Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Time and Money, thoughts on crowdfunding and the growing pile of projects on my desk

I have been remarkably fortunate with the success of my crowdfunding efforts.  Thanks to my wonderful supports on KickStarter, I've been able to release four books (so far) and my fifth book (Whispers of Persephone) has reached 72% of its funding goal in just the first four days of its campaign.  Things are going well, so why are projects piling up on my desk?

The answer lies in the age old relationship between time and money. 

While I make time to write in my evenings, money to pay for art is slow in coming.  It takes time to lead into a crowdfunding campaign, more time to make it through that campaign, then if it is successful it often takes as much as two weeks before you have your money in hand.  Time ticks away, leaving you with ample time to write but without art.  Once you have money with which to pay the artist, you wait for the art to be completed.  Time ticks away a bit more.  Assuming that your artists meet deadlines (and I am very fortunate in that the artists I contract with do), you spend time formatting the art into your book, correcting any problems with the text layout and putting the final polish on your book. 

Lately my question has been, 'how do I accelerate the funding cycle so I can keep the art coming in steadily and produce more books?'.  I look at the pile of projects I want to produce, the books waiting in various stages from outlined to 'just needs art', and I ponder how to get speed things up.

Whether or not you agree with old saying that 'time is money', it is a fact that if you are like me and lack the skill/talent to create professional grade visual art, then you need money to pay artists to create that content for you. You'll need time for them to create in, and you'll want that time spent in parallel with any remaining writing/development you are completing.  This will allow you to get the book/product out to the audience expediently. 

What has and hasn't worked:

I've had success using KickStarter and no success on other crowdfunding platforms (GoFundMe, Indiegogo and Patreon).  As I look back I realize that I didn't really give Patreon a chance.  I needed to provide more value for patrons, should have kept the page up and running, and really should have done more research before my first attempt at using the site. My Indiegogo and GoFundMe campaigns simply didn't get the attention that my Kickstarter campaigns have garnered.

Insanity or insight?

*Edit* Following the release of this entry, I received an invitation to become a creator on KickStarter's "Drip" platform.  After reviewing the data available on that platform, I've decided to launch my monthly subscriptions on Drip.  I'll be posting a new entry concerning my thoughts on Drip and pointing out some other creators who are already there.*

What is the definition of insanity?  Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.  Or so the common wisdom would have.  So I have been taking a look at where I've failed in the past.  How do I utilize sites like Indiegogo, GoFundMe and Patreon to enhance my crowdfunding efforts?  These are big questions and I'm still working on some of the answers. 

I do have an idea on how I can use Patreon to some effect.  Whether or not it will work, remains to be seen.  As this blog is all about my adventures in game design, writing and self-publishing I'll choose to look at this as yet another encounter along my journey.  Time will tell if this was insightful, or insanity.  See what I did there?

Patreon, as I understand it, is premised upon people providing some monetary support that you then use to fund your creations.  While I understand that there are people who earn their primary income on Patreon, I am convinced that number is very small percentage of the overall Patreon creator population.  Fortunately, my goal isn't to earn a primary income, but to help fund art for my books.  So my page needs to be set up with this in mind.

Monthly subscription options, are one of the patronage types available. As I have a monthly product I want to release anyway this is something I'm going to offer for patrons. Patrons should receive good value for their support (see any of my prior posts about providing the best effort for your audience).  So, I want to provide something that is unique for those patrons that is manageable on a recurring basis.  Fortunately, I have something that fits the bill nicely.  I've set up a total of three monthly subscriptions, ranging from $1 to $5 (with the $5 having a physical reward).  These are to facilitate the monthly release, which will now be done exclusively through Patreon, and it looks like it will be easier to fulfill this through Patreon anyway.

One time payments are of particular interest for directly funding future products.  With this, I conceive of a tier where I would transmit a Print on Demand code as well as PDF for those patrons who pledge that tier (Pledge?  I wonder if that is correct terminology.  Donate?... please comment below which you think is more appropriate).  In this way it acts just like a KickStarter Tier.  I do have one bit of concern, which is that this may migrate many of my KickStarter to Patreon. I happen to really like KickStarter, as it has fantastic RPG and comic book communities.  The potential advantage is that I can deliver these rewards upon release of the title, while earning revenue to pay for art ahead of time. 

Content for the Patreon needs to be more than just product in order to deliver real value (my opinion, feel free to disagree).  So I will be posting exclusive behind the scenes commentary on development, project progress, triumphs and setbacks.  It will be more detailed than what I manage to squeeze in here, more raw in many ways.  Who knows, maybe it will help patrons develop their own content.  That would be amazingly cool!

That's the theory anyway.  Will it work? I don't know, but I'm certain it will be exciting.


I want to thank you all for joining me on my adventure.  I hope that this blog will help you along in your own creations, and that you can avoid mistakes I've made. 
Presently Whispers of Persephone is live on KickStarter and doing very well, but it could use some help to reach its goals. Please do check it out (link below) support it if you can and please do share it with others.   Thank you!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

There are some really neat things on KickStarter right now (Comics, Fiction and RPG) here are a few of them!

KickStarter is full of exciting Role Playing game, fiction and comic titles right now.
Check out some of these great campaigns!

From Dragon Knight Publishing:

Neat art, a good narrative in the video to help catch us up on what is going on.
Give it a look if you're like me and a fan of small press role playing productions.

From Matthew Hanson:

I have to give Matthew respect.  He has come back to KickStarter to make this book happen and it looks really good to me.  Give it a peek, ask the man questions, and share this ambitious project around to help it see print.
From Joshua Palmatier:

 A collection of anthologies.  This campaign has only a week left as of this writing and could use some help crossing the finish line.  This just looks really interesting to me and more than 400 people already agree.

From Counterpoint Comics:

 The sample art on the page grabbed my attention. It is nicely done, but be advised there apparently is 'topless' content available.  Not judging, just want to make you aware. The cover art is beautifully depicted and the interior art samples look really nice as well.  Definitely worth checking out.

From David Tramma:

We need more Starfinder content, fortunately creators on KickStarter are rising to the challenge.

The RPG and Indie comic creator community have been successful thanks to the people who play their games, read their books and enjoy their comics.  Whether you can contribute money, share the links to their campaigns, or just talk about the campaigns with friends, each of these actions ripple through the community and help it to thrive as people help fund these great projects.

Take a look, explore KickStarter and the numerous creators making brilliant content.  Games grow, books see print, and comic heroes and villains leap from the imagination onto paper as crowdfunding brings new adventure to us all.

Thank you for joining me on my continuing adventure in writing, game design and self publishing.

Today's entry is a great resource for seeing how people create their crowdfunding pages in a variety of styles.  When launching your own project on any crowdfunding platform be transparent, honest and responsible.  Your audience deserves your best effort, make certain you give it to them in the product you're creating and in the presentation of your campaign page.

I hope you'll join me again on the next entry in this continuing adventure!

Disclaimer:  None of the creators listed above have been interviewed by me.  I put this short list together after looking around on KickStarter and seeing some campaigns I thought were really interesting.  I do not accept money or product to post about crowdfunding campaigns (so don't offer).

Second Disclaimer:  My own campaign launched last night and is fixed in the featured crowdfunding slot. Please do check that out as well, share it with others and pledge if you can.  Your support is greatly appreciated at any level.

Friday, September 21, 2018

I write a little fan fiction ~ fun and a great writing exercise

Black cover edition of
Whispers of Persephone
Lettering by: Christian Martinez
Capture from digital file

Just like the title says, I happen to write a bit of fan fiction.  I don't claim to be good at it, but I do claim that it helps me to hone my craft.  Fan fiction provides an outlet for stories I'm interested in, while at the same giving me much needed practice as a writer.  If you need further convincing, I would also point out that fan fiction is a great form of content that allows you to connect with elements of your audience.  Give a little bit of yourself, paint a picture with words and be grateful to your audience for enjoying it.

I find that writing a series of stories is very useful, as it compels me to keep producing content for the readers who have become invested in the story.  It also allows me to explore the characters I've introduced in an effort to make them seem more lifelike. I can build and evolve the characters, stripping away subtle layers so that the reader gets to know the character more intimately in much the same way that people discover new things about friends and lovers as those relationships evolve.

Whether you are writing comic books, RPG material, children's books, or are a novelist yourself already, I firmly believe that committing yourself to producing is a great way to exercise your skill set. Give it a try, spin a yarn, tell a tale, write a little something that would be entertaining for you to read.  Enjoy the writing, and hone your skills at the same time.

My fan fiction is told as a fictionalized account of old Shadowrun adventures from a campaign I played in for years.  My latest story arc was the "Operation Emerald" tale, and occurs in Djibouti.  It was broken into chapters/entries for ease of reading.  The beginning of Operation Emerald 

So if you are developing titles, designing games, producing comics, or writing novels I recommend writing a little fiction (fanfic or otherwise) as a way to keep your work flow moving, to combat writer's block, and to provide your audience with a regular treat.  People read your work because they enjoy it, so spread the joy around.

Now, a moment for something really important about the son of a friend of mine.

A few words about Coleson.  He was born very premature, to a mother who did everything she was supposed to in order to have the healthiest pregnancy possible.  He has endured surgery, and continues to improve after months in the hospital.  He will, hopefully, be going home in the coming weeks.  This GoFundMe was set up to help his parents obtain some things they still need for him.
Contribute if you can, and please do share this with others.

Thank you for joining me on my adventure into game design, writing and self-publishing.  I hope this blog will help you to avoid the mistakes I have made along the way and I hope you'll join me next time!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The Art of Anthony Ojeda ~ Several original pieces are being made available for sale

Any of you who are familiar with the Tarot Adventures, Book One:  The Draw of Glenfallow, have been treated to the art of Anthony Ojeda.  His work is, quite frankly, exceptional. 

Today he told me he is putting up several pieces for sale, and I have offered to place that information here. This is to help great art find a new home, and as a way to showcase Anthony's talent.  Below are the pieces he is selling at this time.  If you are interested in a particular piece you can contact him (information on to get in touch with him is below).   These are his originals, and are fantastic examples of his work.

It should be noted that Anthony is available for commission work at this time.  I have found him to be a remarkable professional to work with and would recommend him for any comic or RPG project.

"Cadaver Man" by Anthony Ojeda
9 x 12

"Disturbed Guy" by Anthony Ojeda
9 x 12

"Head Lopper" by Anthony Ojeda
11 x 14

"Mad Max" by Anthony Ojeda
11 x 17

"Predator" by Anthony Ojeda
9 x 12

"Sandman" by Anthony Ojeda
9 x 12

"The Batman who Laughs" by Anthony Ojeda
9 x 12

"Venom" by Anthony Ojeda
9 x 12

"Venom" by Anthony Ojeda
9 x 12

If you are interested in any of the pieces above, you can contact Anthony directly.  I am not selling these myself, nor am I charging him for this, merely trying to help him find new homes for some great work by a very talented artist.  Look for more art from Anthony to appear in coming titles from Sinopa Publishing LLC.

Contact Anthony Ojeda at:  OR  on Instagram at: _Tonyojeda

DBJ SPECIAL EVENT - Sinopa Publishing (Interview with WS Quinton)

I want to thank DBJ for having me on!  The man is the Johnny Carson of RPG streaming, he really is that good. 

I came back to this post to add some information about Whispers of Persephone as these final days before the KickStarter launch have engulfed me.  I want to add a few notes about getting your launch together (as best you can) and about crowdfunding projects in general.

Today's edit (September 20th, 2018)

Illustration by: Christian Martinez

Last night I worked on the campaign video.  At this point I expect to complete the video Friday night, just in time for the campaign launch.  Nothing quite like cutting it close, right?!   The video I'm assembling is a simple affair, consisting of illustrations from the book, captions, and (if I can get it to work without corrupting the whole file) voice over work by yours truly.    Here's hoping it comes together nicely.

Here is some advise though:  If you are like me, and are not adept at creating video content, it is a good idea to find someone who is skilled in this area.  While I'm stubborn and trying to learn to do it myself, I don't recommend that for others.  My videos need help/work and really I should hire someone  This is a good example of what not to do.  If you want your campaign to look sharp, get a professional to do your video.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Checklist before Crowdfunding campaign launch

I'm counting down to Whispers of Persephone's KickStarter launch and the excitement is starting to build for me.  Excitement, stress, and that fierce pace to spread the word far and wide are common for me whenever I'm readying to push that "go live" button.  So, today I wanted to talk about a few things I have found useful to control the nerves and free up my mind to enjoy the excitement of a new crowdfunding launch.

1)  Make a checklist well in advance.  Define each step for your launch and make certain you actually check those things off once they are complete.

2) Check your print quotes (if any), shipping figures (again, if any), and run your numbers against your reward tiers a final time.   With this, you'll be checking the pledge level amount (minus the fees associated with the crowdfunding platform in question) then subtracting costs to determine how much this pledge level is benefiting your production cost total.

3) Look over your equipment.  This is an old hang-up of mine.  Before you go on "a mission" as it were, make certain that your stuff works.  In this case I'm checking my network, home system, webcam, mic (thanks Daniel for the new one!), and making sure that all are in working order for my live stream event.

4) Submit your campaign proposal for review at least four days ahead of time.  I've never had a campaign take longer than a day to be verified and approved by KickStarter, but they say it can take a few days on their site, so I respect that.  Give yourself that time so your campaign can launch on time. Related to this is your banking verification.  Do that at least a week in advance.

5) Reach out to your audience and let them know when the launch is happening.  It makes things easier on you when you hear from folks who tell you they are going to pledge for the new project.  I know this sounds like a lot of work, but it isn't.  I'm not talking about mailing lists (I don't like those), I'm talking about updates on prior campaign pages, social media interactions, and generally just giving folks a 'heads up' rather than an advertising blurb.

6)  Read over your campaign to make certain it says what you think it says.  Check the reward descriptions to verify that they say what they should about what rewards are going out.  Ambiguity in your reward descriptions is NOT your friend and is not friendly to your audience and backers.  Clean up any vague language prior to launch.

7) Get your interviews in!  Folks, I will tell you that a LOT of my new audience members discovered my projects because I showed up on a podcast interview, answered some questions from a blogger/reviewer, or otherwise just made myself available to talk to people who want you for the content you provide.  I like the shows I've been on and it is always a thrill to do an interview.  Swallow any stage fright, be open and honest, and try to have fun talking about your project.
{of note concerning point seven:  I usually manage to get in a plug for other creators that have cool campaigns out there.  This is certainly not required, but I think it is good for the creator community.  Just my two cents on that.}

8) Finally, make certain you launch on time!  Once you launch, share the link to all social media channels you have available (with groups, make certain you are following group guidelines and have any permissions needed from admins).  In short, follow the rules with regard to your social media channels.  Not only is it the right thing to do, it is what you must do if you ever intend to launch another project!

Stygian Mummy screen capture
From Play test version 3.5 of
Whispers of Persephone

That's pretty much it for the final days pre-launch.  Check your math, make sure you're ready, and do what you can to get the word out.  As I've mentioned before, be honest with your audience and set realistic fulfillment deadlines and you'll be fine.


Thank you for joining me on my continuing adventure in game design, writing and self-publishing.  I hope that this entry is of use to you in your own efforts to fund and publish your work.

I hope you'll join me next time!

Look for Whispers of Persephone to launch on Saturday September 22nd, 2018 at
12:00 PM (noon) EST.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Bringing darkness to the dark arts of the 5th edition (Final round of play testing is underway).

Ild, the dark prodigy
Art from: Whispers of Persephone
Artist: Christian Martinez
Whispers of Persephone has been an adventure in research, writing, and planning.  Delving into the design of rituals and spells meant to elicit the feeling of the macabre and to push well past ambiguity into the realm of deepest, bloodiest evil has been 'interesting'.

I'm pleased to report that the second round of play tests have begun, with one of the game masters reporting that the entire party was entirely freaked out by one of the NPC's included within the book, Ild the Dark Prodigy (see creepy picture of Ild above).  Certainly there is a hope that people will find a way to bring a bit of horror to their games with the material I've included in this book. Providing ample opportunity to players and game masters alike to flex their role playing muscles as they play characters so at odds with the heroic concept.  Some times it is fun to be the bad guy!

One of the play tester game masters
printed this page from the current
play test file.  

Presently, Whispers of Persephone is in its final play test phase.  I want to say "Thank You" to Daniel, one of the play testing game masters, who printed these two pages from Whispers of Persephone and discovered that the book is going to look pretty neat.  Speaking of Daniel, he was kind enough to provide a little bit of information about his players' response to their encounters with a particular NPC:

I've finished formatting the digital version of Whispers and am now formatting the print copy file.  I'm hoping to have that complete tonight, and to be ordering proof copies by the end of the week.
My goal is to have print copies in hand by the launch of the KickStarter campaign.

Title page from play test digital file
version 3.0 which weighed
in at 99 pages in length!
Christian Martinez has created stunning work for Whispers of Persephone and will be creating all art going into this book.  Presently, the cover, page background art, and the art included in this blog entry are done (with several works of art remaining).   Stretch goals will focus on adding more art to the book.

An enchanted skull cup, used in blood drinking rituals
This book is not child appropriate.  It contains explicit details of ritual activities of the most heinous sort. Sacrificial rituals, cruel spells, poisons, alchemicals, potions, and magic items are included to paint a vivid picture of horrific evil.

Promotion image using the art from
the section of the book containing
Stygian ritual magic

Whispers of Persephone is coming to KickStarter in order to obtain funding for art.  I'm working to raise $3500 to fund more interior art. Reaching the funding goal will allow me to include more illustrations from Christian Martinez, to make this book look its absolute best.

The KickStarter will be launching on September 22nd, 2018 and I will be streaming live on launch day.  That live stream event is planned and will incorporate a number of guests, who will be joining me to talk about Whispers of Persephone and to introduce themselves to the KickStarter community.  We're going to make a show of it, to provide some entertainment, and bring some real value to the launch day activities. I'll be announcing the line up once we confirm their time slots!

As always, your comments are question are most welcome!