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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 32 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [Hell for Leather RPG] Things You Gotta Do Before Printing  (Read 6772 times)
Sebastian K. Hickey
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Posts: 176


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« on: April 11, 2010, 11:23:04 AM »

In 11 weeks, HfL is going to be launched but I haven't even spoken to a printers yet. What the fuck do I do now? Where do I start?

Using advice from a mix of sources, I intend to post a diary of the process. Starting today.

I hope that new publishers will benefit from the experience.
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Sebastian K. Hickey
Member

Posts: 176


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« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2010, 11:24:53 AM »

Dear diary,

Last night I got in touch with Brennan Taylor from Indie Press Revolution (IPR) and asked if he'd like to view the Hell for Leather Teaser PDF.

As a European publisher, I need to figure out how to get into the U.S. So far, my strategy includes IPR—who vet all of their products. Before I get too steeped in printing and distribution, I've got to see how the land lies with them.

I also sent a non-disclosure agreement to OneBookShelf, the parent organisation behind Drive Thru RPG and RPG Now (for PDF distribution). If that goes according to plan, I'll be able to release promotional and release products with them by the middle of May.

Sebastian.
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Sebastian K. Hickey
Member

Posts: 176


WWW
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2010, 11:31:13 AM »

Dear Diary,

Today I got feedback from three important parties:

OneBookShelf
My application was accepted. I am now ready to publish PDFs through the RPG Now and Drive Thru RPG. I plan to use this to distribute the teaser PDF before release. OneBookShelf charge 45% off every sale which is forcing me to consider a $13.50 PDF. There's a lot of thinking left to do on pricing...

Anthony Rowe
These are the printers behind Lulu Europe (I've been told) and boy are they good. I got a quote for 50 books, 84 pages each at 5.5in x 8in on 80gsm white text stock with a 300gsm card stock, gloss laminate, full colour cover: €195 including the setup fee. My sales rep is awesome. He's knowledgeable, quick to respond, and up front with the facts.

Fidlar-Doubleday
For US distribution I've chosen to go with Fidlar-Doubleday. The quote for the same quantity of books on 60gsm paper comes in at $248 (€182). Again, the support from these guys is really fantastic. They offer promotional materials (sans setup fee) if you order them with the title. In this way I hope to get 50 double-sided letter sized Targets printed on card stock as a bundled promo offer (with the PDF).

****

Today I also learned that matte finishing on the front cover is probably a bad choice for dark colours (advised by Paul Bourne and Gregor Hutton).

And I ordered two samples of paper so that I can figure out which option will be suitable for Hell for Leather (Hi-Bright white vs. Readers Natural cream). I'll keep you posted.

Sebastian.
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Sebastian K. Hickey
Member

Posts: 176


WWW
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2010, 04:42:40 PM »

Dear Diary,

Today I finished the cover artwork for Hell for Leather and I found out that Fiddlar-Doubleday use U.S. Web Coated (SWOP) v2 as the ICC colour profile in their RIP. If you're using them to print, make sure you convert your CMYK images to that colour profile to get a good idea of how it will look on paper. For example, here are two versions of the cover:

Euroscale Coated v2
U.S. Web Coated (SWOP) v2
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Sebastian K. Hickey
Member

Posts: 176


WWW
« Reply #4 on: April 16, 2010, 06:45:18 AM »

Dear Diary,

Yesterday I got some paper samples from Anthony Rowe (aka CPI). I printed out a test page onto two kinds of paper. You can click on the link below for a look (sorry about the quality). The one on the left is their off-white option. I'd say it's around 50-60gsm. I was very tempted to choose off-white because I've always found high contrast pages difficult on the eye. However, you'll agree that the images degrade badly on the cream paper.

I did a little research. The reason the white paper does so well with printed images is to do with paper brightness. The paper is coated so that it reflects light better. This makes the blacks stronger and sharper. Also, the whiteness of the paper (different from brightness, which is all about reflected light), improves the natural contrast in tandem. Bammm. Punchy graphics.

So, having done my homework, I'm opting for 80gsm Hi-Bright coated text stock.

Sebastian.

Paper Comparison
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Sebastian K. Hickey
Member

Posts: 176


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« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2010, 03:15:44 AM »

Dear Diary,

Two days ago I posted the Hell for Leather Teaser to Drive Thru RPG. It has been downloaded 66 times.

If you're going to upload a file to DTRPG and you're worried about the automatic Flash preview feature (which displays the contents of your book on the product page), give the system 24 hours to recognise your PDF.

Sebastian.
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Sebastian K. Hickey
Member

Posts: 176


WWW
« Reply #6 on: April 24, 2010, 04:06:15 AM »

Dear Diary,

Today I heard back from IPR. Hell for Leather has been approved, pending the signing of an SRA (Sales Representation Agreement).

I'm delighted!

Sebastian.

P.S. The Teaser has been downloaded 92 times (in eight days, I think). I don't know what that means, but maybe you can use this as a guideline when you release your own games, to retrospectively measure success/failure.
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Sebastian K. Hickey
Member

Posts: 176


WWW
« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2010, 11:37:39 PM »

Dear Diary,

This morning I found out that IPR sell ISBN codes for $10.

Converting an ISBN into a barcode is easy and will help distributors sort their stock. Happy distributors = good policy.

I'm buying an ISBN from IPR.

Sebatian.
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Sebastian K. Hickey
Member

Posts: 176


WWW
« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2010, 02:54:44 AM »

Dear Diary,

Today I found out that Anthony Rowe (CPI) in the UK use GRACol 2006 coated for their CMYK colour profile. I will almost certainly have to paint up another version of the cover to match their gamut.

Sebastian.
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Sebastian K. Hickey
Member

Posts: 176


WWW
« Reply #9 on: June 15, 2010, 04:32:50 PM »

Dear Diary,

Today I got my ISBN from IPR and an email from Fidlar Doubleday about estimated delivery times. They say they run 6-8 business day turnaround for printing and delivery. Is that possible? Let's find out next month!

Sebastian.
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Sebastian K. Hickey
Member

Posts: 176


WWW
« Reply #10 on: June 30, 2010, 09:25:41 AM »

[This post should have been made on the 21st June]

Dear Diary,

I just got a quote for shipping from Fidlar Doubleday. The cost (excluding VAT and other taxe) is $80.77 just for postage. It looks like I've got two options. Either I get the proof sent via email as a PDF or I send it to someone in the U.S. who I can trust to give me accurate feedback.

Would anyone like to help me out?

Sebastian.
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Sebastian K. Hickey
Member

Posts: 176


WWW
« Reply #11 on: June 30, 2010, 09:26:40 AM »

[This post should have been made on the 26th June]

Dear Diary,

My contact at Fidlar Doubleday relocated to San Fransisco. I didn't think much of it at first. But today, as I was trying to calculate how wide my spine would need to be in the cover artwork, I realised it could have been a serious problem.

My contact had been replaced by a fellow I'd heard nothing about. All of the communication I've had with this new guy so far has been neat and clean. He's given me no problems at all. The only thing is that when I email him, I have to wait a day for a reply (before I was getting replies within the hour). That's a little upsetting, but I can live with it.

I asked him to adjust my old quote (because of the increased page count). It all seemed fine. Today, while I was trying to calculate the width of the book's spine, I went back into the new quote to make double sure that the stock type was right. Holy balls! The guy had quoted me for the wrong paper! He had put down a quote for the rough, thin paper instead of the Hi-Bright stock I'd agreed on.

Look, this is not going to be big news to anyone with half a brain, but still, I almost got messed up by it. If you're getting a print done and your contact at the printer changes, make sure to double check everything before you proceed. You never know what the handover is like on their end, and what information will get mishandled along the way.

Sebastian.
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Sebastian K. Hickey
Member

Posts: 176


WWW
« Reply #12 on: June 30, 2010, 09:28:03 AM »

[This post should have been made on the 27th of June]

Dear Diary,

I converted my ISBN into a barcode today using this handy website.

I changed the "Symbology" to "ISBN," and the "Options" to "includetext." I found that a scale of 3.5 x 3.5 created an image about the right size for a normal sized book. I exported it as a PNG and dropped it onto my cover in Photoshop.

Printers will convert your ISBN into a barcode for you, but they'll charge you €30. Save yourself the cash and do it yourself!

Sebastian.
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Sebastian K. Hickey
Member

Posts: 176


WWW
« Reply #13 on: June 30, 2010, 09:49:08 AM »

Dear Diary,

Having spoken with Jason Morningstar and Joshua Newman, and having thought about the situation at length over the weekend, I decided to cancel the hard proofs (the cropped but unbound version of the text stock and the un-cropped, uncoated colour proof that is sent out for publisher review).

I was going to pay $60 for the proofs (not including shipping) to be sent to Joshua Newman. The idea was that he would be able to spot any problem areas in the print run.

I still think it's a sound plan.

Except, with the looming GenCon deadline, I'm concerned that it will be a waste of time. By that, I mean that if the soft proofs are okay, I don't think that anyone unfamiliar with the project will be able to easily find problems with the printed layout. Okay, sure they'll be able to tell me if my layout sucks, but they probably won't be able to notice inconsistencies between the soft and hard proofs. So, essentially, I'd be asking Joshua to critique my layout, which is a consuming task and, since I won't have time to make changes, would be completely unnecessary.

It wasn't an easy decision. It's a huge gamble. Like, if Fidlar Doubleday are incompetent, I could end up with fifty copies of illegible print and I won't have any comeback. A dangerous gamble?

If I was more worried about the colour accuracy on the front cover, or if the layout held more importance to me, I think I would have gone for the remote proofing option (or I would have paid the $120 for the proofs to be sent to Ireland). As it stands, I'm concerned with getting copies to GenCon. I don't think I'm going to sell 50 copies in the next year, so it's important to me to keep the costs down and to get the game to the biggest markets. I hope it pays off.

Sebastian.
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Sebastian K. Hickey
Member

Posts: 176


WWW
« Reply #14 on: July 05, 2010, 06:39:29 AM »

Dear Diary,

Today I uploaded the proof PDFs to CPI (aka Anthony Rowe). The modified cost of each book (not including the setup fee) will be £1.84. CPI include a bound sample for proofing! That means I'll get to see the book in all its readiness before I commit to the 50 prints. Things are so much easier when you print things in your own continent.

Sebastian.
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