Magda Gets a Television Appearance

No, this isn’t an announcement about a Legends of the First Empire television series, but it’s still pretty cool.  Allstate Insurance recently did an advertisement about the resilience and strength of Carolinians in the wake of Hurricane Florence. In this ad, they focused on the Angel Oak of Johns Island South Carolina. It’s an amazing tree (and some say it’s the oldest living thing east of the Mississippi). It’s estimated to be between 400 – 500 years old, and it’s magnificent. It was also my inspiration for Magda, the wise and ancient oak of the Cresent Forest in the Legends of the First Empire series. Even though Marc Simonetti did a fabulous job interpreting the Angel Oak for the cover of Age of Myth, I thought people might want to see Magda in all her glory.

 

 

 

Age of Swords Hardcover Updates

As you may know, the hardcover edition of Age of Swords has gone out of print, and resellers have been charging outrageous amounts (currently $92 – $119) to get copies. We ran a crowdfunding campaign to buy the excess copies from Del Rey and I thought I should update everyone on the status of the the Age of Swords hardcovers. So here goes:

  • Yes, we have copies now, and they are shipping from our online store.
  • We’ve also full-funded our Indiegogo campaign to buy all the remaining stock from Del Rey, and we are heading toward our 3rd stretch goal.
  • Goal #1 and #2 are providing signed Age of Swords bookmarks, and if we reach the next goal, Robin and I will do some online Q&A sessions on writing and the business side of publishing.
  • The big shipment from Del Rey is in the warehouse, and I’ll be going there to sign those books after the holiday.

In doing this project, I thought it would be interesting to look at the money side in a bit more detail so Robin pulled some data from my most recent royalty statement (sales through 03/31/18) and here’s some interesting information from that:

  • $15,360.42: Our “cut” of the hardcover sales of this book to date  (once we subtract off the money we paid Del Rey)
  • $108,016.88: Del Rey’s cut of the hardcover sales of this book (including what we paid them).
  • $21,490 – gross amount the crowdfunding campaign has raised so far. Yes in 5 days I’ve brought in MORE money than over a year’s worth of royalties from the traditional publisher! Now granted, not all of that is profit, but we still have 2 weeks and 3 days to go, so who knows how much money we will raise.
  • $75,264 – my potential income if all the remaining books are sold at the same price as the crowdfunding campaign ($22).

I don’t know about you but I find that pretty eye-opening.

Hardcover crowdfunding launches today at noon EDT

Today at noon, this IndieGoGo campaign will go live.

No, it’s not the project for making Age of Legend (although that project will be launching early next year), but something came up out of the blue and we need to act fast. You see, Del Rey has put the hardcover edition of Age of Swords out of print, and we have a small window to do something about it.

I discovered the out-of-print status when I tried to order copies to replenish our online store, and I wasn’t able to get any. After a little digging, I found that the only way to get copies were through Amazon Marketplace resellers and they had jacked up the prices to $89 – $191 for both new and used copies. That’s an outrage!

To make matters worse, I won’t earn a dime from any sales of the hardcovers from here on out. But, honestly, that doesn’t upset me as much as the fact that people will either have to “do without” or pay outrageous prices to have hardcovers on their bookshelves.

So, here’s the deal, Robin found out how much it would cost for us to buy up the remaining copies, send them to a warehouse, and hire a logistics company to ship them out. It’s not cheap, but it is doable if we can raise $11,360. 

So, we’re doing what we’ve done in the past…turn to crowdfunding. We started out by making a Kickstarter project, but as it turns out, you can’t use that platform for an existing product. So this campaign will be run on IndieGoGo.  It’s pretty straightforward; you’ll be able to get signed hardcovers and bonus perks like a short story, screensavers, and public acknowledgment for helping to make this project successful. You’ll be able to receive one, two, or all three of the hardcovers that are currently released in the Legends of the First Empire series, and because we’ll be getting the books cheaper than we normally do,  we’ll pass some savings on to you and give 20% off the list price.  (I’m essentially extending the “early-bird” discount that I’ve used in the past to apply to everyone.)

So, if you haven’t picked up hardcovers yet (or are looking for a gift for a friend or relative…Christmas and Hanukkah will be here before we know it), now would be a great time to get copies. And we’ll also keep these books out of the reseller channel, and without the ability to buy new stock, they won’t be able to rip off more people with their price-gouging techniques.

Oh, another thing I should mention…there is a limited number of special perks which will be for a one-night stay with Robin and I in our cabin in Luray (maybe you saw a bit about it in our recent post).

Okay last thing, unlike Kickstarters, we get funding from IndieGoGo even if we don’t hit our goal, so we’ll be able to buy a subset of books if necessary, which means you will get your copies no matter what funding level we reach. But buying a fraction of the remaining stock will mean that the resellers will be able to get more, and I’d hate to facilitate their bad behavior.

Anyway, check out the campaign starting at noon, and if you like what you see, please consider backing the project.

 

Age of War hits Goodread’s Best Fantasy 2018 List

It’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Week at Goodreads, and there is a lot going on for fans of the genre. I’m honored that Age of War has made their Best-Fantasy-of-2018 (so far) list. Here’s all 12 titles:

Here’s some information for each title, along with links to add them to your shelves:
 
Title
Author
 Rating 
 # Ratings 
 Release Date 
 Shelved by 
Naomi Novik
4.36
8,564
07/10/18
56,737
Madeline Miller
4.37
33,832
04/10/18
142,949
Brian McClellan
4.57
2,251
05/15/18
7,292
R. F. Kuang
4.16
4,929
05/01/18
35,577
Mark Lawrence
4.47
6,255
04/03/18
17,066
Josiah Bancroft
4.27
5,101
01/16/18
26,536
Jim Butcher
4.43
4,922
06/05/18
13,279
C. L. Polk
4.03
842
06/19/18
6,785
Seanan McGuire
4.11
7,986
01/09/18
22,750
Patricia Briggs
4.28
10,913
03/06/18
24,867
Michael J. Sullivan
4.51
2,531
07/03/18
16,728
Michelle Sagara
4.19
1,600
01/23/18
5,204

When can I read Age of Legend?

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.

Tomorrow is release day for Age of War

Well, it’s finally here. The release day of Age of War is only one day away and The Legends of the First Empire is dominating the audiboook epic fantasy best-selling list. All three novels are ranked, and thanks to a $5.95 sale on Age of Myth I have a book sitting in the #2 spot!

legends_best_sellingIf you haven’t picked up a copy of Age of War I hope you will. I’m very excited to hear what people think about this next installment in the series.

 

Goodreads names Age of War one of the Hottest Books of the Summer

Less than two weeks before Age of War’s release and I’m honored and thrilled that it was picked by Goodreads as one of the Hottest Sci-fi and Fantasy reads of the summer.  Here are all five selections:

I’ve also pulled some of the information about each book from Goodreads.

Title
Author
Shelved by
 Rating 
 # Ratings 
 Spinning Silver
Naomi Novik
21,604
4.47
271
 Age of War (Legends of the First Empire #3) 
 Michael J. Sullivan 
12,196
4.46
259
Magic Triumphs (Kate Daniels #10)
Ilona Andrews
18,319
4.58
588
Thrawn (Star Wars: Thrawn #1)
Timothy Zahn
30,330
4.28
12,555
Record of a Spaceborn Few (Wayfarers #3)
Becky Chambers
13,008
4.54
146
I know I’m looking forward to Spinning Silver (also from Del Rey) because I enjoyed her latest book, Uprooted, so much. It looks like it’s going to be a great summer for reading.