Friday, February 9, 2018

The Proud Father of a Nine Year Old

I can't believe I missed an anniversary!! Luckily it wasn't with Robin, or I'd be sleeping out in the cold. I recently looked back to see when I started my blog and low and behold it was January 9th, 2009, so this post is one month late.

Before I was published, or actually just after, no one would listen to my advice or comments on publishing. I didn't blame them because, well, what did I know? More recently, aspiring or newly-minted authors still refuse my advice, but for a different reason.  They claim my techniques only work for me because I'm established, and I know nothing about the trials of being an unknown author lost in the wilderness that is the publishing world. Apparently these folks assume I, like Athena, sprang fully formed out of the head of Amazon, fully armored and ready for battle.

Not so much.

When I wrote my first post, I was newly settled in Washington, DC, recently publihsed, forty-seven years old, and had just obtained my first iPhone. I also had recently joined my first writer’s group, was playing Fallout 3, and reading Ken Follet’s Pillars of the Earth. My wife of almost thirty years told me I had to start a blog because she thought writing blog posts once a week was just the thing to get me noticed.

At the time, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, but was consoled by the assurance that no one would ever read my blog. A few months later my website had 64 total views, and 14 members, which in Internetese translates to silence. This is what I came up with for my blog’s maiden voyage:

 The Proud Father of a Three Month Old

The Crown Conspiracy is three months old, and I have no clear idea of how well it is doing. This being my first published novel, and not knowing any other published authors, I have no idea if this is typical or disturbing.

The reviews on Amazon look good (as do the reports I am seeing on Goodreads). Readers appear to genuinely like the novel. My only other data point is how well I’ve done at book signings, but I can’t imagine that every reader, every buyer of TCC, has obtained it through my hands. At least I hope not. I trust there are people out there who have read it on a lark, on a dare, out of boredom, or because they happened to see a review somewhere that struck a chord and were so pleased that they felt compelled to spread the word. “I just read this incredible book…” is how I imagine the multitude of conversations beginning, or maybe, “Have you ever heard of The Crown Conspiracy by Michael Sullivan?” I suppose the day you can ask that second question and not be certain of the answer is the day I will need to take a great deal more care in what I write in this blog

Around that same time,  I read Raymond Feist’s forward to his revised edition of The Magician. In it he wrote, how it marked his tenth anniversary of the book, and how it had been in print continually all that time. I read his comments about how he considered himself blessed to be a full-time author, and I couldn’t begin to imagine what that might be like.

During those first few months I went on a poor-man’s book tour, meaning that I did book signings at all the local bookstores that would have me. Eighteen did.

Robin handed out bookmarks advertising my novel outside the front door to the store. Inside, I stood for hours at a desk with a stack of my books, and a sign we had printed up and glued to a foam board. On a good day I sold seven, on a bad day, two.

By that January I began to notice a few emails trickling in. My first fan mails:

Hello Mike, Two months ago I bought The Crown Conspiracy. Honestly when I bought it I had doubts. (No offence.) I started reading it, and reading it, and reading it, until I was so engrossed in the book that I would stay up at night reading it even when I was dog tired. (…) You probably don’t remember me but I was the teen in the gray sweater who you caught walking out of Borders Express.

Mr. Sullivan, This past Saturday I wandered into Border's in Manassas to look around. Walking in I received a bookmark for your book, The Crown Conspiracy. As soon as I walked in the store, I noticed you standing at the table to the left and was intrigued. Thank you again for such a wonderful story.

Somewhere around that same time, I was online in a writer's forum and ran across some less-than- positive sentiment. My fellow writer wanted to let me know that my books were awful (even though I'm sure he never read them), I was a hack, the entire fantasy genre was for losers, and that in ten year's time no one would know I existed. He went on to tell me that he was a real writer, as evidenced by the fact that he'd never been published because no one appreciates his geinus.

Well, the first book of The Riyria Revelations was published on October 1st 2008. So this autumn I'll cross that decade milestone. I’m crossing my fingers that people will still be reading my work, so that, if nothing else, it'll prove that guy was wrong. It doesn't matter that he'll never know because I will.

And now, it would seem, that I must take greater care with my posts. While I'm sure the question "Have you read Michael J. Sullivan's books?" will still produce the response of "Who?" more often than any other answer, I suspect that from time to time the reply comes back, "I've heard of him, but haven't read anything yet." There may even be a few times when someone says, "Yes, I have." Hopefully the statement that follows that is "And I love his books."

One last thing I should can probably expect more nostalgic posts as the anniversary draws closer.

You’ve been warned.


  1. Congratulations!

    When you mentioned someone reviewing a book they hadn't read, it reminds me of the first review of theft of swords I read.

    I was going on a long flight and wanted something new to read after having finished book 7 of wheel of time and needing a break from the series. I googled "Good fantasy books" and theft of swords was on the list. I wanted to check out a few reviews before I bought a book I never heard of.

    One review was very negative, mentioning a wizard who spent all his time "waving his hands in the air and solving all the problems". I am glad I ignored the review (that was very obviously wrong about basic facts in the series) because I have probably read revelations 4-5 times since then. I can say if anyone asked me about your books I would certainly say that I have, and they are awesome.

    PS: Fallout 3 is also awesome.

  2. Fallout 3!! I have such fond memories of that game. :)

    Congrats on the anniversary and I'm so happy to have discovered your books.

  3. 'Yes, I have, and I love his books. I have an extra copy if you want to borrow it to try it out. But you absolutely must return it, so I can share it with other friends. If you like it, you should buy the second book yourself and be sure to support my favorite author." I have said this more then once, twice, even more than three times to good friends.

    Congratulations on the anniversary.

  4. Just wanted to say, that guy was sooo wrong. I just started reading your books, (Crown Conspiracy and Avempartha), and now am going to devour the third in the series. I'm getting older and it seems that I don't stay interested in a series if the writing is off. Your writing is Top notch in what I prefer to read and I'm looking forward to plowing through everything you have to offer.

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