals into a few ranges:
  • nice deal:  $1 - $49,000
  • very nice deal $50,000 - $99,000
  • good deal $100,000 - $250,000
  • significant deal $251,000 - $499,000
  • major deal $500,000 and up
The "deal level" isn't always posted, but you can usually find out things such as:

  • How many books were sold
  • What languages were sold
  • Who represents the foreign or media rights
Not to mention a whole bunch of "other useful things."  If you are thinking of querying agents, it's worth getting an account to see who is selling has sold what to where.  It costs a reasonable $25.00 a month.

Tomorrow, I'm going to post about two deals for my new series: The First Empire.  If you already have an account - you can find out a few hours early ;-)

Monday, February 9, 2015

A little known loop-hole about rights reversion

From time to time, I try to write posts about the business side of writing. Today is one of those times.

These days, the circumstances under which rights to a book revert, are of particular interest to authors. In the past, once a book "ran its course" it had little interest to other publishers.  These days, that's not so.  There are some publishers that focus on back-list out-of-print-titles (such as Open Road Media) and of course with the rise of self-publishing, the author themselves may have an interest in re-releasing a title.

Some small presses and most of the foreign contracts will have a fixed-length term, usually five to seven years. I LOVE these kinds of contracts because I know exactly when I get the rights back. When it comes to the big-five, though, the contracts are generally written "for the life of copyright" which means seventy years after the author dies. Ouch, that's a long time. That being said, books aren't always with a publisher for that long. Once sales drop to some threshold (either a particular dollar figure or the number of books sold in a given period), then the books revert.

But, there is another way for authors to get their rights back sooner, and it's not often known.  It has to do with copyright law, in particular: Section 203(a) and Section 304(c).  For today's purposes, I'm only going to discuss works that will matter to most people reading this post and that is anything published after January 1, 1978. For these works an author can request reversion under the following criteria:

  • Either 35 years from publication or 40 years from the date of an assignment of copyright to a publisher.
  • Termination must occur within a 5 year period or the reversion right is forfeited.
  • Termination notice must be served on the copyright holder no later than two years before expiration and up to ten years before beginning of a five year period.

So, let's do an example. For a work published in 1978, the termination window is 2013-2018. The notice must be submitted no later than 2016 and no earlier than 2003.

Thirty-five years is still a REALLY long time, but it is certainly a lot less than seventy years after the author dies.

This is just one of those little-known facts, that might be needed at some point.  So I thought I would mention it.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Blackguards Table of Contents

We are closing in on the final production of the Blackguards Anthology.  For those that don't know this was launched with a Kickstarter from Ragnarok Publications.

The foreword will be provided by Glenn Cooke and the two winners for the submission contest are S.R. Cambridge and Clay Sanger.  Here's the rundown of the stories in the book:
  • Foreword by Glen Cook 
  • Introduction by J.M. Martin 
  • “Mainon” by Jean Rabe 
  • “Irindai” by Bradley P. Beaulieu 
  • “The Subtler Art” by Cat Rambo 
  • “Seeds” by Carol Berg 
  • “Jancy’s Justice” by Kenny Soward 
  • “Professional Integrity” by Michael J. Sullivan 
  • “Troll Trouble” by Richard Lee Byers 
  • “A Better Man” by Paul S. Kemp 
  • “First Kill” by Django Wexler 
  • “Manhunt” by Mark Smylie 
  • “Better to Live than to Die” by John Gwynne 
  • “The Secret” by Mark Lawrence 
  • “Friendship” by Laura Resnick 
  • “The First Kiss” by Clay Sanger 
  • “The White Rose Thief” by Shawn Speakman 
  • “A Length of Cherrywood” by Peter Orullian 
  • “A Taste of Agony” by Tim Marquitz 
  • “What Gods Demand” by James A. Moore 
  • “Take You Home” by David Dalglish 
  • “Seeking the Shadow” by Joseph R. Lallo 
  • “Sun and Steel” by Jon Sprunk 
  • “The Betyár and the Magus” by S.R. Cambridge 
  • “A Kingdom and a Horse” by Snorri Kristjansson 
  • “Thieves at the Gate” by James Enge 
  • “His Kikuta Hands” by Lian Hearn 
  • “The Lord Collector” by Anthony Ryan 
  • “Scream” by Anton Strout
I'm really looking forward to it!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Last Day for Hollow World Giveaway

Just a bit over 17 hours left in the Hollow World Giveaway.

Remember there are two chances to win:

  • Goodreads (limited to US, UK, and Canada)
  • My parallel giveaway (those outside the US, Canada, and UK have two chances to win when entering this one.

For those not familiar with this is a bit of information to help you decide if it might be for you:

Ellis Rogers is an ordinary man who is about to embark on an extraordinary journey. All his life he has played it safe and done the right thing but when diagnosed with a terminal illness he’s willing to take an insane gamble. He’s built a time machine in his garage, and if it works, he’ll face a world that challenges his understanding of what it means to be human, what it takes to love, and the cost of paradise. He could find more than a cure for his illness; he might find what everyone has been searching for since time began…but only if he can survive Hollow World. Welcome to the future and a new sci-fantasy thriller from the bestselling author of The Riyria Revelations.

“This is a clever and thought-provoking story, with loads of interesting ideas, some adrenalin-pumping action and plenty of humour...overall an entertaining read with Pax being one of my favourite characters of the year.” — Pauline M. Ross, Fantasy Review Barn 

"This is social science fiction that H.G. Wells or Isaac Asimov could have written, with the cultural touchstones of today. A modernized classic, Hollow World is the perfect novel for both new and nostalgic science fiction readers.” — Justin Landon, Staffer's Book Reviews 

“Michael J. Sullivan has made a name for himself with his excellent series of fantasy novels and Hollow World proves he can deftly tackle science fiction just as skillfully. The ideas are big and the future plausible, this is one of those rare gems you'll be thinking about long after you put it down.” — Bryce Lee, Only the Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 

  • 2014 Goodreads Choice Award Nominee
  • 2014 Barnes and Noble Top Fantasy and Science Fiction Picks for April
  • Only the Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Top 7 books of 2014
  • The Qwillery's Brannigan Cheney’s Top 3 books of 2014
  • The Fictional Hangout’s 2014 Best Books of the Year
  • The Book Probe's 2014 Most Anticipating Sci-Fi Novels
  • Ranting Dragon’s Ten Fantasy and Science-Fiction Novels worth reading in April 2014
  • The Bibliosanctum's Top 10 Reads of 2013
  • Indie Fantasy’s Best Book List for 2014
  • Fantasy Review Barn's Barney Award for outstanding reads of 2013
  • Ranting Dragon's 30 Most Anticipated Science Fiction and Fantasy Novels for 2014

Good luck on the drawing!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Fantasy Faction's Top Books of 2014

Another Best Fantasy of 2014 came out, and this one is a whopper. The folks at Fantasy Faction picked out more than 50 books that they wanted to highlight from 2014.  I found a lot of books that I would expect on such a list, and some that are new to me that I want to check out. Hopefully you will to.  Here is a link to their article.

And here are the covers for the books:

The titles include are:
  • Assail (Malazan Empire, #6) by Ian C. Esslemont
  • Banished (The Blackhart Legacy, #1) by Liz de Jager
  • Blood and Iron (The Book of the Black Earth, #1) by Jon Sprunk
  • Blood Will Follow (The Valhalla Saga, #2) by Snorri Kristjansson
  • Dust and Light (The Sanctuary Duet, #1) by Carol Berg
  • Foxglove Summer (Peter Grant, #5) by Ben Aaronovitch
  • Full Fathom Five (Craft Sequence, #3) by Max Gladstone
  • Mirror Sight (Green Rider, #5) by Kristen Britain
  • Murder (Mayhem, #2) by Sarah Pinborough
  • Night of the Hunter (Companions Codex, #1; Legend of Drizzt, #25) by R.A. Salvatore
  • Seal of the Worm (Shadows of the Apt, #10) by Adrian Tchaikovsky
  • Shattered (The Iron Druid Chronicles, #7) by Kevin Hearne
  • Steles of the Sky (Eternal Sky #3) by Elizabeth Bear
  • Sworn in Steel (Tales of the Kin, #2) by Douglas Hulick
  • The Boy with the Porcelain (Erebus Sequence, #1) by Den Patrick
  • The Dark Defiles (A Land Fit for Heroes, #3) by Richard K. Morgan
  • The Fell Sword (The Traitor Son Cycle, #2) by Miles Cameron
  • The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M Harris
  • The High Druid’s Blade (The Defenders of Shannara, #1) by Terry Brooks
  • The Magician’s Land (The Magicians, #3) by Lev Grossman
  • The Shadow Throne (The Shadow Campaigns, #2) by Django Wexler
  • The Splintered Gods (The Memory of Flames #6) by Stephen Deas
  • The Widow’s House (The Dagger and the Coin, #4) by Daniel Abraham
  • Thief’s Magic (Millenium’s Rule, #1) by Trudi Canavan
  • Tower Lord (Raven’s Shadow, #2) by Anthony Ryan
  • Valor (The Faithful and the Fallen #2) by John Gwynne
  • Veil of the Deserters (Bloodsounder’s Arc, #2) by Jeff Salyards
  • The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
  • Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes
  • The Emperor’s Blades (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne, #1) by Brian Staveley
  • Dreamer’s Pool (Blackthorn And Grim #1) by Juliet Marillier
  • The Crimson Campaign (The Powder Mage, #2) by Brian Mcclellan
  • Ruin And Rising (The Grisha, #3) by Leigh Bardugo
  • Son of the Morning by Mark Alder
  • Traitor’s Blade (Greatcoats, #1) by Sebastien De Castell
  • Shadowplay (Micah Grey, #2) by Laura Lam
  • Age of Iron (Iron Age, #1) by Angus Watson
  • The Mirror Empire (Worldbreaker Saga, #1) by Kameron Hurley
  • Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #3) by Laini Taylor
  • Skin Game (Dresden Files, #15) by Jim Butcher
  • Red Rising (Red Rising Trilogy, #1) by Pierce Brown
  • The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling, #1) by Erika Johansen
  • Smiler’s Fair (The Hollow Gods, #1) by Rebecca Levene
  • The City Stained Red (Bring Down Heaven, #1) by Sam Sykes
  • Half A King (Shattered Sea, #1) by Joe Abercrombie
  • Prince of Fools (The Red Queen’s War, #1) by Mark Lawrence
  • Breach Zone (Shadow Ops, #3) by Myke Cole
  • City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett
  • The Copper Promise (The Copper Promise, #1) by Jennifer Williams
  • The Broken Eye (Lightbringer, #3) by Brent Weeks
  • Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive, #2) by Brandon Sanderson
  • Fool’s Assassin (The Fitz And the Fool Trilogy, #1) by Robin Hobb
Well all the authors, and well done too goes out to Fantasy Faction for putting together such a comprehensive list.