Talion: Revenant Challenge Update #1

Talion: Revenant has been on sale electronically for three months now, so it’s time for an update on numbers. When I released the book I said that when I’d sold 10,000 copies, I’d write the sequel: Talion: Nemesis. I’m banking the money as it comes in, and your purchases will become my advance for writing that new novel.

Since the book went on sale we’ve sold 210 copies, which is much higher than I expected at this point. (I don’t have an accounting yet for the copies sold through the Appstore/iBookstore, but I’d guess that would be an added 40 copies or so at best.) So, in three months, we’re 2.5% of the way to the goal. If you want to look at the fact that another 9,750 need to sell before I start working, that could be a bit depressing, but I’m enthused by the results.

One aspect is momentum. Sales have been increasing, and that’s very promising. Through Amazon, the T:R sales have been smoking the sales of A Gathering Evil, which I’ve left at $2. I could draw some conclusions about price sensitivity for ebooks from this. It would appear to me that as long as the price is reasonable, readers are willing to buy. And one should remember, most of the folks who are purchasing the book already owned at least one paperback copy, so these sales are largely a down-payment on getting the sequel.

Digital publication and marketing are a brand new field. I’m feeling my way through it the same as everyone else. I know, for example, this update will spur some more sales. It will prompt folks to blog more about the project, and that will bring more sales. As we move forward, I’ll look at selling some more Talion fiction and tossing that money into the kitty, too. As I hit conventions over the summer, I’ll talk about the book and encourage folks to buy. I will also look at the efficacy of purchasing advertising on the net to see if that spurs things onward.

The power of the Internet can’t be denied. If everyone who already purchased were to convince just two friends to buy a copy, and those folks convinced two friends to buy, and so on; we’d sell that 10,000 copies by December and you’d likely have the new book by summer of 2011. Even if you don’t want to buy a copy, you can talk friends into buying copies, introducing the book to folks who haven’t read it, and you’ll get the sequel that much faster.

What I’m really enthused about is the number of folks who actually get it. This whole challenge isn’t just about getting enough money fto write a sequel. It’s about making a fundamental change in the way publishing is done. Instead of getting paid by publishers for what they guess I might sell in the future, I can work on the basis of being paid for work I’ve already done. The advantage there is incredible because it buys me the freedom to turn out the kind of work that I want to write and which, rather obviously, my patrons (that would be you) want to read. With this cycle ramping up, I’d be in a position to ask you what you want to see next from me, be it more DragonCrown War material, more stories in the Age of Discovery world, long work, short work, new and experimental work. (I will, however, draw the line at writing Fluffy Cat or Sparkly Vampire stories.)

Right now, we’re off to a good start. I’ll do more to keep awareness of the project out there. I appreciate your help in all this by Tweeting and Facebooking and posting reviews on Amazon and linking back to the store. This project really can turn publishing on its head. Thanks for joining me in the revolution.

Purchase your copy of Talion: Revenant now.

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45 Responses to “Talion: Revenant Challenge Update #1”

  1. Mike, I am mortally certain you could write a Fluffy Cat story that would make people’s eyes bubble.

  2. Allen,

    It’s the research I dread.

  3. Hey Mike,

    And one should remember, most of the folks who are purchasing the book already owned at least one paperback copy, so these sales are largely a down-payment on getting the sequel.

    Just to let you know, I’m a new reader. I came over from listening to The Dragon Page. Your current sales number is not all made up of people that already have a paperback.

    That’s another thing: Cross promotion from another show is what got me in. I wonder where everybody else is coming from. Twitter? Google? Does Amazon even give you referral statistics?

  4. Doh… that first paragraph was supposed to be “quoted”. Sorry.

  5. GOD, I would be absolutely stoked to see more from the Dragoncrown world. I’ve yet to come across one of your books I DIDN’T enjoy, but there’s just something about the Dragoncrown Cycle that sticks with me. Hawkins is on a select list of fictional characters that I’ve had a literal CRUSH on. LOL.

  6. Mike, what research? It’s a cat and it’s fluffy? I’m sure one of us can find you a picture on the internet of a fluffy cat if you’re having trouble picturing one. I vote for a fluffy cat in labor while fighting evil vampire gardeners story told from start to finish in multiple points of view, including each of the kittens.

    Oh, and more Dragon Crown War stories (at least 25,000 words).

    P.S. You need to add a store button to the top navigation menu, it’s too hard to find.

  7. Brad,

    I’m deathly allergic to cats, so any research would be a pain. However, your story idea has merit. I’ll think on it and stock up on Claratin

    More DragonCrown War stuff, noted.

    As for the link to the store, that’s what the “Visit” legend is at the top of the page.

  8. Hey Mike,

    I think you need more Fluffy Vampire and Sparkly Cat stories. 😉

    Glad to hear the status. I’ll talk to some more people about it.

  9. So how do we bribe you to get more BattleCorps stories? Loved the “Kell Hound Origins” one.

  10. More BattleCorps work is really just a matter of my schedule clearing enough to have time to do it. Alas, in this trade, it’s good to be busy even though it means that sometimes you can’t do the work you’d like to do.

  11. We need a sequel to “Once a Hero” one of the best books ever written!

  12. I’m extremely pleased to see this challenge, for two (specific) reasons:

    1) I’m pretty excited about even the *prospect* of a sequel.

    2) I’m very pleased to finally get this book as an e-book.

    I’ve been trying to switch over my books to electronic for a couple of years, I’m simply out of space for paper books. I’ve also been wanting to re-read Talion, but have been dreading dealing with the small type and holding the book open. Yes I’m spoiled.

    Now I can pass my paper copy on to a friend who’s just discovering your books and still have a perfectly legal copy of my own that doesn’t take up much space!

    I particularly thank and applaud you for not giving in to the paranoid publishers’ tendency to charge more than the hardback price for an e-book. Bravo.

    I’ll shortly be adding a write-up of this challenge to the MobileRead.com forums to get you a bit more exposure. The folks over there also value this sort of move, and I know that there are a number of your fans in that community. In fact there are more than a few published authors active there, at least one of which I know only publishes electronically these days.

    Once again, thank you. Even if the challenge doesn’t make (and I’m guessing it will), just having This book electronically is a great boon!

  13. Mike-

    I hated reading, I mean never liked a book in my life. That is until my grandmother had my sister and I both pick a book and I had no idea what to grab, my sister pointed at one for me and I decided to go with. On our 24 hour drive I finished the book. Do you know what book that was “Dark Glory War” from then on I have been engrossed in books all my life and yours especially. Needless to say when I do get an electronic book, I’m buying Talion:Revenant. I cannot wait for a sequel to that and I will be telling others who I have passed the book on throughout the years. But I would always love to see more DragonCrown War Cycle and Age of Discovery. Thank you for all of your works!

  14. I hope that we will reach the 10.000 copies fast, because Nolan is one of my favorites. I hope things will speed up when more tablets are around. Currently, none of my friends has an EReader of any kind, but some are looking.

    Be careful with ads, I’ve used google adsense before and its easy to get quite a bill with too broad audience targeting.

    Prices: It pisses me off to have to pay more for an ebook than for a real book.
    If a book is sold by the author, I am willing to pay more. I want to pay the creative minds, but I don’t want to pay whoever.

    Store: The Visit… image is adblocked. I recommend, change the “topad” div tag to something like logo2. Then it won’t be recognized as an ad. If you need help or a betatester ;-), mail me.

    Otherwise: I really don’t care what you write, be if Fluffy Cat stories or whatever. I am highly partial to vampires, ever was, but I made the mistake to grab a couple of “hype” books at the local store a while ago. Cured for a while now, I think… 😉

  15. Stephen,

    Thank you. I still remember the book that got me into reading (Quest for Qui–one of the Doc Savage novels). It is a great honor to be credited with opening that world to you. the fact that The Dark Glory War is one of my favorites is making me smile. (Though that is a rather depressing novel.)

    Thanks for spreading the word about the T:R Challenge.

  16. I’d love to do a sequel to Once a Hero. It is a very special book, and dear to my heart for a variety of reasons. I promised myself that I’d only do a sequel if it could match the original. So far, a good enough idea hasn’t come up; but I’m open to it.

  17. Haven’t read your books. Title to me indicates fantasy or sci-fi, simply not my cup of tea. However, I’m intrigued by what you are trying to accomplish, creating a stronger bond between author and reader, while freeing yourself from contracts with publishers. Hence, a few reactions.

    1) When people buy Talion e-book version can they give an indication on ownership on a tree based version?

    2) While being able to retrieve more of the purchasing price per copy, will there be a real difference in pecuniary terms in lieu of the price difference?

    3) What are the negatives of freeing yourself from a publisher? Do they have departments helping you with taxes and legal issues? Having an editor breathing down your neck for a deadline, might not always be a negative?

    Simply curious.

  18. Um, sorry to post twice. I’m an iPhone user (and prospective iPad user) but I prefer to buy my ebooks in (non-DRM) ePub if possible, as that is XML-based and designed to be an ebook standard. All your short fiction seems to be in PDF (which you’ve probably noticed is a lousy ebook format 😉 ).

    I looked at the versions for iPhone/iPad, but there was no info on which format they are. I can import just about any non-DRM ebook format into Calibre (free, cross-platform and really handy). Then I can convert it to other formats, and read them there. So I don’t want to be stuck with book formatted as an “app”, if that means I’m limited to iTunes for managing the ebook. If I buy the “iReady” versions, please tell me, what do I get?

    Thanks in advance for the help. (I’d also suggest putting this info on the “iReady” pages.)

    Also, on the Purgatory Station stories, I have them catalogued in order as (1) The Lazarus Murder (2) Least of My Brethren (3) Serpent on the Station and (4) According to Their Needs. Is that correct? TIA again. (Again, could we please have this info on the Omnibus page, at least? It listed the stories, but not in series order.)

  19. I would almost be willing to buy a second ebook copy just to keep you from writing about sparkly Vampires. 🙂

    I would second another Once a Hero as well. I’m not sure where it might go as it didn’t seem as opened ended as T:R. Still I enjoyed the characters immensely so I would be more than willing to pay to see what happened to them next. In either a full novel or in some shorter form.

  20. Good luck with this, Michael–we’ll all have to find new ways to turn up a dollar and meet readers int he New Era.

    Scott Nicholson
    http://www.hauntedcomputer.com

  21. Mike said: “The Dark Glory War is one of my favorites is making me smile. (Though that is a rather depressing novel.)”

    I have to admit that the end of DGW was one of the biggest “Holy Poop” moments in my reading career and is one of my personal favourites.

    I’m not ashamed to admit (as long as you don’t call your lawyers) that I’ve blatantly stolen a lot of the cool moments from that book and the DragonCrown series when DMing various roleplaying games.

    I enjoyed the whole series so much I bought all four books to give to a friend for his birthday. I just reread T:R again for the umpteenth time and was thinking that I should tell him about it….hmmmmm guess I could point him in this direction.

    Thanks for all the great novels Mike.

  22. I will definitely be passing this info on to my friends…

  23. I just read Talion: Revanent–WOW!

    I read a lot and I have been reading a long time, and this, quite simply, is one of the best books I have ever read (top 100, or so). I enjoyed just about everything about it. Nolan is terrific. I am so tired of the anti-heroes.

    I happened to pick up this book at the library, and came here looking for a sequel. I am very surprised to find out that there isn’t one. The end was obviously left open for a sequel. So, even though I am currently unemployed (it’s tough here in Michigan), I went ahead and bought the ebook, so that we are one sale closer to that sequel.

    I do like ebooks. I often read on my iPhone (in the past I used eReader on Palm); it’s very convenient. I organize my ebooks with Calibre on my Linux system and use Calibre’s built-in server to make my (electronic) library available to my iPhone, through Stanza, over WiFi.
    Kudos for using the EPUB format for “Talion.”
    I also applaud your use of direct sales (I believe it will become ubiquitous), but I can’t really say I like this–if you all buy enough books, I’ll write a sequel–model. Though, I have to concede it may be effective; it got me to buy a copy.

    I also enjoyed your X-Wing series. I listened to that on audio while jogging (it’s hard to hold a book steady while running). However, I wish the audiobooks had been unabridged. I, usually, will not even consider an audiobook if it has been abridged.

    Next, I plan to read your, “Once a Hero.”

  24. Hello Mike,

    I don’t have a sony reader or Iphone, but I do have a kindle. Do copies bought from the kindle store count toward your quota? I already own two paperback copies(having thought I lost it, gotten it again, then found my first copy), so the only reason I would really be getting it is convience. I understand that the kindle store may not work toward your hopes of shaking up the industry, so if it doesn’t count, is there some way I could buy a few epub copies that would be given away to interested parties? Talion: Revenant was the first book I read written by you, and I’ve been waiting for a sequal ever since. Sorry if this is wordy, it is one of the first times I’ve replied to a blog, and it has me babbling a little.

  25. Yes, Kindle copies most definitely count toward the total. Thank you. If you want to push things along further, you could review the Kindle version and/or just let other folks know that it’s out there.

  26. Lance,

    Thanks for the purchase. The reason I’ve opted for the “buy this and I’ll write a sequel” course is simple: in the past, authors have been paid by publishers to write new work. We mortgage that future to pay for the present. I’d like to reverse that. If folks like something enough to buy it, and they want a sequel, I’ll have the money saved up to write it. This way I’m not locked into multi-year contracts, but I can be flexible to explore and deliver the sorts of books my readers want, as opposed to the kinds of books an editor somewhere thinks they’ll want in 2-4 years down the line. Plus I get the books out faster, and don’t have to deal with their archaic accounting system.

    I hear you on the abridged audio books. I listened to them when they came out. I thought the abridger did as good a job as possible but my books are usually too tightly woven together to be pulled apart. The sound effects were nifty, however.

  27. Great questions:

    #1: No, I don’t have a way for folks to let me know if they already own the paper version. It might be an interesting stat to collect. Given comments I’ve seen here and there, I’d guess it’s probably over 50% who have read it in paper (own, borrowed, library)–but there’s a fair number of folks who’ve not read it and a few, like you, who are tempted because of what I’m trying to do with the industry.

    #2 The difference in compensation is significant. Off a $5 purchase I’m getting anywhere between 35% and 95% of the price, and I’m getting it within 60 days of the sale. Of a paper book, I’ll get 10% of the cover, three to nine months after the sale. If the book is sold as an ebook through a publisher, I’ll get 35-50% of cover, again within three to nine months of the sale. So, getting more money faster is definitely preferable to otherwise.

    #3 Negatives for freeing myself from publishers. For me, there’s not much downside. Publishers have never dealt with taxes (agents might) or legal problems (save to cover their own butts in case an author screws up). An author who needs someone cracking the whip to work might have a problem, but then dealing with readers in public and having them question you in comments can be an inducement to act. 🙂

  28. I found you through the Battletech books. Still some of my favorite books, by the way.

    I am more into science fiction than fantasy, but am planning to purchase T:R from your store soon.

    With that said, if you are allergic to cats, then it is likely the hair. And as you do not wish to write about fluffy cats or shiny vampires. How about shiny cats? Of course, you could elect for fluffy vampires, but that just sounds like “Underworld”. 🙂

    I hope that this experiment pans out and that more and more authors follow your example and abandon the publishing companies. I see their days coming to an end as a necessary part of publishing.

  29. I’d love to see another try on the “A Hero Born” series… I loved the first… the second not so much.
    I love Talon, the dark glory wars and erverything else I have read of yours. Once a hero is my all time favorite book, thank you for writing it.

  30. I just finished this book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. You had me hooked right from the start. I also loved the fact that you offered this book DRM-free so I was able to read it on my iPad via my preferred ebook app iBooks.

  31. Oh my God! As soon as I heard about this I bought the book on iBooks immediately!

    $4.99 is a small price to pay for a sequel to one of my favorite books ever!

    I’ll spread the word! Let’s get to 10,000 copies people!

  32. Timothy Fitzgerald 26. Jul, 2010 at 2:26 am

    Glad to see that it is going well in the march towards a Talion sequel.

    I actually think I want another Chaos book more than anything else, other than a Talion sequel that is!

    But A Hero Born was the first non-Star Wars book of yours I read, and to this day I remember the twist with Lachlan fondly.

    Since the second book was only half-written by you, I felt that it was just a tease for Lachlan to show up again!

    I really felt that there should have been a third book that resolved some things, perhaps had a showdown with Fialchar? who knows. I just know that I was left wanting much more from Lachlan, especially since he was so young!

    oh and Quest of Qui is the one with the pseudo Vikings right? #12 I think…that is the first Doc Savage I ever read I think! awesome, I still remember Doc describing the guys who were masquerading as Vikings and knowing who they were because he could tell they had recently shaved large beards! hehe love the Pulps. that reminds me, I think I am only about 80 Docs away from having them all…gotta get on that.

  33. Well, I bought Talion:Revenant last week and finished it yesterday. It was a very good book.

    It is interesting reading the story and knowing that it was your first story. There were several similarities between T:R and the Battletech novels that soon followed it. All good.

    I do have one question. I caught a few typos in the book as I was reading. Is this something that you want to know about, if so. How would I go about letting you know. If it isn’t something that you want to know about. I completely understand. Edits on an already published book don’t bring in any more money, while work on new stories does.

    Either way, I have told some friends about T:R in the hopes that they will buy it and get us the sequel sooner.

  34. If you found typos, you can just drop them to me at Mike at stormwolf.com. Thanks.

  35. I just finished T:R on my droid moment with the amazon app and its just like I remembered.

    Here’s to hoping that sequel sees the light of day.

    BTW I’ve got to say I love all of your books that I’ve purchased.

    T:R and OAH have got to be my favorites I’ve reread them both numerous times.

    Keep up the great work.

  36. I agree with the other folks here. As a kid I started reading Star Wars and Battletech. When I realized several of my favorite books in both series were written by the same author, I started looking deeper. When I found your original fantasy work I was hooked. I started with Dark Glory War in your original series, and I was in agony waiting for each new book. While waiting I hunted down copies of your other work.

    I totally agree that I’d LOVE to see more books in some of the already existing worlds you’ve created. I’d be willing to pay plenty more than $5 a book for new work. I’m sure most of your loyal fans would.

    I’m looking forward to Queen’s Command. Will that be released as an e-book on iBooks aswell, or will it be paperback only?

  37. Just put in my $5. This ebook copy makes it my third copy of this book, although I got both the first two at a used book store so this would be the first time any of my money for T:R has made it back to Mike. If anything, $5 feels like too little for my favorite book, and it’s hard to see it take so long. Maybe I should buy multiple copies to expedite the process!

    Question: Personally I’m still partial to hardcopy books, because I like to do things like read them on airplanes during take-off, landing, and everything in between; and besides that, I’m terrible at remembering to charge devices. Is it possible that, if Talion: Nemesis ever gets written, we could have something like a (more-expensive) limited edition high-quality trade paperback?

  38. Just finished reading the book again. Have the paperback edition that I got a long time ago and now I have the iBookStore version. Searching the posts here I also found the Shepherd short story and will try to convert it to ePub so I can have it too on my collection. Hope you release Once a Hero on iBookStore and also that Talion sells well so you write the sequel. Thank you for your books 🙂

    Talion is probably my favorite book and I’m glad that I was able to buy it again.

  39. Mike, do you have a count as of Oct.? I purchased the ebook recently, having lost my paperback some years ago.

    I have been waiting for a sequel since I read it for the first time. Are there any other ideas in the works for developing the world?

  40. Mike–

    I just finished my first reading of Revenant via Kindle, having been a big fan of your FASA and Star Wars work for years. I’m not usually a big fantasy reader, but this book is excellent. I’m glad to have done my little part to help spur a sequel, and will spread the word as best I can.

  41. 7+ months since the last challenge update … where do we stand now?

  42. Mike,

    Just read T:R after visiting your website. I’ve read several of your books after reading the Blood of Kerensky series and I’ve always liked your work, but this is an amazing novel. You’re missing the boat if you don’t serialize this. I think you’ve got a great universe just waiting to be fleshed out in further novels. I’m not sure where you stand on the 10K sale count, but I wouldn’t wait. Your characters are awesome and really stick in a persons memory. My friend and I were just talking about the Kerensky series and the image of Kai standing in that valley throwing out the challenge to the clans “I am Kai Allard Liao and I am a killer of men”. I mean come on, that has movie rights written all over in.

    Brett

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