Friday, May 30, 2014

My ears are burning...wish I was at BEA

For the past two years I've been going to BEA (Bookexpo America) but this year I stayed home to get some writing done. I'm living vicariously through my agent who is meeting with various parties on my behalf. I'm pleased to announce we've secured one deal, but more on that at a later time as I want to make sure the ink is dry on the contract before I say anything publicly, but I'm very excited about this new opportunity and I'm sure you will be too.

I'm also monitoring tweets and as I noted in my last blog post, I was thrilled to hear that Otis Chandler, CEO of Goodreads brought up during the Digital pre-conference how I'm using Goodreads to help connect with my readers. Well yesterday my ears were burning as I suspect Patrick Brown (Director of Author Marketing at Goodreads brought my name up again in his 1:00 Panel: Goodreads 201: Advanced Tips for Driving Book Discovery. The reason for my suspicion is this tweet:

I'm so glad that the people at Goodreads think I'm a good example. I LOVE the site, and I've been happily participating in their Ask the Author initiative.  I'll be writing more in the future about what I do, and how I do it, as I hope more authors and readers start connecting on this fabulous site. In the meantime, here are is a link to an article I did for Amazing Stories Magazine with some tips for how Authors should interact on reading communities.

For those at BEA, I hope you are having a great time. I'm especially envious of those meeting and greeting in the Author Hub as I'd love to sit around and "talk shop" with some of these incredible authors. Oh well, perhaps next year...but for now I'm going to get back to writing so that my whole reason for staying home accomplishes my goal.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Hollow World on Sale $0.99 during Bookexpo America

It's Bookexpo America time again, that wild convention that happens once a year in New York.  Yesterday kicked off the Digital Conference and the founder and CEO of Goodreads actually brought up my name several times.  I wasn't even aware that Otis knew I existed so to see tweets from Porter Anderson saying that I had been singled out as an author who really knows how to connect with readers was a great thing to see.

Also, Hollow World's sales have now exceeded the five-figure advance that I was originally offered and turned down...and in just a few months! To celebrate, I'm lowering the price of Hollow World during BEA to just $0.99.  That's 87% off the regular $7.99 price.

So if you've been thinking of giving Hollow World a try, now is a great opportunity to do so.  Or, if you've already read the book, then consider gifting it to a friend.  Oh, and for those who enjoy paperback or audio versions, keep in mind that you always get the ebook for free when ou purchase either of those formats:

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


I've been away for a few days, and behind on everything, including blogging and emails. I apologize for any delays people may be seeing. But I wanted to mention one email that I did notice while I was away. On Friday I received and email from the CEO of Hachette Book Group informing all 4,000+ authors that the dispute currently waging between Hachette and Amazon took a turn for the worst as now pre-ordering has been removed.

For those that don't know, pre-ordering is extremely important in the book business. In many ways, the fate of a book is largely determined by the numbers of pre-orders.  It can influence the size of the printing, the amount of marketing dollars expended, and most importantly, it affects the all important first week's sales.  This "first week's sales" is critical because it is the best chance an author has of hitting a highly coveted bestseller list such as the New York Times or USA Today.  I don't have any books in pre-order, but I'm saddened for those that do. Once again fighting between the publisher and retailer is bleeding over to the author.

I'm glad that Michael Pietsch sent this letter, and to see his commitment to keep the authors "updated with important developments." But it also reminds me of the months of runaround when I couldn't get any straight answers to the Amazon problems I was seeing. When discounting disappeared on February 7th for my books and almost all other Orbit author's titles, the response wasn't, "Yeah we are in contract negotiations and Amazon is using this to strong arm us." Or even, "Yes we know about this, but we really can't tell you what is going on just now."  No, the answer I got was very much business as usual.  The actual response was, "Unfortunately Amazon decides what books to discount and by how much and we have no say over their decisions." While technically true, it also concealed the fact that something more was going on, and I wished Hachette had come clean about it back them.

During the various articles being posted about the Amazon-Hachette dispute I found it interesting that the problem goes back even further than February according to agent Kristen Nelson who said, "I’ve informally known about this since late fall 2013 (as early as November). The problem? My Hachette authors and I noticed this “shipping issue” multiple times and brought it to our Hachette Editors’ attention. Multiple times. Repeated emails. We were assured that all was fine. (Which we, of course, did not believe since it kept happening….)."

I echo Kristin's frustration that once more a big publisher chose not to partner with authors and agents in telling us the truth about what was going on. This isn't the way to foster trust and as Kristen also pointed out makes us look more suspiciously the next time the publisher's response is "all is fine."

So thank you Michael Pietch, for being so responsive with this latest bit of news, but please in the future continue this trend and keep the lines of communication open and let us know immediately when there are issues going on that may affect the sales of our books. Remember we are in this together.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Goodreads: Ask the Author

One of the great things about writing in today's technological age is the ability to directly communicate with readers. This type of access just wasn't possible in the past. But finding how to communicate with your favorite author isn't always easy, but Goodreads is here to help. Today Goodreads is launching a great new program to bring authors and readers together, and I'm proud to be a part of it.  It's called "Ask the Author," and it gives you the opportunity to interact with your favorite authors (and me) to get answers to all those burning questions you may have. Here is the list of authors who will be part of this early release program:

As you can see there are some pretty amazing names in that group, and a wide variety of fiction, non-fiction, literary, and genre fiction authors. For my own part, I'll be answering questions across a wide spectrum of topics Just click here to ask your own question, or see answers to questions that others have asked. This could include: my released books, my future works, writing advice, or anything about the publishing industry including questions related to small-press, self-publishing, and working with the big-five. I must say, I'm a little terrified that when I go to my "question queue" I'll find nothing but crickets, so please, if you do have anything to ask, stop on by. I look forward to hearing from you.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Theft of Swords, a new printing, a new cover

I got an email from my UK publisher letting me know that Theft of Swords has gone into its 8th printing. That's fabulous news, I'm so happy that people "across the pond" are helping to spread the word and the books are doing so well there.  They also mentioned that with the new printing the UK version will be brought into line with the US cover (which also corresponds with the look and feel of the covers for The Riyria Chronicle books: The Crown Tower and The Rose and the Thorn.

While they didn't say for sure, I suspect that when (if) the other books (Rise of Empire and Heir of Novron) go into another printing they will also be converted over to the new covers as well.

Thanks again all for all the wonderful support of this series. It is because of you, sharing your love for the books which allows me to do what I love most for a living. It means a great deal.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Author's Playing D&D

For the past few Januarys I've been returning to my home stomping grounds of Detroit Michigan for ConFusion.  This past January, I was invited by Peter Brett to join in his annual Dungeons and Dragons game. I've played D&D in the past....way in the past.  In fact, it was over 30 years ago that my friends and my future wife used to get together on Saturday nights to play until dawn.

Peter arranged for the game to be recorded, and has edited and made it available. Here is the full video:

The video has introductions, although I noticed that don't mention their books/projects so let me provide a little more details:

Dungeon Masters

  • Peter V. Brett - bestselling author of The Demon Cycle which includes: The Warded Man, The Desert Spear and The Daylight War
  • Howard Tayler - is both a writer and an artist. His best known work is his space opera comic called Schlock Mercenary.
The Players:
  • Cherie Priest is best known for authoring the steampunk series: Clockwork Century which contains: Boneshaker, Clementine, Tanglefoot, Dreadnought, Ganymede, The Inexplicables, and Fiddlehead.    
  • Rich Morris is also a comic artist who does Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic (YAFGC)
  • Kelley Armstrong is a #1 New York Times Author of so many novels I couldn't possibly hope to list them all. Some of her series include: OtherWorld, Cainsville, Age of Legends, The Blackwell Pages, Darkest Powers & Darkest Rising, Nadia Stafford and a whole host of short fiction.
  • Welsey Chu is a fairly new author. His debut novel The Lives of Tao came out in April 2013, followed by The Deaths of Tao last October.
  • Michael J. Sullivan you of course know...why else would you be here at my blog. If you don't know what I write, just click on the books tab
  • Myke Cole is a fantasy author of the Shadow Ops military fantasy series. His books include: Control Point, Fortress Frontier, and Breazh Zone
  • Sam Sykes is a fantasy author of The Aeons' Gate series. His books include: Tome of the Undergates, Black Halo, and The Skybound Sea. He has a new series that will be coming out from my publisher, Orbit.

Added Player:
  • Brian McClellan came in later on in the game. He is also published by Orbit. His debut novel, Promise of Blood  came out in April 2013, and his second novel, The Crimsom Campaign just released this month.
We had a heck of a good time, and I hope you'll be entertained by our antics.  Hopefully I'll be asked back next year.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

When Amazon and Publishers fight it's the authors and readers who are bloodied.

If you don't follow publishing news, you may not be aware about the Hachette and Amazon dispute...but you may have noticed that books you want to buy on Amazon are higher priced, and taking longer to deliver. Well, now we know why.

I first noticed a problem on February 7th when my books that were usually discounted 25% - 30% on Amazon lost all their discounts. I wasn't alone.  Every Orbit paperback and ebook I looked at was at full price (except a few in pre-order and those released VERY recently).  I brought it to my publisher's attention, but they said that Amazon discounts however they wish, and they could do nothing about it.  About a month later I noticed my books weren't being restocked as they normally are.  From time to time you can see a book go from "in stock" to "xx left more on the way" usually before that number gets too low a new shipment comes in and it goes back to an "in stock" situation.  In early march my books started showing "Usually ships in 2 - 3 weeks).  I wasn't the only Orbit author whose books were this way...nor was I the only Hachette author.  For weeks Robin was emailing to Orbit, not much in the way of explanation was forthcoming. But our suspicion was that Hachette and Orbit were in some form of contract dispute and are books, and most Hachette author's books were pawns in the chess game.

We were right.

Yesterday The New York Times broke the news that Hachette was accusing Amazon of holding back orders.Other venues like The Wall Street Journal, The LA Times,  Publisher's Weekly, Digital Book World,  The GuardianCNN Money, Gigaom, and many more picked up the story.

Today, Forbes ran an article on the situation, and rightly pointed out that the consumers are the one's hurt,  and I agree. But they went on to indicate that authors really aren't:

The Times reveals more about its biases and its audience when it makes the whole story about how writers are the real victims. “Writers Feel An Amazon-Hachette Spat,” shouts the headline. Do they? Consumers do, if their books take longer to ship. But do writers actually feel it?

To answer Forbes's question - Yes...we do actually feel it.  I make my living from writing and when the price of my books goes up, and the stocking of the titles goes down...yes I feel the pinch.  In fact since this whole thing began my sales are off 30%.  How would the reporter for Forbes like it if his paycheck was cut by 30%?  It's especially frustrating since we have  no idea how long this will go on.  It's already been 3 months and I'm tightening my belt.  But how many notches do I have to go in?

I do agree with Forbes that the readers are also being hurt. I don't want my readers to have to pay full price. I can't do anything about the ebooks (except Hollow World), as I'm not allowed to sell those, but I can help for the print copies.  All my books are in stock and discounted  15% - 20% from my store. So, if you want an alternative source for buying my titles while Amazon and Hachette battle this out, please consider purchasing direct from me.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Challenges & Changes in Writing & Publishing Fiction

Today at 3:00 PM at the Arlington Public Library, I'll be on a panel talking about the challenges and changes occurring in today's publishing landscape. My wife will be on the panel as well as authors Jenny Milchman, Alma Katsu and Steve Piacente.  The panel will be moderated by former Washington Post critic Rita Kempley and the whole event is being put together by the good people at One More Page Books.

If you can't make it today, or don't live near Washington DC, then I have some on-line places where you can learn more about this: