Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The Steel Road and some notes on Whispers of Persephone

Enchanted Skull Cup from "Whispers of Persephone"
Art by: Christian Martinez

The Steel Road (mistakes made and things I learned):

Fulfillment is underway of The Steel Road and I've learned a few things from some mistakes I managed to make.  So, for the benefit of all (save the laughter for later please), lets talk about how NOT to make these mistakes.

PDF fulfillment :  When executing your PDF fulfillment, it is wise to create a separate file for upload, apart from your print file.  Your print file is often at a higher resolution than that which you'll need for an electronic copy.  Keep this in mind as it can make profound differences in file size and convenience to your audience.  By way of example:  I uploaded my "electronic" file and forgot this very basic premise, exporting it in all its nearly 470 MB glory (yeah, I know).  Tonight, I'll be uploading the compressed files for The Steel Road's PDF versions. 

Other issues crept up (file corruption, and export mistake that resulted in one page document being uploaded ... yeah it was a rough couple of hours.)

Take away from this:  Create a checklist to prevent yourself from making little mistakes like this. It can help you to avoid huge inconveniences for your audience.

Scheduling:  I pride myself on scheduling for fulfillment.  That said, I had some set backs during The Steel Road final formatting.  One of the biggest set backs was that my computer suddenly, and catastrophically, died. RIP.  Fortunately I had saved copy of the InDesign files off that machine (yeah, cloud services) and was able to resume work once I get a new system.  This did, however, disrupt my time table when coupled with life rising up to eat my time up.  The final stroke was that I uploaded my print files and ended up needing to make a few last minute changes.  This is problematic when you are working on the weekend, and can't get the file rejected so as to upload the correct version.

Take away from this:  Upload your print files and electronic copy files during 'normal' business hours if at all possible.  The extra couple of days can be very important.

Now, these are things I really should have known better than to let impact my timeline.  But they happened, and it has.  The Steel Road PDF fulfillment is done (with the newly compressed file going out to make it more user friendly).  Print including the print on demand codes, are running late as I insist on having a proof copy in hand before ordering copies or triggering the codes.  This is so I can identify any printing problems before sending it on to the backers.  I recommend this, as I believe in giving people the best quality book possible.  Take that with you, and hold it close in your memory.

The net impact is that the print and print on demand copies of The Steel Road will deliver a few days outside of the estimated fulfillment period.  Originally I fully expected to fulfill this month (August 2018), but those POD codes and print copies will now be going out in early September.  I hate being late.  I have advised the backers through updates (please remember to post updates regularly, it is a great way to stay connected to your backers and to keep your project on track).

The Steel Road (great things that happened!): 

The Steel Road was a joy to develop, and despite the initial difficulties with fulfillment, has been a tremendous amount of fun to put in the hands of backers.  I've received a number of messages from backers who are very happy with the book.  I'm keeping those, as it is a wonderful thing to know that people are enjoying your work.  I also had several nice posts in comments about the book.

I can't tell you how fantastic it is to hear that people are enjoying something I created.  I hope you have the opportunity to experience this feeling.  It's joyous.

You can find these comments and more, many about the chaos around the PDF release, HERE


Let's change gears a bit: 

Whispers of Persephone has been pushed back twice now to allow for completion of the fulfillment of The Steel Road.  That is as it should be.

I'm using this time to work on the new file for the next round of play testing, which will be occurring during the coming month, through the kickstarter campaign, and concluding prior to fulfillment.  This is the second round of play test, which is something I really recommend.  I want my material to be the best it can be.  I don't have the years of experience of the legends like Monte Cook or Steve Jackson, so I have to be careful and use the great thing that is play testing to make sure I'm not way off in my designs.  It also happens to be great fun to talk with the people who are testing your material.  Very often they have insights to offer, suggestions about things they would want in the book, that can really polish up the work.  Listen to your play testers!

Coming off fulfillment of The Steel Road, Whispers of Persephone is launching very soon.  Having been pushed back a few weeks, it is impacting my timeline for other projects I intend to release later this year as well.  That said, I thought about the KickStarter, the funding needed, and the best way to incorporate everything I want to accomplish and to give backers the best quality rewards I could.  I concluded, that going will all digital rewards (PDFs and Print on demand codes) was the best way to provide good value to backers while raising the money needed for art.

This was a tough decision for me, as I really enjoy signing physical copies and sending them on to backers.  A big part of me, still wants to offer signed copies.  I'm fighting that urge.  Fulfillment will go more swiftly, accounting will be easier, and fulfillment overall will happen more quickly with digital rewards.   I still intend to offer physical / signed copies of future books, I just want to get Whispers into the hands of backers as smoothly as possible.  As a side consequence, it also allows me to set my goal lower, as I don't have to account for physical rewards. {I may still convince myself to make signed copies available.  I'm going to ask prior backers for their input before launch.}

Crowdfunding has been a remarkable boon for me, allowing me to produce books I'm very proud of.  I look forward to future projects and campaigns.  I hope that you will create wonderful things for yourself and your audience, and know the joy of bringing that creation to other.

I will be posting more about my crowdfunding/KickStarter experiences in the near future as more projects come up for funding. Will Whispers of Persephone be well received by the ttrpg community on KickStarter?  We'll soon see.


Thanks again for joining me on my adventures in game design, writing and self-publishing.  I hope this entry helps you to avoid these mistakes and to achieve your own publishing goals. 

Art from this entry is from Whispers of Persephone and was created on commission by Christian Martinez.  Copyright Sinopa Publishing LLC, all rights reserved.

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