Monday, October 29, 2018

Kickstarter campaign and fulfillment, then "What's Next" and other stuff

Art from Whispers of Persephone was created by Christian Martinez
Copyright (c) 2018 Sinopa Publishing
All rights reserved

The KickStarter campaign for Whispers of Persephone has been a tremendous success.  I want to thank all of you who have supported the campaign, shared the links and helped to reach all of its stretch goals.

This campaign was full of pleasant surprises.  The backers came out in force, seizing the backer reward tiers of Necromancer, Acolytes of Death and Fallen Heroes (all slots were claimed as of this writing).  As I write this, there are 37 hours left in the campaign.  I'm writing up material for the backer reward tiers, naming the Acolytes of Death and creating their character / NPC information based on the date provided. I am also formulating the obituary pages for the Fallen Hero backers, telling stories of noble effort and ignoble death.

Art is very nearly complete, and I am hoping to have the book in front of Pat for edits before the end of the week. With 24 pages of character data to complete, 12 pages of Acolyte background, 6 obituaries, and a smattering of quotes to insert, I am optimistic that I'll get this book to her shortly.


One of my favorite things about crowdfunding campaigns is sending out the material once it is completed.  Of all the material that goes out, I think the signed copies are my most favored.  With Whispers of Persephone, I will be fulfilling the PDF and PoD codes once I have the final editorial changes done and the book uploads (PDF), for the PoD codes I will fulfill those once the printer approval of the book is back (which usually doesn't take long).  Copies for signing will be ordered before the PoD code is released {this is because I'll already be in the Drivethru system, so I'll order those copies then build the PoD code}.

What's Next!?!? 

Santa Dragon Claws' 25 Holiday Magic Items 2018 (tm) ~ coming this holiday season!

Saturday I announced that I had recently had a flash of inspiration.  This inspiration gave rise to a new book, which I am working on now for release this holiday season.

That's right, I intend to release it in the next few weeks.  That is because it is a shorter book and I've already managed to create much of it.   Art is coming in starting this weekend.  The art for this project is created by none other than Zack Viola (of The Steel Road fame).

As a fun thing to do, we've created 25 new, holiday themed magic items. Zack has sketched them (in the same style as The Steel Road) and we're going to release that book this November. The really neat thing though, is HOW we're going to do that.

We're going to have a short KickStarter campaign, with a small goal.  We're setting it to fund at $600 and it will only last for a few days (seven at most).  With this campaign we're going to have only one reward tier.... $4.  That tier will get you the PDF and a print on demand code for the book in hard cover. 

Content:  6x9 hard cover, 25 magic items with each detailed on a full page, each item illustrated by Zack Viola on the adjoining page (so you don't have to page back and forth, they are right there together), Introductioni from Santa Dragon Claws and an illustration of the holiday dragon.  Due to the time constraint for people to get this book in by the holidays, we will NOT be including backer credits in the book, but we will be placing those on the product page attached to this blog.

Now this campaign happens fast, and here's why:

Drivethrurpg suggests ordering books by the 25th of November to have them in time for the Holiday season.  So we want everyone to have their PoD code well before then.  So we're ending the campaign on the night of the 21st of November at 10:45PM EST. 

But wait, there is more to this...

The campaign will end that night, while I'm live streaming.  I will then trigger the backer survey to get the email addresses for PDF fulfillment.  But I will also be sending out the Print on Demand code to all backers that night! 

You heard it, we're going to get those print on demand codes out just as soon as we can, the same night the campaign ends.

From Zack Viola and myself, we hope you will all enjoy the campaign, cherish the book, and check out the cool stuff we have coming out for 2019 as well!

This will be the final KickStarter campaign of 2018.  Death comes to Glenfallow is being moved up to 2019.

Other Stuff:

Drip ~  What is Drip?

Last week Drip announced that the platform was shutting down next year and migrating all users over to the new platform.  My hope is that this will facilitate the implementation of several new features that are curiously missing from Drip in its current form.

Keep your eyes open here for more news on this as it breaks!

My own Drip page now has six subscribers (thank you all) and we're coming up on the end of the founding period.  My drip page offers truly behind the scenes information, news and access to play test material at the $1 level!  The monthly PDF release (currently one character, companion, creature or monster) comes with full color art and pages of content (stats, narrative, story hooks, treasures, example skill results, etc.) and is available at $3 and included the lower tier material as well. The Magic in the Mail tier subscribers receive all the benefits of the $3 tier plus a full color post card of the subject that month (it is sent in an envelope so it doesn't get marked up with postmarks) signed 'thank you' from me to the backers.  The post cards have a few notes on the subject to help with game play use.  Check it out below:


Thank you for joining me on my adventure in game design, writing and self-publishing.
As always, your questions are most welcome, so feel free to post them below. I'll respond as soon as is possible.

Until next time, Adventure Awaits!

Monday, October 8, 2018

Drawing inspiration from your audience

Art by: Christiam Martinez
From: Whispers of Persephone

I enjoy interacting with my audience.  These are the people who have taken a chance on me as a new writer and who have made it possible for me to release books.  I've been fortunate in that my audience has also been vocal about what they liked in the books and what they would have liked to have seen within them.

There it is, that feedback we should all be listening to, 'what they would have liked to have seen'.  What better source of inspiration could we need when we know what our audience wants?  As examples of some of the things I've heard:  a new weapon book (like The Steel Road) that covers a particular region in great detail; random encounters in adventure modules; 'white hat' style necromancers who lay the dead to rest.  After hearing these same three things from several of the people who have been reading and using my books, it seems pretty clear that there is a demand that needs to be met.

You are NOT limited to just feedback from your own titles.  Quite often you'll hear or read something from someone that will give rise to inspiration.  During my latest KickStarter live stream event, the topic of OSR products came up. Having never produced an OSR book I asked questions, received feedback from the audience, and I confessed my own concerns and lack of knowledge in that area.  I was pleasantly surprised when members of the audience provided much of the information I would need.  Now, THAT is inspiring.

Listen to your audience, take the opportunity to learn from them.  Many would call this by market research (of the most basic type), but I like to think of it simply as 'listening'.  People will tell you what they want to see, and you can draw inspiration from that to create new books you may not have conceived of before.

Cherish your audience, listen and enjoy writing for them.


Thank you for joining me on my continuing adventure in game design, writing and self-publishing. I hope my experiences and mistakes will help you in your own efforts.

You can see my latest book, Whispers of Persephone, on KickStarter at the link above.  I'm hoping to reach both stretch goals ($6500 is our highest), so please do support the campaign if you can and share it with others.

I have also launched my creator page on Drip (which is owned by KickStarter), where I'm releasing subscriber only content.  Subscribers are getting behind the scene glimpses into my creation processes, and will be getting access to play test materials and early drafts.  I am also releasing a monthly PDF containing a character, companion, creature or monster of the month which is also available for subscribers.  This monthly PDF contains all original art and more.  Check it out on my Drip page at

Thank you, and I hope you'll join me next time as the adventure continues.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Creating content: What is working for me...

I set my pen aside for many long years.  It was the nineties and I had basically given up on the idea of becoming a game designer.  In short, I gave up and took on a different line of work.

In 2017 I returned to writing with a vengeance.  I dug out old ideas, brainstormed new fun things, and wrote as quickly as I could.  I wrote quickly because I wanted to get the ideas down on paper (and I mean that literally, I like to write on paper) and I promised myself I would work on cleaning up the content once the work was roughed out.

When I have a flash of inspiration I write it down, I outline, I plug in stray thoughts associated with the concept and I write as much as I can about it as soon as possible. When I run out of immediate ideas, I set that aside and focus on a project I'm actively developing.  I am finding that this tends to clear the stray thoughts out of my mind and allows me to focus on a project.  It also gives me that little jolt, that quiver of excitement about a new idea to explore without the guilt of not acting on it.  I know I'll come back to it in the due course of development.

If I'm tired of working on a particular project, I don't move it on my development timeline.  I keep it there.  I alleviate any weariness by playing a game, baking treats for my daughter, reading something by Charles Stross, watching anime or writing fan fiction.   This last option is, I believe, most useful.  Writing fan fiction refreshes me.  I know I'm writing for me and a few people who happen to enjoy my stories.  I also base my fan fiction on old game session and campaign happenings so I reminisce about old friends and fun times while I write.  It is a liberating experience and one that I find makes writing more enjoyable overall.

I have been refining my processes with each book.  My current process is loosely laid out below.  Please note, that as I continue to evolve my processes this may change with each book.  The process described below reflects the process used in the development of Whispers of Persephone (now on KickStarter).  Please do keep in mind that I have only been doing this for a year, so if you have suggestions on how I can refine the process please do comment below.

Once I have my concept written down, I gather any and all notes on it and from those I construct an outline.  Now I realize that writing from an outline seems old fashioned and like it adds work but I have found it most helpful when I want to define what actions are placed in what order and as a means by which to chart the flow of the narrative.   By way of example, when I wrote Comet over Echo Rock I had a section in my outline that mentioned natural hazards but I hadn't defined them yet.  Looking at the placement in the story from the outline was easy.  This also allowed me to plan out the encounter with an eye toward total party attrition and how it affected the narrative.

Following the outline provided me with a roadmap through each section.  Introduction, background story, new NPC's, and encounters all flowed into place with remarkably little effort.  I soon had a first draft I could send to my first round play testers.  Next step, leave the play testers alone and wait for feedback.

Waiting is hard.  Getting feedback from your play testers is well worth waiting for.  Collect their feedback and let it weigh in on whether you need to make any adjustments to your project. This play test version can be a little rough, formatting can be imperfect, but it must be complete conceptually.  You don't want to test half of an idea.

Once I have the information from my play testers I evaluate the entirety of the information.  Don't try to please everyone, take a look at the things they point out in common and work to remedy those common issues first.  Once you've done your rewrite, clean up any loose grammar and work on the formatting to bring it into line with what you plan for final release.  This still doesn't have to be perfect, but I find it useful to start getting the product together throughout the process as it makes for less work in final editing.  I'm specifically talking about RPG work here, for comics it is critical to have your concept format laid out ahead of time. 

Second Round of Testing:
Once I have addressed issues identified in the first round of play testing, I take the document and put it out to the rest of my play testers. These folks get to dive upon the document now that it has been prepped into a document that almost resembles final product. These folks have the benefit of a document that is largely fleshed out with full text descriptions, narrative segments, (full game play mechanical data is done before going to the first tier play testers so these guys have a more polished version of those mechanical elements), and any art that you may already have for the book. 

Feedback from this second tier of play testing is (generally) more specific in its criticisms. Be thorough in your analysis as play testers are people and can suffer from observational bias.  You'll want to polish your rough spots, refine those problems that are identified, and realize that you'll never satisfy everyone.  There will be things that some people don't like which other people think are fantastic.  Weigh those opinions against your own concept of the product in order to determine whether you change it or not.

One thing I did for Whispers of Persephone it that I ordered proof copies of the play test edition.  Weird, right?  It was incredibly useful.  Not only did I have the book in hand to help with future edits, it also gave me an appreciation for what the book would look like in its final format and helped me to identify problems with color saturation, font issues, and how border art was affecting the overall feel of the book.  I recommend this for any book you release, as it really is that valuable a tool in your development process.  A side benefit of this, I had a physical copy to show during the KickStarter campaign.  I'm convinced that this helped my funding efforts.

I edited my first book release.  That was a horrible idea.  Have someone else, or even a few people, review your final draft for edit purposes.  Run your spell checking application before handing it to them as you don't want them distracted by bad spelling when they are reviewing the text.  Grammatical corrections are important as they make the difference between a book that is easy to read and one that is difficult to comprehend. 

I find it wise to have your document reviewed twice in your editing process.  Editing it following the first pass, then a second pass after you have made those first corrections.  This has worked well for me in the past.  You may still find things that need corrected afterward. Be patient and fix those problems as you find them.

Final Proofs:
Once final edits have been completed, order proof copies of the book so you can conduct a final review of your product before release.  This is an amazingly cool moment for me, as I am still struck with wonder when I hold a book I've written.  I hope you have that same experience. It is a great feeling!

This has been the briefest of overviews on the processes I've been using to get my books out. Whether you have been releasing titles yourself or are just starting, I recommend you research as much as possible before settling on your method as you may find processes that work better for you. I continue to revise my processes as I learn more from each release. In all things do your own research, your own due diligence, to arrive at your own method. 

Thank you for joining me on my adventure in game design, writing and self-publishing.
I write this as way of recording my own experiences and sharing my insights and failures.  It is my hope that people who are interested in developing their own games from learn from my failures (and avoid the same mistakes) and that they can take the productive experiences shared here and use them for their own success.  Best of luck to you!

I hope you will join me next time as this adventure continues.

At the time this entry was written I have my latest book "Whispers of Persphone" live on KickStarter seeking to fund its art (and fulfillment) costs.  I hope you'll check it out, support it if you can, and please do share it with others.

I have also launched a Drip page, where people can subscribe to support my creative endeavors. I have a monthly release available there and all subscribers get behind the scenes information on coming projects.  I hope you'll check that out as well.

Thank you! 

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

The Drip Platform from KickStarter: Some useful information

Hello everyone!

If you read my post immediately preceding this one, you know that I was planning on launching a Patreon page, and documenting the promotion, use and results of that effort.  That plan changed when I received an unexpected invitation to become a creator on KickStarter's Drip platform.

At this time, I have halted my Patreon page development and I am focusing on the development of the Drip page. By the time this entry is public, my Drip page will be active.

As Drip is invitation only for creators at this time, I thought it would be useful for people to know how the platform works (from a new user's perspective) so you can know what to expect once it becomes available to you either by way of invitation, or once it becomes openly available.  It is my hope that you find this informative and useful, so lets get down to it.  All of the forthcoming data is from my experience with the platform to date, and links go to the Drip resource pages,  FAQ, and an article I read earlier this year. 

If you aren't familiar with Drip, don't worry not many people are aware of it yet. KickStarter's introduction post to Drip is here:

You can find the Drip FAQ page here:

Also see an interesting article about KickStarter and Drip here:

Getting Started: 
Getting logged into Drip was simple.  It appears to clone the credentials from your KickStarter account, but you can change those easily.  

Once you are logged in and ready to start work on your page, you'll find that your image and video upload points clearly indicate available file formats.  Having a recommended image file dimensions would be nice, but the lack thereof didn't cause me any real difficulty.  Choosing the image and creating the video for the page were far more time intensive.

Choosing the page image ~ I elected to use the illustration created for Tale of the Wizard's Eye by Phoenix O'Faery.  I secured permission to do so (seriously folks, make sure you have rights/permission before using someone's art), and had the image loaded in seconds. 

The Video ~ My webcam is a decade old.  No, seriously, it really is. It doesn't have great resolution, and I'm going to need to replace it soon.  This means that I didn't want to, and fortunately I didn't have to, shoot the page video on that old hardware.  I had help from my friends at Digital Eden Entertainment, and had a new video with much clearer resolution in a matter of minutes.  To develop the video content I looked at resources on Drip as well as information from articles I had read on creating Patreon pages. We did the video in two shots, as I fumbled the first attempt.

Page description ~ The Drip platform has little helpful tips that populate along the side of the page as well as links to other Drip pages in your category.  I found it particularly useful to look at the pages of the two other game developer creators I could find.  Both were receiving what I would call significant support from their subscribers and followed a similar outline for the page descriptions. I told myself not to try to reinvent the wheel, and outlined my own data in a similar fashion.  Let me be clear, I didn't copy and paste anything, I just chose to structure my description after the same fashion  (so introduction, what I do, what I'm making available, etc.).   I like the natural flow of that format and I'm planning on sticking to it.

Category ~  Your drip page is limited to one category.  My page is categorized under games.  As all of my currently published work has been role playing games, that makes sense to me.  I have a friend who has been invited, and his is in comics.  You can offer a wide variety of materials, but you'll only have the one category.  Keep this in mind as people exploring Drip for people making comics are not going to find you if you are in games and vice versa.

Subscription Tiers ~ Setting up subscription tiers is remarkably easy. If there were something I would like improved, it is the ability to feature an image with the Tier.  Presently that isn't available like it is on Patreon.   One thing you do need to differentiate in your tiers is whether it is a monthly subscription or a one time (pay this amount and get X) tier.  I've set up three different tiers of monthly subscriptions.  I won't set up one time payment tiers until I have a developed item for such a tier. Presently, I'm planning no more than a quarterly release of such material as I don't want to over burden my work load (which is already pretty heavy).

What you do with your Tiers will vary as widely as the material we all create. I think most of us will focus on digital rewards only, as it is the most cost effective and easily fulfilled.  Having said that though, I like physical rewards as a way connect with my audience in a very real and tangible way.  Consider those physical rewards carefully, do your math and check it twice, and make sure to leave yourself some room for things to go wrong and for you to pull in revenue.  Drip is intended as a way for people to support your creative endeavors, so make certain you do see some of that money in your hands to help keep the lights on.  I know that is what I'm hoping to see.

Promoting your Drip page ~ I'm not great at self-promotion but I've had some success and I've done some research on the subject. I recommend you do your own research as well.  This is a good example of the scientific method of testing theories devised by others and looking at the results to reach your own conclusions.  Pretty much every source says utilize your social media, place the links online, network with others and have them help you spread the word.  I agree with all of these. Place the link into your pages, remind people of how they can support you, and as in all things, be honest with your audience.  When people ask, "what are you doing with the money",  tell the truth. I'll be using it to commission art, help keep my lights on, to put food on the table for me and my kids, keep my car running, etc.  Whether I find $20 a month or $200 a month, every bit helps.  Be honest about that. People will relate to you and be more likely to support you.


I made my Drip page live just before posting this entry.  You can find it HERE

Take a look at it, and keep it in mind for your own page (should you decide to launch one). Maybe it will be a useful example of how to set one up. Maybe it will be a cautionary tale of what not to do. Only time will prove if it was successful or not.  I hope you'll take what you like from the example and make good use of it in the future.

Oh, also please do support the page. Your subscription is very appreciated.  I will give my best effort with each release.


Thank you for joining me today as we continue our adventure in game design, writing and self-publishing.  My book "Whispers of Persephone" is currently on KickStarter.  Please do take a look, support it if you can, and please do share the link to the campaign to help me reach my funding goals.

I will be updating information on how Drip is working for me, things I learn along the way and what I'll be offering on that page.  If you have questions, please feel free to contact me through blogger, through KickStarter messenger, on Drip, or on my social media channels. This blog is a means for me to convey my experiences, help you avoid my mistakes in your own endeavors, and to chronicle the material I've been developing.