The Kickstarter is due to end in just an hour and a half so I wanted to update the project one last time for two important pieces of information. First, and foremost:
This was my most successful Kickstarter yet, and that's really saying something. We ended as the 4th most-funded (worldwide) & 2nd most-backed (worldwide) fiction project of all time! Your generous support has made the hardcover editions (rare, unlimited, and regular) possible and we'll even have trade paperbacks that will match the size of the other Riyria novels.
And second...if you missed the Kickstarter, you can still buy copies of the book and get it up to six-months before it's available in the retail chain. You can buy direct from my website with PayPal which takes al forms of payment including credit cards, electronic checks and PayPal payments.
Welcome to my third Kickstarter! I previously ran one for my sci-fi thriller (Hollow World), and another for a Riyria book (The Death of Dulgath). The purpose of this Kickstarter is to raise money to print hardcovers for my latest novel, The Disappearance of Winter's Daughter.
This marks the tenth novel staring Royce Melborn and Hadrian Blackwater, and it was written so that anyone can dive straight in. In other words, you can fully enjoy the novel without any prior knowledge of the Riyria books. That said, my prediction is that once you've read Winter's Daughter, you'll want to pick up the other books as well!
The book is fully written, beta tested (26 readers), and professionally edited (2 copyeditors). It finished out at 480 pages (which is about 117,000 words).
During the last Kickstarter, a number of people expressed a desire for audiobooks. At that time, I didn't have a way to make that happen, but thanks to Audible Studios, we can have them for this project. And yes, they will also be available on Dec 5th!! In fact, Robin (my wife) and I will be in the studio in just a few days during the recording. We hope to give you some live updates from there! There are three different audio book levels (both with and without the ebook. If you also want a physical copy, no problem. Just pick the physical reward and then add $10 to your pledge. When the Kickstarter is over, you'll be able to "distribute" that $10 to an audiobook version.
One of the coolest things about being a backer of this novel, is you'll be able to read it on December 5th, that's a whole six months before the retail release on June 5th, 2018.
Also, if we fund, I have several stretch goals to give backers bonus stuff that would be hard to distribute without a Kickstarter.
I should note that if the project doesn't fund, the book will still be released but only in ebook, audiobook, and the trade paperback will be produced using print-on-demand technology (which will significantly increase the price of the physical copy).
Two last things...first, all physical books will come with the author's signature (a perk for ordering the books directly from the author), and the ebooks will be free of digital rights management (DRM-free), which means you can load the ebooks on all your devices: computer, smartphone, and tablet without any "locking features" preventing you from moving the file around.
Last day!! It's been a great run, and I want to thank all the amazing backers.
- 2rd most-backed fiction Kickstarter of all time
- 6th most-funded Kickstarter
- Fully funded in 54 hours!
- More than 2,200 backers!
- 6 stretch goals have been reached
And we now have t-shirts for an add-on. The winner of the poll was The Rose and the Thorn. Click here for a high-resolution version of the design.
A vast majority were fine with just one style choice so our shipping process will be greatly simplified by not having to worry about mens and womens styles. For full details on how to increase your pledge to include a shirt, see the Additional Items section for pricing, and shipping calculations. If you already have a book in your pledge, the shipping calculated will be higher than needed, but we'll refund you any excess postage after shipment.
We now have posters. There are two different designs (The Death of Dulgath & Hollow World) and you can buy one or get a "double pack" with both (and save $5 when buying two). They feature the amazing artwork of Marc Simonetti and are 24" x 36" and suitable for framing (I have one of each in my office.
If you aren't familiar with the Riyria books, think of them as Lethal Weapon meets Lord of the Rings. If you have read some of my books, then you already know that I write fun, fast-paced, classic fantasy with a dash of humor thrown in. To give you a bit more context, here is the marketing copy that appears on the back of the book:
A daughter vanishes. Two rogues are paid a fortune to find her. It wasn’t enough.
When Gabriel Winter’s daughter mysteriously disappears and is presumed dead, the wealthy whiskey baron seeks revenge. Having lived in Colnora during the infamous Year of Fear, he hires the one man he knows can deliver a bloody retribution—the notorious Duster.
Ride with Royce and Hadrian as the cynical ex-assassin and idealistic ex-mercenary travel to a mysterious old-world city filled with nobles claiming descent from imperial aristocracy. Riyria’s job appears easy: discover what happened to the missing duchess and, if she lives, bring her home . . . if not, punish those responsible. But nothing is simple in the crowded, narrow, mist-filled streets of Rochelle, where more than one ancient legend lurks.
Because the book is already written, I thought you might want to read a sample chapter (or even two), so you can see if my writing style aligns with your reading preferences. If you like what you find in these pages, chances are likely you'll enjoy the full book.
As I mentioned in the Money Matters section, I've already hired (and paid) for a number of talented individuals to produce this book. I use the best in the business, including the same professionals that my big-five traditional publishers hire. Here's a bit about them.
- Marc Simonetti (cover artist) - Marc has created 12 covers for my books (for both the US and foreign translations) and also has created covers for some of the largest names in the business including: George R.R. Martin, Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss, Terry Pratchett, and dozens more.
- Tim Gerard Reynolds (audiobook narrator) - Tim has recorded 10 novels of mine and he's also narrated books by: Pierce Brown, Mark Lawrence, Larry Correia, Edward W. Robertson, Jonathan Renshaw, and Gail Z. Martin. He's won multiple Earphone Awards and has been nominated for several Audies.
- Laura Jordstad (copy editor) - works for multiple fantasy publishers (Del Rey, Ballantine Books, St. Martins, and Sterling Publishing just to name a few). She's edited books by David Gemmel, Naomi Novik, a number of the books in the Star Wars franchise, two New York Times Bestsellers for Steve Berry, and five of my novels.
- Linda Branam (copy editor) - has been editing for 18 years and has a passion for fiction. This is my fourth project with her. And she'll be editing Age of War for Del Rey's April release.
This handy chart provides a quick and easy way to determine what you receive at the various reward levels. If we later add items as part of the stretch goals (for instance signed bookmarks for everyone with a physical copy), this chart will be revised.
Click here to view a high-resolution version that is much easier to read.
With additional items (also known as "Add-ons") it is possible to customize your pledge so you can "kraft a package" with exactly the items you want. For instance with "add-ons" you can construct a pledge that has a hardcover, ebook, and audiobook, by adding $10 for the audio book to the HARD CORE pledge level.
Here is the current list of add-ons (click here for a higher resolution version of the table).
We have a number of additional items that we'll roll out shortly. Robin wasn't quite done with them on launch day, so she went with the one that she knew all the details on (and which doesn't require postage to deliver).
Robin has a number of stretch goals planned for this Kickstarter. They provide backers access to extra perks that aren't easily obtained elsewhere. I don't want to put the cart before the horse, so I'm only announcing the first stretch goal for now. Others will be posted as funding levels are reached.
- $50,000 UNLOCKED! - Online, searchable glossary of terms and names. I love glossaries, but they are time consuming to produce. With a few more dollars we can justify taking the time to produce one.
- $55,000 UNLOCKED!- Inclusion of a backer's list in the ebook listing the names of all the people who made the project possible (you can, of course, choose to opt out) if you wish to remain anonymous. The name to be inserted will be collected during the survey process.
- $60,000 - UNLOCKED Bookmarks! We'll design up a bookmark that matches the book and provide them to every person who buys a physical copy.
- $65,000 - UNLOCKED Digital Version of the The Jester Comic and Jester short story. This is a standalone Riyria adventure that exists in both short-story form and also beautifully adapted to a comic. You can see a small excerpt of the comic at this link. This stretch goal will be given to every backer and you can access it from the BackerKit self-service portal after the project ends.
- $70,000 - UNLOCKED: Screen savers! We'll take Marc Simonetti's amazing artwork and create screen savers that you can use for your phones, computers, and tablets.
- $75,000 - UNLOCKED: Posters! If we reach this level we'll add 2 posters to the list of add-ons that people can buy: Hollow World, and The Death of Dulgath. Both are 24" x 36" and suitable for framing.
- $80,000 - UNLOCKED: Making of the Disappearance of Winter's Daughter ebook: Get a look behind the process of writing and editing the book and learn about how the book changed from first manuscript, through beta testing, to the final product.
- $85,000 - Female style t-shirts. Yes, it'll be a lot harder to manage t-shirts if we do both male and female styles, but if we reach this goal will have both available.
I've been a storyteller all my life, and my writing career has had four major stages. I started in my early teens, creating on my sister's portable typewriter and binding "the books"with yarn to a colored-paper cover. Serious writing began in 1976--between then and 1994, I wrote thirteen novels. The early ones weren't meant for publication (they were written to teach me how to write), but the last few were pretty darn good. I spent about eight years on the query-go-round, and when I failed even in finding an agent I decided to quit because, as Einstein so astutely pointed out: "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." I call this time my Linus-in-the-pumpkin-patch stage.
Stage three began in 2004. At that time, my daughter was struggling with severe dyslexia, and I had picked up the first Harry Potter story because I'd heard good things. She didn't read it, but I did, and it reminded me how good an adventure with lovable characters can be. Over my decade's hiatus, stories of two rogues-for-hire had been invading my brain, but I refused to pick up the pen (or sit down at the keyboard). I finally relented, but on one very important condition: that I wouldn't seek publication. I already knew "that way led to the dark side." After reading the books, my wife determined they had to get out there. So she took on the responsibility for the business and publishing aspects of my writing. She amassed her own set of rejections, finally landed an agent, but none of the genre publishers were interested in tales with Royce and Hadrian. Robin eventually found a small press, who was well-intentioned but fiscally challenged. When they didn't have the money for the press run for the second book, we retrieved the right and self-published it and the other books of the Riyria series. This time in my writing career could be best be described as the-little-engine-who-doesn't-give-up.
Stage four began in the fall of 2010 when my wife had the brilliant idea of trying New York once more, now that we'd found readers through self-publishing. Turned out she was right, and Orbit signed and re-published The Riyria Revelations as well as the first two books of the Riyria Chronicles. When I finished Legends of the First Empire, Robin thought it was time to move up to a hard cover releases, but Orbit didn't agree. Fortunately, Penguin Random House's Del Rey Imprint did. I've been traditionally published since 2011, and my sales have increased such that I'm now in the I've-finally-made-it stage. If you want to discover why I feel that I can say I'm a professional author (and still keep a straight face), you can check out the Author Stats section.
I'm sure it can be disconcerting to back a novel that less than 50 people (beta and gamma readers) have read. But I do have some accomplishments that should help assuade those fears. So, here are some facts about my writing career.
- 1,180,000 English language books sold
- 294,000+ Ratings (88.4% 4 & 5-star | 9.3% 3-star | 2.3% 1 & 2-star
- 70+ foreign language contracts in 13 languages
- 7 six-figure publishing contracts and 1 seven-figure
- 30 books written | 12 published | 5 awaiting publication
- 2 books on the Washington Post Hardcover Best-seller list
- 1,350+ days on the Amazon Top 100 Fantasy Author list
- 5-time Goodreads Choice Award Nominee
- 2 Earphone Award Wins and one Audie Award Nomination
- One of the Top 50 most-followed authors on Goodreads (#37 US | #50 Worldwide)
- Named to 200+ best-of or most-anticipated lists including those compiled by Library Journal, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Audible, and Goodreads
- Named by io9 as one of the most successful science fiction and fantasy authors
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:
You'll notice there are no fees for the usual costs associated with self-publishing: cover design, copy editing, book layout, and ebook conversion. That's because (a) the book will be published even if this Kickstarter fails to fund and (b) I've already paid for those out of my own pocket. If we end up overfunding, then some of that initial investment will be recouped, but it's not necessary for this book to "get out there."
With so much traditional publishing success, you may wonder why I'm self-publishing. Well, there are several reasons. The first has to do with a non-compete clause in my Legends of the First Empire contract. Basically, I wasn't supposed to publish any non-Legends book until the series was fully released, but Del Rey made an exception for a self-published title as long as it wasn't available in the retail chain when their books were launched, and I didn't debut the Riyria tale too close to their Age of Swords or Age of War releases.
I'm not new to self-publishing (this will be my ninth indie novel), and I love creating my own books. Having 100% freedom makes it so much easier for a control junkie like myself. Getting a book exactly the way I want is immensely satisfying, and the amount I earn per book is much, much higher. The self-published book The Death of Dulgath has earned more than double the income than either of the traditionally published editions of The Crown Tower and The Rose and the Thorn.
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 The 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.
Since switching publishers to Del Rey, my readers have come to expect hardcover editions. But the cost to do a high-quality print run is expensive--very expensive. Funding $3,500 for top-industry cover designers and editors is something I can finance on my own, but to spend nearly $50,000 for printing is another matter. I'll need a little help from my friends to make that possible.
I also love the fact that Kickstarter removes middlemen. For instance, Amazon takes 55% off the top for any print books sold, and other chains can require as much as 70% of the list price. Ebook margins are better. I only lose 30% with them, but that's still much more than doing a Kickstarter. Yes, Kickstarter is a middleman, but their fees are only 5%. That's a huge difference. Doing a Kickstarter, ensures the highest percentage of your purchase dollars comes directly to me, the person who created the book.
Well, that's about all I can think of for now. I'll be updating the FAQ's and stretch goals as the project progresses. 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 nine years. It's because of you that I'm able to live my life-long dream, and it's something that I'm always grateful for. I'll keep writing, and hopefully you'll keep reading.
-- Michael & Robin Sullivan
Risks and challenges
Generally, the biggest risks with novel projects are (a) will the author finish the book and (b) can they write well? With this project, the book is already written, and 50 beta and gamma readers (people who haven't previously read any of my books) have rated it at a 4.75/5.00. So we've cleared those two hurdles.
The large number of backers required to reach our goal could make the logistics of shipping difficult. For past Kickstarters, we've done our own shipping, and that was (a) a nightmare an (b) took longer than we would have liked. For this project, Robin has hired a fulfillment company and this should significantly streamline the shipping process.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (21 days)