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Michael J. Sullivan's unlikely heroes, Royce and Hadrian, return in a classic fantasy for both Riyria veterans and first-time readers.
Michael J. Sullivan's unlikely heroes, Royce and Hadrian, return in a classic fantasy for both Riyria veterans and first-time readers.
Michael J. Sullivan's unlikely heroes, Royce and Hadrian, return in a classic fantasy for both Riyria veterans and first-time readers.
1,750 backers pledged $73,163 to help bring this project to life.

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New Riyria Fantasy Novel: The Death of Dulgath (Staff Pick!)

$73,163

1,750

Staff Pick ♦ Featured Publishing Project ♦ 3rd most-funded (worldwide) and 2nd most-backed (US) fiction project of all time!

It seems so insufficient to express my appreciation with just two simple words, especially ones that I've said so many times during the course of this Kickstarter, and yet I feel I must do so one last time.

If you are coming to this Kickstarter after it has ended and want to pledge, you can do so through Paypal.

This project marks my 29th novel and the 9th featuring Hadrian Blackwater (an idealistic ex-mercenary) and Royce Melborn (a cynical thief). Thanks to meeting a number of stretch goals, this project has grown way beyond it's original reward levels which can't be updated once the project is underway. Below is a summary of the current rewards at each level.

  • $5 CUPPA JOE - Signed bookmarks ♦ Signed postcard ♦ Digital map ♦ Digital graphic adaptation of The Jester ♦ Wallpapers ♦ Acknowledgement in the book ♦ Social media shout-out ♦ Access to video diary ♦ Making of the Death of Dulgath e-book ♦ First chapter sneak peek of all First Empire novels before anyone else sees them ♦ Riyria Revealed (Making of the Riyria Revelations) e-book
  • $10 DIGITAL DELIGHT - everything at $5 level plus DRM-free ebooks including: 2 novels: The Death of Dulgath & Hollow World plus 4 short stories: The Jester, Professional Integrity, Traditions, & Burning Alexandria
  • $25 PAPER CHASE - all at $10 level plus: trade paperback (signed and sealed on title page).
  • $35 HARD CORE - all at the $10 level plus: hardcover  edition (signed and sealed on title page).
  • $50 ALL IN - all at the $10, $25, and $35 levels which includes hardcover & trade paperback editions.
  • $75 UNCOMMON VALOR - all at the $25 level plus a limited edition hardcover (signed, numbered, sealed).

Add-ons

In addition to the rewards, there are a number of add-ons that can be purchased separately. Some of these came about due to reaching a stretch goal and are shown on the following chart in orange. Click on the chart to see a larger version.

Shipping for add-on novels depends on number of books but generally runs $4 - $7. Shipping for books received through reward levels is included.

Original project summary

This is my second Kickstarter, and this one was originally created it to provide hardcover copies to distribute through bookstores and libraries. I thought it would take the duration of the whole project to raise the requested $26,000, but we achieved that goal in less than 2 days! Since passing that original goal, we expanded the project to include paperback printing, maps, posters, additional t-shirts, and a graphic novel of a Riyria short story, just to name a few.

Although this Kickstarter was created to fund print runs, you can receive the story in all kinds of formats including ebooks, limited and rare hardcovers, and paperbacks. Click on the chart below for a larger version showing rewards for each pledge level. NOTE: Items marked in pink are sold out.

I should mention I've NOT requested funds for the creative aspects such as writing, cover design, editing, layout, and such. Yes, those activities are necessary (and expensive), but my plan was to cover those as the author-publisher. This Kickstarter was created to fund a hardcover print run (and later ended up funding a trade paperback printing). You can learn about the project cost break down in the Money Matters section below.

We've reached 11 stretch goals! I'm hitting a character length limit for the body of the Kickstarter, so details about the stretch  goals will be in the FAQ section. Here is a brief rundown of the goals:

  • UNLOCKED: $31,000 - signed bookmarks
  • UNLOCKED: $35,000 - Death of Dulgath poster
  • UNLOCKED: $38,000 - Print upgrades & signed ebooks
  • UNLOCKED: $43,000 - Improved maps
  • UNLOCKED: $45,000 - Trade paperback print run
  • UNLOCKED: $48,000 - Graphic Novel adaption of "The Jester"
  • UNLOCKED: $52,000 - additional ebooks - Hollow World and short stories
  • UNLOCKED: $55,000 - Weekly video diary
  • UNLOCKED: $58,000 - ebook: The Making of The Death of Dulgath
  • UNLOCKED: $63,000 - Women's Rose and Thorn T-shirt
  • UNLOCKED: $66,000 - First Empire Sneak Peeks
  • UNLOCKED: $70,000 - Riyria Revealed - a behind the scenes look at the writing and publishing of The Riyria Revelations & Riyria Chronicles.

Some additional details of each stretch goal is provided here:

Several of the latest goals came from Kickstarter backers, thanks for the great ideas!

For those who aren't familiar with me, I'm a full-time, award-nominated, best-selling author who writes classic fantasy and sci-fi featuring humor, adventure, and unlikely heroes. Some highlights of my career include:

  • 650,000+ English language sales (print, ebooks, audio) 
  • 65 books translated into 12 foreign languages
  • 4 six-figure publishing contracts (one of which exceeded 1/2 million)
  • 100,480+ Goodreads Riyria ratings (47,500+ 5-star, 37,800+ 4-star)
  • 26,000+ Audible Riyria ratings (17,000+ 5-star, 6,600+ 4-star)
  • 3,030+ Amazon reviews (2070+ 5-star, 630+ 4-star)
  • 100+ entries on "best of" or "most anticipated" lists including those compiled by Library Journal, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, and Audible

I didn't write the above to brag, but to demonstrate my credibility for producing high-quality books that are respected in the publishing industry and well received by readers.

Here are my novels that are currently available or soon to be released:

NOTE: The First Empire (Age of books) covers are placeholders until Del Rey creates the actual covers.

In addition to those, I've written several short stories both as standalone copies and as part of various anthologies including these:

Because I'll be producing this book myself, I should mention I'm a successful hybrid author who has utilized both traditional and self-publishing. I have three contracts with the "big-five," including eight books with Hachette Book Group's fantasy imprint (Orbit) and four books signed with Random House's Del Rey imprint. When self-published, I've released seven novels (which sold more than 100,000 copies). 

So, what is the book about? Well, it's an adventure featuring Royce and Hadrian, the main protagonists of my Riyria novels. If you've not read any of those, that isn't a problem. Written as a self-contained standalone story no prior knowledge of the other books is necessary. Hopefully, you'll like what you find, and if so there are eight more Riyria tales waiting for you.

But I think the best way to tell you about the story is through the back-of-the-book copy, so here goes: 

Three times they tried to kill her. Then they hired a professional. She hired Riyria. 

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 hides a dark secret she's determined to keep hidden. Then there's the little matter of Riyria's new employer...the Nyphron Church. 

As mentioned, you can read The Death of Dulgath without any prior knowledge of the Riyria stories, but if you do choose to read all the tales you have two options available:

I'm honored by the praise bloggers and reviewers have lavished on my books. Here is what some of them have said:

“This epic fantasy showcases the arrival of a master storyteller.” — Library Journal on Theft of Swords 

“A delightful, entertaining and page-turning read that reminds us just how enjoyable, and how good The Riyria Revelations series is. A must-buy for all fantasy lovers.” — The Founding Fields on Rise of Empire

Of course, I want to provide samples of my writing so you can see if my style is a good fit. If you click on this button

You'll be taken to a page to receive Riyria short stories as well as the opening of this book, The Death of Dulgath. 

One of the cool things about Kickstarter is the ability to offer items not easily obtained outside the framework of a concentrated campaign. I'm going to use a company called BackerKit that not only helps to manage the fulfillment of pledges but also provides a self-service portal for backers to purchase add-on items. Basically you over add funds to your pledge that will be distributed to the add-ons after the project ends.

Here's how it works. Let's say you live in the US and are backing the project at the HARD CORE level, but you also want a hardcover for a friend and a t-shirt for yourself. You should pledge: $80 and choose the HARD CORE level. That amount covers (a) $35 for HARD CORE pledge, (b) $25 for an extra hardcover, (c) $4 for shipping the extra hardcover, and (d) $16 for the t-shirt.

After the project is over, you'll get an email which provides access to a self-service portal. From there, you'll be able to allocate the additional $45 to the extra hardcover and t-shirt. You'll also be able to select your shirt's color and size, and specify if the books should be signed.

Riyria T-shirt: $16 US | $32 Non-US

In the past, I had Riyria Revelations t-shirts, but they weren't for sale. I gave them away to readers and industry professionals who deserved extra appreciation. Many people have asked to purchase these shirts over the years, so I've added them to the Kickstarter. The original design had six icons, and I'll update it to nine now that we have more books. NOTE: There is also a Rose and Thorn Design (see below).

The prices above are correct for sizes small to extra large. Above that, the t-shirt company charges a bit more, so please see this chart for pricing those sizes: 

Thanks to the stretch goal #10 I'm making the t-shirts available in both men's and women's cuts and in a variety of  colors. You'll be asked to pick your size, cut, and color after the Kickstarter. 

 When ordering your shirt, take the following sizes into consideration.

Rose & Thorn T-shirt: $16 US | $32 Non-US

Because we reached stretch goal #10, there will be a "Rose and Thorn" shirt. Prices, color options, and cuts will be the same as the Riyria T-shirt so see above the charts above. Here is the design, the size might not be 100% accurate at this time, but it'll give you a good idea of what it will look like. (Click on image to see a higher resolution version)

Coffee Mugs: $10 US | $25 non-US 

 

I can't show the final design until I know quantities and place an order, but the picture above will give you an approximation of appearance. They are 11 oz ceramic mugs with green glaze inside and out. A design similar to the t-shirts will utilize the Riyria book icons, but perhaps in a slightly different orientation. 

Poster:  $9 US | $15 Canada | $19 All Others

Because we hit Goal #2 we now have two posters available as add-ons.

Can't decide between them? No problem - you can get both for just $5 or $6 more (depending on location). These are huge, 24" x 36" (.6 x .9 m). Each is shipped in a sturdy tube so you'll be able to frame and mount them if you wish. I can ship up to 5 in the same tube and the prices for multiples posters can be seen here.

Jester Comic: $6 US | $9 non US

A 24 page full-color graphic novel adaptation of  "The Jester" a Riyria short story. Since we just funded, I don't have any samples to show you but here is an example of the work for the artist I would like to use for this project.

Printed Maps: $4 US | $4 or $6 non US

I don't have any pictures to share yet because this was a stretch goal that was just recently added. Here's what I can tell you about them:

  • 11 x 17 Gloss printing in full color
  • If you have ordered a poster, then it will come in the same tube and therefore be free from creases and available for mounting.
  • If you don't have a poster, then it will be folded and mailed in an envelope.
  • If you are overseas, and already receiving a package then you only have to pay for the printed poster so $4.  But, if this is the ONLY physical thing coming to you then include an extra $2 to cover the postage to your part of the world.

Maps in Tubes: $8 US | $13 Canada | $15 Overseas

There has been a lot of demand for maps shipped in tubes for people who aren't getting posters, so I've done some research and can make this available as an option.  Yes it costs more because the tube and postage is more expensive, but if you want your map rolled rather than folded this is now an option.

Additional Ebooks: $5

Do you want to share the ebook with a friend or loved one? Well, you could pirate it, but I'm hoping you'll buy a legal copy to send to others. I'll even offer it at half price as a way of saying thanks for helping to spread the Riyria love.

Additional Paperbacks: $15 + shipping

If you want additional paperback copies, you can add them to your pledge for $15 each plus the cost of shipping (see below). If you don't know how to calculate the postage, send me a message and I'll figure it out for you.

Additional Hardcovers: $25 + shipping 

If you want additional hardcover copies, you can add them to your pledge for $25 each plus the cost of shipping (see below). If you don't know how to calculate the postage, send me a message and I'll figure it out for you.

Additional Limited Edition Hardcovers: $50 + shipping

Assuming the UNCOMMON VALOR level doesn't sell out, you can buy extra copies of the limited edition versions.

Signed Riyria or Hollow World Books: $15 per book + shipping

If you don't have a full set of the other Riyria books, now would be a perfect time to get them. Not only will significantly more of your money trickle down to me (we don't have to pay the 55% - 65% to a retailer), but you can get them signed (and dedicated if you wish) copies. Each is just $15 (regular retail price is $16 - $17). You can even order a copy of my Hollow World book if you missed out on that Kickstarter. If you don't know how to calculate the postage, send me a message and I'll figure it out for you. 

Signed Bookplates: $3 US | $5 Non-US

If you already have copies of my books that are unsigned, you can receive bookplates, which can be peeled and adhered to the inside cover. You can get them with just a signature or signed and dedicated. This option provides five Riyria bookplates and one Hollow World version so you can have a plate for a full set of my books.

Shipping Costs for Extra Books 

The pledge levels and non-book add-ons have shipping included, but without knowing how many additional books you are ordering, determining shipping costs gets tricky. I could have just raised the price on a book-by-book basis, but if I did, you'd be overcharged. If you are buying a lot of books, that could really add up. I have no desire to scalp people for postage, but calculating the correct amount will be a little more complicated for multiple book purchases. I've tried to make the calculation as simple as possible. First, we need to know the weight of all the ADDITIONAL books. Remember, postage is already accounted for in the pledge levels so don't count any printed copies through your main pledge. It's only the weight for add-on copies that need to be accounted for. 

Below is a chart with the weight of each book. I've also provided some "bundles" for groups of books that are likely to be popular.

Once you know the weight, the postage cost can be determined from this chart:

Overseas postage for more than four pounds gets tricky (and very expensive). Depending on what you are buying it may be worthwhile to split the shipping into two smaller packages or use a special "flat rate" box. So, if you are overseas and the weight comes up to more than four pounds, message me. I'll figure out the absolute cheapest way to ship and let you know what the cost is.

For the easy cases (like a single book or a common bundle), I've already done the calculations here: 

As I mentioned, postage outside the US is very expensive, so for existing books, I recommend you purchase them from The Book Depository (which has free shipping to most countries). They even sell the existing books at a discount. Then, if you want them signed, you can purchase the bookplates add-on (see above).

I think it's important for you to know where your hard-earned cash is going. Before starting this Kickstarter, we did a careful analysis of the costs based on a model of contributors and what we thought they would buy at each level. Based on that model, we've estimated the following project costs: 

  •  $14,807 - printing for 5,000 hardcover books 
  • $ 1,716 - warehouse storage fees 
  • $ 5,220 - print-on-demand copies of trade paperbacks 
  • $ 2,666 - postage for shipping rewards 
  • $ 366 - packaging materials for shipping 
  • $ 500 - Postcard printing 
  • $ 350 - Postcard shipping 
  • $ 1,300 - Kickstarter fees 
  • $ 1,008 - Credit card processing fees 
  • $ 559 - Backer Kit Fees 
  • $ 750 - Short story author payment 

That comes to $29,242, and I was willing to cover the $3,242 beyond the $26,000 goal. Due to your generous support, I won't have to. As I mentioned elsewhere, there are other production costs besides the printing, that I'll be paying for out of my pockets. I'm talking about fees for things such as cover design, editing, book layout, and ebook formatting. Based on prior experience, I expect these services to run about $4,400.

This amount is high, and I could get these services much cheaper (in fact, for first-time self-published authors, I recommend budgeting $750 - $1,000). So, why am I paying four or five times the price? Well, I don't distinguish between books produced by my traditional publishers and the ones I publish myself. I use the same professionals that Orbit and Del Rey utilize and these people cost more. You can learn more about them in the Cover and Editing Section below.

So there may be some who are wondering why I'm self-publishing The Death of Dulgath. After all, the first eight were traditionally published, why not continue that way?

Well, there are several reasons. While I decided to write this book some time ago, I've been busy writing my five-book series, The First Empire for Del Rey. Because of this, serious writing started early in 2015, and I expect to have the first draft completed by mid-July. The editing process should take a few months, and if all goes well the final book will be ready in mid-November 2015 and printed and ready to ship by mid-December. This deadline is extremely tight, and no traditional publisher could work under such constraints. In fact, I didn't even bother trying as I knew it just wasn't possible.

So, why not just slide the date? There's nothing magic about it, is there? Well, there is. I MUST get The Death of Dulgath published before December 31st. Here's why. Del Rey has paid a lot of money for The First Empire series, and they are concerned that a self-published Riyria story could affect their release. So there is a provision in my contract to put distance between my other books and theirs. Long story short, if I don't publish this book by the end of 2015, I'll have to wait until early 2020 to get a new Royce and Hadrian tale told. 

All that being said, I should mention that I love self-publishing. Having 100% freedom over the work makes it so much easier for a control junkie like me. Ideally, I'd like to have a good mix of both self and traditionally published books. So far, that hasn't happened because I've had some amazing deals that I just couldn't turn down. Presently, most of my work is firmly in the traditional camp. By self-publishing The Death of Dulgath, I'll be able to balance the scales a bit more.

There is one other reason why I wish to self-publish, and it comes down to income and keeping more of the reader's money in the pockets of the creator. It's always difficult to figure out which publication path will earn best, but there is no denying that self-publishing cuts out a lot of middlemen. Therefore, a much higher percentage of the money paid by readers comes to me.

Okay, so that's why the book is self-published, but why do a Kickstarter? Well first off, my wife and I love being entrepreneurs. She's a card-carrying member of Shark Tank Nation, and I love how Kickstarter is democratizing the creation of art. It's an incredible experience to be part of a group of people all pulling for the success of a project and spreading their enthusiasm to others.

Second, Kickstarter allows me to offer extra perks that I just couldn't do without the concentrated sales of a large group of buyers all at once. t-shirts, coffee mugs, and posters can't be produced at a reasonable cost in small quantities, but by having a bunch of orders all at once, I can produce these items at a decent price.

Keeping in mind what I said about more of the reader's payment flowing to the creator, that is even more true with a Kickstarter because another middleman (the retailer) is cut out. For instance, Amazon takes 55% off the top for any print books and when selling to other chains (like Barnes and Noble) I have to give up 70% of the list price. Ebook margins are better. I only lose 30% with them, but that's still much more than during a Kickstarter. Yes, Kickstarter is a middleman, but their fees only run 10% rather than the 30% - 70% of the retailers. That's a big difference. So, if you want to ensure the highest percentage of your purchase comes to me, then getting them through a Kickstarter is THE best way to ensure that happens.

Then, of course, is the most important reason...the funding for a large print run of hardcover books is simply beyond my capabilities. As mentioned elsewhere, I'm willing to spend the $4,400 for creative costs (editing and cover design), and I'm even able to absorb the $3,200 shortfall that my calculations predict. But $7,600 is a long way from $33,600. The good news is if the Kickstarter doesn't fund, The Death of Dulgath will still be produced. It just won't be in bookstores and not in the hardcover format.

As I mentioned, I spare no expense when it comes to the professionalism of my author-published books. To me, it doesn't matter which path my novels take to publication, the quality has to be exactly the same. For this reason, I hire the same professionals that Orbit and Del Rey use.These people are in high demand and come at a premium price. That's required to hire the industries' elite, and I think it's money well spent. Let's take a quick look at some of these people.

For instance, I've once again hired famed artist Marc Simonetti. He's developed covers for my French Riyria books as well as artwork for Patrick Rothfuss's Kingkiller Chronicles, George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire, Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn, and the Discworld books by Terry Pratchett. I'm thrilled to have Marc's exceptional artwork grace this book. Here is an example the covers he has done for the first three Riyria Revelations.

As for editors, I'm using two of the best people in the fantasy genre. Both routinely work for the big-five publishers including Macmillan, Tor, St. Martin’s Press, Del Rey, Putnam, and Ballantine Books. 

  •  One editor has two masters’ degrees (one in English and Writing and the other in Creative Writing and English). He has been nominated for the Nebula, World Fantasy, and The James Tiptree awards.
  • The other editor has copy edited Naomi Novik’s Victory of Eagles, some of the books in the Star Wars franchise, and two New York Times bestsellers for Steve Berry. 

I used both of these amazing people for Hollow World, and their work has been outstanding. I'm grateful to both of them for keeping me from looking stupid and providing you with a well-polished read. 

One last thing to bring up. I'm going to lend a helping hand to a new, unknown, or aspiring author by bundling one of their short stories with my book. Here's what the author of the selected story will receive: 

  •  more than twice the "pro rate" for short stories ($0.15 a word for up to 5,000 words - the story can be up to 7,500 words but the payment caps at $750).
  • structural editing by me and my wife. 
  • copy editing paid by me using the same people who are editing the full book.

Now, I know only one person can win, but I want to help anyone who enters. So, I (or my wife) will evaluate query submissions and provide feedback. If we're intrigued enough to read the short story, you'll get a critique of it as well. The story doesn't have to be fantasy, just a good tale. Find full details about the submission in the FAQ section.

Well, that's about all I can think of for now. I've been updating the stretch goals, FAQs, and posting updates as the project has gone on so most questions can be answered through those sources. But, it's a big project with a lot of moving parts, if you have any questions, just drop me a line. 

Before concluding, I'd like to take a moment to thank those who have been reading my books over the last eight years. It's because of you that I'm able to live my life-long dream, and it's something that I'm always conscious of. I'll keep writing, and hopefully you'll keep reading. -- Michael

Risks and challenges

I'm no stranger to completing books. As I mentioned, this will be my 29th novel, and I've never missed a deadline. I have a good understanding of my output. I write daily and have a proven beta-reading and editing process. I have a well-vetted team that has worked with me for multiple novels. Writing, so far,has gone smoothly, I've finished the first draft, am 75% though the editing, and ahead of schedule. In short, I'm not concerned about delivering a final book that has the highest standards of professionalism.

For some, the production of a self-published book can be daunting. For me, that’s not a problem. I've self-produced six of my own novels (many under much tighter deadline constraints than this). I've also provided layout and formatting services for dozens of others through my wife’s small press.

Another possible concern for some Kickstarter projects is the challenges of fulfillment. But we've (my wife and I) have been through this once already, and that project didn't benefit from tools we'll be using on this project. Even so, there are numerous comments on the Hollow World project praising how smoothly it went. Robin is great at providing timely updates and feedback. Check out the comments and updates on Hollow World for more details on that.

In any case, we've learned a lot since then, and this time should be even easier. We're going to utilize BackerKit, a third-party service that makes it easy for backers to manage their address changes and order add-ons. It also provides tools for creating kits, buying postage, and even integrates with fulfillment houses that can be used to ship all the products. With this additional logistical support, I don't see any potential problems on the fulfillment side of things.

In short, I see the risks involved in this project to be extremely small. Ultimately when backing a project for something that doesn't yet exist you're operating on faith. If I couldn't fulfill as promised, I would certainly refund any pledges collected.

I think that covers everything, or at least everything I can think of. If you have other questions or concerns, don't hesitate to ask.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

FAQ

  • The book will have an audio version, and yes Tim Gerard Reynolds will be doing the narration, just as he has for all the Riyria books and shorts. The issue is the audio right was sold to the publisher so I can't distribute it as part of the Kickstarter.

    That being said, I do have a contest running and if you want a chance to win one of 10 copies of the audio book - you can enter the contest at:

    http://michaeljsullivan.polldaddy.com/s/death-of-dulgath-audio-giveaway

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  • Yes, of course, any of the books can be signed and dedicated if you wish. If you are buying multiple copies each one can have their own dedication, so you and your friends can have personalized editions. Not only will I sign Death of Dulgath copies, but any books bought through the Kickstarter can be signed.

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  • This happens after the Kickstarter is over. You'll be provide access to the BakerKit self-service portal where you can

    1. Manage your shipping address
    2. Distribute your extra pledge to the add-ons you want
    3. Purchase other add-ons through a standard shopping cart checkout.

    Let's work through an example. Say you live in the US and are backing the project at the HARD CORE level, but you also want a hardcover for a friend and a t-shirt for yourself. You should pledge: $80 and choose the HARD CORE level. That amount covers (a) $35 for HARD CORE pledge, (b) $25 for an extra hardcover, (c) $4 for shipping the extra hardcover, and (d) $16 for the t-shirt.

    After the project is over, you'll get an email which provides access to a self-service portal. From there, you'll be able to allocate the additional $45 to the extra hardcover. At that time you'll also specify things like t-shirt size and color and whether you want your books signed or not.

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  • You can buy as many of these products as you want. There is a "quantity" field when you are distributing your extra pledge money and you can specify any number for any of these (or other add-on products) then.

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  • I don't charge for signatures. Any book that is shipped as part of the Kickstarter can come in one of three ways:

    1. Unsigned
    2. Signature only
    3. Signed and Dedicated

    For those that are overseas, shipping of physical books can be expensive. Also, there are a number of people who already have the books and would like them signed. For those reasons I do offer book plates that can be signed (and dedicated if you wish). There is a small charge for bookplates: $3 in the US and $5 overseas. But that's not for the signature. It covers the printing of the bookplates and the postage to deliver them.

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  • This question has been posed to me in a few direct messages, so I thought I should discuss it here.

    The Death of Dulgath is being self-published, which means I own and control all the rights. I sold the audio rights (which is why you don't see those as part of this Kickstarter). For the other 8 Riyria books, they are published by Orbit (the fantasy imprint of big-five publisher Hachette Book Group). They bought audio, print, and ebook rights.

    Selling a right means they are the only ones able to sell the work in that format in the language and territories where the rights were transferred. In this case, that means English, the world, and ebooks, print, and audio. So, even though I wrote the book, I can't sell or giveaway, or otherwise do anything that will take money from the publisher who paid me for the right of exclusivity. For that reason, only books that I have the digital rights to can be sold by me...and at this time that means only The Death of Dulgath and Hollow World.

    So, if that is the case, why am I selling the physical copies of the book? Well, that's easy. I BUY the copies from the publisher (at the same rate that bookstores get them) so the publisher gets "their cut" from those sales. If I were to sell the ebooks they wouldn't have a cut, not to mention they don't provide me DRM-free ebooks, whereas they do let me buy print copies.

    So, how do you get copies of those other books? You can buy them anywhere ebooks are sold: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBookstore, google Play, Kobo, etc. I'm trying to get them to reduce the price during or slightly after the Kickstarter, I'll certainly post an update if that turns out to be possible.

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  • Long ago, I was doing an AMA (Ask Me Anything) and someone asked me this question. I wrote a Top Ten Reasons to Read Riyria response and it still seems pretty relevant, so here goes:

    1.) A traditional fantasy that’s not a Tolkien clone, but also isn’t morbid to the point of having to down a pair of Prozac to get through.

    2.) All six books were written before the first was ever published, enabling the weaving of threads and planting of clues about ongoing mysteries, allowing readers the added pleasure of trying to unravel the plot twists.

    3.) Unforgettable characters that provide scenes both heartwarming and heart-wrenching that will make you cry in the end—not because they die a horrible deaths (although some do), but because you don’t want to leave them.

    4.) A story that is gritty to the point of killing off half the cast, and yet always leaves the reader feeling people are basically good and heroes can and do exist.

    5.) A finished series with a designed arc that ties up all loose ends and as such provides a truly satisfying conclusion.

    6.) Written for adults, but without gruesome violence, sex, or profanity so that it can be read by people of all ages and shared with the whole family.

    7.) Lacking the overly grim portrayal of some fantasy worlds, it is infused with humor including witty banter and laugh-out-loud moments even during dire and serious moments.

    8.) Designed such that each book is better than the one that came before, so if you like the first, you won’t be disappointed with the last.

    9.) Written to be an “easy read” it lacks the intimidating wall-of-world-building-information, utilizes modern dialog rather than archaic speech, and is paced like a thriller to keep the pages turning.

    10.) Written with an emphasis on character and plot it packs an emotional punch focusing on reading entertainment rather than intellectual allegory.

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  • This goal provides signed bookmarks. Anyone who is receiving a shipped item (book, poster, t-shirt, coffee mug, bookplates) will receive 3 bookmarks, each signed by me:

    * A newly designed bookmark for the Death of Dulgath
    * The Hollow World bookmark
    * The "old" Riyria bookmark before this book was released.

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  • There will now be two different posters that are available as add-ons. Both were created by famed artist Marc Simonetti, who has created covers for myself, Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss, Terry Pratchett, George R.R.Martin, and dozens more. If you like both posters and can't chose between them $4 will get you one of each. These are very large, very high end posters suitable for framing and are 24" x 36" in size.

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  • I knew Kickstarter didn't allow for contests as "the project" but I didn't know they would object to them as part of a stretch goal. I had used them in Hollow World without problem. So...I've removed the audio books raffle as part of the Kickstarter and setup a contest from my website. The only real difference is you won't be automatically entered...you'll have to sign up separately at this link: http://michaeljsullivan.polldaddy.com/s/death-of-dulgath-audio-giveaway.

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  • When I received my original print estimates, I had a number of different options available including cover colors, paper stocks, end papers and so forth. To keep costs manageable, I picked a nice "middle of the road" option when doing my Kickstarter calculations. By reaching this level, there is extra money to spend on upgrades to my original options. Those include:

    * Creme paper rather than white for all editions of the hardcover
    * A matching slipcase for the RARE BREED version
    * Linen covers for the UNCOMMON VALOR version
    * Gold foil stamping on the spine for all hardcovers
    * An embossed seal on the title page for ALL print books

    This is nice for those buying print copies, but what about those that are only getting digital editions. Well, I wanted to give them something as well, so I'm going to do something unusual...signed ebooks. Yes, that's right you can get your ebook signed...but it's not easy. Here's how it will work.

    Every person who has the digital version AND contributes before the stretch goal will have the ability to have their ebooks personalized. You'll get an email so you can tell me what you want yours to say. I'll print out copies of the "title page" for the book and sign/dedicate them based on your instructions. Then I'll add this title page to YOUR own personal copy of the ebook (.mobi and .epub only - not PDFs as that is too hard to do) and send it to you.

    Doing the ebook signing is going to be a lot of work, but all I have to do is the signing, Robin has graciously volunteered to make the hundreds of individual copies...so you can thank her for that!

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  • For the same reason as Goal #3 - see that FAQ for it for more details. I'm still going to be giving away 5 copies of Rhune, but I'll do so through a contest independent of the Kickstarter via my website. The only real difference is you'll not be automatically entered and the contest will be open to people outside of the Kickstarter. You can sign up from here:

    http://michaeljsullivan.polldaddy.com/s/rhune-giveaway1

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  • Updated maps! The maps have long been a sore spot for me. I'm a writer, not a cartographer, and the original maps were only created to give me direction as I wrote the story. I needed to know where various places were and what kind of terrain would be encountered. So I drew up something I never intended for the books. When self-published, I didn't have the extra budget for better maps but figured my crappy one was better than nothing. When the series was sold to Orbit, I assumed they would have them redrawn...they didn't.

    The maps actually can appear in a number of different ways. So here goes:

    * Everyone will get the black and white map in the book (both print and ebooks).
    * Everyone will get access to high-resolution versions online (in both color and B&W).
    * I'll have both an all-encompassing map and various detail areas for important regions.
    * Printed maps will be available as an add-on, see that section for pricing details
    * Printed copies will be 11 x 17 and in full-color.

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  • Now that this goal is met we have enough money to do a print run of the paperback editions in addition to the hardcovers. Now that we aren't using print on demand it will mean the trade paperback can match the Orbit books in size. It also means that going forward I'll be able to keep a higher amount of the money paid by readers as the per book printing cost will go down significantly (print on demand is very expensive on a book by book basis). Also, we should be able to get the books into the distribution chain so the chances of finding it in your local stores and libraries goes up significantly.

    It also increases the number of bookmarks to all those who are receiving physical packages. Now you'll get 3 full set (9 total). In addition, those at the (D)EARLY BIRD and DIGITAL DELIGHT levels (who weren't getting bookmarks in the past), will get them now. I'm not sure exactly how many but it will be however many will fit in envelope and still be under 1 ounce from a shipping perspective.

    Lastly, the audio book giveaway (that is happening independently from the Kickstarter, has been increased to 10 copies from five. If you want to enter that, here is the link:

    http://michaeljsullivan.polldaddy.com/s/death-of-dulgath-audio-giveaway

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  • Comic adaption of my short story, "The Jester." I've found an artist and he has created a script for the graphic adaptation. He's currently working on concept drawing for Royce and Hadrian.

    All backers will get a digital copy of the comic, if you would like a printed version, you can order them as an add-on. The US version will cost just $6 and $9 if you are overseas.

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  • Anyone at the DIGITAL DELIGHT version and above will receive 4 short stories and one novel in ebook format. They are: Hollow World (novel), Burning Alexandria (short), The Jester (short), Professional Integrity (short), and Traditions (short).

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  • Michael (and maybe sometimes Robin) will post regular video diaries to talk about writing, the industry, or what's new with regards to his work. We are hoping for the posts to be weekly, but they'll at least be monthly. All backers will have access to these videos and receive updates when the are posted.

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  • An ebook will be created entitled, "Inside the Death of Dulgath" which will chronicle some of the "behind the scenes" aspects of making this book. Michael will share his notes, timelines, images and all sorts of reference material. Robin will add her insights regarding the alpha and beta reading process.

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  • Three women's cut t-shirts have been added to the Riyria T-shirt design in colors (dark red, black, and Coral). In addition there will be a Rose and Thorn T-shirt. I'm working on the design for that new one now, and it will be posted as part of the Backer Kit. Remember you can purchase add-ons after the close of the Kickstarter, so if you aren't sure if you want one, just don't increase your pledge now, and you an do it after the project.

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  • All backers of the Death of Dulgath Kickstarter will get the first look (a sneak peek) at any sample chapters for the books of my 5-book series, The First Empire. In other words, before any of these samples are published to the world at large, they'll be shown to backers here first.

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  • A new ebook will be written and distributed to all backers titled, Riyria Revealed. This will be a behind the scenes look at the making of the Riyria Revelations series. It will contain numerous spoilers so readers should beware when using it. The bulk of it will be written by Michael's wife Robin, although Michael will be a major contributor as well.

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  • The first eight Riyria novels were traditionally published by Orbit, so why not continue that way for this novel?

    Well, there are several reasons. I decided to write this book some time ago, but I've been busy writing my five-book series, The First Empire for Del Rey. Because of this, serious writing for this book started in early 2015. I expect to have the first draft completed by mid-July. The editing process should take a few months, and if all goes well, the final book will be ready in mid-November 2015 and printed and ready to ship by mid-December. This deadline is extremely tight, and no traditional publisher could work under such constraints. In fact, I didn't even bother trying as I knew it just wasn't possible.

    So, why not just slide the date? There's nothing magic about it, is there? Well, there is. I MUST get The Death of Dulgath published before December 31st. Here's why. Del Rey has paid a lot of money for The First Empire series, and they are concerned that a self-published Riyria story could affect their release. So there is a provision in my contract to put distance between my other books and theirs. Long story short, if I don't publish this book by the end of 2015, I'll have to wait until early 2020 to get a new Royce and Hadrian tale told.

    All that being said, I should mention that I love self-publishing. Having 100% freedom over the work makes it so much easier for a control junkie like me. Ideally, I'd like to have a good mix of both self and traditionally published books. So far, that hasn't happened because I've had some amazing deals that I just couldn't turn down. Presently, most of my work is firmly in the traditional camp. By self-publishing The Death of Dulgath, I'll be able to balance the scales a bit more.

    There is one other reason why I wish to self-publish, and it comes down to income and keeping more of the reader's money in the pockets of the creator. It's always difficult to figure out which publication path will earn best, but there is no denying that self-publishing cuts out a lot of middlemen. Therefore, a much higher percentage of the money paid by readers comes to me.

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  • In a previous FAQ I explained why the book is self-published, but why do a Kickstarter? Well, first off, my wife and I love being entrepreneurs. She's a card-carrying member of Shark Tank Nation, and I love how Kickstarter is democratizing the creation of art. It's an incredible experience to be part of a group of people all pulling for the success of a project and spreading their enthusiasm to others.

    Second, Kickstarter allows me to offer extra perks that I just couldn't do without the concentrated sales of a large group of buyers all at once. t-shirts, coffee mugs, and posters can't be produced at a reasonable cost in small quantities, but by having a bunch of orders all at once, I can produce these items at a decent price.

    Readers like supporting authors and want them to receive the lion's share of the money they pay, unfortunately this isn't the case outside of a Kickstarter. When buying a book through conventional channels there are a lot of middlemen, all of whom earn much more than the author does. By self-publishing we are cutting out the publishers, and by doing a Kickstarter we are also cutting out the retailer, warehouse, and all the other organizations in the distribution chain. Through Kickstarter the creator gets the highest percentage of the amount you pay.

    For instance, Amazon takes 55% off the top for any print books sold,and when selling to other chains (like Barnes and Noble), I have to give up 70% of the list price. Ebook margins are better as I only lose 30% with them. With Kickstarter, their fees only run 10%, half of which goes to credit card processing. That's a big difference. So, if you want to ensure the highest percentage of your purchase comes to me, then getting them through a Kickstarter is THE best way to ensure that happens.

    Then, of course, is the most important reason...the funding for a large print run of hardcover books is simply beyond my capabilities. As mentioned elsewhere, I'm willing to spend the $4,400 for creative costs (editing and cover design), and I'm even able to absorb the $3,200 shortfall that my calculations predict. But $7,600 is a long way from $33,600 which is the total cost for everything.

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  • I'm doing something that I hope will benefit a new or aspiring author. As a way of giving them a moment in the spotlight, I'll bundle their short story with my novel. Based on past sales, your story should obtain exposure of 30,000 - 100,000 readers. Provided my Kickstarter funds (and I have no reason to suspect it won't), I'll do the following for the winning author:

    * Pay more than twice the pro rate for short story anthologies.

    * Work with the winner to polish the book by providing structural editing feedback.

    * Hire a professional to copyedit their piece.

    * Include the short story in all ebooks and print editions of The Death of Dulgath.

    * Include a brief biographical introduction to your story, providing the opportunity to cross-promote any existing or future works.

    * All entrants will receive a critique of their query, and if it interests me enough to check out the short story, I'll provide feedback on that as well.

    So, here are the details:

    * The submission window open and will end midnight EST on July 16th.

    * Submission will be via email and must include a query and attached Microsoft Word file of the short story. If you are unfamiliar with writing queries, check out the FAQ about how to write one.

    * The short story must follow standard manuscript formatting, which is double-spaced, 12-point font, 1" margins all around.

    * The header of the short story must contain the author's name, email address, and the story's word count.

    * Pay rate: $0.15 a word for up to 5,000 words, and yes, shorter works are perfectly acceptable. 5,000 words is not a "preferred" length; it's the size I picked to budget the prize amount.

    * The story may be a maximum of 7,500 words, but the payout will not exceed $750.

    * While I'll consider any work regardless of genre or style, it should be noted that the audience who will be reading the story will be fans of my work. So, to capture THEIR attention it may be best to submit something that you suspect my readers would enjoy. What does that mean? Well, I write light, fun, classic fantasy with a bit of humor. If you aren't familiar with my work, you can ask for some free samples from the button in the main Kickstarter page.

    * Author retains all rights. NOTE: If the work hasn't been previously published, you'll lose first-publication rights, but there's nothing I can do about that. Bottom line, you'll be able to publish the work elsewhere and earn whatever income you can outside this contest.

    * The contest is open to people regardless of locale, who will be responsible for taxes based on their country. US residents must provide a tax identification number (social security or business FEIN). A 1099-MISC form will report income to the IRS.

    * The contest is open to all writers regardless of past publishing history.

    * While I would prefer a never-previously-published piece, I'll consider all works.

    * You do not have to be a backer of the Kickstarter to participate in the contest, although I would appreciate you telling friends or loved ones about the project if you think they would be interested.

    That's about all I can think of at this time, if you have additional questions, send me a message or ask in the comment section.

    Good luck and happy writing.

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  • To participate in the short story contest, you must send an email to: sullivan.short.story.contest@gmail.com with a subject of SUBMISSION. If you have any questions, you can use the same address but use QUESTION in the subject.

    Your submission must include a query letter. If you don't know how to write one, this resource (www.reddit.com/r/Write2Publish/comments/1azerj/traditional_publishing_resources_for_writing/) should help.

    Attach both the query letter and the short story as Microsoft Word attachments, with the following formats:

    * Query - single spaced preferably 1 page

    * Short Story - double spaced, 1" margins, 12 point font (Times New Roman preferred, Courier discouraged), Page number in footer, Name, email, and word count in header, maximum word count 7,500.

    In the body of the email include the following:
    * Name (please use an actual name, not an Internet "handle")
    * Age
    * Short Story Title
    * Short Story Word Count
    * Short Story Genre
    * Has this story been previously published? (Yes | No)
    * If yes, a brief indication of where and how
    * Which best describes your previous publishing history? (None | Self | Small-press or Magazine | Big-five, More than one on list)

    REMEMBER, deadline is July 16th at the end of the day (midnight EDT).

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  • Query letters are a brief introduction to you and your work to help a prospective agent or publisher to pique their interest enough to check out your writing. Generally they consist of

    * A salutation that correctly addresses the person you are sending to (too often queries are "too generic" or addressed to the wrong person, this is the best way to make a bad first impression.

    * A paragraph on the work, written in a way to entice the reader to check it out.

    * A paragraph on you and your prior writing history

    * A professional closing that doesn't beg or come off as needy.

    Writing a good query letter is not easy, and it takes "marketing savvy" rather than creative writing. I've assembled some great resources on writing queries and you can read more about them from here: http://www.reddit.com/r/Write2Publish/comments/1azerj/traditional_publishing_resources_for_writing/

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Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    CUPPA JOE: Show your support by giving me a caffeine infusion, and I'll give you: (a) a signed postcard; (b) Riyria wallpapers for your phone, computer, and tablet; (c) a shout out on the social network of your choice; (d) access to all the updates; and (e) my gratitude. I'll even share how awesome you are by putting your name on a list of contributors in the book and on my blog. It's the least I can do for helping make the hardcover edition of The Death of Dulgath a reality.
    ►—POSTCARD & WALLPAPER—◄

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    (D)EARLY BIRD: You'll receive everything at the CUPPA JOE level plus a DRM-free ebook bundle (.mobi, .epub, & .pdf) so you can read the story wherever you like. In addition, you'll save 20% for being an early supporter.
    ►—DISC. DIGITAL BOOKS—◄

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    DIGITAL DELIGHT: You'll receive everything at the CUPPA JOE level plus a DRM-free ebook bundle (.mobi, .epub, & .pdf) so you can read the story wherever you like.
    ►—DIGITAL BOOKS—◄

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    (P)EARLY BIRD: You'll receive everything at the DIGITAL DELIGHT level plus a trade paperback to hold, display, and share with your loved ones. In addition, you'll save 20% for being an early supporter.
    ►—DISC. PAPER & DIGITAL—◄

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    PAPER CHASE: You'll receive everything at the DIGITAL DELIGHT level plus a trade paperback to hold, display, and share with your loved ones.
    ►—PAPER & DIGITAL—◄

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    (H)EARLY BIRD: You'll receive everything at the DIGITAL DELIGHT level plus a hardcover to hold, display, and share with your loved ones. In addition, you'll save 20% for being an early supporter.
    ►—DISC. HARD & DIGITAL—◄

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    HARD CORE: You'll receive everything at the DIGITAL DELIGHT level plus a hardcover to hold, display, and share with your loved ones.
    ►—HARD & DIGITAL—◄

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    ALL IN: You'll receive everything at the HARD CORE level plus a trade paperback. That's two copies to hold, display, and share with your loved ones.
    ►—HARD, PAPER, & DIGITAL—◄

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    UNCOMMON VALOR: You'll receive everything at the PAPER CHASE level plus a limited edition hardcover (print run: 500 with special cover). That's two copies to hold, display, and share with your loved ones.
    ►—LIMITED, PAPER, & DIGITAL—◄

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    CRITICAL CRITIQUE: Want feedback on your writing? Submit your short story or novel excerpt (up to 10,000 words), and I (and possibly my wife), will provide a critical review. You'll also receive everything at the DIGITAL DELIGHT level.
    ►—CRITIQUE & DIGITAL—◄

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    RARE BREED: You'll receive everything at the PAPER CHASE level plus a rare edition hardcover (print run: 100 with a special cover). That's two copies to hold, display, and share with your loved ones.
    ►—RARE, PAPER, & DIGITAL—◄

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Funding period

- (42 days)