Monday, June 2, 2014

The Hole I'm In

Here it is, the 2nd of June, and I am writing like a demon.  My only frustration is that I feel a strong resistance to looking at the writing I've done in the last month, making final corrections, so that it can be sent to the editors.  I've been very lax in this.  I have tried to make a schedule, and keep it, but then I just put it off another day, then a second day, then a third and so on.  There's only a month left, I've got a ton of it in the bank and I'm beginning to worry.

As far as the third draft, I can see a dim light at the end of the tunnel.  I am writing, or rewriting, around 1,800 words a day, which doesn't include the stuff I'm writing and then throwing out.  I'll finish the third part of the book this week, probably Wednesday, which will leave me with nothing but the world-building segment to do.  Oh, and a conclusion I plan to write, that I haven't touched yet.  With the second draft, the worldbuilding passages went so much easier - I find it much easier to talk about how to create a world rather than how to manage people.  I will give a sigh of relief when I move onto that.

I'm telling you, the gentle reader, because like the man who slept with three supermodels at the same time, I am telling everyone.

This seems to be the only conversation about which I am truly capable.

Last week, for those who may have seen the Lulu page for How to Play a Character & Other Essays, I had some trouble with a troll who was leaving abusive spam there.  Lulu has been great in helping me manage it; they're terrific and understanding about these things.  I have to say, it is one kind of troll that harasses a blog, but it's another species entirely that seeks to undermine an independent author's efforts to self-publish a book. Self-publishing is hard enough.  I would think that a rational person would understand that failure in self-publishing is what we call normal.  I don't need help to fail.  The average troll should be able to sit back and let this one solve itself.

Naturally, I'd rather the opposite.  Towards that end, I'll try to explain my situation as it stands now.

My daughter is coming out to Toronto with me for the Fan Expo at the end of August, the 28-31st.  I'm paying for her airfare, because technically it is on me, so that's going to be about $1,500 total.  The table at the Fan Expo, which I still haven't been confirmed for, will be about $500.  The hotel and vittles for my daughter and I, which again I'll be paying for, should come out around $900.  The cost to produce the little book was $120, and the cost to produce the big book looks to be about $625.  This covers the editing and the artwork.  I have a fundraiser that is going on the 3rd of July, which needed $175 out of pocket so far for printing, the majority of the costs to be handled by the selling of tickets at the door.  Finally, I have a banner that I'm working on, and printing costs for that could run upwards of $400. There are other in sundry costs, but those aren't specified.

Altogether, this puts me about $4,220 in the hole.  From our estimates, we should make about half of that with ticket sales, t-shirt sales (for those who are wondering, the majority of young people actually like the t-shirt), book sales thus far (which are less than hoped for but making a fair profit right now over costs).  The table is paid for, half the art is paid for and the printing is covered.  I have contributions that have been most helpful.  Discounting the money raised from the event (for which we are selling tickets now, as I speak, for $15 each), I'm about $3,095 short.  I'm not worried.  Costs are covered one way or the other, as I have the bank credit to do it even if I make no money going forward.

This I am doing without a kick-starter or sponsors.  I am certainly grateful for those contributions.  I am not worried about making a profit; that only requires sales, and my daughter and I are both very experienced.

I should mention that I'm giving away as a door prize, July 3rd, a copy of the D&D Whitebox Set, about the same quality as the top two examples on the link.  I am GIVING it away.  At a later point, I will have the actual book launch for How to Run at the Sentry Box in Calgary (we have a hand-shake agreement at this point), mid-Julyish, we expect.  At that, I'll be auctioning off a copy of Chainmail, which upon research isn't the very expensive one after all.  Of course, we also hope to sell a lot of books.

What I don't need is a basement troll who feels that all this effort is abusive of the community, or that is somehow proves that I have a lot of baseless characteristics that make me a bad person.  I think what I'm trying to do is put on a couple of events, write a book that will help people run their games with a lot of sound advice and explanation, while starting a small business in the process.  Opposing that is, hell, it's unAmerican, isn't it?

UnCanadian, too.  Most of us do accept the virtues of capitalism, after all.  So for those who hate me, please continue to hate me.  But know that if you're pouring derision on my work, you're also doing it on all these fine people who have supported me, who have bought the small book, who have encouraged me to finish the large book and so on.  This is getting to be a larger and larger set of people that you've chosen to hate.

If at all possible, I think we should just keep it between us, hm?

Now that this is all written, let me finish by stating the very obvious. I need as much funding as I can get. If you can afford it - and you can, for it's only $9 to $10, depending - buy the little book.  Buy it because it helps me help others.  Buy it because you like to see people get ahead.  Buy it because you pity me.  Or buy it because my 25-year-old, married daughter really wants to show off her sweet cosplay Steampunk outfit in Toronto.  Buy it for any of those reasons . . . they all help me.


There are three reviews on the recently published book, now, all of which give the book 5 stars.  Here is the newest one, copied, from James Clark:

"What Alexis Smolensk achieves as a writer offering advice on running and playing RPGs is to elevate the discussion. Whether you agree or disagree with his conclusions or whether you find his style off-putting, I think the serious player is nontheless challenged by them both. If you're looking for a primer on RPGs, you need to start elsewhere. Perhaps the "D&D for Dummies" book recommended in another review [removed by lulu] is more your speed. If you've been looking for more, then read on. Those familiar with Alexis's blog will be familiar with these essays. These are the curated high-points of his views on playing. They have been tightened up, though, where tightening was needed and expanded upon where they were lacking. People new to the writer will have in their hands an excellent introduction to his ideas. Gone somewhat in this collection is the author's oft-mentioned acerbic tone, but make no mistake; this is still the writing of a smart, hard working student of the game who has the courage of his convictions and no time for fools. If you're the sort ready to dispense with the introductory and the unhelpful and get to the meat of things with a sharply written guide, then by all means give this little book a try."


Tim said...

Thank you for all your hard work, Alexis. Bought my paperback copy of the little book today.

Barrow said...

I would bet money that the troll on lulu has bought everything you have ever printed. The more someone hates, the more they can't stay away. He/she is no doubt one of your biggest fans.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Annie Wilkes?

I don't have any of those stupid writer foibles, so if I get kidnapped, I'm completely screwed.

kimbo said...

hey Alexis,
on the Lulu site, I suggest you put a cople of sample pages available for view. That way those who are curious or undecided can judge better for themselves on the writing and content. Rather than turned off by the war of comments: troll vs supporter.
Same goes for How To Run when it comes.

Is there any way you can capitalise on the controversial angle of all this?

Good travelling.

Anonymous said...

Ditto what kimbo said. One could argue that such an interested party could find or has already found this blog, but why not make it as easy as possible? I'd recommend posting the First Module/ Adventure essay in its entirety. It reads almost like a call to arms.

Alexis Smolensk said...

I have tried repeatedly to do so. For some reason, the process of putting up the preview seems to work fine, but when it returns to the main page, no link. I've tried it in chrome and explorer. I do not know why it will not accept the preview. I had no trouble making it work with Pete's Garage.

Alexis Smolensk said...

A shout out to the fellow who helped clean up the comments thread on my Lulu page. Reporting trolls is the future!

Thank you.