This is a question I’m getting often right now. That’s a good sign, it means people are reading and enjoying Age of War and want more. I recently wrote a pretty detailed email on this subject, and I thought I should share it here as well. It’s not a short answer, but I want to be comprehensive, so bear with me.
So, as you may already know, all the books of the Legends of the First Empire were written before I sought a publisher for the series. At the time, the series was five books and Robin (my wife) declared the first three were in really good shape, but the last book was rushed, and it felt like I was “smooshing” two stories into one volume…and she was right. So, I ended up making six books and the series nicely divided into two closely related trilogies. After reading the revised version, she still had a number of plot problems with “the back half” of the series and submitted me a long list of changes. I’ve hence made fixes to that list, and Robin now proclaims the series “ready for prime time” The first milestone has been reached!
Originally, Del Rey signed me to a four-book contract (the first three books of Legends of the First Empire) and one yet to be named book based in Elan. The intention was to sign the remaining two books to them so that they would release the whole series. Well, when it came time to negotiate the new contract, I had to remind Del Rey that the audiobook rights to the remaining books had already been sold, and this presented a problem. You see, the parent company (Penguin Random House), made a new policy where Del Rey couldn’t sign books where the audiobook rights weren’t available. So, even though the books have sold well (#1 and #2 hit the Washington Post hardcover bestseller list and #3 hit the New York Times audiobook bestseller list), and we’ve enjoyed working together, we can’t continue to publish these books as a team. This was quite disappointing, but also something that Robin thought might happen. Still, the value of the audiobooks is so great that we can’t really afford to split that money 50/50 with a print/ebook publisher.
Becuase the series breaks down neatly into two trilogies, I also didn’t want to make that “yet to be named book” the fourth book of the Legends series if they weren’t also signing the rest of the books, so, instead, I asked if we could end the relationship with Age of War so we could have a clean break there, and Del Rey agreed.
We then went in search of a publisher who would take only the print rights, and we found Kensington Press (the biggest of the independent (non-big five) publishers. We struck a deal and started working on the contracts. A process that always takes a very long time (because Robin has to negotiate a number of things out of the contract before I’ll sign). Much of the changes was revolve around control issues. They wanted a release schedule that matched Del Rey’s (one book a year in the summer June or July). We wanted the books to come out faster (mainly because I’ve already started writing my next trilogy (The Rise and the Fall), and I expect it’ll be done soon. I didn’t want these new books “waiting in the wings” for multiple years. Anyways, after months and months of back and forth, we decided that I’d be happier with self-publishing where I had total control of content, release date, pricing, and a bunch of other issues. So even though Kensington made a lot of concessions, we ultimately couldn’t come up with a contract that we were both happy with so that deal is now dead.
Now that we had the rights to the “second half of the series” in complete control, we could do whatever we want…but what would that be? Ideally, we want the books to come out quickly (but without any sacrifice in quality). So the current plan is to go through the whole last part of the series at once–polishing all three books back to back. What that means is we have a lot of lifting to do, but the books are in good shape so it’s light lifting rather than heavy.
Our current plan is to release the books as follows:
- Age of Legend (April 2019)
- Age of Death (October 2019)
- Age of Empyre (April 2020)
That means all three books will come out in a single year’s time. Now that said, I should note there is a lot left to do.
- Robin has to give me one last list of changes (all of which she claims to be minor)
- The books have to have a line edit pass before going to the beta readers
- We have to run the beta reads
- I’ll have to incorporate changes post beta feedback
- We’ll have to do another pass of line edits
- The books will go to the copyeditors (we’ll use two and would like to do so serially)
- The books have to be laid out for printing
- The books have to go through proofers and gamma readers
- Any last minute errors have to be fixed
- The books have to go to the printers
- The books have to be recorded
- The books have to be formatted for ebooks
That’s a lot to do on three books of over 400,000 words. We may not be able to do all of that by April, but that’s what we are shooting for. Robin’s due date to have the changes to me is by the end of this month (which is fast approaching). And she’s still busy on some other activities. including:
- Proofing Age of Myth Graphic Audio production
- Getting Winter’s Daughter ready for it’s October release
- Arranging for warehousing, distribution and fulfillment for all my books
- Setting up Kickstarters (2 for hardcover editions)
- Coordinating with our accountant for taxes (we filed an extension)
The good news, is if we miss April, we’ll still be able to do the “rapid release” of having all books out in a year. It’s really just “when” that year will start.
Oh, a few other things I should note. The plan is to have the second half of the series “match” the first half. Of course, we are still using Marc Simonetti for the cover designs, and we are doing some “reverse engineering” to determine the same stock as Del Rey used for paper. We’ll also make sure the sizes match (so everything lines up nicely on your bookcases). In order to do this, however, will require a substantial upfront cost for the print run. So we’ll most likely run Kickstarters to help with the printing. The good news…people who participate in the Kickstarter will be able to read the book even before the official release date, so if you’re really anxious you’ll be able to get the book even sooner.
Whew, see, I said it was a long answer. But hopefully, it lets everyone know what to expect.