This will be our last post on the Kickstarter project for the Rogue Mage RPG. The previous two posts were mostly about the networking part of the project: how we all met, the pivotal push we got from Mike Pruette, and some of the difficulties — namely, the huge problem of translating the Rogue Mage series, its world, and its magical system into a game, about why it took so long, about how life got in the way, and how we lost one of our writers, Raven Blackwell.
Even with losing some high-priced backers to their own life disasters, we have exceeded our goal of $6,000 and just passed $7,000. We will be able to publish the Rogue Mage RPG, with all the fiction it contains. I believe that we will make it, though there is always the possibility of losing more high-supporting backers. Therefore, I’m keeping true to Mama’s old saying about not counting chickens when they are still eggs.
Today, I’d like to address several things: first, setting up the Kickstarter itself. It isn’t hard. One person has to be in charge of the setup and the money, which means that if you are going in as a group, you must trust the person in charge. Early on in the project, Christina Stiles, Mike Pruette and I sat down and discussed who that person was to be. I volunteered, got voted in, and since the project has my name attached to it in terms of advertising and the series, I was happy with that. I am trying to carry out my part of that with all the right moves and attitude. The Rogue Mage RPG Kickstarter isn’t just my project, you see; it belongs to us all: Christina, Mike, Steven, Spike, and the others, who I will introduce in a moment.
Early on, we decided that we needed help with the PR aspect. In came Adonna. Mike, tell us how Adonna came to be part of my life and the Rogue Mage RPG Kickstarter project.
Mike: As I’ve said before, first and foremost, I am a fan. Over the years, I’ve stepped into a few roles that Faith has offered me, including Web-master, digital artist for her web site and eBooks that she has independently published. I also had the pleasure of introducing Faith to Adonna, who has taken control of her Public Relations and Marketing. Right after Mercy Blade was released, Faith and I were discussing some of the things that we needed to be doing out on the web to draw people in. PR and SEO isn’t my niche, so I set up a lunch with Faith and Adonna to discuss some of those things. Adonna has always been one of those people who want to know what the numbers are and where they came from and then how to get more. Since that meeting she has been Faith’s PR/Marketing guru. Once we began the Kickstarter project, I think both I and Christina were insistent that Faith bring her on board.
Faith: It’s that networking thing again. Things just seemed to fall into place. Adonna has been a godsend in my writing career and so I pulled her off of the Raven Cursed PR work and put her to work on the Rogue Mage RPG Kickstarter project. Adonna, give us a short bio.
Adonna: My name is Adonna Pruette and I specialize in public relations, marketing, and creative strategy for fiction authors. I help people tell the story of themselves and their books/products in a meaningful way to the end buyer – readers. I’ve been working with Faith since the release of Mercy Blade.
I work to improve writers’ website content for surfers and search engines, garner blogger coverage and traditional media mentions, and help close any informational gaps in the digital marketplaces where their books are (or should be) listed. I also work with them on social media strategy and expansion to help increase their fan base for the long term. Not to mention that, in working with Faith, a serious fringe benefit is I get to go to Dragon*Con and work (ha!) this year. I also have a website over at www.TheAuthorPro.com.
Faith: And tell us how you used your skills and what you contributed to the project.
Adonna: The question on any project is, “How can I get people to pay attention to what we are doing without having them tune us out?” Spamming has never worked. Surfers are *really* numb to efforts like that these days. They will unfriend you and unfollow you quicker than you can blink. With our 45 day timeline, we needed to talk to potential backers in lots of places online all at the same time which can be a real challenge. And because there is a HUGE amount of fiction in the RPG, we also needed to remind the readers of the Rogue Mage novels who Thorn is (Faith’s character) and what is so special about her and her world.
I compiled an overall marketing plan & strategy for the Rogue Mage Kickstarter project in order to make the best use of all online networks available to the entire group. I had to identify the major groups of potential buyers as well as formulate ideas for backer tier offers that might really motivate them to pledge. Once those were planned out, the next stage for me was figuring out what kinds of things we should say to potential backers, using press releases, content ideas, and messages that could be shared in various places. Each person reached out to different media and online organizations, ones they were already familiar with. The fans of the series have certainly remembered – the project has met and is now surpassing its goal, and a little over 50% of the pledges came from readers.
It is a great feeling to connect potential buyers with a project and have them return that in kind with a resounding yes of support. Everyone (the readers and the writers) are happy with the end result and that makes long days tweaking ads and clarifying messages a whole lot shorter. The Kickstarter backers are the entire reason that more Rogue Mage fiction is going to come out at this window in time. That is wonderfully satisfying.
Faith: Which brings us back to the project. We are less than a week away from being done with the project. It has met its goal, and soon we’ll be able to pay our artist for artwork, Spike for editing, and for the layout. Christina, tell us a bit out layout means, and maybe show us a character so people can get an idea what a game book gives us, other than the fiction.
Christina: Layout and art are the final bits of the pre-publishing stages of an RPG (or really any) book. This is the part where most writers just get back to writing other things while their publisher handles the final nitty-gritty. Yeah, well, we can’t do that: Faith and I are the publishers, and we are effectively going to be an imprint of Misfit Studios, Steven Trustrum’s company, which is already well-established in the gaming industry–and which is a company I’m a member of. So, that means I’m tracking down professionals in the industry to help us get this book toward that printing goal.
Faith: So tell us about the art that is still ongoing.
Christina: I selected Peter Bradley with Troll Lord Games to do the majority of our book. The original RM Player’s Handbook seraph cover is by Jon Hodgson, who is well-known in the gaming industry. Rick Hershey, who works with Adamant Entertainment, has done several characters for us. We also have a few character pieces from Joyce Wright, Faith’s mother. The character I’ve selected to show everyone is one of Rick Hershey’s pieces. BTW, in terms of Carolina connections, Rick happens to live in Myrtle Beach, SC, though I met him the roundabout way through a company out of Washington state. So you see, networking is really important in this business.
Faith: In Kickstarter, backers offer money in return for rewards, and our rewards to our backers have to increase with each tier. Those rewards would have to come from us in the form of fiction, game adventures, books, and (of course) I offered to provide jewelry. Mike, tell us a little bit about the leather book covers for the tier rewards.
Mike: When we were talking about what we could offer as incentives for pledge rewards, one of the things I mentioned was custom hand tooled leather book covers for the hardcover editions. I don’t think it took much arm twisting to get that included. It is a REALLY cool addition to the rewards available. I envisioned this really old tome like cover for the books that will make it feel like you are pulling out some archaic volume of knowledge.
Faith: I’ve seen the prototype. Gor-Je-Mous! And you know how the smell of leather is so bookish, yet we never get that these days.
So. We just passed $7,000 on the kickstarter. Once it is over we will have to start fulfilling the reward tiers which is a lot of work! Work I am looking forward to. Take a look at the project. It is really cool. And think about your life and projects. While it might not work well for an unknown writer to get a project out there, it might work well for other creative projects that buoy up your writing career.