The Final Calling was the working title of the eleventh novel in the Ethshar fantasy series, which was published as The Unwelcome Warlock. The series started out at Del Rey, moved to Tor, but the next few were written as on-line serials before being published by Wildside Press. The Final Calling ran forty chapters and an epilogue, posted beginning June 2010 and ending March 2011.
The serials worked like this:
- I posted a chapter.
- If readers liked it, they sent me money.
- If I received enough money, I posted the next chapter.
- Repeat until the novel is finished.
You can read the first two posted chapters for free, as a teaser, but the remainder of the novel has been removed at the request of the publisher, Wildside Press, in favor of the finished, published novel.
In the past, since the finished books had a cover price of less than $25 even when you include shipping, donors have also received extras of one sort or another -- chapbooks, for example, or maps, or access to bonus materials in private areas online. Since this novel came out much longer than previous serials, I didn't do anything like that this time around.
Why would you want a printed copy, when you could read the story online? Well, the online version was first draft only. The final version is longer, more detailed, and more polished -- typically, my final drafts run 3,000 to 10,000 words longer than my first drafts.
For another thing, you can't read it online for free anymore.
So that's the deal. I've done six serials now; in all six I did finish the novel, and donors got copies, though with two of them it got slow and complicated. Because of those complications and other issues, I'm not planning any more serials.
That's the set-up. Below are a few common questions and answers, if you want more details, and whenever a serial was in progress I posted progress reports on a blog called the Serial Box. Feel free to e-mail me with other questions.
- Did you have the whole novel written in advance?
- No. I tried to stay at least three chapters ahead. I didn't always manage it, but on this novel I think I did -- I was often five to seven chapters ahead. I did have a complete working outline all along.
- When you say "a chapter," what does that mean?
- I did the actual writing in standard manuscript format, in Word Perfect 10, in Times New Roman, and a chapter is at least ten pages in that format -- typically, about 3,000 words. If for some reason I have a chapter that's less than ten pages, as sometimes happens, especially right near the end of a novel, I throw it in free, or count it as a half -- readers always got at least ten pages of story.
- This doesn't look all that rough; what sort of changes do you make when you revise the first draft?
- Here's a comparison from one of the previous serials.
- Do you have any other fiction online?
- I sure do; see Misenchanted Tales for links to most of it.
- Is there other stuff you aren't telling us?
- Yes, lots; most people don't care about every fiddly little detail, and I don't want this webpage to be a dozen screens long. I'll be happy to answer questions in e-mail me, or in the comments on the Serial Box.