Help choose the Hollow World bookmark design

Since the Kickstarter has hit the $15,000 stretch goal there will be signed bookmarks for contributors (and a few to give tot their friends). Now you can help decide which is the design produced.  You can  vote for your favorite here. Here are the choices:




Copy editors good and bad

I’m in the process of interviewing copy editors to work on Hollow World. I’m still hoping to get the editors that Orbit has used in the past, but my agent needs to obtain that contact information and she has been in Germany for several weeks. To ensure I’m not left hanging I’m also looking elsewhere.

I placed a small ad on the job board at the American Copy Editors Society. I’ve sent a few pages of Hollow World out, and they return it edited to see if our styles align. Most have been very good.  One so far has been down right hilarious.

I like copy editors that fix my hundreds of mistakes and make me look better.  For instance an example from The Crown Tower:

  • Mine:  The cords of Grue’s throat stood out from the strain.
  • Editor’s: The cords of Grue’s neck stood out from the strain.

A simple change, for certain, but oh so much better. This was something I wouldn’t have caught myself so my editor has just saved me from embarrassment.  Thank you!

Like doctors, the first rule of editing  should be “do no harm.” For me, personally, the worst copy editor is the wannabe writer who tries to “fix” your writing by augmentation. I may not be the best writer in the world, and by no means do I think my prose is sacrosanct. But for the love of God and country don’t do this to me:

Mine: Her smile appeared less forced then.

Editor’s: Maybe it was his imagination, but he sensed that her smile appeared less forced.

Now granted mine wasn’t going to win me a Pulitzer, but it was succinct and efficient and got its job done.  Why did this editor feel that he needed all the qualifiers?  Even politicians don’t waffle that much. He removed the single word “then” and added 9 words that did nothing but hemmed ad hawed.

The above was one of his most minor transgressions.  Another one of my favorites.  When describing the color of the cabinets in the doctor’s office I mentioned they probably came in choices of gray or white. But the editor felt those color choices weren’t sufficient so made them “pallid white or cadaverous gray.”  Really?  Seriously?  First off pallid is defined as “abnormally deficient in color” which is what white is – so using both is just redundant. Make something pallid or white but not pallid white. But cadaverous…I’m glad I was drinking at the time as I would have snorted milk.

Okay, enough venting…I promise you Hollow World will be properly edited no cadavers in my colors.  I’m off to do some writing in Rhune.


Hollow World Excerpt Posted

Keeping in mind this hasn’t been edited yet (that’s part of what the Kickstarter is paying for), so it may be slightly changed in the final version I thought I should at least get an excerpt out there so that people can get a feel for the book. I’ve posted it in two places:

For all you “writerly types” I’m also going to be doing a deconstruction of it’s opening paragraph so you can see my thought process as to why I do what I did.

New: Patron for Life Pledge Level

To be honest, I didn’t think anyone would be interested in such a thing, but Robin thought it would be worth a try and in just a few hours 25% of the spots have been filled. So exactly what is a “Patron for Life”?

Well these 25 people will be hardcore “Sullifans” (no that’s not my term – something that one of them came up with)  and as such they will receive:

  • An ebook of eveything I write from now into the future
  • A faux leather with gold foil stamp edition of Hollow World
  • Their contributions will be acknowledged as a patron for life my future works (if they chose  to be singled out as such)

It costs $250, which is steep I will admit. But as long as I don’t croak over, and keep writing 2 – 3 books a year it might turn out to be a not too bad investment.  I’m just glad that people seem to be liking the possibility. Kickstarter is proving to be a way to offer perks that is difficult to do in other ways.  I find the whole thing fascinating.

In other news, as I mentioned yesterday, Bradley P. Beaulieu‘s kickstarter has been launched and I’m happy to say it’s already  a huge success. Brad is doing something similar to myself, in that he is taking his work directly to his readers, and as such he is making more than he did when the same titles were being released by his publisher. It’s been less than a day and already he is just $796 from being fully funded. That’s over $4,200 pledge to help him bring out his third and final book in his series in style. I just love seeing authors going unconventional routes.  For any of my readers who have also contributed to Brad…I just wanted to thank you for that.

Yes, you can have your books signed!

For the Kickstarter, I’ve been getting a fair amount of email and messages from people asking if they can get their copies signed.  I guess I didn’t make that clear enough in the KS page – Doh!  Will go correct that.  But yes, of course, the books can be however you want: 

  • Signed
  • Unsigned
  • Signed and dedicated to someone (yourself or a loved one)

There will be a survey after the kickstarter is over where you’ll be able to specify your preference.

In other related news….We are just $665 from the poster stretch goal…and I’m definitely going to post additional stretch goals once that is made.

And one more thing.  Bradley P. Beaulieu ·just launched his own Kickstarter. For the third and last book (The Flames of Shadam Khoreh) in his  The Lays of Anuskaya trilogy.  I’ve only recently met Brad (at ConFusion in Detroit) but he is one of the inspirations for my own kickstarter and a damn fine writer in his own right – so take a peek, and if it looks like something you think you might be interested in, then I’m sure he would appreciate the backing.


Looks like the posters reward will be a reality – we’re close to next stretch goal.

Just $1,705 away from the next stretch goal – which means that there will be posters of Marc’s exceptional artwork – I think this will be awesome! Contributions yesterday were really slow, but I’m not complaining as this has already done more than I had expected. At the current funding the kickstarter has already produced enough money to cover:

The production costs usually picked up by the publisher
A $5,000 advance (which is a common amount for a debut novel)
I’m hoping that more authors, particularly those who have been traditionally published, and end up shelving a book that isn’t picked up will see this as a possible way to get books out that were turned down by their publishers.

It’s also encouraging to get the emails and see posts where people are expressing their excitement for getting the books early. I’m also looking forward to this as I’ll get to hear feedback that much earlier. It’s hard writing a book and waiting for a year or more before you hear what people think of it.

Well that’s it for today…I”m back to writing Rhune.

Free Bundled ebooks with Print Copies

So here is one of the most exciting aspects about my return to self-publishing.  The ability to do things that traditional publisher’s can’t or won’t do.  Which brings me to today’s post.

Both during the kickstarter, and after the official release, anyone who buys the printed book will get all formats (DRM-free) of the ebook for free.

To me this seems like a no-brainer. I personally love reading on my ipad, and my wife is addicted to her kindle, and my son started reading once we got him a Nexus…but I know many people who still like paper, and I frequently pass my print copy of a favorite book to them to read.

I think there are many people like me, who want paper for the shelf and to loan, but would prefer reading electronically.  I actually make quite a bit of money because people who buy my traditional books buy multiple formats…but I don’t think they should have to.

In a world filled with pirates, and those feeling entitled to work they’ve never bought, I’m grateful for a legitimate purchase and once you’ve bought my book legitimately, why shouldn’t you be able to read it on whatever device, or in paper if you want.

Because Hollow World won’t be in bookstores it will be actually easy to do.  Almost everyone who buys the book will do so either directly from my website, through Amazon, or Barnes and Noble and all they’ll have to do is forward me their receipt, and I’ll email the ebooks.  It will be a bit of a pain to administrate but I can pay my son to process the requests and I’m not “that big” that it’s going to be completely impossible to keep up with.

Ah freedom….it’s a wonderful, wonderful thing.

The kickstarter response has been incredible

Well it’s only been live for just over four days and the Hollow World Kickstarter has been a huge success.  Some information:

  •  Fully funded in the first 17 hours
  • Hit the first stretch goal in just a few days
  • Passed the 200% of funding yesterday
  • Over 200 backers and at 240% right now
  • 73% toward the next stretch goal

Thanks everyone for your support.

As with most things you do the first time I made some mistakes.  I’ll be putting this all together in a free download document but for now I just have time to mention some of the stuff I learned:

  • Carefully proof your video – I have a typo and because you can’t “change out” a video on YouTube I would have to post a new one, delete the old one, fix links in Kickstarter, and lose the views of the first one.  Also…I’ve liked the video to the book in goodreads and you can’t delete a video yourself (even if you are a librarian) you have to go through goodreads people to do that.  So for now I’m keeping it up with the typo. 
  • Although my intention was that the print books had free shipping I didn’t make that crystal clear so some people thought they would be charged for shipping. Next time I’ll make this more clear.
  • When posting the size of the poster/prints of Marc’s artwork I specified only inches – some people overseas had no idea what size that was so I had to go in and update to indicate size in centimeters as well
  • I didn’t list my current books – Doh!  Great opportunity for advertising that I completely missed.
  • I didn’t have links to some sample chapters of my other works

One thing I found that is kind of fun is KickTraq – it has this nifty widget that helps to show other the current status of the project.

Hollow World: a novel by Michael J. Sullivan -- Kicktraq Mini

Well that’s it for today, more updates as things progress.

Hollow World Kickstarter has gone live!

Well I guess there is no going back now 😉

The Hollow World Kickstarter went live about 12 hours ago.  You can see it (and hopefully contribute) here.  I’ve not had a chance to “get the word out” yet (just a tweet and a mention on my goodreads group so far) but already I’m over 2/3 of my way to the $3,000 goal. I’m touched by the support of my readers, and I’m sure you’ll not be disappointed in the book once it is released.

I also got a nice email from Marc which said,

“If that could help you, for the highest bakers on Kickstarter, I’d like to offer an original drawing related to Hollow world. (a pencil work, or watercolor one of the characters of the book)”

What a generous gesture – Marc is the best.  I’m going to take him up on the offer (and I’ll add it to the project. The only thing I’m going to do is change it to be a “raffle” so that everyone who contributes has a chance at this.  The number of “entries” will be based on contribution so those that contribute more will have a better chance, but it also means that the artwork won’t necessarily go to the person with the deepest pockets.  I actually got that idea (of how to do the reward) from Mark Lawrence who is doing something similar for a charity fund-raising he is doing.

I’m also in the midst of putting together my “lessons learned” manual for other people to do their own Kickstarters in the future, and will be adding to it as the project continues.

Very exciting times!

It’s posted, now just waiting on review

Today I went through the process of officially making my kickstarter for Hollow World. I need to document up my process and make it available, and will soon but I’m really happy with how it came out. It’s currently “waiting on review” and I hope that it goes live soon as I have a “hard stop date” and want to have enough time to get the word out about it.

Here is some ‘sneak peak information’

I put together my video – which was really lame at first. I think it got better by putting some of the ‘outtakes’ up front and trying to get me off screen as much as possible.

I also used the trailer I made at the same time. Using Microsoft Movie Maker Live was pretty easy once I got the hang of it. The music I used was very inexpensive (I think like $20 or something like that).

I’m trying to raise $3,000 to pay for Marc’s artwork and editing by Betsy Mitchell and some great copy editors. If we hit some of the stretch goals I’m going to also print copies of Marc’s work and ship them with the books (and to ebook people upon request once they give me an address).

I tried to make the contribution levels reasonable:

  • $2 – You get a screen saver and mention for being a contributor
  • $10 – ebook (all formats and DRM free
  • $25 – trade paperback + ebook
  • $75 – limited edition (250 copies) hardcover + ebook
  • $150 – a REALLY limited edition (50 copies and different cover) hardcover + trade paperback + ebook

The big thing that backers get is the book 6 – 7 months before the official release which is currently slated for Jan 20, 2014.  There are contractual considerations that prohibit me from self-publishing anything before then.

Of course, I’ll announce and provide a link as soon as the project goes live – I’m quite excited to see how it does!