It pays to think outside the box

30 October 2013


An interview with Author and TPV regular Michael J. Sullivan


From Sarah at BookwormBlues

The other day I had a conversation on Twitter with Michael J. Sullivan regarding the unusual publishing of his upcoming book Hollow World. I thought it was rather fascinating, and I was incredibly interested to learn more about what he’s doing and why. I also figured that if I am interested, someone else probably is, too. I asked him if he’d like to write a guest post for my website to elaborate on the topic. I figured not having a 140 character limit would help express ideas and thoughts. I feel very lucky that he agreed.

Without further hubbub, dear world, get excited. Michael J. Sullivan is here for some education.


When it comes to publishing it pays to think outside the box

Yesterday I sent Sarah my soon to be released book Hollow World for review. Afterward we had a discussion via twitter about the unusual way it is being published (more on this in a moment). She thought it was interesting how the publishing industry is changing, and she thought others might be interested in learning a bit about what I’ve done and why. So here I am.

First, let’s start with a bit of background. I’ve been published in just about every way that exists. Having done all three paths, I know the pros and cons of each. While traditional publishers are great at print distribution, they don’t really offer any significant advantages for ebooks. In fact, there are a lot of problems with their system.


Most authors would jump at the chance to sign a five-figure offer for a single book, but because of all the things I said earlier, and because the Kickstarter proved to me the book had merit, I decided to turn it down…but it did get me thinking…why couldn’t I have my cake and eat it too?

What I really wanted was to keep the ebook, sell the print rights to one publisher, and sell the audio rights directly to an audio producers (so I would keep 100% of the royalties). The problem is that this is easier said than done. I knew of only four authors who had received “print-only deals” and they are all million copy sellers they are: Hugh Howey, Bella Andre, Coleen Hoover, and Brandon Sanderson.


By keeping my ebook rights (and receiving 100% of the audio royalties) I anticipate making significantly more money than if I had signed that five-figure contract I was originally offered. But it’s not just about money. Publishing Hollow World as I have will allow me to better serve my readers. Those who enjoy print will still find the books in their local bookstores and libraries. Plus, they can also receive free ebooks (regardless of where the print book was sold). For the ebook only crowd, they get DRM-free editions, a cheaper list price, and I’ll even provide ebooks in multiple formats so they can read the same book on their kindle and nook without having to buy it twice.


The moral of this story is take control and think outside the box. The old rules have been washed away and the slate is now clean. It’s time for authors to shape their careers in ways that makes the most sense for them, even if it isn’t something that hasn’t been done before.

See Micheals blog here.

From Guest Blogger Randall with thanks to Christian for the tip.

Advertising-Promotion-Marketing, Contracts, Royalties, Self-Publishing, The Business of Writing, Writing Advice

7 Comments to “It pays to think outside the box”

  1. Wow, great information in that interview.

  2. My favorite take-away from this awesome article is the idea of pre-emptive audiobook rights sales. Get them off the table, and there’s no way the trad publishers can make a grab. Brilliant!

  3. It so nice of him to share his experience. He gives authors a lot to think about like those audio rights.

  4. This really is a terrific article! Thanks so much for linking it, Randall.

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