I'll be honest with you. I'm not exactly sure how I feel about this development:
Hearts, Swords and Flowers is up for sale on RPGNow in PDF format.
On the one hand, HSF is a good book, a solid book, and one I think everyone should possess. It includes a detailed bit of research on shoujo settings and plots by the illustrious incandescens, art assets by both the lovely relevant pink and goodcheese, plus a few bits of mechanical ingenuity by yours truly, along with what I think are some fairly nice bits of setting design.
On the other hand, I haven't seen dime-one of pay on the book, despite being the primary financier, acquiring the licenses for publication and paying the artists out-of-pocket so I'd be certain they got a timely payoff as best I could. I wanted to see this book on the shelves more intensely than anyone. I sweated bullets and put both blood and treasure into seeing that it was done.
Still haven't seen a bit of repayment.
So, at this point, I find myself torn. I know that its done a fair chunk of selling out of a number of storefronts, as well as direct from the Guardians of the Order website. I know that this PDF is being put up by Phile Press, the intermediate-publisher between me and GoO, because I can read the links on the RPGNow site and judge from "also produced" display. So, from that PoV, I recognize that, at this point, two entities are profiting from the product I sank about $2k into, all told, plus whatever I'm owed for my writing work (not to mention my co-author, who as far as I know, also hasn't been paid).
To suggest I'm a mite miffed would be an understatement.
This puts me in an awkward situation. I want to see my book become the de facto standard for anime shoujo roleplaying across not only the industry but across the roleplaying spectrum. I want to get invited to Cons to speak on the complicated subject of designing mechanics to mimic the emotional tenor of a variety of genres, or self-financing publishing ventures. I want cute giggling fangirls to run up and tell me that I've captured the feeling of Weiss Kreuz like no other man on Earth. I want a lot of things.
I also would like to get paid so I can afford to attend said Cons, and take said fangirls out to dinner, and sink a few bucks into my own, personal, publishing/layout venture that I'm slowly pulling together because this has all left such an unpleasant taste in my mouth, Squid Inks.
I don't want to be blacklisted in the freelancer community because I'm bold enough to point out there are shenanigans that just aren't right, at least according to what I can see. I don't want to get lost in the cracks.
So, ultimately, I have to come down on the side of recommending every reader buy a copy of this thing, be it electronic or print. Or both. Or thirty of both. Because every person that my name and my work gets in front of adds to the win column, and that's important.
But don't forget the folks who work to bring you these things, and who write and produce them. Its not cheap and it doesn't happen overnight. Remember the companies that publish, and listen to how they treat the folks who work with them. I'm not saying don't buy from them, because that just hurts the writers and artists, in the end. But keep in mind how that product got made. And why.
(Xposted to both my blog and roleplayers)