Thursday, June 29, 2017

An open discourse on the business of writing for role-playing games, with art from Tale of the Wizard's Eye.

Art by: Brian Lee
You can learn more about Brian Lee and his art HERE.

Let's discuss the business side of publishing.

Admittedly I'm new to the business.  I've encountered a lot of strange practices in the last few months I would like to discuss my position.

Part One (marketing):

Over the last few months I've been asked by several people how I expect to sell anything, how I market my products, and what my expectations are.  So lets talk about this and I invite you to comment with your observations, criticisms, experience, suggestions, etc.

My process to date, has been to utilize social media (Twitter, Facebook, blogger, etc) to begin growing interest in what I'm writing and doing.  This is a very basic approach I garnered from observation and from research into the desktop publishing business, prior to getting involved.

Have I purchased any advertising?  No.  I don't have disposable cash laying around at this point.  So budgetary necessity means that presently I'm relying upon organic growth as followers, friends, and casual readers spread the word on what I'm doing through sharing.   Has it worked?  Don't know.  My first book will be going up for sale on in July.  I'll let you know in January how effective it's release was.

Relying upon a slow growth medium is difficult to stomach for many people.  For me it provides only a minimal concern, primarily driven from my desire to pay my contributors well.  I must then have revenue coming in, in order to pay it out.  Presently I'm feeling very optimistic about this proposition. My optimism stems from a few key indicators I'm seeing on my platforms.  Last week, for example, I had over 400 unique visitors across the Sinopa Publishing Facebook page.  How many of those were bots, I do not know, but the traffic volume is intriguing.

So what will I do to continue my marketing?  I will continue to utilize social media outlets, I will keep blogging about aspects of the process as I learn, and I will continue to ask people to share my story and projects with those in their circles and ask those people to share beyond.  Even if only one in a million people respond, then as Facebook has two billion users presently, I can hope to see around 2000 people seeing what I'm working on.  For now though, I'm incredible happy with the 400 visitors and almost 60 followers Sinopa Publishing has now (that is a LOT more than I expected to have by the end of this year, so I'm ahead in my mind).

Part Two (working with artists):

Art by Brian Lee

On the topic of working with artists, I have been called many things:  foolish, ignorant, a dreamer, unrealistic, and worse.  By and large those comments have come from folks who have been working at publishing and are interested in getting the best art for the lowest price they can.  My interests are not so narrow.

Working with artists I feel is no different than working with people in other professional fields.  If you want quality work you should expect to pay a premium for the quality you are obtaining.  If it narrows my profit margin then so be it.  I plan on never feeling that I have taken advantage of a artist by paying them poorly.  Am I paying high dollar amounts?  Not really.  As mentioned above I don't have disposable cash laying around.  Am I paying them at a level we all can agree upon as fair?  Certainly.  I also reserve the right to pay a bonus to the artists if a title does well.

Why would I do that?  I do that because I want the artists to succeed as the books succeed as well.  I want the artists who have agreed to work with me to benefit from the success of books just as I do. I want artists to not only know that I will pay them, but that I will treat them with the respect that their skill levels should command.

Think of it this way:  where I live, in Kentucky, it is a common practice to leave holiday cards for your letter carrier, to send Christmas cards to your doctor and dentist, and to exchange such pleasantries between professionals you interact with.  This has the effect of showing those persons that you appreciate their work, not just because you pay them, but because they have a direct impact on your life.  So to it is with the artists I work with.  My first kickstarter campaign, done for Tale of the Wizard's Eye, was a success.  The funding level was exceeded, and as a result I am able to pay a small bonus to the artists above their agreed upon payment. Does this take money out of my pocket?  Certainly it does, but not much, and not enough to worry me or make me miss that money.  Will it help the artists?  Probably not much as it was a very small bonus, but it sets the precedent for a good model of practice.

In short, pay what you can to your artists, not just what you can get away with.  You'll find your artists appreciate working with you.  I know the ones I work with seem to.  For more of my opinion on the topic of artists see my previous posts on the subject.  (Comments are welcome, profanity is not, thank you).

Part Three (providing for your customers):

Art by Zachary Viola
You can learn more about Zachary Viola and his art HERE.

Customers, readers, followers, what ever you may call those people who buy your products and enjoy your work.  You owe them everything.

Let me make that clear as I have worked in many different businesses and in all of them it boils down to the same thing:  You owe your success to those who buy things from you.

Don't forget this fact.  The moment you decide to cut corners, the moment you find yourself saying "I can make just a little more money if I do this ...." is the same as saying, "how can I exploit my consumer to make as much as possible".  Don't do it.

People are going to say that I don't understand capitalism.  Those people are wrong.
You will not earn your money on a single product (best selling work aside), you will have to produce a catalog of works where your customers come back and buy your stuff.  Earning a small profit per sale is important, earning a large profit per sale is dangerous to your long term earnings.

Point of fact: not everyone can afford a $25 book.  I have been in financial straights where I could not afford a $5 book.  So if you can profit at $5 then why cut out that part of the market that can't afford a higher price?

This point is similar to that about paying artists.  Charge what is profitable, not what the market will bear.  Don't gouge your customers, its bad form, bad business, a terrible practice, and the more I condemn it the better.  Don't do it.

Part Four (Community):

Art by Brian Lee

I've been a part of this blogger community for a couple of months now.  I'm still feeling my way around and trying to get the feel for blogging and about the topics I want to address.  This blog is focused on my experiences as I move into publishing in role-playing games.  I've had what I consider to be a LOT of views on this blog (around 2600 last time I checked).  While not viral by any means I think it quite an accomplishment for a first timer in a busy field.  (Feel free to disagree, I'm just happy folks are checking out the posts).  If you have suggestions for improving content here, I'm open to your suggestions.

When folks have asked me about my blog experience I've told them it has been interesting.  I've have limited engagement from readers.  Primarily folks have reached out to me on Facebook to argue my positions, and that is fine (though I prefer comments here, please).  I did have to delete a post due to content, because (I'm sorry) I don't want to hear about your anatomical challenges. Thank you anyway.   The engagement has been beneficial though in that about 900 people have visited the artist biography pages to learn about the work the artists do, and most visitors have gone on to view the online galleries, stores, and Facebook pages linked in those pages as well.  This benefits the artists by bringing more potential clients to them, and I'm happy to do it.

I am very interested in what other people have to say about self-publishing/desk-top publishing (whatever term you may apply, there are others).  So I do try to find blogs that speak to the experience.  I am finding more and more that are of interest on particular topics, such as KickStarter campaign development, building audiences, things like that.  I like to comment and ask questions on those blogs because I have questions (duh) and because it is what I wish to see on my blog (more engagement with the readers).

So I'll ask that you take a moment, comment something below, and please do the same for other blogs you visit.  It helps the blogger to engage with the reader and may help to improve the blog quality.

Part Five (help one another):

Tale of the Wizard's Eye cover art by Phoenix O'Faery

You can learn more about Phoenix and her art HERE.

Competition is good for business and great for the consumer.  Don't be a jerk.
Help out new people who are looking to come into the self-publishing field.  Point them to information and give advice you know to be sound.  Don't guess, don't experiment, be a decent human being and give the new folks the benefit of your experience such as it may be.

I'm going to advocate this for a number of reasons, but one of the most compelling reasons is that someone did this for me.

Stewart Wieck, who recently passed away, was kind enough to provide excellent advice to me.  It was clear I was new, it was clear there were things I was doing wrong, and it was clear that I could benefit from his advice.  He told me a few simple things (that now seem incredibly obvious) and they benefited me directly.   So I'll pass this forward.  If I don't know I'll say so.  If something worked for me I'll provide that information too.  No merry chases down the rabbit hole.

Lets take Stewart's example and build a strong, competitive community that welcomes innovation.

We are, all of us in the role-playing game field, standing upon the shoulders of giants.  Let us not corrupt the wonder of their works by being jerks to those who will come after us.  Be kind, be helpful, and let the fun and games continue as new innovators are encouraged, new writers are cultivated, and new talents have the spotlight shined upon them.

Special thanks to Steve Sechi, for the inspiration.

Thank you for taking the time read this entry.

You can find Sinopa Publishing on Facebook the Foxgirl logo was designed and created by Jennifer Fraggle Dee, who is an amazing talent.

Thanks for joining me on my journey.  I hope to see you here next time.

Monday, June 26, 2017

A series of adventures and art from two remarkably talented artists.

Tarot Adventures, Book One: The Draw of Glenfallow
Pieron by Rebecca Elisbet Coulthart

Tarot Adventures, Book Two:  Comet over Echo Rock

Dire Wolf by Alexia Veldhuisen

You can learn more about Rebecca and Alexia, by clicking on the links in their names.
The beginning of a series.

The Draw of Glenfallow began as "Pieron's Keep", a title that didn't test well with the play testers who ran through the first round of testing.   The module seemed mostly sound at that point, needing a bit of fine tuning, some narrative text, and a bit of revision, but was fully playable and enjoyable.

One thing did come from each play test team though, a question:  "What happens next in the story"?

Thus was conceived a series, based upon turns of a card, telling the stories that stem from Pieron, the land of Glenfallow, and the people thereof.  A series themed after the tarot and a magical deck of cards.  A series of adventures that could serve as side quests to your main campaign, or as the central story, depending on how you want to run your campaign.

So I've been looking very carefully at the rate of character advancement, distribution of items, and the role-playing opportunities of having a newly established noble as a friend to the characters.

That last part is deserving of some attention.  After careful thought, I am shackling the growth of the noble's wealth, power, and influence to track proportionately with the character level range of the adventures in the series.  This is an effort to ensure that player characters don't try to use their ally like a large club.  It is going to take quite a bit of finesse, but I'm confident that I'm up to the task, and looking forward to advancing the story.


The art for the series is being produced at a fantastic pace.  A number of artists have signed on to work on these projects.  Their stylistic differences provide a nice variety of art that can appeal to different tastes.


Promoting books seems to be critically important.  I am days away from releasing "Tale of the Wizard's Eye" so I hope to soon learn if my efforts through blogging and social media have born any fruit.  I believe very strongly though, that the books must be talked about in order to gain attention, so then I will continue to write and to promote as I can.  I will also continue to do the pod cast interviews (thanks again), book signings, and other free promotional avenues I can explore.  Wish me luck on finding buyers!


Writing adventures has been a surprisingly pleasant experience.  It takes a little while to design and write ( I use outlines ), then the re-writing, editing, polishing of the text and formatting come into play (presently this is taking the most time in the process for me to complete).    I am contemplating production of a total of twenty-two Tarot Adventure books, to be written from now through the middle of 2019.  That is a tall, heady, crazy busy schedule of writing to be done, but I want to try it.  Again, wish me luck!

I will be including connections to the Tale of the Wizard's Eye and its sequel book (as yet untitled), sprinkled into the Tarot Adventure series.  This is to provide a sense of continuity, and to promote usefulness of the two product lines to each other, but it is also to help build an atmosphere within the games played that strengthens the suspension of disbelief.

I'll be writing more on these as the projects progress.

I would also like to take a moment and ask for a moment of silent contemplation (and prayer if you are so inclined) for Stewart Wieck, who died suddenly last week.  Stewart was a co-founder of White Wolf, the owner of Nocturnal Media, and a nice man who gave me some good advice.

Rest in Peace, Stewart.  You sir, were a class act.

Remember you can find Sinopa Publishing LLC on Facebook

Thank you for joining me on my adventure today.

I hope to see you next time!

Please do comment and share. Your feedback is welcome and important.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Building an intertwined narrative, thoughts on development

Art by: Alexia Veldhuisen
Art from the "Comet over Echo Rock" adventure module, book two of the "Tarot Adventure Series"
Coming Fall of 2017.

You can find more information about Alexia and her art: HERE

When you write several things for publication that are within the same genre, it can be fun for yourself, and for the readers, to link those stories together in ways that have them sharing the same universe.

As a writer if helps to give you a larger picture to fill in.  You can take the elements that have fallen into place through your existing writings, then get to work on filling in the "blanks" that exist between those narratives.

As a publisher it makes good business sense to do so, as long as you can keep the quality of the narrative high.  By tying the stories together, you encourage people to explore the rest of your world(s) by seeking out other books you've written.

As a new writer/publisher, I've given this a good deal of thought.  I am firmly convinced at this point (remember, I'm the new guy so take this with a grain of salt) that placing those tie-ins will help to expand the interest in the books I write.  I like to think, that much like me, people like to explore the worlds they read about.  They seek out those gray corners that haven't existed yet in the settings they are reading through and look to discover what lies there.

Writing tie-ins doesn't have to be difficult.  For an example, I'm working on a plot that incorporates a character that is dead in my first rpg publication.  When the book containing that plot springs forth, it will carry that small thing, that small continuity seed, from the prior book.  In that way I hope to provide a sense of logical progression of the stories.  That enhanced feeling toward immersion, to (hopefully) enhance the player experience for my role-playing game products.

So how am I going to achieve this?

I am writing in a character for a "cameo" appearance in one of the coming books.  A simple device that will (hopefully) provide to the players an emotive response in coming books as they have that memory to draw from.  Wish me luck!

In your own writing, consider doing this as well.

I think the best contemporary example I can think of comes from the writings of Charles Stross.  Mr. Stross, creator of the Laundry Files series of novels (if you haven't read them, you're missing out), has a central protagonist in one Bob Howard.  Through the course of the series, Mr. Howard grows and evolves into an ever more interesting character.  Marriage, and discovery abound, including the discovery that vampires exist.  Enter a nice side step in the series when Mr. Stross writes a stunningly good book centered on Mr. Howard's wife!  Then another treat, when Mr. Stross writes a well paced, and joyously tense book concerning a certain vampire from a previous book!

These steps aside, expand the scope of the works, and build upon the suspension of disbelief.  They help to make the entire series feel more real, or perhaps more easily related to as near our own reality, would be more appropriate.  Whether you empathize with the nerdy vampire (I will not give you spoilers, trust me and buy the books, read them in order then wait like the rest of us for the next one), or feel the existential crisis of the middle-aged wife who is losing her grasp on her marriage, both books are a boon to the series.

I'll post a link to his blog HERE,   His books are magnificent.

I want to thank you all for accompanying me through these experiences as I adventure into writing and publishing role-playing game material.

Thank you.

Remember, you can find Sinopa Publishing LLC on Facebook: HERE

I hope you will join me next time.

Friday, June 16, 2017

A Cool Encounter! Uploading your first print file

                                          Cover art for: Tale of the Wizard's Eye
                                          Front/title cover by: Phoenix O'Faery
                                          Back cover art by: Brian Lee

Another cool encounter in the adventure into publishing.  Last night I uploaded the cover image file for the Tale of the Wizard's Eye adventure module.  It was an amazing feeling!

Right now, I'm feeling a great deal of excitement as I wait for the print file to be approved from the printer.  I'll be ordering in proof copies as soon as I get the email. Right now I can only imagine what it will feel like to have this first module in hand.

I'll try to adequately describe that sensation when I have the proof copies in hand!

After weeks of work the Tale of the Wizard's Eye is in its final pre-release stages.  It a few days, I'll have a physical copy in hand, checking for any problem that may have been missed.

I am absolutely dedicated to creating the best quality I can. Being new to publishing this has caused me to take long hard looks at the work, and strive to pick apart my own work, which is no easy task!

For those of you who have published before, please comment below and share your experience, from when you first laid hands on that first book of your own creation.


There are still 5 days remaining in the KickStarter campaign.  You can find the KS campaign: HERE

Please do share the KickStarter link.  More backers are always welcome!

KickStarter backers (those with reward levels that include PDF file copy) will also receive the Encounter Scale System map pack for this adventure.  The map pack will allow users to print map sheets to scale with miniature use, for the encounters in the adventure!

Short entry today.

I hope you'll join me next time as the adventure into publishing continues!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Tarot Adventures Book One: 'The Draw of Glenfallow'

                                                    Art by: Christian Martinez

The next step in development of "The Draw of Glenfallow" is underway.

The adventure module has already been put through first round play tests.  Some revisions are underway, to enhance the game play experience.

So I'm taking feedback from the play test groups to address some points to make the adventure even easier for the dungeon master to use, and working on encounter dynamics to provide a more enjoyable game play experience.

Art is nearing completion and maps are being drawn up by James Lee.

Art for the book is currently being created by Rebecca Elisbeth Coulthart, Brian Lee, James Lee, Christian Martinez, and Phoenix O'Faerie .

Encounter Scale System (TM) maps will be developed for this product as well.  They will be provided for backers on the KickStarter for this module (at any backer level that includes a PDF reward), but will be available as a separately downloadable map pack after that.

The Draw of Glenfallow is the first book in the Tarot Adventure series of adventures.  These books will build on the relationship the player characters may develop for the principle NPC "Pieron".

About the story:

Pieron was just another commoner until an encounter with a mysterious woman and a magical deck of cards changed his destiny.  Now Pieron is seeking out stout companions to aid him in claiming his birthright, the Keep at Glenfallow.

Overrun by Monsters a century ago, the Keet at Glenfallow now lies in ruin.

Will you help Pieron face unknown peril? Would you dare to stand beside the future lord of Glenfallow as he struggles to retake what is his?  Can you forge the destiny of a newly minted lord?

A host of monsters stand between Pieron and his destiny. The malicious goblin chief lords over his subjects, and dark creatures stir in the catacombs beneath the Keep.

Will you gamble your future on the Draw of Glenfallow?

Written for characters of level 1 to 3, this module is being designed for successful resolution in a single session.  A great module to begin a new campaign, well suited for a parallel story line, or as a one shot adventure.  The Draw of Glenfallow is meant to be DM friendly, challenging, and fun for players.


So what is going into the design of this module?

More than 25 years of role-playing game experience 😇

I focused on the story I wanted to tell.  Then I designed encounters that were level appropriate, thematically appropriate, and that would provide challenges that were fun to engage and overcome.

The module rewards players in a variety of ways.  The actions of the group can provide them with a powerful ally, or alienate a young lord.  Which path will your character's trod?

The Draw of Glenfallow is being designed to be a great resource for introducing new players.  If you have players who are new to role-playing games, this adventure is a good way to introduce them. While the encounters are challenging, the module isn't overly complex and is also designed and formatted to be easy to use by the dungeon master (allowing for time to provide guidance to new players if need be).

Remember, you can find Sinopa Publishing LLC on Facebook:  HERE

Thank you for joining me, once again, on my adventure into publishing.

I hope to see you next time!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Leveling up as a Publisher... Experience I've gained so far

                             Art from "Tale of the Wizard's Eye"  by Zachary Viola

After several weeks of design, writing, play testing, modification, re-writing, art development, and promotion, I am very near release of the first role-playing game adventure book I will publish as a publisher.

You can check out the  Tale of the Wizard's Eye KickStarter HERE

Things I've discovered:

Design -- the overall design of a good adventure story remains critical.  You have to have conflict in the story, a sense of a starting point, and a sense of completion.  So for those of you who, like me, are new to self-publishing; don't lose sight of the narrative.  Write, don't just juggle encounter calculations.  Keep your theme intact, keep your non-player characters interesting, and make your book fun and useful.

Writing -- I have a bad habit of writing in a way that mirrors my speech.  This is problematic and creates a need for strenuous editing. Having said that, it does make it easier for me to put words on the screen and to convey what I'm trying to, so I CAN then clean up the grammar at a later time. (Many of you, no doubt, have noticed that I'm a bit loose with my grammar on the blog... apologies for that.)  The key point here is to keep writing.  Don't stop.  If you don't have an adventure idea, then write something else.  I recently took up writing fan fiction for another rpg title (not sanctioned, not commercialized, just something fun for me to do).  I'm making writing a habit.  I recommend you do the same thing.  It is dreadfully difficult to start writing again, once you have stopped.  Don't fall into that trap. You can always edit later, and should, as it is a fantastically great skill to develop.

Play testing -- play testing is a funny animal.  When I was play testing products for other companies, it was always a neat, fun experience.  Playing a new game with your friends with everyone trying to figure out the rules, and often needing to house rule something as the game mechanics may not have accounted for a particular thing wasn't a problem, it was part of the process.  As a game designer and publisher, I look forward to hearing from the play testers but I also envy them a bit.  Then I take their feedback, see where they've found omissions, mistakes, or design flaws and work to correct those problems.  For all of you who are going to be writing material for submission for role-playing games, please take advantage, use the time, and get a group, or five groups or more, of play testers to play through and help refine your title.  You won't be sorry.

Art Development -- Let the artists work... don't micromanage (its a bad idea anywhere, really), but stay in the development loop on the art that is being done. If it is going to be in your book, then it is important. Be good to your artists.  The art displayed for this blog entry (an important entry in this blog) was done by Zachary Viola.  If you are looking for a professional artist to produce illustrations for your book then I recommend him.  Do I recommend all of the artist I use?  Yes!  If I wouldn't recommend their work, I wouldn't use their work in my books.

Promotion -- I haven't spent any money on advertisement yet.  I probably should, but I really don't want to yet.  I don't have a lot of money to spare for advertising. I refuse to buy email lists to spam people. I like the word of mouth appeal that my first adventure module has enjoyed.  Will I buy some advertising in the future?  I probably will, as I would like to expand awareness and hopefully see a return on such an investment, but it will just have to wait.  Should you advertise your products?  If you want to reach a larger market, then yes.  (addendum:  Do the math.  Calculate how many sales you would need in order to make the expense of your add campaign profitable. I've read too many postings where people have spent $200 dollars on adds and only seen a $50 dollar increase in sales.)


Mistakes I've made:

Formatting -- Text boxes are your friend, but you have to lay them out carefully.  My first formatting of Tale of the Wizard's Eye had 97 errors in the file relating to the text boxes.  With a page count of 41 pages (at that time) I was averaging more than two file errors a page.  While it didn't take long to fix, I've discovered it would have been far easier to have corrected errors as they appeared rather than go back and make all those micro adjustments.  Take it from me on this... it's important.

Web Page -- I didn't have a professional design my web page -- I started work on the web page, but haven't had the time to complete it.  I'm not a web designer, but I know that what I have doesn't look as good as I would like.  I will have the Sinopa Publishing LLC web site designed and up as soon as funding permits.  But I genuinely regret not having done so yet.  Don't make this mistake. It is embarrassing in this age to not have a web page and store.  You have been advised.

For other mistakes see previous blog entries, there have been a few.


Other things:

It is incredibly exciting when you first look at your formatted book file.  I don't have my proof copies yet, but I imagine it will be much the same sensation.  To look at what you have crafted, see how the art enhances the text, and to know "I did this" is an amazing feeling.  I hope you all have the opportunity to feel that some day.

Money is not the most important of things.  Sure, make a little money for yourself.  I have always said that if I make enough money to take my wife out to dinner (which also means paying for a babysitter so not really all that cheap) I would be happy.  I still hold to that.  I'm excited in that I believe the books I'm releasing will make a little money for me, but it is actually a bit more exciting to know that the artists who did so much for these books will also be getting paid (by me).  It is nice to know that you were some help to someone pursuing their dream of being a professional artist.

Promotion of your books sometimes feels like you are waving a flag at traffic.  It is a weird feeling for me.  It is, however, very necessary.  If you go to the writer forums for any of the self-publisher systems (CreateSpace, Kindle, etc.) you will see that many people lament that no one is picking up their books, and that they haven't done anything to promote it.   Do yourself a favor and don't start promoting once the book is done.  Get an "In development" page up on your web page(s) and make folks aware of what is coming (or put it up on a product page and indicate the release date, you know, whichever suits you).  

Set up book signings (I'm serious).  Do podcast interviews.  Blog about your coming book(s) (like I do here).  Put things out on your social media outlets.  Network with other people to help spread awareness.  Very important, KEEP DOING THESE THINGS!  When you stop promoting your books, people will stop seeing them.  Remember that.

Be good to those people who are following you.  Take their insights on what they like, what they don't, and what they would like to see that they haven't.  That information is worth everything, which is why I invite comments (Yet sadly see so few).


I'll be focusing on other titles (while still promoting TotWE) going forward.
You will see a link on the right side of the blog page soon that will have title information. Title information will be posted, and once those titles are released, links to the sale points of the books will be active.

I've read several opinions stating that you should have a link or avenue for people to purchase your products on every page.  They should not have to navigate all over the place to do so.  With a blog, this can get a bit crowded, I think.  So I'm going to work on tuning the blog to get people to the commercial portals as easily as possible. So take that thinking to heart.

Thank you for continuing on with me on this great adventure.
Please remember to share these posts with others.

As always your comments are welcome and I hope you will join me next time, for more of this adventure.

W.S. Quinton

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

New products in development, what is going on behind the scenes, and art by Kelsy Cowan.

                                                             Art by: Kelsy Cowan

So much has been happening in the last few weeks with the RPG publications. 

Firstly, the KickStarter for "Tale of the Wizard's Eye" is rapidly approaching it's funding goal, which is unbelievably cool!  The artists are excited to see people backing the project, and morale is good.

Secondly, "The Draw of Glenfallow" will be heading for formatting (minus art), then for another round of play testing.  Map development is going to be worked once "Tale of the Wizard's Eye" maps are complete (later today?).  Art is well underway, and the adventure design is solid.  As everyone who play tested it during the first round has asked "what happens next in the story", sequel titles will be released creating an expanded storyline.

Thirdly, the first sequel to "The Draw of Glenfallow" is in development.  Art has been commissioned, the story outline has been completed, encounters have been charted, and writing on that work will begin soon!  The piece above, from Kelsy Cowan is one of the pieces going into that book.  Nice work btw, Kelsy! 

Artist Zachary Viola has agreed to work on an equipment /weapons book featuring exotic weapons from around the real world to be brought into the OGL 5th edition environment.  Look for some fantastic illustrations from Zack, playable statistics, historical references, mundane and enchanted versions to fit into your campaign.  You'll be seeing more illustration work from Zack, as his work found it's way into "Tale of the Wizard's Eye" as well (and it is awesome!)

The Rose of Relange rpg development has been on the back burner a bit, but work continues and I hope to have a play test document ready and in hands of play testers in July (2017).  Jennifer Fraggle Dee has already produced some fine images for the bestiary section, some of which have been seen in prior blog posts!

Other things going on:

Jennifer Fraggle Dee will be illustrating a "children's book" for adults (no, its not porn), written by me.  A darkly humorous piece, definitely not for children, look for teaser images to make their way onto the blog as Frags produces them. 

Comic books!

Yes comic books are a favorite media of mine.  I'm investigating / researching the viability of releasing comic books in the near future (no easy feat).  More on this as things develop, but I'll go on record now as saying a crowdfunding campaign would be in order (as printing costs will be significant, and artists should be well paid). 

Please do comment below if you have experience in producing Indie comics.  Research on this topic is helpful, but real world insights are fantastic! 

Today marked a milestone for this blog as it has now had over 2000 views!  Thank you all for coming with me on this wonderful adventure.  It's been fun so far, but there is so much more to come.

As usual I ask, please like and share this page with others.

I hope other new publishers can learn from my experiences (good and bad).

Remember to take care of your artists!

You can find Sinopa Publishing LLC on Facebook and on Twitter

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

A KickStarter campaign for 5th edition adventure module (Edit: FUNDED!)

Pyrius the Pyromancer
Art by: Brian Lee   with color done by: Rebecca Elisbet Coulthart

Update: June 9th, 2017

Tale of the Wizard's Eye is now 85% funded on its KickStarter campaign.

With two weeks left in the campaign, any sharing on social media is appreciated.
Thank you all who have shared this project around, and for those of you who were able to back it.

You can help by checking out the campaign:  HERE

(*Edit*) As of June 11th, 2017 the KickStarter campaign has fully funded. Thank you all who backed the campaign, liked and shared the information on your social media and blog spaces.  Your support was critical to the success of this campaign!

If you like it, please back it, like it, and share it.

This is my first KickStarter campaign, the module is complete, final formatting is underway (waiting on maps at the moment) and it is a fun module to play through.

You will find that my updates are regular and directly tied to the development.

Thank you for following this blog and supporting the work.

I hope you have as much fun playing in the adventure module as I did writing and developing it.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Finding Artists for your Publications: Freelance Artists

                                                Art by: Christian Martinez

I have been most fortunate to have found amazing talent for the books I'm releasing.

Today I would like to share some of my experiences so far.

As a new publisher, I have been amazed at the art work people have done and published on the internet.

I was most fortunate, however, to know several remarkably talented artists who know (and are friends with) other talented artists.  I was fortunate, because the need for art piled up quickly, and having information on more artists was a genuine blessing.

What I want to present to you today, is information you can use when you need an artist for a book you are going to publish.  So sit back, read well, and check the biographies I'm presenting to you (because these people have been real professionals):

     1) Treat your freelancers well:  I say this and mean it.  Your artists have a valuable talent.  Do NOT try to cheapen it.  Certainly know what you can afford for art, but make it clear, put things in writing, and uphold your part of the bargain.  

      This point will need some explaining.  I've researched art submission guidelines for several companies.  Most don't accept submissions from artists they don't already know (for several good reasons) but what strikes me as (we'll say "odd") is that those that do accept submissions and are looking for artists often don't pay anything resembling a fair rate.  I have personally seen companies offer as little as $15 for a full page piece.  Which is ridiculous.  Understand that the quality of art you want in your book often takes several hours to produce, and budget accordingly.

     Yes, you can get good art done cheaply. But I would ask that you think about what that does to the artist, and what is says about your own policies.  {I'll not moralize on this further, but do take a moment and contemplate it.}

     2)  Be professional:  I've had some of the freelancers I have utilized ask if it was okay to use me for reference when putting in for other artistic work.  My answer is "Yes".  More importantly, why wouldn't I?  I want the people who work with me to be successful too.  They are doing good work and they should certainly be recognized for it.  If you don't want to take the time to recognize them individually for their accomplishments then I recommend you do something like what I have done, which is, to build an online resource that contains links to the online resources of the freelancers you use but also contains a brief blurb containing your recommendation and/or insights into that artist's work for you.  (I'll not discuss legal liability in this post, please contact your attorney if you have liability questions.)

     3) Pay them:  I've received communications from publishers that have been at this longer than I have (I started this year) where they want to offer "exposure" as a 'payment' to artists.  Let me state this for the record:  "Exposure" doesn't pay the rent!

    Pay your freelancers and pay them fairly.  If you nickle and dime them they will not want to work with you again (I wouldn't either).  When you pay them, be on time with the money, be precise with your figures, and be polite.  This is a business transaction so treat your artists as well as you would treat your clients/customers/subscribers/etc.

Now, the reasons I bring these points to your attention:

     1) Whether you are starting out, or are a long standing business, your reputation is important.  If you have a bad reputation in the artistic community it WILL be spreading.  You may miss out on working with remarkable talent just because of past actions.

      2) If you are a new publisher, then you will NEED those freelancers you have for future products.  No one really makes their money on a single book.  You need to publish and then publish again, and so on.  With role-playing game publications you need your artists.  You need them to produce the best they can and to do so reliably.  It is far easier for someone to do their best work for you, when they respect and trust you.  Earn that trust folks.  It is important.

      3)  I like my freelancers.  They have produced excellent work for me, have it coming in on schedule, and have been great to work with.   That said, I have referred other people who have asked me about artists to them, but I have also turned a few away.  Those I've turned away, have been because they wanted to get cheap art from the professionals I work with.  No.  I'll not waste their time, nor will I lead them to believe they are worth so little.  So if you want work for $15 a page, go elsewhere, and when you are ready to hire professionals do so.

So, how do you find such professionals?

Well I'm going to point you to the list of those whom I have used.  Below, you will find a list of names and links to the biography pages I have built for those freelancers I have secured for coming publications.  So if you need art, this is a good place to come find artists who I can personally speak for.

Note:  These folks are professionals, treat them as such.

Brian Lee:  Remarkable comic artist and he does take commissions.  He has been absolutely indispensable to my books.  You have seen several of his pieces gracing the blog posts.  You can find his biography page HERE

Samantha Vogelsang:  Versed in a variety of genres and mediums.  She is currently working on several illustrations.  She has over 10 years experience as a professional artist.  You can find her biography page HERE

Jennifer Fraggle Dee:  Creator of monsters, specialist in movie make up and effects make up, talented visual artist in pencil and paints.  Naturally talented, you can find her biography page HERE

Phoenix O'Faery: Phoenix brims over with a variety of talents. Her arts have a way of grabbing your eyes and not letting go. She paints, she sketches, creates digital composites, and more.  There are good reasons why her art is on the cover of two of my books (so far).  You can find her biography page HERE

Zachary Viola:  Zachary's first pieces for Sinopa Publishing LLC are going into the first book we release.  Zack's work so far has been insightful and spot on to the theme/concept being sought.  Other artists referred Zack to me and I have not been disappointed.  You can find his biography page HERE

James Lee:  The first artist I asked to come do work for me.  Years of experience in print, talented cartographer, keen eye for typographical font schemes, talented artist in his own right, (and creates holograms as well).  James does a bit of everything and does it all very well. You can find his biography page HERE

Alexia Veldhuisen:  Alexia has an amazing eye for detail, and produces remarkable art.  She is a fantastic professional, hits her deadlines, and asks important questions about the art you are wanting her to produce.  You can find her biography page HERE

Rebecca Elisbet Coulthart:  Rebecca can incorporate colors in ways that will hold your eye on the image.  Her art is precise.  She is reliable, hits the deadlines she has accepted, and will produce just what you have asked of her.  You can find her biography page HERE

Christian Martinez:  This man possesses amazing skill.  See his biography page HERE
Christian's work will be in any rpg book I can convince him to produce art for.  I am consistently impressed by his work.

Kelsy Cowan:   Kelsy's very first illustration for me looked like she read my mind, then drew something better than I envisioned that took in the scene precisely as I wanted it depicted.  She finished it ahead of schedule!  She has the skill and the background to breathe life into your rpg illustrations.  You can find her biography page HERE

I'll add other freelancers to this list as more of their pages are created.

If you are looking for artists, this post is the best resource I can provide to you.  If you want to commission one of them please let them know where you found them (as I want them to know where you found them).

Thank you for joining me once again on this journey.  I hope this post helps you on yours as well.

Please do check out the Kick Starter campaign for my first title release, "Tale of the Wizard's Eye" on KickStarter HERE (now fully funded! It will conclude on June 21st, 2017).

Please do like and share for others.

Thursday, June 1, 2017


*Edited for clarification*

I have never been a rich man. 

Frankly, I've never felt particularly pressured to become wealthy.

Lately though, I see appeal in the having of certain things:  a home I own, a tree house for my children to play in, more time to spend with my wife, really those luxuries that can be obtained with an upper-middle class lifestyle in the United States.  

Some would call it the American dream.  I think it is more likely that most humans wish for that security and time to spend with their loved ones.  For this discussion, I'll simply admit it has become an ambition of mine.

These are goals I hope to achieve (as I don't own a home, the one we rent doesn't have a tree house, and my wife is working 40+ hours a week so we can pay the bills, and we cannot afford child care so we work opposite shifts).

Stay with me.  I'm going somewhere with this...

I have long believed that you can attain success if you are willing to work for it.  

I have also believed that you never create success alone.

My personal philosophy intersects with my ethos of attaining success to create a moral conviction that one should not attain success alone.  Rather, if you are working with others to attain success, financial or otherwise, you should facilitate the success of those you are working with.

It is, admittedly, a "squad-level" mentality.  

In my previous career, working together was a necessity.  You depended on the men and women beside you to succeed.  When work was done, you all came away better off from having looked after one another.

So too, I have taken this thought process with me into my adventure in becoming a publisher.


I strive to be fair in my dealings, I communicate, and I treat my people like people. 

The artists working with me are all freelancers.  They have contracts for particular tasks and they approach them as professionals and artists (which cannot be an easy balancing act). Our agreements specify how they are paid.  I also provide a degree of promotion for the artists.  

To be specific, I create biography pages for those artists that refer people to their online resources, I communicate with other small publishers and refer them to artists I've worked with, and I'm willing to speak as a reference to other companies concerning my experience with the artist.

So far I have nothing but great things to say about the artists I've worked with.

I also lead.  

Do not mistake this to be a claim of "managing" or "bossing" people around.  No, this is something deeper. 

Leaders work alongside those whom they lead.  Leaders face the same hardships and show people how to overcome them.  Leaders lead from the front, where the action is, and not from a desk in the rear.  

I strive to be a better leader.  Here is how I'm working on it.

I plan ahead.  I research the tasks and time it should take and what can go wrong.  Then I assume I don't know everything and I ask questions.  I ask my artists, "can you do this in this much time?", and when I ask this I have a time frame in mind that allows some significant leeway.  I don't want the people working with me to be hurried, or pressured.  If I plan poorly, then deadlines could become unrealistic, product might suffer in quality, and the people who trusted me to lead them may suffer (embarrassment, stress, whatever).  As a LEADER I have to accept that poor planning on my part should not (and will not) become a hardship on someone else.

I look at my freelancers, and I feel I have a responsibility to them.  If you are to lead, you must accept that you are responsible for those you are leading.  In this case it means doing things precisely, keeping deadlines, making appointments for conference calls, and demanding of yourself the same excellence you want those whom you lead to strive for.  I have a responsibility and I take it seriously.  If an artist asks me a question about a piece they've done, I give an honest answer.  If I have a suggestion I offer, and if I have a question I ask.  I do the best I can for them, as I know each of them is doing the best they can for me.

I work.  I know we all work, but what I'm referring to is that I work on the projects they are working on.  I take each of them seriously, and hold each project as critically important.  People's livelihoods are impacted by how well a certain book/project is received and how well it sells.  This is a heavy burden, but one that must be borne if you are to lead people.

I show compassion.  Sometimes things happen. A relative suddenly dies, a child becomes ill, you have to stay in a hospital for a time, or what ever may have befallen you.  When these things happen, a leader shows compassion.   You find ways to shift the burden from the person going through hardship.  You change your product schedule if you have to.  You put the person before the money.

So these are the things I strive for.  

As I told my father, and later told my favorite hippie friend, "I would rather be a good human being than a good capitalist"

So I'm going to make an effort to make more money for the comforts that a modest amount of money might afford, but I'm not going to do it at the expense of others.  It may take me five books to make as large a profit as I might make on one paying my artists less, but I would rather see everyone on the project succeed than cash a bigger check.

The policies I've adopted may be unusual, but I think they fit my personality, and they certain fit my conscious.

Remember, you can find Sinopa Publishing LLC on Facebook:  Here

And please do take a look at, like and share my first KickStarter Campaign:  Here

Thank you for joining me again on my adventure into publishing.

I hope to see you here next time!