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 Itch.io 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.

8 comments:

  1. That all makes sense to me except the last one. What do you mean by promotional help and why is it cheating?

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    1. A lot of mysteriously successful KS campaigns or books will have got where they are by having friends or family with contacts or resources.

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  2. Don't have a white collar job and definitely don't have any money so this is all very helpful. Appreciate it thanks a lot.

    EDIT: Did people really freak out over the don't read so many RPGs stuff? Wow.

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    1. I'm glad it's helpful!

      And yea, they really fixated on that. Although to be fair I think most of them didn't read this list and were just angrily riffing off someone who did. No biggy though, it's all bluster

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  3. Excellent advice! Who are you working with to print 1000 books for £2k?

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    1. I print it in Estonia thorough a couple of different places. You can see them on www.printinestonia.eu. They're all comparably priced it's just a matter of what you're looking for

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    2. I appreciate the lead! Many thanks.

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