Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Riyria on Sale @

Are you a fan of Royce and Hadrian? Or maybe you've not read any of the Riyria books but you're curious about giving them a try? Well, if either of those shoes fit and you enjoy audiobooks, I  have good news for you.  The latest book in the Riyria Chronicles series, The Disappearance of Winter's Daughter is on sale at right now. You can pick up a copy for just $7. This book normally would run you $25 in cash or the price of a credit (about $15 if you go that route).

And don't be afraid because this is the 4th in a series. This book (as well as The Death of Dulgath) is written to be a standalone, and no prior knowledge of any of the Riyria novels is necessary to enjoy it to the fullest. But don't take my word for it, here's what one of the editors at Audible had to say when they made it an Editor's Pick.

"This was the first Michael J. Sullivan book I've ever experienced. That fact might aggravate some of his more dedicated fans, seeing as it's the fourth book in the series ("you have to start at the beginning!"). But I heard that it could be enjoyed as a standalone work, and it definitely can because I was obsessed immediately. Sullivan's characters really take on a life of their own, especially with Tim Gerard Reynolds giving them such a dynamic performance. Sullivan's sense of pacing is akin to a thriller writer's; each chapter is succinct and compelling, with frequent cliff-hangers that make it impossible to stop listening. Most crucial, perhaps, is the quality and subtle detail of Sullivan's world-building - and his synergy with Reynolds - making it easy to dive headlong into this book."

So, if you've not yet picked up a copy. Now would be a great time. And thanks, Audible, for including the book in the sale.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Read Age of Death Now

Yes, the official release date for Age of Death is February 4, 2020, but more than 3,300 people are already reading it now. How is that possible? Well, they either (a) were backers of the Kickstarter that ended on September 10 (b) pre-ordered an ebook through BackerKit or (c) asked for a "manual add."

We just finished implementing all the gamma reader feedback and the presses will start rolling as soon as we get dates from the printer. The nearly 2,000 people who pre-order the hardcover through us will receive their copies within days of them coming off the press. So how do you get your ebook now and the hardcover on the earliest day possible? Well, you, too, can do a "manual add."  The process is quite easy.  

  1. Take a look at the above reward levels and select which one you want.
  2. Send an email to with the subject: AoD Manual Add
  3. In the email tell us (a) your name and (b) the level you want to pledge at
We'll take things from there and do the following:
  1. My wife, Robin, will add you to Backerkit at the desired level
  2. She'll send you a BackerKit invitation where you can (a) provide payment information (b) input a shipping address (if you are ordering a physical copy) and (c) specify if you want your name included in the acknowledgments. NOTE: It's too late to add your name to the print edition, but it will be included in the final ebook.
  3. Once we see that you have filled out the information, we'll lock your order and you'll have access to the Age of Death ebook in your Digital Download area of BackerKit. In addition, you'll receive all the digital rewards that came as part of the Kickstarter. (See the list below)
Almost 300 people have come in through the "manual add" process, and it'll only be available until we receive printed copies. At that time, it'll be in our standard online store.  Here is a list of the bonus material that you'll miss out on once the manual add window closes:
  • Bonus Short Story: Burning Alexandria
  • Bonus Short Story: Autumn Mists
  • Bonus Short Story: The Game
  • Bonus Short Story: Pile of Bones
  • Bonus Short Story: Little Wren and the Big Forest
  • 10 Original Musical Compositions
  • 192 Screensavers of Marc Simonetti's Artwork (8 Designs at 24 different sizes)
  • 15 bonus graphics for DIY printing of posters, puzzles, and t-shirts
  • Access to a Behind the Scenes Video
  • Access to an Author Q&A Video
In addition, if you sign up for a reward level that includes a physical copy of one or more books, you will also receive:
  • Signed Hardcovers
  • $3 - $4 off the retail price of each book
  • Pack of 5 custom bookmarks (1 signed)
  • Deep discounts on non-US shipping
By buying directly from me, you (a) receive a ton of extra material (b) you pay the same prices as the retail ebook but get it months earlier (c) if you get a physical copy you'll receive an 11% discount.

But you are not the only one who benefits. I receive a significantly higher share of your hard-earned dollars because the retailer's cut is much higher than the BackerKit processing fees. For example:
  • ebook sales: retailer cut is 30% (US orders) or 70% (all other countries)
  • physical book sales: retailer and distribution fees are 75%
  • BackerKit fee is just 5% + 3% for credit card processing.
If you've ever wondered how you can best benefit the author for their stories, buying direct is definitely the way to go. So, take a look, and if you want to start reading now, drop me an email, Robin will get you set up and reading in no time.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The final 10: Goodreads Choice Awards in Fantasy

Well, we are down to the final 10 in this year's best book in fantasy voting. Final round of voting is open until Dec 2, so pick your favorite and cast your vote:

Monday, November 18, 2019

The importance of audio rights

So, if you know much about me, you know how much I value audio rights. For instance, It's the reason Del Rey has only 1/2 of the Legends of the First Empire series (they couldn't buy the second 1/2 because audio rights are required and we had already sold the audio rights for the whole series many years ago).

Audio rights are also where I see my biggest advances. Yes, audio producers are willing to pay more for just that one right than the traditional publishers are paying for ebook + print + audio!  When an author signs away these rights, they earn significantly less on each copy sold...and the situation gets worse if the audio right is sold as a subsidiary right by the publisher.

For years, I've mentioned that audio is where all the growth in the publishing industry is. This fact has a lot to do with why publishers are insisting on acquiring that right. But recently I heard a comment from an author who claims 70% of sales are still in the paper format - which I just don't believe, particularly given my physical book sales are about 20% - 25%.

So, I asked Robin to get me some data. She went to Amazon because (a) it's an easy place to get data (b) they sell more books than any other single source. They are really the only place we can see what formats are selling the best. When it comes to having your finger on the pulse of the book-buying business, Amazon is an excellent place to look.

Okay, so let's look at the Top 100 Best-selling Epic Fantasy books. Amazon reports this information hourly, and besides saying which titles are in the top 100, we can also see what formats of each of those books are selling the most.  So a few days ago she looked, and this is what she found.

And this is how it breaks down:

  • No paperback titles are making this list
  • Only 4% of the books are in physical formats (and 75% of those are boxsets)
  • Only one hardcover has made the list
  • 60% of the titles are audiobooks
  • 36% of the titles are ebooks (and 11% of those are boxsets)
  • 80% of the top 10 are audio
  • 76% of the top 25 books are audio

Of course, this is a single snapshot, but my gut tells me this is pretty standard in today's publishing environment. I'll have Robin pull these analyses from time to time, so we can see if this is an outlier or really is indicative of the current ecosystem.

If you are a writer, you should be looking at the audio market. If your books aren't currently there, get them in that format. If they are, you should consider how you can earn well from that format since that is where most of your sales come from. Many of my audio sales net me just 3.5% (because of how they were transferred and how they were produced), other titles earn me more than 5 times that amount. And if I were to self-publish them, I could get as high as 40%.

In any event, I thought this was something that writers should be aware of, and it may be that readers are interested in this kind of data as well.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

A small rant...

Hey all, Robin here. I'm Michael's wife and I sometimes take control of his blog. This is one of those times. I'm going over the very last of the changes to Age of Death before sending it off to the printer. First, I should mention that I'm an engineer by training (MSEE), but I spent most of my life in software. I'm a "technical gal" Math was my favorite subject, Grammar very near the bottom. So, it's ironic that these days I spend an amazing amount of time on the Internet trying to determine things like which of the following is correct:

  • None of them were his friends. 
  • None of them was his friends. 
As an analytic type person, there should be a singular answer to such a question. But English is a language with all kinds of issues--don't get me started on why backyard is a single compound word, but front yard is two words.

Apparently, the problem arises in the fact that "none" is not always singular. Apparently, it used to mean "not one," so was would be correct. In practice, however, it is sometimes meant to mean "not any," so were should be used. 

To make matters worse, people who spend their lives contemplating such mystical matters don't always agree. Just look at this online debate on the subject.

And to make matters worse, there is the last statement. "It should be pointed out that none does not come from not any, but from nan (old English), which was used with either singular or plural verbs."

Argh!!!  All I want to know is which word do I use!!

And the worst part, no matter which one I select, there will people who will treat it as a "grammar mistake." In other words, I can't win either way.  For someone who deals in black and white such things are maddening. I guess I'll just insist that no book written by Michael will ever use such a sentence!

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

2019 Goodreads Choice Award Nominees for Best Fantasy

Well, I was both surprised and pleased to find that Age of Legend made its way into the semifinal round for the Goodreads Choice Award. Robin and I want to thank all the people who voted for it. This makes my 8th Nomination!

There's an amazing collection of books nominated, and I'm honored to be among them:

Voting in the semi-final round will close on November 17th and the field will be narrowed to a final 10. Pick your favorite and join the 2.2M people who have already voted for their favorite books!

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

A Kickstarter project I'm backing and I hope you'll check it out as well.

Many people ask me for endorsements or help when promoting their book. If you follow this blog, you know I don't do much of that. Why? Well, I'm a picky (and prickly) sort, and few books are able to stand up to my exacting standards. I take my reputation seriously, so I have to feel strongly about a project before I put my name behind it. Well, today is one of those days.

I'm a huge proponent of Kickstarter, and I've been trying to nudge more authors to use this great platform (because it has so many advantages for both readers and writers). One of my author friends has finally taken the plunge and created his first Kickstarter to fund hardcover editions of the first book in his trilogy. Since this is something I've always wanted (I already have a signed paperback, the ebook, and the audiobook), I jumped on the project right away, and just today, I increased my pledge by $10 to get early access to the final book in the series.

I've known Dyrk Ashton for around two and a half years and he's stayed over at our cabin a few times. Also, every time I go to a convention that the two of us are at, I try to spend as much time with him as I can. Why? Dryk has a keen mind, a great sense of humor, and an amazing writing acumen that makes any conversation with him worth savoring. And he's a really kind and helpful guy to fellow authors, so how can you not love that?

But enough about Dyrk, let me tell you about his books because they are well worth crowing about. The trilogy is called Paternus and these are their titles:
  • Paternus: Rise of the Gods
  • Paternus: Wrath of the Gods
  • Paternus: War of the Gods
They are urban fantasy tales that can best be described as American Gods meets the Avengers. When I started reading Dyrk's debut novel, my first thoughts were. "Wow this guy really knows how to draw you into a story, and his prose is smooth as silk and well polished." But I'm not the only author that sings Dyrk's praises. Here are some quotes from other authors I respect, and what they say about Paternus.
"Epic, innovative urban fantasy. A great read." — Mark Lawrence, bestselling author of Prince of Thorns and Red Sister.
"Wow! Ashton's story is a crucible in which myths are melted and remade to thrilling effect." — M.R. Carey, author of The Girl with all the Gifts 
"Paternus is an imaginative, exhilarating ride. A refreshing take on contemporary fantasy." — Anthony Ryan, New York Times Bestselling Author of Blood Song and The Legion of Flame 
"Terrific! Paternus is intelligent, intricate, suspenseful, and epic." — Nicholas Eames, Gemmell Award-winning author of Kings of the Wyld and Bloody Rose
If you don't want to wait for the hardcover to get started, the first two books are out now, and they are enrolled in the Kindle Unlimited program so you can read them for free (or pick up a copy of each for under $5 -- such a deal!) And if you do, you can even get an early copy of the final book which will be released to the retail chain on May 19, 2020.

So, in conclusion, click the link, and check out the Kickstarter, and if you see something you like please back the project. I'm betting you'll be turned on to a new author and you'll want to read every book that he puts out, and he'll get a larger payday as buying direct is always more profitable for the author than purchasing through the retail chain. So ends today's public service announcement.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Washington Post Bestsellers List again.


Hey all, Robin here. I hijack Michael's blog from time to time to announce big news. Well, things have been so busy as of late that I forgot to mention that two of the Legends of the First Empire books hit a bestseller list again.  This one was for the Washington Post Hardcovers and they made the list in the middle of October. While Riyria was Michael's breakout debut series, the Legends of the First Empire books have certainly provided him with more notoriety. Here are some of the "big lists" that the books in this series have appeared on:

Age of Myth:
  • #2 Washington Post Hardcover Bestseller List (July 2016)
  • Barnes & Noble Bestseller in Science Fiction and Fantasy (July 2016)
  • Barnes & Noble Bestseller in Science Fiction and Fantasy (August 2016)
  • Barnes & Noble Bestseller in Science Fiction and Fantasy (Sep 2016)
  • Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Best Fantasy (Nov 2016)
  • #93 Amazon ebook Bestseller (March 2017)
  • #6 Bestselling Audiobook (May 2017) 
  • #6 Washington Post Hardcover Bestseller List (Sep 2018)
  • #3 Washington Post Hardcover Bestseller List (April 2019)
  • #7 Washington Post Hardcover Bestseller List (Oct 2019)
Age of Swords:
  • USA Today Bestseller List (Aug 2017)
  • #1 Bestselling Audiobook (August 2017)
  • #7 Washington Post Hardcover Bestseller List (Sep 2017)
  • Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Best Fantasy (Nov 2017)
Age of War:
  • New York Times Bestseller List (July 2018)
  • USA Today Bestseller List (July 2018)
  • #3 Bestselling Audiobook (July 2018)
  • #12 Washington Post Bestseller List (April 2019)
  • Goodreads 12 Best Fantasy of 2018 (Aug 2018)
  • #3 Washington Post Hardcover Bestseller List (Sep 2018) 
  • Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Best Fantasy (Nov 2018)
  • #3 Washington Post Hardcover Bestseller List (Apr 2019) 
  • #8 Washington Post Hardcover Bestseller List (Oct 2019)
Age of Legend:
  • New York Times Bestseller List (July 2019)
  • USA Today Bestseller List (July 2019)
  • #6 Bestselling Audiobook (July 2019)
  • Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Best Fantasy (Nov 2019)
We are eternally grateful for all the amazing support that you have shown Michael over the years, and we are just about to put Age of Death on the presses, so more excitement to come!