Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Notes on micro-publishing, part 4

I had three goals with making Oddpool:
  1. To have fun making something and sharing it.
  2. To learn a little about the behind the scenes logistics of this kind of enterprise.
  3. To raise some money towards artwork for future releases.
In the last three posts I've talked about how I went about making Oddpool and sharing it, what it cost to do things and how I set them up, and then I shared details of what has happened in terms of sales - and did a breakdown of where £1.99 for a print edition goes.

In total I've generated £15.41 towards future artwork (and with thinning out my RPG collection this number has been added to), so I've done something towards my third goal. What about the other two? Did I have fun? And what did I learn from doing this?

Rough, unused/non-final art of some "Spidercrew" cultists - may appear in a future Oddpool campaign...


Actually making the Oddpool file and making it available to buy took, I think, around twenty hours. This included spitballing around ideas based on notes I had from running it, writing, typesetting, creating art and all of the other things involved. I passed a very, very happy hour one morning in August just walking around Liverpool taking pictures. The sun was shining, and I had my head up to look for details around buildings that could look odd. It was great.

When friends and family asked what I was doing of an evening and I told them, I was full of enthusiasm. Talking with people online, telling them about my idea - listening to feedback and ideas from people who were interested that someone had made something - responding to correspondence from people around the world who wanted to ask me questions about what I was doing next... How could that be anything other than fun???


In no particular order or ranking, I learned:
  • that I could make something and people would buy it!
  • that I could make something and people - based on the feedback so far - thought that it was a useful and useable supplement.
  • I have an audience! Through print and pdf sales, something I've made has connected with over 40 people, which feels like a solid beginning for future efforts.
  • you can get into a rhythm of folding Pocketmods, but it still feels a bit of a chore; future projects will probably be a little bigger and involve less home-assembling.
    • ........but I still love Pocketmods, so I'm sure there will be a few more in the future.....
  • setting up Paypal and Payhip is actually not too bad - I won't need to do either again, but it's good to know how they work. It's easy to build up barriers - "I don't know how to do that!" - but easier still to just try something.
  • I ummed and ahhed over whether or not to put a minimum on the pay-what-you-want for the pdf. I'm still umming and ahhing.
    • Only two of twenty "sales" so far brought in money, and for one of those over 60% of the payment was taken up in fees. 90% of people getting the pdf did so without payment (one or two people might have also bought a print version).
    • I felt that more people would pay something for it than did; when they didn't I felt a bit annoyed, which I feel is unreasonable - I did allow people to not pay anything, and I felt OK about that at the time!
      • Feelings man, feelings...
    • If I had offered it with a minimum, would twenty people still have picked it up? Maybe not.
    • I do have all twenty email addresses now, so can potentially follow up future projects with them.
    • How happy am I about pay-what-you-want? As a consumer, I've always loved it; as a creator, I'm not entirely sure.
      • Feelings man, feelings.......
  • I got a great note from someone about the pdf - which is formatted for home-printing - which is that it could be neat to offer an A7-sized pdf as part of the download so that people can view it at the right size on a phone or tablet.
    • Got to follow that idea up: thanks Eric!
  • sticky address labels with my "return to sender" details would have saved some time in writing addresses...
  • ...as would having a home printer that could reliably print on to address stickers for labelling envelopes! Or perhaps it is more straightforward to find a service that can just make stickers/labels for me.
  • weight matters; if I'm going to create something and distribute it myself, I'll need to think about how much it might weigh, as part of the price of something is the shipping costs.
    • So many occasions recently when I've gone to support something on Kickstarter, but then found out the cost of support would almost double with shipping (and thus, put it out of my affordability).

Wrap Up

There's more stuff too I'm sure, but one thing stands out for me: as with so many other personal projects I've done, I once again realised that the biggest barrier to getting something done was my own doubts about what other people might think. Or whether it would be a "good" result.

This variant of impostor syndrome has been thoroughly dispelled for now, thanks to really liking the finished result and getting a few emails and messages from people now that Oddpool is out there to say, "Neat! What's next?" That's a great feeling, and a huge help to me.

As for what's next... I hope to announce that in the next ten days or so. Stay tuned!

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