So You Wrote A Good Book And Don't Want To Starve To Death?

I am an independent publisher. I have no secondary income, I have no one supporting me, I have no investors, I had no "seed money", I have no savings. Indie right? The following disorganised advice assumes the same situation as me, with a physical book. If you have money or a white collar job then I have nothing for you, you're already loaded just spend that money you have to make more. I'm not an essayist, this stuff bores me to tears but it should be out there freely and not handed out like wisdom from the mountain top to our deserving disciples.

Practical Things I Wish I Knew Sooner:

  • Make a website. Weebly or Wix or whatever you fancy. Get a domain name. From that website you make a sales pitch which you can direct people to. The website then tells people how they can buy your book if they want to. 
  • If you want a distributor just put your book on amazon. RPG distributors are terrible unless you are WotC. We are not WotC. Amazon is fiddly but open to anyone.
  • Do Facebook/Instagram ads. They are cheap and ludicrously effective. Use your nice art and words to drive people to your website you just made. Get into google ads if you're confident but they're not great for us.
  • Have a shop. It's optional, you could rely on amazon and to get paid, but a shop is another step on your way to pure independence.
  • If you don't know something ask someone who does. It can save you a lot of time and money.
  • Kickstarter is just cheap advertising, don't let it get you too focused on it.
  • Have a presence on social media. Twitter is ok. You don't have to be into it, you just need to be there as another path to your work.
  • Have. A. Website.

Assorted Practical Concerns
  • You should mark your book up around 10x the physical cost if you wanna eat. If 10x the cost is too much then you need to pay less for making your books. Offset printers are great
  • Don't be afraid of offset printers. Once you start paying proper money for things things get cheaper and people are way nicer to you. Proper printers have infinite patience for our bullshit.
  • A print run of 1000, hardback, 150 page books at a proper printers should cost you around £2k. More or less.
  • Kickstarter is a great tool for advertising your book. It can get you the money you need to pay for the print run and it gives you a socially acceptable excuse to hype yourself for a month. Do not use it with the intent of making shitloads of cash. It's not gonna happen unless you have outside help and besides, they'll take a % and turn what was a very affordable advert into a very expensive one. 
  • A healthy tail end of a book is a couple of years. Make your money slow, safe and reliable
  • Make your book cover as nice as you can afford. That's the thing that gets shared on social media and is always gonna be money well spent. Even if the guts are empty and the build quality sucks, have a nice cover.
  • Hire an editor and trust them
  • Read fewer RPGs, they're a circle.
  • Go back in time and don't have children and a lifestyle to maintain

Some Vaguer Points
  • If you're half in you're half in.
  • Non-rpg books are the best inspiration for writing rpgs. The same goes for making and selling them.
  • You're not gonna disrupt the market unless you're gonna disrupt WotC. You are not gonna disrupt WotC.
  • You have no competition. We're all here to help each other and anyone who isn't is gonna sink like a rock.
  • Getting promotional help from outside RPGs is cheating. Build a bridge we can all cross.

I didn't invent any of this. I asked, copied and stole. I'll add more as I remember it.

Two Headed

A roleplaying game is a medium. Like oil colour, poetry, sculpture or prose. What is interesting is the results. Focusing on the method is at best an interesting side note and then only to a few.

Look at painting and wonder what brand the painter used, what size brush, which hand they held it in. What pen did the writer use? How many breaks did the sculptor take? Feel the tiredness wash over you, feel it fill up any space interesting thought could take

Theatre feels like a good comparison but it isnt. The rpg is the script, and no one cares how you make the script. The performance is the table and that's out of our hands

The performance is different

Confusion happens between them. A roleplaying game is not the table. I'm not interested in the table, you can have it.

Don't belabour the comparison, it's not perfect.

A game book is manipulative, it is psychology, it is magic. It can be a text book but then its a perfunctory item. A text book is the sum of its parts

the table is in conversation with the source text. the book should have the decency of being a generous partner.

The game book is one of two heads

The book is never neutral and can stand up to interrogation. It never just is. It is a statement. These are all obvious points and i forget them


I just want to read and write and maybe play video games if i'm feeling harassed one day. Just waking up has too much maintenance, sleeping interrupts me every time. In a perfect world I'd never sleep or want to.

I used to be ashamed of how easy I am to derail and tried to fix it. One day I gave up and let it be known that that's how it is and it's not my problem it's everyone else's don't invite me.

It's very easy to not do anything but the pressure of making something builds up until it is more uncomfortable than being comfortable and then work happens. Busy work and circular work doesn't generate pressure. It's a barking dog that gets louder and I just pull over more blankets. I can keep pulling all day.

I used to pay someone to let me moan but the pressure of having something interesting to say every week was too much. I could spend that money on work. Running games is the same but I don't save any money.

Some days i'm nauseous with things I want to make and then i'm told the world has been knocking all night and they're tired of dealing with it. Cold bath sober.

How unhappy are you willing to gamble on being happy one day?


These should be universally applied to all possible encounters regardless of attitude or anatomy


  1. Keeps a bit of dried alzabo brain in their cheek. Voice changes slightly as they talk
  2. Chews fragrent bark 
  3. Licka the back of their hands while thinking
  4. Keeps all their change in their mouth
  5. Visits their mother regularly
  6. Politically divergent and argumentative
  7. Collects religious tracts
  8. False beard made of colourful wool
  9. Prone to fits of ennui
  10. Owl wine connoisseur


More things should be considered. Anything to break the monotony of people only wanting to get in the way or fulfil their function. Every person has multitudes and we're all very busy. Roll a thing, live the thing through the NPC even if it never gets mentioned. Don't insist on bringing up owl wine just because they like it, just have that in the back of your head; the manticore that liked owl wine, the democratic orc and so on.

Permian Nations

Hey, check it:

This is the first post-troika troika kickstarter. First of many most likely. Like I've said before, the quieter it is the busier I am making stuff. Not that this is mine, it's Evey's. We all know Evey, fellow G+ diaspora person, writes good.

I've got two books for troika fully under way and about 4 more that are being tested for holding my patience. It's a slow process but as soon as something takes it'll snag and unwind a book in no time. Much like Troika did.

Wargame design external brain

one thing wargames do much better than rpgs is they share ideas without crying about it. Side effect of rpgs getting virtually monopolised by one big fat american corp. Wargames have no monolith, no single financial truncheon, no group of bestest friends advertising them. This is a good thing.

We will use the basic wargame. Chits, Attack/Defence/Movement, possibly with Steps and Supply, definitely with Ratio, maybe with Chit Pull. These are all basic concepts.

Wargamers are literally dying out. They are old. They like ww2 and other conflicts involving america.

Make a wargame with indie sensibilities. Cave Evil are doing it.

The problem with fantasy and sci fi wargames is lots of stuff. Things i can think of right now:

1- They dont have any emotional connection (see old men and ww2/america invades the world) so must make their own.
2- There is a temptation to make then a symmetrical conflict AKA chess

Every wargame i have enjoyed has been lopsided and told a story. I know more about 40k than ww2, plus space naizis arent real.

A fantasy (i'm gonna use fantasy to mean both 'cos that's fine) wargame has to tell me a story quickly. It has to have a warp and weft, ask questions the players have to answer, have lots of answers. it must be pretty, it must be replayable, it must be chunky, it must be fun. It must not be a generic frame to hang more things off, it must not be a minitures wargame clone.

Wargames can do so much and don't.

It should probably be 2 player. No one knows multiple people who will play with a carboard token on a map. dont lie.

It should have a shape that suggests the ability to make more things and build upon it. It should be open and welcoming, it should have fewer than 4 a4 pages.

it needs a hook. it needs and punchline. it needs to be something you can sell someone on in a sentence. Dark Emperor is about Sauron-like invading a post apocalyptic fantasy land. Obviously great idea. into it. it has a shape and you can picture it playing out.

It's such an easy thing to do. The rules are already made all you need to do it hang them in a suitably tasty way

Itchy Troika money

If you have a troika related thing on Itch, I propose a deal: I'll give you troika to bundle with your thing. The price of troika as part of your bundle will undercut my price and hopefully drive people to invest in your cool stuff.

  1. Top Right hand corner > Sales & Bundles > Co-op bundles > Create new co-op bundle
  2. Pick a snappy title
  3. Write a witty description
  4. Add the URL of one or more of your Troika! projects via the "Game URL" box
  5. Then add Troika!:
  6. We'll come back to "Minimum Price"
  7. Set a Goal if you like. Up to you
  8. Set the Start Date at 22nd of October 2019 and the End Date somewhere further in the future
  9. Now's the hard part. The split. All I want is $6. Set the minimum price and the cut so that $6 happens (or close enough, don't sweat it)
  10. Click Create Co-Op Bundle
  11. Then, VERY IMPORTANT, you have to send me a link to the bundle. Itch doesn't notify me that you did it, so if you don't tell me I'll never see it.
  12. Make sweet troikabucks

$6 and you guys make money and therefore can pay more rent and justify making more things. 

PRO TIP: You know that extra $6 people aren't spending on Troika with your thing? I encourage you to dig into it. So say you cool book is $10 on its own. It could be $16 with troika (with a 33%ish share to me in that case), or it could be $20 (like... a quarter and a bit? to me? Maths). See, you're still undercutting me and also making more money. Do as you please!

Also feel free to use this:

On Advice on Advice

ive been thinking about writing advice a lot lately, remembering old articles from university, books i liked, things i carry with me. It's a difficult genre to do. Good writers are bad at explaining it, and people who are good at explaining it rarely have anything to say.

I don't like procedure. Procedure is a trap. Every writer has a different system so you can safely ignore any suggestion of a method. No one cares what pen you use, what desk you sit at, what font you pick, what program you use. Write it on napkins, buy a ridiculous leather book and a £300 fountain pen, just get on.

The only method is sit down, do the work. Or don't. 

Recharging your imagination can be work. Reading, mostly. Films and TV are a little useful but the time:value is not great. One good book can nourish you for months, most films are barely a snack.

Social media is not work. Communities is not work. Writing is work, preparing to write is work until it isn't. 

Don't be your own critic. Others will do that for you for free. 

Always always look at the back catalogue of anyone telling you what to do. Feel free to ignore me.

Be brave. Write the game you want to make and ignore everything else. Experiment with structure and form. If you want to have a 10,000 word read-aloud box of a diegetic novel in you adventure then do it. Have the entire adventure in one room. Tell me where that cup came from in such a way as being entirely impossible for anyone to find out through normal means. Don't eliminate yourself from the work in pursuit of an audience. This isn't penicillin, we can experiment with the formula. If you aren't then you're committing the cardinal sin of inflicting boredom

Be ugly. Never be afraid to look cheap and nasty. Similarly don't be scared of being too beautiful, too expensive, too much. But don't feel you have to be one or another for someone else's benefit

Finish it. Just finish it. Then make people pay for it. People who think you're making toys will pay it, they're used to it. People who know you're making art will pay it, they know what you're dealing with. You need to eat, you need to escape the cycle and breathe. 

Even if it is bad charge us for it we will buy it

Do not try to please anyone. Do not be dungeons and dragon. Be small, be specific, be interesting.

Nothing you do before writing matters. Sit down and write. Whatever got you to that position is what you need to do to keep on doing it.

Ignore assumptions, reevaluate accepted systems for how books are laid out or approached. And for the love of god look at things outside RPGs. All it takes is for someone to play boardgames, read history, read something not in appendix n, and they look like a genius innovator. We're not. None of us are.  We're looters who travelled further from the village.

Steal harder. Write an adventure that is a criminally close copy of a novel you've read. Transform it. You'll learn things.

Be inconsistent. Change everything, ignore everyone, write. Be only consistent in that you sit down and write. Even if you are bad at it, write. Write more, finish more, ignore audience ignore clicks and fame, people will recognise something special if you just keep doing it. 

Think: Eventually a body of work can't be ignored. The size might vary, but it speaks for itself. You don't want a mad success, steer clear of it. They are poison, full of switch-backs and madness. Slog in the dirt, write, finish. There isn't anything else, no way out.

I have more but it is 5:50am and I'm bad at it