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:
 # Ratings 
 Release Date 
 Shelved by 
Naomi Novik
Madeline Miller
Brian McClellan
R. F. Kuang
Mark Lawrence
Josiah Bancroft
Jim Butcher
C. L. Polk
Seanan McGuire
Patricia Briggs
Michael J. Sullivan
Michelle Sagara

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.

Shelved by
 # Ratings 
 Spinning Silver
Naomi Novik
 Age of War (Legends of the First Empire #3) 
 Michael J. Sullivan 
Magic Triumphs (Kate Daniels #10)
Ilona Andrews
Thrawn (Star Wars: Thrawn #1)
Timothy Zahn
Record of a Spaceborn Few (Wayfarers #3)
Becky Chambers
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.


Age of War hits 10,000!

We are still 2 1/2 months out from the release, and I’m pleased to say that more than 10,000 people have added Age of War to their Goodreads shelves. Holy smokes!


I’m thrilled that people are learning about the new release, and I’ve been encouraged by the reviews left by early readers.

Here’s what Justine had to say (she won one of the ARC copies last month)

As I’ve come to expect from Michael J. Sullivan, the tale he is weaving grows in scope and gets more ambitious and brilliant with each subsequent novel. Unpredictable, at times heart-wrenching, and moments I did not see coming made this book a tough one to put down. Beautifully written, wonderfully paced, and emotionally charged, this is one you really need to read!

Oh, and a reminder that there are two more giveaways going on right now. See my previous post for details about them.

And thanks everyone,for showing your enthusiasm for the book. I can’t wait until everyone has a chance to read it.

Book Giveaways!

Hey all, Age of War is coming, and as such I have a few giveaways to tell you about.

  • First, there is a drawing for first edition copies of all three Legends of the First Empire books.   This is open to people from all countries and we’ll do the drawing at the end of June and ship the books in early July. There have been several printings of Age of Myth (and I think Age of Swords has also gone into at least one reprint) so this is an excellent chance to get books that might not be available anywhere else.
For people who are pre-ordering the book, I hope to have a pre-order promotion posted soon where you can receive some initial chapters of the new book as well as some bonus material. Stay tuned for that!


Recaps and Glossary

Hey all, did you know we are just 3 short months away from the release of Age of War?  I’m so excited to hear what you all think of the new novel. We are working hard to get information posted to help people “ramp up” quickly so I’ve added the following to this website.

The glossary is spoiler-free, so between it and the recap you should be up to speed and not need a re-read of Age of Myth or Age of Swords, but if you do re-read even better!

In the next few days I’ll also be posting some sample chapters, and we are going to be putting together some bonus stuff for people who pre-order so keep your eyes open for both of those.

Oh, and in case you need a recap for Age of Myth, here is a link for it as well.

Pre-ordering signed Age of War copies

I’m sorry to say I won’t be going on a book-signing tour for Age of War, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get signed a signed (and dedicated if you wish) copy. Robin has made an online store where a limited number of the books will be sold. Why is the number limited?

Well, a few reasons. First, we don’t want to cause any waves for our publisher with the retail chain. Selling a few books directly won’t have a significant impact on their overall sales. And second, books are heavy and Robin and I are getting older and moving any large volume can be taxing.  And third, we want to get the books into your hands as quickly as possible. Our local indie bookstore will order some extra copies for us, and  we want to get them  in the mail within 48 hours of receiving the books.

I’m sorry to say I won’t be going on a book-signing tour for Age of War, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get signed a signed (and dedicated if you wish) copy. Robin has made an online store where a limited number of the books will be sold. Why is the number limited?

Well, a few reasons. First, we don’t want to cause any waves for our publisher with the retail chain. Selling a few books directly won’t have a significant impact on their overall sales. And second, books are heavy and Robin and I are getting older and moving any large volume can be taxing.  And third, we want to get the books into your hands as quickly as possible. Our local indie bookstore will order some extra copies for us, and  we want to get them  in the mail within 48 hours of receiving the books.

So, how can you get your own signed copy Well you can go this page and place your order. Oh, and don’t forget to get the book dedicated (or just signed). I hope you’ll pick up your own copy.

New Release Date for Age of War


I just heard from my publisher that Age of War is going to be moved from April 17th, to July 3rd.  I’m sorry about this slip, but in the grand scheme of “late releases 75 days isn’t that bad.

Why did this happen? Well a few things.

  • When we received the copyedited book, there were a few little things that needed correcting. Nothing major…it’s not like I had to add or remove entire chapters, but there were some things that Robin pointed out and as it was our last chance to make changes we decided that the book would be better if we bite the bullet and addressed them.
  • We received the copyedits on 11/2 and had a deadline of 11/15.  And as we did our final review we realized that deadline was going to be missed. I generally don’t have deadlines (because I write entire series before publishing the first book). For the times I am under deadline, I take those dates seriously, and this was the first time I missed a delivery.  But I’d rather have the book good than fast, and I think that was the right choice to make.
  • Del Rey received our changes on 1/10, and of course anything “new” that was written has to go back to the copyeditors. They were very understanding and total professionals about this. I love that they are as dedicated as we are to providing a great product.
  • We’re getting printer’s proofs on 2/13 and we’ll need to have everything back to them on 2/27.  Ironically we leave for vacation a few days before that!  But no worries, we’ll make it a “working vacation” and we WILL hit that deadline so there is no further delay.

So, that’s where we stand. Sorry about the delay. But all in all I’m pretty happy the speed of our releases as a whole. This will mark the 5th book released in 2  1/2 years…and that’s not so bad.

  • Dec 2015: The Death of Dulgath (Riyria Chronicle #3)
  • Jun 2016: Age of Myth (Legends of the First Empire #1)
  • Jul 2017: Age of Swords (Legends of the First Empire #2)
  • Dec 2017: The Disappearance of Winter’s Daughter (Riyria Chronicle #4)
  • Jul 2018: Age of War (Legends of the First Empire #3)

In other news, I’m working on the edits to Age of Legend (Legends of the First Empire #4) and the book is coming out really well. We don’t have a release date yet, but we hope to soon.

So, what am I doing now?

A lot of people have asked me the following question in one way or another.

Since you wrote the whole series before the first book was published, and Age of Myth is now out. What are you doing now?

It’s a reasonable question. The answer is I’m working on edits to the last book.

But I thought you wrote the whole series already? What gives?

Well, there is a huge difference between written and finished.  So let me explain the process and where I am.

The Process

So, here’s the steps I go through to get a book from my head to the shelves.

  1. Initial writing…and during this stage no one sees the book during the first draft.  I may vaguely talk about some points with Robin during the writing stage, but not even she gets to see the book until I’m done.
  2. After writing the book it goes through a second pass edit. Usually there are notes I made while writing that I have to incorporate to accommodate changes I made from my outline during the writing process.
  3. I read over the book one last time (and make some really minor changes) before any eyes can see the book.
  4. Robin (my wife) reads the book and usually has a lot of input for changes…most of which I agree with and incorporate.
  5. After the entire series has been read by Robin, I go through the book(s) and make the changes to them based on her “alpha feedback.”
  6. After the alpha changes are incorporated, Robin goes over the book to give it a first pass copy and line edit.  At this stage the book is ready for “other eyes.”
  7. Robin holds a beta read to get feedback from other people.
  8. The book goes to my editor at Del Rey (this may happen at the same time as #7 or after #11 below).
  9. Feedback from he beta is organized by Robin and I incorporate the changes.
  10. Robin does another copy and line edit after the beta feedback is incorporated.
  11. Feedback from #8 is incorporated in the book.
  12. Robin does another copy and line edit after the publisher’s feedback is incorporated.
  13. Now the book is ready for professional copy editing, and it goes to the editors the publisher employs.
  14. Copy edited comments come back and Robin works through the main meat of them and highlights things she feels I’ll have to address – and I do.
  15. I read over the whole manuscript from front to back and during this read any minor changes that were done by the copyediting process that I feel need to be tweaked are.
  16. The book goes to layout and at this point all changes are frozen.
  17. The book is printed and eventually released.

Wow, that’s a long list.  Now where are we with all the books in the series?

  1. Book #1 is at step #17
  2. Book #2 is at step #6
  3. Book #3 is at step #6
  4. Book #4 is at step #6
  5. Book #5 is at step #6
  6. Book #6 is at step #5 – 22 chapters are finished and I’m working on the last six.

Now, for some that last line mentioning book #6 may be a surprise (although I’ve talked about it elsewhere).  Yes, the series that started out as a trilogy has expanded once again and will end up at six books.  That little detail probably deserves a whole post of it’s own, and I’ll do that soon. But here’s the short answer.

Robin’s alpha feedback showed that books 1 – 3 were in really clean shape, and didn’t require much in the way of changes. Book 4 – 5 was a another story, and as I fixed the myriad of problems much of book #4 moved to book #5 and the “natural” stop for book #5 turned out to be in the middle of a 230,000 word book so it made sense to split it.

I should note that once a book gets to step #6 it’s in pretty good shape and while there are minor tweaks, I’ve yet to have any serious re-writing to a book once it reaches that stage. And most of the heavy lifting is done by people other than me (mainly Robin, the beta readers, and my publisher). So, while I’ve not been free to work on anything else yet, I will be soon.

So what WILL I be working on once the last six chapters of book 6 are done?  Well, I don’t know yet. What I plan on doing is using the rest of the summer to go through the plots for the 12 – 15 books that are vying for my attention. I hope to have that sorted out by September 1, at which time I’ll start a new project. I like starting books in the fall, it reminds me of returning to school, and is usually my most productive writing times. More on this once I know more.