Chapter Ten has been posted

Chapter Ten is up.

Chapters Eleven and Twelve are written, but nowhere near paid for.

Chapter Eleven is written, and Chapter Twelve is almost done.

Actually, Chapter Ten only passed the $250 mark at about 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday — I hadn’t thought I’d be posting this tonight. Donations have definitely slowed.

Which is completely understandable, of course; most people who know about the project and are willing to chip in have done so by now. I expected to reach this point around now, give or take a few chapters.

So now what I hope readers will do is tell their friends — mention the project in blogs or newsgroups or MySpace pages, or anywhere else you think might help.

One thing I find interesting is that for The Spriggan Mirror, a few people made very large donations, some of them giving me hundreds of dollars. I hadn’t expected that, but it was part of how the whole thing got paid for.

This time, though, almost no one’s doing that. There’s only been one three-figure donation so far. Lots and lots of smaller donations.

I’m happy with that, really, as I felt a bit guilty sometimes accepting such generous gifts, but it does mean that more readers will be needed this time around.

So anything you can do to spread the word would be much appreciated.

And if you haven’t already read them, if you donated money last time around you should probably check out the comments on the previous post, about yet more delays and hassles with The Spriggan Mirror. Honestly, I’m doing the best I can; I turned around the final page proofs in a matter of hours, but Wildside is just slow.

I really, really hope this will be the last of these setbacks, and that the book will ship soon.

Thanks for your patience.

26 thoughts on “Chapter Ten has been posted

  1. Each time I donated, it was approximately the cost of a hardback book. I’m certainly willing to spend that much to keep Ethshar books coming. I’m actually willing to spend more, but just how much more isn’t clear.

    I’ve been somewhat expecting this situation for a while now, based on the diminishing surpluses you mentioned, and while I would certainly be willing to pay a little more to get the book finished, I DO want the book to be finished. I’d hate to donate more than the cost of a book, much less triple digits, only to see the book left undone. I imagine that some of the larger contributors may feel that way too.

    Let’s suppose for a minute that interest in this book wanes to nothing and gets left unfinished. Does that mean the end of Ethshar serials? Would you require that people pay you to finish this one before you give up on it and start another? I can certainly understand that you might not want to start another when this storyline was supposedly one of the most popular you had mentioned to your fans in the past, but what would be the fate of Ethshar works if this book dies? Perhaps if it’s really as dire as I am afraid it might be, letting people know that might spur them into some life support actions.

    Oh, and you might want to start numbering your chapters (on the web site) starting with 01 instead of single digits, else the chapter links will look all out of order, as they are beginning to now.

  2. Well, the exciting turn of events in Chapter 10 certainly should motivate us to see how Vengar fares. Is he able to elude his diabolical pursuers? Will he be able to find Lar in time? Will we ever find the source of the enigmatic alternate power source for Warlocks?

  3. Yeah, I noticed that about the chapter numbers.

    I am not going to start another Ethshar serial until this one is done; that would just be wrong, somehow.

    On the other hand, if this one drops below weekly frequency, I don’t have a big problem with that. I’ll keep working on it, and post the chapters as the money trickles in. The Ethshar series isn’t going to die, but it may slow down a lot.

    If the money dries up altogether — well, I’ll look at my options then. One option would be paying back the money received and chalking the whole thing up as a failed experiment, but I really hope it won’t come to that.

    Incidentally, Chapter Eleven is now more than half paid for. My urgings seem to have done some good. Thanks to all who have contributed!

  4. Of course, 250% more per week this time and 40% more for the published version has some effect. You’d have 25 chapters paid for right now. Obviously, it’s your right to choose what your time is worth. I have no problem with that, but in this case it might exceed the demand.

    Personally, while I do love the Ethshar stuff, I don’t buy hardbacks ever, but have no problem paying $8-$10 for a paperback. I loath the hardback and trade paperback formfactor, vastly perferring the compact size and storage of the massmarket paperback. It being cheaper is an added bonus.

    Paying $15 for Spriggan Mirror was a personal stretch (not a financial one) but I figured it was a good cause and I got (actually will someday get, I’m not in a hurry) a printed copy.

    I’m not willing to pay $25 for a novel, and not willing to pay very much at all for an electronic-only novel.

    Hope it works out for you.

  5. I think another factor in holding up the donations may be that people that donated for The Spriggan Mirror still haven’t received their copies of the book. I have already donated for The Vondish Ambassador, but I haven’t actually read The Spriggan Mirror yet. I prefer to enjoy a book someplace other than sitting in front of a computer. All of which is a long way of saying, “I’m still waiting for my book!” 🙂

  6. I don’t know… I seems to me that this setup is akin to renaissance artistry. We are the Medicis and LWE is (insert favorite Florencian Artist here). We have commissioned an artwork from LWE, with our feedback on content, and we are awaiting its completion. “When will it be finished!” we call out to our artist, working furiously away. “When it is printed!” he snaps out. I like the idea being a patron of the arts.

    To be completely honest, I have been waiting to contribute to see if LWE was going to add any bonuses as I will pay with my credit card. I hate paypal!

  7. Of course, 250% more per week this time and 40% more for the published version has some effect. You’d have 25 chapters paid for right now. Obviously, it’s your right to choose what your time is worth. I have no problem with that, but in this case it might exceed the demand.

    Hope above quote goes to italics.

    Anyway, if the target for a chapter is never missed, then that means that the price per chapter was set to low. A reasonable target would mean that at least a few chapters are posted a day or 2 late. There was a boost when he announced that the chapter was almost missed, and this boost would probably have been larger if the chapter had been delayed by a day.

  8. While I would hope that is true, I’m not certain I agree that it is. The unknown factor boils down to not knowing how much demand actually exists. If everyone who was willing to contribute has already done so, then the only way that the book gets completed is if some of those who have already contributed are willing to pay more or if new folks are discovered who are willing to pay something.

    Since this is relatively uncharted territory, from a marketing perspective, it isn’t unreasonable to behave as you describe, but it could just as easily fizzle out completely, unless the amounts people are willing to pay are higher than what they want to pay. I know I also dislike spending over $20 for a book and tend to favor mass-market paperbacks as a result, but my desire to see the book continue overcomes that base reluctance in this case.

    I bet this would make an interesting market research experiment for some MBA candidate.

  9. Another option would be to have the price per chapter track the number of donations per week (but not drop below a minimum where it is not worth continuing the project).

    For example, if since the project started the chapters have averaged one every two weeks, the price per chapter might drop to $200 and for 3 weeks per chapter, it might drop to $150.

    Another example would be to reduce the price for a specific chapter if it is delayed by more than 1 week to $200 and if it is delayed by more than 2 weeks to $150.

    This means that if the rate of donations drops, the price per chapter drops too. However, it also means that the story is written slower. There would be an incentive for donars who really want the story written quickly to donate early.

    However, if there isn’t enough of them, then people who are less interested in speed (but are interested in a lower price), could carry the project forward.

  10. One reason I set the price per chapter so high is that on The Spriggan Mirror, I actually took in something like $185 per chapter — $100 was clearly much too low.

    $25 for the finished book is maybe a little high; it does include shipping, though, and an autograph if you want one. I may throw in a little something extra if it seems insufficient — don’t know what. It’s still a long way off.

    More and more I wish I’d waited until I’d actually sent out The Spriggan Mirror, so I’d have a better idea how much the shipping costs will be, and how much work packing and mailing the books is.

    Next time I’ll know better.

    Offering a wider choice of payment methods would clearly be useful — although I’ve never had any trouble with them, I know many people do hate to use PayPal. Offering a variety of formats is a hassle on my end, but also seems to be something readers would like. There’s a lot to think about here.

    (Like when I’ll finish Chapter Thirteen.)

    Chapter Eleven, by the way, is about seven bucks short right now.

  11. I can think of another way to do it. Instead of donating money to this project, we can raise money for an advance. Instead of getting a copy of the book, we would get publishing rights, that would presumably return us money. Then we would collectively find a publisher to publish a trade edition run. Then we distribute the book to brick-and-mortars around the country. Then we pay LWE his royalties, minus his advance. And then we divy up or massive profits. To do this, we need only raise 1000-1500 dollars a chapter (based on 20 chapters) and provide credible editing services (the only part that could remotely be done). I trust you all explicitly, so a handshake is good enough for me.

    BTW, as the publisher, I can state that the market now demands that the main character in this kind of story must have a fairy dust addiction. And the story should be written in a parallel Paris where Napoleon talked using a sock puppet. Please revise ms and return ASAP.

  12. Actually, if I am going to parody a SciFi publisher, I could you a real one.
    OK, as Campbell. Reads good, cut 8000 words and make the main character a scientologist.
    How about Gernsback? Add more action, cut back dialog, and have it finished by 3pm to go to the presses.
    Asimov? Rip out all the magic and add spaceships. (Totally unfair, I know, but I don’t do a good Asimov)

  13. Gernsback liked dialogue just fine, so long as it was someone explaining things to someone else. He pretty much invented the “As you know, Bob,” school of info-dumping.

    Campbell thought Dianetics was cool, but split with Hubbard when Hubbard declared it a religion and renamed it Scientology. His particular hobby horses were psionics, and the innate superiority of humans, especially Celtic and Anglo-Saxon males. He’d want Vengar to be a redheaded telepath named Verne Taggart.

    Asimov was never really an editor. Oh, he did story selection, but he always left the actual editing to Martin H. Greenberg or others.

  14. The Campbell imitation was from Bester’s description of Campbell. But what about the modern editor? The sock puppet made me do it.

  15. Of course, 250% more per week this time and 40% more for the published version has some effect. You’d have 25 chapters paid for right now.

    I’ve really worried that would have an effect. However, in the interest of getting a copy of the book, to go with the prior one (which I’m hoping to get in time for Christmas), I decided that I might as well pay up now.

    Guess it is an experiment — and yes, I want everything autographed. I like autographed copies of things.

  16. It’s an experiment, yeah, but it’s not really a 250% increase, because I got way more than $100 per chapter last time.

  17. I have a suggestion. Perhaps send email to the people that donated the first time around and mention that you are hosting another experiment. Although, I rarely check my email associated with paypal and could have missed something, I certainly did not see an email about a new book or I would have checked in sooner.

    I own every book I have found of yours, as is typical of me with authors I like. Not that I have infinite funds, but I would happily donate for any novel you are willing to write. However, it is difficult when I don’t know there is an ongoing book/experiment. I only just learned of this one because I decided to check out your website again and see if anything was going on.

    Anyhow, just a thought. As it is, I thought $15 was a perfectly reasonable request for donation for “Spriggan Mirror” as it was the story line on this website that I was most interested in seeing written in this series. I remember at the time, you said it cost much more to write than anticipated, so I was expecting the next book to come at an increase.

    I’ve now sent my donation. Best wishes!

  18. I thought I did send e-mail… didn’t I? Or was I waiting until The Spriggan Mirror shipped for that, too?


    At any rate, thank you!

  19. You donate what you think the story is worth to you, it’s that easy.

    I will admit that I was a skeptic about going from $100 to $250 a chapter, I had suggested doing it in steps: $150 next time, $200 the time after, etc.

    I hope my skepticism proves incorrect.

  20. LWE,

    You did send an email. I even kept it! Here is the text.

    Dear Ethshar supporter:

    I am pleased to report that I have finally gotten the first chapter of the second Ethshar serial posted. I know I said I’d hoped to launch a new serial in July, and here it is mid-September, but life’s been busy, as it so often is.

    So Chapter 1 of the first draft of The Vondish Ambassador is now available for you to read at . A basic explanation of the serial set-up is at , and a blog especially for discussing it is at .

    I’ll be putting up links to it and making announcements elsewhere over the next few days, but I thought I should give my past supporters first crack at it.

    I’ve written the first five chapters so far, and hope to be able to keep the writing a few chapters ahead of the postings, as I did with The Spriggan Mirror.

    For those of you who donated enough money to The Spriggan Mirror to have earned a copy of the finished book, it should be available from Wildside literally any day now, and I’m hoping to start mailing those out next week. I’ll post any updates about it on my webpage, either in the Vondish blog or on the front page somewhere.

    Thanks for your support, and I hope you’ll enjoy the new story as it unfolds!

    — Lawrence Watt-Evans

    Although with the delay to TSE you probably could send another one after you send out the hardcopies.


  21. And after Azrad the Hard to Classify, we’ll get the infamous pair of mob hit men: Kelder the Undistinguished and Kelder the Nondescript….

  22. Well, we all have our finances. For me, I look at the series in comparison to my other entertainment expenses. $25 compares well to the hard back book cost, but more importantly is only as expensive as (1) one movie with the wife. I probably spend at least 20 hours reading (and rereading these serialized novels.) The serialization itself differentiates it from a normal novel.

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