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.
- Orbit reads, loves, and offers me a good price for publishing it
- My agent has to “shop” the project to other publishers
- 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.
- 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.
- While I’m working on #1, the first wave of Beta readers will be giving their feedback.
- I’ll need to incorporate the Beta readers feedback – so that will take me until the end of the year (probably)
- 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.