I’m not even sure when I got this book. It probably was part of some Kickstarter campaign of Michael’s and Robin’s which I had the honour to participate in. So I simply had to read it!
This “Making of” book was simply supposed to answer the age-old questions every author gets asked: »Where do you get your ideas? How long does it take you to write a book? How do you come up with the names? Do you write every day?«
Michael J. Sullivan is one of my favourite authors and, thus, I was highly interested in these rather standard questions; I just didn’t expect answers as good as these:
»In school, they may have learned about symbolism and metaphors, but no one said anything about which software program to use, how much of an outline to build before you begin writing, or what music to listen to while typing.«
Starting with the initial questions, Michael explains how he works. This will likely not entirely work for everyone but the techniques and ideas Michael presents are an excellent starting point to actually and consciously think about how to get started with writing. A great many of said ideas make a lot of sense to me at least.
It doesn’t even stop at the playlists but even includes interesting material about the hardware (including Moleskin notebooks, a fountain pen and an inkwell!) and software (Scrivener) Michael uses, how he uses it and even employs screenshots and photos to make sure everyone gets at least an idea. It’s not too much either – just the amount needed to – figuratively – taste blood!
The creative process Michael describes in great detail, using his book “The Death of Dulgath” as an example, is indeed absolutely fascinating. Spoilers are unavoidable in such a situation but, as always, Michael warns us about that fact and truly prominently marks spoilers for his other books. Exemplary.
We also get tiny glimpses into Michael’s past, e. g. …
»When I first started writing, I worked on a manual typewriter. It was 1975, personal computers didn’t exist.«
… and some other interesting ones – including photos of manuscripts from that time. You’ll have to get this book to get to know more about all that stuff that any “Sullifan” – your’s truly included – might want to know!
So far, I’ve only taken into account Michael’s parts of this book but his wife and co-author, Robin, takes meticulous care to describe the business side of things in several chapters. The most prominent and interesting one to me was “Contracts and Deadlines” in which she describes what to be careful about in contracts, etc. While I have no immediate relation to these topics, it was nevertheless highly interesting to learn about them. Engagingly presented, even the rather “dry” contract subject matter becomes an almost riveting account of the adventures in the publishing world.
Last but not least, Robin tells us about her tiring and yet tireless work on the Kickstarter campaigns she famously runs together with Michael.
»I want to explain what we did in the hope of helping other authors run successful campaigns.«
In fact, this is what the entire book is very clearly about: Helping and supporting others. No other author I know of has published such a fascinating account on his work.
The only minor criticism I have is that the Kickstarter campaign information could have been a bit more verbose. A little more about that would have been nice but maybe that could be the next one’s stretch goal! 😉
This book is highly recommended to any “Sullifan” but those probably don’t need any encouragement anyway. It’s also recommended to any aspiring author or generally anyone interested in learning about how Robin and Michael J. Sullivan work hand-in-hand to create literature for the 21st century.