It has been almost a year since my last blog post. I have no idea how that happened. Well… I kinda do. Life took over and unfortunately my go with the flow attitude meant that blog posts got put on the far back burner. I wanted to post a new one to share where we are now, what has been done since my last update (spoiler alert, it’s a lot) and a few of the hiccups along the way.
So, where are we now? In the last year there were a few real positive moments with the project and there were a few upsets as well. First let’s get the positives out there! The book art is done. Elizabeth, the artist I worked with did a FANTASTIC job on the artwork and I am so stoked for everyone to see the rest of the work she did. I already gushed about how cool her artwork is in a previous blog post and if you’re on the Anthems of War discord (link in the footer) you have already seen a bunch of it. Actually… the whole book is done!
Other than a final proofread, some adjustments to the cover layout and some nitpicks inside the book, Anthems of War is ready to go out to the printers! In the last year I spent time working on token, template and ruler designs and they are looking really good! I am trying to determine the best way to have them printed and if I wanted to do lasered acrylic, MDF or punched cardboard for these. I imagine it will be a combination of all of the above.
I was invited to be a presenter at Hal-Con this year, demoing Anthems of War on their gaming floor. Hal-Con is the biggest science fiction, fantasy and pop culture convention on the east coast of Canada and has one of the biggest gaming floors in the country, so to me it was a huge deal! I set up two different layouts, one at 15mm scale and one at 28mm scale and just waited for people to show up and ask questions. With little advertising and only word of mouth and foot traffic the game was a huge hit! I even had one guy come back 3 times to play more and more complex games. Anthems of War got played more than Warhammer 40k and Star Wars: Legion that weekend! It was a low traffic area but it is still something to brag about in my mind.
Now onto the bad news. I lost my job this year and that is where our biggest blow to the project comes. For those of you that have been following along from the beginning you know that this book is 100% self funded. I have been slowly saving for printing costs but with the shift in jobs it means I had to focus more on finding a new place of employment and making sure I can pay my bills before spending any more money on the book. The biggest setback from the job loss was actually around housing. Right now, my wife and I are living in a tiny condo. We are planning on buying a house but between the job loss and the horrendous housing market we are having a hard time finding something. A house would mean I would have room to store an inventory of books, set up a small shipping area and be able to send the books out to folks who order directly through me. The extra room would also mean I am able to build more terrain for book photos for future books. Always important but less of an issue at the moment.
Depression also reared its ugly head again this year. One of my early depression symptoms is procrastination. Even on things I enjoy, like working on Anthems of War. I’ve broken free of that with help from my doctor and I am back chugging through bits of work. I won’t go into the details, I will reiterate that if you or anyone you know are suffering with depression there are so many resources online and you are never alone. There is always hope in the darkness. My recovery is still ongoing, but thanks to the people in our community and my personal support systems I am getting myself back to a spot where I feel more like myself.
In spite of the obstacles I faced this year, in the last few weeks I’ve investigated a few print on demand services that would potentially help me get the books out sooner. Print on demand would mean that I would lose a tiny bit of my profit from each book but I would also not have to worry about maintaining inventory, shipping, returns and all that stuff that usually requires a dedicated space. Any of the books you’ve seen me post before have been printed through a service called Blurb. Their quality is great, but I am less impressed with their storefront so I am looking at other printers. The two I am looking at right now are IngramSpark and Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). As of the writing of this blog post I’ve received my printed copy from KDP. Unless they add new features to their print options I will not be printing with Amazon. Their book quality was quite good but there are a few issues with the printing that I did not care for. The pages overall have a more matte feel which is nice but that also carries over to the cover. The cover just seemed kinda muted compared to the other prints I’ve received. They also do not allow duplex cover printing (having stuff on the inside of the cover) and they slapped a few extra blank pages at the end of my book. The quality is good for novel writers and folks doing other types of books but I am not convinced it is the approach I want for this book. This means that I will not have an Amazon listing for the book unless I jump through some more hoops to get a better copy in their warehouses. This is fine with me. Very few indie tabletop games publish with amazon anyways.
I am still waiting on my printed copy from IngramSpark. IngramSpark allows me to distribute to brick and mortar shops but has a few issues of its own. It is more difficult to sell directly to customers. I am investigating one of their other products that allows the creation of a storefront. If their printed book was up to snuff I will try their storefront! A few places I’ve looked online tell me that Blurb uses IngramSpark for printing and distribution. If that is the case it will mean I can cut out at least one middleman and be able to keep the quality I liked! It will also mean that I have an option for hard covers, which is an option I’ve not been able to investigate before and seems like it would be a huge upgrade for those that want it!
When is the book coming out? This year for sure! I have set a goal for myself of having books on sale by Hal-Con 2022, which runs from October 28th to 30th. That gives me a solid goalpost and a date in which you can start (gently) harassing me about release dates if you do not hear from me before then!
What am I working on next? That depends on where I am feeling most inspired in my free time. I have several things in the pipe and I want to get all of them out to you. First, I have the Hordes of Northreach singleplayer campaign book. I’ve hit a bit of writer’s block with that one but I am slowly plugging away at pages here and there to make a branching narrative that is just as fun to play the fifth time as it is the first time. I am also working on a few bits of the work for an eventual scifi expansion, making Anthems of War playable any time period from stone age ancients, to modern settings all the way to the far flung future! In fact, I’ve got a prototype of a space fleet combat module about 80% done on its way to local playtesting! I have a few other mini campaigns planned as well but they are just in the idea and story generation phase.
2022 started off as a really shitty year, but that is behind us and I am extremely excited for what 2022 holds for Anthems of War. I hope you are too! Until next time, links to everything are in the footer. Join the discord, follow me on facebook and instagram. Until next time friends!