17 October 2015

A Deep Well

Attending a few writer's panels at DragonCon, taking note of the indie RPG publishing explosion online, getting plugged in on G+, picking up a couple writing gigs, and reading more of these RPGs, lightning struck. I had the great idea to create a simple storytelling game that I could release for cheap or free online in an experiment in self-publishing. The idea took shape quite rapidly and got the first draft of the game's rulebook written out in less than a week. From there the ball kept rolling, Temple of Doom style, and I feel as though I am still running, hoping not to get squashed by it. I hired by friend Jacob to do some art, including a full color title page; my buddy Sam is on board to do a map; I'm doing the writing and the layout. It went from what should have been a 15 page document to a 50 page monstrosity, including appendices and quick start rules. The result is The Dig.

Clickety Click to read the WIP!

The game itself is still simple, somewhere between Hobbit Tales and FATE Core, a dirt basic, GM-less, 1d6 RPG that can be played in under an hour and enjoyed by most everyone. Opting to set it in the Homes, the world of my first novel, made sense. I'd already had the thought that the structure of the world would translate easily into game terms and not having to develop an entire fiction allowed the game writing process itself to be a bit smoother. The experiment, however, has continued to snowball.

Starting the book, even intending for it to be a simple PDF released for free, you start to say, 'Well shit, if anyone is going to have a look it's got to at least have its own cover'. This leads to the invariable, 'Well shit, if it's got a cover we might as well get a little interior art'. Proceedingly: 'Well shit, the layout ought to be good and I've got a Creative Cloud subscription. Let's learn InDesign! It's got to have some fonts to set it apart, so let's buy some fonts! Well shit, if I'm going to publish this I may as well self-publish the novels I've been sitting on for years. If I'm going to release more than one book I ought to release it under a company title. Should I incorporate this? I wasn't going to do a print run but if I'm going to sell at cons I ought to have a few copies...'

And so on. 

Trouble is that there are so many tremendous independent publishers releasing so many tremendously good games that it is intimidating. People like Eloy at Third Eye Games or the crew at Magpie Games or guys like Ben Dutter and even the mighty John Wick all know what they're doing and the sense of frustration at my lack of experience already tries to creep in. It's stupid but it's there. The goal is for me to not get ahead of myself, to get the book done as well as it can be done, pay the artists, and hope to break even. If it sells, it sells, but the gate is open. 

I've wondered for years at self-publishing but really let it rest as I wanted to get picked up by an agent, and thusly a publisher, and then become the Hot Young Author and make a bunch of money. Lately I begin to see that this card is at the bottom of the deck, if it's there at all. I'm motivated to self-publish and hustle and do my own thing. I retain the rights to my work and if someone sees it as worth selling on main street then more's the better. Until then, destiny awaits.

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