Gab asked Michael J. Sullivan:

When will "The First Empire" be published?

Michael J. Sullivan Hey Gab, thanks for asking...I'm hearing a lot of people getting excited for this next series...and seeing the books being put on a lot of shelves. Rhune (book #1) is already on like 4,800 shelves!

I wish I could give you a specific release date, but the truth is I just don't know. Let me explain to you where the series is now, and what the process will be like.

First off, the series started out as a trilogy that I was hoping to finish by mid 2014. Along the way, I realized to do it justice I would need 4 books, so I expanded it by one - and set mid-November to finish that book. The good news is I made my deadline...but once again expanded the series...which is now 5 (and I think it will stay at that number). The issue is an opportunity came up in book #4 that was just to awesome to pass by. I could have left it out, and finished the series "just fine" but fully exploring this thread elevates everything to a whole new level, so I took the harder, longer road.

I do something unusual in that I write the ENTIRE series before publishing the first book. This allows me to weave threads, and make adjustments as new ideas come up later on. Plus, I KNOW how it ll ends and this allows for really god continuity and a satisfying conclusion from page one. So...step #1 that has to be met is all the books have to be written. I anticipate that the fifth book will be finished sometime in March - May 2015.

The writing is the part I have control over, but it's my publishers who control release dates. I submitted the first book to my current publisher, Orbit, in early October. They have what is referred to as an "option" which means they get to look at it first without any other publisher's involvement. They still have a few more days to say "yes, we want this" or "no, we are going to pass." If they say "yes" then the two of of us have to discuss all the various details, like how much of an advance, what is the release schedule, what formats the books will be released in, etc. The real question is whether my opinions on such matters align with theirs. If they do...then we have another period of time (I think 30 days?) to finalize and shake hands. If history repeats itself, Orbit usually takes about a year after they have the final manuscript to release the book, which would mean a spring 2016 date. If during that time we can't come to a meeting of the minds then other publishers can be brought into the picture.

If I'm going to "switch" publishers then things become more complicated. My agent has already told a number of editors about the series and a number of them are excited to have the opportunity to read it. How long it will take them to evaluate it, I have no idea. Also I don't know how long to budget for negotiations...I've just not done this before. Also, I don't know how they schedule their books. Most contracts provide for the publisher to take up to two years from signing to release a book (although most do it in 12 - 18 months). But if their calendar is full, they may want to schedule further out. Again there is no way of telling at this point.

Of course there is the possibility that everyone passes, or that there are those who "want" the series, but we just can't agree on terms. In this case, I would self-publish the work. I've done this before in the past, and I feel strongly enough about the strength of this series that it will sell even without a traditional publisher attached. In some ways, this is probably the quickest way it will get to market as I can get a book released in less time than a big-five can.

So....the TL:DR version is:

1. If Orbit releases - probably March 2016
2. If another publisher release - probably Oct 2016 - Mar 2017
3. If I self-publish, probably March 2015.

So, as you can see there are is a lot of variation in those dates. For those who want to be notified and kept in the loop, I have developed a sign-up list. It can be accessed at this link .

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