Gauging the Market

So if I were to offer for sale an 18″ x 24″ poster of the simplified map of Ethshar of the Spices (the map area itself would be roughly 16″ x 12″) and additional material, would anyone be interested in buying a copy?

If so, how much would you be willing to pay? What other material would you want on it? Book covers? Explanatory text? My old drawing of Wizard Street (though I think that’s Wizard Street in Ethshar of the Sands, not Ethshar of the Spices)?

Are there other Ethshar-related posters you’d prefer? Other maps, perhaps?

If there’s serious interest, I’ll go ahead with this — I found a supplier who looks reasonable. The price, though, will be very dependent upon how many I’m sure I can sell.

So if you always wanted a map, speak up now!

34 thoughts on “Gauging the Market

  1. I have always wanted a map of the world showing everything inside the poison mist zone. Of course the era changes what is inside the map, early on in The Final Calling you stated that the Hegemony of the Three Ethshar’s has been slowly building in population and expanding into the wilderness so what it looks like now is very different than what it looked like in The Misenchanted Sword era.

    Other than that a list of other worlds accessible by Transporting Tapestry and basic info on them would be nice, I have never been sure what else is in any of them other than the bit shown by the Tapestry.

  2. Personally, I’d love a map of Ethshar of the Spices – although your narrative directions are always very good, I’m afraid my mental cartography isn’t exact enough to follow them properly. As to how much I’d pay – depending on the size, paper stock, etc – anywhere from $20-40 (which is about as far as my current finances allow). I’m sorry if that’s not enough, but I’d still like to see a map, so if you decide to produce one that costs more I’ll just have to dig a little deeper into my savings.


    Carl Quaif.

  3. I’d like to see some of those maps, also. I think about $20 each is reasonable, if the quality is high. For that, I’d like to see story point locations, maybe some routes of characters’ journeys, etc. Now that I am typing this, I’d almost rather pay a little more for an Atlas of Ethshar, with all of that info. Several maps, possibly from different time periods, showing significant story locations and paths.

  4. Hmm. I’ve been adjusting the blacklist again. Maybe I added something I shouldn’t have.

    Try the comment with spaces inserted in each word, lik e thi s, and I’ll figure out where the problem is.

  5. Actually now that someone said it an Atlas would be a great idea, especially if it resembled the role playing game source books you started with when you created Ethshar 🙂

  6. I’ve said elsewhere how interested I am in maps. As for extras; explanatory text would be my preference to couple with the full map of Spices. Alternately, a poster with a map of the World with maps of smaller areas, for example the map of Ethshar of the Spices and a map of the Small Kingdoms, would be nifty.

    RM’s comment about an Ethsharitic Atlas, presumably a coffee table type book with maps and some commentary, would be very cool if not at all what you were talking about initially.

  7. Jeez. The comment blacklist here is fifteen pages long. Most of it refers to pharmaceuticals or porn, but I don’t know how some items got on there.

  8. Ah! Believe it or not, “coffee” was on the blacklist — apparently about three years back I got a deluge of comment spam about coffee.

    I’ve cleared that now.

  9. Anyway, getting back on track: An atlas isn’t financially feasible. It’d be nice, but it isn’t going to happen in the foreseeable future. A few 18″x24″ maps, suitable for being shipped in mailing tubes, are possible. I’m trying to figure out how many of what design would be reasonable, as I don’t want to wind up with a bunch of them cluttering up my office for years.

  10. I want to disagree with you here, albeit reluctantly. If you made an Atlas, or better yet a Guide book, you could use POD and charge a fair amount for it. You may not make alot of money, but if you did preorders, you would make money on each copy. As for generating it, it would mostly be just polishing up your notes and existing materials. Say a guide book where you would charge $50 a book as long as you got more than, say, 500 orders. A lot of editing work and formating, but you would make money. If you got more than 5000 preorders, you could probably get a real publishing house involved and use traditional offset printing. Otherwise just POD. Yeah, yeah, vanity printing has a major negative cachet, but this really could be in line with your work on the web serials.

    The counter argument is that the money you would make on a hourly basis would be bad compared to the work you do now. And I doubt that this would be the kind of work you would really enjoy. You could do it in a similiar manner to what Zelazny did. Get someone else to do the writing for you. Heck, your editor (Betancourt) MUST know the guy who did the Visual Guide for Zelazny afterall. Get someone who wants to be a writer and string toghether a few words and knows how to do research and just act as an editor. At a minumum, he could turn your notes into a bible for you.

  11. I really, really doubt I could sell 500 copies. I’d guess it’d be more like 50.

    But doing it PoD is a possibility, yeah.

  12. How many serial subscriptions have you sold to this one book? 340 or so? For a book that they can buy for less if they wait? This book would have a one time printing available only from you at a single time at a single price. I bet you could beat 500 pre orders in under 1 month. I am unsure how much money it would make you though… Even though it would be fairly easy work, it would still take a few weeks of real work to do right. I would only suggest doing it if you really wanted too. Your time spent doing more commercial projects would be much more profitable.

  13. It’s a shame that the atlas isn’t realistically doable; I’d gladly buy one. That said, I’d love to see some background information on the map (maybe on the back) if possible.

  14. As high as $25 if the paper/printing quality is decent enough that I could put it in a frame and hang it on a wall.

    Maybe $10 for a lesser job that I might hang with thumbtacks.

  15. I wouldn’t be interested in a poster-size map… I’m sure it will be beautiful and very appreciated by others, but I wouldn’t put it on a wall or study it very much.

    Since a full guidebook or atlas isn’t doable, how about a small booklet (say, 20-30 pages or so) with some maps at a lower level of detail? The World, the area covered by the former Northern Empire, the Small Kingdoms, and the three Ethshars with only major features such as neighborhoods, along with a a few encyclopedic articles? I’d pay about $12 for this. But even reusing existing materials, it seems doubtful that the audience available would justify the work required to produce it.

  16. Might be interested in the poster map, if the price was reasonable.

    Also, check into the price of laminating while you are at it. That would change the price I was willing to pay.

    Would these be numbered and signed editions of the map? (hint, hint)

    Alternately, for the POD book, is to build it out as an acrobat file. You could then e-mail it out to people to print themselves, or just to read as an acrobat file. If they want something special printed from it, then either print it themselves, or take the acrobat file to a Fedex office store (shameless plug, sorry) and have them do it.

  17. I’d be interested in the Ethshar of the Spices Map and would be willing to pay thirty dollars for it

  18. I am also interested with a map. I think one be realist on a atlas or an encyclopedia.

    I am also a devoted fan of Katherine Kurtz, and I bought the two encyclopedias on the Camberian series, the first deluxe edition was published at 500 ex.

    With the internet, a wiki can serve this duty an also to bait future readers.

    Finally, IO you tried to publish a RPG of Ethshar, with the GURPS for example.

  19. If you are looking for things to sell, I would recommend a short story collection. A lot of that other stuff, may be what would appeal to others but I am not that interested in the maps and drawings, although I do appreciate you asking me, the lowly fan. If I was still into gaming the Ethshar gaming thing might be nice but as far as the artwork goes, I have always enjoyed seeing it in my head more. But having said all that, it’s a big deal that you’d even bother asking. thanks and happy new year.

  20. There will be a short story collection when I have 75,000+ words of short fiction to put in it. At present I have maybe 50,000 or less.

    Right now, I’m only asking about maps, and ornamentation accompanying maps. If I get twenty people saying, “Yes, I’d buy that!” then I’ll do it; if nobody wants to pay for it, I won’t bother.

    If twenty people say they’d rather have an atlas than a poster, I’ll maybe consider doing an atlas.

    Either way, it’s going to be print-on-demand, through Lulu or Zazzle or some similar service.

    If I’m doing a poster for a dozen people, I’m willing to put a couple of hours work into it; if I’m doing it for a hundred people, I’m willing to spend a couple of days on it and get more detail in. If there are a hundred people telling me they’d pay $100 each for an atlas, I could put in a month or so and do it right.

  21. Denis: there is a wiki…

    As for the map-atlas-cost discussion;
    I’ve already commented on my preferences for maps.

    I wouldn’t pay $100 for an atlas unless it came with some cool production value in a limited edition. Numbered, hard bound, period-like cover, quality paper type thing. I’m pretty sure that’s not anywhere near what will come out of this discussion though.

    For something paperback I’d go $30-50 depending on what was in it. My assumption for that price range being something that looks (from a block of paper standpoint, not internal content) roughly like one of the 2e GURPS supplements. From there the price range I consider reasonable would be dependant on what was actually inside.

  22. Personally, I would like a Guide Book more than an Atlas, but I would pay real money for it. An Atlas in my mind is JUST maps, while a guide book is more about background of the places and people. Hopefully with some new information from your notes like what the heck happened to High Sorcery and the like. Back story stuff. While I cannot say the format of the book as a particular beverage is blacklisted, I would hope for a larger format than a trade book. 🙂

  23. I like the guidebook idea over the atlas; it wouldn’t have to be very big. I would also like posters, too, maybe one big one of the World, as well as maps of the Ethshars.

    I’d really like to see an RPG based on this world. I don’t have the money to license it myself, but I hope it happens someday.


  24. I am guessing from the fact that only 13 distinct people commented on this idea that it died a quiet death? If that turns out not to be the case I would still be very interested in either a map/poster or atlas, or guide book. I am rereading the series for the I don’t know how many cycles this month and am now on The Spell of the Black Dagger having finished Taking Flight this morning. Taking Flight in particular would have been much better for me with a map of the Great Road, I know it goes from Shan on the Desert to the Inn at the Bridge and can kind of guess how it runs from the singed map you posted ages ago. But a set of maps showing the situation 1) Before the Great War, 2) At the end of the Great War and 3) In the “current era” of the 5200’s YS would give me a much richer mental playground to play in. Was everything beyond Shan on the Desert part of Old Ethshar, or was there wilderness on the other side of the kingdom that might still be exploitable land beyond the desert? How deep is the cliff at the edge of the world that is covered by the golden mist to the south of Ethshar? Vond built a wall along the edge right before he was called but could one of those weird “Scientists” you mention from time to time make something like a scuba tank and explore the land covered in the mist? We know the Towers of Lumeth hold back the mist but they are close to the boundary where the mist covers the land south of the Empire of Vond. Does that mean there are more sets of towers on the East/West/North boundaries as well? If so having those on the maps as well would be great.

    The (potential) wilderness beyond the Eastern Desert could restore purpose and life to Shan on the Desert if a route across to the wilderness was discovered, kind of like how Timbuktu became a wealthy ancient city because it was the start of the caravan route connecting the Niger river valley to the cities north of the Sahara Desert. Gold, ivory, slaves and exotic spices went north and books, silks, and other trade goods flowed south giving Timbuktu the best university library in the middle ages world after the Library of Alexandria was destroyed. Shan on the Desert could become the same kind of place, provided there is somewhere worth going on the other side of the Eastern Desert. Without a map I can’t recall how much of the Western Ocean has been explored by Ethshar. Obviously Northerners and Ethsherites are all humans so it is possible there are also “westerners” beyond the ocean and “easterners” beyond the desert.

    If not Wizardry, other magic, or even just time passing could heal both the Northern and Eastern deserts and restore their fertility so that forests and grasslands would live there once again but I don;t see this as being a government project until much more of the still wild lands like the area of Aldagmore where the former warlock farmer folk settled are developed into settled lands. In Misenchanted Sword Valder briefly notices how much the land on both sides of the Great Road between his first Inn and Ethshar of the Spices has developed from wilderness to fully occupied land in just 200 years after the war ended. This process will naturally continue until all the fertile land is claimed a few hundred years into the future of The World. At that point restoring the fertility to the Demon/Diety made deserts occupying half of Old Ethshar and the core of the Northern Empire will become a priority. A magician of some sort doing this around Shan of the Desert for his/her own reasons could happen at any time if say they grew up in Shan and want to restore it to its former status by restoring the desert along the Great Road leading up to Shan to encourage people to move back to the region. Or one of the petty kingdoms bordering the Eastern Desert might have the same thing happen. After all the Small Kingdoms collect almost all of their taxes from the farming class so making the land bordering them back into productive farmland brings them more tax money and something like Javans Restoration might restore an acre or two at a time. A wizard specializing in restoration could make a career of making land fertile on the borders of the small kingdoms casting the spell once a sixnight or so. After all this is not 20th/21st century industrial agriculture, this is stoop labor with ox drawn plows and reapers, stretching a 20 acre farm to 22 acres is a 10% improvement on what the farmer already had.

    So anyhow, did the maps/guidebook ever get printed or is it still a potential future project on hold for lack of interest? I have a hard time believing it has been almost a decade since I visited this website but my old comments all seem to date to early 2011 and earlier so it appears to be the case.

  25. The maps never happened; I got busy with other projects and let the idea slide. It’s in the “maybe someday” category at this point.

  26. As a fan of Ethshar of the Spices, I would absolutely love to have a poster of the simplified map. Count me in for one, and I’m sure there are many other Ethshar enthusiasts who would love to have different Ethshar-related posters and maps as well. Your dedication to providing us with these unique items is truly appreciated!

    1. While I appreciate the feedback, you’re replying to a twelve-year-old post. I long ago concluded that the project wasn’t worth the cost for me, but it might be fun to do it anyway just as a hobby project.

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