My daughter turned two years old in November. She had just started day care. My wife is working on her degree and I’m working full time in IT. I wrote my own blog, Free Orcs, off and on. It was hard for me to write regular content. One reason was that I was the only one writing. The other was that few people were reading and I had next to no feedback. It turns out I thrive on feedback, or at least the idea that people want to read what I’m saying. The only other group to host my content was an article on KoboldQuarterly.com and I didn’t even know when it had been posted. I eventually closed Free Orcs, not wanting to be another voice in the darkness.
I got an email from Chris about his site, this site, StufferShack.com. He read my blog and let me know he’d be willing to host my content. I had never heard of StufferShack but I liked the idea of writing with others. I began making and updating content.
My articles begin to appear on StufferShack and Chris shows me how to view my hits. I feel successful when my articles get views in double digits then climb into the hundreds. At the beginning of February, I decided to set some goals for myself, keep track of my progress, and keep a good schedule. I decide by the end of the year I wanted to contribute to at least five different blogs or podcasts, and publish at least two books. StufferShack counted as one. I had work to do. This is in addition to my job, supporting my family and all the other goals I had set outside of RPGs.
I start using Reddit and Stumble Upon and soon I see my first article with over a thousand views. Plus, I got a re-tweet from @Wizards_DND. As far as I’m concerned that means someone who works for WotC liked something I wrote. That’s awesome. Its my first article in the thousands of hits.
I start submitting myself to sites to try to get my name out there. I did end up hitting my blogging/podcast goal, appearing on StufferShack, KoboldQuarterly (again), RPG Circus, Netherworks (now Hereticwerks), the DM Roundtable and the Gamer Assembly. Some of these even lead to other opportunities.
It turns out I really like being on Podcasts. It’s odd because I hate listening to my recorded voice. I think it’s because you always get a group of intelligent, opinionated people to speak on a specific topic. To me that’s fun. I’ve become a regular host on RPG Circus. I sometimes leave the recording frustrated but keep coming back for new episodes. Who wants to listen to a bunch of people agree with each other? If you have a podcast and need guests, talk to me.
I got the opportunity to review Soldiers of Fortune before it was released. I probably could have been kinder but I wanted to be honest, and I’m kind of a blunt individual. I ended up going through the book as an editor might, which led to a conversation with the author, Matt James, and the publisher, Wolfgang Baur. I am very thankful I was a stickler and found these errors. Aside from my wife, Matt James has probably been the single most encouraging person in regards to my writing. He is an awesome individual. You should buy his books.
I had some decent responses on Kobold Quarterly with my web content. Quinn Murphy and Tracy Hurley both live in my area, and had some success with working with Open Design, both being published in The Lost City. At Wolfgang’s encouragement I started working on a new project, which was larger than any I had yet tackled. “Project X” was to be my first publication. The work was slow.
I signed up for the Midgard Campaign Setting, and after initial voting we found that 4e was not to be one of the primary settings. More patrons were interested in Pathfinder and AGE. Many of the 4e supporters left. I didn’t. Some of us began to write, and post, our own conversion. Project X was shelved for a new project, the Midgard Bestiary for 4e, which I developed with Richard Green. It came with a contract! I soon got a query accepted for KQ Magazine and finally was published in the Fall Issue. Despite the fact that the Midgard Bestiary isn’t slated to release until July (and these things can change) all the writing was submitted at the beginning of December. I’m counting it as my 2nd publication. Did I mention it has updated/converted/inspired content from almost every Open Design product ever released? And it’s awesome?
A quick note on Freelancing: Wolfgang is also awesome. If you’re interested in designing RPGs you should join an Open Design project and submit to Kobold Quarterly. He’s rejected plenty of my ideas, and every time he does he manages to encourage me to keep going despite the fact. It’s his superpower.
Open Design is a great place for aspiring designers to chat and get feedback. I’ve been on EN World for years now, and found some great people in their Living Worlds’ forums. There’s been some discussion on Twitter and blogs this year on whether there’s a community around D&D. I firmly believe there is, and I feel better for being part of it.
The previously mentioned Quinn Murphy ran a site for most of 2011 called At-Will. It was a great site. At some point around May he started up an IRC Chat room for people to talk about D&D. It was great to finally speak to people and have a more natural conversation. Chat flows faster than forums, but allows for more complete thoughts than Twitter. He was kind enough to have me speak one night as one of the events, and I thank him for helping me connect with people I call friends.
There was an unfortunate misunderstanding that was complicated by other events and feelings. At-Will is no longer in operation but the chat lives on in the Gamer Assembly. We’ve even built upon it with a shared blog and wiki. It’s still being developed, but a few great things have already come of it.
So what’s coming in 2012? Well I guess I really am a freelancer now. This morning’s announcement reminded me that I had several 4e projects in the works, and I did not know how this would affect them. Did I mention I wrote a book? It’s probably out in July.
“Project X” has been delayed until at least 2013. Another query I was waiting on has been rejected, at least in the form it was submitted for.
I’m going to keep writing here on StufferShack and on the Gamer Assembly. It will be mostly 4e content, as that’s what I play the most regularly. Expect to see some content roll in for some other systems as well. I’ve been looking back over the content that’s been the most read and trying to write more on those lines. My top five posts here are Designing Fantasy Cities: Purpose, Asmodeus – Steal this Monster, Dungeons and Doctor Who, Cybermen – Steal this Monster, and Fortune Cards – A Little bit of Critical Luck. So I get it, you like Doctor Who and D&D.
I did submit ideas to WotC during the last round of pitching. This is a big deal for me. Had you spoken to me in 2010 I never would have considered that I could be in Dungeon or Dragon magazine. It wasn’t on my radar as a possibility. That’s still unresolved.
I plan to attend PAXEast and hopefully my first Gen Con. I have not made much money on this yet, despite my morning nerves so we’ll see. April will see a new Site of the Year Contest, and I’ve had to step down from judging because it conflicts with my wedding. This also costs money, which is why you don’t see me at more cons.
If you want to support me, and freelancers like me, you should comment. Not just here, but on other blogs you read. Send questions into podcasts. Let KoboldQuarterly know that you like their content. Ask your favorite indie developer when their next product is coming out. Oh, and if you’re a 4e fan, don’t stop buying products. Some people are already ready for 5e, and that’s great, but if you’re still playing 4e over the next year, and you have the money, please buy something. It doesn’t have to be a forty dollar book. It can be some tiles, minis, or a ten dollar PDF. Let people know you are playing the game and want content.
I’ll see you this year. I’ll be writing as long as you’re wanting. There will be dragons.