Monday, June 1, 2020

I'm in awe of Michael J. Sullivan's book production team.

This cover art is pretty darn amazing. It's like all the covers in this series.
I'm in awe of Michael J. Sullivan's book production team. If you don't know, Michael J. Sullivan is a highly successful fantasy author that writes good books. I'm a fan. I've read all of his Royce and Hadrian buddy stories, and lately his efforts have been on piecing together the epic tale of the Legend of the First Empire. It starts with the Age of Myth. I'm currently about to read Age of Legend, which is the fourth book in the series (I think there are two more after that). They are all about six-hundred or so pages, tightly written, and essentially perfect with no visible spelling or punctuation errors that I can see anywhere. And they are actually higher quality print books than you can usually buy from the major publishers.

Sullivan was traditionally published by one of the Big Six, and I think he parted ways with them because he makes more money by doing so. That's not to say that anyone could do this. Rather, what I'm saying is that he (specifically) does this extremely well. I always participate in his kickstarters and I haven't seen one that ran for less than a month that didn't go over $100,000 in backers, which is kind of incredible. They also hit The New York Times bestsellers, etc. All the usual stuff you'd expect from a major publisher. Only, it's just him, his wife, and some employees that are essentially friends doing all the work.

The print in these books is incredible. The paper is super high quality, the cover art is stunning, the book jackets are the best in the business, and there's even foil imprints on covers behind the book jackets as well as the fancy curlicues you see at the top of chapter heads. It's kind of ridiculous. I never thought such a small operation could produce products like these. He signs all of them, and you get all the nitty gritty details in their email blasts.

For example, his wife (who does a ton of the kickstarter stuff) sets up the kickstarters in the most professional way I can imagine. They have totes you can buy and other add ons. They have an actual composer writing original music for the series, and it's basically the same quality as you'd get from Alan Silvestri or some other film composer. Imagine having someone compose music for your books...I can't even think of how I'd go about finding someone to do that. They've got voice actors to do the audiobooks. I haven't listened to any, but if it's like anything else he's doing then it's the best in the business.

In one of the email blasts, his wife talked about how they dealt with Covid and how she lived out of a trailer in their front yard for fourteen days. And then to do the book signings they rent out an actual warehouse where the books are brought in by forklift so that Michael can start signing them, and then they have a table set up to package and put shipping labels on things. It's basically an assembly line similar to what I imagine car manufacturers have over in Detroit.

But's like a super small three to four people with a couple of extras here and there.

On top of that, Michael Sullivan can apparently write a book in the same time that it takes me to use the restroom in the morning. Which also blows my mind. Each of the last three books in the Legends of the First Empire (again these are big books mind you) has had a kickstarter pick up within like a month of the last one ending. Seriously. My mind just cannot comprehend how prolific and fast this man is with writing his books.

If you get a chance, I recommend them highly. Quantity in this case is not indicative of quality, as the books and stories are amazing. 


  1. In other words, he's the author that makes the rest of us just want to hang it up.
    King left the big publishers for a smaller one. So they aren't the key to success.

    1. His operation honestly feels superhuman to me. If he's the standard for a self-published author, then yes...I know of no one who's even in the same league. Their email blasts sound exhausting in the work and detail they do, but everything is top notch, everything is fulfilled on time, communication is amazing...I'm actually floored by it all.

  2. Meh, I'm sure I can write a book faster. It must be nice to have a team to make covers and music and everything. Once you've had some success and built an audience you really don't need the Big Publisher anymore. Obviously it's not something most people could do because they don't have the audience.

  3. Thanks for the recommendation. Sounds like a quality operation.