Designer Diary: If it were me… why not me?

On Monday, there was a discussion about Amazon, flash fiction, creating fiction from solo RPG games, and it evolved into getting Amazon to work for you. The experience of several people, some of which are much more experienced than I, was that constant new releases was the way to get the Amazon algorithm to keep putting your work in front of potential buyers.

The time cycle seems to be 2 weekly.

I have been doing this, without any algorithm knowledge for the past year, and I can confirm that my Amazon sales have been growing month on month. So the evidence is that this works. I can confirm that I have done nothing else to promote Amazon than releasing books on a regular basis.

I do list the Amazon links in my newsletter, but these are not the books that are selling the most. It is back catalogue sales that are driving my growth.

As a part of this discussion I said “If it were me, what I would do is….” and then laid out a basic plan. The goal of the plan would be to create a stock pile of adventures with the minimum of hurdles to overcome.

It kind of went along the lines of:

  1. Make a list of all the monster art I already own.
  2. Make a list of all the cover art I own.
  3. Use some kind of mission generator to create the outlines of the adventures
  4. Use a fixed template for each adventure so layout is quick and simple.
  5. Write the adventures using monsters for which I already have the art.
  6. Aim for the minimum size for print on demand, which is 24 pages.
  7. Use an existing map archive such as Dyson Logos for the maps.

The logistics of this is that working with existing art and maps I do not need to source additional art. I can also write to fit the cover image. Writing to fit the art you already have is much easier than trying to find art that fits what you have written and cheaper than commissioning an artist to illustrate what you have written.

By having a single document template, fonts, formating, layout etc, all the adventures would look consistent. Working with just one template makes layout fast and simple.

That takes care of the art direction.

I would also use a mission generator. The gold standard is probably the Tome of Adventure Design or Toad. The problem is that I have read so many adventures that I think I can spot adventures created with it. So, I grabbed my copy of the Ghost Ops mission generator and thought I could take a modern-day Special Ops mission and fantasize it. I have never once managed to stick to the plot when fleshing out a randomized adventure, so I know that my own creativity will come out. But I now have three creative inputs. I have the cover art, the pre-selected subset of monsters, and the mission generator.

By this time I have crossed the link from “This is what I would do…” to “Admit it Peter, this is what you are doing.” I knew it was a lost cause when I found myself downloading suitable fonts, and deep diving into the Pathfinder 2e core rules.

The 24 page minimum page count is interesting.

Most books have two pages of front matter, credits and contents. Then, I typically try and use three locations, which means three maps. That is five pages used already. I tend to have a “Here be monsters” appendix at the back with the monster stat blocks and NPCs. Typically that is about three pages, possibly more. Together they take up eight pages, from a minimum page count of 24. That leaves 16 pages. I have the monster art, and a larch library of spot art. Once you account for those we are talking about about 250 words per page. I use fairly small pages 6″x9″ US Trade and you have to account for margins, and a gutter (where the pages curve into the binding).

I do not account for encounters in those 250 words, but these can be quite small, as the stat blocks are only included once in the back of the book.

16 pages at 250 words a page is just 4k words. That is roughly my word count on a decent day if I am using Pomodoras. If we call it 2hrs, and at least one cup of tea, of monster selection, getting the art together, choosing the cover art, and rolling up the mission outline. then 4hrs of writing, 2hrs of editing, and two hours of layout. I would also account 2hrs for creating NPCs. That is 12hrs work, or two days.

In my experience the first few would take a lot longer than 2 days, or a lot more than 12hrs over those two days, but over time they get quicker as I get into a process.

If we are looking at one adventure in two days, it becomes much easier to see how you could stock pile adventures to ensure you always had enough to put out one a fortnight.

If we take this idea for a walk… There are four decent market places for RPG stuff. Patreon, Kickstarter, DTRPG, Amazon. The place to start is with DTRPG and Amazon.

We can do regular Amazon releases to start to build momentum. My experience say that this works. My actual earnings in dollars do not match DTRPG or Kickstarter yet, but you can see on this chart where I started doing regular released last year.

So Amazon is a case of do and keep doing, and let it take care of itself.

DriveThruRPG is different. Releasing a title on the site will get you a little exposure while you are on your newest list. That should get you a few sale, and a few email contacts. That first time around I would be happy with half a dozen sales. What that does is give me maybe three or four people I can email about the second release. Rinse and repeat. The more people I can tell about the new release, the more sales I will make on day one, and the higher and longer it will be ranked by DTPRG. That will drive more organic sales, and thus more email contacts.

Considering that I am thinking of using existing art assets, myh production costs are going to be extremely low. I wouldn’t need that big a list of contacts to make it worthwhile to kickstart one of these each month. I can go with my regular $50 goal, knowing that Pathfinder has a massive audience and only a few would been required to fund the project, and having the mailing list to start that process.

Once successful KS of these adventures would give enough contactable backers to make the others a near ‘sure thing’, or as near as you can get with crowd funding.

This now gives me two stages of the chain. Kickstarter one each month, and straight to storefronts to the other. Continue to build my lists and then launch a Patreon for regular PF adventures, and invite your contacts to support your patreon. There they get to playtest new adventures and have an input, maybe choosing which one to KS. Possibly show them a choice of covers and let them choose which is to become the next adventure.

This becomes the front of the chain. Patreons shape the building, Kickstarter acts as your pre-order shop window, and then DTRPG & Amazon (plus any others) for long tail sales.

So that is the plan.

Can I find two days in every fortnight? Yes, I think I can.

Am I going to do this?

I am going to try. I have the core PF2e books, and the Fantasy Grounds ruleset. I think I have everything I need. I have also spent every evening this week deep diving into Golarion. It has to be worth a try.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

Leave a Comment

WordPress Anti-Spam by WP-SpamShield