Time for an update

It’s amazing how quickly time keeps slipping by…but it’s been a while so let’s have another update!  So several things are going on simultaneously:

  • Writing book #4 – Scheduled to be finished by mid-November
  • Beta test for book #1 – Run by Robin ending November 24th
  • Contests for limited edition advanced reading copies of Rhune

Writing book #4 has been going well. I was a bit stumped for awhile, and needed to figure out a major aspect of the Elan’s origin. After much deliberation, my muse finally coughed up that hairball (which should have been obvious to me, but wasn’t). With that taken care of I now have some good news and bad news.

The good news is the story was elevated to a whole new level…the bad news, I have a lot more to write. I’ve been tracking toward that mid-November finish date, and Scrivener does a nice job at that. I anticipated the novel would be about 110,000 – 120,000 words long (same size as the other books int he series). With that as a baseline Scrivener has been telling me how many words I must reach each day to stay on deadline. Currently, I’m at 91,000 words and the 110,000 I plugged in says I’ll easily make it.

Now the bad news. I’m nowhere near the end of the book. My latest revelation added a whole new aspect that is practically a book in itself…and actually depending on how I write it could mean that the series will once more expand to another book. At this point, I can see pluses and minuses for both. Robin is opting for two books – because that means book #4 will be done “on schedule,” and she’s been less than patient when it comes to waiting for her next installment.

In any case, either I’m going to have a MUCH larger book for the last volume…or this trilogy is going to morph into five books rather than four.  I’ll keep you updated on that front.

Now to beta read.

To be honest, I don’t know a lot about what’s going on there as Robin gives me all beta feedback at once. But we have had some discussions over lunch about various aspects that have been brought up. Some of it (actually most of it) has been related to things I already suspected would be a problem…too light on description. Tweaking some scenes. The good news is no one is suggesting a whole rewrite or removing key characters or anything that I would consider major changes. Everything is falling into the “tweak” category, a good sign.

The beta readers are doing surveys and providing feedback after reading each chapter. They are being asked to comment on things such as pacing, characters, what they liked, what they didn’t like, what surprised them, what was confusing, etc., etc.  So far, she has almost 500 chapter surveys in and nine people have completed reading the full book.  She’s been ill as of late, and as such is behind on compiling the beta feedback. She’s been able to work just a bit the last few days, and that has started to put a dent in it.

Also, we are down to the last week of the ARC Giveaways.  For those that don’t know, I’m going to do a micro print run of Rhune in it’s beta state (10 copies), and I’m giving away 5 in various giveaways.  We have about a week left and if you’ve not signed up for them, you should.  They are open to people from all countries.  Here are links for those who haven’t yet signed up.

You can sign up for both.

Well, that’s pretty much where we are now. It’s starting to feel like everything is coming together, and I think (and hope) that you all will enjoy this series.

When will Rhune be available for sale?

This is a question I’ve been hearing a lot lately. I’m sure a lot of it has to do with the beta that should be occurring soon now. Let me take you three three possible scenarios for this book.

  1. Orbit reads, loves, and offers me a good price for publishing it
  2. My agent has to “shop” the project to other publishers
  3. I end up self-publishing the book

Of course #1 is my, well, #1 choice.  I’ve really enjoyed having Orbit as my partner and I think they would do an excellent job with The First Empire.  But there is no guarantee they will want to pick up the title (they passed on Hollow World).  And if they DO make me an offer, there is no guarantee the two of us will agree on what a fair price will be. My Riyria books have sold well (and continue to be strong even as we approach their third anniversary). But the industry is in turmoil and so there is a great deal to consider.  For instance, my current sales are less than they have been because of the steps taken by Amazon during Hachette’s dispute with Amazon.  Also, advances are decreasing (I was actually offered what I considered to be an insulting offer for The Riyria Chronicles when I first submitted them – luckily they came back with a higher offer and we did keep the books with them). Plus there are some contractual considerations that Orbit and I may not see eye-to-eye on.  Long story short…I have no idea if the project will be with them.  But let’s assume they do produce it…If history is any indication, it will probably be released about a year after I submit to them which would put it at January 2016 or thereabouts.

So if Orbit and I can’t seal a deal, then my agent will “shop it around” to other publishers. There are already several who have expressed an interest. But she can’t even start that process until Orbit and I complete our talks. That is what is called an “option” and it basically means Orbit has 45 days after I submit to determine if they are interested.  So the real question is, “When will the book go to Orbit?”  Well, let’s discuss a few things on that front.

  1. I have to finish book #4 of the series (which I’m shooting for mid-November). Then I’ll need to edit and get the book to Robin, which will probably take until mid-December.
  2. While I’m working on #1, the first wave of Beta readers will be giving their feedback.
  3. I’ll need to incorporate the Beta readers feedback – so that will take me until the end of the year (probably)
  4. If I submit the book to Orbit in early January, they’ll have until mid-February to strike a deal.

So, the earliest #2 can start is mid-February, and I have no idea how long that process will take.  I’m working with a new agent for this project, and I’m not sure what her process will be (it’s meaningless to have those conversations if we never get there.  But let’s assume a few months for that – so now we are in April or May).  Depending on what publisher has it…and what their release schedule looks like it could be anywhere from 1 – 2 years.  Let’s assume 18 months that puts it at October 2016.

Self-publishing is still a viable option for me. In fact, Hollow World has earned very well for me. In fact, I made more than double the five-figure advance another publisher offered. And from an income perspective it has out-earned The Crown Tower and the Rose and the Thorn. So let’s say that come May I’ve decided that all the publishers are: (a) not interested or (b) interested but not offering me what I think the books are worth or (c) offering me a good advance, but contract terms I can’t abide. That will put me at option #3. In this scenario, the book will probably come out the fastest. Here is what I would do.

  • Use the month of May to plan out a Kickstarter for Rhune
  • Launch the Kickstarter in June with a one month duration
  • I should be able to have the cover design and professional editing done while the Kickstarter is running so the book will be ready by say July 1, 2015 – and anyone who backs the Kickstarter can have their copies.
  • As an incentive for the Kickstarter contributors, I’ll give them a few months of “exclusivity” where the book isn’t available to the rest of the world. So I’ll probably put it for sale to the general public in November 2015.

So, the best I can estimate the release of this book is:

  • July 2015 – if self-published and only for those who contribute to the Kickstarter
  • November 2015 – If self-published when it is available to non-Kickstarter people
  • January 2016 – If Orbit publishes it
  • October 2016 – If the project moves to some (yet to be named) other publisher

I know that’s not very precise, but it’s the best I can do for now. As always, I’ll keep you updated as more information becomes available.

Rhune Limited Edition Giveaways

Everyone loves limited editions…and this is about as limited as it gets. Robin had the great idea of printing up a handful (10 copies) of the version of Rhune that will go out to the beta readers (and yes beta readers, she is still behind but getting closer to getting people picked and the beta released).  At this point, only myself and Robin have read the book in this state, and those who receive these limited editions will have a rare peak at the difference between the beta and the final version. Because these are beta versions, the books haven’t been copy edited, so expect a grammar issue here and there. That said, they have been gone over quite a bit already so the copies aren’t as rough as say a first draft.

To give away these copies I have several giveaways running:

  • Beta readers – 1 drawing will be made from those who filled out the survey. You don’t have to do anything else to be entered – you have a 1 in 418 chance to win (yes there were that many beta readers signed up!)
  • Goodreads users –  2 drawings will be made from an official goodreads giveaway. (If you aren’t yet a member of goodreads, you can sign up for free.) I have no idea how many entries there will be, but if past giveaways are any indication, it will probably be 1 in 800. After just one day there are 700 people entered so that estimate may be low. Here is the link to enter.

  • Dark Room member - 1 drawing will be made exclusively for member of The Dark Room (presently about 880 members).  Click on the link in the header to enter.  For those who don’t know, The Dark Room is a secret and private group where readers get access to special perks (like this one). If you aren’t a member and want to become one, send me an email (michael (dot) sullivan (dot) dc (at) gmail (dot) com – with the subject of DARK ROOM INVITE.
  • Everyone else – 1 drawing will be made from those who sign up for the Rhune early release notifications. Currently, there are 190+ people signed up. Here is a link to add your name to the list.

All drawings will be made at the same time (to make it easy for me to co-ordinate the shipping) 12:00 am EST on November 13. I should also mention all of the giveaways are open regardless of location…I’ll spring for the more expensive overseas shipping.

Good luck to all, and remember you can register for as many giveaways as you qualify for, so feel free to enter more than one.

 

We will be giving away 5 of these copies to some VERY lucky people.  Obviously, these copies won’t be the “final version

 

The Rhune Beta read is getting close…sorry about the delays but Robin was a bit overwelmed

Beta Reading, Writing Status, and Some Upcoming Events

I’ve set mid-November as the date to wrap Fhrey…and hence the entire First Empire series.  Fall is always my most productive writing time and now that I’m past the start of the book (I’m about 12,000 words in) things are going more smoothly and humming right along. I’m pretty confident I can hit that date.

Robin, on the other hand, is a bit behind on her edits for Rhune. She hoped to be in a position to have the book in beta readers hands today, but she still has another 25% to go. So a few more days on that. The good news is her edits continue to be minor and the book is holding together nicely.  It will be interesting to see what the beta readers say.

One other thing…my birthday is approaching.  I’ll be turning 53 in nine days and I want to do a bit of celebrating.  As such I’m going to make some VERY limited edition advanced reading copies of Rhune.  These are going to be essentially at the state of the beta read and there will probably only be 10 of them in the world.  I thought I would give them away and I think people will get a kick out of seeing what the book started out like and what it became.  I’ll be making an official post about the giveaways soon but for those that want to get in early…simply sign up for Rhune notifications at this link.  If you’ve already done so..well you are entered so nothing more for you to do.

Another Rhune update

I’m continuing to prepare for the fourth and final book, and if I’m on schedule will start writing it on Monday.  Everything is going nicely and I’m making sure that all the various threads come together in what I hope will be a satisfying conclusion. Meanwhile, Robin has been co-coordinating with the beta readers.  Her spreadsheet has 557 entries on it.  Yes you heard that right.  The next step is for everyone who raised a hand to fill out the survey. This is what we’ll be picking the beta readers from. She’s using Mail Chimp to send out notifications, and some messages have gone to spam folders. If you haven’t got your survey invitation, then send a mail to first.empire.beta@gmail.com as she’ll be closing that process soon. She’s also made some progress on the alpha edit of Rhune.  Here is where we stand now:

Rhune

  • Written: Feb 2013 – July 2013 (100% complete)
  • Pre-alpha edit: July 24, 2014 (100% complete)
  • Alpha Read: July 29 - 31, 2014 (100% complete)
  • Alpha Edit: Aug 2, 2014 (40% complete)
  • Beta #1 Start: Sep 2014 (names gathered, surveys coming in)
  • Beta #2 Start: Jan 2015 (0% complete)

Dherg

  • Written: Aug 2013 – Dec 2013 (100% complete)
  • Pre-alpha edit: Aug 14, 2014 (100% complete)
  • Alpha Read: Aug 8  - Aug 14, 2014 (100% complete)
  • Alpha Edit: Sep 2014 (0% complete)
  • Beta: To be determined

Rhrist

  • Written:Jan 2014 – June 2014
  • Pre-alpha edit: Aug 14, 2014 (100% complete)
  • Alpha Read: Sep 1 – 3, 2014 (100% complete)
  • Alpha Edit: Nov 2014 (0% complete)
  • Beta: To be determined

Fhrey

  • Outlining and planning: August 2014 (80% complete)
  • Writing: Sep 2014 – Dec 2014 (0% complete)
  • Pre-alpha edit: Jan 2015 (0% complete)
  • Alpha Read: Feb 1 – 3 2015 (0% complete)
  • Alpha Editing: Feb – Mar 2015 (0% complete)
  • Beta: To be determined

I’ve also started a mailing list for those who are interested in freebies, pre-ordering, contests, and other goodies.  You can sign up here.

It’s official!

Yesterday my wife finished reading the third book in the series and gave her enthusiastic stamp of approval. As pleased as I am with each book I write, I’m never 100% sure whether they are worth seeing the light of day until I get the thumbs-up or thumbs-down from Robin. Some might assume that she, being my wife and all, always gives the thumbs-up, but that is certainly not true. I have several novels and short stories that won’t see the light of day because the Quality Assurance Department here in our house has said, “Nope try again.”

So, Robin is currently putting some minor edits on the first book, and getting ready for the beta readers.  I’ll talk more about the beta process in my next post. But the good news is the series is in as Robin puts it, “Excellent Shape” and that is a huge hurdle to cross.

A long overdue update on The First Empire books

I can’t believe how long it has been since I’ve updated this blog.  I think you’ll be seeing more frequent updates in the near future. If you’ve kept up with the main pages of this site you’ll know that this series went from a trilogy to four books.  Here is where the series stands now:

Rhune

  • Written: Feb 2013 – July 2013 (100% complete)
  • Pre-alpha edit: July 24, 2014 (100% complete)
  • Alpha Read: July 29 - 31, 2014 (100% complete)
  • Alpha Edit: Aug 2, 2014 (27% complete)
  • Beta #1 Start: Sep 2014 (0% complete)
  • Beta #2 Start: Jan 2015 (0% complete)

Dherg

  • Written: Aug 2013 – Dec 2013 (100% complete)
  • Pre-alpha edit: Aug 14, 2014 (100% complete)
  • Alpha Read: Aug 8  - Aug 14, 2014 (100% complete)
  • Alpha Edit: Sep 2014 (0% complete)
  • Beta: To be determined

Rhrist

  • Written:Jan 2014 – June 2014
  • Pre-alpha edit: Aug 14, 2014 (30% complete)
  • Alpha Read: Sep 1 – 3, 2014 (0% complete)
  • Alpha Edit: Nov 2014 (0% complete)
  • Beta: To be determined

Fhrey

  • Writing: Sep 2014 – Dec 2014 (0% complete)
  • Pre-alpha edit: Jan 2015 (0% complete)
  • Alpha Read: Feb 1 – 3 2015 (0% complete)
  • Alpha Editing: Feb – Mar 2015 (0% complete)
  • Beta: To be determined

So as you can see, even though I’ve not been updating i have been busy writing. The alpha reader feedback for the first two books have been very positive and I don’t see much that has to be changed.  For those that are interested in beta testing, I’ll have a post for you soon on that process.