Successful third-party publishing (3PP) is a marathon, not a sprint. As in almost any industry, overnight successes rarely are what they seem. Overnight success is normally the culmination of many years of unnoticed or invisible hard work.
Long-term planning and short-term action can enable you achieve amazing things. They require focus, patience and persistence. All three of these things are in short supply in today's world. However, they are key to being a successful third-party publisher of role-playing games (or anything else for that matter).
The Dreaded Example
For example, take an upcoming release, the Dread Thingonomicon: at the time of writing, this mega book, our largest to date, is almost through its final development cycle. This book is massive. It comprises 476 pages crammed full of flavoursome lists designed for fantasy roleplaying games. Those 476 pages hold 267,467 lovingly crafted words. This book would not exist without long-term thinking and short-term action.
The book’s contents comprise the entire 20 Things line—all 73 instalments. It’s taken Raging Swan Press seven years to get to this point. If I’d always been thinking and acting in the short term this book would not exist. Instead, I acted in the short term by publishing the next instalment in the line while thinking long term—plotting the Dread Thingonomicon’s eventual release.
The Dread Thingonomicon is—in my mind—a strategic resource for Raging Swan Press. It’s evergreen. As a system-neutral book, it will never go out of date. As long as people play fantasy roleplaying games the book will be relevant. Potentially, it could be on sale for the rest of my life. That’s more than worth the investment of time and effort in long-term planning and short-term designing over the last seven years.
Running the Numbers
Long-term planning and short-term action can help you achieve amazing things. For example, if you wrote 500 words a day—every day—for a year you would have a manuscript of 182,500 words. That’s a sizeable book; 182,500 words is a daunting target, but breaking it down into tiny chunks and committing to designing every day gets you to your long-term goal. If you instead committed to 1,000 words a day you’d end up with a book even bigger than the Dread Thingonomicon in only a year!
Forward progress is forward progress, no matter how slow. Over enough time, even the smallest progress adds up. The analogies are legion:
- Many bricks make a wall.
- Many grains of sand make a beach.
- Many wildflowers make a meadow.
- And so on
The Final Word
Act in the short term in pursuit of a long-term goal. Make incremental progress and keep your goal at the front of your mind. You’ll be amazed at what you can achieve.