Don’t Quit: 3 Tips I’ve to Overcome Creative Fatigue

Heroes of History has been so time consuming that I have been unable to write, and that has been frustrating. Whereas writing a book is a pain because I am never satisfied with the final product, the same is true of Heroes: I am always looking for ways to make the game even better.

As a creative person, I work best at night, and trying to adjust to an early rise schedule isn’t always easy. As such, I’ve felt tired at times, and I just want to put off doing any real work. This is something non creative people  don’t get: They don’t know what it’s like to never be truly satisfied with your work, and always wondering how you can tinker with your work to make it better. Most people do something and they think that’s the end of things. We know, as creative persons, we always have doubts about whether our work is the best it could ever be!

So if you feel like you want to quit and take a long break, you will be advised to do so by other bloggers. I don’t agree, among other things that irritate me about some other bloggers (sadly, many give bad advice). Here’s what you can do instead:

  1. Instead of telling yourself, ‘self, I will write 2k words today’, and then not doing it, set a smaller goal of 500 words and then try to exceed it. If you don’t, 500 words is not that much.
  2. If you’re designing a tabletop game, ask a fellow professional game developer to check your rulebook and make sure s/he gives you the satisfaction that your rules are clear and good to go. At some point you do have to stop modifying the rules. This is the problem I had with Heroes: I put in a rulebook, and then decided it wasn’t perfect, so the next set will have a few rule modifications. I know the temptation to keep tinkering with your game, but please. Just. Stop.
  3. Take short breaks, like a few days, but try to work during daylight hours. The biggest mistake I’ve made is working late at night, and that means I sleep less than most people for when i have to get up in the morning.

This is hardly a complete list, but I’d rather get you, dear reader, to offer your thoughts. What do you do when you need a break from your work?

Note: My list is my personal opinion, not what you should be doing. Some people are obnoxious about how superior they are to you and while they are very insightful people, also love to dole out advice as if it’s always the truth and not merely their own opinions.

 

 

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Source Me: Wattpad Changing their Featured List Algoritm

 

I got this from Wattpad. Basically, I should expect my book’s ranking to drop after the six month period is over and if you’re Featured or looking to be Featured on Wattpad, be aware:

 We’re reaching out to you because one of your stories is currently Featured in 
one of our genre categories. We're making a few changes to the process in the
coming weeks and wanted to keep you in the loop!
The Featured List has been around since Wattpad’s inception, and since then we’ve
 had the pleasure of highlighting many remarkable stories through this carefully
 curated and coveted list. 

As you can imagine, after ten years there are now thousands of stories on
our Featured Lists all vying for placement. Unfortunately some are from 
writers who are no longer active on Wattpad or stories that have been removed. 
The more stories we add to the list, the less effective the list becomes and we 
want to make sure that all featured stories have a fair shot at being seen and 
discovered by our amazing community.
We’ve discovered that the Featured List is the most impactful in the first 
six months, therefore featured stories will now have a limited time of 6 months 
on the list. After that, they may be removed to make room for newer ones to keep 
things fresh and diverse. *Please note that some categories will be more 
affected than others as popularity varies by genre.
We want to thank you so much for sharing your story with the Wattpad community.
 It is writers like you that keep us all entertained and inspired!







Source: Wattpad May Pay You…(Call Me) Maybe

Apparently Wattpad has rolled out a new feature for top authors: Get paid with ads in your story.

I received a tip from a fellow Wattpader with a story that has over 200k reads who announced that she is getting involved with a new program to place ads in her featured story as a means of seeing if Wattpad can  ever turn into YouTube and entice people to post, just like YouTube.

Now obviously you are almost impossibly unlikely to get rich making YouTube videos , even if some guy named Shaytard (more like Fucktard to be honest, proof that America is truly becoming an Idiocracy) made tens of millions “working” as a “video producers” (I don’t even want to link back to that) but if you are able to earn a few bucks or even a few hundred, it’s a nice night out gift. Here’s another article about your odds.

Now Wattpad is much smaller than YouTube: whereas YouTube has over 1 billion monthly users, Wattpad is just over 50 million. So Assuming a YouTuber with 1 million monthly views earns say twenty grand a year from her videowork, divide that by 20 and you can see that even the top Wattpadders will likely only take home pocket change.

However, this program could be a boon to authors who cannot get traditionally published or who are not good at selfpublishing, so even 2k is better than none.

 

Getch’a popcorn ready: Thor vs. Alexander the Great (and 3 things I learned from pivoting)

How do you know when it’s time to pivot to a new idea?

First, If you’re not a subscriber to Bradan’s world, please visit bradansworld.com and sign up for the email list. And then follow us on Twitter @bradansworld, Instagram @bradansworld, and Facebook.com/bradansworld.

with that out of the way, today’s feature: Why I moved to Greeks v. Norsemen.

I created Heroes of History with the intention of not only making a fun game, but to let people use it as an education tool, learning some facts while they battle for glory. The US History set has sold hundreds of copies in 3 months of selling, an impressive feat for an indie tabletop game. While I’m pleased with the effort, I had the urge it was worth trying something different. Many people liked the game but responded even more positively to world history, so after listening to feedback I decided a pivot to Greeks and Norsemen made the most sense.

What I learned from this pivot:

  1. People just want to be entertained. I did my best to make the learning fun, but I ended up making the fun learning. Having Thor wield Mjolnir and facing down The Argonauts carrying Artemis’s Bow in the Palace of Knossos (commonly called the Minotaur’s Lair) just got way more people excited than Robert E. Lee vs. George Washington fighting at Saratoga. Okay, maybe they have a point.
  2. Changing the style worked. Whereas Midnight Riders vs. Echoes of the Plains was made in a colonial artwork style, Iron Phalanx vs. Dragonboat Raiders was done more in a fantasy style. We also changed the layout for the cards.
  3. By pivoting, I prevented myself from being boxed in to doing US History only. Most of the world could  care less about US History, but when they  see it’s a global theme, people begin to imagine Romans, Pirates, Wild West outlaws and lawmen, 1920s Mobsters, Aztecs, Celts, ancient Chinese and Japanese, and Inca in an all world brawl.

My tip to you: Whether it’s books or tabletop, it’s okay to pivot. Tomorrow I’ll go back to books and talk about why I pivoted on Era of Bradan.

I’d like to know what you think: Have you ever created something and then felt the need to pivot in order to improve upon your work?

 

We will launch the next Kickstarter September 7th. Please consider supporting us. Visit our webpage and sign up for our email list. Let’s make history epic!

Tips to Overcome the Challenges of Being Your Own Business Person: For Authors and Game Designers

Heroes in History25

So I’ve been at this blog thing for more than a year, though I wish I had more time to get to posting. Today I want to talk a little about the challenge of being your own businessperson.

It doesn’t matter if you are an author or aspiring game maker, it is REALLY HARD to stand out. Even if you have an above average product, you still have so much competition from many other people. Part of the extra challenge when you do creative work is that your product (with very few exceptions) is a WANT and not  a NEED. This I will explain in my next post.

No one needs your book or game to survive. However, there is a human need to be entertained, which is where you must fit things in.

Since I’ve been selling Heroes of History for about 3 months now, I can say I’ve done way more than the average person in terms of sales, going well into the 4 figures in total sales, including Kickstarter. This is considered exceptional for an indie game, which I am proud of. The fact that I got nominated for an award is even better. But, it’s even less likely that I will earn a living from making tabletop games than from writing, and neither is very likely.

I am aware that many indies, authors and game developers, are not very good at self marketing and promotion. So here’s what I’ve learned, and hopefully some of these tips will help you:

  1. don’t use conventions and  trade shows as a primary means of making sales. I’ve been to more than a half dozen comic cons and tabletop cons. I have yet to meet an indie game designer who plans to attend major conventions and actually turn a big profit, if any profit at all. The primary reason you go to those things is to network with fellow indies, meet bigger publishers that you might consider either selling your work to or at least get advice from, and collect information from your customers, such as their purchase habits, hobby enthusiasm, and what future products they might like (such as posters).
  2. You must make as many contacts as possible. One of the reasons I’ve been so successful in selling Heroes of History is that I’m willing to drive out and meet game shop owners from across the Mid Atlantic region, and even in New England (I also visit some Museums too). Now many of the owners will say no, but if even only a few say yes, you will make some sales that your fellow indies won’t because they work a day job and just sell on Amazon and at conventions. Many owners will allow you to do a demo day at the store, which is a good way of meeting potential customers and gaining fans. This rule also applies to authors: Find indie book stores (while they last) and talk to owners about buying a few copies or letting you have a book signing event to get your name out there.
  3. A lot of the stores and museum shops you reach out to will either forget, mislead you, or be careless with, their promises to buy copies. I have more than a dozen stores owners who allegedly were going to buy my game and simply did not return phone calls or emails. Most likely these owners are overwhelmed with running their stores, but many may think they want your product, then change their minds later.
  4. Carry sales receipts! The government counts what you do as a business, even if you’re self employed or file as a sole proprietor (meaning you’re the only employee and will always be the only employee), so you need to pay taxes. Not only to sales receipts give the store or museum a track record of your sale, but for taxes. I use Wave Accounting to log my expenses (disclosure: I have a friend who is my bookie) but I use printed receipts as a backup record.
  5. Use the MileIQ app to record your mileage expenses. Believe me, this is the best purchase I ever made.
  6. Be proud of your product. Even if you know it has flaws, you did what few people ever do: Actually produce something.

 

Got anything that I missed on this list? Share it below. And don’t forget to follow my page.

 

 

 

 

 

I’m a Winner! Maybe

bostonfig-logo

I am pleased to announce that Heroes of History will be a featured game at the Boston Festival of Indie Games and is a finalist for a Figgie. Check out their site:

Welcome To The Boston Festival of Indie Games!

You: What does this mean, Mister Friedman? And why should I give a fruck?

Me: This is their Fifth Annual awards and considering that this is my first try at designing games, the fact that Heroes of History is a finalist makes me proud.

A big thank you to the following people for all their help: Eric Friedman, Benji Seyler, David North, the rest of my illustrative crew (Mackenzie Brewer, Michelle Graves, Dagmara Gaska, and Ben Ramos), and all of my product testers for helping me to get Heroes of History to where it needs to be. Special thanks to Mark DiPaola, Danielle Oliano, and Yeshaya Cohen, Dakota Fuller, the Friedman family (including relatives), the entire Breakie family, and everyone else who assisted in helping bring the Heroes to Life.

Tomorrow: I’ll talk about what I’ve learned from my time selling as an indie. Authors and Game Developers, take note.

7 Reasons for Children to Spend Time Reading Instead of Gaming

philareads.org

This is a guest post from Cassie at Culture Coverage. She asks the question: Why should kids spend more time reading than Video Gaming? Here’s her article:

I would like to thank Sam Ramirez Friedman for sharing this article on his website. He’s helped many authors and potential authors learn about the publishing process, and I’d especially like to recommend his tips on Kickstarter and Wattpad.

Since video games first became popular people have been having heated debates about whether children should or shouldn’t spend hours playing them. While there are excellent arguments both for and against letting children play video games, one thing is certain: reading has more benefits than playing video games.

  1. Reading Improves Academic Performance

For decades parents have been telling their children to read more to improve their school grades, and it turns out that they’ve been right all along. Reading has been shown to improve children’s overall academic performance, as well as their performance in specific areas such as vocabulary, math, reasoning and long-term memory skills. That isn’t to say that playing video games doesn’t have any benefits, but in terms of academic performance, the benefits of reading far outweigh the benefits of playing video games.

  1. Reading Develops Imagination

When children play video games, they don’t need to imagine what things look or sound like as everything is on the screen in front of them. However, not all books have pictures, and none have sounds, so children need to use their imaginations to bring the story to life. Even picture books only depict certain scenes, so children still need to use their imaginations to a large degree. While graphic novels have more pictures than normal books, they still require imagination, and they’re an excellent way to introduce children to reading. Books also encourage children to imagine other things that video games don’t, such as smells and tastes.

  1. Reading Enhances Communication Skills

Communication skills are vital to children’s social development, and reading is an easy way to help children improve these skills. When children read they need to pay attention and comprehend what they’re reading, and both of these activities are essential for effective communication. Children who read books also have better vocabularies and phonology skills than children who don’t spend time reading books.

  1. Reading Reduces Screen Time

It’s undeniable that many children spend way too much of their time in front of screens of some sort. From television to computers to smartphones, children may spend hours each day staring blankly at a screen. Encouraging children to read books dramatically reduces the time they spend watching screens. There is one caveat though: many children prefer to read on e-readers. Nevertheless, reading a book on an e-reader is still reading, so it’s better to let children read books on an e-reader than have them not read at all.

  1. Reading Leads to Better Sleep

Everyone needs to get enough sleep to function well, and this is especially true of children. Many video games are fast-paced and frenetic, which may overstimulate children before bedtime. This will make it much harder for them to fall asleep and also disrupt the sleep they do get. Screens also give off a lot of blue light that can disrupt circadian rhythms at night. Reading a book may be exciting, but it certainly won’t provide as much stimulation as a video game. So, reading is a fun and healthy way for children to relax before bed.

  1. Reading Provides Delayed Gratification

Video games are usually fast paced and provide immediate gratification, whereas books require patience and time to finish. This teaches children about delayed gratification, which helps them understand that many things are worth waiting for and take time and patience to attain. The ability to delay gratification is one of the most important skills that children will ever learn, as it leads to greater success in school and later life.

  1. Reading is Safer

Many of the most popular video games are multiplayer online games, and this means children may interact with anonymous strangers who could be dangerous. Unfortunately, some child predators use multiplayer online games to contact children. If children do play multiplayer video games online, it’s important for parents to supervise them. Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to hide children’s personal information also helps to keep them safe. Thankfully, books don’t pose this problem and parents can let their children read unsupervised.

Clearly, there are many reasons why every child should put down their video game controller and pick up a book, so tell us about any we’ve missed by posting a comment below.

About the Author: Cassie is a writer and entertainment blogger who is a self-confessed bibliophile. She hopes this post will inspire you to encourage your children to spend more time reading. She can be reached at cassie@culturecoverage.com

Will Pokemon Go Help Your Marketing?

Squirtle/nianticlabs.com

If you look around anywhere these days, you’ve probably seen kids of all ages running around looking into their smartphones catching Pokemon via the new Pokemon Go app from Niantic. Simply put, the app uses your phone camera to collect your data for sale to third parties who will market their products and services to you let you find and catch Pokemon for your collection. So you roam around to a spot where Pokemon are and catch and I presume trade, or hatch Poke eggs (I’m not playing). You also go to places and fight other people and pokemon in the gyms. While a few people have been injured or mugged, for the most part the biggest issue is people addicted to their phones not paying attention as they get exercise and socialize with other humans in person.

This post came up in the Jersey Writer Facebook page:

Authors can leverage the crazy popularity of ‪#‎PokemonGo‬ by dropping $10 or so on “lures” during book signings or other events. Cheap, easy, effective. ‪#‎kidlit‬, ‪#‎marketing‬

 The premise is simple: Just tell people there are Pokemon near you at your book signing and people will line up to buy your book while they catch Magikarp! Or will they?
Since the game is new, I can’t say for sure. There are mixed reviews about whether or not increased foot traffic to stores boosts sales. For some places, I’m sure store owners can guilt persuade new visitors into buying some cupcakes or a new shirt. Other places don’t do as well with people who could care less about your store and are only there for Pokemon or for the gym. I observed this in Virginia last week, seeing a bunch of people in battlefield parks paying little to no attention to the park itself, focusing on their smartphones for an Abra.
Abra/polygon.com
 So my personal opinion is that using a $10 lure probably works, since it’s low-cost. At $10 If you sell anywhere from 2-5 books (depends on your cost) you’ll cover even slightly profit from your cost. Even if you lose, $10 for some increased attention isn’t necessarily bad. However, don’t assume that most of the people who come to find your Pokemon give a darn about your book or even that they can be guilted into buying a copy. Also, this only works if you’re going to play off Pokemon Go into a clever ad. Just saying “I have Pokemon!” isn’t going to work. I speak from observed experience- people using Pokemon lures to get people to show up at things with the hope they will care about what they do. News flash: Maybe 10% will listen, the rest want their Pokemon.

If you’re doing a book signing or other event, and you’re using Pokemon Go to attract people, let me know how it goes.
  

If Barnes and Nobles Closes, are Unknown Authors Screwed?

If you missed the news, New Republic has a new essay out on the impending doom of Barnes and Nobles https://newrepublic.com/article/133876/pulp-friction

There’s more than a little irony to the impending collapse of Barnes & Noble. The mega-retailer that drove many small, independent booksellers out of business is now being done in by the rise of Amazon. But while many book lovers may be tempted to gloat, the death of Barnes & Noble would be catastrophic—not just for publishing houses and the writers they publish, but for American culture as a whole.

If Barnes & Noble were to shut its doors, Amazon, independent bookstores, and big-box retailers like Target and Walmart would pick up some of the slack. But not all of it. Part of the reason is that book sales are driven by“showrooming,” the idea that most people don’t buy a book, either in print or electronically, unless they’ve seen it somewhere else—on a friend’s shelf, say, or in a bookstore. Even on the brink of closing, Barnes & Noble still accounts for as much as 30 percent of all sales for some publishing houses.

This happens a lot and B&N is still among us. Yet in the long run, they are clearing out space for book and selling more music and games. Borders did this, and look at where they are now.

Here’s the scary part for wanna-be trade-pubbed authors:

In a world without Barnes & Noble, risk-averse publishers will double down on celebrity authors and surefire hits. Literary writers without proven sales records will have difficulty getting published, as will young, debut novelists. The most literary of novels will be shunted to smaller publishers. Some will probably never be published at all. And rigorous nonfiction books, which often require extensive research and travel, will have a tough time finding a publisher with the capital to fund such efforts.

The irony of the age of cultural abundance is that it still relies on old filters and distribution channels to highlight significant works. Barnes & Noble and corporate publishers still have enormous strides to make in fully reflecting America’s rich diversity. But without them, the kinds of books that challenge us, that spark intellectual debates, that push society to be better, will start to disappear. Without Barnes & Noble, we’ll be adrift in a sea of pulp.

So accoring to this author, if you’re unknown, sold poorly in the past, and not famous, you will soon be beyond screwed if B&N goes out. This is because no one, not even Amazon, can or will ever create a viable national print bookstore chain again in this country, unless there’s a sudden return to reading by the public.

It’s pretty clear that without B&N, traditional print publishers will lose a massive part of their appeal. Their two biggest appeals are: Marketing and distribution. Yes, they could still send to indie bookstores, but I have a feeling that few but the biggest authors will want to give away 85% of their revenue to someone who is nothing more than a big marketing agency and seller to small bookstores, especially since there are and will be other services that can do this more effectively for less. And marketing can be done with an agency.

I’m not saying publishers will be extinct if B&N goes under, but they will lose a huge incentive to query those agents for years to land one, and then wait more years to find a publisher (unless you’re one of the lottery winners who just has ‘it’ and can sail through the process in months). The downside is, how will most people be able to get their work out in an overcrowded marketplace?