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Book Review: I Am Mongoose, And So Can You! by Matthew Sprange

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I am Mongoose, and so can you! by Matthew Sprange is a short book on working in the role playing game industry. The author, Matthew Sprange is the co-founder of the British role playing game company Mongoose Publishing which, according to the author, became the UK's largest RPG publisher very quickly. Mongoose also survived the 2003 industry debacle referred to as the "d20 crash" caused when Wizards of the Coast brought out Dungeons & Dragons 3.5, leaving consumers believing that 3.0 supplements were no longer any good.

At $23.96, the book is quite expensive as it has only 37 pages. It is currently only available in PDF and lacks a table of contents, bookmarks for the PDF or any images, except for an image on the title page. It doesn't appear to have been available as anything other than as a PDF. Four pages of it are business plan spreadsheets, showing projected incomes for various different scenarios, and there is the one page cover as mentioned. Since the book was written, Mongoose Publishing joined the Rebellion Group, according to Sprange "becoming a sister company to Rebellion itself."[1] Rebellion Developments also own Cubicle 7, another role playing game publisher.

I am Mongoose, and so can you!
I am Mongoose covers a number of different topics related to working in the RPG industry, beginning with what your present position/income is, and whether or not that would be achievable - and, if so, how - in the industry. The various jobs available working for someone else are covered, as are expected salaries.

Much of the book covers setting up your own company, which is what Sprange himself did, and the costs of producing supplements for distribution, as well as how to deal with distributors, including the perils and pitfalls of this. Many games companies have gone out of business following their distributors doing the same, leaving them with costs incurred for printing books for which they haven't been recompensed, due to the distributor ceasing trading. The costs of designing, writing, acquiring artwork for, laying out and printing supplements are covered. PDF, digital and offset printing, and the advantages and disadvantages of each are also covered.

A substantial portion of the book discusses Flaming Cobra, a service that was provided by Mongoose Publishing that removed many of the risks associated with printing and distributing supplements by using Mongoose's own distribution and printing setup, assuming the supplement was good enough to be accepted. Potentially lower rewards, but much lower risks.

Some of the content is now a bit dated. For one thing, when this book was originally published, the publishing of PDF supplements was still in its early beginnings. Since then, PDF publishing has come into its own, largely through the OneBookShelf group of companies, which includes RPGNow, as has print on demand publishing. Entrance into the RPG supplement market is now very easy - possibly too easy - for those who simply publish PDFs and print on demand supplements. The latter, as long as the publisher isn't planning to distribute to actual shops, obviates the need to tie up equity in printed books that may or may not sell. Another area is salaries and the figures in the spreadsheets; these may no longer be accurate, as the book is several years old. The title is a reference to the book by Stephen Colbert, I Am America (And So Can You!).

The Flaming Cobra imprint, to which there are extensive references, is no longer used according to Matthew Sprange himself on the Mongoose Publishing forums[2], although they do still apparently publish titles from other studios. I Am Mongoose is still an interesting read, but it probably isn't worth paying the full price for it any longer for anyone, especially those going into the cheap, PDF-only end of the market. If it can be acquired at a discount - this copy was bought at the sale price of $16.77 - it's a better buy. If, however, you are planning an investment of many thousands of dollars and intending to print and store actual physical copies of a supplement, then quibbling over a mere $23.96 for I Am Mongoose, And So Can You! is probably pointless.
I am Mongoose egdcltd 2015-07-28 3.0 0 5


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  1. "Mongoose Joins Rebellion." ICV2. 28/07/2015 <Web >
  2. "Flaming Cobra." Mongoose Publishing. 28/07/2015 <Web >

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