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: )
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.

"We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites".

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.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The next turn of the cards... the Adventure continues in Comet over Echo Rock

Cover art by Brian Lee
Lettering by James Lee

Update (January 14th, 2018):  
The Tarot Adventures, Book Two: Comet over Echo Rock funded in just under 4 hours last night!
I want to thank all the backers who came out right at launch, hung out and listened to me babble during the live stream, and generally made it a fantastic night.  
You people were awesome!

 Link to the KickStarter Page:   

The Tarot Adventures began with the Draw of Glenfallow.   Pieron changed his destiny and the fate of the world itself is being rewritten.

Now the next turn of the cards is on the table.  The Comet is drawn and appears over the Echo Rock silver mine.

The Echo Rock Silver Mine by Christian Martinez
Pieron's rule in Glenfallow has begun.  The squalor and devastation of the goblin occupation is being swept away as settlers arrive to build farms, homes, and new lives.  The Temple of the Sun is being rebuilt thanks to the efforts of a young priestess and an elder monk.

In the northern mountains dark forces continue their depravity.

Dwarves have arrived to re-open the lost Echo Rock silver mine.  They are met with monstrous violence.  Now they bury their dead in the shadows of the northern mountains, and look to Pieron for aid.

Hobgoblins and a Goblin Sorcerer: by Jake Ochoa

In the dark caverns of the mine dwell viscous monsters thirsty for fresh blood.

Rats of Unusual Size by: Alexia Veldhuisen

Echo Rock is rife with peril.  It will take courage, iron will, strength of arms, and perhaps a bit of magic to overcome the dangers lurking in the mine.

A giant Snake by:  Kelsy Cowan

The challenge lies before you.

Can you triumph where all others have failed?  Can you brave the monsters of the mountains, rid Echo Rock of its terrifying occupants, and take revenge for murdered dwarves?

Dwarves burying their dead by: Kelsy Cowan

There is glory to be seized, political clout to be had, and treasures to be won.  You must be brave enough to face the perils of the mountains, skilled enough to do battle with the monsters of the mine, and lucky enough to survive.

Raise Pieron's banner, restore the mine to the dwarves, and the comet will fly over Echo Rock.

Cover by: Brian Lee

Tarot Adventures, Book Two:  Comet over Echo Rock

The second book in the Tarot Adventures series will see its KickStarter launch in January (date coming soon).  I will be conducting a live streaming of the KickStarter launch party where I'll be taking questions about the Tarot Adventures series, hearing from folks who supported Tarot Adventures, Book One: The Draw of Glenfallow, and generally having a good time as we launch this campaign.

Check out The Draw of Glenfallow KickStarter campaign for post release updates and comments from backers who have or are playing through that book to see what they are saying about the book that launched the series.

A real Ogre by: Alexia Veldhuisen

The Tarot Adventures are planned to include 22 unique adventure modules, published through the coming years, with each adventure themed after a card of the major arcana of the classic Tarot deck.
These adventures are setting neutral, allowing them to be placed into any fantasy campaign.  Come with us as we explore the story that starts with one common man who took a chance to change his destiny.

Tarot Adventures, Book Two:  Comet over Echo Rock with be funded through crowdfunding efforts on KickStarter and Indiegogo. These two campaigns are to be launched together, to expand the audience for this book.  A portion of all contributions are paid to contributing artists.

ALL artists working on this project are freelancers and you can find their information and more samples of their works on the artists biography pages linked to this blog.  Sinopa Publishing LLC pays all artists for their contributions based upon the contracts negotiated for such work.  We do NOT pay in "experience" or "exposure" as "experience" won't pay for groceries and people die from "exposure". 

We are funding this project though the following:





Art for Tarot Adventures, Book Two: Comet over Echo Rock, was contributed by the following artists:  (click on the links below to see their biography pages)

Nick Caponi
Kelsy Cowan
Brian Lee
James Lee
Christian Martinez
Jacob Ochoa
Alexia Veldhuisen

If you want your work to be seen in titles by Sinopa Publishing LLC then send a message to our Facebook page or by email to: .  Please include an online reference to your work and your commission rates.  Samples will NOT be used other than as a benchmark measure for your capabilities. Attention to details provided, timely meeting of deadlines, and high quality work are expected. Sinopa Publishing LLC does NOT release images without contract to do so. Only submit your own work.

Bloggers and Podcasters:

Do you want to do a piece on the Tarot Series, build community, cross promote, and get an early start on writing/speaking about this series?  If so, then comment below and reach out to me.  I share crowdfunding projects on my social media (cool ones I believe in) and I appreciate those who do the same.  I also do interviews on pod casts (I actually really enjoy doing that), so hit me up and we can talk for a segment.  I'll share the link to my social media and we'll work to build your audience and mine at the same time.


Email list sellers, "marketing" services, and other scammers .... you folks need not bother.  I don't buy email lists, I don't hire "marketing" firms, and if you use words like "guaranteed" or other such nonsense in your pitch, I don't want to hear from you.  Sinopa Publishing is building its audience by word of mouth and by the rarely done social media advertising post.  I appear on podcasts and provide information for bloggers to use on their sites.  I believe in building community, and fleecing people out of money is not part of that plan.  Our community is what helps us grow.  I also promote other KickStarter, Indiegogo, and GoFundMe campaigns to support people I've built those relationships with.  And, NO, I will not recommend you to them either.  We DO NOT engage in unsolicited email campaigns, the sale or purchase of email addresses, or marketing gimmicks.  Do NOT offer me money for my audience's email addresses. I will NOT sell them to you.  You are now duly advised.  Any communication contrary to the letter or spirit of this notice will result in litigation.


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

To all of you who have stuck with me this year:  Happy Thanksgiving!

If you are writing and exploring self-publishing, I hope that this blog has been of some use to you.  I've made mistakes, I've made progress, and I've had set backs.  It is my hope that chronicling those here helps you to avoid my mistakes and gives you a leg up on publishing your own work.

As the holidays have approached I've fallen a bit behind on my posting here.  I apologize for that.

So for Thanksgiving holiday people have a wide range of traditions they practice as friends and family gather for the holiday meals. 

What are some of your favorite customs for this holiday?   Please comment and share below.  If you have a favorite receipe you wish to share with everyone, feel free to do so.

I wish a wonderful holiday season for you all.


I have a lot going on with the books I'm developing and projects getting ready to launch.  I hope you'll stick with me through the coming months.  I know its going to be exciting!

What is going on, you ask?

Well, Comet over Echo Rock is going to get it's KickStarter in a few weeks.  Art is currently running late and play testing hasn't begun second phase yet (my fault on that).  I'll be typing up the next play test version next week and will get that to play testers soon thereafter.  My goal is to have that book fully formatted, or very nearly so, by the time I launch the KickStarter campaign.  This will help with getting the fulfillment done quickly and smoothly.

Several other titles are in the works.  2018 will be a very busy year filled with new books and grand adventure.

One project that will be ongoing, is the continued effort to fund and develop my samurai comic book, 47 Furious Tails.  That title will see crowdfunding efforts to pay for art costs and print run.
This project is particularly important for me as an entry into comic books, and a validation of my capability to produce a high quality comic.  Wish me luck, share the links to the crowdfunding pages (please!), and enjoy this title.  Its going to be beautiful.

You can donate to 47 Furious Tails, Issue One:   HERE

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

For the season: A free horror template for your rpg session

With Halloween fast approaching and folks gearing up for their horror themed rpg game nights,
I present to you this short template (generic) for a modern setting horror session.


Setting:  suburban area, anywhere USA

RPG:  Any with a modern context or close approximation,  western, steampunk, etc.

What is going on:

Antagonist is preying upon people in suburbia.  This can be a demented lunatic, serial killer, alien being, or supernatural monster depending upon your campaign dynamics. 

Small, subtle clues gradually reveal the horror lying unseen to the rest of the world.

Beneath an abandoned house (this works well for the modern era of foreclosed and abandoned houses) the antagonist has been dwelling in secret.  Here the "bad guy" drags his/her/it's victims where is torments/kills/eats them. 

How the player characters get involved:

In a modern setting, the group may see something on social media where a scream was heard in the area. 

In a super hero campaign, someone may have noticed something and now be living in dread of the place (somewhere near their home in this case) and called/emailed/texted the heroes.

In a western or steampunk campaign, small children dare a small boy to go into the spooky house.  The boy is missing the next day and his parents accuse strangers or are pleading with anyone they can find to help them find their child

Any of these hooks are easily integrated in other rpg types as well.

How the story advances and the horror grows:

After learning of something peculiar going on:
1) if group takes no action to investigate... fine, no big deal, move on to next day
2) if group investigates then clues should be scant (I was on Baker court and heard a scream from over there.....), or (my dog ran off and I heard him barking.. then he yelped and cried for a moment... now I can't find him)... things like this... little bits of oddity that could mean nothing, and may seem like nothing

3)  Another incident occurs:  maybe the children who dared the small boy break into the abandoned house (and are missed by their parents the next day),  maybe wacky Mr. Peabody swears he overhears alien transmissions on his shortwave radio, maybe Dr. Waller's car is found running in front of his home (door open, keys in ignition, he is just gone) and the police are investigating it as a kidnapping.  You get the idea:  something a little more significant that may on the surface seem completely unrelated.

4) Lead to the location of the house:  Looking around in the area the player characters may notice that buzzard's perch on the house, or that a handful of dead birds lay in the yellowed grass, or that the neighborhood children always stick to the opposite side of the street when passing in front of the house... things like this.  Again, little oddities that make the place seem somehow alien or unusual.

5) Investigating the scene:  Leave a clue

Here the key is something that implies something frightening and conveys something of urgency.
So finding a child's Halloween bag of candy laying in the grass, a shoe with wet blood on it, or a flickering flashlight laying on the step or behind the bushes.  These clues hint at humanity but also illustrate an absence of life.  Give these descriptions the weight they deserve but keep your descriptions simple and to the point. (candy has spilled from the bag into the grass, the small white shoe is marred with a splatter of blood, the flashlight lies flickering behind the hedge then dims and dies)

6) Into the house:  Make it different
A house without people is an odd empty place.  Mar the walls with tears or painted gang signs, filth and debris from squatters, or otherwise make the place weird (to your players).  Old furniture from decades past works too.  The key is the place should be alien to your group. 

7)  Searching:
Small clues are best here.  Small bloody footprints in worn carpet, a torn toupee, a dead cell phone, these things your group can find and indicate an associating with people... just absent the people.

8)  Hazard:
Here something happens that should alert the antagonist.  A floor board creaks or old dishes fall from a cabinet the player character's search. Following that moment, everything should be still and quiet.  Stress that tension.  Its like the house holds it's breath, or some ancient evil perks up it's ears to listen.  All is quiet, not a single sound to be heard.

9)  ICK:
Here you place something that should produce a bit of alarm.  A wallet that is wet and sticky with drying blood is a good item for a missing doctor.  A small pocket knife is a good item for a small boy or girl who came to explore the house on a dare (with a supernatural monster or alien antagonist, a sign of that being on the blade is a good idea.. i.e. covered in an oily blue substance that clings to the blade).  This should be some THING that fits into the image of one of the missing people.  For a missing pet, a collar with the pet's name on it fits the bill nicely.

10)  Things start to go wrong:
This is where the evil that lives below the house reaches out somehow and does harm upon your player characters.  This should NOT be direct combat unless the group splits up into lone actors (if they do that then they get what they deserve).  Perhaps someone staying outside waiting for the police to arrive to help is attacked/incapacitated/killed.  The key here is that whatever happens, there should be very little sign of hit occurring. Act swiftly and without mercy as that is what your horror villain is going to do.  As for signs of this occurring, leaving a favorite weapon, a cellphone, or the hat the PC was wearing is a great way to hint at this.  Any encounter should be resolved separately and apart from the rest of the group.  Don't give the rest of your players any indication of the depth of opposition they are encountering.

11)  Cut them off:
Cell phones make this difficult but not impossible.  Make reception in the area bad anyway, and as the group investigates the house make signal unavailable.  This will really peeve characters who are trying to live stream their "adventure". 

As for other avenues, cue up the rain.  Bring in a storm if need be, but you want something that cuts off the sound of the outside world and makes it unlikely that anyone will hear the player characters cry for help. 

12) Pick them off:
Repeat of number 10, its time to get rid of someone else.

13)  Evidence! 
Let the player characters see the depth of the horror they are in.  Maybe they find the missing doctor dying with some terrible evidence of what he has been through.  Let him whisper out a frightening warning before he succumbs and dies.  Use your darkest imaginations here.

14) Confrontation:
In any group you should work to pick off at least one third of the characters before any final conflict.  This remaining two thirds of the party should be the benchmark against which you measure the antagonist's abilities.  In this confrontation the survivors face the horror of the house in the form of your antagonist.  Survivors may be scarred for life.

15) Survivor moment: 
For any survivor of something terrifying the "normal" world can seem a strange place.  Set up your survivor moment so that safety is seemingly at hand, but the world itself now seems more strange and frightening.  Halloween is a good theme for this as you can innocently or not-so-innocently narrate a zombie carrying a crying child into a house (is it a "real" zombie or is it just a parent... you decide)

Recommended antagonists by genre: 

Super hero campaigns -- demented super villain (Kevin the super-cannibal), alien invader (Lovecraft, the Colour out of Space can be adapted here), serial killer, or supernatural entity (don't say ****walker).

Modern/mundane campaigns -- alien invader, serial killer/lunatic, or supernatural entity

western/ steampunk -- Lunatic (brilliant steampunk scientist like Frankenstein) or supernatural entity

Remember, have fun with your horror but know your players.  While having spiders described may be tolerable for your friend who is terrified of spiders, depicting abused people may be intolerable to your friend who survived an abusive relationship.  Keep this in mind.  Role-playing is for fun, horror is cathartic, so keep your subject matter descriptions in those frightening areas that aren't personal.

Thank you for once again joining me on my journey into writing and publishing.

Remember that my first comic book, 47 Furious Tails is live on KickStarter so please do check that out and support the project.

Until next time, have a great game!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

An open discourse on writing role-playing adventures for publications (a few words)

Cover Art by: Brian Lee
Cover for: Tarot Adventures, Book Two: Comet over Echo Rock

Creating adventures for publication has been a real pleasure for me so far.  I enjoy the writing, I look forward to seeing the art I have commissioned, and even enjoy reviewing notes from the play test groups.

When writing an adventure for publication, it is important to remember that you are creating a script of sorts.  Unlike the script for a movie or play, the adventure's conclusion is uncertain.  One group may have an easy time with the encounters laid before them while another group may struggle, suffer, and die.  As the author you need to construct the adventure to be adaptable while keeping it interesting.  Remember that the quality of the story is always more important than the rules of the game.

You will want to incorporate a wide array of challenges in your adventure.  I would recommend that you do NOT make any one test, challenge, or skill a requirement to complete the adventure.  Example: If the enchanted door only opens when someone solves a riddle written in an ancient elven dialect, then if no one can read the riddle the adventure ceases to progress (imagine if Gandolf hadn't been there!?!?!).  Don't do that.  Make certain the players have a way to win while making things challenging.  Problem solving is fun.  Overcoming adversity, defeating terrible foes, rescuing those in distress, and becoming a hero are some of the most fun parts of role-playing.  Balance your challenge and rewards.

Cover Art by:  Rebecca Elisbet Coulthart
Cover for: Tarot Adventures, Book One: The Draw of Glenfallow

Art for your adventure should, ideally, be created for the scene it is enhancing.  While this can be done with stock art, an illustration for the scene you are depicting may not exist.  It is important to make connections and establish a working relationship with a pool of artists you can commission as may be needed.

Regarding art:  I enjoy a wide range of art styles in my books.  I cannot in good conscious recommend that you do the same.  Most publishers adopt a style for their product lines for good reasons (your audience recognizes books you release more easily).  I may one day adopt the same policy myself.

For information about professionalism with regard to how you treat your artists, the value of art, and some ideas on how to retain their services; see my previous blog entry HERE

When integrating art into your adventure you should ask yourself, "am I going to have this book illustrated in black and white or do I want full color"?   You need to decide as it will directly impact your budge.  Do you have the budget for color?  How many books will have have to sell to earn a profit either way?  Ask yourself these questions and answer honestly.  Make smart business decisions here, as losing money because you spent too much on art is a bad position to be in.

Cover art by: Phoenix O'Faery
Variant cover for coming release on Amazon
Cover Art for:  Tale of the Wizard's Eye

Full disclosure here:  I've had one release so far with my second adventure releasing in a couple of days.  I haven't lost any money but I have only made very little to date (I need to work on my marketing).

My business model is predicated on spending little to none of my own money in development.  I've used KickStarter campaigns to fund my first two adventure modules and will be doing so again for my third.    I would like to recommend that you do the same.  There are a number of things to mention about KickStarter, how to do it, how to promote it, etc.  I'll address crowdfunding in greater detail another time.  The point you need to understand is that you don't need to take out a loan, or sell your comic book collection to fund your adventure module.  You can fund your adventure, and produce a high quality book through crowdfunding.  The one thing I will say today, is that I recommend that all revenue you earn from your crowdfunding go into creating the best book you can make, and releasing it on the platforms you want it seen on.

Paying the bills:
Pay your bills on time.  Pay your artists, your llc tax, your amazon store costs, etc.  It will look very bad for you, and shake your audience's confidence in you, if you have a web store shut down because you forgot to pay the bill.  Remember this.  Put the due dates on your desktop calendar and a reminder on your mobile device. 

Talk to an accountant, find out what you can deduct and what records you must keep.  Then keep every receipt you can use.  You will accrue expense such as postage/shipping, costs for proof copies, promotional costs, etc.  You will want to account for each expense so you know just how much money you have going out and how profitable (hopefully) your business is.  You'll need this information for your taxes (in the U.S. anyway).

I'll be writing on producing source material in a comping post.  Until then I want to thank you for coming with me on this journey.  I do hope you'll join me next time.

Thursday, October 19, 2017


I used a lot of online image searches to find references for 47 Furious Tails

Images from the Edo period and beyond were particularly important to provide for Alexia's use in illustrating the comic book.

Thankfully those images were readily available.

There were also a number of old photographs from the 19th century that were just amazing to see as well as being great for determining the look of certain armor's and clothing.

This was just part of the "homework" that went into creating 47 Furious Tails. 

With images such as the ones above (as well as several others I found and sent to her) Alexia was able to invoke elegance and beauty in the art for the comic.  Creating the poster (top below) and the cover (bottom below) as gorgeous works of art.

There is plenty more to come in 47 Furious Tails.  But to get there we need your support.
By pledging your support on KickStarter  HERE and by sharing the link on your social media, you can help us reach our funding goal to bring this comic to print.

Check it out, and see the more work by Alexia Veldhuisen (we included examples of other work she has done independently as well as work she has done Sinopa Publishing LLC).

Thank you for coming on this adventure with me.

I hope to see you next time.

Monday, October 9, 2017

My new comic book!

reference image used for art development
The story of the Ako Incident is one of historic and cultural significance.

The historical record tells us that Asano Naganori committed seppeku after failing to kill Kira, who had insulted him terribly.  Literary accounts of the incident claim Kira was abusively rude to Asano with alarming regularity.  Those same accounts indicate that Kira was corrupt and that Asano had not been willing to bribe him.

reference image used for art development

47 Furious Tails is my re-telling of the Ako Incident.   Using anthropomorphic animal characters, this comic series begins before Asano Naganori's fateful final trip to Edo.   This comic book explores the lives of these historic figures before the events occur that transforms them into legends.

reference image used for literary research

In this telling we've used the phenomenal art of Alexia Veldhuisen, to create a beautiful comic book to immerse you in the tale.  You will see modern illustrations of ancient scenes, thrill at furious samurai action, and bask in the subtle beauty of the era.

Cover by Alexia Veldhuisen
Experience the events that inspired samurai for hundreds of years. 

Support 47 Furious Tails on KickStarter and help us bring this comic to the world.

Thank you for joining me on my adventure today.
I hope you'll join me next time.

Monday, September 25, 2017

47 Furious Tails, My new samurai comic book

Cover and promotional poster by: Alexia Veldhuisen

You can learn more about Alexia:  HERE

Thank you for coming with me on this journey. I'm going to provide a glimpse behind the curtain (so to speak) of the story for issue one.  No real spoilers or screen shots yet.  Just a bit of the tale as it begins to unfold.

Early 18th century Japan:

In the summer months as preparations were being made for his journey to Edo, Asano met with trusted retainers. His instructions and expectations made clear, he began his selection of those samurai who would accompany him.

Within Asano's holdings of Ako, his samurai oversaw the protection of the domain.  A daring group of bandits attack along the border of Ako trusting speed and the outlying area to protect them.  They instead encounter the elder samurai Yahei and the young samurai Chikara.  

Outnumbered and bound to service, the two samurai act with the certitude of their convictions.

From the Hagakure:

In the words of the ancients,
one should make his decision within the space of seven breaths
It is a matter of being determined and having the spirit
to break through to the other side

Moving swiftly, these two samurai kick off the action in this first issue
In this way we are beginning the saga of the Ako Incident with the everyday lives of those samurai before their greatest story begins.  You'll be privy to a glimpse into what their lives may have been like.  Learn of their lives and the depth of their commitment.  Page through the comic as we bring stories of the samurai back to the world.
Please do support the KickStarter and share the link and spread word.  Help us to bring the story of these brave samurai back to the word in a fresh telling.  Backer rewards include digital and print copies as well as original art available for for certain backer levels.

Thank you for joining me on this adventure.
I hope to see you next time.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Creating a new comic book series: The business end of things

Promotional version of the Cover by Alexia Veldhuisen

Today's entry concerns the creation of a new comic book series.  Things I've learned so far and things you may wish to consider as you create your own comic book series.

Be advised, this is based on my experience to date with the creation process behind 47 Furious Tails, which is still in progress.  It is likely that I will update this data in the future to reflect more information I've gleamed from this process.  Feel free to offer your own observations.

This process will not address the writing or art involved, this is about the business end of things.

Thus do we begin:

1)  Do the Math!
The mathematics of the business are fairly direct.  You have your operation costs such as paying your artist (if, like me, you don't do the art yourself), editing and layout costs may apply, legal costs (contracts, copyright, trademark registration, ISBN costs, etc), printing (unless you are all digital), shipping costs, and promotional costs.    All of these costs need to be met and (hopefully) exceeded in order for your business to be at all successful.

Do your math in advance.  Get quotes on your printing, shop around, and be mindful of the differences between off set and digital printing types.  Price check your shipping supplies as shipping costs pile up very quickly.  Check the shipping costs by weight, size, destinations, and those other factors that affect that calculation.  ISBN costs get cheaper per number when you buy them in blocks.  For a comic line you are starting I would recommend getting a block of 10 to start, which will cost you as much as $300, but will give you the ISBN you need for 10 issues/covers.

2) Crowdfunding
Crowdfunding your title is an exciting endeavor.  My first crowdfunding effort was for a role-playing game adventure module.  Getting a comic book funded is an entirely different thing altogether.  Why?  The math is different.

With comic books you have the same two basic formats as other books:  print and digital.  Unlike other books, your margins on comic books are very VERY small.  This requires a larger number of backers, and some higher end rewards would help as well.  This is where comic artists who do their own writing have a distinct advantage.  They can do the art themselves, have a lower goal for their crowdfunding campaign, and more easily find their funding.  If you are not doing the art yourself, then you can expect to pay substantially for a 28 page interior plus cover and interior covers.   So you MUST set your crowdfunding goal high enough to cover those art and other costs you are not wanting to pay out of pocket.  

The difference here is one of scale.  You have to produce more comics to have a lower cost per copy and so must receive enough backing to fund such printing and associated fulfillment costs.   As a good example thing of things like this:  your shipping costs for a single comic book are usually going to be higher your profit margin.  Using KickStarter as my model (its the only crowdfunding platform I've used so far) this means building backer rewards at levels that either include shipping in the calculation or building in a shipping amount by country into each award.  

3)  Release timing
If you are crowdfunding your comic book it is going to slow down your releases.  You will find that your crowdfunding fulfillment can take a substantial amount of time (particularly if you have a large number of backers).  Account for that in your calculations for fulfillment.  Will you need help filling rewards?  Where will you work?  Are you using a service to execute the fulfillment and if so what is their turn around time?  Each link in this distribution chain slows the overall process of taking your comic book and putting it into a reader's hands.

Fulfillment of backer rewards (again I'm speaking from a KickStarter perspective) is critically important.  You must attend to the timeliness, quality of the packaging, delivery schedule, and wharehousing/storage of your copies.  Don't take this step lightly.  Plan it out in advance and know where things are going and how your operation is going to run.

4) Subscriptions
If you are an indie comic book writer/artist you dream of one day having subscribers. My opinion is that Patreon can work for this after a fashion.  You need to be mindful that those subscribers have placed their faith and money in your hands.  You are responsible for fulfilling your part of the publisher-subscriber relationship and making certain that you publish and get those copies to the subscriber.  Placing subscriber content (digital copies) on your Patreon account is an easy way to facilitate fulfillment of content.  For subscribers who want print copy you'll need to find a balance between the time it takes to fulfill copies and the costs that apply.  If you have only a thousand or so subscribers then fulfilling physical copies personally can take a few days time out of your week.  If you have 10,000 subscribers or more, well that is a good problem to have, but you may want to use a fulfillment service of some form as fulfilling 10k copies would take a lot of time away that you could use creating your next issue.

5)  Promoting
If you've read this blog before you know that I'm exploring several avenues of promotion to help build awareness for my titles.  Blogging, social media campaigns, and advertising some of the ways you can promote your title.  Convention appearances, podcast and radio interviews, television appearances, and speaking engagements are other avenues you may wish to explore to increase the visibility of your title.  Put the effort into promoting your titles and keep at it.  It won't explode overnight (at least mine haven't) but you will see an increase in your traffic.

6) Sustaining your title
If you comic book is a recurring series then you will be constantly working on creating content, making appearances, building contacts with retailers and collectors/fans, talking with people who know far more about the business than you and I do and (Hopefully) listening to their insights.
You will work.  A LOT.

I've been working on my first comic book for only a few months now.  I can tell you I have learned this much already.  I'll be glad to post more as I learn more about the business.

For those of you who have been producing comic books for any length of time, your comments are most welcome.  Please post those comments below and help those who come after you with the benefit of your own experience.

Thank you all for joining me on my continuing adventure into self-publishing and game design.

I hope to see you next time.

You can support my first comic book title, 47 Furious Tails on KickStarter HERE

Saturday, September 16, 2017

47 Furious Tails KickStarter Day two

Great times for the 47 Furious Tails Issue One KickStarter campaign.

Today, the very welcome "Projects We Love" tag appeared!

Thank you KickStarter!

You can check out the KickStarter campaign HERE

The story of the Ako Incident is a great story to be telling in comic book form.  With anthropomorphic animal characters to depict the participants in this historic series of events, it lends itself well to the medium.

Alexia has done some fantastic work for the book so far.  The cover for issue one is the image used for the title card for the KickStarter campaign.  She will be doing the interior art to the same level of quality and in the same style.  The series begins before Asano journeys to Edo.  The first issue introduces several key players in the events to come.  Don't miss the chance to lend your support and make this comic possible.

While the campaign still has a long way to go to reach its $12000 funding goal, this tag is a welcome addition that I hope will draw more backers to this beautiful book.

You can support the campaign by backing through KickStarter and by sharing links to the campaign on social media outlets.  Thank you.

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

I hope you'll join me again next time.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Creating a comic book: The story (so far) of 47 Furious Tails: Art by Alexia Veldhuisen

Cover Art by: Alexia Veldhuisen
Not final cover

You can learn more about Alexia and her art HERE
In this post I will discuss the process that lead to the creation of the comic, the efforts that went into getting the KickStarter campaign together, and the promotional efforts there were undertaken.

1) Creation of Comic Book:
It started with a simple idea.  Develop a comic book retelling of the 47 Ronin story with squirrel themed characters.  The problem was that I am a writer and not a comic book artist.   When I say that I'm being kind.  I draw the most amazing stick figures, if you like weirdly shaped stick figures. So as I was putting ideas for various projects down on paper it occurred to me that I work with remarkable artists every day.  So I put my list of project ideas on a work group page I share with the artists.  People began picking projects they wanted to be a part of.  Zach Viola took up the rpg weapon supplement source book and Alexia Veldhuisen claimed that 47 Furious Tails would be hers.

Development began systemically, at the high level overview point, with the establishment of the timeline.  Time for writing, developing the KickStarter campaign, funding of the KickStarter and payment cycle, art development, printing/shipping, and then backer fulfillment were calculated.  Then, as with all projects, I padded that estimate to account for whatever may go wrong.

Writing began almost immediately.  It started with an outline of the series.  Being that the story is based upon the Ako incident, I knew it was going to be a limited series.  After outlining individual issues I came up with a final issue count of twelve.  I liked the idea of bringing such substance to the retelling that a dozen issues are needed.  While the KickStarter is focused on funding issue number 1, the subsequent issues will see their own KickStarter campaigns (unless funding reaching phenomenal levels that would allow me to forego such).

Following the outline of the series, development of central character biographies was completed. This process was fairly simply except for the background and historical data that was collected and researched.  This is a story with a lot of cultural impact.  It would be disgraceful not to have done the reading, checked the history, and done due diligence.  Literary liberties are taken to fill in the blanks in the chronology, historic and literary accounts.

I was riding a wave of excitement as I went from the character biographies to writing out issue number one.  The very first comic book draft I had ever undertaken.  Surprisingly, it took several hours to write.  More time followed as the book's pacing and panel layout were conceptualized.  A re-write was done to make the comic flow more smoothly.  To make a change to the page layout and to bring certain scenes more space in the book, another series of edits were made.

While writing was being completed, Alexia was drafting concept character art, reviewing research notes, reviewing the outline, character biographies, and story drafts.  Alexia then moved forward with promotional flyer development, began refining the character sketches, and did an initial layout of the cover concept.

Alexia and I approached the development of the book dependent upon the KickStarter funding.  As the art will entail weeks of time dedicated to the illustration, inking, coloring, and lettering of the book; it is necessary to have funding established before Alexia can devote herself to that period of time. See my previous entries regarding how to treat your artists. No one should have to work for free, and I (as a writer, publisher, and human being) think she deserves to be well paid for bringing such beautiful art to this tale. She will be once funding is secured.

I hope you agree.

2) Creating of the KickStarter Campaign
This is my third KickStarter campaign, but the first one I've done for a comic book.  I've been conducting research by looking over other KickStarter campaigns for comic books.  That may seem rather remedial, but it is a critical step in development.  Never assume you know everything, or know the best way to do something.  Always do your research, analyse your findings, and make as objective a determination as you possibly can.  If you want your KickStarter to succeed, you owe it to yourself and to your contributors to discover as much as you can about what has worked and what hasn't.  Even now, with a mere six days to go before I submit my KickStarter campaign for approval, I continue to look at what is on KickStarter and how each campaign is fairing.  Keeping an eye on the community and its response to particular campaigns may seem tedious, but I believe it is a valuable reference when crafting your own campaign.  I recommend that you undertake the same efforts before launching your own campaign.

3)  Promotional efforts for the KickStarter Campaign

first flyer for the project, by Alexia
You may have seen this at conventions
Promoting KickStarter campaigns is a business that is taxing to your time and absolutely essential to your success.  Personally, I don't use promotional services.  I don't use them because I can't afford to, I don't like the idea of those services in general, I have not been able to find any evidence supporting the claim that they are useful, and I like to do things openly and organically.  I don't like to resort to marketing gimmicks and ploys, so I don't.

Promoting this KickStarter has been dependent upon a gradual build up of the social media campaign, as well as networking with friends and relatives, and this blog, to set up for the launch.  Launch party hasn't been implemented, but I'm going to work on that this week.  For future reference, don't do that.  Plan your launch party and get it in place a month or more in advance.

Unlike my first two KickStarter campaigns, I'm having a video prepared for this campaign. KickStarter likes to remind every creator that a good video greatly increases your chances for success.  After reviewing dozens of campaigns and noting what appears to be a correlation (for my fellow math nerds, yes I know that doesn't imply causation) between those campaigns with solid video value and those without, I'm going for the video.

4) After the KickStarter and backer fulfillment:
This is the plan, assuming the project funds fully.  I know, I'm optimistic, it is a huge funding goal.  You have to have a fulfillment plan in place folks.  Don't just say "I'll ship them". Do the math on your costs (postage, envelopes, supplies, time to pack the items, how many trips will you make to the post office, etc).

Pay the artists:
Alexia will be working on the book full time for completion.  She will complete the book within 30 days of the end of the KickStarter campaign itself (so in December).  She will be paid as soon as KickStarter releases the funds from the (hopefully) successful campaign.

Upload files and order print copies:
Digital files will be uploaded, and print copies will be ordered.  The print copies will take two months to be delivered to me (February to early March).

Print copies requiring signing will be signed by myself and Alexia. I will package and prepare for shipping all print copy rewards.  These will begin shipping in March with estimated arrival during late March and early April (for backers outside the United States).

Notice that as I've allowed for a few weeks for fulfillment.  Physical copies will be bagged and boarded then shipped.  I'm making every effort to ship these comics in way to have them arrive safely. They are going out by USPS and should arrive in good condition.  I'll trigger the fulfillment of the digital copies on or before April 2nd.  All physical copies should be either on their way to the backers or in the hands of the backers.  Putting all electronic copies out in pace with physical fulfillment is just polite.

So there you have it.  The summary of the chain of events that are taking me to this new part of the adventure.  As a new medium for publication comic books are an exciting thing for me to be getting involved with.  I hope that as Christmas 2017 rolls around I'll be looking forward to 2018 and the release of this title.

Thank you for joining me on my adventure.  As we continue to explore the world of writing and self-publishing, I hope you enjoy and benefit from my experiences.

I hope to see you for my next release.

Please do share this article with others.  I hope you will check out the KickStarter for 47 Furious Tails on September 14th.  Please do share that information around as well.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Goal Setting: Planning your projects for the following year (art by Alexia Veldhuisen)

The flyer  we've been using at conventions
art by Alexia Veldhuisen

You can learn more about Alexia and her art HERE

It has been a fantastic summer for me and Sinopa Publishing LLC.

Things that have happened:
1) Tale of the Wizard's Eye shipped and met its backer reward delivery estimate

2) Tarot Adventures, Book One: The Draw of Glenfallow has surpassed its funding goal and is ending on September 1st, 2017 (in case your reading this later).

3) Children's books have been written and just waiting on illustrations now.

4) Merchandise store opened to fair traffic and dismal sales so far.  I'm still looking into other items sold in conjunction with books being released.

5) The social media campaign for 47 Furious Tails is warming up.  Several people have volunteered to help share the link to the campaign and to spread the word.  I'm attending a local comic convention on September 9th to hand out the flyer above and continue to drum up support for the campaign.

6) Writing on Tarot Adventures, Book Two: Comet over Echo rock is proceeding.  Encounters have been laid out, most of the art is already done.  Now I'm playing catch up on the writing to get ready for it's KickStarter campaign.  This book will be the last one in the Tarot Adventure series released in 2017, with the next four in the series planned for release in 2018.

7) Set goals.  I've set revenue goals for 2018.  Really high, terribly unlikely, possibly delusional goals but goals nonetheless.  Why?  Because goals are important.  They help you keep your eye on what you are working toward and off the television or phone.  Set goals folks, then work to meet them.

So Tale of the Wizard's Eye shipped after a lot of scrutiny from me and the other folks I had proofreading... I've learned a lot from that project, and I'm working to do much better with each release.

Other things that happened:
1) Vampire the Masquerade, the world of darkness got its own version of the DM Guild.  If you were a gamer in the 90s you've heard of Vampire.  Now we can all write and develop for it.  I will brush up on the rules for it (new version as I understand it), dust off some old campaign notes, and see what I can put together.  Should be fun.

2) Other stuff:  Natural disasters, riots, political discontent, etc.  The world is weird... plan accordingly.

So in light of what has happened, what do I want to make happen?
When you ask yourself that question, I recommend writing things down.  Thoughts can be ephemeral things.  Don't let them escape.  What follows is my list of things I want to accomplish and my brief bit about how to accomplish those things.  Enjoy!

Things I would like to see happen:

2017:  Firstly, I would like to see 47 Furious Tails KickStarter fund.  To be honest, I would love for it to set a KickStarter record for the most backers of a comic.  I know that is a HUGE goal.  Believe me, I know.  The current project as a comic book that I can locate on Kickstarter with the most backers was in 2014 for a comic called "LadyPorn Conquers Earth!" with 5709 backers.  The story of 47 Furious Tails is one of honor, loyalty, and sacrifice.  I want to believe that more people will support a story about the 47 ronin, than a comic about porn.  I want to believe that.  Sex sells though, so I will just have to work hard to reach that goal.  Do I believe I'll reach 5710 backers?  Honestly I have some doubts.  That is more, by far, than my first two KickStarter campaigns.

Want to help?  Sure you do, at least I hope you do. On September 14th, go to KickStarter and search out "47 Furious Tails".  Look over the KickStarter and pledge your support if you believe this story deserves to see print.  Share the link with others and ask them to do the same.  With enough backing the comic can see print and be in the hands or comic and samurai fans all over the world. It will be available in digital format as well.

2017: Secondly, I would like to see Tarot adventures, Book Two: Comet over Echo Rock see most, if not all, of the backers from The Draw of Glenfallow return to continue their support.  I am working hard to earn their support.  Working on improving the writing, formatting, ease of use, and story for the adventures I publish.  I hope I'll see them return to continue their adventures through the series.
The art in The Draw of Glenfallow is simply awesome.  Between the story, which I shamelessly believe is pretty good, the art, and the ease of use I am confident the book will be well received.  It is a brutal adventure though, so time will tell.

This goes back to my previous thoughts on KickStarter funding and earning your audience through providing your best work and best value to your backers.  They have supplied you with their money afterall, its important that we as game designers, writers, and publishers earn those dollars.  A project should never be "good enough".  It should be the best you can do or not be done.  (End of that thought).

2017: Last but not least, I want to finish the weapon source book being done by myself and Zachary Viola.  A cool idea that I'm really excited about.  Would love to see it in print and on folks shelves.

Wow... only 4 months left in 2017 and I'm planning for next year. How time flies. If you haven't started considering your release schedule for 2018, start now.

1)  Prepare for subsequent KickStarter campaigns to fund the subsequent issues of 47 Furious Tails.
2)  Prepare for second comic book line (no spoilers here, its not ready yet)
3)  Release books 3 through 6 of the Tarot Adventure series (this is my initial plan, it may come to pass that multiple books may be released via KickStarter funding if the audience is supporting these books enough to warrant it).
4)  Complete design of a card game I'm working on. Complete analysis of game dynamic and play testing.  Launch KickStarter for funding and see if it people want to play it as much as I do and if it is as fun as I think it is.
5) Children's books.  Children's books are running behind right now.  I would like to get the illustrations done, then launch a KickStarter campaign (notice a trend yet) to fund the ISBN, art, and print costs.  I would like to have this campaign going in early 2018 if at all possible with books released before the spring.
6) The Rose of Relange (tm) role-playing game:  This project took a back seat as several artists on the project ran headlong into real issues with the timetable.  This project will now not see play test until 2018, which affords me some opportunity to create more material for it to go into the play test.  Time permitting I am hoping to put this out to the play testers before the end of March 2018, and I would like to take it to GenCon 2018 once print run is complete.  Ambitious, aren't I?

No time right now for contemplating 2019.  Not going that far ahead yet.

Art from: Tarot Adventures, Book Two: Comet over Echo Rock
By: Alexia Veldhuisen

Now you've seen how I'm ordering my goals.  The next step is to set out how to achieve them.
For each goal, list out the steps you need to complete to reach that goal.  For example, a number of my goals are dependent upon receiving funding through KickStarter.  So I develop an action plan for how I will conduct the campaign, I list out the individual actions I need to undertake to complete the tasks needed, and I start doing them.  That last part is key.  Do not put things off.

Now that we know what we want to accomplish and how we are going to achieve those goals it is time to develop contingencies.  Something will, inevitably, go wrong or otherwise necessitate a change to the plan.  Develop your contingencies then act.

Do the things.  Accomplish your goals.

Simple?  Not really.  Anything worth doing is usually not simple.  So strap in for the long haul, work diligently, and achieve your goals.

I want to thank you all for once again joining me on my adventure.

I hope you will join me next time.