Remember to also check out the product pages of a few Flying Pincushion's products: Into the Breach: Oracle, Into the Breach: The Summoner and Into the Breach: The Magus. The products are also available on DriveThruRPG.
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
It’s a trap! If I go into too much detail I come off haughty, long winded and boring; and if I’m too sparse then this adds no value to your interview. Screw it, I’ll give you bullet points, everyone loves bullet points.
- I live in Rochester NY with a cute redhead girlfriend and 7 cats.
- Aside from publishing, I also work in a call center.
- I’ve been a gamer for 25 years, since I moved to Rochester at the age of 10.
- Other hobbies include being something of a history buff, running, singing karaoke, camping, and kendo, though it has been a few years for kendo.
- Fun fact: I also used to cook professionally.
I tried out for RPG Superstar in 2013 and ended up very involved in the community. Learned a bunch on those boards and realized it was something I really wanted to do. Decided to pitch to Kobold Press and landed a regular gig on the blog, things kind of took off from there. Each credit I earned was another link I could add to my resume when pitching which led to more accepted pitches.
What have been your best experiences?
Seeing my name sandwiched between Ed Greenwood and Jim Groves for Deep Magic was kind of a big deal for me. I was also touched to see that Creighton Broadhurst adapted most of my comments from his blog posts into Be Awesome At Freelance Game Design. He also sent me a copy and thanked me in the credits, which was pretty cool. Getting called out for my Heroes' Hoard article by Neil Spicer was definitely another highlight.
The best was seeing our name on a product alone; knowing that that product was 100% ours.
In your opinion, what makes a good Pathfinder RPG compatible product?
It needs to be distinctly Pathfinder. The mechanics of Pathfinder might very well be rooted in 3.5 but they diverged into something new a while ago and not everyone gets that. The best products mix a familiar element with something innovative and completely new.
When and how did the Flying Pincushion get started?
I was inspired to launch a 3PP because of Clark Peterson posting something in an RPG Superstar thread about it not being that hard. I want to say that was roughly in November of 2012. I decided I wanted to make that happen, so I talked to my best friend and fellow GM Jeff Harris about using a homebrew world he designed the bones of but we often shared as GMs.
After doing some research I realized that to make that happen we’d need to do a Kickstarter, to run a successful Kickstarter we’d have to establish a company with a brand first, and to do that we had to freelance first.
My first pitch was to Kobold Press. I earned a shot to do a regular spot on their blog. From there, I picked up gigs in magazines and a few other small 3PPs. My first paid gig was with Tricky Owlbear, since then Jeff and I acquired roughly a dozen or so publishing credits.
We also started a blog. Within 6 months we got 50,000 page views which is pretty cool for a little blog. That was mostly about drawing inspiration from literature and making it into gaming material. I co-branded a couple books with d20pfsrd then we launched on our own. Our first official release was the end of last month and we have another 4 books written and on deck.
What can you tell about the Flying Pincushion's products?
We take a very different approach to game design. We use multiple authors and an open editing system to put every aspect of our products through a crucible. We innovate and our track record on reviews has been very positive thus far.
Can you give us an exclusive teaser about a future product?
Sure—we’re going to be doing two new product lines of micro products. One for special magic shops and taverns, another is about building a more challenging villain. Witch is next up for the Into the Breach series. There's a ton of great stuff there, including an archetype and an alternate class inspired by Voudoun, which I haven't seen elsewhere.
What are the best things about the Flying Pincushion's products and what type of players or GMs would you recommend them for?
With our class books we touch on every aspect of the class. You get new archetypes but also everything else that makes the class tick. New prestige classes and something for the evil side of the equation are often included. With multiple designers we also straddle the range of conservative to somewhat gonzo design and it is all carefully balanced by multiple sets of eyes.
What are the current goals for the Flying Pincushion? What are the biggest challenges?
Currently, I’m trying to get us to turn a profit a little faster and maybe get a few more artists involved. The challenge is that we’re relatively new to the field, so folks don’t know if we put out quality work yet. Part of it is getting our products reviewed and part of it is that our previous work was with d20PFSRD and maybe the connection has not yet been made.
Is there anything else people should know about the Flying Pincushion or its products?
I think that our approach to development and editing might be the most innovative and agile approach in the business and I think it's helping us to make really great products.
How do you generally find new freelancers to work for you?
I recruit from the Superstar boards and I run open calls.
What is the application process like?
I give them an assignment and then run the result by my Senior staff.
What are the main requirements for a freelancer to work for you?
Be open to feedback, meet deadlines, realize the money isn’t great or timely, and that you’re doing it out of love for the hobby.
What other skills and/or experience are useful?
Marketing, it’s important to not only be able to write and design you need to know what kind of ideas are marketable. At the end of the day a freelancer is selling themselves and their ideas to others, have that mentality coming in.
Time management is also important. The ability to set and meet a deadline and be fairly autonomous is very important for most freelancers (less so for Flying Pincushion Publishing because of our open design methodology).
Can you describe a typical assignment you give to new freelancers? What steps does the process typically include from the freelancer's point of view?
I give them an archetype for a book a few down from what I’m developing presently. I give 2 weeks and judge the result. If it is good enough I post it in my private community and invite Senior staff to comment. From there it makes it or not.
The process tests your ability to deal with Pathfinder mechanics, write decent fluff, and follow a deadline. I get a very good picture of what a designer can do from there.
What advice would you give to aspiring freelancers?
Pitch, fail, try again. Get feedback on everything and have the humility to accept it when it is negative. Inspiration is all around you, pay better attention to the world around you. Then pitch again.
When you succeed at it don’t let it go to your head. Remember that everyone is a potential customer and reviewer so be personable especially on public forums. A bad reputation will follow you.