So What Next?

Well DreadBall is rolling along nicely and all my other freelance work is under control. So what next?

I’ve mentioned self-publishing once or twice in passing, and this is something I’ve been considering for a long while. Now I’m all done considering and am busy trying to implement it.

What I mean by self-publishing is selling my game designs directly as PDFs, with an option for Print On Demand (POD) sites like Lulu to sort people out with hard copies if they want them.

This approach has a number of advantages both for me and for people who might want to play my games. For me it means:

  1. That I can publish what I like. I’ve got loads of games kicking about in various states of completeness, many of which have been abandoned because getting them published in a traditional format takes so much time, effort (and money) and I’d rather be doing something else. If I can publish them on Quirkworthy as PDFs then the problems are reduced to (a) can I get the game to work and (b) technical ones of organising the layout and art.
  2. I can publish games much faster. Traditional publishing is a slow process. Once I’ve had a bit of practice at this self-publishing lark I can see it being a very slick and brisk system. Also, the more I do, the more new ideas I have. Occasionally I worry that I won’t think of anything good after the current project, but it never turns out like that. Working through projects and getting them out of my head and into the world frees up thinking space for new things. That’s a good feeling. In practice I have always had way more ideas than I could get into print.
  3. I get to keep the IP. Creating Intellectual Property (IP) is one of the things I do, and it is irksome to see it taken in directions I don’t agree with. This doesn’t happen a lot as people tend to trust my judgement much of the time, but it can get compromised for various reasons. As freelance work basically involves selling the rights of what you create to your client there is nothing you can do about this. However, it would be nice to be able to say no at times and to have some more control about what happens to it and (more usually the issue) how it is developed.
  4. I will hopefully make a little cash. This is boring, but has to be done. The less of my brain that has to consider tedious rubbish like paying bills, the happier I am. Game design is difficult to make money at, doubly so without a large amount of initial investment and a fondness for running businesses (neither of which I have). I like designing and writing stuff, not dealing with stock levels and accounts. Self publishing allows me the maximum time doing what I like and am best at, and the least time possible dealing with stuff I find dull and tedious.

So all told it looks like a grand idea for me. What does it mean for you guys?

  1. You get more cool games to play. I’ll assume that you like at least one of my games if you’re reading this. As I have similar design sensibilities across my games, the chances are you’d like some or all of my other games too. Me publishing more games means more potential fun for you. Oh, and new shiny toys for gamers is always good 🙂
  2. You get games and supplements faster. Some of these new things will be tabletop games with miniatures, and I’m not intending to make model ranges for them. That’s a big time sink I would be better off avoiding on the whole. Instead I’m talking to a number of companies who already produce the appropriate models. By working in partnership with them I can focus on the bit I do and leave them to do the rest. This means that what I do gets done faster as there’s less of everything else to get in the way. Hence, supplements will appear quickly – something gamers often complain does not happen.
  3. Stuff will be better supported. It takes me a while to get round everything (as there’s only one of me), but I do try to support the games I design. I think that’s only right. The better this concept does financially, the more time I can spend working on it, including the support for each game. A kind of positive feedback loop.

So I think it should work for you too. Of course, we’ll have to see how it goes when it’s live, but I think it looks good on paper.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, this does not mean that I am abandoning any of my freelance projects. Not at all. I’m still working on all the ones you have heard about and several others that haven’t ben announced yet. I’ll just be using this new route to get a whole raft of cool game ideas out into the big wide world rather than have them languish unpublished in my notebooks.

I’ll come back to this and what exactly I have in mind for the first wave tomorrow.

Exciting times!

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15 Responses to So What Next?

  1. Douglas says:

    Fantastic news, Jake! Can’t wait to see what you release!

  2. tornquistd says:

    This will indeed be interesting. Curious to see what you have stored away. Hopefully there is a favorite of yours that has not seen the light of day yet.

  3. Lee says:

    Very exciting, Can’t wait to see what you have in store for this!

  4. Ben says:

    I approve of this message. You might have to be prepared to get out there and be a salesman for your products on the conference circuit.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Possibly. I think a combination of the internet and a focus on digital products will make that less important than it would have been a few years ago. It does, however, give me the perfect excuse to go to more events 🙂

  5. Scott Myers says:

    Wonderful idea! no sense letting your creative results gather dust on a shelf, this is exciting news.

  6. Minitrol says:

    Clean shirt time. Less tweed – unless accompanied by a moustache…

  7. Steve Blease says:

    Jake, check out Wargame Vault. Been using them for some time and it is a near perfect PDF retail solution (and they also do POD).

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Thanks Steve. They’re definitely on my radar, though with the amount they cost to use I can’t say that they’re at the top of my list – just an added option. Compared with, say, Smashwords who do a similar thing for a more general audience, they keep (ie lose me) an additional 20% of the retail. I can’t see how that is a good thing and I can’t see what they’re doing for the money either.

      Also, they are a separate site, and research clearly indicates that non-embedded shopping systems are less effective. Yes, I am actually doing a little homework here ( but only a little) 😉

      It’s very useful to hear that they’re doing a good job (as personal recommendations are always the best reviews), and I fully expect to put my products on their site, just not on their site alone.

  8. Ludo says:

    Definitely interesting stuff.

    And that’s exactly how Ganesha Games has been working for years. And with the combination of good rules, low prices, the instant online “Ooh, shiny” gratification from buying PDFs and easy and speedy access to the game designer, have made this one man company pretty much my favourite one.

    After DKH and DB, I’m looking forward to whatever you’re planning

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Thanks Ludo. I’ve not played Songs of…, but I know Ganesha does a similar thing and I’ve only heard good things about them. Perhaps I should ask him for some tips 😉

  9. Kristian says:

    “So what? Have we got to go on?”
    [pause as the actor checks that line again]
    “So .. What have we go to go on ?”
    (Radio Active Rep.)

  10. From my experience: I published a tabletop roleplaying game through an editor about 9 years ago (Les Chroniques d’Erdor, a french oneiric fantasy game*) and later (in 2006 or so) I went the self-publishing way through Lulu. With the editor, I made about 10% benefit or so while with Lulu the benefit was around 75% if I remember correctly.

    Results: We sold about only 20% of the former, from memory, using the self-publishing avenue but we made about the same amount of net benefit, which wasn’t a lot in any case. In retrospect, the self-publishing initiative was much more bothersome because of having to manage the publicity, the spin, etc. which took away time from writing so if I had to do it again I’d possibly go with an editor if I had a choice, though the self-publishing avenue has the advantage of being a “one man team” project if you like that sort of thing. Money-wise, it didn’t make much of a difference, but in terms of audience reach, it did.

    And odd thing too: about a year later after starting the self-publishing way, when sales had become sporadic, I dropped prices near 50% and allowed for a very cheap (under 16$) PDF option. Well it happens that the whole revenue for the 2nd year were about equivalent to the first year, notably because of the PDF sales. At 30$, less people were willing to invest to a softcover 250 pages book (or so), but at 15$ comparatively more people were willing to give it a try with the PDF.

    Anyway with a family and all I stopped investing time in those things a few years ago though I keep getting occasional checks through author revenues on “automatic mode”. I thought you might learn a thing or two from my experience, who knows…

    Good luck trying the self-publishing avenue!

    * For the curious: http://www.lulu.com/shop/search.ep?contributorId=653175

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