Lesson #9: What Next?

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Well, writers, we’ve reached the end of the month. Can you believe it? I don’t know about you, but I feel like this month flew by. I hope you’ve created something that you’re proud of. Any progress you’ve made this month is good progress! 

So… what do you do now? You have a draft, you’ve gotten some feedback, you’re running some playtests. Now you want to share your story with the world, right?

If your goal is to publish, you can start readying your work for publication. There are several stages to this:

  • Designing
  • Editing (again)
  • Pricing
  • Marketing

I wanted writers to stay focused on writing for the purposes of this workshop, but I know this information is important and helpful to you so you can move forward. I’m going to address this Q&A style based on questions asked in the Discord channel:

How do I design my module?

Publishing work to platforms such as DMs Guild or DriveThruRPG usually means you’ll be creating a PDF document. (If you’re using platforms like itch.io, you may not go this route.) 

There are many tools to help you design your one-shot. In the Vault, you’ll see links to Homebrewery.NaturalCrit.Com and GM Binder. (The creator of GM Binder, @Ivel, is in the Discord channel and has been awesome about answering your questions!) These are great tools to use when you’re first getting started. Eventually you may want to use more premium services like Adobe InDesign. 

Where do I get art for my one-shot?

In the Vault there are links to free stock websites including Unsplash, Pexels, and Pixabay. DMs Guild and DriveThruRPG have some great fantasy and sci-fi stock art, but be sure the work is properly credited. Premium stock sites like Adobe Stock are also good resources for inexpensive art. If your budget allows, you can commission an artist in the community. However, don’t get caught up in what you think your one-shot needs to look like. GMs want clean, readable material. The rest is important, sure, but not necessary. 

Note: Do not steal artwork! Unless you have explicit permission from the artist in the form of a contract, you can’t just use any piece you find on Google or Pinterest. This is very important, for it harms both you and especially the artist whose work is being used without proper compensation. In addition, your work can be suspended and you face being banned from publishing platforms. 

How do I commission art or maps?

Know that commissioning art requires a decent sum of money, so your budget for a full cover piece will likely be a minimum of $200. When contacting an artist, be respectful of their time and include as much information about the project as you can (what it’s about, how you intend to publish, and especially when you plan to publish). Do not ask or expect free work. Some artists offer payment plans and it’s OK to inquire about that! Art and cartography take time to produce, just like writing. (The same goes for working with editors!)

This is why I personally recommend that new writers stick with stock art or DIY cartography programs when they are first starting out — not because I undervalue the work of artists and mapmakers, but because I know that writers often don’t have budgets large enough to properly compensate them. 

How do I know what official content/intellectual property I can use in my one-shot?

Before publishing, double check the rules and guidelines on Dungeon Masters Guild and DriveThruRPG. If you’re not sure if your module infringes on this, you can always email the team who runs those sites; they are very helpful and happy to answer your questions. 

How do I price my one-shot?

It is ultimately up to you to determine how much your product is worth. You might consider releasing it as a pay-what-you-want title if you’re actively seeking feedback. The consensus in the community is typically $0.10/page — so if you have a 10 page module, you may price it around $1.00. You might also look at comparable work on RPG sites to see what the average price point is. 

How do I market my work? 

Marketing and promotion is never-ending! Here are a few best practices.

  • Use your social media profiles to the fullest! Post your covers, favorite quotes, moodboards, fun facts you encountered while researching, etc. 
  • Consider offering your module for free for the first day to generate interest, and then make it a premium title. 
  • Offer to send out complimentary copies to those who will review your work. 
  • If you plan on producing more content in the future, start an email newsletter and build your readership.
  • Join creator groups on social media; these are a great way to connect with other writers and get input on your projects. 
  • Be active in the community besides just promoting your own work. Share the work others create! Think of your fellow creators as your community, not your competition. 
  • In general: Don’t be a jerk about marketing. Be sure to reciprocate sharing and reviewing. Be genuine and enthusiastic.

Should I use a pen/publishing name?

This is a personal decision for each writer and depends on how you want to “brand” yourself. If you want to keep your writing distant from your day job/professional life, consider using a pen name. You can use your initials or something special to you (or even just a name that sounds cool!). You might also consider using a pen name if your name is really common. Whatever you decide to use, you should plan on committing to it. Once you develop a readership, it’s hard to change your name after that. 

FAQs about the workshop

Are you doing another one?

Yes! Planning for November (to coincide with National Novel Writing Month). There will be both a free and a paid component; I’ll be collaborating with other specialists, including designers and cartographers, to provide as much information as possible. We’ll go into more detail about every topic covered this month. 

Will the Discord remain open?

Yep! I have no plans to shut down the Discord channel so please continue to use it as a resource. Future workshops may have their own smaller chat channels but this one isn’t going anywhere.

Will the information in the Vault still be accessible?

Yep! I am setting up a new website for the RPG Writer Workshop so eventually that will all be moved over, but I’ll be sure to notify everyone when that happens so you have access to the new URL. 

Final Notes

I just want to thank you all for joining this workshop. What was intended to be a simple pilot program has quickly grown into a great community! It’s been a joy getting to know all of you and reading your work! If you have feedback about this workshop, please feel free to email me with your thoughts: ashleywarrenwrites@gmail.com. (If you’re willing to let me use a testimonial for future marketing, that would be extra awesome.)

If you publish a module that you wrote during the workshop, I’d love it if you used the #RPGWriterWorkshop hashtag so I can see and share your work. You are also welcome to use the logo in your module if you’d like to let others know about the workshop. 

I don’t want to say “goodbye,” so I’ll leave you with “best wishes — and talk soon!”

Ashley

P.S. If you’d like to help fund the new RPG Writer Workshop website, you can donate on my Ko-Fi page. This is certainly not expected but know that I am grateful for any contribution. :) Sharing your experiences about the workshop is also helpful and much appreciated.