Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Nolyn Kickstarter: Launches 02/09 @ 12:00 Noon EST

So, as many of you may know, I have a new series coming out! It's called The Rise and Fall and just as Legends of the First Empire shows the First Great War between men and elves and the founding of The Novronian Empire, this series will focus on three important points in the history of Elan that will give you the inside scoop on how the empire rose and eventually fell.  I sometimes call this my "bridge series" because it fits between the Legends of the First Empire and the Riyria tales.

Unlike most series where you follow the same cast of characters from start to finish, these books will span large amounts of time and each book will be self-contained and focus on one or two important characters from history.

  • Book #1 - Nolyn - the son of Nyphron and Persephone
  • Book #2 - Farilane - the historian and author of The Migration of Peoples
  • Book #3 - Esrahaddon - the origin story of the mysterious wizard from the Riyria books
Nolyn will be released through the major retail market on August 3, 2021, but for people who pre-order through the Kickstarter, you'll receive the book 3 or 4 months before everyone else. As for the other books in the series, they will be released at one-year intervals - and each will have its own Kickstarter.

Like all our prior crowd-funding projects, we offer early-bird discounts where several of the most popular reward levels will be discounted by 20%.  Now, in the past, these levels have sold out in mere minutes, even though we increased the number available for each project.  This time, we are doing things a bit differently.  The following reward levels will be open for the first 15 minutes of the campaign (noon to 12:15 PM).  So, you still have to be quick to nab one, but not nearly as fast as in the past.  Here's a list of them:
  • Digital Early Bird - $8 instead of $10 for ebook only
  • Hardcover Early Bird - $28 instead of $35 for ebook AND regular hardcover
  • Rare Early Bird - $60 instead of  $75 for ebook AND limited edition faux leather hardcover
Reward levels vary from $5 to $100 and this chart explains what is in each level:

While we are still working on the final design of the covers, this is what we currently have.  The regular hardcover will have a dust jacket with artwork from the amazing Marc Simonetti. The rare edition will be faux-leather with one or two color foil stamping.

How many copies of the limited edition will there be? I'm not sure. I'm going to print fifty more than are ordered through Kickstarter (to account for possible damaged books or books lost in the mail).  These will NOT be reprinted, they will be numbered and dated, and they won't be sold through retailers (you'll only be able to get them from the Kickstarter or directly from us (for the leftovers).  I suspect there will be less than 500 copies made.  The hardcovers will be printed in quantities of 10,000 - 15,000 copies and there may be multiple printing of them.

Okay, so what is this book about?  Well, here is the copy we've come up with for the back of the book:

After more than five hundred years of stagnation, the heir to the empire is suspicious about his sudden reassignment to active duty on the Goblin Wars’ front lines. His first assignment to rescue an outpost leads to a dead-end canyon deep inside enemy territory. Suspicion turns to dread and then sinks to despair when it’s discovered no such stronghold exists. But whoever went to the trouble of making his death look like a casualty of war didn’t know anything about the Seventh Sikaria Auxiliary Squadron to which he had been assigned. In the depths of an unforgiving jungle, a legend is about to be born, and the world of Elan will never be the same. 

Buying through a Kickstarter puts significantly more of your money into my pocket.  When books are bought through retailers 75% - 80% of the money you pay goes to others (our distribution partners and the retailers).  But you also get things that retailers can't provide such as:

  • Signed physical books.
  • Your name in print (if you so desire) - your name will be listed in the acknowledgment as one of the people who helped bring this project to life.
  • Receiving the story months before the rest of the world.
  • Digital artwork of Marc's illustrations (for screen savers).
There will also be various additional bonuses added as the project goes on, assuming we hit various stretch goals.  In the past, some of the things we've done include:
  • Custom created bookmarks (usually signed)
  • Bonus short stories
  • Behind the scenes insights into the creation process
  • T-shirts, tote bags, and posters
  • Embossed signature pages
Well, I think that's enough for now. Remember to mark your calendar and show up between noon and 12:15 to get an early-bird discount. Here is the link (which will go live) on 02/09.  If you use it now, you can sign up for an email notification in case you forget.  I hope to see you there!

Sunday, January 24, 2021

TBRCON21 - A virtual convention with 85 authors and 16 panels

With COVID-19 still raging, Sci-fi and Fantasy conventions have had to go virtual, which in many ways is good because they are (a) free, (b) don't require travel costs, and (c) can accommodate a lot more visitors than the average hotel or conference hall.  Coming up this week is TBRCON21 (hosted by FanFiAdict). It runs from January 25th to the 30th and features 16 Panels with more than 85 Authors. I'll be on one of the panels (Saturday at 1:00 PM EST).  But here is a rundown of all the programming.

Monday - January 25th

  • 3:00 PM EST: Global SFF - featuring Gautam Bhatia, Yaroslav Barsukov, Deck Matthews, Robert V.S. Redick, Andrea Stewart & Luke Tarzian

  • 5:00 PM EST - World-Building & Your Place In It - featuring Brian D. Anderson, Angela Boord, Dale Lucas, Travis M. Riddle, J. Rushing & Angus Watson

Tuesday - January 26th

  • 11:00 AM EST: Experiential Inspirations - featuring Christian/Miles Cameron, Sebastien de Castel, John Gwynne, Jeannette Ng & Scott Oden

  • 2:00 PM EST: No More Heroes - featuring Graham Austin King, Brian Naslund, Mike Shackle, M.L. Spencer, Mike Shel & Phil Williams

  • 4:00 PM EST: But, What Scares YOU? - featuring M.R. Carey, Lee C. Conley, Andy Davidson, Jonathan Janz, & Tim Meyer

Wednesday - January 27th

  • 11:00 AM EST: Thrills That Pay the Bills - featuring Emily Carpenter, Hank Early, Josh Malerman, John Marrs & C.J. Tudor

  • 1:00 PM EST: Sensory Detail in SFF - featuring Mike Chen, Scott Drakeford, Ryan Van Loan, Marina J. Lostertter, Megan O'Keefe & Gareth Powell

  • 3:00 PM EST: SFF Fight Club - featuring David Dalglish, Alexander Darwin, Sam Hawke, Rob J. Hayes, Michael Mammay & Jeremy Szal

  • 5:00 PM EST - The Joys (or Lack Therof) of Editing - featuring Alicia Wanstall-Burke, Shelly Campbell, Nick Martell, Michael McClung & David Wragg

Thursday - January 28th

  • 11:00 AM EST: The Intersection of Neurodivergence & SFF Writing - featuring Elisa A. Bonin, Sunyl Dean, Essa Hansen, Sonora Reyes & Alex White

  • 1:00 PM EST: History in SFF - featuring Katherine Arden, Alina Boyden, Christian/Miles Cameron, Sebastien deCastell, Daniel Kelly, & Evan Winter

  • 3:00 PM EST: Writerly Advice - NOT - featuring Stephen Aryan, R. J. Baker, Nicholas Eames, Anna Stephens, & Adrian Tchaikovsky

Friday - January 29th

  • 1:00 PM EST: Grim, Dark . . . or Just Fantasy - featuring Ben Galley, Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan, G. R. Matthews, Peter McLean, Adrian Shelby & Holly Tinsley

  • 3:00 PM EST: The Future of Fantasy - featuring Peter V. Brett, Steven Erikson, R. F. Kuang, Devin Madson, & Evan Winter

  • 5:00 PM EST - SPFBO Finalists - Justin Lee Anderson, Zack Argyle, Alexander Darwin, Robert Fleming, Suzannah Rowntree, Patrick Samphire & Rachel Emma Shaw

Saturday - January 30th

  • 1:00 PM EST: Gods, Goddesses & Demigods OH MY! - featuring Dyrk Ashton, Jusin T. Call, Michael R. Fletcher, Tom Lloyd, Michael J. Sullivan, Jordan Loyal Short & Jonathan Wood

  • 2:30 PM EST: LIVE D&D - featuring Justin Lee Anderson, Gareth Hanraham, G. R. Matthews, Steve McHugh & Anna Stephens
I hope you find something (or several things) that pique your interest. Enjoy!

Friday, January 15, 2021


In trying to give authors encouragement to keep going after many rejections, people will often cite that Harry Potter was rejected 12 times before it was picked up.  Anyone who would make such a statement doesn't realize the TRUE reality of the publishing business.  I was reminded of this when looking at twitter today when I found this tweet from @findmeediting.

Amanda is right. 12 - 16 rejections is nothing in the life of an aspiring author. But to give Amanada (and others some hope).

  • In my first attempt at a writing career, I wrote 13 novels, queried 7 (or was it 6 I forget), over the course of 20 years and received about 200 rejections.

  • When I returned to writing 10 years later, it was only on the condition that I wouldn't seek publication (because that way let to the dark side).  So my wife gave it a try and she received about 100 rejections.

  • Since this is my blog, I'm not going to cite all my successes since finally publishing in 2008, (if you are here you know that I've done well). So I just wanted to point out that persistence can pay off.  Robin has a saying, "The only way to guarantee failure is to quit trying."  
To provide some further incentive, (or maybe some will find it demoralizing) here are some other people who responded to Amanda's post:
  • @cyberwar: Was just on a call with an author who went through three agents and 11 years before finally getting published. Sold 100K books in six printings.

  • @hcor - Book 1: 15 agents, 5 full requests, 10 rejections, 1 R&R with no response - shelved book.  Book #2 55 agent quiers - 24 requests - 31 rejectiosn, 1 R&R no response - 1 publisher submission >> book deal.

  • @melisskhavas - I started querying in college and it took me 7 books and 200+ rejections to get signed. Spent a long time feeling embarrassed by it (thinking I really must have been the worst writer ever if it took so long), but I don’t think it’s that unusual, just not talked about.

  • @sharpegirl - While I did query 6 books over 7 years before my debut (debut was manuscript #16) I’ve gotta admit I never got more than 25 rejections per book because that’s about how many agents I was interested in.

  • @DianaUrban - *Cracks knuckles* Here are my stats prior to getting a book deal for All Your Twisted Secrets: - 3 agents - 4 times on sub to publishers - 5 editor R&R requests - 120+ editor rejections - 130+ agent rejections -- Never give up

  • @Heroes_Get_Made - I was rejected more than 100 times by agents and more than 20 times by publishers. I eventually got accepted by a publisher after submitting directly. Then that publisher went out of business. I got a different publisher, which published my entire seven-book series.

  • @JMCwrites - 290 queries until my first agent. 5 books went on submission to editors before one sold. My debut was the tenth manuscript I wrote. I'm not a bestseller, but hopefully that helps a little.

  • @AnnaLeeJuber - It took me 7 years before I sold my 5th completed manuscript. Probably close to 200 rejections, if not more. But it sure was fun to burn the paper ones (I started querying right at cusp of switching from paper to all electronic) once I had a publishing contract.
  • @KrisRey19 - I queried for 5 yrs (plus sporadically another 7 w/PB's before that) til my 5th novel which got 3 offers & my dream agent. I've send over 500 queries & must have as many R's. This job demands patience & serious guts.
  • @AllieLarkin - I think it took me a full year of rejections to find my first agent. I’m sure it was over 100 rejections, and a few of them were gratuitously mean.

  • @Kate4Queen  - 5 years of querying, 142 rejections. Finally sold books 4 and 5. Have now been published for 15 years and written around 70 books. :) And I think I'm doing okay :)

  • @katierus - Saaame! I had over 150. Eek, maybe more, it's been so damn long since then. I submitted for like 2 or 3 years I think. And even after I signed w/ my agent in 09, we got rejections! 

  • @BritneySlewis - This makes me a little emotional. Goodness. I queried for 10 years before I found the right agent. I don't even wanna share how many queries I sent out or that were rejected. Maybe 300??? Maybe over that? 

  • @KateQuinnAuthor - I was querying agents from age 17. 9 years of rejections and 7 novels consigned to a drawer before I was picked up, and I wouldn't say that's a huge amount of rejections, either.
  • @SSCav - James Lee Burke's The Lost Get-Back Boogie was rejected 111 times over 9 years. A small press took it on and it was nominated for a Pulitzer. There are many great authors who struggle for years to catch a break. I happens for some.

  • @brngreenwood - 122 agents passed on my novel that made the NYT bestseller list. And that’s just the rejections for that one book. Prior to that book, I clocked 400+ rejections for 6 books over the course of 9 years.

  • @laurcunn - I received somewhere around 80-90 rejections over a 10 year period (for Adverse Effects alone; I had at least 50 additional rejections for other books I had written) before I found my agent and subsequently my publisher.

  • @JasonRLady - I queried for 13 years before finding a publisher. I lost count of the rejections.

  • @triceretops - 17 straight years--shorts and novels--been rejected 1,500 times at the very least. It took 400 rejections before I got my last agent.

  • @barbaralongley - Raising my hand! I could've wallpapered my living room with rejection letters. I kept at it. Now I'm hybrid. I have 13 traditionally/agented published books, and 3 self-pubbed.

  • @sandraruttan - British thriller writer Simon Kernick received hundreds of rejections and he's been very successful.

  • @AuthorKatM - Querying from 2008. I didn't sign with an agent until 2017, and even then I didn't sign my first book deal until a month ago. I've received more rejections than I can count, but it helps knowing THAT'S NORMAL.

  • @HopeBolinger - Totally hear you! I think I've gotten somewhere near 1000 rejections for various works. I'm multi-published now in the traditional market, but still get constant rejections

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Winter Sale - Save 15% to 70%

This year's shipping season was so crazy that we couldn't guarantee the arrival of packages for holiday gift-giving. So, we've morphed our annual holiday sale into a Winter Sale and added a number of free items.  Also, all physical books are signed (and limited editions are numbered).

Also, because we had so many issues getting access to sign books at our fulfillment center during COVID-19, we bought a building and brought all shipping in house.  In doing this, we found a number of items that we thought we had sold out long, long ago.  But supplies on these items are extremely limited. Here are some examples:
  • Hardcover First Editions for Age of Myth (remainders), Age of Swords, and Age of Legend, Death of Dulgath, and The Disappearance of Winter's Daughter 

  • LIMITED EDITION hardcovers for Death of Dulgath and Disappearance of Winter's Daughter

  • Tote bags (Montemorcy (black) & Legends of the First Empire (white)) - people who have received them as part of the Kickstarters LOVE these large, high-quality bags.

  • Legends of the First Empire Black T-shirts (both Men's and Women's Styles in various sizes).
  • NOTE: In going through all our stock, we found a few copies whose dust jackets (or covers) are not 100% pristine (no tears but minor signs of wear). We've classified these as "hurt books" and are selling them at a significant discount (50% off) just to free up space. These are not "used books" (no one has owned them before), but due to the minor imperfections on the dust jacket or covers, we don't want them sold at list price.

  • We also picked up (on the cheap) a number of remainders (books that are new but have a small dot on the edge of the pages (indicating they have been returned for credit by a bookstore and can't be sold at full price).  All of these, are deeply discounted (40% for first printings, 50% for all others). We'll only make $1 or $2 dollars on them, but it's high time we started clearing them out for more space.
A few other things I should note:
  • Although we have a fair number in stock, the Ingram warehouses (the place that distributes to large bookstores both online and brick and mortar) are essentially out of the hardcover editions of Age of Death and Age of Empyre. This means we are near the end of their print runs, and once they are gone, only mass-market paperbacks will be available. So, if you want to ensure a full collection of the hardcovers, now is the best time to pick those up.

  • When ordering books from the Ingram warehouse, we received some "hurt books" from the Grim Oak Press product line. It's too expensive to ship these back, and our other choice is to burn them (which we absolutely don't want to do), but they are taking up A LOT of space, and we have to get rid of them somehow. So we have hardcover copies of Unfettered III for just $9 (70% off the list price).  This is an amazing anthology of 700+ pages with 27 short stories by the likes of Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson, Terry Brooks, Robin Hobb, Naomi Novik, Mark Lawerence, and many more. There really isn't a better hardcover anthology deal than this one!

  • All ebooks that I've self-produced are on sale at 50% off.

  • Over the years, I've created a number of bonus materials as part of Kickstarters and to introduce people to my stories.  I'm making every short story (and a full-length "making of" ebook) available for free as part of this sale.

  • One last thing. We also received a few hurt copies of Terry Brook's Sci-fi novel Street Freaks (some of them signed). And to get them out of our new space, we're offering a FREE HARDCOVER COPY(while supplies last), for anyone who purchases at least one other book from the sale.
I hope you'll check out the sale, and if you want to see more before you do, a full list of the items and their discounts/prices are below.

All told, there are 64 items on sale. Here is a complete list:

Friday, January 1, 2021

Editing Rant

Hey all, Robin here. So we have received the edits back from Laura Jorstad, for Nolyn. She is one of the two copyeditors we've worked with over the years because she (a) really knows her stuff (b) is familiar with some of the common mistakes that Michael makes, and (c) is a great Goldilock's editor - meaning she "is just right" - not too heavy-handed or to light on the touch. 

One of the things I do for Michael is handle the bulk of the "heavy lifting" on copyediting reviews.  Generally, it's a bunch of hitting accept or reject and anything that requires rewriting I highlight and send his way.  Now, as some may know, I'm an ex-engineer (my degree is in Electrical Engineering), and as such, I'm very analytical. Also, I have a high attention to detail -- which is good when editing.

One thing I've learned over the years is there is a lot of disagreement within the grammar community when it comes to (a) compound words and (b) hyphenation.  That's why you establish a set of references that you adhere to. One of the important tasks when going over edits is to stay consistent with your selected benchmarks.  For us, we use the Merriam Webster Dictionary, and because it depends on what edition you are working with, we use the on-line version because it's the most up to date.  

In going through some of the edits, I found something that enrages my "analytic mind."  Notice the following use of hyphens:
  • back-to-back
  • hand-to-hand
  • face-to-face
Makes sense, right?  But imagine my frustration to learn that shoulder-to-shoulder is WRONG based on Merrian's. In this case, there shouldn't be any hyphens and it is written as "shoulder to shoulder." The engineer in me resits breaking the "pattern," but my belief in adhering to the "bible" tells me I must.  It doesn't mean I can't be mad about the fact. 

NOTE: For those who are interested, I think it's because shoulder to shoulder is considered an idiom while the others can be an adverb or an adjective.

Maybe only I stress over such things.  But I found it interesting.