Sunday, May 18, 2014

Jacket Description

I am working on this message for the back of my Advanced role-playing guide.  I'm not sure I want to go this harsh.  I would like to think I can encourage people to wonder, to be shaken out of the stupor of, "wow, another crappy book about how to DM," by realizing that this is the sort of thing WOTC would never put on a product:

This book is not for everyone.

If you have never played a role-playing game before, if you do not know what is meant by RPGs, NPCs, damage, health, stats or AC, then put this book down and move on. It is not for you.

This book is for people who want to read a book about managing role-playing games that makes them feel small, inadequate, ineffective and incompetent. It is only from first understanding that we know nothing that we can learn about the things we love.

This book has been written to show role-players how little they know.


Mic B said...

This "jacket-pitch" is seems quite good, at once shaking people out of stupor as you said and also making sure the potential reader knows what he/she's getting into.

I am under the impression that a sentence might be misread into "the games makes them feel small" instead of the book making them feel small. I would not want to read a book about a game which's goal is to diminish me!

But reading your blog frequently make me feel small (and sometimes very good about knowing i'm not alone with some of those thoughts) and I'd read a full book of this blog. Also, the word book is there a lot.

I could not write well to save my life so pardon the inadequacy of my suggestion:
"For people managing rpg, this is a book that will make them feel small, inadequate..."

It do take care of the ambiguity. I am also under the impression that by letting the phrase as it stand, you'd be happy to repel someone who interprets the phrase the other way.

Ozzie Pippenger said...

That's definitely attention grabbing. Anyone who sees that (and has an interest in roleplaying games) will want to open it up and see what's inside.

It will probably put readers in a hostile mood though. If the book is telling me that I know nothing, that's not great for my self esteem, so I'm not going to want to believe what it says. I'll want to look through it, sure, because it's caught my attention, but I'm going to be looking for holes in it rather than trying to learn from it. Because if I can find flaws with the book, that means I don't know nothing, and I can walk away with my self esteem intact. If I can manage to do this before I leave the book store, it's that much better for me.

I'd be in favor of toning it down slightly, or changing the focus from being that the reader is inadequate, ineffective, etc. to their method being inadequate, ineffective, and so on. Maybe something about "making them realize the way they run games is wrong" or something along those lines. The same concept, but less of an intense personal attack.

I certainly see what you're doing here and I don't think it's a bad idea. I'd like to see it changed, but I don't feel particularly strongly that it needs to be. I could definitely see this being effective as it is. I'm sorry if it's unhelpful to not give a very strong opinion, but I honestly don't have very strong feelings either way.

Giordanisti said...

"This book is for people who want to read a book about managing role-playing games that makes them feel small, inadequate, ineffective and incompetent"

This sentence reads a bit ambiguously: either the book or the game could be making the reader feel small, etc.

I like the tone of the writing, but i think the end message could stand to be a bit more positive: you will feel small, but you will become great! Take the game seriously and the world will be yours, or some such. This book will be a significant challenge for you to overcome and be better for it.

kimbo said...

Hi Alexis,
the "this book is for people..." paragraph is too negative, is open to misunderstanding and thus likely to be ignored.

It wasn't immediately clear to me if you meant: as a DM you'll feel inadequate when you read it, or as a DM you should feel this way when you DM, or that it is to manage games in a way thats make the players feel inadequate.

If you can turn it around into positive strong statements it would be a winner.

something along the lines of...

this book is for people who want to have their way of thinking challenged, their view of the goals of the game changed, made discontent with the way RPing has been done up til now, desire bring their games to a new level.

this book shows how little the current crop of RPer know about affecting player mersion/experience...
stop just stomping about in the mud and really learn what it is to run.

All strength to you Alexis.

Alexis Smolensk said...

That is sound advice. I will take it back to the drawing board.

Barrow said...

The approach is right. I like this blog because you tell me what I already know: 'I am doing it all wrong.' That is why I am surfing the net for DMing blogs. On your blog, you tell me up front that I'm doing it wrong. Then you tell me that you don't care that I think I am not doing it wrong, because I am doing it wrong. Then you you offer substantive suggestion/direction/discussion.

I was not shaken enough by the blurb, like I am by your blog entries. Maybe an unsympathetic and/or direct tone. Maybe the reader is the subject and the book is the object? Of course I am a nickle following a dime when giving you writing suggestion.

Anonymous said...

Ditto on kimbo's advice. Picking up a book out of the blue and reading your originally suggested jacket description would cause most of the sort you're trying to reach toss it in the scrap heap, I'd wager.

"Who the fuck does THIS guy think he is?"

Think of all the bad advice from self-important twats or wishy-washy Pollyanna already out there. Why would anybody not familiar with this blog think you're anything different? Remember, we "sycophants" only put up with your abuse because you deliver the goods like no other blogger opining on games and what that should be. :)

P.S. Got my copy of "How to Play" this weekend and looking forward to re-reading the newly edited essays. Looking forward to the big book.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Thanks to both of you. Subject versus object is good advice. And yes, James, I'm certainly getting that.

If you could take the time, James, after reading the book please add a review to the Lulu site where you bought it.

Anonymous said...

Consider it done, Alexis.

Scarbrow said...

I like it.

If I'm to buy a book, it has to be one that leads me to excellence. Way too optimistic and hype is how everybody else is doing it. This, on the contrary, is just your style: direct, harsh, and ultimately the most useful.

You'll certainly reach the right demographic with this.