The Future is coming…for some, sooner than others

Ellis Rogers is an ordinary man, who is about to embark on an extraordinary journey. All his life he has played it safe and done the right thing, but faced with a terminal illness he’s willing to take an insane gamble. He’s built a time machine in his garage, and if it works, he’ll face a world that challenges his understanding of what it means to be human, what it takes to love, and the cost of paradise. He could find more than a cure for his illness; he might find what everyone has been searching for since time began…but only if he can survive Hollow World.


I’m a storyteller.  I write books that I want to read. It’s the only way I know how to operate.  Some think of me as a fantasy author because of my bestselling Riyria books, but the truth is I write in a wide range of genres, and always have. When I finished Hollow World, I knew I had something special, unusual, and controversial. Hollow World defies classification.  With elements of fantasy, science fiction, adventure, thriller, mystery, and even an unconventional romance, it presents a huge challenge for publishing: It doesn’t fit neatly. Sorta like me, which is probably one of the reasons that I love it so much. Hollow World shares something else with me, in that it is a bit of a rebel.  It didn’t take a standard path to publication, following either traditional or self. It started with a Kickstarter, which is great for funding experimental projects. I anticipated that I would need about $6,000 to hire the top-of-the-line professionals that produce my big-five published works.  I’m referring to people like cover artist Marc Simonetti (who has created the French editions of my Riyira books), or Betsy Mitchell (who was the editor-in-chief at Del Rey for more than a decade and has edited more than 150 books including award winners and New York Times Bestsellers).  Thinking I could never raise $6,000, I set the goal for the Kickstarter at $3,000, figuring I’d pay half and hope that readers would match that.  It went on to bring in more than $31,000. But that’s not the end of Hollow World’s unconventional publishing history.  I received a nice five-figure advance to sell Hollow World to a large publisher, the problem was they wanted the standard print, ebook, and audio rights.  Giving up ebook rights really limits how I can best serve my readers. Some of the practices that traditional publishing subscribe to don’t align with what I want.  In particular when I release an ebook:

  • I do so without DRM (Digital Rights Management) so that readers can read the book from more than one place
  • Provide multiple copies so the same book can be read on a kindle, nook, and computer without the reader translating file formats
  • Provide FREE ebooks for anyone who purchases a royalty-producing copy of the book in print or audio (my feeling is they already bought the book once they shouldn’t have to re-buy it just to read it on the go or with their other devices)

These are things that traditional publishers either can’t or won’t do.  So the need to retain my ebook rights to Hollow World was paramount. This wouldn’t be a problem, after all I’ve successfully self-published in the past  and could once more. But the problem with self-publishing is distribution. Those that prefer paper won’t find the books in their local store or library. In addition, producing high quality audio books like my Riyria stories is costly and similarly hard to distribute.  So I had a wild idea. Could I keep the ebook rights and sell the other rights?  Apparently I can.  At the time I signed a print-only deal with Tachyon Publishing for Hollow World, only four other authors had such arrangements with their publishers: Hugh Howey,  Brandon Sanderson, Bella Andre, and Coleen Hover.  All sell many, many  more books than I do, so I thought my chances of me getting a print-only deal were slim but worth trying. Since Sanderson had done his fantasy print-only deal with Tachyon it made sense to try them. Besides, their track record for producing award-winners proves they have a discerning eye and produce quality products. I was thrilled they were able to “think outside the box” and go along with my crazy plan.  For the audio version, I turned to my tried and true partner, Recorded Books.  They were not the least bit concerned that it wasn’t signed to a major publisher. I guess the 74,000 audio sales (as of Sep 2013) was all the information they needed  ;-). I’m so glad to be working with them on yet another project. So there you have it, a brief introduction to Hollow World and the strange way in which it is being released. We’ll have some more surprises as we near the official release date (April 15, 2014) such as ways for you to get the book earlier than everyone else, so stay tuned.


ISBN: 978-1616961831
Pages: 384
Release: April 15, 2014
Print: Tachyon Publications
Audio: Recorded Books
ebook: Michael J. Sullivan

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2 thoughts on “The Future is coming…for some, sooner than others

  1. All this shows that you’re not into ripping of the reader. I have pre-ordered Hollow World but feel you should have released it in March for my b-day :>)) Thank you and your family for their support in giving you what you need to write so prolifically! It is still hard for me to grasp the fact that you had difficulty getting published! Esp. with so much dreck being printed.

    • I have without question the best job in town…and am grateful to all the help and support that Robin has provided. Getting published is really hard…sometimes it’s a matter of being in the right place at the right time. That’s what is so good about self-publishing…if the readers see your work and like it then it is much easier to get the publishers interested. I’m glad you feel that my writing is “up to par.”

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