Tuesday, July 7, 2015

It's all coming toegether...

I'm starting the last chapter of The Death of Dulgath and the Kickstarter is entering its final stretch (9 days 14 hours left). Originally my schedule was to finish writing the first draft by the end of July, take a few weeks for going over it, and get the book to alpha by mid August. Current schedule has me finishing up today or tomorrow, and I'll probably only need a week for pre-alpha changes. That means Robin might get the book as early as July 15th.  We'll see, but in any case I'm definitely ahead of schedule, a good thing when on such a tight deadline.

As for the Kickstarter, it did remarkably well over the holiday.  I expected the pledges to dry up to a trickle for July 3rd - July 6th but it brought in almost $2,700. Thanks all for the continued support. That added push made us hit a new milestone. We moved up two spots from #8 to #6 on the all-time highest-funded US fiction projects.

Looking at what's ahead of us, I think it may be possible to hit #4. We are just $3,540 away so that's just $393 a day. Speaking of meeting goals, we are fast approaching Stretch Goal #8 (just $621 away).

It'll be interesting to see how this all comes together. Robin is running an analysis for me on the guesses people came up with, but already we blew by a lot of them so we're outperforming what most people thought we'd end up with.  Thank you to everyone helping to spread the word, your help has been greatly appreciated.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The March Continues...Now in the Top 8

With the holiday coming on, I'm sure things will slow down, but The Death of Dulgath Kickstarter continue its climb up through the most funded US fiction projects. Within just a few hours we moved from tenth, past ninth and are now in the top 8!

Incidentally, spot #8 is where Hollow World landed during my last Kickstarter, but it was a lot easier to do back then.  It finished out at $30,857 to hit that ranking.  Where are we going to end up?  Well my guess was wrong. I thought it would max out at $50,000. Robin's guess is higher than mine but I won't say what it is just yet. We held a contest and there are still 156 estimations above it's current level.

I can't expresshow glad I am that so many people are excited about the new book, and are joining in the Kickstarter to get not only it, but some really cool perks as well.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

State of the Kickstarter

Just over two weeks left for The Death of Dulgath Kickstarter and I thought it was a good time to "take stock" as it were. First let's start with some amazing facts (thanks to Robin for compiling these):

  • Fully funded in 47 hours 23 minutes
  • Named a Staff Pick by Kickstarter
  • Currently $49,954 in pledges from 1,184 backers
  • Currently 10th most funded US fiction project (will move to #8 within a few days)
  • Currently 9th most backed US fiction project (will move to #6 within a few days)
  • 4th highest first-day pledges for a US fiction project ($19,082)
  • 2nd highest first-day backers for a US fiction project (472)
Given where we started, and where we are now, it's worth laying out the original intention and what we are currently shooting for.  
  • Originally we figured it would cost about $33,600 to publish the hardcovers in a 5,000 print run. We put the Kickstarter goal at $26,000 and were planning on picking up the other $7,600 ourselves.
  • When setting the "dates" for the Kickstarter we originally wanted 1 month, but given it started June 4th that would make it end right during the 4th of July weekend here in the US (not a good time as most people would be out with friends and family).  So, we could make it shorter, or extend it past the 4th. We went with pushing it back, figuring it would take at least 30 days to fully fund.  Boy were we wrong! In hindsight we should have pulled it forward...who knew?
  • With the goal met so quickly (less than two days) we started thinking about what else we could do. Doing a print run for the trade paperback so it didn't have to use print-on-demand (which is expensive and not as good of quality), seemed like a pipe dream, but thanks to the backer that became a reality.
  • With regards to the printing, we originally quoted for a nice "middle of the road" book.  After all, the best chance of clearing the bar is keeping the cost low.  But in short order we cleared another stretch goal that allowed us to upgrade the paper stock, cover materials, and provide a slip case for the rare versions of the book.
  • With extra money coming in, it opens up some possibilities that we wouldn't consider outside a Kickaterter. Things like a "real map," graphic novel adaptation of a short story, and posters of Marc's amazing artwork.  I'm thrilled we reached these goals. From the sounds of things, people are really looking forward to them...me most of all!
With all our basic and "wish needs" met, now comes extending the "cool stuff" that the backers get as a way of giving back.  Here are just some of the things that we have so far:
  • Everyone receiving a printed book can have it signed and personalized.
  • Everyone will receive a signed postcard
  • Everyone will receive Death of Dulgath wallpapers for their phones, tablets, and computers
  • Everyone will get a shout-out to the social network of their choice
  • Everyone will receive a digital version of the graphic adaptation of  The Jester
  • Everyone will have their name appearing in the book as a backer
  • Everyone will receive signed bookmarks (9 for those getting packages, and 1 oz worth for those who only have digital rewards).
  • Signed and  personalized ebook versions available for backers up to goal #4 - this one will be tough to do, but I'm glad to provide something that I've not seen done much.
  • New maps for all books - print and digital
  • Everyone receiving a physical book will have it embossed to show it as a "special edition"
  • Everyone will have access to a new high-resolution map
  • All digital versions are DRM free
  • Everyone getting a print book get a digital copy as well
  • Trade paperback books will be the same size as the other books in the series.
  • Everyone will get introduced to a new author through a short story I'm bundling with their books.
All these cool little perks just couldn't be done easily without the concentrated sales that  a Kickstarter provides. It's one of the really cool things about being a backer (as opposed to just buying the book).  Plus, as I mentioned before, backing a Kickstarter means MUCH more of your money comes to me rather than middle men such as retailers and publishers.

As I said we are still two weeks out and there are still more stretch goals to go.  Here is what we have on deck.
  • $52,000 - All backers will get a free ebook edition of Hollow World (my science fiction novel) as well as a number of short stories...they'll be the first ones to get Professional Integrity in ebook form (outside of the Blackguards anthology where it was originally published).
  • $55,000 - I'll brave my fear of the camera and do a video diary talking about what I'm doing, industry news, and other cool things related to my writing or publishing.
  • $58,000 - I'll make a "behind the scenes" ebook about the process of creating The Death of Dulgath. I think it'll be interesting for both readers and would-be authors.
One last thing before I let you go...and yes I know this post is already getting long.  But there are a number of contests (and sign-up opportunities) that I want people to be aware of:
Whew, that was a lot, but the Kickstarter has really been something, and I wanted to give a comprehensive updated.

I'm truly honored and amazed by the generous support of the backers. I hope you've enjoyed being a part of bringing the Death of Dulgath into reality as much as I have. 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Graphic Adaptation of Riyria

Have you ever wanted to read a graphic novel of Riyria? Well, I have. At the present time Orbit owns the rights to most of this work, and there's been no movement to take it to that next level. I'm considering what it would take to buy back those rights and do something myself...a topic for another day.

But today I want to mention a 24-page graphic adaptation of The Jester. This is being made possible because of we hit stretch goal #6 of The Death of Dulgath Kickstarter. I've already had the script laid out and the artist is now working on character sketches of  Royce and Hadrian.  Here is an example of some of his other work:

I hope some of you are as excited as I am to see this brought to life. If you want a copy for yourself, well the digital version is free to all backers, and print copies are just $6 US and $9 to ship to all other locations. I can't wait!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Free Riyria Sampler

As I'm pretty busy with the third Riyria Chronicle (The Death of Dulgath) my wife stepped in and made something I've wanted for awhile...a sampler of Royce and Hadrian short stories. The problem, is I wanted it for free...so new people could experience Riyria for no money, and existing readers could pass it on to friends and loved ones without cost.

Big publishers can get books free easily, not so trivial for self-published works (except for those who are in Amazon's Select program and as such can make their stories free for 5 days in 90 - but to do so they have to be exclusive to Amazon).  There is a technique that can sometimes get a book "perma free" and thanks to some of my readers, we got this one to switch over to free so I can let people know about it now.

Here are the places you can get the sampler for nothing:
Amazon US | Barnes & NobleiTunes | Smashwords | Scribd. | Kobo.  For those on sites where it's not yet free (like Amazon UK), you can get it free from me at this link.

What's in The Riyria Sampler?  I'm glad you asked!
  • The Thieves: A band of thieves sets upon two lonely riders in the middle of the night. They had a larger party. They had the element of surprise. There was no reason to be concerned, but they didn’t realize who they were dealing with. Origin: This was a scene written, and cut, for Nyphron Rising (the first novel in the Rise of Empire omnibus). Eventually, it became the opening of Theft of Swords when Orbit purchased and republished the series as three, two-book volumes. 
  • The Viscount: Eleven years before they were framed for the murder of a king, before even assuming the title of Riyria, Royce Melborn and Hadrian Blackwater were practically strangers. Unlikely associates, this cynical thief decides to teach his idealist swordsman partner that no good deed goes unpunished. Will Royce wind up proving his point or be schooled himself? Origin: This was published in the fall of 2011 under the title The Viscount and the Witch. It was written to provide a gift to my fans after my books were removed from the market to make room for Orbit’s versions. It’s also the seed that later became The Riyria Chronicles, and this short now appears as the second chapter of The Rose and the Thorn. 
  • The Jester: Stop me if you’ve heard this one. A thief, a candlemaker, an ex-mercenary, and a pig farmer walk into a trap…and what happens is no joke. When Riyria is hired to retrieve a jester’s treasure, Royce and Hadrian must match wits with a dwarf who proves to be anything but a fool. Difficult choices will need to be made, and in the end those who laugh last do so because they are the only ones to survive. Origin: First released in the Unfettered anthology (edited by Shawn Speakman and published by Grim Oak Press), I did something a bit unusual with this short story. Faced with a word count restriction, I wrote what is essentially the climax for what could have been a full-length novel. I throw the reader into the middle of the action and make only brief allusions to what had come before. It’s an interesting experiment and seems to have worked out well based on the high praise it has received. 
  • The Death of Dulgath: When the last member of the oldest noble family in Avryn is targeted for assassination, Riyria is hired to foil the plot. Three years have passed since the war-weary mercenary Hadrian and the cynical ex-assassin Royce joined forces to start their thieves-for-hire enterprise. Things have gone well enough until this odd assignment to prevent a murder. Now they must venture into a forgotten corner of southern Avryn—a place whose history predates the First Empire. As usual, challenges abound as they try to anticipate the moves of an unknown assassin before it’s too late. But that’s not their only problem. The Countess of Dulgath has a dark secret she’s determined to keep hidden. Then there’s the little matter of Riyria’s new employer…the Nyphron Church. This sample is an excerpt, not a short story. It’s the opening scene to my new novel, which will be coming out before the end of 2015. It hasn’t yet been copy edited (I’m still writing the novel), so please forgive any minor mistakes you may find. I do think it’s in pretty good shape, but I often find my opinion and my editor’s opinion are two different things. 
So, if you've always thought about trying my stuff and haven't. Or if you have a friend you'd like to rope into the world of Riyria - please checkout the new Sampler, and I hope you enjoy it.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Authors Helping Authors: Some Kickstarters worth checking out

Given  I'm in the middle of Kickstarter for The Death of Dulgath, it's not surprising that Robin is keeping a closer eye on various projects than she otherwise does. Thanks to some amazing backers ours is going amazingly well. How well?  Well just look at these stats:

  • #1 Most funded Fiction Project currently running
  • #3 Most funded Publishing Project currently running
  • #10 Most funded Fiction Project of all time (for US based projects)
  • #13 Most funded Fiction Project of all time (for all projects)
  • Just $206 from our next stretch goal which will provide trade paperback printing
A number of the backers are first-timers, but there is always some cool to consider on Kickstarter. Since it's the weekend and I usually use that for Authors Helping Authors, I thought I'd highlight some of projects that we think might be of interest.  Check them out, and if you find something you like, please consider sending a pledge their way.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Signed, sealed, and delivered.

It's been a big week at the Sullivan household. The creative juices are flowing, and I'm 70% through the writing of The Death of Dulgath. Near as I can calculate, I'm about two weeks ahead of schedule and will have the book ready for alpha reading in mid-July.

On the Kickstarter front, the generosity of my readers (both new and veteran) is nothing short of amazing. We're not even two weeks in and have already attracted more than 1,000 backers, who have contributed more than $43,000!  We funded the hardcover print run in the first two days, and we're well on our way to funding a paperback print run. It's the next stretch goal. Speaking of stretch goals, we've unlocked four of them which will provide all kinds of added perks including new maps, a poster, signed bookmarks, signed ebooks, and print upgrades.  If things continue to go well, we might even get The Jester adapted to a graphic novel.

But the most exciting news of all is the four-book contract with Random House's Del Rey imprint is finally signed.  This takes a huge amount of pressure off of Robin (who has been doing the contract negotiations) and makes it easier for me to plan what I'll be writing next.  There was a fairly substantial "bump" in the road on the way to signing, and I'd like to take a minute to talk about it as it will effect release schedules.

There were several items that came about as part of the contract that would affect what I could release and when.
  1. No books released before the books Del Rey was publishing.
  2. No books based in Elan to come out during the term of the Del Rey contract.
  3. The first Del Rey book to be released in the summer of 2016.
With those restrictions, I didn't think we could sign. The last Riyria book came out in 2013 and it could mean that another one wouldn't hit the street until 2020. Seven years was just far too long. I didn't think that would be good for the Riyria fans (and therefore not good for me). It was sad, but I felt I would have to decline this contract even though it was (a) providing a very high advance (b) going to elevate me to hardcover status and (c) providing a nice income "safety net" for the next six years.

It was a shame, especially since all the parties wanted this deal to go through.  Not to be deterred, Robin (my wife), Laurie (my agent), and Tricia (my publisher) started working on some "creative solutions" which saved the deal.

So, what was changed?
  1. An exception was made for the Third Riyria Chronicle, as long as it was released before the end of 2015 (which would keep it a good distance from the debut book of The First Empire).
  2. We swapped out one of the First Empire books with an Elan-based book.  I have several planned, and I'm not sure which one it will end up being. A lot will depend on how well received The Death of Dulgath is. If people read it and still want more Royce and Hadrian, then it is likely it'll be another Riyria tale. Other choices include The Fall of Percepliquis (a book featuring Essrahadon and the events that toppled the first empire), a post-Riyria book that I've outlined several years ago but haven't gotten around to writing, or a new series featuring Jerish and Nevrik. But no matter what it turns out to be, we can advance more than one "Elan" series simultaneously.
  3. I'm also able to release other "non-Elan" books between the ones Del Rey is releasing.  Again I have several choices for what they may be. A sequel to Hollow World is definitely on the table, as well as a new trilogy that has been waiting in the wings. It's even possible something new will come to mind that's not even on my very long list of books to write.
With the contract finally signed, we'll be able to make announcements soon on things like "official" release dates, covers, titles, and so forth.  Keep in mind that from Del Rey's perspective their clock just started now. So although it was announced in February (and we agreed to the terms in January), they are only now able to do "real work" on the project. From my perspective, I've done what I needed to do. I submitted the final manuscript on April 28th and I'm waiting on changes from my editor.

I'm pleased that we were able to find some common ground, and I'm looking forward to partnering with Del Rey for both The First Empire and some Elan-based work. I'm also enjoying the heck out of reuniting with Royce and Hadrian and it's nice there will be a book out in 2015. All in all good, but very busy times.