Friday, December 8, 2017

Audible's Editor's Select: Best New Releases of December



2017 has been an exceptional year for audiobook releases, and as the year winds down Audible's editors picked their final batch of best-of titles.


I'm honored to have The Disappearance of Winter's Daughter make the cut. I think this is the first time one of my books has been an editor's choice (although several titles have been awarded Listener's Favorites and Age of Myth was a finalist for Best Book of the Year in 2016). Here's what the editor had to say about the book.
I'm so glad to hear that Michael felt it could be enjoyed as a standalone. That was certainly one of the goals of this book, and it's always good when a bar you set for yourself is cleared.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Audible 50% off Sitewide Sale



Hey all, there is a great sale going on at Audible right now: 50% everything.  Of particular note is a number of titles that are under $5 including:
  • Astrophysics for People in a Hurry By: Neil deGrasse Tyson
  • Wonder by: R. J. Palacio
  • The Great Gatsby By: F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Cosmo by: Carl Sagan
  • A Christmas Carol: A Signature Performance by Tim Curry by: Charles Dickens
I'm thrilled that my latest release, The Disappearance of Winter's Daughter is also featured in the sale as an Editor's Pick:



Winter's Daughter is a standalone that can be read without any prior knowledge of the Riyria Chronicles but thanks to the 50% off sale, you could grab the first three for half the price.  Gotta move fast, though. Sale ends on the 14th.  Happy listening no matter what you pick up!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Winter's Daughter - A great first day!


Yesterday The Disappearance of Winter's Daughter was officially released!  Release days are so exciting. You are hoping for good results. You are hoping for people to like the book. You are hoping you won't have to crawl into a hole afterward.



The book hit #7 overall, which is pretty good considering it shared release day with two power hitters (Nora Roberts made her debut into the fantasy world with her book Year One, and Kel Kade's King's Dark Tiding also launched).  In addition, to the sales from Audible.com, a number of people 604 to be exact, have pre-ordered print and ebook copies directly from me.  The distribution of ebooks, is, unfortunately, manual at this point and Robin, myself, and Sarah worked long into the night to get them all sent out.  So, if you pre-ordered, look in your email for your books.

But what's even better than all the the enthusiastic sales is that people seem to be enjoying the new release. Here's what has come in so far.



 They're Baaack...! 

What about Tim Gerard Reynolds and Michael J. Sullivan ’s performance did you like?
Tim Gerard Reynolds should be in Audible's Narrator Hall of Fame. Michael J. Sullivan takes us on another epic adventure with my favorite duo. Delving ever deeper into Ryiras history gap MJS spins gold and TGR brings it to life! Oh how I hope MJS keeps writing these I've had it on pre order for the past 5 months!!

 4th book in the series and still great! 



I worried that this type of series could feel flat after a few entries but found no need to worry! Great book! my only complaint is I wanted more!


This is in addition to the accolades that have been coming in from the Kickstarters. It's still early, but I'm cautiously optimistic that people are enjoying the new adventure.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Release Day - The Disappearance of Winter's Daughter


Today The Disappearance of Winter's Daughter is officially released!  Yes, many people have already received the book as part of the Kickstarter, but it's not available to the public at large.  Leading up to the release, we've been in the top 100 Bestselling Audio books for the last four days and I have hopes of climbing even higher than it's current position of 75. Oh, and if you are new to Riyria, no worries this book is a standalone and no prior knowledge of Riyria is needed to enjoy this to the it's fullest.



For those who are looking online for the print and ebook, you won't find them. This is an "audio first" release so for the first six months it'll only be the audio version available for sale in the retailers. But if you just can't wait that long, no worries you can get copies directly from me. The ebooks are a manual process and we'll check for orders a few times a day, so if you don't receive your copy right away, you should within a few hours.  As for the printed versions...they are still on the press and are due to ship 12/08. Allowing for a few days of shipping, we should have copies by the 12th and we'll start shipping the pre-orders then.

For people who would like to read a sample chapter...you can find one here!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Sandwiched between Tolkien and Sanderson - not a bad place to be ;-)



The Disapperanace of Winter's Daughter will be released in audio (and ebook when bought directly from me)  in just 2 days!!  So I was curious to see how the pre-orders were doing and ventured over to Audible's Epic Fantasy page. To be honest, I didn't expect to see it within the Best Seller listings, but there it was nicely sandwiched between Tolkien's master works and a soon to be released Brandon Sanderson tale. I'll take that!

Seriously, thank you everyone for pre-ordering the book, and I hope you are as excite as I am about it's release. Robin and I were in New York in the middle of October for it's recording, and I gotta say, Tim has done another fabulous job. I can't wait until you can hear it as well.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Congratulations Jonathan Davis



Because the Riyria novels and the new series, Legends of the First Empire are my more popular works, you probably already know about my love for Tim Gerard Reynolds, the narrator of my fantasy books. Heck, I even dedicated Age of Sword to him!

But did you know I have another narrator that I've used? His name is Jonathan Davis and he lends his incredible voice to Hollow World. Jonathan was a perfect choice for this novel because I needed someone with a very "mid-western" sound to his voice and he did a fabulous job characterizing: Warren, Pax, and Ellis Rogers. Well Jonathan's amazing talent was just recognized by Audible when he was inducted into their Narrator Hall of Fame. Great work Jonathan!


If you are interested in classic science fiction in the vein of Heinlen, Asimov, and Wells, then you probably would like Hollow World.  It explores many themes among them: what it means to be human, what it takes to love, and the cost of paradise. I hope you'll check it, or other books narrated by Jonathan out.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

NaNoWriMo: What it takes to be a writer...

I hope everyone is doing well on your NaNoWriMo goals. You are, right? Since we are at the end of the month I thought I would share a bit about being a writer. So here goes.

  • First off, people seem to get really hung up on when you can and can't call yourself a writer. Some same (a) if you write, you're a writer (b) others say, if you publish you're a writer (c) others say if you earn a full-time living you're a writer.  What's the correct answer?  Take your pick. For me, I think if you are writing then you are a writer, but if you have specific goals that will make you feel like "you made it," then by all means set those goals and work toward it. The important thing here is you have the opportunity to define what the term "writer" means. The outside world doesn't agree on a definition so use the one that fits for you.
  • Second I often hear people say, "I want to be a writer, but I don't want to market." Okay, fine, I understand that sentiment, just realize that if that's the approach you take you're going to struggle and you certainly diminish your chances of "getting anywhere" with your writing. There are a lot of things we do that we don't like. If I was in the housebuilding industry could I tell my foreman, "I like to frame walls I just don't like to drywall or paint them." If I were my own boss (contracted labor) I could do that, but I'd earn a lot less money as it'd be harder to find jobs that let me pick and choose what areas I will do and what I don't.  If I worked for a company, my boss would likely tell me, "That's nice to know, now go tape those drywall seams!" In other words, publishing traditionally won't absolve you from marketing (the marketing team has only a small window of time to focus on your books as each month a new set of books are released). And if you are self-published, you are going to have to do something to get people to know your books exists as otherwise you are the proverbial tree falling in a forest with no one to hear.  So, what if you still say, "I hear you but I'm not going to market...period." Fine, you can still write. Nothing stops you from doing that, but just realize that by making that decision you won't likely have readers. "But I want readers!!" some might say. To that I respond, "Well, then you have to work for them."
  • Regarding self-publishing...I have a small group of indie authors I'm a part of and there was a discussion about whether or not you have to pay for editing and covers to be a writer. Going back to bullet #1, the answer is no. You are a writer just by the fact that you write. Let's say you don't care about money...okay, fine. Post your stuff for free and ask people to read it. In such a situation it can have typos and bad formatting, and be a little rough. People understand they get what they pay for, and since they aren't paying anything, they'll understand if the work isn't polished.  But...let's say you want to publish...well now you've crossed a line to a different level, and from my perspective that line comes with extra responsibilities. When you ask for someone's hard earned cash, they deserve a quality product. And that means you need to invest in covers and editing. "But I don't have the money for those things" some may say.  My first response is..."well I don't have the money for a private jet, so guess what...I don't get one." But when I was self-published and I didn't have the money for editing we cut back and saved.  Cut out beer for a few months, or stop eating out, or forgo desserts. You can get decent editing for $350 (for 100,000 words) and I've seen exceptional covers for $250.  How long will it take to save $600?  For some that may be a very long time...so decrease the time by taking on extra work. Hand out flyers, walk dogs, clear brush--there's always people looking for manual labor on the side. But let's say you disregard my advice and you put out a book without investing in covers and editing? Well, then don't be surprised if (a) your book isn't found by anyone (b) it is torn apart by the few people who do find it because the quality is poor  and (c) you don't grow your career because you lack repeat buyers. 
Bottom line, writing is like anything, it comes with a price. You may like the idea of "writing and doing nothing else" but that's a fairytale. If you don't want to do what's necessary...then stay a hobby writer. Nothing wrong with that. But if you want to make a living from your writing then you have take all that comes along with it.

That's my 2 cents at least...now get back and finish your 50,000 words.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Multi-Author Fantasy Book Sale



It's time for the annual Cyber Monday Signed Book Sale! As in previous years, some author friends and I have gotten together to offer holiday prices on signed books directly from our websites. This means you can get signed books at a discount, and also send a little more money toward your favorite authors during this holiday season. This year, the participants are Bradley Beaulieu, Jason Hough, Brian McClellan, and Brent Weeks (use discount code NIGHTANGEL).


As for my own books, here's what I have on sale this year:
I hope you'll take advantage of some of these great discounts. Timing on each sale is dependent on the author, my books will remain on sale for the entire week (ending midnight + 1 min on December 3rd.

Oh, and I should also note: Theft of Swords is one of many, many Kindle Daily Deal books - so you can get the ebook for just $2.99 at most US retailers.

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

Only a few books are featured by Audible on their front page, and I'm honored to say The Disappearance of Winter's Daughter was deemed worthy of such an important spot!


The audio book for The Disappearance of Winter's Daughter is coming (December 5th, 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!