About this project
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).
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
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