Ypsi-Arbor D&D Gazette Issue 1 Recap And Announcement

TL;DR: It went well and there’s a big announcement about Issue 2 (spoiler: get ready, the rest of Michigan, it’s your time to shine)!

Go read the Ypsi-Arbor D&D Gazette Issue 1!

Want to make sure you hear about any news about the zine? Sign up here to get updates:

Issue 1 only happened because of people (like you!) submitting their excellent D&D stories and artwork! It was great seeing the D&D Gazette go from half-baked thought to a group coming together to make a thing.

The Numbers

Before publication, there were some soft numbers for what I’d consider a success for submissions and people actually reading it. All told, we hit them, which is heartening! The big banner number was “will 100 people read stories from Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor D&D players?” It looks like the answer is yes! In fact, we reached twice as many readers.

For actual traffic to the zine itself we got a big boost due to timely retweets by friends and by local sportswriter @mgoblog who said the nicest thing about it: “a new challenger for Most Ann Arbor Thing appears… “

Here’s the traffic pattern from May 7th-15th, which was about the only time there was active “marketing.” As soon as I stopped actively pushing it the traffic disappeared:

Note: For those of you who know about analytics I have high confidence that this is mostly legit traffic due to how the URL was shared.

Additional Note: Page value is $0.00. That should read “there is no greater reward than the friends we made along the way (and also pageviews).”

What went wrong?

Oh, so much. Mostly, though, it all comes down to getting the word out. There’s so much happening all the time. In addition to the country burning down, there are a million and one other creative things to pay attention to. Rising above that, even for a minute, is a gift.

The “marketing plan” consisted of a hastily constructed email list, a handful of blog posts, and a few tweets. An anemic plan at best. I did, however, want to see how far it could go with just that, and it went a lot further than expected. When it came time to “release” I did a catastrophically bad job of putting the tweets together. As I noted in the tweet that ended up actually getting shared around, I didn’t even attach the cover image to my initial tweet. So then the one that got shared contained an apology about the cover image. Not the best look.

Issue 2 Will Be Issue 1

Many, many people responded positively to the first issue and that is amazing! One submission has already come in for the next issue, and Hannah Davis reached out volunteering to copy-edit, which is so sorely needed! After launch there were a number of typos that were brought to my attention.

It’s really fun to go from an idea to finished and shipped work. It’s also very hard because when it’s not bringing in money and is entirely a non-mandatory side project, your other options for how to spend your time are “literally anything else.” But, collaborating and making something like this is tremendously fun. We’re going to give it another shot. I believe in me, and I believe in you. Together we can make this happen. Go Team!

So, without further ado: for the second issue we’re going to expand our geographic reach to the rest of the state with the:

Michigan D&D Gazette!

If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you, and roll initiative, because it was absolutely a trap.

I toyed with the idea of calling it “Ypsi-Arbor D&D Gazette Issue 2: The Michigan Edition,” but as funny as that is, it’s a mouthful. “Michigan D&D Gazette” will work.

Tell all of your friends across this great state that their stories, artwork, DM notes, one-liners, and ephemera are needed. If you have a submission already, send it on over to my email at csalzman@gmail.com. A more formal call will go out in a few weeks.

Thank you so much for following along so far! Sign up for more news, or watch this blog!

See you in in the Michigan D&D Gazette!

Newsletter April 30, 2018

Other Newsletters

  • Ed’s Vacuum Newsletter for 2018-W17 – lots on local politics, which these days is basically all about the building (or “not building”) of places for people to live. Also, he talks about how to subscribe to the newsletter and the problems therein.
  • Patti Smith has a newsletter too! Newsletter 4/29/18 – Ann Arbor Archives – She has a great roundup of what local breweries are up to and some fun stories from Ann Arbor’s history. I liked this a lot, “Michigan Argus, April 29, 1864 – E. Ketchum of Ypsilanti would send you a small treatise on Ice Cream & the Philosophy of its Manufacture if you just send him your address.”
  • CivCity has its May Day for Local Civics! with a reminder that there’s a local election on May 8th!

Are you writing a newsletter? Let me know about it so I can include it! csalzman@gmail.com

Ypsi-Arbor D&D Gazette Update

Technically my self-imposed deadline ends at the end of the day and the zine is ready to go, but I’m going to take a few more days to add some polish. Shooting for closer to the end of the week. Layout was mostly roughed in yesterday and then I had a Thought™ and started over. I’m happier with the switch and how it’s coming together. There were 6 or so submissions plus a few other things I wanted to include. Shorter than I’d envisioned, but still quite fun. In retrospect, I wish I’d set my “release schedule” to earlier in the month to maintain momentum from when submissions came in. Oh well!

The absolute best way to hear about when it comes out is to sign up here:

If this is the first you’re hearing about it you can read more about it here:

Ypsi-Arbor D&D Gazette

Making Sure Someone Sees It

Two of the other newsletters this week mention a problem that anyone who creates anything runs into: how do you make sure that everyone who should see it actually sees it? Marketing at its best is essentially finding an answer to this. A market for whatever niche content you’re producing exists. Finding the market and delivering the content to it constitutes a very hairy problem.

A poorly timed tweet or Facebook post means it vanishes in a sea of inattention. For example, I posted a link to last week’s newsletter on Facebook and almost nothing came of it. My first tweet about it garnered some interest, but as I remarked:

11am-ish on a Monday seems to be the perfect time to bury a tweet so it doesn’t get seen that well. Let’s see how 4:40 does.

4:40pm did a lot better.

The thing of it is though, that could just be for my followers, yours are different and might LOVE an 11am reminder. Chances are you need to do multiple nudges though due to the way that social media works right now.

This’ll be my sixth newsletter when it’s published. How many of you knew there were 5 others? I’m guessing some, but not all. And I’m also guessing at least one of the others would have been interesting to you (even if this one is not).

This is why despite the annoyances of it email is still very good at getting you a direct line to your tribe (in the Seth Godin sense). It’s one of the last places where we demand that it work as close to our mental model as possible. We don’t want the computer making every decisions about what to surface up at the top or remove from the list. From there, everyone crafts their own workflow for email to make sure they see what they want to.

Strongly linked to this is RSS. An RSS feed makes email marketing easier. This blog has an RSS feed and as of today I’m using mailchimp to send out new post updates over email. This should have been setup forever ago, but everything takes time!

Sign up in the sidebar if you’d like to get future updates! I’ll report back in a few weeks about which method is “working” in terms of making sure people who want to read this are able to read this.


We moved into a house last summer that is farther away from work and daycare than our apartment was. I love the location; however, we used to bus and bike and walk almost every day. Due to the location of daycare in relation to the bus routes we’ve ended up driving essentially every day since we moved. I’m committed to figuring out how to make that not our reality so this past week I biked the kid into daycare and myself over to Workantile. My wife biked in one of those days too and then we caravaned back home down Washtenaw. It was delightful and we went almost 24 hours without using a car on a workday for the first time in about 8 months.

Time from our front door, to dropping the toddler off, to sitting at my desk ended up being about the same amount of time as driving, parking, and walking from the parking spot to my desk. Add in the fact that they’re doing construction around daycare that is causing parking issues and I could see it saving time on certain days.

I wasn’t expecting that at all. Without optimizing anything about our route, or bike setup, there wasn’t a giant measurable time cost and, frankly, I ended up getting to my desk in a great frame of mind to start the day. Whenever I bike I end up smiling. Whenever I drive I don’t.

Sam is going to let me try out his cargo bike to see how that goes. My thought right now is that an electric assist bike could cut the commute down a few minutes while making the hills slightly easier to take on. Getting in shape will help too.

Who should own a website?


Everyone would do well to have that place on the internet they can put the thing. I’m a broken record, but twitter and facebook are not that place if you want it to exist in perpetuity (for certain values of perpetuity).

My favorite parts of the internet are the far away places. The clear passion project niches. Take this site for example:


Welcome to the one-stop destination for images and information about Action Transfers and Instant Pictures, and the home of SPLAT (the Society for the Preservation of Letraset Action Transfers).

You don’t know you need this site until you need it.

It also doesn’t map well to a series of facebook posts, tweets, or an instagram story. It likely doesn’t map well to most CMSes either. Yet the care that went into organizing it means that it can exist as a resource and a delightful thing to stumble on.

For the Ypsi-Arbor D&D Gazette I needed to match the fonts on the original D&D boxes (yes, needed). Kirith.com has already done the legwork here and has a fantastically compiled list of links for it:

TSR Fonts

On the homepage for that site is this statement:

”Couple of interesting facts. The site has averaged 120 unique visitors a day. ~1200 portraits were submitted to the Baldur’s Gate image gallery.”

Number of visitors is all relative. Some people would be thrilled with 120 visitors a day. Others would be panicked at how low the number that is. Your reach and your success is something you get to define. There’s a blog post on my website that I don’t care if anyone ever visits, but I’ve used it a few times while standing in Home Depot and found it extremely important:

Paint Colors · Chris Salzman’s Website

Having a URL for the paint colors for our house that I can call up on any device with an internet connection is an amazing ability. I think more people should have the ability to do that without getting flummoxed by technical jargon.


This week’s newsletter was written at Workantile and Sweetwaters in Kerrytown. Drafted in Bear and published using Hugo.

Ypsi-Arbor D&D Gazette: Follow Up

We’ve officially crossed over a threshold in which there are subscribers to the Gazette that I don’t recognize by their email addresses. That’s an incredible thing, and also a bit scary!

A few submissions have trickled in as well and they have exceeded expectations. Send yours in too! I promise it’s good enough.

Read more about it on the original post, or sign up to get this thing:

More ideas for submissions:

  • Contextless notes from your last session
  • Description of how your character casts their spells
  • Late Winter fashion for the discerning elf that finds itself shivering and/or sweating in Southeastern Michigan

The sky is the limit! Submit here by emailing me at csalzman@gmail.com

Ypsi-Arbor D&D Gazette: A Zine

TL;DR: The Ypsi-Arbor D&D Gazette is a zine for empherma, stories, art, and other whatnot from the tables of Dungeons & Dragons players in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and surrounding cities.

You can sign up to hear more about it and get a digital copy when it comes out in April here:

Or, email your submissions to csalzman@gmail.com with the subject line “Ypsi-Arbor D&D Gazette”.

What a terrible idea

I know, right?

This started out as a joke between me and @mollerwa a few months ago:

David Moll on Twitter: “I am intrigued by your ideas and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.… “

And the idea wouldn’t go away so I asked about it on twitter and the tweet got more likes and retweets than expected, so here we are.

Never joke on twitter, kids.

Okay, but really, why are you doing this?

Every time I bring up D&D in polite conversation I’m surprised to learn just how many people have played or are currently playing or REALLY want to be playing. That’s a lovely thing and should be celebrated because–oh my goodness!–have you seen the world lately? Exuberance over something as small as a locality’s tabletop gaming scene is perhaps the least we can do to bring a small amount of joy to the world.

I’m acting as editor, which means that I have volunteered to do the work of sifting through submissions and laying it out and making a PDF accessible. I need you to do one or both of the following:

  • Sign up to read the thing
  • Submit to the thing

Sign Up to Read the Thing

I’m aiming for a free PDF. If you really want a paper copy you may print and staple it yourself! Here’s that signup form again:

Submit to the Thing

One to two page somethings that are D&D related and from people in or around Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti:

  • Your very cool character
  • Shoutouts to your DM
  • Very good NPCs who everyone loves or hates
  • Combat stories of astounding bravery or astonishing cowardice
  • Doodles of your character
  • Art of your favorite weapon
  • Really good one-liners from your last session
  • DM tips – care and feeding of players
  • Player Tips – care and feeding of DMs
  • Magical items that you dearly love
  • Recipes for easy-to-eat-at-the-table snacks
  • Pictures of your dice: the lucky ones, the unlucky ones, and/or the very pretty ones
  • Small dungeons filled with horrifying secrets

Or: surprise me! For I am a simple human who cannot categorize your contribution to this thing in a bullet pointed list.

Please, send in anything you have that you think would be fun to include. I have no idea what will come of this, but I do know it’s worth trying. Email your submissions to csalzman@gmail.com with the subject line “Ypsi-Arbor D&D Gazette”. Please include how you’d like your name displayed (anonymous, initials, full name, character name, whatever) if you are chosen for inclusion.

Cut off is March 31st. Aiming for an April 30th release.


What if I live in LOCATION X?

Look, if you have a thin connection to the area I’m not going to police some arbitrary geographic boundary. Trust your heart.

What about GAME Y?

Lie and tell me it’s for your D&D campaign.