Tuesday, January 9, 2018

How to find artists, and biographies of artists I've found to be reliable.

I've been writing, and working to publish material for a little under one year (as of this writing).

I have had to research many things.  I've had to learn about promotion, software, social media, and marketing (I admit, I still have much to learn). 

One thing I haven't had trouble with is finding talented, professional artists. Let me be clear on that and state that I have had a wonderful experience with those artists who have agreed to work with me.  You can read previous entries on this blog to see more about my views on how to treat artists.

I don't get a lot of comments on my blog.  I get a good deal of messages about my blog though.  I get them through my social media channels and by email.  I suppose people don't feel comfortable asking "Hey, can you tell me where you found an artist that can XYZ?"  But it's really no big deal to find talented people with a good work ethic and to retain them.  It really comes down to two points:  be a decent human being (as a client) to your freelancers and pay them fairly. 

So, how do you find talented professionals?

Once you find art that speaks to you for your needs, identify the artist.  I would recommend checking to make certain that work is in fact, originally done by that artist and not an instance of someone violating copyright.  Find the artist, identify that person's contact points (online galleries usually have a contact point built onto them) and reach out to them for their rates. 

Once that artist replies, review those rates and make certain that the artist is within your budget.  If not, then tell that artist that you will keep their information handy, but that you can't afford them just yet but you would like to work with them in the future when finances allow.  Don't lie, don't try to gloss over things, just be honest.   If you can afford the artist, then hire them and you're off to the races.  It's really pretty simple.

But what if you can't find an artist, or you're concerned about their capabilities or reliability?  Well, you can always ask around to other writers and publishers.  It has been my experience that such communication is an excellent way to find remarkable talent.  Be professional in all such communications.  Don't try to casually poach someone's talent.  Just be upfront and honest in your inquiry.  Not all writers and publishers will agree to share such information, but most of the folks I speak to have no problem in helping their freelance artists find more work.

It is important to note, that it is in your best interests if the artists you work with have steady work.  After all, you want "your" artists to be able to focus on being artists.  Its a bit more difficult to get your commissions done when an artist has to juggle their art production around a day job.  If you can, help promote them. If you can, help people find them for commissions. Eventually "your" artists can focus on doing art as their main career.  This directly benefits you and if you don't understand how, message me and we'll discuss it.  (Seriously, no shame in that, message me and we'll go over it).

Another option:  Look into artists who are studying at accredited art institutes/colleges

Most of the artists I have utilized to date have studied and graduated from the Kubert School.  I can find no fault with these individuals.  That is not to say they are perfect human beings, but they are damn fine artists, and serious professionals, one and all (again, in my experience). 

Look into local art schools, check out their resources for student employment opportunities and for alumni listings. The Kubert School is also very active on social media, so you can find out information about that institution very readily. Use these resources for what they are intended for:  to enhance the employment opportunity of these students and graduates.  This makes for a vast pool of potential candidates for you to pull art from.  As above, be professional, be honest, and pay fairly.  If you don't, people won't want to work for you.  You have been advised.

Some of you will want more immediate access to talent.  To that end, I am once again going to point out that I maintain a list of biography pages for those artists whom I work with. I'll post that data below but I have this to say: These are professionals, they do NOT work for "exposure", they are reliable, and worth their rates.  Please do not waste their time with low ball offers and b.s. .

Thank you.

Links in the names will take you to the artist biography page I've built.  Links on those pages will take you to their individual online resources.  I have added comments for those artists who have already produced art for me.  A couple of artists on this list are in the middle of commission work for me and have proven their capability enough for me to be comfortable with publishing their biography pages.

 Lotus Blair 

 Nick Caponi

Kelsy Cowan

Rebecca Elisbet Coulthart

Fraggle (She's special)

Brian Lee (The Full Bleed Artist)

James Lee

Christian Martinez

Jake Ochoa

Phoenix O'Faery

Anthony Ojeda

Alexia Veldhuisen (samurai genius)

Zac Viola

Samantha Vogelsang

So that is my list.  If you need quality art, these are amazing professionals. 

I hope you will take from this entry what is intended.  Treat your artists well and it will benefit you in the long run.

Thanks again for joining me on my adventure into writing and self-publishing.

I hope to see you next time.

As always, your comments and questions are welcome (really, I mean that).

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Tarot Adventures, Book Two: Comet over Echo Rock Crowdfunding video

I'm launching the crowdfunding campaign on January 13th.

Tarot Adventures, Book Two: Comet over Echo Rock is a dark, gritty adventure for characters of 2nd through 4th level.

Contains all original art and builds on the story from The Draw of Glenfallow (but its not necessary to have played through that module in order to enjoy Comet over Echo Rock).

I will be providing links to the campaign on launch day.  I'll also be doing a live stream at 8pm EST via KickStarter live, where myself and several artists will be taking questions, talking about the Tarot Adventures, and having a fun time with the community.  So check that out and join in.  It will be fun.

Interested in the Tarot Adventures, but want a reminder?  Follow me on KickStarter (W.S. Quinton) or follow me here, on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.  I'll be posting about this through the week.

Thanks for joining me on this grand adventure into writing and publishing.
I hope you'll join me next time as well.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Respect your audience

Today I had a first time experience.

I received an e-mail from one of my KickStarter backers asking me to remove him from the email list I had built.  I did so immediately.

Now, some of you may wonder what is so weird about that.  Well, I built my list from asking questions in backer surveys, and asking people if I could add them to my email list for future notifications (my language was more precises in its word choice, but stick with me).

So I received the email back, as a reply to a seasonal greeting that I had attached information on coming projects to.  Personally, I have often received email from places I once wanted to be kept in touch with (web comics, podcasts, etc.)  Then after a while I would stop looking forward to such communication, and I would remove myself from their site or request that I be removed.  Usually it took a while to get off those lists.

I realized tonight, that it shouldn't have taken any time at all for me to be removed from those sites.  I also realized that I had acted in good faith with this backer.  I felt good about that.

While I hope that person will continue to support my efforts, he or she will not be receiving emails from me.  I respect that person's wishes.

The point I'm trying to make is this:

Often people are told that the key to directly marketing your products and talents, is to be able to reach to people directly.  Email lists are a valuable commodity then, as they represent people who have interacted with you before (hopefully have a positive experience).

The problem with that viewpoint is that it casts those people you are communicating with in the role of a commodity.  They are valuable to your bottom line.  That is a point I have to take a stand against. While whatever money you are making is probably important, the peace of mind of your audience is more so.  Always respect your audience. Even, and perhaps specifically, when a member of that audience doesn't want to be there anymore.

Don't try to hold on to people like they are treasure. Instead, treasure the people you hold onto, and be gracious to those who leave.

Now this isn't like a bad break up story.  No drama or anything like that.

In my emails to people, I include a message that basically says "hey, I put this list together from people who authorized me to do so. If I've made a mistake or you want me to take you off the list, just email to me and say so".  Its easy on all parties.

Now my audience isn't large, so yes I'll miss that one person.  But I'm glad that I stuck to my business ethic.  I'm proud of myself for doing the right thing.

I hope that in your dealings, you'll do the same.

Thank you for joining me once again on this fantastic journey into self-publishing.

I hope you'll join me next time as well.

Frankenstien Faktoria, by Angus Abranson

Good morning everyone!

If you haven't seen it yet, Angus has launched a project of his own on KickStarter!

Many of you know of Angus from his fantastic articles on En-World and his contributions on various social media channels about crowdfunded rpg projects.

The project looks really cool, with great art examples attached and all the details you want to know about a new rpg project. 

Lets all take a moment out of each of these next few days, and give this project some love and attention by sharing the link out to other, supporting this project, and showing our appreciation for a member of the community who has helped so many of us in our efforts to get our own projects off the ground.

Thank you Angus, for all you do!!!

Link to the campaign is below.  I hope you will all take a moment to use it and help get the word out.

Thanks everyone

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Promoting your crowdfunding campaigns on your own

Today I want to go over a few things about promoting your crowdfunding campaigns.

From what I've researched and what I've experienced to date, I have some points I would like to go over that I think can really help you with your crowdfunding efforts.  For reference, I'm going to be referring to KickStarter (where I've ran three campaigns to date, with two funding successfully). To my thinking, these points are perfectly valid for other platforms.

What everyone seems to agree upon:

When you research crowdfunding and "how to" points on the subject, you'll encounter a lot of suggestions on the following points.  These are things I've found to be valid processes in expanding upon your audience, and garnering more support.

1)  Begin your promotions weeks ahead of time.  This really cannot be understated. You want to build up awareness and create an anticipation of your new project.   We'll go more into the "how to" later in this article.   To put the importance of this into perspective, I'll remind you that my first Kickstarter campaign (for Tale of the Wizard's Eye), was only lightly promoted.  People saw it on this blog, on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, for a few days prior to launch.  With a funding goal of $600 it took TotWE three weeks to reach its funding goal.  When I launched my second KickStarter campaign (for Tarot Adventures, Book One: The Draw of Glenfallow) I was promoting it for weeks in advance.  TDoG reached its funding goal in three (3) days.  

2)  Get other people involved in your promotion efforts.  For this article I'm going to focus on free or low cost promotional efforts, so I'll forgo any use of marketing services.  What I am advising is that you use every resource you have to spread the word.  For social media, I recommend that you prepare a list of those collaborators, friends and family who have agreed to help you out.  Provide these wonderful people with the links to the campaign and any other relevant content (pod casts about the project, online articles/blogs about the project, etc).  Make certain they each understand you want them to post about it often (work it out with them as to frequency), and be grateful for their help.  Seriously, they are doing an amazing favor for you.

3) Prepare your lead in promotions thoughtfully.  Utilize images of your product/project, incorporate information about it, bring in testimonials of people who have used your product, and make it sincere.  Sincerity is important.  Be genuine and honest. There is no need to, nor should you, exaggerate your project.  Use clear, best quality images, for each promotion blurb.  You should also check each link to make certain it functions correctly and routes to the correct page.  Watch through all of your video, check spelling, and have another person double check your work. In other words, be thorough folks.

4)  Low cost advertising on social media.  I have an admittedly limited experience with this.  I have utilized targeted Facebook advertising and post boosts.  I recommend that anyone who is to utilize social media advertising, do their research (extensively) and plan out within their budget.  This avenue is strongly recommended in the literature you will encounter.  Other people swear by it, but at this time I cannot.  I've had some limited success spending as much as $30 to boost posts on Facebook.  I say limited because I had only a handful of backers as a result of such a post.  You may do better than I with a more carefully executed effort.  

5) Prepare a press release and send it out to bloggers, pod casters, newspapers, magazines and associations with an interest in the subject of your project.  So for comic books, send out a press release to the admins for Facebook groups for comic book fans, to Twitter personalities who show interest in your genre, post examples of your product on Instagram (place the link to your campaign on the posts and in your biography), send the press release to bloggers, pod casters, news entities, comic book shops.  With comic shops, ask these guys if you can put a poster/flyer in their place and they'll often agree... but ask nicely, they're doing you a favor if they agree... and do something nice for them, like bringing them a signed copy or setting up a book signing event.  You can do a lot of mutually beneficial promotion that way with all parties and your comic book fan base all reaping the benefit from a bit of cooperation.  

6) Public appearances:  This is something that not many resources I've seen go over but something I've had a lot of success with.  Go places, meet people, and tell them about what you are doing.  I'm talking about setting up at events at shops or conventions that support your product type.  So, keeping with comic books as an example, at comic book stores and conventions.  Talk to people about the subject at hand, about the industry or art form, and leave about 20% of the conversation for your own self-promotion.  Personally, I recommend closing with your own promotion.  Give folks the value of your expertise/knowledge in the field, build a rapport, be social, and have fun.  Having fun is important.  You want to have a good time yourself, and if people have fun with your event they are more likely to support your cause.  So don't take yourself too seriously.  Enjoy the company of people with similar interests as yourself.  

How you promote it is up to you:  

I touched on "what" to do above, now lets talk about the "how".

1) I would recommend at least three weeks of lead time before launching your promotions for your crowdfunding campaigns.  Longer running efforts afford you the opportunity to reach more people, but you must be able to hold their attention.  To this end, use your promotional campaign to reach/retain potential backers by implementing a "remind me" feature link to your campaigns.

On your blog entries, on your social media posts, and on your pod cast episodes you place a feature to allow people to sign up for email notification.  Make this a transparent to people.  Let them know you'll email a reminder to them upon launch (of course you'll need to remember to do that, so put it on your calendar).  Build an email list of those people who have consented to receive those notifications, and assemble it well in advance of the release (updating as more emails come in).  In your email, be certain to include a link directly to your crowdfunding campaign.  Be courteous, professional, and genuine.  (NOTE:  make sure you blind copy the  email list when it goes out... I have accidentally only CC'd my list before which was horrifically embarrassing... don't do that).

2)  Your social media promotions should be informative, exciting, accurate, and contain links to things like a YouTube video for your coming campaign. (Example:  https://youtu.be/Gy8xUupb6wQ )
You'll want people to be able to see and hear what all the excitement is about.  Do yourself and your future backers a favor, and keep your promo videos at or under two minutes.  Once your campaign is live and running, add a link to the campaign so people can move directly and easily to support your efforts.

For those people who are helping you out, give them information such as you would include in your press release.  What is the URL for the crowdfunding campaign?  What backer rewards/perks are available? When does the campaign start?  Are you doing a launch part, and if so when/where/how?  Include a graphic, link to your promotional video, and/or link to the campaign (once launched).  Make it easy for people to get to your campaign and support it.

3) Social media advertising:  I would like to recommend that you very carefully analyze the population you can expect to reach.  Make a realistic, or pessimistic estimate as to how likely people are to click through and support your campaign, then compare the amount of net funding you gain after the costs of such advertising.  Will you have a net gain at least equal to the amount you laid out for the advertising (in other words are you going to make twice your money back)?  If so then I would say its worth the effort.  If your numbers tell you that you might or are unlikely to have such a gain, then I would recommend against it.  If you are like me and don't know much about the social media advertising dynamics, consult a professional or someone with experience in using it before you  execute your marketing campaign.


That's the promotional concept, in brief, for you to consider.  As you develop your crowdfunding campaign, please carefully consider all facets of its finance, fulfillment, and promotion.  The idea is to bring your idea to life with the help of the funds from the public.  Be honest in all your dealings, me realistic in what you can achieve, own up to any problems you encounter, and be successful.  

Please remember from my prior blog posts that you are growing an audience.  Your backers aren't your personal money machine, they are the people you are creating for.  Treat them with the respect they deserve.

Thank you for joining me again on this great adventure into self-publishing.  As always, I welcome your comments below.

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Monday, December 18, 2017

Live Stream Event: Talking about coming projects and taking questions and feedback

Art by Brian Lee / Lettering by: James Lee

Friday, Decemberr 22nd, 2017 at 9:00PM EST,  I will be hosting a live stream event on KickStarter live. 

I'll be speaking on coming projects, taking questions and feedback from the audience.

This streaming event will also feature artists who have and/or who will be contributing art to projects from Sinopa Publishing LLC (my publishing company). 

So come out and join us Friday night.  Introduce yourself and ask some questions.  Hear from artists on what its like to work for a new company.  Tell us what you think of the work we've done.

I'll be asking existing KickStarter questions for feedback on the coming campaign for
Tarot Adventures, Book Two: Comet over Echo Rock as that campaign is launching on January 13th.

This will be a fun event and you are cordially invited. 

Link to the Live Stream!

Thanks for joining me on my ongoing adventure into game design, writing, and publishing.

I hope you'll join me next time.