I thought I’d back up for a moment for those who have never heard of QT Games LLC, or have never visited my personal or new QT Games Google+ page, blog, website, forums, facebook or twitter accounts, etc. [Those of you looking for our regular Designer Diary, I’ll post another shortly—been slammed this week shipping off our first anthology!]
Small Press or Self-Publisher?
QT Games was founded to produce creative, blended-genre products—everything from fiction to RPG, board and card games. We’re not new on the block—we’ve been doing this sort of thing for a very long time now, but we figured it was past time we stepped into the ring and actually began publishing some of our stuff.
Since I (Bob Whitely) am currently the only member at QT Games, some might consider me a self-publisher, and while there’s nothing wrong with self-publishing, the term doesn’t accurately convey what I’m doing with QT Games. Self-publishing may have some similarities, but there are many differences.
QT Games would more properly be called small press. You could also refer to it as an indie publisher (not part of a major publishing house).
Self-publishers only publish their own work. Our first offering, Arcane Synthesis: A Blended-Genre Anthology, was set in our Cosmoverse Campaign Setting and was the work of numerous talented folks, including Darrin Drader, Robert Duran Jr., Allen Farr, Ed Greenwood, Lee Hammock, Steven E. Schend and myself (and a few others, actually).
It wasn’t the first time I’ve assembled teams to work on QT Games projects. Before we even opened our doors officially, I gathered a number of creative individuals to work on one of the iterations of our pen and paper RPG, Cosmothea, as well as on the Cosmoverse. It is my hope to continue working with talented writers and artists, primarily on QT Games IP’s, but if all goes well, on the IP’s of others as well.
Sadly, many self-publishers forgo pro-level editing and cut corners, sometimes without realizing it, and at other times their products are lacking due to financial limitations and other reasons. There are some really great self-published products out there, but there’s also a lot of garbage. I’m also seeing plenty of mistakes and poor execution even in products published by the big name publishers. The worst offenders, however, tend to be self-publishers, and so all self-publishers are lumped together and are sometimes looked down upon. Small press is often looked down upon as well, but they are not the same thing, and there are a few indie publishers putting out some really terrific stuff.
The popular dream of publishing ones work via ebooks on the cheap is real, but putting out quality products—even quality ebooks is Not cheap. Not really (even amazing editors need a good editor—seriously), and a mind-blowing artist still needs time to work for “free”, if you can truly call it that, or the project will take forever to release. And there are many other hats to wear — and other talents required, to be successful in publishing. Not every author or game designer has the talent to own and operate a small press.
I make a living as a commercial artist, doing digital paintings, concept design, branding, etc. and I still hire artists at times to ensure the right art for the right project. Publishing great fiction and wonderful games with high production values is likely much more expensive, more challenging and more time-consuming than most realize.
I rarely balk at the high prices I see on some books and games as I have a good idea as to what went into putting them together and know that distributors and retailers like Amazon take a big cut.
What Consumers Want:
Let’s face it, you and I want great products. We don’t care how much it costs companies to make the products. We just want what we want. Gamers tend to want high production values, but don’t want to pay for them.
Frankly, art means a lot to me. Unless a game has legendary reviews, I might check it out as I like to be up on what other game designers are doing and like to analyze games, but I won’t likely play it if the art isn’t good. I just can’t get into it, but I know that expensive art both jacks up the cost of production and should jack up the cost of the product itself (though I’ll do my best to keep prices down and still provide cool art, but it means I’ll take a hit on royalties and in some cases might not be able to have as much art).
Fiction readers also want cheap books, but books cost serious money to publish. You may think ebooks are free money for the Publishers, but they’re not. Many factors go into the publication and pricing of books and ebooks, and Publishers generally earn very little off each book—especially small press.
Where does that leave QT Games?
We don’t have piles of money laying around, which is why we turned to you and Kickstarter in 2014, and why we will do it again. It is because of the high cost of publishing and our desire to give you more than you pay for, that QT Games has been so slow to enter the fray.
We’re committed to putting out only high-quality products. This means that we aren’t rushing to publish just to get a publishing credit, but are taking the time to do it right (We’ll make some mistakes along the way—already have, but are improving all the time).
While I hope to one day be able to pay the bills working full-time at QT Games, the company’s focus is not on making piles of money, but on publishing something you’ll be proud to have on your book or gaming shelf.
Arcane Synthesis is about to hit the shelves. I think it turned out great, but I’ll let you decide! We’ve edited it to death and it’s lookin’ pretty. We got the books back from the printer and sent them off to the backers. We’re still setting up shop over at Drivethrufiction.com and Amazon, but will launch the book this Summer. We still have some more Kickstarter rewards to finish and send off before diving back into our next book: The Living Train.
The thing is, Kickstarter isn’t a bank. It requires fans standing with us. Our last Kickstarter was a success, but there’s no guarantee our next one will be. Getting funded isn’t easy for indie publishers. We need to keep growing our fan base and we need fans spreading the word if we want to keep putting out cool, blended-genre goodies!
This is where you come in. It doesn’t mean much for us to toot our own horn. We need people spreading the word on the sites that carry our book and on social media, and we need your feedback so we can improve what we’re doing! That way we all win!
We’ve got a lot of very cool projects in the works. If you believe in what we’re doing, please consider writing a review of Arcane Synthesis, spreading the word and standing with us again when we move forward with our next Kickstarter. ‘Nuff said.
I appreciate each one of you who stood with us in 2014 as we launched QT Games and our dream. You guys are awesome! I think you’re going to love Arcane Synthesis and the other goodies we’re cooking up. I’d love to hear your thoughts!