4 min read

The Fear to Publish

As with any creative endeavour, the fear of failure looms large in the hearts and minds of self-employed roleplaying game third-party publishers
The Fear to Publish

As with any creative endeavour, the fear of failure looms large in the hearts and minds of self-employed roleplaying game third-party publishers (hereafter 3PP). Consider these three typical worries (and my responses):

  • What if no one likes my book?

- Many people won’t.

  • What if no one notices I have published a book?

- Many people won’t.

  • What if no one gets my creative vision?

- Many people won’t.

These are all warranted concerns. Creation can be an intensely personal endeavour. When you put something you have designed out there, you can feel like you are putting something of yourself out there.

It might seem a tad harsh, but the reality is that most gamers won’t notice you have published something, and of those that do, many won’t like it.

However, remember what Wayne Gretsky said:

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

I guarantee that if you don’t try, you will fail.

And to be specific:

If you don’t try to publish your book, you will fail to publish your book.

Raging Swan Press has been publishing books since 2010. In the grand scheme of things, we’ve been successful*.

*Successful as I define it, perhaps not as you define it. And that’s a critical thing to remember. YOU decide what defines a successful project when you are a 3PP. Is the mere fact you finished and published your book a success? Did you get 100 sales? Did you learn the process of designing and publishing a book so your future projects can be better? You decide what success looks like to you.

However, most gamers have never heard of Raging Swan Press. Of those that have, a decent percentage have decided Raging Swan Press is not for them. That saddens me, but that’s the harsh reality of 3PP (or any other creative endeavour). No matter how good your designs, some people won’t like or buy them. (The good news is that some people will love them, though). Most potential customers in today’s increasingly noisy world won’t even notice them. Neither of those things is a reason not to publish.

Some classic excuses come up again and again when I talk to aspiring publishers. Very few people will be honest and say, “I don’t want to publish because I might fail.” Instead, I often hear one of the following:

I Don’t Have Time

A classic excuse for not finishing (or even starting) a project is, “I don’t have time”. That is almost certainly not true in the long-term*. What it is, however, is a tremendously handy excuse you can tell yourself and anyone else who asks. Instead of saying, “I don’t have time”, be honest. Instead, say, “I’m choosing to do something else instead”.

(*It might be true in the short-term; a new baby, a house move or other momentous personal event can leave you "somewhat" short on time).

Consider how long you spend watching TV or surfing your preferred social media site(s) every day. Spend some of that time on your project instead. Do this enough times, and your project is finished!

There are 1,440 minutes in a day. Fifteen minutes equates to roughly 1% of the day. Even carving out 15 minutes a day can pay dividends. Fifteen minutes a day equates to one hour 45 minutes a week or seven hours a month (if the month is February). That’s an entire work day. Sure, it might take longer to finish your project, but if you keep edging forward, you’ll get there eventually.

If something is important to you, spending 1% of your time doing it is not an unreasonable goal. Imagine what you could achieve over a year if, every week, you spent 4% of your time (roughly one hour a day or seven hours a week) on your project.

The Project is Too Big

Do a smaller one.

Ideally, this smaller project will be part of the larger one that is too big to finish. Once you’ve finished this first smaller project, start another small one that is also part of the larger one that is too big to complete. Repeat until you have finished the big project.

Then, compile and publish the big project. Compiling and publishing is a key part of Raging Swan Press’s business strategy.

The Long Tail, 1,000 True Fans and Raging Swan Press
The Long Tail, 1,000 True Fans and Raging Swan Press: I’m a fan of sustained, long-term growth rather than short-term, short-lived expansionism.

I Don’t Know How to…

Whatever problem blocks your progress, you are not the first person to encounter it. That’s great news! Undoubtedly, many other publishers and designers have come up against the same problem and found a way around or through it. If they’ve solved the problem, you can use their solution. Here, the internet is your friend. A quick search should find the solution, and you can then push on.

If you can’t find the solution online, work it out yourself and publish the solution for people following in your wake.

The Final Word

To finish, another quote from Watne Gretsky:

“I missed 100% of the shots I didn’t take.”

Is that how you want to think of your publishing aspirations and plans?

Creighton Broadhurst is the Publisher of Useful Items at Raging Swan Press. He lives on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity. He is not planning to voyage far.