the Author

Michelle’s Patreon, the future of West novels; Also SWORD AND SHADOW front cover

Posted in writing, Shane Rebenschied, Severn, Essalieyan.

Thank you. Thank you so much. The Essalieyan Novel Patreon was way more successful than I thought it would be. It was such a big ask. I didn’t want anyone who has read these books all along to feel pres­sured or guilty or oblig­ated. The author deal has always been: I write a book, the publisher publishes the book, readers buy the book. And this was … not that. 

Going forward, I’ll do all Patreon stuff on Patreon, so it’ll disap­pear from this web-site except as a link in the sidebar. 

But: I get to write the final arc, the final series, in the Essalieyan universe – and I will. I will write the books at the same general speed I’ve always written them, during the same writing time. The gap between War and book one of the new series will be longer than usual because of all the uncer­tainty (and also: the wrong 110k words). 

I wasn’t certain I’d be able to write them. I would have tried, but they would have become writing I would have had to do in my free time, for myself, and there would have been much larger gaps between books, because it’s usually the “for myself” things that get put aside in the face of dead­lines and house­hold stress. 

Now, I won’t have to struggle to find that free time. 

I’ve been given that time, and my commit­ment is to write these books from page one of the first book to the end of the last. 

(If you don’t know what this refers to, this is the long story.)


I have seen things on the internet, and I want to address them.

1. I am not angry at DAW. I am not angry at Sheila or Betsy. I seri­ously do not want readers to be angry at DAW on my behalf. We were all doing our best in diffi­cult situ­a­tions, and some­times best isn’t enough. I have an omnibus for Queen of the Dead coming from DAW in December of this year. I want to write books for DAW in future. 

At any other publisher, House War would prob­ably have been dropped in the middle. Even so, if it weren’t for the PRH nego­ti­a­tions, the rest of the books would still be with DAW

I obvi­ously love these books. So does Sheila. I really, really worried that my readers would be angry with DAW about this, which is half the reason I strug­gled with the last post. I can’t tell people how to feel; I can only tell them how I feel and ask them not to be angry for me when I’m not angry.

2. I am going to self-publish in ebook when Hunter’s Redoubt is finished. That was always the intent. If you read ebooks, the book will be avail­able from the usual suspects. Given the Patreon, I’m looking at possible print options as well. 

My self-publishing choices will not seem like smart busi­ness choices to many self-publishers. I under­stand that. 

If I were starting out now as a new author and I was trying to gain trac­tion and earn money, I would seri­ously consider the Kindle exclu­sive option for Kindle Unlim­ited. But in that case, I would be building a reader base from readers who are, obvi­ously, already on Amazon and Kindle Unlim­ited. Those readers would not be disen­fran­chised by the exclu­sivity choice because… they’re already on Amazon.

But I’m not a new author who is just starting out. My West readers came to me, orig­i­nally, through print. Through book­stores. Through B&N, through inde­pen­dents, some in different coun­tries. Some of them don’t or won’t use Amazon. Some of them don’t read ebooks. Some of them have moved to kindle or to kobo or iBooks or nook. 

I can’t tell those readers: Sorry, I am only going to be avail­able on Amazon. I know all the reasons why that choice is smart for self-publishers who are not in my situ­a­tion. They have different priorities.

But I’m going to do my best to reach the readers who’ve been with these books for so long. There may be bumps or delays – some of this will be totally new to me – but that’s my intent.

Nothing much is going to change here on my web-site. As I said in my previous post, I’m still going to give progress reports on the state of my writing, and the state of my writing will involve both books. I’m still going to have good writing days and days where I pull out half my hair and days where I delete whole chap­ters and curse #PastMe.

I will still blog covers & preview chap­ters. From the blog side of things, nothing will change. 

If you only want actual publi­ca­tion noti­fi­ca­tions, I’ll still do those on the pub-only mail list (the link is also in the sidebar). 


And finally, for Sagara readers: Thanks so much for your patience as I panicked. Sword and Shadow is with the editor, and I expect it will return to me with edito­rial feed­back (i.e. revi­sions) soon. I haven’t started the next Cast book yet, in part because those revi­sions will be on the desk and in part because of all of the stuff above. I’ll be starting that after I’m done with Sword and Shadow revisions. 

This is the preview cover of Sword and Shadow, the second Severn book. I love it. 

Usually I try to post only the full cover (with the back cover blurb) because you’ll see the front cover in other places. I will post the full cover when it arrives — but it always arrives later than the front cover. 

ETA: The cover, as always, is a combi­na­tion of artist Shane Reben­schied and art director Kath­leen Oudit.

37 Responses to Michelle’s Patreon, the future of West novels; Also SWORD AND SHADOW front cover

  1. Angela Gaule says:

    That cover is freaking gorgeous! Thank you for sharing it!

  2. michelle says:

    @Angela: I know, right? :D

  3. That is super cool cover art. Gener­ally I am kind of blasé about that sort of thing, but love love that one.

  4. Karen says:

    Fantastic cover! I am so excited for this book!

  5. hsmyers says:

    Will continue to follow you no matter what the arrange­ment! And yes, I’m a Kindle/Unlimited reader (with my reading appetite, how not?) So, write on till morning — with apolo­gies to the orig­inal author…

  6. NixLee says:

    I have SUCH a heart-on for Severn! My head is spin­ning with this cover. SO darn myste­rious and fierce! The cover artists are impres­sive chefs putting on a feast for the eyes. Congrats!

  7. Pam says:

    Ms Sagara,
    Your cour­tesy and honesty is as approach­able in your commu­ni­ca­tion as in your stories. Write as you wish and I will read.

  8. AmelieS says:

    This is an amazing cover :D I’m glad they’re keeping the same city back­ground for the Wolves series too.

  9. Pam says:

    This is my favorite cover. It’s amazing. I haven’t read the story yet (of course!) but it seems so fitting given what has come before it.

  10. Emily Pritchard says:

    Oh wow, that cover is amazing!! I love the Wolves and Cast series!! That’s why I was quick to subscribe to your Patron page. I adore all your books. You can’t go wrong with a Sagara or West book. You totally get your money’s worth and so much more!! ❤

  11. Kim WarrenK says:

    The cover is stun­ning! I am so looking forward to reading this. Since reading The Emper­or’s Wolves and Cast in Conflict, I have started over actu­ally listening to book 1, Cast in Shadow. I will say listening FORCES me to hear every word and not “read” too quickly. Looking forward to many more stories!

  12. Elizabeth Fiorentini says:

    I am not comfort­able with the spread of infor­ma­tion in the Patreon set-up. Could you give me an address, say to Mira where I could send a check to support you. I have read all of the Sun Sword series and the House War series as well as the wonderful short stories about the char­ac­ters. I am hungry for more!

  13. michelle says:

    @Elizabeth: Please just wait and buy the book when it’s avail­able :). That’s what you’ve done until now, and I’m grateful for that because without that, I couldn’t have written these books for as long as I have.

  14. Catherine rodrigues says:

    Bonjour j’aimerais telle­ment les avoir en français cela serait super merci a vous pour vos 💷

  15. Alessandra says:

    Stun­ning cover! I can’t wait for the book to come out. I’m so happy for your Patreon success and the freedom it entails.

  16. Tchula Ripton says:

    Love the new cover! Looking forward to the next Cast novel! :-)

  17. KATRINA says:

    That is a partic­u­larly awesome cover. <3

  18. Alea says:

    With respect to self-publishing and Kindle U — there’s a sizable number of authors who believe wide is better for people starting out new as well as for those such as you with readers likely on every plat­form. Best not to put all one’s eggs in one basket. Good fortune and I look forward to reading the new books someday before too too long.

  19. Melanie says:

    I’m not sure what Patreon is, hope to learn. I’m a hard back book reader, so I will buy what­ever book you write. I love the cover. Hope all is well with you and your family

  20. michelle says:

    I do love the cover — but someone else had to point out the small detail of the *grass*. It’s easy to miss because it’s white, but I think it adds some­thing even when it’s not imme­di­ately attention-grabbing.

    @Alea: I’ve heard both discus­sions because I do have friends that self-publish. My focus with these books has been: A) write them. B) get the books to readers who loved the West novels that preceded them. C) rinse and repeat until the final book is finished. To do that, I need to go as wide as possible. 

    @Melanie: Patreon is a crowd­funding plat­form that allows people to pledge monthly amounts to creators on the plat­form of their choice. Different creators have different pages and perks, with different reasons-for-being. Mine is pretty simple: I am writing Michelle West Essalieyan novels. 

    This is all new to me, as well, and I’m finding my footing as I go :)

  21. Lisa B. says:

    Awesome cover! Love your open and honest commu­ni­ca­tion! Keep up the awesome work! <3

  22. Shalane says:

    Very much looking forward to Severn’s next install­ment; but (and if there are spoilers involved, I’d rather not know), can I ask what your moti­va­tion was for giving Severn his own series? I sincerely hope we won’t see him leaving Kaylin on her own after the events in Conflict. I may be a little too invested in the char­ac­ters, but it seems like the “family” is breaking up and she’s going to be with Helen all on her own.

  23. michelle says:

    @Shalane: The reason the Severn books exist is the Pixel Project’s charity drive. One of the items I offered for the charity was: Short story of inde­ter­mi­nate length BUT NOTNOVEL T_T. The person who donated for that could choose a prompt: world, char­acter, crea­ture — any one thing.

    She chose Severn. I had 2 possible Severn stories in mind, and I started one of them.

    I began to write what I called “The Severn novella”. And at chapter seven, I real­ized it was not a novella. It was a novel.

    Novel­ists have option clauses. I couldn’t self-publish a novel without running it past Mira (the Cast publisher) first. And it turns out Mira *did* want the Severn novel I was now acci­den­tally writing. 

    My current intent is not to remove Severn from the CAST novels. Both the Severn books are written in the past of where they are now. But I could see a future book in which Severn is recalled and sent on a hunt, and Kaylin goes with him, to his dismay :D.

  24. Mark says:

    Have you checked out baen books? They publish David Webers novels and do ebooks also.

  25. michelle says:

    @Mark: Baen is the home of Sharon Lee & Steve Miller, writers who’ve been writing in their universe for possibly longer than I have mine. But… they don’t seem to publish a lot of epic fantasy series; they’re great for space opera and mil-SF.

  26. Rebecca says:

    Dancing around because can’t wait until your thought of a future Severn book on a hunt with Kaylin along comes to fruition! And very glad to hear CAST novels will continue, andthen, gorgeous cover for Sword and Shadow!

  27. michelle says:

    @Rebecca: it’s a very off the cuff “that would be fun”, though — it’s not planned yet >.>

  28. Fred says:

    Well this was what I thought the previous post(s) would cover as it is a really outstanding cover! I preordered based on it not rather than the I’ll do it next time I remember.

    The fact you have almost 400 patrons in a week is not only impres­sive but hope­fully removes most of the stress things have caused. Of course it very useful to get a publisher at least for those phys­ical copies.

    But, after recom­mending Kick­starter, Robin (of Michael J. Sulli­van’s Kick­starter projects) recently showed the perils of it with Nolyn books. Robin is truely wonderful in what she gets achieved! So, yeah, people matter and having a team is essential.

  29. michelle says:

    @Fred: I was very, very surprised about the Patreon. Relieved and grateful and also slightly anxious — but that’s the writer in me. 

    I know people who lost months of time fulfilling kick­starter pledges and I knew I’d be one of them because the anxiety of not fulfilling the pledges as soon as possible would be huge. 

    Even owing the char­i­table perk caused stress because I had to fit a novella in between dead­lines, and then, when I finally sat down and thought I could *finally* send the donor what I’d promised… it ended up being a novel instead of a novella and contracts & nego­ti­a­tions take time T_T. 

    So knowing all this about myself, I tried to find a way that focused on writing the novels, because… anxiety about failing to write a novel is actu­ally a bit of a spur, and it wouldn’t distract me from actu­ally writing.

  30. br60103 says:

    Did the person who asked for the Severn novella get a free copy?

  31. michelle says:

    @br60103: sort of. What she got was the printed submis­sion manu­script. So she has a bit of extra stuff, because when I wrote the story, I assumed it would be a) a novella and b) for CAST readers. When it became a novel, I had to cut things to try to make it a better fit for readers who had never read the CAST novels.

  32. Jessica says:

    How to say thanks when thank you is not enough! I re-read the entire cast novels start to finish, again, yes I have done it multiple times because each time creates a reac­tion that is joyful and excited to be reading these books. I loved the Severn book, and intro­duc­tion to Ybelline that came with it as well, and the glimpse that brings us of how his part of the story unfolds! So thank you, I appre­ciate the hours of enjoy­ment you have brought me time and again and I look forward to many more hours in the future!

  33. Hanneke says:

    I love that the next Severn book is on its way. Many steps still to go, but this really big step, of getting it to the editor, is done! Great!

    I like the cover but am puzzled by two details. The thick, deeply profiled rubber soles on his boot do make it very clear that is a foot, and how he’s kneeling there — without those the internal city and the connec­tion between different elements would make it harder to decypher the pose. But somehow I think of those kinds of soles as a very modern sort of thing, not some­thing I asso­ciate with fantasy settings.

    Because of the way the two elements connect, with a sharp angle rather than a curve at his back, I finally decided the upper right bit had to be a hill behind him, not a billowing cloak. But with the bit at his back where they connect being the same color, that wasn’t imme­di­ately clear. At first I thought that cloak was billowing quite unnat­u­rally, or was being held down by his elbow or a scab­bard-harness we can’t see in the outline. If the line of his back could be continued just slightly down in front of the hill, with a little bit of a color differ­ence, that would prob­ably help that recognition.

  34. Lisa says:

    I have just found and am both fasci­nated by and immensely enjoying your Cast Novels. It is such a wonder and a plea­sure to discover an author with such vision and talent and writing ability. After reading the third novel, I looked for your website, hoping you had more books avail­able. I cannot describe the surge of joy that struck me when I found your back­list. Thank you for writing and sharing your talent.

    I first found your books as ebooks at my library. After so many newer fantasy books that slide into hope­less, dystopian narra­tives, I was feeling desperate for a really good story with complex char­ac­ters, world building that grabbed my imag­i­na­tion, and endings that give me hope. I found all that in your books. Thank you for that contri­bu­tion in times that are diffi­cult for so many of us.

    I look forward to your new books and reading your backlist.

  35. michelle says:

    @Lisa: Thank you!

    But I just want to say: the CAST series and the West Essalieyan novels are very different books. The West novels are more epic fantasy in tone (and length T_T); the CAST series is more modern or more ‘urban fantasy’ in tone. Although there are defi­nitely people who do like both, there are also people who only like one or the other (which is obvi­ously totally fine :)).

  36. Lisa says:

    I’m excited to find out if I’m one of them! I read a lot of genres, so I’m looking forward to the discovery.

    Thank you again for sharing your talents with us.

  37. Hari says:

    Would your self-published “The Essalieyan” be avail­able on Amazon also? I love both your series. The Cast in series is more a single person view so is the new series on Severn (all great books). I loved your The Sundered series too.. I am hoping not to loose out of the The Essalieyan series..

Leave a Reply