Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Broken Camel and the Straw


Is there someone with real world experience in dealing with DriveThruRPG. Tonight I got an email that has me ready to be in need of "film at eleven" and "he was always so quiet".

What has gone before:

I have been involved with Print on Demand for about ten years or so. DriveThruRPG has given "problematic" a whole new definition.

Annals of Tan Soor Historical Society
I did my first Print on Demand project with an outfit started by Ken Whitman, but he was already out of the picture by the time Annals of the Tansoor Historical finally arrived at my door, warts an all. My warts. Not theirs. Took one go-round and boom, it was done. That was 2006 - and I can't even remember the name of that company.

Recovery Ready, 2nd edition cover
Then I started using and for some books and a magazine, print and PDF delivery. Several titles there - I don't know who know. Simple Directions, Recovery Reader, Sponsor Magazine, Good Orderly Direction, The Work, and The Work Book ... several titles, several iterations. Not perfect, but better and better. I think all of those are still available through Recovery Reader, 2nd Edition is my real flower out of that crop. Ditto, So, seven titles brought to market. Not "no problem" but minor problems, quickly resolved and the publications were.

House of Angels playbook
A friend suggested I try CreateSpace for Okay - and i got my plays The MAMA Law, Fever, Living int he House of Angels, and Assassins, all up in their system, no real problems. Novels - Climbing the Spiral Mountain and Song of Orphans, up, not real problem. Novella - Niall's Dream, up, no problem - less than two weeks from inspiration to book to sell. A collection of short stories The Taste of Fire, up, no problem.

I don't just do Jorune - and there are jobs I do for clients that I don't even list as 'mine', which are compelted, up, and more personal experience successfully getting books into the Print-on-Demand world - which have worked.

GOMO GUIDE TO THONEPORT, first version,, not problem, first attempt with DriveThruRPG. Problems. Got word DrivethruRPG now offers direct royalty payment for participants, so that moved it a leg up. It also accesses the audience I'm trying to reach with Return to Jorune titles. A few weeks of back and forth, but we got it up.

Thoneport Reboot
Started putting together Return to Jorune, got an artist and did a reboot of Gomo Guide: Thoneport. the troubles began. MONTHS of back and forth, then I couldn't upload files because DTRPG uses Flash, which I detest, but I set up one browser to use Flash and could upload. Five or six versions of files later, it finally went live.

I starting having several months of chaos with Apple, hardware and software, resulting in me getting a Windows machine which did not work at all (it may have been damaged in shipping), and finally getting a MacMini. But the upgrade of OSX to 10.12.5 meant I could no longer use the Adobe Creative Suite, on which I had come to depend. I got a client to include me on his Adobe Acrobat Creative Cloud for access to the same programs compatible, but ... that's what it took.

Cover by Fred Lang
Tried to bring my novel SONG OF ORPHANS to DTRPG, and after four months of no-go, nogo, No Go, Just Go I gave up. there is no SONG OF ORPHANS on DRTPG. And it looks like there will be no SONG OF ORPHANS on DTRPG. Part of the problem was DTRPG said for me to go to Lightning Print/Ingrahm for templates for the cover. I did. That was where the real pain began.

I contacted my rep with DTRPG, who was instrumental in getting the reboot of GOMO GUIDE: THONEPORT into the system, to ask if the cover I did for the forthcoming SHOLARI V2N1, without the Lightning/Ingrahm template from hell, would be acceptable.

He just wrote me to say that I had to reformat it for PDFX-1, not PDFX-2000.

I have NEVER used PDFX-2000, and I have been using Adobe Acrobat since version 1, 1993. This is not my first rodeo. And I have never chosen PDFX-2000, never, ever ever ever ever.

Never. Everevereverever.

And my camel broke. That was the straw. This is my broken camel.

Screen shot of PDF settings
I had chosen PDFX-1. I have a custom Distiller setting for PDFX-1 for DrivethruRPG, which is oddly enough not PDFX-2000.

Then he said they cannot say if the cover works until they have the interior pages? Really? The had no problem dealing with rejecting the cover for SONG OF ORPHANS - 8 times, without the interior.

Oh, side note. Lightning-Ingram template? You fill out a request, I asked for a 352 page book on white paper, 6x9. They sent me the template. I used the template. then it was rejected because cream paper is not in the options available for DrivethruRPG. I did not ask for cream paper. Where the choice says "Paper" the options were "White" and "Cream" and I chose "White. so i did it again, and they rejected it again. And again, then they said it had to be CYMK, which it had been but I regenerated a PDFX-1 PDF using CYMK on white paper, and they rejected it for not being white, but cream. And again. And stripped away everything to do it all from ground zero, and rejected again. And again again.

I have been going with DrivethruRPG because of access to their audience, and paying royalties to my editors, artists, and even other writers. I keep a slice for production, prepress, management stuff. but nobody gets anything if there is not product to go out.

So I pulled SONG OF ORPHANS completely. I cannot eliminate the project from my publishing files page, so I have files listed as "Go Away" - "X Song of Orphans" - "Do Not Use" so I don't accidentally get a rerun of the old headache.

AND there is a hardcover version of the book that failed. I did not order a hardcover version. I have done a hardcover version of RECOVERY READER, which is nifty and good to hold. And I have considered a casebound hardcover with dust jacket, but not just now. And certainly not through DTRGP.

So I am asking for help before I wind up on the News.

Does anyone know the simplest way to get from my computer to the sales list on DriveThruRPG? Even if it means starting from Zero. A different cover generator. A different layout generator. I'm willing. If I have a sytem, I can plug in the products piling up behind Sholari Volume 2 Number 1 to fit into that production process, we can start looking at a product a month. Not four months with NO product as a result. I will cut off some of the royalties in my publishing nightmares section. 


And I'd rather not wind up on the news. It's so hard to get the shotgun on the plane.

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