It's Always Something....
On Friday (08/04/17) I received one box of The Dark (20 copies) and one box of the Field Guide to Hot Springs Island (36 copies).
If I'm allowed to indulge a bit, I think they look great. The covers turned out fantastic. All my concerns regarding the art ("Did I clean up the scans well enough?!?!?!") turned out to be unfounded, and all the illustrations look super crisp. Bleeds look good. Cross page illustrations look good. Ribbon bookmarks turned out awesome.
The end sheets in the Field Guide are wrong.
The story of the endsheets: I was planning to do full color printed endsheets in both the Dark and the Field Guide, but because I had to change printers in the 11th hour, I wasn't able to afford Friesen's rates, and had to cut them from the Dark. However, it was very important to me that they be included in the Field Guide. The endsheets for the Field Guide were to show a map of Hot Springs Island, as well as a partially completed list of locations that can be found on the island. Thus a player can fill in the list as they discover locations through play.
All books have two endsheets. One in the front of the book, and one in the back of the book. The endsheet in the front of the book was printed and inserted correctly. The back endsheet was left completely blank.
Being utterly transparent, I believe that if I never told anyone that the front and back endsheets were supposed to be printed, no one would ever even know that a mistake had been made. Which in some ways is the worst sort of mistake imo because then it's like a "secret", and I sure as hell don't personally want to deal with that when my next steps are to try and sell the heck out of these books. Bleh.
How did this happen?
Let's go into the gory details of printing stuff. With Friesens, there are three different documents related to a job (that I am currently aware of). There is the quote. The job specification. And the internal docket.
From the quote:
From the Job Specification:
I have no idea how this appeared on the internal docket as that is the internal file used for actual production (more on that in a bit).
So what happened is that I was quoted for "4 process colors one side of each". I was also charged for 3000 4-color prints (1500 books with two color printed endsheets each).
Where I could have caught the error is on the job spec. Where it says "Front Side Inks" and "Back Side Inks" those two lines are talking about the front and back of the individual endsheet pieces of paper. The next line "Type" where it says "Different Front and Back" was the tell. You see, when it says "front and back" on that line, it's talking about the front and back of the book. I'm sure you've seen books where there is (for example) a map on the front end sheet and tables on the back. This line is what would call that sort of situation out.
To my error, I thought that in both cases Front and Back was talking about the pieces of paper. I was wrong.
On Friesens end of things, when I uploaded my files, I only uploaded a single endsheet file. Thus someone, should have reached out to me at some point to ask where the second endsheet was, and we could have cleared up this confusion. However, that did not happen.
I believe that may not have happened, because I'd already been going around and around with them about differences between the quote and the job spec. As you see on the quote screenshot above, I was quoted for "60lb Rolland Opaque Smooth White" paper to be used in the book. This is a specific type of paper that has a specific set of parameters (in terms of brightness, opacity, caliper measurements etc). On the job spec however, the paper says the following:
So I had contacted them, concerned that I wasn't going to be getting the paper I was quoted. I was concerned that I wasn't getting the right paper, because when I used their tool to get the template I need to make the covers for my books, you have to select the paper your job is using (caliper measurements can make a biiiiig difference). And there was an option for #60 #1 Offset, and Rolland Opaque #60. I also pointed out my concern that the job spec didn't mention the ribbon bookmarks, which was a big deal. Due to this conversation I received a screenshot of the internal docket showing the ribbons and the Rolland paper (it didn't include the endsheet section, but I didn't think it needed to).
So now what?
I have no idea. I've spoke with the customer service manager at length last week (first about the lack of communication regarding production delays, and then regarding the blank endsheets in the Field Guide). He assures me he's going to look into this, but he is out of town on vacation this week and won't get back to me 'till the 14th.
My dad says this will be a great way for later collectors to identify a true first edition from subsequent editions. And maybe we should just roll with it? But it doesn't match the quote, or what I paid for. But does it match the job spec? And if we did go full bore and push for a reprint of the Field Guide, what does that actually mean? The books are in transit right now and who the hell knows what the return process would even look like. And it's too late to have them redone in time for Gen Con, so then there'd potentially be some in the wild with a blank endsheet anyway, and wouldn't it just be wasteful to pulp 1500 books? It'd be one thing if the data was completely missing, it's much more grey since the data wasn't duplicated as instructed.
How it's further complicated:
The books arrived in the UK yesterday for fulfillment, and are expected in other locations tomorrow and Thursday. So they're all just about where they need to be. I'd also given GamesQuest "go" orders, so it's possible that international shipments may have already started going out? I have no idea. The books arrived a day earlier than the original tracking indicated they would, and it turns out that I can't call the UK from my phone (I thought I could call and be billed, but apparently I've got to sign up for additional international service to even make a call in the first place).
And yes, if you're an international backer, I still HAVE NOT reached out to you about payment for shipping (you didn't miss anything in your spam folder). I didn't have final book weights 'till last Friday and I'd wanted to talk to GamesQuest about tracked vs untracked package prices (basically it looked like outside Europe all would be untracked), but yeah... that all went up in smoke.
And then there's boxes....
I'd been planning to buy boxes to ship books in from a local box maker 'cause they're cool people who do good work. But it turns out that the box I thought I could use fits The Dark of Hot Springs Island too perfectly, meaning there's no room for bubble wrap or cushion. And the next size of box is too tall (4" when it needs to be maybe 2"). I am become Goldilocks, needer of the 'just right'. So I need to figure this out.
And then there's the 400 books that need to be signed, and 4 people in 2 cities that need to be wrangled up to accomplish that.
And then there's Gen Con....
TL:DR Recap and Minor Points:
1. Books are finished. They look good, but the endsheets in the Field Guide aren't correct. Considering the error a "showstopper" may cause a myriad of even worse problems. I'll have an update on this front by 8/14/17.
2. Books are in the UK are potentially ready to ship out internationally, but point 1 complicates matters, and I expect to have an update by 8/14/17 as well.
3. Books are en route to Texas to be signed and shipped. It's looking like they should be here on Thursday 08/10, but it's also looking like we won't be able to get them signed and shipped until AFTER Gen Con. And point 1.
4. Everything seems good on the Gen Con front, unless the decision is made to pull the plug and push for a reprint.
For some reason it doesn't want to let me upload another image right now, so here's a link to view the Front and Back endsheets as they are in the Field Guide.
That's where we are.