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Topics - Michael_J_Sullivan

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Writers' Cafe / Best book on writing I've read lately...add your own
« on: November 30, 2014, 04:32:10 am »
I know a lot of people point to Strunk and White's Element of Style, but I think this book is a nice "modernization" that debunks some of what is talked about in it.  I've really enjoyed The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century.  Part of the blurb explains better than I could why this book is so useful:

Rethinking the usage guide for the twenty-first century, Pinker doesn't carp about the decline of language or recycle pet peeves from the rule books of a century ago. Instead, he applies insights from the sciences of language and mind to the challenge of crafting clear, coherent, and stylish prose. In this short, cheerful, and eminently practical book, Pinker shows how writing depends on imagination, empathy, coherence, grammatical know how, and an ability to savor and reverse engineer the good prose of others. He replaces dogma about usage with reason and evidence, allowing writers and editors to apply the guidelines judiciously, rather than robotically, being mindful of what they are designed to accomplish.

Does anyone have other writing related books to recommend?

Writers' Cafe / Getting a better picture on ebook to print percentages
« on: February 24, 2014, 07:07:05 am »
I keep hearing how the industry standard for ebooks is running around 25% - 30%, which shows no correlation to my own numbers.  Certainly in the self-publishing arena ebooks dominate, but as my own traditional numbers run more along the lines of: 25% audio, 45% ebook and 30% print I just don't have a good feel for what is real and what is speculation.

To try and help, I've made a survey and would like as many kbers to help provide their numbers (especially since so many surveys like the recent one from DBW didn't get this group of writers information).  It doesn't require you to expose the number of sales or your income, just the percentages between the various formats.  In the spirit of Hugh Howey's work on author earnings, the data is freely available to everyone.  You can post anonymously if you prefer by not using your real name, but as it is just %'s and not income I hope that most will use their own name - you can see a full breakdown of all my traditional results to date in the data now.

Thanks a ead of time for anyone who contributes, trying to get "real data" in this crazy world of publishing hasn't been easy.

Writers' Cafe / Free Webcast on some results of DBW author Survey
« on: February 04, 2014, 05:19:09 am »
A lot of controversy around the  DBW surveyed of 9,000+ authors that they recently did. (Results selling for $295). I didn't think the report had enough detail, but I did take the survey and I think there is interesting insights if the questions are analyzed properly. The people who did the survey will be having a free webcast Thursday at 12:00 EST. You can sign up here.

For the second year the fabulous moderators at /reddit/r/Fantasy are holding a contest for the Best of 2013.  This year the added a category for best independent novel and they have asked me to do what I can to help spread the word to get more nominations in the thread for voting.

So, if you have a fantasy title and you want to get the word out - check out This thread

Writers' Cafe / Could use some help with covers
« on: October 09, 2013, 03:48:56 am »
Awhile ago you guys gave me a bunch of feedback on covers for Hollow World and it really helped. I control the ebook rights and a traditional publisher has the print rights. I decided on one, and was running with it, but then my publisher made their own version, and I need to decide if:

(a) Theirs is better and I should adjust mine to that
(b) Mine is better and I need to convince them to use it
(c) Reconcile that the print and ebook will have different covers.

This is a science-fiction time travel book and here is the blurb that would go along with it:

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.

Any input help would be greatly appreciated.

Writers' Cafe / What features would you like to see Amazon implement?
« on: October 07, 2013, 08:05:44 am »
Just did the survey about reviews - thanks for posting that by the way.  And it made me think of what things I would want from Amazon with regards to the page.

I think their "also bought" is one of the most powerful means of discoverability but sometimes it is dominated by the author's works. I wish they would split that into two bars.

1. that has only "other authors" in it
2. one that has books by the author in question in it.

That way I can see what other books are their most popular, but I have more space to find similar authors that I might like to read.

Does anyone else have any other ideas they would like to see on the page?

Just wanted to let everyone know that David's Shadowdance series is re-releasing tomorrow with Orbit's new version of Dance of Cloaks. The book has been revised and I read an early version. I thought it was a great read and just wanted to congratulate David and give him my hope that sales are stellar.

I'm really happy that Amazon rolled out MatchBook - I plan on offering my ebooks FREE (for any of the ones that I control e-rights to) but even before they announced that program I proposed to do exactly that for my readers but independent of any outlet).  Basically I put a big note at the front of the print book (which should show up in the "sample section" regardless of whether they sample the ebook or the print book  that basically says, "Email me your receipt of print book purchase and I'll send you a DRM free ebook in whatever formats you want).

Yeah it will be a bit of logistics to service it.  But if it gets too bad I can pay a teenager to email the books.  I was wondering if anyone was doing this, or thinking of doing this in the future?

Writers' Cafe / Publishers catching onto the power of free?
« on: July 17, 2013, 05:14:06 am »
So I tried and tried to convince my publisher to do a "free extended preview" for my first set of books to no avail.  But now a year and a half later they consented for The Crown Tower!  Yeah!  It's good to see they can learn from the techniques that have proven so well for us. For them to make something "permafree" was an easy task - Now we just have to get this feature for indies (other than through the matching or the 5-day select thing).

In any case, if you could download a copy to give it a signal boost it would help show the publishers that this was a good idea, and maybe they'll do it next time I ask.  Plus you get the first 5 chapter of my new book for nothing!  While this free preview is available on several sites - the one I care the most about (obviously) is kindle.  (Here is a link).

Two men who hate each other. One impossible mission. A legend in the making.
A warrior with nothing to fight for is paired with a thieving assassin with nothing to lose. Together they must steal a treasure that no one can reach. The Crown Tower is the impregnable remains of the grandest fortress ever built and home to the realm's most prized possessions. But it isn't gold or jewels that the old wizard is after, and if he can just keep them from killing each other, they just might do it.

Writers' Cafe / I think I've been impersonated
« on: July 13, 2013, 03:17:02 am »
I was reading an Amazon review today and found this:

I am quite fortunate to have met Michael. He noticed I was reading on an e reader at an Irish Tavern in Florida one day... and asked what it was that I was reading. We had a great conversation about various authors that I have read and enjoyed reading including Terry Brooks, Robin Hobb, Neal Stephenson, Tad Williams, and more. THEN he told me he was an author... in the same genre. So humble. Incredibly refreshing. He ended up being a terrific guy, and I again feel fortunate to have met him.

But I've never run across anyone reading my books in Florida or elsewhere.  I'm glad that whoever impersonated me was "a nice guy" but I find this so very strange.  Totally don't know how to take this.  But it was one of the stranger things that happened to me in this whole "writing gig."

Writers' Cafe / This is increasingly becoming my biggest pet peeve...
« on: July 07, 2013, 03:19:30 am »
I actually have two.

1. Is traditionally published authors, who have never self-published, who tell other authors how hard it is to self-publish.

2. People who have never self-published, and don't even know any self-published authors, telling me what self-published authors think and what their motivations are for self-publishing.  In particular, we believe that self-publishing is easy money and we expect to make a fortune with no work involved.

Writers' Cafe / As promised...some data on Kindle Daily Deal results
« on: July 02, 2013, 08:50:57 am »
I'll be updating this post as we get further and further away from the KDD day but here is some stuff for those that are interested in such thing.  The data from the graphs comes from Novel Rank (if you aren't using it you should - as you don't have to hit refresh every hour to see your data).  It is based off of Pacific standard time so when it turns 3:00 am EST it's midnight on the west coast and when the deal goes into effect.

The first chart shows the ranking just before the KDD.  The axis shows what day the ranking was record and the hour of the day 20=8:00 pm  5=5:00 am

As you can see I was ranked in the high 5,000 - 7,000 range before the KDD by 5:00 am the first ranking started seeing adjustments and by 10:00 am I was under 1,000.

The second graph shows that at 1:00 pm the day of the KDD I was really close to breaking 100.  The climb from 39 to 17 was pretty steady for 7 hours where I maxed out.  Sales peaked the day after at 5:00 AM pacific time.

  • Day 1 ranged from 23 - 7,851
  • Day 2 ranged from 17 - 75
  • Day 3 ranged from 104 - 210
  • Day 4 ranged from 257 -289

Writers' Cafe / Holy Smokes! My book is a Kindle Daily Deal
« on: June 29, 2013, 02:57:59 am »
As you all know - this is HUGE.  Here's hoping that the signal boost will be a big one.

Writers' Cafe / It looks like I might have a print-only deal.
« on: June 23, 2013, 02:25:51 pm »
While the ink isn't yet dry on the contract, I'm happy to say that it looks like I'll be able to keep my ebook rights and yet still have professional, traditional distribution for the audio book (selling the rights to Recorded books) and print distribution (will say more about the publisher once the contract is signed).  As far as I know this type of thing has pretty much only been done by the superstars: Bella, Colleen, Hugh, and 2 novellas by Brandon Sanderson).  I'm sure there are some really small presses that might let the author keep the eboook rights, but I'm not sure they will really move any significant volume.

I see this as a huge development for self-published authors. After all, traditional publishers are still amazingly good at getting books into bookstores, and libraries so being able to have them do what they do best, while still keeping your 70% ebook royalties really is having the best of both worlds.  Here's to hoping that this will provide just one more chink in the wall that will allow other publishers to see the advantages of offering this kind of arrangement.  It's good for them and the author...I love win-win situations.

One thing that drives me a bit crazy is that stupid Taleist Survey which says self-published authors only make $500.  The reason it bothers me is it fails to do an apples-to-apples comparison. If you consider the entire pool to be books written - some of which go through the query go round and some of them that go self-publishing. I think the chances of success is pretty much equal...and those that fail on the query-go-round won't make ANY money.

Anyway, I wrote a post about this for Amazing Stories, and thought I would share it here.

Writers' Cafe / Need some advice
« on: June 11, 2013, 06:20:15 pm »
There seems to be a company that is churning out books that I suspect are being "automatically created by bots."  I recently found the following books which are based off of my books:

  • 100 Common Misconceptions about Theft of Swords: Riyria Revelations, Book 1 by Jonathan Arling
  • 100 Things You Don't Wanna Know about Theft of Swords: Riyria Revelations, Book 1 by Joseph Seeding
  • 100 Unexpected Statements about Theft of Swords: Riyria Revelations, Book 1 by William Read
  • The Most Intimate Revelations about Theft of Swords: Riyria Revelations, Book 1 by Michael Kemp
  • 100 of the Most Shocking Reviews Theft of Swords: Riyria Revelations, Book 1 by Isaac Strong
  • 10 000 Pigs Can't Be Wrong: Unexpected Reviews Theft of Swords: Riyria Revelations, Book 1 by Anna Penning
  • Women Love Girth... the Fattest 100 Facts on Heir of Novron: Riyria Revelations, Book 3 by Oliver Manning
  • My Grandma Loves This!: 100 Interesting Factoids about Heir of Novron: Riyria Revelations, Book 3 by Christian Payne

I can't imagine they have any 'real content' - is there some place on Amazon I can report these to so that they investigate and remove them?

Sorry if this has already been covered...but is it now possible to get a pre-order pages for an upcoming kindle release?  Does anyone know how to do this?  I would LOVE to get a preorder up for Hollow World that is coming out in January - and I know how to do it for a paperback book - but have no clue on how to do it for a kindle - anyone know anything about this?

Here's the Page to Hugh Howe's Dust.

I did a quick look, but didn't see another thread on this. If it is already out there - feel free to merge:

I just saw this post On the bestselling ebooks in the industry for 2012 Of course it excluded all the indies...My guess they could have gone to Amazon and get a list of people who sold more than 25,000 in 2012 - but no....they list only the ones from publishers so I want my own list.

Please tell me what titles you have that sold more than 25,000 in 2012.  Please note SOLD - don't include your free giveaways.

Writers' Cafe / Print-on-demand for hardcovers...suggestions?
« on: March 14, 2013, 12:54:56 pm »
So I know lulu does, and lightning source...also I've heard that createspace will do but it's not "standard" (is this true?). Does anyone else know where to get hardcovers with dust jackets...or even cloth bound / foil stamp hardcovers?

Any help would be appreciated.

Writers' Cafe / Audio book popularity
« on: March 13, 2013, 11:46:14 am »
More and more I'm hearing from people that they are "reading" my books on audio.  It seems like this format is really gaining momentum - does anyone else see this trend?  What are people's own personal experiences with audio?

I did this during the "Fall for the Book" and had a good time talking to Scott Nicholson and Karen Cantwell, and others...I plan on swinging by VA Festival of the books if for no other reason then to meet Hugh and shake his hand...Betsy mentioned she might be going. So if others are thinking of it as well - do you want to get together while we are in one place?

I've been writing articles for Amazing stories including: Don't Quit your Day Job where I explain the truth behind traditional publishing income.

I think one of the most "hidden" aspects about self-publishing is the thousands of authors that aren't Hocking, Locke, or Howey, that still earn well (most better than their traditionally published counterparts.  I'm about to write an article about the self-publishing side, and I think the Taleist survery (which is about the only thing "out there" regarding income) is very slanted toward "hobbyist" self-published authors, and not the "professional" self-published that frequent this board.

So, for those that are earning well, but still may not be household names please write me at michael (dot) sullivan (dot) dc (at) gmail (dot) com.  If you want me to use your name, I will, if you want to provide data anonymously I'll respect your privacy.

In particular anyone who has done both self and traditional I would love to hear the compare/contrast.



Writers' Cafe / Revised cover & this better?
« on: March 10, 2013, 05:41:47 am »
First I want to thank everyone for your comments on the last set of covers I presented. I took the feedback, have done some tweaking and this is what I have as of now:

Ellis Rogers is running out of time, even for a man with his own time machine.
A Detroit factory worker, who has always played it safe and done the right thing, finds himself rewarded with unemployment, a loveless marriage, and a terminal illness. Now with nothing to lose he’s willing to take an insane gamble. All he has to do is press the red button, and if he survives, he could find more than just a cure for his disease. Ellis could discover a future that challenges his understanding of what it means to be human, what it takes to love, and the cost of paradise.

Welcome to Hollow World, a science fiction thriller from the bestselling author of The Riyria Revelations.

Yes, I know the person on the cover is not the person talked about in the blurb...but considering the fact that Ellis Rogers is a very 'ordinary guy' and the person portrayed ( of the genetically identical people of the future - is more "distinctive") I thought it was important to have Pax on the cover and to write a description focusing on Pax would give away A LOT of spoilers. 

So a few questions...

1. Is this good now...or are further enhancements needed (to either )

2. Is it a huge issue that the character on the cover is not the main character?

Thanks in advance for the feedback.

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