The Unwelcome Warlock: Progress Report Thirty-Nine

Chapter Thirty-Nine is finally online. One more chapter to go! My thanks to everyone who’s supported this project.

As you can see, this chapter wraps up Hanner’s part in the story, but Chapter Forty and the epilogue will tie up several other loose ends.

As of right now, there’s $235 to go to finish the serial. (The e-mail I sent to contributors said $215; that was a typo. Sorry.)

I haven’t really gotten serious about the second draft yet; I’ve been focused on a couple of other projects that I hope will bring in money. One of them, which is really just getting started, is another Ethshar novel, untitled as yet (working title was originally A Stranger in the Forest, but that’s not going to stay), aimed at the “young adult” market, which I’m hoping will move the series back to traditional publishing.

Whether it succeeds or not, I more or less expect to do at least one more serial eventually — probably The Sorcerer’s Widow — but not any time soon. It’s possible, depending on how the market develops, that I may just start self-publishing these as e-books, rather than running serials.

Meanwhile, Wildside does plan to publish The Unwelcome Warlock eventually, but there’s still a lot to be done before that happens, so I won’t be sending out the finished books for several months yet.

33 thoughts on “The Unwelcome Warlock: Progress Report Thirty-Nine

  1. Interesting. Unless it’s in the remaining chapter or epiloge I’d like some more details in the second draft on whether Hammar can get the tapestry repaired or replaced and how many other people go back to the tapestry world.

    I’ve occassionally wondered if all of Ethshar isn’t a tapestry creation, I doubt it, but I’m curious about their new world. But I’ll freely admit that that sort of thing isn’t part of THIS story.

  2. Nice little wrap up. As usual, the small details on the self-returning tapestry are fascinating. Good to hear that you are going to do another youth novel for Ethshar. Thanks

  3. I wonder where Ithinia usually keeps that hanging? Meanwhile Hanner probably *doesn’t* want to know what can keep her in hand but now I’m curious. The massed power of the rest of the Guild, perhaps? Or maybe something stranger – there are a lot of things we don’t yet know about the world of Ethshar after all. In some ways it’s at least as exotic as the world behind the hanging.

    And good for Hanner and Rudhira – not surprising, perhaps, but very satisfying.

  4. With my mighty admin powers I edited your comment and deleted your correction; I hope you don’t mind.

    We’ve seen that tapestry before, in the other-worldly place where the big shots of the Wizards’ Guild in the Hegemony of the Three Ethshars hold their meetings; I assume that’s its usual place.

  5. I’m pleased to see how tightly this is coming together without a rush, and that the final print ought to be out in time to give copies for Christmas.

    Now I’m wondering what goes in the last chapter and the epilogue. This was such a nice closer of a chapter.

  6. Doyle, sure, why not? I’ve still got plenty of surplus books in my basement.

    I think in time for Christmas might be over-optimistic; we’ll see.

    As for what’s in Chapter Forty, well, originally I seriously considered leaving Chapter Thirty-Nine the last chapter and following it up with an epilogue, but the epilogue got longer and longer, and changed form, and wound up as Chapter Forty. Which is a longer-than-average chapter.

    The present epilogue wasn’t in the plans at all at that point; it came later.

  7. Hmmm. The chapter says that Hanner intends to come back with a working exit tapestry, and that Hanner does come back in 8 months, but isn’t clear on whether he brought a tapestry with him. If he does, well, he can’t have had one made special for him, as we know it takes a year for a wizard to make one. So either he bought an already-manufactured tapestry, or it’s possible for a wizard to repair the damaged tapestry and restore it to working order in less than 8 months.

  8. LWE said somewhere that Javan’s Restoration should work on a tapestry, though he also said it might have odd side effects. It seems those sorts of details often get mopped up in the epilogues anyway.

  9. Hey, look, me with questions. Who’d have thunk…

    We’ll start with the entirely new spell, Pallum’s Returning Crystal, partially because this is going to turn into a cluster of secondary questions.
    1) I assume the spell produces the orange crystals and, upon some particular impetus, they teleport back to their owner? Or is it the other way around and they bring the owner to the crystal which is why the Reversal is necessary?
    2) Is there a reason Tapestries seem to be more common than these crystals?
    3) The Obedient Object is to trigger the transit?
    4) Do the crystals take anything with them normally, or is that part of what the secondary spells are for?
    5) Obviously there are methods of trans-world travel other than the Tapestries we’ve become so familiar with, could the transporting fissure get from one world to another?
    6) Any other “common” (for relative values of common) wizard spells to make such jaunts that you can think of right off?
    7) The gods couldn’t clearly perceive what was going on with the Aldagmor Source/Warlocks because they are limited to effecting/perceiving the universe. Are Tapestry worlds within their scope? Specifically, could Asham have been called upon to retrieve the refugees in the Refuge?
    8) Speaking of Asham, any comment on the price/exchange/requirement (whatever term suits best without getting back into a discussion on the nature of the gods) for the gate from Aldagmor to Ethshar of the Spices?

    Since you mentioned the business side of things;
    9) Something particular happening to make the self-published e-book look more attractive than the Serial format for the first draft? I understand that the e-book format is becoming a big deal I’m just wondering why you’d do that instead rather than serializing the first draft then doing e-books as part of the later distribution.
    10) Do you keep track of web traffic for the serials? Obviously you keep track of donations, I was just curious about some of the stats relating to visitors and how they change over the course of a serial. I assume, for example, that as a serial goes on you’d get more visitors per week as old visitors return to see updates and new visitors come through. I was wondering if that was true and if the relative scope of your initial visitors and change in visitors has shifted as you’ve done more serials.

  10. 1) They don’t return to their owner; they return to where they were made.

    2) The crystals are only good for a single use.

    3) Yes.

    4) Yes, they normally transport whoever’s holding them. Since no one’s holding them this time, yes, that’s what the other spells are for.

    5) Hallin’s Fissure? No.

    6) Common? No.

    7) Define “tapestry world,” and I might be able to answer that. No one has ever said definitively that tapestries create anything; for all anyone knows, they’re finding places just the other side of the yellow mist. The specific answer is, “No one knows.”

    7a) Nope, no comment.

    9) Nothing particular, no — I’m just watching how the e-book market is developing and thinking that route might be a whole lot less trouble than a serial. If I could be sure it would bring in as much money, I could save myself a lot of work.

    10) Every page has a basic hit counter, but other than that, no, I don’t track stuff. I was a bit surprised when I checked the hit count on Chapter Thirty-Eight the other night — it’s had more visits than I would have expected. There are more people reading this serial than the previous ones.

    The first one, The Spriggan Mirror, ran up huge hit-counts on the first few chapters, but they dropped off rapidly after that — I assume a bunch of curiosity-seekers checked it out, but weren’t interested in reading the whole thing. Anyway, I’m not counting those first few chapters when I say the current project is drawing more readers than the others did.

  11. rmtodd said: or it’s possible for a wizard to repair the damaged tapestry and restore it to working order in less than 8 months.

    According to Derithon’s spellbook (_With A Single Spell_, Del Rey pb edition, pg. 174), “If the tapestry was cut, even so much as a single thread, it was as good as destroyed and would never function again[….]”. Of course, Javin’s Restoration (or another spell) might be able to fix something which is ‘as good as destroyed’, and Derithon, by the time he wrote the tapestry spell in his spellbook, would’ve known that and not thought it worth mentioning. (Or perhaps the tapestry spell was discovered before Javin’s Restoration). In other words, a live author beats a dead wizard’s spellbook, every time 🙂

  12. I would prefer buying a finished e-book to a serial as long as it doesn’t have DRM. As a matter of principle I refuse to buy DRM.

  13. 1) Glad I asked as that’s totally not what the apprentice said.

    3) The crystals are normally triggered by command word? Being broken?

    4) Is that the Reversal or is there another spell?

    4a) I may be trying to get sense out of chaos, but if it is the Reversal is it bending the terms of the crystals; is it reversing the transit of the bearer and their carried items to be transit attached items or… what?

    4b) I’m still trying to figure out what else the Reversal would do in this case if not. What would happen to a Tapestry with the Reversal applied to it?

    6) How common is Pallum’s Returning Crystal compared to the the Transporting Tapestry?

    7) “tapestry world” is my choice of phrase for any location not physically adjacent to a space within the World which has been reached or created via the Transporting Tapestry. I suppose that excludes the Spriggan World and the theoretical space from which Fendel’s Assassins are drawn, though those raise similar questions, but includes spaces like the Refuge and Darithon’s Otherworldy Castle (which I seriously need to find a better way to refer to) that are unlikely to share a relationship to the World in any conventional, physical sense. Well, the Refuge might if we include spacecraft- but the likelihood that it would be an eternal idyllic 2pm rather than something like Promethius seems low. DOC, however, seems to require non-conventional relationships given the fact there were no other substantial objects in sight including a sun, world, etc. Given the nature of the lighting and lack of apparent boundaries it seems unlikely to be beyond the mists unless it is also within a bubble… which would raise a whole host of other possibilities.
    Ye gads. Way off of where I actually wanted to be. Trying specifics rather than generalities;
    Can the gods answer questions/produce effects in; the Refuge? DOC? The Inner Circle Meeting Space to which Hanner was taken and appeared to be outside the World due to its effects on Warlockry? The Spriggan World?

    And, on the note of “I should have found a way to separate the business and Ethshar questions”;
    11) If 1 crystal is normally enough to transport a person and their belongings why did she need 4 for this?

    9) I can definitely see how it would save work. I’m not sure how the money would stack up though. Right off, though, it seems like it would bring in less money because you probably wouldn’t have people chipping in with larger donations. I don’t know how much it would change the take for people who only donate enough to get their one copy though. I definitely think you need to get the books that aren’t on the market in e-book into that format, and should have an eye to the ebook rights for any more Ethshar books. I don’t envy you the judgments on that decision.

    10) Does that appear to be part of a trend? In other words; FC got more readers than VA, did it get more than SM (still ignoring novelty seekers)?
    I’ve been looking at series and their market success relative to their length some recently. Not being in the industry I don’t really have a lot of data. Obviously books that are greater successes are more likely to have sequels, warranted or not, but does having more quality books in print in a series make individual books in a series more likely to be successful?
    Aaaaannd, how does that relate to the readership of your serials? Through the long tail and brand awareness. Obviously as a published writer you have more name (brand) recognition than a random person… which moves you up from the very end of the long tail. Similarly Ethshar has its own recognition to trade on. On the other hand even some books published by major publishing houses are in the long tail, while Ethshar is being published as serials… So, if more books in the series are building brand recognition for Ethshar even without further marketing, could that alone push the series into greater profitability? Another interesting test (which will never happen) is whether another Tsing serial would do better than the last. (I do have to say that Tsing was probably hurt by having been out of print. I, for one, only donated after I found could get the original … separate discussion there though.)
    For similar reasons I wonder about libraries as a marketing tool for large series. The theory is; if a library (or library like repository in the internet age) has, say, 1/3 of a series (or is high volume and only reliably has small percentage in stock at any time) will patrons buy the books in a series they discover they like?
    Ye, gads. Sorry, that got a little tangential.

  14. Okay, you’ve hit the limits of my tolerance for irrelevant trivia.

    The name is Hsing, not Tsing — in pinyin, it would be Xing, rather than Cing.

    The apprentice wasn’t giving details of the spell, merely saying what would happen in this case.

  15. My apologies.

    I did assumed something of the sort with the apprentice, I just meant I would have assumed otherwise without asking, and I didn’t check Hsing’s name.

  16. Tapestry’s are interesting because they open up access to area’s not necessarily not accessible to the peole of Ethshar in any other way. Does Sorcery have a talisman with a similar effect as a tapesty?

  17. Ryan, do a google search for Amanda Hocking and you will see a little bit of why Lawrence is contemplating going straight to e-books. She has no publisher and is making a crapload of cash selling books for $1-$3 through Kindle.

  18. RM

    Good point. e-Readers are here-to-stay, and it would be hard to ignore this method of bringing books to market. I am no expert in these matters, but it seems to me that eliminating the “middleman” (e.g. publisher), would be more cost effective.

    The business model isn’t that simple and there is a lot more that goes into it. But, it does bear consideration for authors and the public alike. It will be interesting to see what the book and periodicals market is like in 10 years!

  19. I’m on the kdk kindle development kit waiting list. I see all kinds of opportunities. Like how cool would it be to have a highlighted section in a LWE book that links to supplemental data aka the wiki that people have been making about the world. Or even have a link out to blog like this that people can discuss the chapter they are reading. I see it.

  20. RM; I definitely get the attraction of e-books. The articles on Amanda Hocking I fund have some other interesting points regarding success for authors independent of traditional publishing channels too.

  21. The problem with the self-published ebook model is signal-to-noise. If everyone is a published author, then no one is.

    Obviously, there are ways of filtering the noise, such as customer feedback, but there will still be a lot of noise.

    I foresee problems for people with genuine skills in a market that operates solely in that manner. How does one get their “big break” if getting readers is largely a matter of luck? A person with no readers, which is how writers would start, would have no customer feedback or anything else to draw attention to them in the sea of dreck. How would they get their first readers, except through luck?

    I’m not saying that luck doesn’t figure into the traditional paradigm, but in the traditional paradigm, the author, once they get an agent or a contract with a publisher, has someone whose interests are in theory aligned with theirs, who has a self-interest in promoting their work, thus bringing it to public attention.

    Those people also have an interest in giving the author good advice on things like editing, which someone sitting alone at a computer uploading PDFs to Amazon would not have.

    Being outside the industry, I obviously have a limited understanding of what the life of a professional author is like, but as a long-time customer of authorial output, I worry about the impact that a switch to an unmediated ebook market would have on product quality and my ability to locate products of quality.

    Just my 2 cents.


  22. I think that the people who cared enough to do it right would rise to the top. Granted there would be some types like Bill Gates, who were simply able to market themselves better than others but even floating on a see of dreck, the good ones would stand out eventually. I mean even within the confines of this forum, you can tell who takes the time to check spelling, etc and who puts a lot of thought (or in some cases too much thought) in what they chose to write. Any writer with brains, would seek the advice of people who were familiar with the genre and had editorial skills.

  23. >Any writer with brains, would seek the advice of people who were familiar
    >with the genre and had editorial skills.

    In a purely ebook market, with no gatekeepers, who would this be?

    Established authors? How many author’s websites have you been to whose FAQs make the not-surprising statement that they don’t have the time or inclination to read the thousands of purported masterpieces sent to them by aspiring writers?

    Professional editors? With no publishing industry–which is the outcome of the Amanda Hocking model taken to the extreme–who would these be? There could certainly be people who edited for money, but their only customer would be the would-be author. There would be no money for them in saying that a work wasn’t suitable for publication, only in trying to bandaid it as best as possible.

    And I think you are forgetting that plenty of people are (to my thinking) disuaded from trying to enter the printing fray by the belief that getting published was too hard or the (often justified) suspicion that they might not have what it takes.

    There are an awful lot of people out there, I’m guessing, willing to spew out two hundred pages of teenaged vampires that shimmer instead of sparkling (which makes it completely original, obviously), knowing that they’ll be able to see it listed on Amazon or whereever as if it were a “real” book. And two or three fools might even buy it.

    That’s what I’m afraid of. I like the idea that someone (other than the author) has to think they can make money off of a book BEFORE it clutters up the market. It makes it a lot easier to take a chance on trying a book by someone new.

    None of this, of course, it really relevant to LWE, whose books are always lovely, nor really to this forum. I’m just following up on the self-publishing thread here (probably with excessive vehemence).


  24. I don’t think that we’ll see the Critic go away that quickly, so there will still be criticism of works out there. This is exactly what the music industry is going through and also what the film industry is starting to see coming up.
    On another topic, Lawrence, how close are we to Chapter 40 getting released at this point? and while I’m asking questions, how about this one. Wizards have spell books, Ritual Dancers have choreography, Herbalists and Alchemists have formulae, Theurgists and Demonologists have prayers, and Witches have rites and such. How do Sorcerors keep their techniques? Books? Scrolls? Complex interrelations using core principles?

  25. We need another $143.00 for Chapter Forty.

    Sorcerers have books and diagrams and tools.

    I think we’re headed for a publishing economy something like what music has — there will be national acts, but there will also be cult authors and the local bar writer. There will be authors making millions, and authors writing for tips.

    We’ll see how it plays out.

  26. No new post yet for chapter 40/Epilogue, so I’ll note here that the preferred spelling is “confectionery” rather than “confectionary”. (This is my intuition, but it’s backed up by 12M Google hits for the former spelling and only 3M for the latter.)

  27. Re: future Ethshar novels — I hope Ishta’s Playmate sells a zillion copies as a YA novel. I suspect Jo Walton is right that several of the earlier Ethshar novels would go over well as YA novels, if they were republished and marketed thus.

    Straight to ebook vs. serial followed by trade paperback and ebook editions: I hesitate to spend as much on an ebook as I spend on hardbacks or trade paperbacks, even from favorite authors. I read more long works on-screen than most people my age, but I still consider paper books more convenient than ebooks for most purposes. But I recognize that the fixed costs of preparing an ebook for publication aren’t much less than the fixed costs of a hardback or paperback edition; most of the differences seem to be among the marginal costs for selling one more copy, so unless you find that your books have a large elasticity of demand, you may not be able to afford to lower the ebook price enough to suit me and others my age or older. (There was a very instructive thread on this subject on Making Light a year or so ago, in connection with the Macmillan/Amazon controversy.)

    On the other hand, when you’re self-publishing a book, you want to find ways to bring it to the attention of other people besides just your die-hard fans — selling only to us without creating new fans means selling to a gradually diminishing pool of customers. And it seems intuitively probable that these serials might be a better way of publicizing your new work to those who aren’t yet your fans than making the new work only available as an ebook.

    On the gripping hand, maybe free ebooks of some of your backlist, whichever ones you can get rights back from the publishers for, could be still better publicity than these serials, or almost good with much less work. That might be especially the case if the earlier novels you re-release as free ebooks are more stand-alone and thus better introductions to the series than a new serial (like this one) which may be confusing or offputting to those who haven’t already read several of the earlier books in the series.

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