On Blogs Versus Books

There is hardly any new content in the Hack & Slash Compendium: Blog Collection II, yet it took over a month and nearly 500$ to create.

It wouldn't be worth it, if I didn't need the compendium. I used the treasure pdf when designing dungeons. But over the years, I've made additions to it, and used Abulafia to automate it. The original document wasn't enough. I've added to my own personal copy.

I also put a lot of content up here on the blog, a 50 item series on interesting treasure, discussion of hoard types, etc. Blogs aren't the best format for reference. It's not only a collection for utility, but also prosperity. Although I don't think my blog will disappear or I'll suddenly be without electricity or internet access at some future date, it is even less likely someone will come into my house and destroy the books on my shelves and lulu will shut down, and my blog will be shut down, and all my digital devices die.

If that does happen, I'll probably have bigger worries than generating treasure.

But that's not enough. Tom's article on who you meet when leaving the dungeon is the best implementation of the baroque Gygaxian tax force that's ever been written. How could I publish a treatise on treasure and economies without including it? Arnold, who's the most creative writer in the OSR had just written the single best list of 100 minor magic items I've ever read (and I've read about a dozen of them since I started gaming). John wrote an article on an unspoken tradition that has been part of our history that I felt needed to be recorded.

I feel, and I could be wrong here, that each of them would have let me publish their work for free. That's not right. So I paid them. 5 cents a word. Apparently that's better then a lot of professional publishers pay (he said, stroking his own mane).

Arnold wrote a lot of words. c_c

Paying people when releasing pay what you want is a risk. I honestly don't know if I'll make any money on this project, but losing money is ok too because I don't mind so much come tax time. All the revenue generated will be going to future projects, because the point isn't profit. Objectivists and wall street accountants everywhere are losing their minds.

Picking the articles, contacting everyone, getting them paid, that all took some time. But that's not the whole of it.

This book goes down on my permanent record. I recently read a self-published book by a young author who died (at 33) that is filled with grammar errors. He was intelligent and college educated, yet anyone who reads his work will think—well, I'm concerned about my permanent record. In history.

So blog articles are editable. They are edited once after I write them and usually again shortly after they are posted. Then, I am lucky enough to have thousands of readers who point out obvious errors. But that's still not enough. There are a lot of extra words. I frequently mis-use then/than. Incorrect but correctly spelled words slip past the spell check. The the slips by the the editor, because brain error correction.

After selecting then editing the articles once again, that stuff has to be laid out.

I want to be clear here. I am doing nothing unusual or innovative with my layout. It is a book, organized into three sections. Still layout took 7 days. I have a full time job, but that's half a day of layout on each of my days off (the other half was spent writing blog posts) and then a few hours I could get in every morning.

This next part sounds crazy, but it went really fast this time because my wife was hospitalized. Because I had to work, Pawpaw (my wife's mother) took our daughter and my wife was alternately at the hospital or staying with her family for their assistance. I could provide little child-care assistance while at work or sleeping and she needed the help. So I had several days in a row where I didn't get have family time, or spend time with my daughter.

On the other hand, I got an awful lot of layout done.

Even the simplest layout takes time. Every page has to be gone through. Individual pieces and blocks of text need to be adjusted. You have to consider the final page count. I was shooting for 64. The final book is 100+.

At work, I used my spare time to do the art for the cover. Ink on bristol.

Once it was laid out, I printed it out again and gave it another edit. Came back and made more changes, and then set it up on lulu and ordered print proofs.

It was a good thing I did. On my print proofs, I forgot to texture the compendium II covers in the same way the compendium I covers were textured. I also made an error on the spine with the publisher logo and author name, putting it far enough down that it got cut off. It was my first time printing with spine text, so I wasn't surprised.

Once lulu printed and shipped me the books (paying for printing and shipping again), then I was able to check everything out. And like any good publisher, opening the book you just printed makes every error you've made stick out like a sore thumb. Another round of edits at my day job, and I was ready to spend the entire work-day yesterday fixing those errors and getting the copies put up on RPGnow and Lulu.

Throw some articles in a .pdf, I said. Do it once a month, I said.

Yes, technically this makes me a liar to my Patreons. I am clearly not doing a Compendium every month. But then again, I've messaged them telling them about this, and the general response was themed blog collections that are nicer and take longer are more appreciated. Also, I always try to do something extra for them, from bonus backgrounds in the first one to offering a coil bound version at cost for the second one. They always get them at cost.

It's not like I have seven unfullfilled kickstarters and am spending all my free time attacking people online. I'm ok with me.

It's a lot of work, but there's something really nice about seeing books on a shelf that are yours. I look at Fire on the Velvet Horizon, Yoon-Suin, Strange Stars, Slumbering Ursine Dunes, A Red and Pleasant Land, and The Mad Monks of Kwantoom, and I know that other people are having that same sense of satisfaction. (Also it doesn't hurt that this is my second release to reach #1 on hottest titles on rpg.now).

So, I hope this explains some things. I hope you find the compendium useful or inspiring. I certainly get a lot of use out of it. I'm going to write articles for a week or two, figure out what I want to compendium next and get in touch with some artists and writers over the next several days to start work on Ecology.

Hope everyone checks it out!

Print Copy, Perfect Bound at Lulu
.pdf Copy, at RPG.now
Print Copy, Coil Bound at Lulu (Patreon Only)

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  1. Purchased - thanks for your efforts and creativity.

  2. Just ordered a print copy. I'm looking forward to leafing through such a mighty tome.


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