Ask The Other Editor, 11/18/2004
Hanno Terbuyken asks:
"Ever since I saw you advertising your books, I wondered: Are they going well?"
The answer is, sadly, "Not as well as I'd like." Paint Shop Pro for Dummies is doing well and always has, but my Ultimate LAN Party Guide book was either going to have the kind of comfortable sales that come from the only book in an untapped market, or it was going to crash and burn.
It didn't quite crash and burn, but it hasn't done nearly as well as I'd hoped.
Still, I've got a nice income stream from my next book, which should do better - it's a book of useful PHP scripts, which I think will sell pretty well. If I can write it well enough to be impressive. I hope I don't suck as badly as I think I do.
"I'm a long-time Ferrett Fan, and, although I first discovered you through StarCityGames.com, I enjoy reading your LiveJournal material a lot. I haven't kept up on the blog so much since you moved from your domain, but I was wondering if you were ever planning on putting these into some sort of published form. I noticed you've written some totally awesome books (and, as a fledgling publisher, I'd be interested to know if these were self-published through print on demand, or something else), but do you have it in ya to write something for us folks who don't like reading about technical stuff?"
Wow. Them's some kind words. Thank you!
I am currently trying to sell my essays, and have been submitting them to various magazines. Unfortunately, a huge stopping point is that I don't know what markets can really use my stuff.
Me? I write anecdotes and clever stories about my life, much like David Sedaris does. The problem is that magazines will publish David Sedaris essays because he's famous (and, to be honest, a much better writer than I am), but no magazine I can find seems to be saying, "Please send in wacky sex stories and strange tales of smoking dope with homeless people." If I could find one with a decent circulation, I'm sure I'd be in like Flynn.
I've thought about trying to bundle up my essays for a book, but I'd never self-publish. I think self-publishing is the height of self-indulgency; if you can't get someone else to bankroll you, chances are pretty good your writing isn't all that hot. (Exceptions may be made for people who are also publishing other people's books. "Starting up your own press" is different from self-publishing.)
If anyone reading this knows of a book publisher who's interested in publishing off-beat humor, or if you know of a magazine that could use stuff in my style (and they pay money - I can write for free on my own site), drop me a line. I'd be grateful.
Steve King asks:
"You mentioned before how carefully you track the web hits to various articles. I wonder if you were aware that some of us (well at least one of us) religiously read Chris Richter's 'Rules Tip of the Day' even though it does not necessarily inspire us to click on anything."
I suspected as much. I know I like it.
"What are the benefits of buying your own domain name? I'm sure there must be some for you to have done it, but what are they? Also, whaddaya think about off-beat sets like Unhinged?"
The benefit for me is that my email address always stays the same. I've switched Internet providers four times since I founded my own domain, and I've never had to send these bulk emails that say, "I used to be email@example.com, but now I'm firstname.lastname@example.org! Please update your address books!" I am always email@example.com.
Plus, having your own domain name makes you feel all cool and manly. I use it to pick up chicks, myself.
As for Unhinged and its ilk, I love it. I hate the way that tournament-level play really hoses card design.
How do tournaments restrict design? Well, having to write every card so that its interactions are clear enough to not be disputed when $500 is on the line is a considerable restriction. Just take Goblin Bookie, a seemingly innocuous card that says, "Tap: Reflip a coin." Apparently, this had some serious rules problems because you had to tap to reflip a coin, but flipping a coin was usually a cost and nobody had priority to insert an effect into the middle of a cost...
Eventually, Wizards reworded it tournament-style with Krark's Thumb, but still. You know what Goblin Bookie meant. Sometimes, I think you should be able to say, "Screw the official rule - you know damn well what it's supposed to do, so make it do that." But you can't do that in tourney play because there's no room for ambiguity, and so I'm sure there are many good, flavorful cards that hit the circular file because they can't word it properly.
Also, you have to make sure that every card is appropriately-powered. If you make a mistake in a serious set, it's going to haunt you for the next two years; with every Friday Night Magic tournament, That Damn Card will show and dominate the room. Thus, you have to be conservative. I like the idea that you can say, "Look. This is a goofy card, and it's powerful but we thought it would be fun. If it's dominating your kitchen table game, feel free to ban this set - because it's not supposed to be used seriously, anyway."
And I like silver borders. I mean, I really like 'em.
Plus, this sort of thing clears Mark Rosewater's head, and I'm sure the rest of R&D loves the break they get in just kicking loose. I'm convinced that even if you don't like a "wacky" set, the ability to step outside the boundaries for awhile is like a mini-vacation for the hard-working guys at Wizards that allows them to return, refreshed. (And they do work hard.)
I'll be there, flippin' cards on Saturday with joy. But I hope I don't get Gleemax. That doesn't look like a lot of fun at all.
"Who was that man (let me take this time to let you know I'd like to shake his hand) that made my baby fall in love with me?"
I don't know his name, but birds suddenly appear every is near.
The Ferrett asks:
Got another question? Go ahead; ask me.
The Here Edits This Here Site For This Here Week Guy