I’ve wanted to publish our murder mystery games in book form for a long time now, so I’m particularly pleased to be able to say that Way out West is available from Amazon.
One of the problems with publishing a murder mystery game in book format is that you can’t actually play the murder mystery without destroying the book. So that means either providing a CD with the character files on, or providing a download link, or asking customers to buy the downloadable version as well.
None of those are particularly satisfactory; the CD is more complexity, the download means coming up with a way for a secure password and makes VAT more complicated, and nobody wants to buy two versions of the same game.
But our free version of Way out West (which you can get simply by signing up to our newsletter) solves those problems. Now you can have the book and downloadable files at the same time.
We used Amazon’s CreateSpace self-publishing system for Way out West. This is a print-on-demand service that means we don’t have to keep any expensive stock, or become involved in shipping.
We chose Amazon over Lulu for two main reasons. First, Amazon is the online retailing heavyweight, and by having one of our games on Amazon we might attract new customers. Second, Amazon Prime members get free shipping on a CreateSpace book, which is an added bonus.
I have to say that I found CreateSpace a bit fiddly to use. If we ever use it again I suspect it will be much easier.
We’ve had to think about the contents and layout of Way out West compared to the downloadable files. With the downloadable files, while we expect you to read the instructions first, you can read the other files in any order you like.
With a book, though, we needed to decide an order for everything. So here’s the contents:
- Welcome to Way out West: This section.
- What the host does: A brief summary of what the host of a Freeform Games murder mystery does.
- Cactus Gulch Gazette: The front page of the local newspaper, containing background information.
- Cast list: A brief summary of all the characters in Way out West, including the extra characters that come with the purchased edition.
- Casting: Tips for casting Way out West.
- About the Author
- Before the game: Our suggested timetable leading up to your murder mystery party.
Invitations: What to include in your invitations.
- Your Venue: Advice on preparing your venue.
- Preparing Way out West: Printing characters and getting everything ready for play.
- On the day: Our step-by-step guide to hosting Way out West.
- Solution: Every murder needs a solution.
- Introduction: An explanation of how the characters are presented.
- Characters: The detailed backstories for each character, including goals and a list of the characters that they know.
- Tips for players: Playing one of our murder mystery games can sometimes be a bit confusing for some people, so these are our tips to help them get started.
- Player rules: The basic rules for Way out West.
- Detailed rules: The detailed rules that the Host needs, covering things like gunfights and arrests.
- Buying the main game: What you get if you purchase the full version of Way out West.
- Questions: Where to go if you have questions about Way out West or any of our other games.
- Our other games: A selection of our other games.
Unfortunately we can’t offer this book for free, as there are costs involved in producing a physical product. However, we have kept the book as cheap as possible and it is on sale for $5.99.
Available on Amazon
Way out West on Kindle
Another advantage of using Amazon means that it’s pretty easy to create a Kindle version. Easy, but not seamless. We found we had to make a few changes to the layout to suit a Kindle, in particularly removing anything complicated (such as the three column layout for the newspaper) and the boxes for item cards.
To be honest, a Kindle version of Way out West is a bit of experiment. It’s not as easy to use as a book, and I don’t think anyone would ever be able to actually play Way out West from the Kindle version. It’s for those who really like their Kindles…