Monday, August 9, 2010

Game Design

You’ve heard me bitch about formatting and other things that go into putting a book out for sale, but I’m not sure I’m making sense. Here’s my process: I come up with an idea for a book. I come up with probably 5-10 ideas every week. I write them down. I think about them a little bit. Some of them, I start writing outlines for. Time goes on. The list of books grows. I jot down more ideas. After a month or so, I usually wind up combining ideas because some of them are just too similar.
Once I decide that the idea didn’t suck, I start laying out the book. For me, the writing is easy. When I was doing magazine articles, I always use to say, “I write at least two pages a day. Give me some direction and I’ll write two pages a day for you.” {Side bar - I am looking at ways that I can put several of the magazine articles out as pdfs on the web-site - likely for free.}
Now, some ideas grow or shrink with time. All the Glitters is the best example. All that Glitters was intended to be the Legend Quest treasure supplement. It would include everything from a bigger better list of everyday items to a discussion of treasure (mainly gems), possible random charts and tons of new magical items. Yeah - That would have been about 600 pages. All that Glitters is now: Grain Into Gold (the economy), Coins of the Road (trade goods), Facets (gems, including magical uses), All that Glitters (treasure that is not necessarily “normal”), Coins of Fletnern (all the specs on the coins themselves), and a magical item supplement that I’ve never liked any of the names I have for yet.
OK -So I write the thing - the easy part is done. Now I have to edit it. Even if I am using outside editors, I still read the book at least three times. The first is to make sure it says what I want it to say. I have a tendency towards massive run on sentences, so here these get trimmed, sometimes. Then I read it for continuity and editing (punctuation, sentences that don’t sound garbled, etc). Then I really edit it, looking for spelling and grammar. Then I let the software edit it, showing me what it thinks are spelling and grammar errors. That’s not really reading, since I don’t see all the book.
Then I have to format it. Now, a lot of formatting was done during writing. I developed the chapters, I decided whether to use a list format (like 100 Towns - which is selling REALLY well, thank you!) or a text book format (most of our two column books) or possibly: ”story book” (one column - most of these have died off). I also have to figure out how to make the headers look, what to do about the page numbers, any art work, etc etc etc etc. By the time I’m at this stage, it’s mainly how do the pages look. Chapters typically start on the top of a page. There shouldn’t be any huge patches of white in the book. Then I upload it into Adobe, and have to start the formatting process all over again. Included in this is the need to re-read the book for the fourth time, because sometimes Adobe puts letters on top of each other and other oddities that look really stupid.
After all that, the book is read to publish, but only if I have a cover picture and a sales description set.
The moral of this story is this - I have a lot of books written, or mostly written. That is the easy part. Getting from written to published is the hard part. Then sitting back and watching a product I worked that hard at not sell well - well, it isn’t very fun. Fortunately, Legend Quest, Grain Into Gold and now 100 Towns sell really well!

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