From the shadows they came…

Hi there Kickstarter fans,

Apologies for the long delay since the last update. Life, the universe and other non-publishing activities have just taken up the majority of my time lately, between family duties, the Day Job and personal issues. I won’t bore you with the details.

A few people have asked some questions over the last few weeks, and I want to answer them here.

1) What’s happening with the hardcopies?

When I’m working on book stuff, it’s this that’s taking up all of that time and effort. I’ve been working with a printing house to get the book out to backers and hopefully work towards larger scale print runs. To say that it has been a rollercoaster ride is an understatement. The print house is capable of outputting absolutely amazing quality, and when they get it right, the end product is gorgeous. Sadly, there have been a few issues with consistency and finishing that have meant a LOT of back and forward work to sort out. I’ve had to reformat the layout three times to meet the changing needs of that print house, but we are still struggling to get the quality right. The most significant issue is the alignment of the page cutting, with the page crop lines and bleeds being the focus of lots of change. Even with several compromises being made and two rounds of completely re-generating the full-page images, we still have issues with the cutting being 5mm or more out of alignment. At the same time, a couple of bulk runs have shown that colour depth and binding issues creep into a percentage of the output, again giving me concerns about consistency.

As such it has been a long 9 months of work trying to get this right. The print house’s sales and customer relations manager has been brilliant, but due to issues beyond his control I have approached the business manager directly, Who has now told me he does not think his business can achieve the consistency and professionalism I’m looking for. As you can imagine, after 9 months work, I am absolutely livid at this. Having put the rest of the process on hold whilst getting this sorted, it feels like we have all wasted three quarters of a year on this.

At the moment I’m demanding a full refund if that’s the way he wants to go, and I’m not willing to accept anything else. I don’t have the available budget to take a partial refund and still be able to even move forward with any printing options. The remaining ring-fenced budget from the Kickstarter funding was piped into this print work, and there’s basically nothing left from that financing. As such, if this print house creates any financial problems, then there will be some hurdles to overcome. We will deal with those as time permits.

The other side of the hardcopies is the DriveThruRPG print on demand versions. As part of the process with the print house, I think I have a valid PDF version that meets DTRPG’s submission requirements apart from the base template. I’m planning to speak to my DTRPG representative and see how to finalise the version for submission. I need to create a new cover template for that one, as it will be hardback, then make sure that my graphics are in the right format. My research tells me they NEED CMYK versions, but I’m not sure that’s the case.

2) What’s happening with the EPUB and Kindle versions

They are stalled at the moment as the changes needed in the PDF/POD version will filter down to the other versions. Feedback from buyers and reviewers has shown some errors, omissions and typos as well as graphic changed needed that will need to be included in other versions. Due to the really crap way that Scribus has formatted the text, I can’t just “export” the thing to a single plain file – I have to manually copy it section by section and paste it into a new document. So I only want to do that once.

3) What about the physical stuff, like dice, dice rings and GM screens

Again, the priority has been on getting the hardcopies sorted out – it has taken MUCH longer than anticipated to get that sorted out, but once that has either been finalised with the existing print house or they decide to give me a full refund, I may take a break from that to do some research. At that point I am strongly considering moving forward with getting physical stuff out there. I have minions lined up and ready to get their hands dirty wrapping and posting.

GM screens are suffering badly from the botched print situation – the format of the screens is changing the most from the original concept due to the printing constraints and what I’m learning about the process. Having a complete, full A4 page printed edge-to-edge is apparently quite difficult (although I can’t see why) so I’ve looked at options to make printing the GM screen out and assembling it a little easier, especially if the pages are bound into a book. Once this is finalised then I’ll be getting to work on the stand-alone e-copy and the printed versions.

4) WIll you be taking copies to conventions?

This again feeds into the printing issues – the plan was, and this was arranged with the print house, that the successful completion of the Kickstarter print run would result in a further order to print a larger run for convention attendance. I had four conventions planned for this year, three of which were in the Midlands and one in Yorkshire. I have had to cancel the three Midlands conventions completely, due to them being attended as a trader, not a general attendee. The annual Fantasticon convention, run by Fantastic Books Publishing and being held in Cleethorpes this year, is the last chance to push the book in 2018 but it is now impossible to get hardcopies ready in time: Fantasticon is in the first weekend of September. 

So sadly it looks like the printing issues will mean that I have missed an entire year of convention sales, a matter which I will definitely be bringing to the attention of the print house over the next few days. No books will be seen at conventions this year. 

End Notes

That’s about it for now. The project that never ends lives up to its reputation. I appreciate the support from you guys and the endless patience. It just seems that every attempt to progress brings new problems and that every decision made is the wrong one. All I can ask is that you bear with me as I try to get things moving again.

All the best,