Bill Crider pointed me to this interesting publishing experiment…
Alas, no major mainstream publisher is interested in continuing the Ethshar
series at present. On the other hand, I had several readers saying they
desperately want to see more. I decided to see whether enough of them were
willing to put their money where their mouths are to finance more Ethshar
stories — and perhaps eventually continuations of other series that no longer
have major publishers.
To my surprise, there were enough. My fans came through, and I have
now written the ninth Ethshar novel, financed entirely by reader contributions
rather than an advance from a publisher.
How has his experiment fared? It’s hard to say based on what he reports…
From April to October I posted the first draft of The Spriggan Mirror,
the ninth novel in the series, chapter by chapter. The last two chapters, along
with the epilogue and some endnotes, were posted on October 16, 2005. Below
you’ll find some options for making donations; each week, if I’d received
another $100 in donations (as I always did), I posted another chapter.
If I hadn’t received $100 to pay for a given week’s chapter, it
wouldn’t have been posted — but that never happened. If more than the $100
target came in, as it usually did, the extra was credited toward the following
chapter. No one needed to worry about ”wasting” a payment if I received more
than was needed for a particular chapter. At this point the entire novel has
been paid for, but the more money that comes in, the sooner I’m likely to start
a new serial.
So how much did he make? Was it comparable to what he would have received in advances and royalties if Del Rey had opted to publish another book in the series? I don’t know because he doesn’t say. For now, you can read the entire book for free on his website…until New Years Eve, when he’s signing the rights over to an e-publisher.
UPDATE: In a related story, GalleyCat reports that novelist Diane Duane is making the unpublished third volume in her TO VISIT THE QUEEN series available using POD:
she’s willing to consider satisfying her earlier fans’ desires by using
print-on-demand to bring The Big Meow out… if the market will bear it.
"Let’s just say that a ‘trade paperback’… is going to cost you hardcover
prices, not paperback," she suggests. "If I’m to make any money at all on the
deal (by which I mean, at least recoup my publishing and labor expenses), you’re
going to be paying $20-25 for a copy of this book." And then she invites her
readers to tell her whether they’re prepared to do that.
…Even Duane acknowledges that the demand remains to be measured, and she’ll be
waiting at least until next spring before she decides if there’s what we used to
call on Usenet "A Great Need."