You can now preorder our latest system-neutral GMing advice book, Focal Point, from the Engine Publishing online store! When you preorder, you’ll get access to the full DRM-free, hyperlinked, bookmarked PDF within 24 hours, weeks before the book is available anywhere else and months before it’s in retail stores.

Preorders will run through July 31, 2015. I’m running preorders slightly differently this year, and a bit later in the summer than usual, so please read on for details.

What’s Focal Point about?

Written by award-winning authors Phil Vecchione, Walt Ciechanowski, and John Arcadian, Focal Point is the third volume in Engine Publishing’s “accidental trilogy” of GMing advice books, which began with Never Unprepared and continued in Odyssey. You don’t need those books to enjoy and make use of this one, although they do complement each other well (and we offer a special bundle price for the trilogy).

Each of Focal Point’s authors is a veteran GM with years of experience, and each of them excels at a particular aspect of GMing. John is an entertainer, a GM who loves props and drawing his players into the game world. Walt is a storyteller, an adventure-writer who makes his living in the RPG industry. Phil is a facilitator, an organized GM who specializes in helping his players work well together.

These three roles — entertainer, storyteller, and facilitator — are at the core of Focal Point. From building “sets” for your gaming table, to using flowcharts to structure your adventures, to making sure everyone in your group feels comfortable during play, this guidebook addresses everything that goes into running an extraordinary gaming session.

Try before you buy

We’ve put together a free 19-page PDF preview of Focal Point so that you can check it out before you preorder.

Reviews and previews of Focal Point

We sent prerelease copies of Focal Point to reviewers in June so that you’d have even more info about the book, and here’s what they said about it:

  • Hamishakia review (in Hebrew) (auto-translated English version) — “Focal Point is particularly useful to GMs who need to diagnose what they’re having trouble with. If I know I have a problem with my GMing, but am not sure what it is, the book will be of great help in finding that out. Most chances are that it will also point me in the right direction to solve the issue. Reading alone will probably help a lot, but doing the challenges will increase the benefit several times over.
  • Misdirected Mark podcast preview

Preorder details

This is our sixth preorder, and I’ve shipped out over 1,300 direct orders through our online store. I pack books securely in sturdy boxes with bubble wrap, and I don’t charge you anything extra for shipping or handling — just the listed USPS rate for shipping.

Please note our shipping and store policies, and be aware that if you order Focal Point with other books, your whole order will ship once Focal Point is ready.

Preorder timing

Preorders will run through July 31, 2015. Focal Point is already at the printer. I expect to have books in hand in August, and will ship out all preorders as soon as I have books in hand.

When you receive your book will depend on where you live and what shipping method you choose. Here are the USPS shipping estimates for U.S. customers and customers outside the U.S..

Manual PDF fulfillment

Unlike past preorders, this time around I will be fulfilling PDFs manually. That means that when you place your preorder, you’ll have to wait for me to send out your PDF by hand. I’ll send it as soon as possible, but please allow 24 hours just to be safe.

This technological step backwards enables me to open preorders (and regular orders) up to customers in the EU. I haven’t been able to sell books directly to EU customers since January 1st of this year (here’s way more than you probably want to know about why), and that sucks. I’m trying this system as a possible alternative.

Other digital versions

I got behind this year for a variety of personal reasons, and unfortunately that means that the bonus digital versions of the book — epub, mobi, and plain text — aren’t quite ready yet. They should be ready by early August, and as soon as they’re available I will send fresh download links to all preorder customers which include those files.

There’s nothing you have to do to receive these files — once I have your preorder, I’ll take care of the follow-up.

Gen Con

Our retail fulfillment partner, Studio 2 Publishing, will have copies of Focal Point (and all of our other books) available for sale at booth 2016/17 in the exhibit hall. These are not preorder copies, and unfortunately we’re not set up to have preorders fulfilled at Gen Con. Due to the timing of this preorder, folks who pick up Focal Point at Gen Con will be the first to have print copies.

Questions or concerns?

Ask away in the comments below, or drop me a line at martin (at) enginepublishing (dot) com. I’ll get back to you right away.

Thank you for preordering!

This has been a pretty crappy year for me, and that’s delayed the launch of Focal Point and prompted the changes to this preorder. Thanks for bearing with me — the continued support of Engine Publishing’s fans means a lot to me.

Here’s the Focal Point preorder link again, and thank you for your support!