Sombering Setback in Print/Publishing

TL;DR: I had to fire my printer because he proved to be unreliable in delivering what agreed and in time. I should receive proofs from other places. Until then the shop only sells PDFs. If you want a 100% refund on your existing orders, write me. Handbound codexes look pretty. Pergamini still ship.2014-07-19 14.07.56

Longform and Extra Explanations

I’m picky with books. While there are some factors I have scarce control on, and impact negatively on the final quality of what I release, I try to be as nails as I can for the rest.

This means being picky with:

  • illustrations
  • paper type and weight
  • print quality
  • layout
  • content – which is why I take ages to release the stupidest thing.

I’m not good at any of the above, but I try hard. You know that Ira Glass quote about taste?


This is the background of my computer desktop. It’s been there for a long while. I stare at it. It stares at me. Makes me find motivation. It tells me:

Paolo, you’re failing.

You’re not as good as you want.

Try harder.

This might be is quite horribly self-abusive. But it keeps me motivated. It also keeps me borderline burnout. Also, note that this is not impostor syndrome… it’s just that I’m not where I want to be.

Now, from now “Codex” means the Chthonic Codex project, “booklets” are the three booklets for the boxed set and “codex” is the collection of the three, pictured above.

So, this spring I spent a godawful amount of time on the booklets, getting them ready for press. A really complicated thing that mostly had to be written and laid out at the same time. No days off for weeks at time. Burning out. And then I brought it to the printer, and after a bit the proofs came and were good. So I asked for the files to go to press, while I prepared the layout for the codex. And there were problems with a university burning and machines breaking and people being off and so it was pushed back a bit, but the codex proofs came back (and they were OK except for a silly thing), and in the meantime the pergamini scrolls got printed, but I still wasn’t seeing the books.

The order was for a print run of everything I ever released:

  • Adventure Fantasy Game R9
  • Pergamino Barocco – paperback
  • Kefitzah Haderach
  • the three booklets
  • the signatures for the codex

The proofs came and were how I wanted them to be.

But the print run has not been delivered, and now the print shop is closed for weeks because of holidays. Even when they’re back, I rightfully came to consider supplying from them some kind of liability… an Enchanted Liability of Slaying.

Now, how to cope with this?

First of all, I’m happy to refund any order.

Second, I’ve been doing things.

Strategies – what I’m doing to fix the awful

  • Find a new printer – I contacted a few printers, local and not. More developments soon.
  • I’m also preparing to do everything through Lulu – in fact I put all the above on Lulu, and ordered a copy for each thing (except the codex). It’s going to be way more expensive but it’s ok.
  • I’m still looking for a print shop for the codex that can print on natural white 100gsm without exploding a bomb in my wallet.

So, yeah. If everything does wrong I’ll have Lulu print all the booklets for the boxed sets, have them shipped here in one massive order, box them then post them onward them onto you.

The morale of all the above is that this stop the way I’m operating and expected to operate. Not having a reliable print-shop means going through Lulu and RPGNow for POD, with all the nags that you expect.

I’m growing really tired of the setbacks that this project is having. Most probably I’m doing a bunch of things wrong, and I start to feel I’m not really cut for this. Bah.

4 thoughts on “Sombering Setback in Print/Publishing

  1. Paolo,

    Interesting post. Thanks for keeping us up-to-date on this project from Hell.

    I want to respond to this, specifically: “I’m growing really tired of the setbacks that this project is having. Most probably I’m doing a bunch of things wrong, and I start to feel I’m not really cut for this. Bah.”

    I hope you don’t despair and give up. I think you _are_ cut out for this, or at least I fervently hope so. Your work is some of the most creative and original in the OSR. Where most OSR publishers content themselves with releasing their favorite edition of D&D + house rules (not that there’s anything wrong with that…I’ve got shelves full of S&W, LL, ACKS, ASSH, etc., and love them all), you are doing new and different things. In my mind your products are right up there with Vornheim and An Echo, Resounding and the d30 Companions: old FRPG concepts reinvented, usefully.

    If you quit, I’m really going to miss your work. That said, do what’s right for your mental health. We’re talking about a game where people pretend to be elves fighting dragons by rolling funny dice…it would not do to take it _too_ seriously.

    • @Rich: +1
      Yes. Don’t blame yourself for the sh*t that happens – it is called life. And I hope you’ll find eventually a local printer that is more reliable.

  2. Hang in there kitty! 🙂
    Seriously though, you’re doing stuff no one else in the hobby is doing, and I hope you can find a balance without giving up. Maybe just set some boundaries on the work. Force yourself to take some time off, or whatever. You have to be the most uncompromising of DIYers out there and I’d hate to see all the hacks keep at it while you pull out.

  3. Pingback: Boxed Set Pictures, (almost) all in stock and shipping | Lost Pages

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