Raging Debates as an Independent Publisher…

Hey all…

I had an interesting discussion today with a friend of mine who asked when I would throw in the towel with my roleplaying game publishing efforts. It’s not exactly a huge money making venture and the interest thus far hasn’t been stellar, i.e. we haven’t “sold” any copies. Though we did give away 1000 copies during a promotion earlier in the week!

That said, I entered this publishing venture with one main goal and a couple of secondary ones…

  1. I wanted to publish what I considered the four main books of our game to honor my friend who I wrote them with initially. The goal is to present all four books to his parents to honor his memory.
  2. I wanted to make just enough money to break even.
  3. I wanted to spread the word about Moebius Adventures games, which (though I’m definitely biased) I think are pretty cool.

So I think I’ve started #1 and #3 and #2 isn’t going to happen overnight… And I’m not going to give up the ghost that easily.

What have other folks done to keep their enthusiasm high for their unprofitable ventures? I’m not giving up because more than anything this is a labor of love (and I can deduct some of the costs in my income taxes), but I’m curious as to what other folks do when their enthusiasm wanes for a given project.

Let me know!
–Fitz

Moebius Adventures Core Rules is loosed on the world!

Hi all!

Great news! The Moebius Adventures Core Rules book is available for purchase in both softcover and eBook formats on Monday, November 12, almost three weeks ahead of schedule!

To purchase the softcover book for $24.95 + shipping, go to the Moebius Adventures Lulu storefront.

To purchase the eBook for $10.95, go to RPGNow.com or DriveThruRPG.com.

And to help celebrate the ThanksGiveAway promotion from OneBookShelf, the eBook will be available for free for one day – Monday, November 12, from RPGNow and DriveThruRPG.

Please help us celebrate the release of the first Moebius Adventures book!

Thanks for your support!

–Fitz

Moebius Adventures Core Rules Cover Mini Version

Writing a good Press Release in 5 easy steps…

Hey there…

I’m starting to write some press releases announcing the release of the roleplaying game I’ve been working on and have come across some great sites with advice for creating great press releases that I will try and distill down to five easy steps… (I’ll provide links to the other resources I found also at the bottom of the article.)

So the five easy steps…

  1. I’ve seen the acronym AIDA several places while figuring out a strategy for press releases. It stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. The Attention part is that you need to grab your reader at the headline. Catchy headlines are tough to come by sometimes, but you want to grab your reader and make them read the rest of the article. All too often, editors and writers will look at press releases and dismiss them due to poor headlines. Too many releases cross their desks every day to read something boring.So to create a catchy headline, you have to appeal to your reader’s emotions and use trigger words. Find examples of press releases written for your field. Analyze their headlines for key phrases or words. Perhaps even go so far as to come up with a variety of different options and test them on coworkers, friends, and family to see what they like or don’t like.In my case, I’m writing a press release for roleplaying gamers. A couple of places I’ve looked for press releases is at GamingReport.com and RPG.net’s press page.In these cases, most releases seem to have pretty mundane titles announcing product availability or sales. These are important topics obviously, but may not get a reader’s attention quickly. What I want to get across is three main ideas: the name of the game system, the name of the book, and what it will bring to you as a gamer.So some options I’ve come up with are:
    • Moebius Adventures: Core Rules Opens New Doorways to Adventure!
    • Moebius Adventures: Core Rules Released Into The Wild!
    • Moebius Adventures: Core Rules Book Available – Start Adventuring Infinite Paths!

    I’ll probably go with the first one. The others seem pretty corny.

  2. Now that you have your readers, you need to give them the facts. The first sentence or two of the first paragraph of the release needs to tell the reader what the press release is about. This is where you go with the traditional journalistic five words — who, what, where, when, and why. Think of this as continuing the “tease” for the rest of the release and as the first few sentences of a news cast or newspaper story summarizing the main points of your release succinctly.In my case, I’m publicizing that the Moebius Adventures game is being released for sale. The first release will be to describe the eBook distribution via RPGNow and DriveThruRPG. So my first paragraph will look something like this:

    “On November 12, 2007, Moebius Adventures releases the Core Rules book for the Moebius Adventures Roleplaying Game in PDF (eBook) format for $10.95 on RPGNow.com (http://www.rpgnow.com) and Drive Thru RPG (http://www.drivethrurpg.com). The Moebius Adventures Roleplaying Game is a universal, cross-genre rule system that will enable you and your gaming group the ability to explore multiple worlds. The Core Rules book starts the trip by providing all the basic rules for the system. Here you’ll learn about character creation, general gameplay, combat rules, and possibly even save the village of Domerre from some men with a monster.”

  3. So now you have the basics out of the way and you can focus on the other aspects, key selling points, of your product or service that customers would be interested in.In my case, I plan on providing a simple bulleted list of features for my game:
    • Open character generation system
    • Random character generation offers crunch for characters, or can use point-based system to choose skills and characteristic values
    • Simple rule mechanic for skill resolution
    • Simple, effective combat rules that take strike effectiveness into account when determining damage to combatants
    • Sample Characters and Adventure to get you started
  4. This is an optional step, but it can be very useful to include a quote from a customer about your product or service to show other customers that this new release does work for someone and isn’t just marketing fluff.In my case, I have a brand new game and very little exposure as yet. I hope to be able to use quotes in follow-on releases.
  5. Lastly, you need to talk about product availability. If you’re releasing the product, when are you releasing it? Where can they learn more? Where can the find your product? Who can they talk to for more details? Contact information is very important.

The key point here is to focus most on content, not layout or formatting. Make sure that the press release says what you want it to say clearly and concisely so that your customers can find you and your product easily and quickly!

Once you have your press release written, you can submit it via a number of free distribution websites, including:

Here are some other resources on the web for helping create great press releases:

I hope this has helped you get some ideas on your own press releases. I’ll be honing my own skills as I write some for my own products!

Have a great day!

–Fitz

Now that I have a book… How do I market it?

Hi all…

So now that you have a book published… How do you get it to your audience?

Here’s the cover for my book by the way. I think it turned out great. The artist, Jason Adams, did an amazing job.

Moebius Adventures Core Rules Cover

Well… I’m still working on that little issue myself, but my plan goes like this and I’ll keep writing articles documenting my progress as I go through the steps.

  1. Publish the book. (Done)
  2. Publish the eBook. (Done)
  3. Make the book available via the Lulu.com store. (Done)
  4. Make the eBook available via a roleplaying game eBook distribution site such as RPGNow, DriveThruRPG, or Indie Press Revolution. (Done via RPGNow and DriveThruRPG, waiting on IPR)
  5. Make the book available via my website. (Done as soon as I validate an issue with the cover one more time in a printed copy I ordered yesterday.)
  6. Get into the Barnes & Noble distribution system. They have a form and process to go through to get this started.
  7. Purchase a set of books (perhaps 10 or 20) at cost from Lulu.com to sell via local game stores.
  8. Get into the Amazon.com distribution system. This process appears less than straightforward, but I will get back to you with my thoughts as soon as I dive in more thoroughly.
  9. Send out Press Releases. Lulu.com helps some with this (offers some ideas for where to submit a press release) but get one written and ready to send out. I’ll provide some good resources about writing press releases in a separate article.

Wow. That’s all. Nine easy steps. I’m about halfway done and will get the rest kicked off as soon as I make sure the book looks better (had to correct an issue with the cover, since the spine was out of whack).

If you’ve gone through the process of marketing your books, I’d love to hear from you. What worked? What didn’t? What recommendations would you make for other independent authors?

Thanks for your time. Have a great day!

–Fitz

Using Lulu.com to Publish your Book

Hi all…

So I recently went through the process of getting a book ready for publishing via Lulu. They make the process really easy, but you should have three things ready when you head to Lulu…

  1. Your content. This can be as basic as a Microsoft Word file, but it helps if you can create a PDF and submit it as your content.
  2. An idea for your cover. They offer some options in this area, but you should really have someone (ideally a graphic artist) help you out.
  3. An idea for how you want to distribute the book.

So let’s start with #1… Content. Let’s say you’ve been writing on a particular topic for quite a while and have pulled together a manuscript you think will help other people out or will appeal to a certain audience. In my case, I’ve been working on a roleplaying game since the mid-90s and decided it was time to give publishing a go again 10 years since the last attempt.

If you have your content together, you can lay it out using simple tools like MS Word or MS Publisher (which is what I use), or you can go all out and use Adobe Pagemaker, Quark, or any number of other full-blown publishing packages. It just depends on your level of expertise and how nitty-gritty you need to get for layouts.

MS Publisher worked fine for me. It was easy to set up chapters, lay out pages in two column format, bring in pictures, and so on. I wrote the initial content in MS Word and just copied and pasted the text into Publisher.

So let’s say you have your content, written and laid out in your favorite word processing or desktop publishing package. You then go to the Lulu site and start a new publishing project. You can pick your style (hardcover, paperback, etc) and paper size (8.5″ x 11″ (full page), 6″ x 9″ (paperback book), square (7.5″ x 7.5″ or 8.5″ x 8.5″), and many others).

For this example, we’ll assume you’re using a standard 8.5″ x 11″ piece of paper for your size. You then choose your binding type (perfect-bound, like a paperback novel; coil bound; saddle-stitched) and your colors (b&w interiors or full color pages). If you’re going to sell your book in bookstores, they require it to have a spine, so perfect-bound is the way to go. And color interiors are expensive, but might be worth it if you have many full-color illustrations or photographs for your content. But we’ll choose b&w interiors for our simple case.

Lulu can import your content in any of the following formats:

  • Microsoft Word (.doc or .rtf)
  • Rich Text Format (.rtf)
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Works
  • WordPerfect (.wpd)
  • OpenOffice (.rtf or .doc)
  • PDF (.pdf)

They recommend Adobe Acrobat (PDF), since that will most accurately show you how the printed page will look. If you’re not familiar with PDFs, we’ll cover that in a separate article. There are many tools available online that will help you convert just about any format to PDF for free or for very inexpensive.

So publishing wizard on the Lulu site has you upload your content files.

Now we’re on to step 2 – choosing your cover. You have a number of options, in order of amounts of control you have:

  • Use a Lulu-provided template and just update the titles for the cover (very little control)
  • Upload images for the front and/or back covers (more control, but you don’t control the spine)
  • Or upload a wrap-around cover, which handles the front and back covers, plus the spine. This gives you the most control over the look of the book

Each level also adds levels of difficulty. If you’re less concerned about the cover, by all means use the Lulu templates. They’re easy and you have lots of options for color and various images that you can use. But if you have access to a graphic artist or can hire one, a custom cover will make a huge difference in helping to sell your book.

For my roleplaying game, I did a wrap-around cover so I had more control of the spine as well as the front and back covers. This gave me much more control over the total look and feel for the book. There is help on the Lulu site for determining the size of the cover for the wrap-around, since you have to know the size of the book (page count) to determine the width of the spine. And it took me a few tries to get it right, but ultimately I think it is worth it.

So you choose your cover and upload any files for the cover that are needed.

And lastly we’re on to step 3 – distribution. This gets a little fuzzy. Lulu offers some nice packages that you can pay for to have them handle the heavy lifting. They will get an ISBN for the book (a unique number for each book that booksellers and stores use to track books via UPC codes in inventories, etc.) and distribute it via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the other big distribution houses. They charge a good chunk of the revenue for your book if you go this route.

In my case, I had a block of ISBNs that I had purchased back in the late 1990s when we tried publishing the first time. They never expire, so I decided it was time to use one. I signed up for a service that generated a UPC bar code graphic that I could stick on the back cover so bookstores could carry the book. And that was that.

The downside to going this route is that I have to manage distribution myself. I have the paperwork printed to distribute the book via Barnes and Noble and will do more research into how to get the book into Amazon’s distribution powerhouse also. But for now, I plan on selling the book via a third-party site dedicated to selling and distributing roleplaying games via two sites – RPGNow.com and DriveThruRPG.com. Both sites are run by OneBookShelf.com. They will distribute the eBook version of the game and hopefully will get their Lulu.com distribution channel fixed by the time my book is ready.

But those are the three main steps to getting a book published via Lulu. All books you publish, if they’re made public, can be sold via the Lulu.com marketplace. And if you print copies of your book, you can then go to local bookstores and see if they will buy a few of your books to help distribute them. That’s a topic for another day.

Hopefully this helped. I like Lulu.com. It lowers the cost of entry for publishing books, which means many more authors can be published than ever before. There are other print on demand services out there, but Lulu makes it pretty darned easy.

Let me know if any of you hope to publish books via Lulu.com and how your experience goes!

Until next time,

–Fitz

Upcoming articles about publishing and marketing…

Hi all…

I thought I’d share my plan going forward for a series of articles about my experiences publishing and marketing a roleplaying game. Though the market may not be what folks in the industry are used to, there will be many lessons that can be generalized and tips that can be shared and used across other areas of product development, publishing, and marketing.

I’ve briefly touched on a few topics already, such as using Lulu and CafePress to produce your products and merchandise to help get your products or website or blog noticed.

But now I hope to go a little deeper into the process and my experiences along the way as I learn new techniques and meet other folks trying to do similar things…

My article on Monday will be about using Lulu to create a book and the process you must go through for that. From there we’ll look at producing eBooks (content, layout, graphics) and marketing.

So stay tuned!

Until next time…

–Fitz

eBook Publishing and Lulu.com

Hi all!

Just thought I’d tell you about another project of mine. I’m currently working on publishing the first of several roleplaying games — a line called Moebius Adventures. And I am marketing them both as hardcopy (printed/bound) and e-published books via Lulu.com.

Lulu Logo

If you haven’t taken a look at Lulu before, I highly recommend them. The test I ran a few months ago is what convinced me that it was time to publish these books and I also plan to write an eBook about using roleplaying in different business situations based on my series of three articles I wrote earlier this month. (You can read those articles here, here, and here.)

They provide great services, including ISBNs and making your books available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other retail sites. One of their new products is a photo book, which looks like it might compete with Snapfish, who does something similar.

Anyway, I urge you to check them out. This isn’t a sponsored post, but I will sing their praises anyway!

Until next time!
–Fitz