MICHAEL J. SULLIVAN is one of the few authors who has been successfully published through all three routes: small press, self, and big six. He’s sold more than 1,250,000 books, has been translated into fourteen foreign languages (including German, Russian, French, and Japanese), and had been named to io9’s Most Successful Self-Published Sci-Fi and Fantasy Authors list. In addition his books have appeared on more than two-hundred best-of or most-anticipated lists. Some highlights of Michael’s career include:
- 2013 Audible Award Finalist for Fantasy
- Six-time Goodreads Choice Award Nominee: 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017
- Three-time Earphone Award Winner for The Rose and the Thorn, Age of Myth, and The Disappearance of winter’s Daughter
- 2010 Fantasy Book Critic’s #1 Indie Fantasy
- 2011 Best Fantasy Lists: Library Journal & Barnes & Noble’s Fantasy Blog
- 2012 Audible’s Editor’s Picks
- 2013 /r/Fantasy Community Achievement Stabby Award for best overall contributor
- 2014 James Tiptree Jr. Award: Works Worthy of Attention
- 2015 Buzzfeed’s Best Fantasy Books
- 2016 Amazon’s Best Fantasy & Sci-fi
- 2017 Fantasy Faction’s Top Books
Like many authors, Michael’s journey to publication was a long one. In his twenties he became a stay-at-home dad and wrote while his kids were napping or at school. He completed twelve novels over the course of a decade, and after finding no traction, he quit writing altogether. During the next decade, stories continued to form, but he never put any of them down on paper. He finally relented and started writing again, but only on the condition that he wouldn’t seek publication. He decided to write the stories that he wanted to read and expected to share them only with his family and close friends. His wife, Robin, had other plans.
After reading the first three books of the Riyria Revelations, she became dedicated to getting them “out there.” Since Michael refused to jump back on the query-go-round, she took it upon herself and after more than one hundred query rejections, she finally landed an agent. After a year of submissions, without any interest, she switched to querying small presses and The Crown Conspiracy was signed to Aspirations Media Inc. They later signed the second book, Avempartha, but when they lacked the funds for the print run, the rights reverted and Robin started releasing the books at six-month intervals through her own imprint. When foreign language deals started to come in, she hired Teri Tobias to pick the right publishers and negotiate the deals. By the publication of the fifth book, Robin asked Teri to try New York again and the series received a much different reception. Out of the seventeen publishers they approached, almost half expressed interest and in less than a month, a deal was signed with Orbit (fantasy imprint of big six publisher Hachette Book Group).
After finishing the Riyria Revelations, and while waiting to evaluate the reaction to the series, Michael wrote two stand-alone novels: Hollow World (a science-fiction novel) and Antithesis (an urban fantasy). Work on these were temporarily suspended because of the public’s demand for more Royce and Hadrian stories. In response Michael wrote the two prequel novels (the Riyria Chronicles), which have been sold and released by Orbit. The Crown Tower was released in August 2013 and The Rose and the Thorn in September 2013.
Hollow World wasn’t picked up by Orbit, and despite a generous five-figure offer from another publisher, Michael decided it was best to retain his ebook rights so he became one of the select few authors who negotiated a print-only deal (others include Hugh Howey, Brandon Sanderson, Coleen Hoover, and Bella Andre). He ran a Kickstarter for Hollow World and raised more than $30,000 (making it the 8th most funded project in the fiction category and the highest for an original single novel). The audio rights for Hollow World have been sold to Recorded Books and is slated to be released in April 2014 to correspond to the official ebook and print releases.
Michael’s current project is The Legends of the First Empire. A six-book series based on the ancient past of his bestselling Riyria novels. He has also started a new series, The Rise and the Fall, which has been signed to a seven-figure contract for the trilogy.
Find out more about the author at www.riyria.com.