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Home of RPGs by Matt Snyder, including Dust Devils, Nine Worlds, 44: A Game of Automatic Fear, and The Ladykillers

Publishing intrigue and fatigue

I’m still toiling away on a conceptual “white paper” on how indie RPG publishers could form a marketing co-0perative. I sneak it in between toiling away on graduate classes, full time day job, and family life. So, for those I told to look here soon, patience please!

As I write this thing, I’m simultaneously intrigued and fatigued. I’m intrigued by the opportunity to work with others creatively and (hopefully) elevate successes. And, selfishly, I’m fatigued by the notion of spending such time and energy on things other than my own works.

Assuming I will indeed pursue some kind of publishing path, I will face an inevitable choice.

Choice No. 1: Start up this little (and boy would it be little) marketing co-operative venture and try to raise the bar a bit on indie RPG publishing for my self and a few others.

Choice No. 2: Reboot my own publishing ambitions. For my purposes, I’d have to assemble a small team of partners. I’d likely also have to abandon creator owned publishing.

To be honest, Choice No. 2 sounds more appealing right now. Both choices have uncertainties, of course. There’s little to guarantee a marketing co-operative will actually elevate the members’ successes. There’s not even a guarantee that members will agree on strategy and products and so on. And, since choice No. 2 basically means I’d be forming a new publishing enterprise, what makes me think I’d succeed in the face of all those obstacles faced by all?

Both choices also require a lot of effort for a little reward. While that may be my downfall in the future (it certainly was in the past), I recognize that’s a difficult part of the endeavor.

Regardless of my choice, I’ll post this marketing co-operative concept because I think it contains many good ideas.

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One thought on “Publishing intrigue and fatigue

  1. Deightine on said:

    I haven’t posted to your blog before, I have been watching your feed for quite some time now. Thought I would pipe up here in question of how much effort you would have to apply after choosing an option.

    Personally, when it comes to game publishing, I think a lot of the failures arise from individuals attempting to over-reach the market. You hope you’ll get a huge market, but there is no guarantee, and in case you do, you have to prepare for it just in case. But why is that? Gaming is a very personal sort of hobby and most marketing occurs through word of mouth, so with that being the case, why not publish small in a way that can expand rapidly if necessary? I’d suggest Lulu.com with a markup, for example. Not -all- of their books are beautiful, but they do replace the ones that arrive poorly made. The whole infrastructure exists and their materials can be marketed through Amazon in both ebook and hardcopy form–the entire publishing structure for a few hundred dollar gamble.

    For example, I write and do game design–both in pre-existing game systems (Pathfinder) and with my own gaming systems–but the reason I don’t try to publish anything is because I don’t want the longterm hassle of royalties, everyone taking their piece of the pie before me, having to hold myself to someone else’s standards… etc. Mostly because I’m hard enough on myself as is, and I think of the games as being equal parts function and art (beyond the actual pictures of course). Because of this attitude, I don’t get along with a lot of editors and I prefer to do everything, typesetting included.

    For people who have their hands in every single aspect of their game–in almost a boutique style in fact–it makes more sense to publish on demand until demand is great enough to warrant a larger printing.

    If someone threw a conglomerate of writer/designers together and took submissions for entry (to prove you warrant the mutual co-op as it were) before doing a small-scale publishing effort through a third party company like Lulu (it’s not like gaming books don’t already cost in excess of $30 most of the time anyway) and split the profits evenly among the co-op, I’d join it. That simple. I would take one of my better pieces–perhaps my whole mechanic system–and feed those pieces to the gristmill to see what comes out. At least that way, I’d have creative control through the entire process, with the help of other people that want it to succeed, but don’t have a pre-existing $10,000 debt riding on it from the printers.

    I think there is merit to both of your options… I would definitely not sacrifice either of them, however, just because one is harder.

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