Why I'm self publishing Revenant Winds

I don’t often post on the business side of publishing, but I felt there were a few things going on that readers and other authors might find interesting. And I’ll also give an update on what’s happening with my career going forward.

A while ago my agent and I were keen to pitch my new series, starting with Revenant Winds, to Harper Voyager to see what kind of offer they could come up with. I’ll note here that there have been no clashes with HV, no missed deadlines or creative differences, or any other issues that might lead to publisher/author conflict. My Sorcery Ascendant series has sold extremely well overall throughout its life in all formats and has passed the 145,000 mark in sales.

It turns out that Michael J Sullivan’s experience which he detailed here: Why Del Rey and I will be parting ways is also my experience. My audio rights are valuable to me. The same as MJ Sullivan, I always try to reserve audio rights and do a deal for them separately. No only are they valuable, I have a fantastic relationship with Audible which has worked out extremely well for the both of us. When HV were approached about a deal for Revenant Winds they insisted on audio rights or no deal — a policy which is now standard for most if not all of the big publishers.

I’m not a big enough fish that I can negotiate on these things, and so I had a decision to make: I either keep audio and kiss goodbye to a deal with any of the big publishers, or I hand over a very valuable right for which I’ve build up a significant listenership in partnership with Audible.

It’s worth going over what I’d be giving up if I handed over audio rights: 1) I’d lose a significant advance, 2) I’d lose Audible’s exceptional marketing and promotion ability, 3) I’d lose around 65% of the royalties since HV would take a cut and their audio producer would also take a cut.

I decided not to hand over audio rights. This meant any deal with a big publisher was dead in the water before it started. It’s crazy, since both HV and I wanted to continue working together, but that’s the situation.

So going forward: I’m self publishing Revenant Winds and the sequel, with Audible producing audio. I have another series I’m working on (with more of a sword & sorcery bent) of which the first book is in the revision stage. And I also have another series which I hope to have more news for you on soon.

Perhaps a publisher might be interested in taking on the print rights for my self published works, but those deals are rare. Edited to add: I’ll still be releasing print versions, however I won’t be able to price as low and they’ll only be available online.

At the moment I’ve decided it’s best if I work on growing my sales, and solidifying my name and brand, before approaching either HV or another publisher who will insist on audio. So I’m taking stock and consolidating, then I can see where to go and how the publishing landscape has changed once I have a few more books out there. Hopefully it goes well and I can push for that “next level” deal.

It’s an interesting time to be an author!

If you’re interested, here’s a link to Revenant Winds on Goodreads: Revenant Winds

And it should be released on 5th September 2017 — in less than four weeks!

Edited to add: As previously, I’m not approaching self publishing lightly. Revenant Winds has had two structural edits by different editors, two copy edits by different editors, two proofreads, as well as eight test readers, and I’ve sent out 39 ARCs. I’ll be following a similar process for all my self published works.



  1. Chris Sarvis says:

    Totally think you are doing the right thing. Its a real shame that fantastic authors, like you, are forced to choose a less than ideal option. Having checked out the ARC, I can see great things for you with this book! Keep up the hard work, your books are great and getting better with each one.

    • MitchellH says:

      Thanks Chris, it’s great to hear you enjoyed Revenant Winds! Hopefully I’ll sell a lot more books and be able to get a publishing deal later on.

  2. Sam says:

    Stumbled across Revenant Winds on audible and did not regret the purchase a single second. Interesting characters, well developed, great story pace and beautifully written. (Stellar performance by Oliver Wyman to boot). I enjoyed it so much I even bought a print copy to add to my bookcase.

    As an amateur writer hoping to present a completed manuscript to publishers in six months it’s disheartening to see an author of your caliber getting a less than ideal contract and forced to go down the self publishing route.

    I wish you the best of luck with the next steps in your career and can safely say you’ve earnt a fan for life here.
    I look forward to the sequel of RW and am only a quarter through Crucible of Souls so have plenty of material to keep me busy til then. All the best.

  3. MitchellH says:

    Thank you for your kind words! Glad to hear you’re enjoying my writing, and good luck with your own career.

    Self publishing is actually a great path to go down, and you certainly learn a great deal about all aspects of publishing. Many authors these days prefer to both self and trad publish, so you can get the best of both worlds.

  4. Nils says:

    I was just wondering if you roughly knew when the sequel to Revenant Winds is likely to be released?

    • MitchellH says:

      My best guess is early 2019. I know it’s a long time between books, for which I apologise, but my two-book deal with 47North was a surprise and I had to drop everything and get those books written!

  5. Axel Gromann says:

    Hi Mate,
    Sounds to me like these should be distinct negotiations on two distinct media that protect the writer, their work and the individual versions thereof.
    The power of a large publisher should not equate to “we have you in the bag”.
    Good on you for making a tough decision.
    I hope HV start making the appropriate contractual provisions to protect the product, ensure appropriate royalties and flexible relationships with audible etc. This is a cyclic relationship after all. You sell more audio book, you sell more books, you sell more audio book.
    Looking forward to this straightening itself out and to book two.
    I loved crucible of souls btw; so did my wife and father in law.
    (Lastly: Didn’t realise your love a few 100m from my door. :-))

    Good luck! Keep going! You writing stacks up, so they will have to come to the party or lose money.

    • MitchellH says:

      Hi! It’s a small world (sometimes!). Glad to hear you and your family are enjoying my books! Publishing these days is definitely a different world compared to ten years ago. I’m beginning to think what’s best for an author’s career is the same as what’s best to maximise income. Anyhow, I’m working on Revenant Winds 2 and will hopefully make good progress.

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