Recently, someone decided to write a book that attracted both controversy and excitement (because the book was about Living Greyhawk's Bandit Kingdoms and was not authorised by WotC). I don't want to get into the IP discussion here, but the fact that it was commercially possible to publish something that was viewed as "dead and buried" was something I thought might be able to breath life into other out of print campaign settings.
The author of that book has written a blog article (the first of a set of three) about the publication process, and I've started a thread to discuss the actual process called: Publishing your own RPG book with CreateSpace
. (One of the things I find pretty exciting about CreateSpace - and other Print on Demand publishers are available - is that they tie into Amazon's online stores and if you publish with CreateSpace you can have your book on sale in multiple countries on Amazon. That isn't as good as getting it into book stores, but it means that potential customers don't face excessive international shipping rates.) Please feel free to join the general discussion over in the thread I linked to.
But getting back to Talislanta, I wonder how this sort of thing could apply to Tal. Obviously SMS owns Tal, and it would not
be right to do anything
unless SMS says he wants to do it. But looking back at Tal, I see a lot of good stuff from authors, SMS giving the green light and a publisher not being able to make it economically possible. I wonder if the rise of Print on Demand publishing, like you have with CreateSpace might eventually create the right sort of economy where you can "cut out the middle-man" and get to the point where if SMS wants to do it and an author also wants to do it, the author could write it in their spare time (on a "labour of love" basis) and then see how much income comes in over time.
And I'm not necessarily saying this would only work for RPG stuff. Maybe this could also be a way for SMS himself to revisit his Rogue Magician Crystabal
novel or for someone like Adam to put out a Tal graphic novel.
Ultimately it all comes down to the numbers and the amount of time an author would have to "gamble" on a project that may or may not refund them for that time and may or may not pay them a lot of cash above the "break even" point. And we all know that SMS is busy with other things now, so his time would also be a very critical thing. Any time SMS spends on Tal is time he is unable to spend on his musical work and that means that he would be gambling on this sort of thing too. So there would be a "break even" point for both the author and SMS. But if that ability to remove the "middle man" could
But I do wonder if this sort of publication method could cut out the middle-man* (between SMS and the autors/artists) that seems to have caused cool projects to not get to print in the past. If there was someone out there "crazy enough about Tal" to want to write stuff on the CreateSpace economic model (and that person was also someone that SMS wanted to work with) we could actually see a Tal project that was "unstoppable". It might get delayed (as the author would pretty much be self-funding the development) but, as long as they continued to want to finish it, they could get it done and get it out there.* = In reality that middle-man is stil there, as CreateSpace is replacing the traditional publisher. But they have a business far beyond a single product line and a delays to individual books would not cause their company to crash, so the "risk" of the sort of delays that caused Tal publishers to fail before would be transferred to an author and or SMS.