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.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

My theory on KickStarter and building your audience - Art by: Rebecca Coulthart

Art by: Rebecca Elisbet Coulthart
You can learn more about Rebecca and her art HERE

Since beginning my adventure in game design, writing, and self-publishing I have learned many things.

One thing I would like to share with you today, is my current theory on crowdfunding and its place in your long term planning for your business model.

Don't worry, I won't be using arcane academic theory for this entry.  I merely want to share with you, my position on where crowdfunding (in my case KickStarter) fits in to the way I operate.  As usual feel free to draw your own conclusions.

First lets discuss the basics:

When you are considering launching a KickStarter campaign, your work (book, game, etc.) should be nearly or wholly complete.  Too many backers have been burned by campaigns that didn't produce as promised.  Don't be that guy.

You'll want to draft a realistic estimate, then add about four weeks to that time period to account for things that can, and therefore will, go wrong.  I recommend using this formula to ensure that the delivery date you provide for backer rewards is realistic.  Hitting that date gives you credibility, while missing that date is bad.  (Easy so far, right?)

Delivering on your rewards, at the highest quality possible, will earn trust with backers.  This is INCREDIBLY important.  Do all you can to deliver on time, and what you promised, to each backer. Be professional about it and folks who have backed you before will be more likely to back you in the future.

Next, I'll talk about why:

As you all know from reading these posts, I've been producing role-playing game adventure modules. I've made every effort to produce the most interesting and highest quality books I can.  But I am still learning, so I know I'm going to make mistakes.  I look for those, and make every effort to correct them. So when that happens you have to own those mistakes and provide an honest statement to them.  Don't sugar coat a failure, give the facts to the backers.  They supplied you with money, you owe it to them to provide the truth.

Doing this earns trust with the backers. It may be hard for you to admit a failing, or embarrassing to admit a problem (like a printer losing your file that you sent them and they verified having then lost and printed the wrong file and sent it to you like you wouldn't notice...... I'm not bitter).  But providing that total transparency is important for your reputation.  Build on that for your future.

Now, time for real world example of this, so stick with me.  Tale of the Wizard's Eye has had a problem with printing of the hard cover copies of the book.  As a result, eleven backers are waiting on their copies.  Fortunately, I had padded my timetable, and launched with a fulfillment date of August, and when I made everything clear to my backers, that they weren't going to receive their books early in July, they were very understanding.  At the time I'm writing this it is August 5th.  Every day this month I've thought about those books and I'm waiting anxiously for the proofs so I can confirm everything is alright.  Its the most worrisome thing I've experienced with publishing so far.  I know in my head that everything is going to be fine, but I sincerely wanted those books in the hands of backers in July.  Now eleven of them are waiting.

August 2nd, I launched my second KickStarter campaign.  This time to support my book "Tarot Adventures, Book One: The Draw of Glenfallow"... that is a lot to type so I'm going to refer to it by its development handle "TDoG" for the rest of this article.  TDoG's KickStarter launched and was suddenly getting funding immediately.  It reached fully funded status (and then some) before the end of its third day running and is now (as of this writing) only $30 away from it's stretch goal.

What caused TDoG to fund so suddenly and so well?  Firstly, several backers who had supported Tale of the Wizard's Eye came out in support of TDoG right after it went live.  We also had a backer who made a hefty pledge (thank you!), and several backers who shared the link on their social media channels to get the word out.  So, with 26 days left to go the project is well funded and development is almost done (just waiting on cover art, two interior art pieces and cartography). When is my estimated fulfillment date?  October of 2017.  So I'll have plenty of time to get materials from the printer, proof them, then make fulfillment when the KickStarter backer surveys come back.

This gives me three weeks to polish the book's content, format, and style.  So see my first point about fulfillment of what you promise, and digest this next fact.  This KickStarter succeeded on the pledges of those backers who thought enough of The Tale of the Wizard's Eye to come back and support the new project.  I like to think I earned their interest with my efforts, and with the quality of that first book.

Why is this important?  Because I'm not trying to make money on KickStarter.  I'm trying to fund the production of the books themselves.  Building an audience (remember that, its important) you are creating for, helps you to produce quality materials and those people who have enjoyed your work in the past are more likely to back your future projects.  For me that is terrifically important for my future releases, considering that the Tarot Adventures are scheduled to encompass twenty-two books over the next couple of years.  So I want to build great value into each book, keep quality as high as possible, and deliver on time.  The audience, those backers supporting me, deserve no less.

With each successful KickStarter you have an opportunity to build your audience.  Make the most of that opportunity. Treat your backers well and with the respect they deserve.  Cherish their feedback and each message or comment.  Respond!  If you are very fortunate, they will continue to support future projects, and with each project your audience can grow.

My theory on KickStarter's place in the long term business model is this:
1) Use it to fund your projects to minimize your risk of loss of capital (money).
2) Use it responsibly and with the highest ethical concern for your performance with regard to your backers (see my previous posts reminding people that backers are not your personal money machines).
3) Be honest
4) Produce the best product you possibly can, and improve as you move on to future projects
5) Think in the long term. You need backers to achieve point #1.  So consider your release schedule carefully.  I don't believe launching KickStarter campaigns to fund $65 books each month will meet with much success.  Show some courtesy and common sense.  Develop your project, launch your KickStarter to fund it (books are my model, so this may not fit all campaigns), prepare for launch (promote the KickStarter campaign itself as well as the book), launch the KickStarter (very exciting to me so far), polish up your product and get it ready for release.  Then when the KickStarter funds (hopefully) ship your backer rewards.  Give the audience time to read and/or use your book/game/etc.  before you start announcing a new one. For my purposes, I have to consider that it will take time for the book to arrive, time for the backer to schedule his play session with his or her friends and to enjoy the book.  I also want to give the backers all the support they may need.  I can field questions they may have, or address any issues, and get things sorted before I'm announcing the next KickStarter.

{As to that last point, I should have waited another month to give backers time for completing the Tale of the Wizard's Eye.  I'm going to work on timing a bit so I'm not bombarding backers with KickStarter campaigns for adventure modules. I also don't want them to have to wait too long between releases, so timing is going to have to be carefully considered.}

Old School RPGs - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com

My conclusion, is that KickStarter is a great avenue for promoting as well as funding your projects.  You have the opportunity to impress people with the virtues of your project, and can build your audience by providing what you create, at the highest quality you can manage, and on schedule.  So be professional, be honest, really just be a good person making an honest effort to do the best you can, and deliver on your promises.  People will respect that, and you may (hopefully) earn the confidence of backers who will come back to see what you have prepared next.

I'm going to share this post as far as I can reach, because I want to stress to folks a few things:
1) Don't try to get rich off KickStarter campaigns... that isn't what its there for.
2) Don't disappoint your backers.  Deliver what you promise and on time.
3) Be transparent by updating your backers whenever something significant happens, and take the time to say "Thank You" as they have certainly earned it.
4) When you receive a pledge, send a thank you message.  I do a personal one for every backer.  Granted I've not yet had a project that had 100 backers (I've only done two and one of those is only 3 days old) so for those of you with thousands of backers I understand that can be difficult.
5) Follow the KickStarter rules.  You don't want to lose access to that resource.  Read them before each KS launch.
6) Grow your audience by doing the right things, doing good work, and treating people well.

Thank you for once again joining me on my adventure into writing, self-publishing, and game design.
I hope you will join me next time as well.

Please take a moment to share this post on social media, particularly if you believe the points made above are valid.

As always your comments and questions are welcome.

Thank you.
W.S. Quinton
Founder, Sinopa Publishing LLC

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Tarot Adventures, Book One: The Draw of Glenfallow (Update Two: FUNDED!!)

Art from The Draw of Glenfallow
Artist: Christian Martinez
You can learn about the art of Christian Martinez HERE

Well ladies and gentlemen, the KickStarter campaign for the book in the Tarot Adventures series has gone live.

*Update:  The Kickstarter is off to a wonderful start!
Shortly after posting the first update, the campaign became fully funded!  To all the backers who have pledged their support, I thank you most sincerely.  You have made this book possible and that is an amazing thing.  The stretch goal remains and is now very close. If the campaign can reach a funding goal of $1000 we will be able to include more full color art!  Artist Anthony Ojeda was kind enough to do some fantastic color work on one of the pieces he had created for the book.  That color enhancement is still in progress but he provided the image with some of his color work on it for these announcements.*
Art by Anthony Ojeda
*Update Part Two:  As this is the first adventure module in the series, I want everyone to know I have worked very hard on this adventure to create a suitable entry into the series.  With more adventures likely to come out every few months, people will be able to explore and adventure in these stories, building fun memories with their friends for years to come.  I'll leave the remainder of this post in its original form, and will provide updates in the format I'm using now.  As you can see I have updated the first update... which is just awkward to write... to reflect the pledge status.*

I'm very pleased with the initial backing and the turn out from backers of Tale of the Wizard's Eye. This campaign managed to reach 30% of goal within two hours right in the middle of the morning! So thank you to all of you early morning backers who came out to support this project!

There is still a little way to go to get to fully funded.  So please do take a look at this project.
I've placed a link below to take you to the KickStarter page.  I know you'll find the art to be excellent and the story is a good, even if I'm saying so myself.

Art from The Draw of Glenfallow
Artist: Christian Martinez

Link to KickStarter Campaign

I would like to cite this as another working example of promotion of the books you write.

KickStarter not only affords you the opportunity to help fund your work, but also exposes people to the type of work you are doing.  While not everyone who sees your project will back it, you have shown them what you are doing, and that kind of exposure will help build your audience.

I would like to recommend you think of the people who read your work and buy your books as your audience.  Bring entertainment and joy to them and they will come back.  They are not your money machine, they are people.  Do your best to build value into your product and you will see that people appreciate it.

I'm please as can be, that so far (in the scant few hours the KS campaign has been running as of this writing) that so many backers from previous KickStarter campaign came and supported this project.  I hope that I have given the good quality in the past and I will continue to give them the best quality I can in the future.

Build value.  That is a great way to promote your work.

I want to thank you for joining me on this adventure today.

I hope to see you next time.