Tuesday, November 21, 2017

NaNoWriMo Tip: Tools for finding reputable agents


I'm often asked about how to find agents. It can be difficult sometimes, especially to find good ones, but one of the best ways is to query agents of books that are similar to yours. After all, if an agent was able to place other books, it shows they have a track record.
  • Amazon Charts - lists the top 20 books sold by Amazon in a given week, and most of them indicate the agent that represent the book. For instance, from that you can discover that David Gernert represented John Grisham's The Rooster Bar and Heidi Lange sold Dan Brown's Origin book.
  • Use the "Look inside the book" feature and do a search (from the printed book) on the word "agent." That's because many authors will thank their agents in the acknowledgement of their books.
  • Subscribe to Publisher's Marketplace. It's a site where agents and publishers post the deals they've signed (and usually rank them into various categories that give you and idea about how much the advance was for.  It's a monthly service, but you can subscribe, farm it for agents, then unsubscribe.
  • Agent Query - is a site that has an extensive database of agents and many of them list the books and authors they represent. You can also search the database by selecting the genre that best fits your book.
I know right now you're concerned with writing your book, and querying it may be some time off. But it's good to know about these resources for the future. I hope you find them useful.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Winter is Coming: Featured Pre-order for the Next Riyria Novel



The audio book for The Disappearance of Winter's Daughter is coming in just 20 days! And Audible has made it a featured pre-order.  There's already been several thousand people adding it to their library making it the second highest best-selling fantasy epic pre-order on the store. And look at what's the third ;-)



If you're a Riyria fan, please consider pre-ordering the book. Early sales is one of the driving factors behind the marketing push a book receives, so ordering it now will be a big help to me. And if you've not yet read Book #3 (The Death of Dulgath). I highly recommend you pick up the kindle version for free and add the audio for just $1.99. That deal and a half!

I'm pretty exciting about the coming release, and I hope you are too.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Free: The Death of Dulgath and The Making of the Death of Dulgath


A couple of years ago, I wrote a companion book to The Death of Dulgath that explains quite a lot  about:
  • How I come up with an idea for  a book
  • My writing process
  • How I use Scrivener
  • The beta reading process that Robin puts my books through
  • And a bunch of other things related to publishing and editing of my books
It's a great resource for aspiring authors, and as such it's a nice thing to give to people doing NaNoWriMo. The problem is that much of the content makes no sense without access to the novel, and that normally runs $9.99.  Now I didn't write the "making of" to drive sales to the novel, nor do I have any desire to make money off of aspiring authors (you have enough to worry about). So, I'm going to make the novel free for three days so you can get a copy for nothing. Then, when you are done with NaNoWriMo, you can read the book. Once you're finished, email me to receive a copy of the "making of" (I don't want you to read one before you read the other), and I'll send one your way.

So how do you get this free copy of The Death of Dulgath? Well there are two ways.
  • Pick up a copy during Nov 14 - Nov 16 at Amazon (you'll find that it is free rather than $9.99). When buying this way, you can also add on the audio book for just $1.99 -- which is an exceptional deal and if you've not heard Tim Gerard Reynolds narration, you really MUST!
  • Request a copy from me and I'll send out DRM-free versions that can be used on any reading device (.epub for Nook, Kobo, and ibooks; .pdf for computers, tablets,, and smart phones, .mobi for kindle and kindle apps). That link will also provide you the ability to give it to a friend if you think they may like it. 
I hope your NaNoWriMo is going well. We're not quite halfway through and there is plenty of time left to catch up if you are behind. And I do hope you'll take me up on the free book opportunity. I do think that the "making of" will be quite educational.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

NaNoWriMo Tip: Write For Yourself



Today's NaNoWriMo tip is to write the book that you want to read.  When I was in my twenties, and a stay-at-home dad, I tried to fulfill a lifelong dream of being a novelist. Over the course more than a decade I wrote 13 books. Most of them weren't meant for publication, they were me teaching myself how to write. But I was also trying to write books that I thought had a good chance of being published (based on other books "out there.") I learned two things during that time.
  1. I didn't enjoy writing as much as I would have liked.
  2. Trying to follow publishing "trends" is folly.
For me, I eventually quit writing altogether. At the time I thought I would never return tot the keyboard but a decade later something happened. I picked up a copy of the first Harry Pottter book (for my dyslexic daughter). Sarah didn't read the book, but I did. And it reminded me how much fun a great adventure with characters you love can be. I decided to write again, but with two important differences.
  1. I wouldn't seek publication, as that path led to the dark side 
  2. I would write a book that I wanted to read, and one that I hoped Sarah would like.
That's when I wrote The Crown Conspiracy (the first book of the Theft of Swords Omnibus), and the rest, as they say, is history.  Sarah didn't read that book either...well not until it was published -- apparently reading manuscript on 8 1/2 x 11 paper was frustrating for her dyslectic mind. And Robin picked up the thrown down gauntlet and took it upon herself to get the books published.  I learned a lot from that experience, and it only took me twenty-five years to learn the importance of writing for yourself. 

Hopefully, you won't take as long as I did ;-)


Friday, November 10, 2017

Goodreads Choice Awards: Semifinal Round



I need to take a little break from the NaNoWriMo posts because Age of Swords made it to the Semifinal Round of the Goodreads Choice Award!! There are still two more days to vote and here are the 20 fantasy books in the final round:


If you haven't vote yet, pease do so now. I don't need you to vote for my book, simply choose the book you like the best from this list.

Title
Author
  Shelved  
  # ratings  
  Rating  
Age of Swords
Michel J. Sullivan
16,552
3,719
4.30
Assassin's Fate
Robin Hobb
27,231
11,189
4.67
The Bear and the Nightingale
Katerine Arden
86,964
18,298
4.14
City of Miracles
 Robert Jackson Bennett 
9,428
3,030
4.46
A Conjuring of Light
 V.E. Schwab
71,535
25,388
4.41
Eleventh Grave in Moonlight
Darynda Jones
20,642
7,400
4.39
Etched in Bone
Anne Bishop
22,578
9,883
4.31
Fantastic Beasts
J. K. Rowling
114,868
46,258
4.40
The Fate of the Tearling
Erika Johansen
47,786
16,679
3.79
Feversong
  Karen Marie Moning  
33,688
10,004
4.36
Kings of the Wyld 
  Nicholas Eames  
12,115
3,171
4.42
The Land: Raiders
  Aleron Kong 
3,404
1,917
4.55
Norse Mythology
Neil Gaiman
150,625
48,716
4.10
Oathbringer
Brandon Sanderson
50,390
1,175
4.62
One Fell Sweep
Ilona Andrews
16,835
9,570
4.52
Red Sister
Mark Lawrence
48,269
7,764
4.32
Silence Fallen
Patricia Briggs
33,086
17,020
4.40
Sins of Empire
Brian McClellan
14,683
3,604
4.48
The Stone Sky
N.K. Jemisin
25,201
7,688
4.45
The Witchwood Crown
Tad Williams
9,002
755
4.23

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Writers and Goodreads


There are many social networking sites out there, and authors use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr to tell the world about their books. But I'm always amazed that so few authors are active on Goodreads--a social networking site that is 100% dedicated to books!

Robin (my wife) and I have given plenty of lectures on Goodreads and writers and it would take more than I can easily write about here to go into all those details. But I do want to highlight just a few things.

  1. You can add your book to Goodreads even before it is published. This means you could have months (or years) of it "out there" for people to find it and get excited about it's release. When I started Rhune (the first book of The Legends of the First Empire which was renamed to Age of Myth before release), Robin added a page for the book. And by the time of it's release, more than 10,000 people has already shelved it. So tip #1 is start early, and get your book listed as soon as you start working on it. Don't know the title yet?  That's okay you can put in a placeholder and change it. As I mentioned above, Age of Myth was originally called Rhune, and all the people who shelved it as Rhune came over automatically when it got it's new title.
  2. Be a reader first, and author second. When interacting with others on Goodreads, don't go around yelling "Buy my book! Buy my book!" It doesn't work on Twitter and it doesn't work on Goodreads either. But what does work...being a member of the community, helping others to find books they like (even if it's not yours) and being nice and friendly to fellow book lovers. They'll eventually discover you are a writer, after all your profile says that you are (and lists your various books) but let them come to you rather than the other way around.
  3. Goodreads Choice Award Nominations can really help a book get noticed! As of today I can proudly say I'm a six-time nominee for the Goodreads Choice Awards. That's because Age of Swords was added to the semi-final road as a write-in. I'm honored by my reader's support and I wanted to share with fellow writers what kind of impact a nomination can have.
On Goodreads, people put books on their shelves for books they've either (a) read, (b) have sitting on their too be read pile or (c) have heard of and may be interested in them at some time. If you are trying to read the tea-leaves to see if your book is getting traction, you need look no further than the number of people who have shelved your books.  Goodreads even tracks this information for you (for a certain time period...to keep this data you have to save it off yourself which Robin does for me).  

Here is a graph that focuses in on the last part of 2016 and the first month of 2017 for Age of Myth (the first book in the Legends of the First Empire Series). 


Before its nomination the book was receiving about 42 shelvings per day. But look at the spikes during the various stages of the Goodreads Choice Awards. It went up to 1,230 on the day the nominations were made.  That's a huge increase. But what's even more interesting is that in January, after the awards were wrapped, the books average shelvings went up to 108, a 250% increase as before the award.

So, how do you get nominated?  The selections are made based on the following factors:
  • Books released during the eligibility period (which usually run from mid-November of the previous year until mid-November of the current year).
  • Number of people who have shelved the books
  • Number or ratings/and reviews the book has received
  • Overall rating of the book
The first fifteen books are selected based on this criteria (and some editorial analysis by the people at Goodreads), and then 5 more books are added based on write-ins during the first round of voting. Later, the field will be narrowed to 10 books for the final round of voting and the book with he most votes across all the voting periods win.

I doubt I'll ever see my book as a winner, competition against people such as J.K. Rowling, Neil Gaiman, and Brandon Sanderson, makes that all but impossible. But to be one of 20 books selected from the thousand of fantasy titles that come out?  Heck, yeah, I'll take that, and I'm honored for the nomination.  

If you want to cast your vote for your favorite fantasy of 2017, voting is open for the semi-final round. You don't have to vote for my book, just pick the one you liked the best.

Monday, November 6, 2017

NaNoWriMo AMA with Michael J. Sullivan



The moderators at the /r/fantasy reddit site have asked me to do an AMA on November 8th.  I, of course, said yes. The focus of this AMA will be on writing related questions since this is National Novel Writing Month, but, of course, I'll answer questions on any and all subjects.  I'll make the post early on the 8th and be in the sub at 7:30 PM (EST) to answer them. If you put in your questions earlier in the day I'll have time to work on them before posting come game time.

For those who aren't familiar with the /r/fantasy sub of reddit. Its a fabulous group that has grown at astounding rates. There are over 207,000 members and it includes not only readers, but a good number of fantasy authors drop in as well.  So, if you have questions...I hope to have the answers. Stop by on Wednesday. I hope to see you there.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Winter Is Coming


Michael J. Sullivan & Tim Gerard Reynolds

In October, I had the pleasure of working with Tim Gerard Reynolds recording my new book The Disappearance of Winter’s Daughter. Given that I’m putting out three books in close succession (Age of Swords, Winter’s Daughter, and Age of War) Robin and I were working right up to the deadline. Tim—who is wildly popular these days, and in great demand— scheduled us for a week in October, so we had to meet that. Robin and I were editing on the train to Newark, where some of the Audible Studios are located. Luckily we were not in the quiet car as we also debated various aspects of the text. People might have thought us insane, but hopefully not rude. 

Alex recording Tim whose face is hidden behind the mike's spit guard.

During the day we monitored the live recordings, on hand to explain pronunciations, answer questions, and on occasions request a different emphasis on a given line. At night, Robin and I continued to edit trying to stay ahead of Tim. At times we live edited as Tim was reading. He would make a “mistake” misreading my text—but I liked it. We would then alter the text to reflect the change. 




The biggest problem we encountered was lingering too long at lunch. The cafeteria at Audible Studios was like a really nice high school. Tim, Alex (our engineer), Robin, and I filled our trays and sat at long tables eating and chatting far too long. But this was as much fun for us as it was work. 


So Winter’s Daughter was recorded and is undergoing (audio) edits. And as always, Tim was fantastic. 

Thanks, Tim.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Scrivener - a Writer's Best Friend


If you saw yesterday's post, you probably noticed I write on a Mac. Anyone who knows me is aware that I'm pretty much an Apple fanatic. I read my paper on an iPad in the morning. I've gotten iPhones for myself, my wife, and all but one of my children (no, I don't love her any less, she just doesn't want an iPhone--go figure. At least she's agreed to use the iTouch we bought and replaced a few times). Let's see...what else. Oh, we have two MacBook Air laptops (one for me and one for Robin). I have an iWatch, and I'm trying to convince Robin that she needs the upgraded model for Christmas.

But it's not because of my love for all things Apple that I write on a Mac, I bought it to run exactly one piece of software, and that is Scrivener.  What is Scrivener? Well here's what Wikipedia says:

Scrivener (/ˈskrɪvənər/) is a word-processing program and outliner designed for authors. Scrivener provides a management system for documents, notes and metadata. This allows the user to organize notes, concepts, research and whole documents for easy access and reference (documents including rich text, images, PDF, audio, video, web pages, etc.). Scrivener offers templates for screenplays, fiction, and non-fiction manuscripts. After writing a text, the user may export it for final formatting to a standard word processor, screenwriting software, desktop publishing software, or TeX.

For me, Scrivener helps me write in more ways than I could explain in a short blog post. In fact, it takes up a fair amount of the Making of the Death of Dulgath ebook and if you read that story, you can get the ebook for free by emailing me (michael.sullivan.dc@gmail.com) and putting "Making of The Death of Dulgath in the subject line.

I also wrote an extensive blog post about Scrivener many moons ago which you can read here.

But what does that have to do with my Mac?  Well, there are two versions of Scrivener and while the PC version is great...and something I used for years, the Mac version is even better, and it gave me an excuse to upgrade my writing system to a Mac.

At just $45, Scrivener is the best bang for the buck any author. I think it's worth at least 10 and probably 20 times that. But, I know most author are strapped for cash so there's something else you should know: There is a 50% discount for all NaNoWriMo winners.

This is a discount the company has been running for years, and while I don't think $22.50 is a huge  incentive to get you to write 50,000 words written in November, I'll take any added benefit I can to get you to use this program. You'll thank me later.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Goodreads Choice Award 2017



It's that time of year again...voting has started for the Goodreads Choice Award for the Best book of 2017. When it comes to this prestigious award, I've had more than my fair share of nods. Currently I have 5: 
  • 2010 The Emerald Storm in Fantasy - the only self-published book that year
  • 2012 Percepliquis in Fantasy
  • 2013 The Crown Tower in Fantasy 
  • 2015 Hollow World in Sci-fi
  • 2016 Age of Myth in Fantasy
Except for Hollow World, each one of those nominations came in round one when the people at Goodreads select the top 15 based on (a) publication date eligibility (b) # of people who shelved the book (c) 3 # of review/ratings (d) total overall rating. Here are the nominees for this year: 

Title
Author
  Shelved  
  # ratings  
  Rating  
Norse Mythology
Neil Gaiman
145,040
47,533
4.11
Fantastic Beasts
J. K. Rowling
112,397
  45,631  
 4.40    
The Bear and the Nightingale
Katerine Arden
79,980
17,527
4.13
A Conjuring of Flight
V.E. Scwab
69,334
24,849
4.41
The Fate of Tearling
Erika Joansen
46,137
16,452
3.79
Red Sister
Mark Lawrence
45,549
7,560
4.32
Feversong
  Karen Marie Moning       
31,695
9,837
4.36
Assassin's Fate
Robin Hobb
25,952
10,903
4.67
The Stone Sky
N.K. Jemisin
22,490
7,065
4.45
Etched in Bone
Anne Bishop
21,694
9,666
4.31
  Eleventh Grave in Moonlight
Darynda Jones
19,322
7,237
4.39
One Fell Sweep
Ilona Anrews
15,444
9,285
4.52
Sins of Empire
Brian McClellan
12,647
3,521
4.48
Kings of the Wyld
Nicholas Eames
9,544
3,004
4.42
The Witchwood Crown
Tad Williams
7,383
690
4.22

There were a number of notable titles missing form the list. The first two I can "kind of" understand as they were released late in the year and just barely squeaked onto the list (Brandon's is only 2 days shy of the eligibility period cut-off). As for my own title's omission, of course, I'm upset, but I'm also surprised as it beats The Watchword Crown on all three metrics: more shelving, more reviews, and a higher rating.

Title
Author
  Shelved  
  # ratings  
  Rating  
Oathbringer
Brandon Sanderson
47,262
1,073
4.61
The Core
Peter V. Brett
21,130
2,539
4.27
 Age of Swords   
  Michael J. Sullivan   
15,819
3,516
4.29

Oh, well, better luck next year, unless of course Age of Swords, gets into round two as a write-in, I'm very confident that the first two books will be. Here's to hoping! In any case, you can vote or write in your choice from this link.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Work In Progress

Being that it is day two of National Novel Writing Month, no aspiring writers should be wasting time reading this blog, but for those who are struggling, I always found it both fascinating and inspiring to see the workspace of other writers. So for those of you interested in such things, here’s my present office. I took this photo today when I was in the middle of work, believe it or not, and I know it isn’t fun at all, but honestly, this is about as messy as it gets for me.  

Where the Magic Happens



STAGES OF WRITING A NOVEL (Written in author-speak)

1. Catching bats at night.
2. Making a puzzle with too many pieces and no box to look at.
3. The desert of temptation and regret.
4. Hope
5. Crisis
6. The joy of finishing!
7. Guilt and depression
1. Bats

Good luck all!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

I've written a novel. Now what?

It's NaNoWriMo time. For those that don't know what that means it's National Novel Writing Month. During the 30 days of November aspiring authors are asked to challenge themselves to write a novel. In an effort to help aspiring authors I'm going to try to do two things.
  1. Have some "writing focused" posts on the blog throughout the month
  2. Host an AMA (Ask me Anything) on reddit/r/Fantasy which specifically focuses on writing related questions. It'll be held on November 8th.
Early today I received the following email:
"I am currently a college student who just recently finished writing a novel. I'm just beginning the peer review process using some friends of mine for help, and I was just wondering how exactly I should move forward if I want my book to be published. My friends are not the most reliable sources of feedback given their studies and other commitments, so should I seek out a professional editor? Also once the final edits have been made, how do I go about submitting my work to publishers without them simply trashing it before reading a word? Any advice at all would be greatly appreciated."

After responding, I realized it would make a pretty good post for NaNoWriMo. So here's what I told young Ben.

Dear Ben,
Congratulations on finishing your first novel! I don't want to sound too pessimistic but I do want to warn you that first books are rarely "suitable for publication." Think about it, you can't play Carnegie Hall after a few years at the piano, and likewise it takes time to develop a full set of writing skills to crate a work that is fit to share with others. For me, it was my14th novel which was the first published. Now, you are likely not as slow a learner as I am, but here are some metrics to keep in mind. Stephen King says you should consider your first 1,000,000 words as practice, and Malcolm Gladwell says you need 10,000 hours working at a task to become proficient at it. Assuming your novel is 100,000 words or so you're 10% there!

 Okay, with that very sobering preamble out of the way, let me address some of your questions and offer some advice. Here goes.

  • After finishing a book. You should put it away for 4 - 6 weeks then pick it up and re-read it again. Pay particular attention to how it opens. It's likely that it doesn't start where it should...something you can't tell for sure until the book is finished. As you re-read, polish, polish, polish. In particular make sure your opening line is a great one, and that the first paragraph sets a stage and hooks the reader in. Make ABSOLUTELY sure the first 5 pages are flawless. If an editor or agent can make it through the firsts 5 pages, it's likely they'll request the full manuscript.
  • You need to find writer critique groups. If you live in a fairly populated area, there should be a number that meet face-to-face. Checkout Meetup.com. If you don't find any, then look online there are plenty and most specialize in a given genre. In these groups you'll read and critique other people's work in exchange for them doing the same for you. You'll actually learn a great deal when critiquing others. You'll see things they do wrong and when you are explaining the problem to them, you'll often realize you did something similar in your own work.
  • Once the book is polished and critiqued seek out beta readers. There are groups on Goodreads.com that are dedicated to beta reading. An important part of the beta reading process is to set expectations for the readers. My wife does an excellent beta program and she sends this document to anyone who wants to beta read so they know what is expected of them. Feel free to adopt it to your own uses. I suggest 3 - 7 beta readers and keep adding them until you have at least 5 people read the entire book (some beta readers will drop out - either because life gets in the way or they don't like the book. 
  • As to a professional editor. They come in three type: structural (sometimes know and content editor), line editors, and copy editors. The first is (a) very expensive and (b) hard to find a qualified person. It's a very subjective process and a bad structural editor can cause more harm then good. Generally I don't recommend paying for structural editing. You can get the equivalent feedback from a few good critique partners and beta readers and I suggest you go that route. As for copy and line editing...these are tasks the publisher is going to do on your behalf, so you shouldn't have to pay for those services. Now, that said, if your work is riddled with errors, it may make reading the submission more trouble than it's worth. In those cases, it is worth paying for someone to fix a manuscript in such a state, but I can't say whether yours will fall into that category
  • As for submitting to publishers. For the most part, you'll want to submit to agents instead. These days mot publishers don't take unsolicited manuscripts, so you get an agent who knows what publishers are looking for what types of books. To get an agent you need to (a) do research to determine who represents your genre of work and (b) write a query letter. This post Writing Query Letters & Where to send them should help you with both.
As you can see, you have only taken the first steps on what is a very long road, but it can be a rewarding trip both professionally and personally. I hope some of the above helps you in some way. Once you have your book in good order send me the first five pages (here is a link that provides full instructions on doing that), and I'll take a look at it and let you know whether I feel it is ready for primetime or still needs some polish. But I warn you, I'm a harsh critic because my standards are high.

I hope this advice helped young Ben, and I hope you found it to be helpful as well. Happy Writing!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Riyria 2 for 1 sale


Hey, all well the Kickstarter is over, and I have updates for it, but we also have a time-sensative sale running right now, so I'm going to bump that other post to the back burner. Here goes...

Two of the Riyria Chronicle books are in the Audible 2 for 1 sale. That means you can get both of them for just 1 credit! Plus there are a lot of other great fantasy titles on sale right now:


Here's some information about the books to help you decide what you might be interested in. But hurry, sale ends October 20th at 11:59 PM PT.

Title
Author
Narrator
Series
 Rating
# reviews
The Emperor's Blades
Brian Staveley
Simon Vance
Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne: #1
4.4
5,693
The Providence of Fire
Brian Staveley
Simon Vance
Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne: #2
4.5
4,105
A Warrior's Path
Davis Ashura
Nick Podehl
Castes and the OutCastes: #1
4.3
3,360
A Warrior's Knowledge
Davis Ashura
Nick Podehl
Castes and the OutCastes: #2
4.6
2,391
A Discovery of Witches
Deborah Harkness
Jennifer Ikeda
All Souls: #1
4.3
16,140
Shadow of Night
Deborah Harkness
Jennifer Ikeda
All Souls: #2
4.5
11,651
Furies of Calderon
Jim Butcher
Kate Reading
Codex Alera: #1
4.4
9,150
Academ's Fury
Jim Butcher
Kate Reading
Codex Alera: #2
4.6
7,133
Dreamer's Pool
Juliet Marillier
Scott Aiello
Natalie Gold
Nick Sullivan
Blackthorn & Grim: #1
4.4
1,201
Tower of Thorns
Juliet Marillier
Scott Aiello
Natalie Gold
Nick Sullivan
Blackthorn & Grim: #2
4.6
672
Den of Wolves
Juliet Marillier
Natalie Gold
Nick Sullivan
Blackthorn & Grim: #3
4.8
496
The Grace of Kings
Ken Liu
Michael Kramer
Dandelion Dynasty: #1
4.1
760
The Wall of Storms
Ken Liu
Michael Kramer
Dandelion Dynasty: #2
4.6
160
The Crown Tower
Michael J. Sullivan
Tim Gerard Reynolds
Riyria Chronicles: #1
4.7
8,543
The Rose and the Thorn
Michael J. Sullivan
Tim Gerard Reynolds
Riyria Chronicles: #2
4.8
7,055
Fool's Errand
Robin Hobb
James Langton
Tawny Man: #1
4.5
2,850
Golden Fool
Robin Hobb
James Langton
Tawny Man: #2
4.6
2,160
Fool's Fate
Robin Hobb
James Langton
Tawny Man: #3
4.7
2,380
Nightblade
Ryan Kirk
Andrew Tell
Nightblade: #1
4.3
1,858
World's Edge
Ryan Kirk
Andrew Tell
Nightblade: #2
4.5
1,173
The Wind and the Void
Ryan Kirk
Andrew Tell
Nightblade: #3
4.5
938

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Final Hours - Kickstarter ends at 7:30 EDT today!


Well, all good things come to an end, and it's been an exciting run doing our third, and most-successful Kickstarter to date.  You still have a few hours to join the fun, just click here, or on the graphic below:



We'll see where things finish out yet, as well as discover who guessed the closest and will be winning the limited edition copies. I think we'll probably fall short of the #1 most-backed project (still need 153 backers and we tend to get around 30 - 70 a day, but who knows, last days can be pretty exciting as people both join in (and leave) the project in the final few hours. Still #2 worldwide of all time isn't so shabby. As of this writing we have 2,025+ backer - which is really quite amazing.


I think we'll end up making the $80,000 stretch goal, which will put us in 4th place as far as highest-funded worldwide projects of all time. Again, as of this writing we had just $246 to jump into 4th place and $1,135 to hit the stretch goal.

Don't forget, there will be a live-streamed AMA (Ask me Anything) starting at 7:30 EDT.


Even if you can't be there - use the link to ask a question, and you can watch the video on your own schedule. I think they stay up 24 or 48 hours or something like that.

Oh, and a few other things about the book.

  • Yesterday we did a remote "sit in" on the last recording session. Alex (the engineer) and Tim (the narrator) were in New Jersey and we spent 7 hours on a conference call as the last 4 chapters were recorded. (We had listened in on the other 5 sessions while up in New York last week).  So much fun - you guys are going to LOVE the audiobook - Both of those gentlemen did an exceptional job and we were able to step in from time to time to smooth something or make our own final adjustments. If the book wins and Audie, I want directorial credit!!
  • Also yesterday, Robin poured over the printer's proofs.  They were in mostly good shape - the "big things" you worry about is color and that all turned out fine. They weren't perfect though, as she needed to nudge a bit here or there, and we did change a few words during the last recording. But al those are easy to fix and the proofs will be over-nighted and presses should roll next week. Our hope is to get the books out to people before Christmas. It'll probably be tight, but we'll do our best.
Okay, that's it. Fun times, but also exhausting, too. Can't wait to have this book in the can and get aback to writing/editing some of the other projects. Age of War is with the copyeditors and due back to us in just a few days. And Robin is compiling changes for book #4 -- currently it's titled Age of Legends but we are thinking of changing it Age of Despair.  We'll need to make a decision on that really really soon! Marc Simonetti is already working on the cover design for it.

That's all for now, hope to "see" some of you tonight - at least virtually for the AMA.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Live Stream October 26th 7:30 PM EDT - Ask Me Anything


Hey all, as we wind down to the final few hours of The Disappearance of Winter's Daughter Kickstarer we have schemed a live-streamed AMA (ask me anything). It'll start an hour before the close of the Kickstarter and will continue through it's end and until all the questions are answered.


To participate in the live-stream AMA here's a link. From there you can ask questions, see our lovely faces, and we might even give you a tour of my office, and a bit of the cabin.  Hope to see you there!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Final 4 days for the Kickstarter



The Death of Dulgath Kickstarter was a huge success, and I admit that while I hoped for similar results from The Disappearance of Winter's Daughter, I wasn't expecting similar results. We had a huge day yesterday: More than 190 backers came in and pledged over $5,300.  That pushed us to the #2 most-backed US Fiction Kickstarter project, surpassing The Death of Dulgath by more than 50 people so far.

That's pretty incredible when you consider the new Kickstarter has only been running for 18 days and it took 43 days for the previous one. Given we have 4 days left (and end of Kickstarters tend to have increased traffic: The Death of Dulgath brought in more than $11,000 in its final day), I think we'll be able to raise the remaining $1,393 to surpass it in total pledges in addition to the number of backers.

For those who haven't been following the Kickstarter, here is a link as well as some of the bonus items brought in by stretch goals:
  • $50,000 UNLOCKED! - Online, searchable glossary of terms and names. I love glossaries, but they are time consuming to produce. With a few more dollars we can justify taking the time to produce one. 
  • $55,000 UNLOCKED!- Inclusion of a backer's list in the ebook listing the names of all the people who made the project possible (you can, of course, choose to opt out) if you wish to remain anonymous. The name to be inserted will be collected during the survey process
  • $60,000 - UNLOCKED Bookmarks! We'll design up a bookmark that matches the book and provide them to every person who buys a physical copy.
  • $65,000 - UNLOCKED Digital Version of the The Jester Comic and Jester short story. This is a standalone Riyria adventure that exists in both short-story form and also beautifully adapted to a comic. You can see a small excerpt of the comic at this link. This stretch goal will be given to every backer and you can access it from the BackerKit self-service portal after the project ends.
  • $70,000 - UNLOCKED: Screen savers! We'll take Marc Simonetti's amazing artwork and create screen savers that you can use for your phones, computers, and tablets.
We still have two more stretch goals, and depending on how the final days go we may be adding some more.

  • $75,000 - Posters! If we reach this level we'll add 2 posters to the list of add-ons that people can buy: Hollow World, and The Death of Dulgath. Both are 24" x 36" and suitable for framing. 
  • $80,000 - Making of the Disappearance of Winter's Daughter ebook: Get a look behind the process of writing and editing the book and learn about how the book changed from first manuscript, through beta testing, to the final product.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Riyria Kickstarter, how far will it go!



The Disappearance of Winter's Daughter Kickstarter has done amazingly well!  Yes, we're fully funded, which means there WILL be hardcover editions of the book (rare, limited, and regular) and we've already hit two stretch goals which will include everyone's name in the ebook and the creation of a searchable on-line glossary.
  • Here's jut a bit about what's happened so far: 
  • $34,500 raised in the first 12 hours
  • Fully funded $47,600 in the first 54 hours
  • $56,144 raised in the first 130 hours
  • 1,321 backers (8th most-backed US backed fiction project of all time
  • Two stretch goals reached next level is $3,856 away (custom bookmarks)
Given how well it's done has Robin speculating at the final numbers. So she thought it would be fun to do a little contest and have others join in.

So here's the deal. We'll give a limited edition of The Disappearance of Winter's Daughter to two people:

  •  The one who guesses the total number of backers the closest 
  • The one who guesses the final amount the closest. 
Now, you DO NOT have to be a backer to participate in this contest, and if you're a winner and already have a limited edition, we'll give you the choice of receiving a second one (to give as a friend) or give you a credit back on your pledge that is equal to the value of the book ($50). Sound like fun?

Here's some data I've collected so far to help with your guesses. First, the amount of funding we've seen so far (plotted over the number of hours of the Kickstarter.


And here is he same data for the # of backers.


And here is the link where you can add your guesses.

Now, of course, the closer to the end of the contest, the easier it will be to guess, so we'll stop taking guesses on October 17th. Also, you can put in multiple guesses. If you put in more than one in a day, we'll take the latest one as your official guess.

I think this will be a lot of fun. So put on your thinking cap, look at the data, and make your best guess as to where we'll end up. If you're smart, you'll get a free book!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Some more astounding covers from indie authors


The other day I shared an amazing cover from Davis Ashura and I held it up as an example of the kind of attention to detail and professionalism of many of the leading indie authors.  Well, today I stumbled upon another set of covers.  These are from Benedict Patrick and stunning doesn't begin to do justice to these incredible works of art. I said it before, but I'll say it again. We certainly have come a very long way.


Friday, October 6, 2017

KIckstarter launches is a really big way!


Well, I really shouldn't have been surprised, as I have the best, most supportive readers a writer could wish for, but the Kickstarter for The Disappearance of Winter's Daughter has kicked off in a really incredible way.

As of this writing, we are 76% to fully funding and it's been less than 24 hours!

Riyria Fantasy Novel: Disappearance of Winter's Daughter -- Kicktraq Mini

Here's some of the really impressive stats:

  • $10,000 raised in the first 10 minutes of the launch!
  • $18,452 raised in the first hour
  • Currently the 22nd highest-funded Fiction Kickstarter in the US based on total pledges
  • Currently the 18th most-backed Fiction Kickstarter in the US based on # of backers

If we look at this project compared to my other Kickstarters, it blows them out of the water. The following data is for first-day sales as tracked through Kicktraq:

Project
$ Pledges
     # Backers     
The Disappearance of Winter's Daughter             $34,234      
728
The Death of Dulgath
$19,082
472
Hollow World
$1,545
50

At the time it ended, The Death of Dulgath was the 2nd (or maybe 3rd, I forget) highest funded Fiction Kickstarter. It's now currently #6 (#2 as far as most-backed). With such good first-day results, we may just be able to surpass it!  Thanks everyone for all the support.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Winter's Daughter Kickstarter is Live!



Well, today is finally the day. I've just pushed The Disappearance of Winter's Daughter Kickstarter live. Our advance thanks to all the backers who are working to make hardcover editions available!


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Kickstarter Launch Date Set!



Okay, the Kickstarter project is approved! So I'll launch it tomorrow.  Here are some specifics on the project:

  • Project launch:  Thursday, October 5th at 12:00 noon EDT
  • Project end: Thursday, October 26, 2017 at 8:30 p.m. EDT
  • Find a link for the project by searching "Winter's Daughter" in Kickstarter after the launch, or come back here at noon for a link.
  • Backers will be able to read the book on December 5th, a full 6 months before the retail release!
  • We are raising money for a print run to produce: rare editions (faux leather bound books in a slipcase), limited editions (linen hardcover with a custom cover), regular hardcovers, and trade paperbacks. If the Kickstarter doesn't fund, the book will still be released, it just won't have any hardcover editions.
  • We will be able to offer audio versions of the book. They will be distributed through download codes redeemed at Audible.com. If you don't have and Audible account, you can start one for free, and your book will still be available even after you leave Audible.com.
  • If you want both a physical book AND an audio version, choose the appropriate paper level, and then add $10 to your pledge. You can then "assign" that $10 to an audiobook edition after the Kickstarter has ended.
  • If you want both a physical book AND an ebook, just pick any paper level, the ebook is already included for all people with physical books.
  • Last time we did the shipping ourselves (which turned into a nightmare), this time we are going to use a fulfillment processor so the shipping should go much more smoothly.
  • There are a number of reward levels which have limited quantities (the rare and limited edition copies), and some early-bird specials (20% discount off of popular reward levels but only for the first 50 backers). 
That last bullet is why we are (a) pre-announcing the Kickstarter, and (b) launching at a particular day and time. This will allow everyone to have an equal chance at the limited quantity items.

Backer Levels range from $8 (for an early-bird digital only version to $125, for the rare editions) In order for  you to plan what level you will be backing at, Robin has put together this handy little table. Click here, or on the table to see a high-resolution version which is easier to read.


Once again, it's Robin who has done all the heavy lifting for the Kickstarter. My contribution was (a) writing the book and (b) recording a video. I hope you are excited as I am about the launch of this Kickstarter. I'm hoping it will be a huge success.

Monday, October 2, 2017

The Disappearance of Winter's Daughter Kickstarter Update


Hey all, I've been getting a lot of emails about the Kickstarter project (especially now that October is here.  Some of that stems from some limited and rare editions (which will probably go fast, as well as some early-bird discounts for people who pledge early. If you've not signed up for early notification, here is a link where you can.

  • We are really close to it's launch - probably within a week. Robin is still working on the content page, and I have to record the video. I can't today because I'm hoping to get the final beta changes in for Age of War, but if I get that done in a day or two, I'll be able to do the video.
  • It took Robin a little longer than she had hoped to get me the beta changes to Age of War, and that put both of us behind.
  • Copy edits are due back for Winter's Daughter in just a few days, and we leave in less than two weeks to go up to New York to sit in on the recoding. We are hoping to do some "live" sessions from within the studio.
  • Once Robin has incorporated all the copyedits I need to read it one more time.  But I REALLY like the way the book turned out.
Once we get the page finished and the video done, we still need approval from the folks at Kickstarter, but I'm guessing we'll be live in about a week - stay tuned!


Saturday, September 30, 2017

Age of Swords Makes BookNest's Long List for




I'm honored that Age of Swords was nominated for BookNest's Fantasy Awards. The long list was created based on recommendations from three big fantasy imprints
  • Gollancz
  • Harper Voyager
  • Tor.com
alongside six popular & respected blogs 
  • Fantasy Faction
  • Fantasy Book Review
  • Fantasy Book Critic
  • Parmenion
  • Grim Tidings
  • Kitty G
They will be expanding their long list through reader nominations. There are the following number of spots left open:
  • 4 books : Best Traditionally Published Novel
  • 2 books: Best Self-published Novel
  • 4 books: Best Debut Novel
To add your favorite books to the list, go to this link before October 7th. Voting for the short list will begin October 8th. Only fantasy novels published between October 2016 to September 2017 qualify for this year's awards. Please nominate books that are *not* already in the longlist. 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Oh how far we've come...self-publishing professionally


Today's professional self-publishers, those authors that treat their books like a business and put every bit of care into them as traditional publishers, have really come a long, long way. The following cover recently caught my eye:


This certainly meets my standard as "indistinguishable from a traditionally published book. And the most amazing thing about it?  The author had it created for $225!  Amazing!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Featured Pre-order: The Disappearance of Winter's Daughter



December 5th, is fast approaching and that means it's almost time for another Royce and Hadrian adventure, this time to Rochelle, where the mist-filled streets are hiding more than one murderous legend. I'm trilled that The Disappearance of Winter's Daughter has been selected as one of Audible's Featured Pre-orders. If audiobooks aren't your thing, you can sign up for notification of the Kickstarter (which will be offering print and ebooks -- also available on December 5th).  That'll be a full six-months before the book is available for sale through the retail chain. 

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Age of Swords Hits the Washington Post's Bestselling Fiction Hardcover


What a nice thing to wake up to. Age of Swords hit the Washington Post's Bestseller's List for Hardcover fiction. Thanks all for the amazing support.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Bookmarks and Bookplates


Hey all, Robin here, I take over Michael's blog from time to time.  I'm the one who organizes the shipping of his "stuff." I'm also in charge of the alpha reading, beta reading, Kickstarters, and coordination with the copy editors.  I'm usually always busy, but I don't think I've ever been quite this pressed. The deadlines for Age of War and The Disappearance of Winter's Daughter has made me do back-to-back beta reads. One of the book is with the copy editors right now, and as soon as it comes back, I need to send the other one out -- which I'm currently compiling beta read feedback for Michael's incorporation.

All that preamble is to say that I've not yet sent out the signed bookplates and bookmarks that were part of the Age of Swords pre-order campaign. I want to do them all at once as doing them "piecemeal" is so much more time consuming.  My plan is to have the beta feedback to Michael in the next few days and that opens up a window for me to to do the shipping of the bookplates and bookmarks (which he's already signed).  So, if you ordered them. Please bare with me for just a few more days.  They'll be in the post soon!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Age of Myth just $1.99: Kindle Daily Deal


Just found out that Age of Myth is a Kindle Daily Deal. It's priced at $1.99 (the lowest it's ever been and a saving of 80%. But you'll have to act fast. It's only for today.




Saturday, September 9, 2017

Age of Swords ebook formatting has been fixed


A while ago I mentioned that there was a formatting problem with Age of Swords. Apparently my book wasn't the only one affected and it was due to a change in the program that Amazon used to change a .epub file into a .mobi. The good news is the vast majority of readers were NOT hitting the bug. I know from my own testing that my Kindle was fine, as was reading the book from the cloud, the only place I saw the extra line breaks was on my iPad when using an older version of the Kindle App.

For those that were seeing the extra line breaks, it may have automatically fixed itself, but if your ebook is still showing a problem, here is a set of steps to get it fixed.

  • First: Set your account to automatic updates and then new content should be pushed automatically. This is a setting on your Amazon Account page, not on the device itself. Go to your Amazon account, under Manage your content and devices, there is a settings tab. A little less than halfway down the page, there is a setting for Automatic Book Update. Make sure it is on. Wait a few minutes and the file should automatically update. 
  •  If that doesn’t work... Sync the device, then check to see if the book updates within a couple minutes. You should see it look like it's re-downloading.
  • If that doesn’t work... Delete the book from the device, then sync the device, then check to see if the book updates within a couple minutes. You should see it look like it's re-downloading.
  • If that doesn’t work... Reach out to Amazon customer support (be sure you are within Amazon technical customer support) and explain to them that you know there is an updated version of this file and you have tried to download it, but it is not loading. They will need to push the new file to your device manually.
That should take care of things. I know for me, (on an ipad using the Kindle app) I also had to update to the lastest version of the app. Please let me know if none of those work for you, and I'll put you in touch with the digital team at my publisher.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Disappearance of Winter's Daughter Update


So, with Age of Swords now released, I've been getting a lot of emails asking about the next Riyria book: The Disappearance of Winter's Daughter. Hopefully I'll be able to answer a lot of the questions here.

First off, one of the reasons I've been a bit quiet on this project is I had a publisher interested in the print and ebook rights and I wanted if I were to sign with them, the book would take one path, and if I self-published it'd go another another route. Well, we finally got that all figured out and the two of us couldn't come to a meeting of the minds (meaning they wanted rights I didn't want to give up). I'm a bit disappointed, but I do think it'll work out best in the long run. The Death of Dulgath has had a fabulous run and we'll be using the same model for The Disappearance of Winter's Daughter (for the most part).

Okay, so let's get into some of the nitty gritty about his release.

  • Release date: December 5th, 2017 - Just 3 months from now!
  • Alpha reading & Beta reading pretty much took up all of July and August. I've incorporated all the changes from both groups, which has made significant improvement and both I and Robin are really pleased with how the final story wrapped up.
  • As of September 4th, the book is in the hands of the copy editors (Linda Branam and Laura Jorstad). I've worked with both of these amazing women in the past on multiple projects (Hollow World, Death of Dulgath, Age of Myth, Age of Swords) and they have assured me they can work their magic by early October.
  • That'll give us 2 weeks to approve/reject the copy edits and do a final reading of the entire book. Tight, but should be doable.
  • Recording of the audio book and production of the ebook and print editions will start mid-October. Tim Gerard Reynolds will, of course, be doing the narration. And Robin and I will be going to New York/New Jersey for the recording. The hope is to get the book on the presses by end of October.
Yes, we will be doing a Kickstarter for this, the plan is for it to launch October 1 and it'll probably run for 3 weeks. At that time the book will already be done...so what is the Kickstarter for?  Well, it's for hardcover editions: Rare, Limited Edition, Regular Hardcover, and Tradepaper paperbacks. If for some reason the Kickstarter doesn't fund, the book still comes out, there just won't be hardcover editions. I'm fairly confident that it'll fund though.

A Kickstarter also allows us to do some bonus stuff like signed books, bookmarks, and what not. And, under special arrangement with Audible we'll be able to include an audio option for the Kickstarter!! Which is really exciting. 

Also, people who participate in the Kickstarter can get the book 6 months before it's for sale through the retail markets. So that's going to be a real plus. The plan is for Kickstarter (or people who buy direct from our site) will get the book on December 5th and the book will be in B&N and Amazon come June 5th.

One thing we'll be doing, with this Kickstarter, however, is significantly reducing the "bonus add on" stuff. Robin got really excited last time and she kept adding all kinds of things: coffee mugs, bags, t-shirts, etc. The intention was a good one, but the reality is the shipping became a nightmare. We had hundreds of T-shirt skus when you took into consideration Men's and Women's, multiple colors and various sizes. 

We also will have "early bird specials" which means you can get some of the most popular pledge levels at a discounted price. You'll have to be quick, though. Last time the early birds ran out just a few hours of the launch of the Kickstarter. If you want to be notified when the Kickstarter goes live, here is a link to sign-up.

Well, I think that about covers things for now. We'll keep you posted as we get closer. I hope you're as excited about this as we are.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Audible's Most Anticipated Sci-Fi & Fantasy of Fall 2017



Audible has just released it's fall preview where it highlights their most anticipated releases that are coming soon. I'm proud that The Disappearnce of Winter's Daughter is one of their featured selections. Here's the full list.

Title
Author
Narrator
Series
Genre
Release Date
TBA
N/A
Contemporary
Sci-Fi
 11/14/17 
Book 3:
Stormlight Archives
Epic
Fantasy
 11/14/17 
Book 0:
His Dark Materials
Epic
Fantasy
 10/19/17 
TBA
Book 1:
Seven Kennings
Epic
Fantasy
 10/17/17 
N/A
Post
Apocalyptic
 09/05/17 
Book 4:
Riyria Chronicles
Epic
Fantasy
 12/05/17 
Multiple
Multiple
Book 2:
X-Files
Contemporary
Sci-Fi
 10/03/17 
Book 1:
Chronicles of the One
Epic
Fantasy
 12/05/17 
Book 1:
Tainted Cabal
Epic
Fantasy
 09/05/17 
N/A
Military
Sci-Fi
 10/10/17 
N/A
Horror
 09/26/17 
Book 5:
Demon Cycle
Epic
Fantasy
 10/03/17 
Book 4.5:
Demon Accords
Dark
Fantasy
 08/29/17 
The Last Jedi
Star Wars
Sci-Fi
 09/01/17 
Multiple
TBA
Anthology
Anthology
 10/03/17 
Multiple
TBA
Anthology
Star Wars
Sci-Fi
 10/03/17 
TBA
N/A
Military
Sci-Fi
 10/03/17 
TBA
The Last Jedi
Star Wars
Sci-Fi
 10/31/17 
N/A
Contemporary
Fantasy
 10/31/17 
TBA
Book 3:
Mass Effect
Contemporary
Sci-Fi
 11/07/17 
TBA
N/A
Epic
Fantasy
 11/21/17 
TBA
Star Trek
Star Trek
Sci-Fi
 11/28/17 
The Last Jedi
Star Wars
Sci-Fi
 09/01/17 
Book 3:
Tyrus Chronicle
Epic
Fantasy
 08/29/17 
Book 3:
Embers of Illeniel
Epic
Fantasy
 08/29/17