Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Game designers, publishers, and writers: Treat yourself!


Map by: James Lee
For: Tarot Adventures, Book Two: Comet over Echo Rock

















Map by James Lee from the soon to be released 5th edition adventure,
Tarot Adventures, Book Two: Comet over Echo Rock.  (Early version of the map)

*****
You wrote your book, illustrated your comic, created a great game, funded your project, managed your printing and production, marketed your product to garner attention and now people are reading it and/or playing it.  Congratulations!


Your work is far from over, as you'll be fulfilling orders (or overseeing such), promoting, managing the money (and taxes that follow the money), and going through all those processes which govern the business end of your work.  In other words, you're managing your sales pipeline and working a LOT.


During all this excitement it can be very easy to feel overwhelmed.  The problem this causes is that it can discourage you from creating new projects.  After all, who wants to add to their work load?  Stop!  Don't let the specter of more work dissuade you.  More work simply means that more people are reading your material, playing your games, and that you're making more money.  Don't be a one hit wonder.  Take a moment to recharge your energy, and to encourage yourself and your creative process.


The following are some things you can do, which I have found useful in re-energizing my creativity and in encouraging me to step up and tackle the next project:


1) Personal promotional appearances:  Book signings and speaking engagements (small panel or whole room).  It is great fun to discuss the work of writing with other writers, to talk about games and game theory with other game designers, and to encourage others who are aspiring to produce their work.  Take some time to speak with others who are experiencing the same labors you are.  Whether you develop a sense of camaraderie, friendly rivalry, learn, or mentor others; you'll find that the socializing your experience is quite refreshing. 


Making these appearances can also be quite productive for your business as well.  By building community, making connections, and providing the benefit of your own experiences you can learn others.  I would also encourage you to assist those in your community in their endeavors where possible.  You may have noticed that I maintain a link to featured crowd funding projects on this page now.  Doing so has yielded a tangible benefit to each of those projects by helping to expand awareness.  {As a side note, I want to convey my gratitude to those of you who have supported these campaigns. I don't receive any financial incentive for this.  It does benefit those creators whom I network with and there is a certain amount of reciprocal aid from those people as they share my project links around too.}


2) Physical activity:  Take a walk, go to the gym, or otherwise undertake some form of physical action you enjoy.  This doesn't have to be a life changing exercise.  It is healthy to get up from your desk, get your muscles moving, to take a break from your work.  Of late, I've fallen into the trap of toiling away at my desk.  Don't do that to yourself.  Get up and go for a bit.  I like to play with my children until they go to sleep then work after they are down.  If you have children this is a good option, but do make certain you are getting some physical activity through the day too.  It will help clear your mind and reinvigorate you.


3) Invest in yourself and your business:  This is very important.  Once you have revenue coming in from your product, use the money purposefully.  Do you need a new camera for your podcasts and social media activity?  Do you need a scale for your mailings?  Is there a tool or software that can increase your productivity, streamline your operations, or otherwise alleviate some of the burden of work?  If so, invest in it!


Hard work will get you far.  Working efficiently and completing your work with less strain, cost, and labor will afford you the ability to do more.  Whether you are investing in a better scanner/printer, subscribing to a fulfillment service, or otherwise optimizing your operation; you will improve your long term market ability by investing in your operation.


4)  Take a break:  Make time for family and friends.  Take a day off to rest and recharge.  This will help you to maintain a healthy balance between your work and personal life.  Don't let your work overshadow your happiness.  You owe it to yourself, and to your fans/customers, to have joy in your life.  It WILL show in your work product. 


Take care of yourself, treat yourself, and live a little.  Use your time and money wisely to grow your business in an efficient way.  Refine your processes to ease your work load.  Make a point to enjoy yourself so you don't burn out.  Use these simple points to keep yourself motivated and working toward your goals.


*****


Thank you for joining me today on my adventure into writing, game design, and self-publishing.

I am presently working to complete the fulfillment of the Tarot Adventures, Book Two: Comet over Echo Rock  Kickstarter campaign.  The map above was created for that book and the image is used with permission and under contract.  All rights are reserved.

In May of 2018 (next month) I plan to launch the KickStarter campaign for The Steel Road, a source book containing fifty exotic weapons from far flung parts of the world.  Each weapon is illustrated, described, and contains an illustration and description of an enchanted "legendary" version of each.  I hope you'll check that on KickStarter when it goes live and support that fantastic book!

As always your comments and questions are most welcome.

I hope you'll join me again next time!



Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Productive uses for KickStarter "profits" ~ advice to new creators

Art from "The Steel Road"
Artist: Zachary Viola
























KickStarter

There, do I have your attention?   Good.   KickStarter and other crowdfunding platforms have been a terrific boon to small press self-publishers, game designers, and indie comic book creators.

Money from your crowdfunding campaign allows you the luxury of creating your project and may also provide the funding to improve upon it. I have always advocated that you use the funding to enhance your product to make it the best value for your backers as is possible.  Hold on to that idea, as it is important in building and retaining your audience.  People who see that you are creating high quality products are more likely to support your future endeavors. 

I would like to point out that you will very often have some residual funding left over.  While it's nice to call this "profit" and go about your day, I want to point out some uses for these funds that I advocate for, and which you may wish to consider.  Please note: this entry is NOT addressing the costs incurred by the KickStarter campaign (fees, production costs, shipping/fulfillment, etc.), we're just looking at the money made in excess of what you need, and how any such funds can be put to good use.


Art from "The Steel Road"
Artist: Zachary Viola




























Productive Uses of 'profits' from a KickStarter campaign:

1) Bonuses:  For my first KickStarter I was able to provide a small bonus to my artists. While this was literally just a few dollars, it was very well received.  I tell you, without hesitation, that I don't miss those few extra dollars but my artists definitely appreciated it.  Morale has been very high ever since.  You cannot put a price tag on having people who are eager to work with you, who enjoy working for you, and who respect / trust you.  Consider this as an option, and be certain to weigh it against the following considerations.

2) Product marketing:  Extra revenue is a fantastic resource for your project once it is ready to be made commercially available.  Even a small amount can go to good use in paying for add space.  Give this some critical thought, as a well run marketing campaign should translate into sales.  This is where your revenue begins.

3) Product production:  Do you want to take your project to a convention for sale?  Do you want to make your product available for sale on your website?  If so, then odds are you're going to need inventory, which means you'll need money to create it, store it, ship it, etc.  A word of caution on this, however, be mindful of your tax obligation on inventory at year's end.  Consult a tax professional for specific guidance on this point.

4) Research and Development:  Fancy way of saying, 'costs for developing future products'.  This is one thing I've been terrible at doing.  I've focused my efforts on my first three points here (above) and have historically neglected this point.  This has put me in the position of having to fund initial costs out of pocket.  I don't recommend you do that.  Instead, I recommend that you take any excess funding and allocate a portion of that for future product development.  This will help ease the burden of your future crowdfunding efforts.

5) Taxes:  This is IMPORTANT!  Consult a tax professional regarding your tax liability.  This is one thing I had found very little information on in my own research before launching my first KickStarter campaign.  Now I'm factoring it in for each.  I recommend finding a local Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in your area, and consult with them on this issue.  Save yourself a tax-time headache by planning ahead in this point.  Once you are aware of your tax obligations (if any), then you can put aside the funds to cover any tax obligation you may incur.


Art from "The Steel Road"
Artist: Zachary Viola


























I hope you will find great benefit in using KickStarter and other crowdfunding platforms to bring your projects to new fans and so you can see your dreams realized.  I hope you'll take these points and use them to enhance your own experience with crowdfunding and project development!


*****

Thank you for joining me today on my adventure in writing, game design, and self publishing.  It is always my hope that by sharing my experiences and insights that this blog will help you to avoid pitfalls I have encountered, and that it will help you to achieve your own goals in developing games, writing, and publishing.

As always, your comments are most welcome!

I hope you will share this entry with others.

The art included in this entry is from my coming project "The Steel Road" which I plan to have up on KickStarter in May (2018).  All art for "The Steel Road" is copyright (c) of Zachary Viola (2017 and 2018) and is used under contract and with permission. All rights are reserved.  I hope you will support that great project and share it with others.

Thanks again!

W.S. Quinton




Friday, April 6, 2018

Work, failure, success, and YOU! More art from "The Steel Road"!


Art from "The Steel Road"  African weapons chapter
Art by: Zachary Viola







































About work:

I have an ordinary day job.

It's true.  I work for the courts during the regular day-time office hours.  After my day job work hours are done, and after the children are asleep, I work on things related to my books, games, and publishing efforts.  I do sleep, I promise I do.  I usually work on my writing and publishing endeavors, and the numerous small tasks that make them possible, until midnight. 

Some nights I say 'no' and I write while watching anime or YouTube videos.  What can I say?  I'm a huge nerd. 

As with most day jobs, I have small periods of my own time.  During these break times I am quite guilty of working.  I usually take my notepad and write things down that have occurred to me, jot down plot notes, doodle rough outlines, and otherwise add to my growing pile of projects I want to develop and insights into projects I am developing. A perfect example of this is that I wrote the first four paragraphs of the entry during my lunch break.

The key concept I'm trying to convey is that by working when you can, every day and at every opportunity, you can accomplish a lot.  Elon Musk once commented about working eighty to one hundred hour weeks as opposed to working forty hour weeks and how much more you can accomplish in that time.  (You can see a clip of that interview HERE.)  While I'm not going to recommend that you work hundred hour weeks, I find that if you devote your time and effort to your goal, you bring yourself closer to realizing it. I firmly believe that to be true.  I feel that I usually accomplish quite a bit so long as I continue to work each day, in as much a capacity as I can. 

For those of you who want to release your own novel, or comic book, or design and produce your own game, this work ethic is a must.  You have to get up and make your dream a reality, or it will forever remain a dream. 

*****

About failure:

Failure is a fantastic opportunity for learning.  You can, and should, learn as much from a project that fails as you can.  What did you do wrong?  Is my idea something people are interested in? What could I have done to make the project successful?  Those are questions you should ask yourself.  Give yourself honest answers.  Don't be satisfied with what should be, dig deep and find out what is.  This is a key distinction to make, as it will reveal whether your projects are viable or if they are not. 

If your idea isn't viable, if people aren't interested in it, or if it isn't possible then you should look into what it is that makes it that way.  If a project can't be done at a certain budget point is there a way to refine your method to decrease costs?  If people aren't interested in it, why aren't they and what, if anything, can excite people about your idea?  If you project just isn't possible, is there a technology that you need to develop or adopt to make it possible?  Take a long hard look at the issues standing in your way and make a realistic appraisal of what it will take to bring your project to life.

A project's failing does not make you a failure. Please take a moment to digest that previous sentence, because it is very important. I have done a lot of research by reviewing crowd funding campaigns.  I have noticed an alarming trend where people who have their first campaign fail, don't seem to try again.  I say this is alarming because I do not belief that creative people are usually limited to a single idea.  If your project fails, do NOT be afraid to try again with a new idea.  Innovation doesn't come from stagnation, it comes from people who are brave enough to put forth new ideas.  Be brave, don't let the past control your future.

*****

About success:

Having a successful project, regardless of how successful it may be, is a wonderful feeling.  I hope you have that experience in your life.  Success can be a heady experience, it can drive some people to see more and greater success while in others they may be content to bask in the wonder of it.  Which you choose to do, is up to you and your overall goals.  If you want to build a business, create value, and make an impact then I believe you must allow success to motivate you to new successes in future projects. 

Building on past success can also be a risk.  By way of example, let me cite my coming project "The Steel Road".  For that project I have high hopes that people will be excited by it, support it's KickStarter campaign, and that it will actually generate a bit of revenue I can use to help fund the initial costs of a particular pair of coming projects.  By committing those dollars earned to future projects I am risking that money.  Is it worth it to me?  It certainly is, because I am working to build a business that provides books for people to enjoy.  Investing money earned into more development is simply a basic principle of business, but one that carries with it the risk of loss.  It also brings with it the potential for success.  Examine both possibilities and determine whether you will dare the risk or not.

Success without ethical responsibility is not success at all, just greed.  This is a moralistic viewpoint, my own, and I don't expect everyone to agree with me.  My point is this: If you can succeed at your projects with a clear conscious, knowing you have acted ethically and in good faith, then you have nothing to fear if people question your product, actions, or development.  Be honest with persons in your efforts and you will find that your success is all the sweeter for it.  {I know I'm going to get flamed for this point and that is fine.  Comment section is below.}

*****

About ART:

Art is incredibly important in the fields I'm working and developing for.  Comic books and role-playing games need art.  Card games and board games need art as well.  When you need art, you need artists.  Sounds pretty simple, doesn't it?

I've written previous entries on the artists I've worked with.  You can find my most recent such entry HERE!

With artists, please do understand that you are dealing with people who possess a valuable skill set.  While I understand the desire to find art at the lowest price available, I do not condone doing so at the expense of your artists.  Pay fairly, pay promptly, and be a good client.  You will, after all, need their services again in the future.  Build strong business relationships with your artists, you're going to need them.

*****

About You:

Surprise!  Yes, this is about you.  You've made it this far in this short article about some things I am very convicted about.  I encourage you to develop your own projects.  Bring your own book, comic book, or game to the world.  Be responsible to yourself, be open and honest with your audience, create to the highest quality level you can, and enjoy the process!

Thank you for joining me on my adventure into writing, self-publishing, and game design.  I wish for you tremendous success and I hope you'll join me next time as my adventure continues.

I hope you will enjoy my coming projects, and I hope I will enjoy yours!


*****

One last thing:

There is a really cool indie comic series, "Coronary".  It's creator, Ryan Burke, is running a Kickstarter campaign right now to fund the latest edition.  Check it out at the link below.




Note:  All art from "The Steel Road" is copyright(c) of Zachary Viola (Copyright dates 2017 and 2018) and is used under contract and with permission.  All rights are reserved. 






Sunday, April 1, 2018

What all the excitement is about: The Steel Road and what the KickStarter campaign will look like

Legendary version of the Bagh Nakh
Art from: The Steel Road
Artist: Zachary Viola



























You may have noticed that I'm pretty excited about each project I develop.  It's simple really, if I'm not excited about something how can I expect anyone else to be? 

Throughout the year that this blog has existed I've spoken about projects like "Tale of the Wizard's Eye", "The Draw of Glenfallow", "Comet over Echo Rock", and "47 Furious Tails".  I've teased out samples of art, clips from page drafts, discussed development, talked about crowd funding,  and hinted at projects that were in development.   It has been an exciting first year!

One of the projects I hinted at last summer was a project that was being developed under the title "Bare Steel and Drawn Blood" which went through several title changes as I struggled to find a title that worked with the theme of the book.  That book is soon to be hitting KickStarter (look for it in May if all goes according to plan) under its release title "The Steel Road".

I know, my last two entries have been about this book.  I am just really excited about it, and there is certainly a LOT to be excited about!  This book details fifty weapons from around the world with each weapon being illustrated!

Yes!  Let me make sure everyone understands that point:  Each and EVERY weapon is illustrated! 

But this book doesn't just stop with fifty images of weapons, no.  There is an illustration for each weapon in its common form, and then an illustration of the enchanted "legendary" version of the weapon.  Of itself, that is one hundred weapon illustrations!  

As you may have seen in previous entries about this book (and those illustrations that are included in this entry), the art for "The Steel Road" is done in a sketchbook style.  I wanted this book to have an authentic look to its pages and Zachary Viola (the artist whose work graces this book) agreed with the concept.  Zack set to work in the summer of 2017 to create the art for this book.  He's been creating art for this project for more than eight months as of this writing! 





What The Steel Road is about:

The Steel Road is about bringing exotic weapons from around the world to your role-playing game table. 

This book will be made available in print and pdf formats for your use and enjoyment.  Providing game play statistics, weapon information, all original art, and a background narrative; you will enjoy this book for play and as an attractive addition to your collection. 

It's not just tables and stats.  I've based weapon information on the real world data. Illustrations have been sketched to be true to the dimensions and appearance of the common, mundane versions,  while being elaborated upon in true fantasy tradition, for the enchanted versions.  The PDF versions of the book, which I'm releasing through Drivethrurpg.com, will be printable.  This will allow you to print single pages of weapon data for easy reference for your character or adventure scenario.  (Note:  These images are for personal use only.  We are not releasing the art for commercial use.)

Two versions of the book are being developed.  The first version is created for use with the 5th edition game mechanic of the worlds original role-playing game, and released under the open game license as described in the system reference document (SRD5.1) as published by Wizards of the Coast.  To be clear, neither I, Zachary Viola, or Sinopa Publishing LLC are affiliated or employed by WoTC. (You have to love the restrictions placed within the Open Game License.)   The second version is a Pathfinder compatible version.  The Steel Road marks my first publication of a Pathfinder compatible book so I'm looking forward to steping into that role-playing community. 

Basically, I created this book to expand the scope of weapons available in a fun and exciting way.  None of the weapon statistics are copied from anywhere. I created them wholly from my own design.  Any resemblance to other game play representations is coincidental and unintended.  Many of the weapons described in this book haven't been seen in any 5th edition OGL book (that I've ever seen anyway).


















What The Steel Road isn't:


The Steel Road isn't heavy with rules.  There are a few optional rules which were created for particular weapons.  These optional rules are meant to enhance the play experience, not to bog down your session.  If you don't like them, please don't use them.  Players, in all instances please remember that your game master has the final say on rules integration.  Let us not waste game time arguing.  Have fun and game on!


The material within this book is NOT released as open content. Do not reprint this material for commercial purposes.  All art within this book was created by, and copyright of,  Zachary Viola and is used under contract and with permission.  All rights to reproduction of art from this book are reserved.  


I designed and wrote this book to be a fun addition to your role-playing game resources.  It is not a history book.  Descriptions of weapons are based on the real world weapon, many of which I have experience handling.  Enchanted versions of these weapons are designed to be used in game play.  As such, many of them do not possess the full scope of powers attributed to them from their real world legends.  It would be game breaking, for example, to give the Trident of Poseidon all of its reputed abilities!





The KickStarter campaign: How, and when, can I get a copy?


The Steel Road will have its crowd funding campaign through KickStarter in May (again, assuming everything continues on schedule as it has been).


I'm using KickStarter to fund the art and backer rewards.  I also wanted to make the book available to people in a cost effective way, keeping costs to a minimum, and making the book as affordable as possible.  KickStarter is a great way to accomplish all of those things.


Another thing I wanted to do, was encourage people to back it (obvious, right?) and provide a real value to backers.  To do this, I'm going to be offering some fantastic early backer rewards.  I think this is a great way to provide a great deal to all of you who have been following this blog who may want a copy.  So, for the first seventy-two (72) hours of the campaign (the first three days), you can get PDF  and Print on Demand codes for either version for backing the Kickstarter at $8.  You can get the PDF and Print on Demand codes for both versions (during that same seventy-two hour period) for backing the KickStarter at $14 (All of these backer levels are in U.S. Dollars).


Go ahead, reread that if you must.  It's true.  You'll be able to get a PDF copy AND the POD code (which lets you order a print copy from DTRPG and only pay the printing cost plus shipping).  Personally, I think that is a good deal, but I wanted it to be GREAT.  So I'm making those backer rewards stretch goal eligible as well. Keep reading for more on the stretch goals (after physical rewards), there is a lot of value that I'm packing into this KickStarter campaign.


Physical rewards include signed print copies, as well as copies with unique sketches done by Zach Viola.  So if you want a one of a kind copy, completely unlike anyone else's, you can certainly get one!  For the physical rewards the copy will be a soft cover, unless we reach the stretch goal, in which case it will be a hard cover.


Stretch goals for the KickStarter campaign are designed to be easy to fulfill and yet be a real value to the backers.

Our first stretch goal makes these books available in hard cover edition as well as the soft cover edition.  All backers who have print on demand codes as part of their backer rewards will receive a code for both soft and hard copies. 


The second stretch goal will add an additional section to the book, which will detail the merchant caravan of the book's narrator.  It will include information on non-player characters, resources, notes on incorporating the caravan into your campaign, as well as a selection of story hooks for your use. 


In a similar vein, I'm going to also include a Social Goal in this campaign. I've seen these popping up in a few KickStarter campaigns over the last several months and I think they are a fantastic idea. This will be my first campaign to have such a goal.  I'm a big believer in keeping things simple, so I've modeled this goal along those lines.  Our social goal is to reach one thousand backers!  If the campaign ends with one thousand backers (or more) I'll commission a new cover to be used exclusively for kickstarter backers.  All backers who receive a POD code will receive a code for that book as well.  In order to prevent non-backers from buying that edition (it has to be live for you to redeem the code through dtrpg, at least that is my understanding) I'll be setting the retail price to an astronomically obscene amount.  Backers will only pay the printing plus shipping costs with the POD code.  Reaching this goal will cause those backers receiving signed and sketch copies to receive the KickStarter backer exclusive version  for those physical rewards.


Fulfillment of the backer rewards:

The Kickstarter campaign will not go live until I have proof copies of the 5th ed rule set version in hand.  My goal is to conduct fulfillment immediately upon receipt of funds from KickStarter.  This will place fulfillment in the month of June, assuming the Kickstarter campaign launches in early May or as late as July if it launches in late May.  The KickStarter page will specify fulfillment projections when it goes live.  

Please do note that the fulfillment is a projection, it may get pushed back to July by the date the campaign launches.  If so, it will be so stated in the campaign. I'm a huge believer in full disclosure and transparency.  The images below were captured from the draft of the KickStarter campaign I am presently working on.  Some of the data may change but the reward levels should remain the same as shown below.

These early backer rewards will be available for those first three days of the campaign:










































I hope to see a lot of people taking advantage of these early backer levels.  This is one way for me to 'Thank you' to all of you who have been following this blog and sharing the news of my projects.  Thank you!


After the first three days the backer levels are more in line with a project of this scale:






















































As you can see, the backer rewards are still a good value for backers.

I'll be disclosing the physical reward levels for signed and sketch copies, as well as a pair of higher end backer rewards in a future blog entry.  Full disclosure on that: I need a final calculation on print and shipping costs that I don't yet have, and I want to be able to account for all of those costs.   


What the KickStarter campaign does for this project:

Using KickStarter allows me to pay for art as well as cover costs for backer rewards.  This makes projects like this possible.

Any revenue in excess of those funds used to pay for art and fulfill backer rewards will be used towards operating expenses and for future project development. (Specifically for 47 Furious Tails and Whispers of Persephone).

For those of you who are planning your own projects, I highly recommend crowdfunding efforts.  It will help you to not only mitigate the risk of loss but also to gauge interest in your project.  You can also very often enjoy feedback from your backers that can help you improve your products. (Make use of such feedback!)

So ladies and gentlemen, gamers and game developers of all ages, that is why I'm so excited about this book.  It is the first source book I'm releasing, and it's packed with good stuff.

I hope you'll share this with other people to help spread the word and raise awareness.  Sharing this blog post with others can help us to reach the social goal and make The Steel Road a success!

*****

Thank you all for joining me once again on my adventure in game development, writing and self-publishing.  I hope that you find this blog useful to your own endeavors as you write and create.

I want to thank Zachary Viola, for his extraordinary work on The Steel Road!  It really wouldn't be the as cool without his hard work and dedication to this project.

As always, your comments are most welcome.  Please +1 and share to social media if you've enjoyed this entry.

Until next time, when I hope you'll join me again!

W.S. "Sam" Quinton


P.S.

If you're a comic book fan, check out the following KickStarter campaign:




Saturday, March 24, 2018

The Steel Road: Art, project development, promotional efforts, and crowdfunding concepts



I've been quite busy with projects for the last few months.  Comet over Echo Rock is almost ready for proofs to be ordered, so fulfillment is right around the corner.  This means I'm gearing up for the promotion of the next book release.  I'll be discussing what the book is, and presenting a sample of the fantastic art going into its production.  Finally, I'll discuss some of the thoughts behind the production, promotional efforts, and preparations leading up the crowdfunding campaigns.  I hope you'll find this information of use for your own projects as well.

If you enjoy this entry please share it with others.

*****

THE STEEL ROAD ~ Art by: Zachary Viola  Written by: W.S. Quinton

The world has been a dangerous place throughout human history.  Every civilization has developed its own weaponry with which to confront enemy threats.  As geography divided the world, cultures evolved their weaponry in unique ways.

Trade flourished between civilizations and as caravans and fleets traveled the globe they encountered a vast array of exotic weapons.  Within The Steel Road we chronicle the journey of a caravan of weapon merchants.  Each weapon described is sketched to provide an authentic art style.

As both a role-playing game resource and art book you'll enjoy The Steel Road as you travel the world on the edge of a blade!

A sample of images we're using in this fantastic book.  Enjoy!


























*****

Project Development ~

As with any project, The Steel Road began with a simple idea:  Wouldn't it be cool to have a source book of exotic weapons where every weapon was illustrated?

Sounds simple, doesn't it?

As with anything that is genuinely worth doing, the project wasn't as simple as it sounded.  The simple idea needed definition.  What weapons would be included?  What size book are we talking about?  If each weapon is to be illustrated will we include an enchanted version and if so will it need a separate illustration?  What page count range will the book be designed for?  How is printing going to be handled?  How will we get copies into people's hands? How much money will it take to develop the project?  How long will art take? When will the book need to be released? How do the tasks involved fit into the existing development calendar? The list of questions grew as the scope of the project became more evident.

Don't be daunted by this!  You can accomplish any project you are determined to complete so long as you: (1) Plan your project out; and (2) Don't quit.  So planning began with conversations with the artist who immediately wanted this project, Zachary Viola.  We discussed the project, formulated a realistic goal for the number of weapons to be developed and illustrated, calculated the timeline, agreed to compensation, and signed the contracts.   Art was assigned to Zach and he began the work of illustrating the book in the summer of 2017.  It is a LOT of art ladies and gentlemen!

Weapon statistic design, weapon description, and narrative writing fell firmly on my shoulders.  It's a task for which there is great responsibility to create content at the highest level of quality I can.  Through development a few ideas emerged that were key to making The Steel Road a great product. A book people would not only use, but use often and enjoy.

The concept was finalized, with the introduction of a narrator who tells his story as he journeys the world.  This made ordering the chapters important as we wanted the journey to evolve organically.  This is to give you, the reader, a feeling of natural progression of the travels of the merchant caravan.  It is, arguably, a minor thing but I felt it was particularly important.  The Steel Road is more than just a catalog of weapon images and statistics, its a book I hope you cherish and enjoy using.

For those of you devising your own projects:  Careful formulation of production schedules, promotion events (see previous entries regarding podcasts, personal appearances, etc.),  planning and executing your crowdfunding efforts (assuming you're using crowdfunding) will help you to identify and accomplish key tasks.

Promotional Efforts ~

It is important to introduce people to your work.  If you are an author or game designer you hope people will read your work and play your games.  To introduce people to your creations, use your promotional campaigns to show people what you do.  Showcase the excitement of your game or the appeal of your book.  Your promotional efforts aren't about maximizing your profits as much as they are about bringing attention to what you are doing.  People will decide if they want your product based on what they know about it.  First step then, is to let them know about your project.

If you have little to know budget they you want to maximize your social media efforts. If you have followers on your social media pages, ask them to share your information with others.  Create fun content that people enjoy, allow people the joy of being curious about your design, and be genuine and honest in all your efforts.

I'm a big fan of no/low-cost promotions.  I've had good success with live streaming, pod cast interviews, sending information to bloggers, making appearances at local comic shop and game stores, and sharing information on audience appropriate pages. It's a simple approach, and one well suited for people with no budget for promotional expenses or marketing expertise.  For those of you who are well experienced with promotions/marketing this is remarkably low stress approach.

Crowdfunding ~

Crowdfunding is about getting the project funded for completion.  For The Steel Road, there was a tremendous amount of art created.  Funding for that project will be used for backer reward fulfillment and to pay the artist.  Surplus revenue will be applied to funding future projects.  The crowdfunding campaign for this book will focus on providing value to the backers while striving to meet our funding goal.

Here's how I'm setting up the crowdfunding campaign:

1)  Kickstarter ~ Kickstarter is the only crowdfunding platform I've had any real success with.  To date I've had three of my four campaigns successfully funded there.  I'll be launching a short campaign on that platform to reach our minimum funding goal, with stretch and social goals set to help us reach levels of funding that allow for additional content to be added as well as adding an exclusive cover for backers.

2) PDF and Print on Demand Code Rewards ~ The Steel Road is coming out at over 100 pages, with more than 100 illustrations.  It will be made available in a printable PDF and print on demand codes for low cost backer rewards. I'm making these rewards stretch goal eligible, to provide the maximum value for all backers!

3) Sketch copies ~ There is a very limited number of backer rewards available where backers will get their digital rewards plus a print copy with a unique sketch in the cover done by Zachary Viola.  For backers who want something unique.  This offers a rare opportunity for the backers and is something Zach and I thought was a reward.

4) Signed copies ~ I have a great appreciation for signed copies.  I'm told I do it in a weird way as I personalize the signature to the individual backer.  The Steel Road will offer signed copies for backers to give their reward that personal touch.

5) Dedications ~ Each version of the book, (5th edtion OGL version and the Pathfinder Compatible edition) will have their own dedication.  The backer will be able to dedicate that edition to his/her friends and/or family by name.  This is a great reward tier if you and your group want to be immortalized in a particular edition.

Stretch goals will bring a hard cover version as well as additional content.  I've also put aa social goal in place aimed at my personal goal of reaching one thousand backers (I know, its a tall order)!

The campaign for The Steel Road is planned to be a fast and furious three weeks of excitement.  The first three days of the campaign, will feature special 'early backer' levels allowing backers to get PDF and POD codes for either version of the book for only $8 USD.  Want both 5th ed and Pathfinder compatible versions?  That's cool, I've got an 'early backer' level for that too!

I really want this book to reach as many gaming tables as possible.  I hope The Steel Road will make it to your table as well.

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For all of you who are developing your own titles: I hope this blog has provided you with insights that have been beneficial. I've written about my ideas, my ethics, my work schedules, my successes and my mistakes.  It's been a wild year of diving into the deep end of the pool of writing and self-publishing, followed by a lot of paddling to keep from drowning 😉.  If I can do this, so can you.

Thank you all for joining me on this great adventure.  I hope to see you next time as well.


P.S.: I've also been writing fan fiction for one of my all time favorite role-playing games.  It's a fun hobby of mine, telling the fictionalized stories based on game play.  So check out "Fan Fiction ~ Tommy's Story" for more (I recommend starting at the beginning as the stories run chronologically).




Saturday, March 17, 2018

Development, things to come, and art for "The Steel Road"


From: The Steel Road
Art by: Zachary Viola
A friend of mine recently said to me, "I don't know how you do it all."  This was in reference to my writing, blogging, publishing efforts, promotional work, crowdfunding campaigns, raising kids, and going through my divorce while working full time during the day. It sounds very daunting when you write it all out. I admit that I felt a bit conflicted about my friend's opinion. He is convinced that I achieve a great deal.  My perception, however, is that I actually just accomplish a little each day.  With each task I complete, I take another step toward completion of my projects.

Many of you who read this blog are interested in producing your own materials. I am certain you have had moments when you felt overwhelmed by the job ahead.  I know I've certainly had moments when I have looked at my "to do" list and it seemed impossibly huge.  Anything extraordinary, any kind of remarkable accomplishment, is going to require some extra effort. The thing to remember, is that any large task is really just the sum total of several small jobs. I encourage you to put your pen to paper, your fingers to the keys, and your time to the small tasks.  You'll have to set forth the effort. But if you can accomplish a little bit each day, or each day that you have a moment to work in, the work accomplished piles up.  You'll get a step closer to completion with every play test, every page written, and with every task you complete toward your goal.  Don't let naysayers deter you, don't allow an incomplete project to lay fallow, and don't worry about what other people are doing. Create your vision, bring it to the world, and enjoy the incredible sensation of seeing people appreciate your work.

I recommend to each of you (the writers, the visual artists, the game designers, bloggers, etc.), that you not let yourself become disheartened as you work.  Believe me, I know that sometimes it can seem like writing and developing games and titles can feel like a never ending task.  Its a lot like eating a whole cow, you do it one bite at a time (yes, I know the saying is 'elephant'). So get the outline written, write through that tough scene that has you wringing your hands, correct that layer you aren't happy with, and bring your vision to life.

People will say things like "Wow, how did you do that?!" or "That must have been SO hard!" but really its just that you were willing to put in the work, in order to accomplish your goal.  Don't be afraid to do the work, don't be scared of not seeing immediate results, and above all... DON'T GIVE UP!  You can produce your vision if you will just do the work to make it happen.

You may feel like you're not doing enough to get done.  I sympathize as I feel that way very often.  I have a full time day job, I have small children, and I have a divorce I'm dealing with.  Believe me, I know what it feels like to have your time tied up.  Certainly take a little time to relax and unwind, but don't sacrifice your vision.  Dust yourself off and get a little done.  Only have twenty minutes to write? Well, then write for twenty minutes.  I usually keep a notepad with me or some other way that I can write down notes, ideas, and / or blocks of text.  I encourage you to do the same.

Completing your project is very simply a matter of doing the work to get it done.  It won't always be easy.  This blog entry is a perfect example of that.  I didn't know what I wanted to talk about and I went through three different ideas before I found what was most important to me right now.  I wrote this for you, and to confront my own demons as they howl in my ear trying to decry my own efforts.  (Back hellspawn, BACK!) So this entry was beneficial for me as it allowed me to refocus on the important details.  So tonight I'll write, even if it's only a few words, and get that little bit done.  Day by day, and page by page, I'll complete those projects and more.

I hope you'll do the same.

Below are the things I'm working on right now.  Items in development and those things rolling into development.

As of this writing, I'm polishing up Tarot Adventures, Book Two: Comet over Echo Rock for its backer release /fulfillment.  Schedule is to release in April so time is coming up.  I had my laptop die and that slowed things considerably until I was able to get a new system (thanks to my friend Justin, for helping me out with that).  Art is done except for maps, which should be completed shortly.

*****

What comes next:

Once fulfillment is complete for CoER, I'll be finishing up "The Steel Road" 5th edition OGL version.  I'll be creating the Pathfinder Compatible version as well and should complete that during its KickStarter campaign.

"The Steel Road" is a source book of exotic weapons from around the world.  It features fifty weapons, each of which is illustrated.  For each of the weapons within the book there is also an illustrated and fully defined enchanted "legendary" version of that weapon type.  This book provides you with a great range of available weapons for your game.  I have developed each weapon's statistics from real world data.  None of the stats presented are duplicated from any other text.  {In short, we're not copying anyone!}  The book is presented in an art style that mimics a sketchbook.  This is in keeping with the theme, as information is presented from our fictitious 'narrator', a leader of caravan of weapons merchants, as they traverse the far flung corners of the world.

From: The Steel Road
Art by: Zachary Viola
*****

Following fulfillment of "The Steel Road" Kicstarter campaign, I will be commissioning the initial art for use in "Whispers of Persephone".

"Whispers of Persephone" is a resource book for players and game masters alike.  It brings a new arcane tradition to the 5th edition OGL mechanic, "Stygian Necromancy".  This book is being designed to resemble a spell book, containing pages of new spells, rituals, rules for ritual sacrifice (how and why you do it), notes on the tradition itself, tips on playing an evil spell caster, fiction concerning the Stygian Necromancers, and material to help bring the "DARK" back to the 'dark arts'!

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In the late summer of 2018, I will be re-launching crowdfunding campaigns for "47 Furious Tails, Issue One".  If you've been following this blog since summer of 2017, you may recall that we didn't reach the funding goal on our first attempt.  To remedy this, I'm diverting any profits above operating costs into making this comic book a reality.

"47 Furious Tails" is a comic book re-telling of the Ako Incident. The story of 47 samurai who defied the will of the Shogunate to avenge the death of their lord, Asano Naganori. This series uses anthropomorphic characters to depict these legendary samurai.  You'll see samurai squirrels, foxes, monkeys and more as the tale unfolds.  Issue one begins before Lord Asano's last journey to Edo.  You'll see our insights into the way these samurai may have lived.

Based on historical and literary accounts of the incident, this comic series strives to bring the tale back to the modern era.  You'll see brutal samurai action throughout the series, experience intrigue, and catch a glimpse into the beautiful and deadly traditions of the samurai!




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Late Fall and Winter of 2018

Tarot Adventures, Book Three:  Death comes to Glenfallow.

The Tarot Adventures continue in the later half of 2018.  I'll be releasing Death comes to Glenfallow, and if time permits, I will strive to release Book four as well (more on that title later).
Death comes to Glenfallow will bring yet more adversity to the denizens of Glenfallow, more challenges to the player characters, and more opportunities for heroics.

Luther's Revenge 

The sequel to my first adventure release, Tale of the Wizard's Eye, Luther's Revenge is a dark tale filled with assassins, murderous plots, and deceits targeting the player characters.  Look for fantastic art from none other than Lotus Blair  to make this a beautiful book.  Designed for high level characters as a difficult to deadly level challenge.  Be


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Things on the back burner (I.E. my pile of other projects)

Children's books ~ I've written four children's in 2017 and I'm still waiting on illustrations on the first.  These projects are important to me, so I'm working on them as well.  It is likely that one or maybe two of these book will be released this year.

Card game ~ A friend of mine had a kickstarter to fund his own card game.  I thought to myself, "I can create a card game, sure" and so I bent my will to the task of designing a card game.  It was not as easy as I expected!  That said, the design is done, it just needs art and lay out to be completed then I can test it.  This isn't a high priority for me at the moment, so it is sitting in my "to play test" pile of projects.  (That pile is basically for things that I will inflict upon my play testers... they are such tolerant souls).

My original RPG ~ I have tons of work done on this and probably one hundred or more pages left to write  I don't have any art for this other than a few pieces for the bestiary so I'll have to fund that through crowd funding (and its going to take a LOT of money, so wish me luck and I hope you'll support the effort).  I'll run this game by my game group for play testing and we'll see how it shakes out.

I want to thank you all for once again joining me on my journey as I explore game design, self-publishing, and writing.  I hope you find this blog useful, of benefit, and that it helps you to avoid the mistakes that I have made while providing some clarity for your own efforts.

I hope you'll join me next time as we continue this bold adventure.

W.S. "Sam" Quinton





The Tarot Adventures series is trademarked by Sinopa Publishing LLC and W.S. Quinton.  All rights reserved.

The Steel Road is copyright (c) 2018 by W.S. Quinton and released by Sinopa Publishing LLC.  All art included in The Steel Road is copyright (c) 2017 and 2018 by Zachary Viola and is used with permission and under contract. All rights reserved.

47 Furious Tails is copyright (c) 2017 by W.S. Quinton and released by Sinopa Publishnig LLC. All art included in 47 Furious Tails is being created by Alexia Veldhuisen on commission from Sinopa Publishing LLC.  All rights reserved.

Whispers of Persephone is copyright (c) 2018 by W.S. Quinton and released by Sinopa Publishing LLC.  All art included in Whispers of Persephone is being created by Christian Martinez on commission from Sinopa Publishing LLC.  All rights reserved.

Monday, March 5, 2018

A Call of Cthulhu Crossover character concept

Very recently an old friend (of more than twenty years) asked me for a character concept for a new Call of Cthulhu campaign.  I did my usual, job of presenting him with a concept that I thought was cool and fun, but that his group didn't want to allow for.

Now before we get into what I recommended, understand that I only play Call of Cthulhu in the months of October and November, and I usually act as the game master, storyteller, punisher of players.  I haven't run a game in the current edition yet either.  One last disclaimer, I've had players complain of nightmares from game sessions ... which should probably be taken as a compliment I suppose, but is a bit off-putting for most groups. You should also be aware that I am a big Dr. Who fan.  Given some of the bad guys the Doctor has faced in the past, facing mythos creatures seems very interesting thing.

Still here?  Groovy.  So the concept I presented to my friend was ...

Dr.  Jamal King (Phd. Bio-chemistry)
Age: 29
Ethnicity: African American
Gender: Male

Background:

Born in the United States, Dr. King completed his Phd in England in 2045.  He became a companion to the Doctor (female) and traversed time and space seeing a variety of wonders. Something of a history buff, his travels with the Doctor into the past were a genuine treat for Dr. King.  He did come into conflict with the Doctor over the subject of making changes to the time lines, and fled from the Doctor during a visit in 1920 to Lodi, California. The Doctor confronted Dr. King and after a great argument, she left the intractable time traveler behind.

Dr. King was aware of the racial inequality of the period but was, nonetheless, shocked by the rampant racism he encountered. Desperate to change the course of history, Dr. King advocates for renewable energy sources while working in a laboratory for DeWhitt Chemical Engineering.  He has been saving money for a trip to Austria where he intends to assassinate Adolf Hitler in a bid to stop the second world war from occurring. 

Dr. King misses a number of conveniences from the 21st century, but is willing to sacrifice the internet, Netflix, and computer assisted research if it means he can help brunt the damages of fascism and help avert the environmental destruction of the fossil fuel age.  He plans to popularize the electric automobile, and is working to develop an environmental movement. 

Introduction to the Mythos:

While working at DeWhitt, he was called upon to analyze a curious organic compound.  The substance has defied his best efforts, so he is working from a premise that it is formulated from transuranic elements.  He is working on development of a crude spectrograph to test that theory. 

The substance is spoor from an extraterrestrial being that exists in a state between three and four dimensions.  As such the spoor fluctuates and is defying quantification. Dr. King's analysis to date has yielded some curious results of interest to his supervisors at DeWhitt.  Dr. King's boss routinely claims his work as his own to enhance his own reputation.  Unknown to Dr. King, or anyone else at DeWhitt, Dr. King's boss is a mythos cultist determined to bring the age of the old ones to Earth.

_____________________________________

I thought it was an interesting idea that wouldn't need adaptation of the game mechanic.  Cthulhu mythology already includes instances of different types of time travel, and having an investigator from out of time who claims to be a time traveler (crazy right?) would be fun. 

Alas, my friend's game master didn't like the idea of crossing genres. 

I know this entry isn't much like my others, but I thought I would share a bit of my game life with you all.

Thanks for joining me on my blog as I explore writing, game design and self-publishing (and get some personal insights into my more mad moments). 

I hope you enjoy and find usefulness from this blog.  I hope to see you next time!