Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Light of Day

Fan Expo will happen in Toronto on the dates of August 28 to 31.  I plan to be there.

That means renting a table and paying the fees, which is child's play.  Air to get there is more tricky, as is accommodation.  I don't know anyone in Toronto that's close, and even if I did the last thing I would want to do between barking my book at a table is going to be hanging with friends.  I'm going to want to find a hotel room and crash.

I need a back-up, so that I can leave the table from time to time, to pee and eat and things, so my daughter is coming.  That's two air fares.  We can share a room at least.  She is probably good with buying her own food, so I will only have to cover mine.

Then there is the inventory cost.  I don't know how many books I'll need.  As many as I can sell, obviously - and selling is the crucial factor.

The decision to go was only made yesterday at noon, so I've been thinking of things I need to do to reach the goal.

To begin with, obviously, finish the book.  It has been going well since the weekend, I finished the chapter that was giving me trouble and I'm into the next, which is really just a survey of bad gaming.  Then there's a bit to write about protecting yourself as a DM, and at last I'm out of the DM vs. Player portion.  I am looking forward to writing about asthetics and design.  That's going to feel great.

There is now, however, a hard deadline for the book - I figure, July 15th.  I'd like to manage it before that time, particularly as I seem to be unable to perfectly edit my own work (as much as I try, I always seem to gloss over in my head and miss that there's a word missing - I'm told writers should never edit their own work and I believe that).  The self-publisher Lulu has a service they provide that fixes that, but I have to investigate the time that takes.  In any event, I definitely need a book that can be sold by that date, perfection be damned.  Still, I like perfection, so I'll wear out light bulbs doing my best with that.

Number Two on the list is capitalization.  Most of it I can raise out of my own income, but that means sacrificing.  I know people will argue that I should kick-start it, but that annoys me; I don't open my email any more without some stranger I've never heard of asking me to support their venture to create something I don't care about and will never buy.  Donations of course are always helpful to anyone starting in business; I've relied in the past on free equipment, loans and all sorts of generousity.  When I ran a couple of zines back in the 90s (distribution over 2,000 copies), I found that the most common advice began with the four words, "You have to buy."  These notions were invariably the worst advice I received.  If you are so hard up that you have to buy something to solve your problem, you are in fact solving someone else's problem. You're making them wealthier and yourself poorer.

I like free money as much as the next person, and I might be able to get some.  There's credit, of course, which undoubtedly I will have to rely upon.  But it would be nice if I could do a little promotion ahead of time, a reading or something here in the city, to sell a few more copies than what I'll manage online. Yesterday, my friend who runs a game store now in Seattle (Tacoma?) has offered to move 12 copies for me.  I might be able to arrange a few more deals like that.

It occurs that the Gentle Reader might have in mind a stunt or two.  At the moment, my only thought is to write some small handbook on a desired subject, something that would run five or ten thousand words, which could be bought for the price of two cappuccinos.  If someone wants to jump up and tell me what the content of such a book ought to be, let me know.  I can make time, write it on the side and have it ready for sale in June.

I don't think that raising money at one time rather than another will necessarily be a factor, but given that it might, I am wondering about pre-sales.  That wouldn't happen until I was sure the book was set, and an exact publishing date too - but if I did need money in June rather than July, that might be a method of getting it.  Tell me, would it be worth pre-ordering if I were to put something on the cover like 'first edition,' which was then removed when the book went public?  Would that carry any special cachet?  Would you pay a buck extra for it.  Is there something else that might have more verve?

I doubt it's going to be an issue.

There are other things, too.  I make a profit off every book I sell through Lulu (I will have to look into Amazon's self-publishing practices, I've always been leary), but it is damn near as much for me to buy them as to sell them.  I will have to roust up a local publisher if I want fifty, a hundred books published up front for selling in Toronto.  I will need a computer, too, better than the lap-top I've got, so that I can sell e-book copies for those who want them.

I don't think I'm going to go costumed.  That has already been recommended, but I think I'll suspend the idea.  My daughter is keen for it; she's a firebrand and an attention-getter, I'm sure she's going to do fine. I'm also sure she'll harass me between now and August, so she might win that battle.

I am definitely going to need some practice speaking.  I've been living through text so long I've let a lot of my performance skill lax, as is evident in my apparently inability to speak the correct words when I'm describing map work on a you tube video.  I also haven't spent that much time standing up, not since my cooking days. This August I'll be just two weeks shy of 50, and I'm a terribly relaxed computer-chair potato.  I'll have to push myself some.

Those are the highlights.  There are always other details; I will need to attend some trade shows for tips, talk to a girl that used to work them like a carny from one end of the country to the other, get a backdrop made once I know the dimensions I'm allowed - with lots of color, I'm told - clear the time with work, etc., etc.

If anyone has any reasonable ideas for raising capital, shout them out.  Tell me what you'd like to see 7,500 words describing.  Give me some support.  I'm just around the corner from the light of day.


17 comments:

Discord said...

A few days ago, someone commented that they'd like your thoughts on what it means to be a good player.
I'd purchase a small pamphlet on that. Something that details what a advanced player should expect from the game and how to make the DM's job easier/challenge the DM in interesting ways. That would serve as a contrast on "How to Run".

Alexis Smolensk said...

I will think on it, Discord. I'm not sure what would separate said content from the How to Play a Character blogpost.

Ozymandias said...

I would gladly pre-pay for a copy of the book. If there's a first or limited edition, all the better; I'll pay a bit for that. But mostly I want to support your efforts to ensure you are sucessful.

Timothy Brannan said...

I finished "Arguably" by Christopher Hitchens recently. It was a collection of articles and essays he had written over the years.

Why not collect some of posts here. Give them an editorial pass, maybe and an update to the end of some, and publish the whole thing.

It might not make much, but more than nothing. Worth a shot.

Alexis Smolensk said...

It's a good idea, Mr. Brannan.

Nine-toes said...

Good luck on your latest creative/lucrative endeavor. It occurs to me I have yet to purchase Pete's Garage. I'll have to rectify that when I get home tonight.

Alexis Smolensk said...

By all means! That's money in the kitty, too!

YagamiFire said...

I would also readily pre-order a copy of the book.

You could also check into options about offering a pre-buy for a cheaper PDF version of the book with the option to buy-up to the physical copy.

People are more willing to try with a purchase of a PDF...but I know I would buy the PDF then end up buying the physical copy (as I've done with many books with buy-up options) and I am willing to wager quite a few others would as well. You might also get some book purchases you wouldn't otherwise. Just a thought. Best of luck.

Alexis Smolensk said...

$10 for a pdf. $12 ebook. Around $25 - $30 for a book. How does that sound to you, Yagami?

I'll look into pdfs.

teofpathfinder said...

I've been a lurker on your blog for a year, and I wanted to say that I really appreciate the work you are doing here. The depth of development of your world and the clarity of your perspective are an inspiration for me, and I hope in twenty years time to have gotten at least as far.

I applaud the comment moderation.

Thanks!

Andrej said...

I'm going to order my hard copy as soon as it can be ordered. If it's a pre-order that says "First Edition" on the cover, all the better.

YagamiFire said...

That seems about fair.

Jomo Rising said...

If you are interested in being less wealthy, then there are a ton of small game cons in the Great Lakes region, not to mention ComicCon in Ohio and Chicago Toy & Game in November. I will get the word out around here when you are ready.

Daniel Bergmann said...

I been reading your blogging for almost 2 years and i am really looking foward your "how to DM" book that now is "HOW TO RUN".

I liked the change btw.

But i think the pdf/e-book version shouldn't be half off the original book. Should be only 3 to 5 dollars less.

A digital copy is way more easy to "lend" to friends than a hard cover one.

Not saying that people will distribute your book without authorisation, but its possible.

So your profit from it should be greater,since the "risks" are too..


Alexis Smolensk said...

I had someone else 'fix my thinking' on pdfs today, for the very reason of piracy. I think pdfs is out.

When you say 'the change,' Daniel, I trust you mean "How to Run" ... not the mock change I posted on the blog last night.

Kyle said...

I figure this is as good a place as any to leave this little thought...

Have you considered printing up some copies of Pete's Garage to sell at Fan Expo as well? I bought the eBook version, and loved it! It would be awesome to have a nice hard cover version of it for my shelf, that is signed, if possible.

Alexis Smolensk said...

We had been talking about that just this last weekend, Kyle. I truly appreciate the confirmation on our plans!