26 July 2021: Inspired by In-N-Out Burger

For those who don’t know, In-N-Out Burger (not sponsored) is a regional fast food chain based in California. They’re known for two things: a limited menu, and a focus on quality. Both of these are why I’m currently inspired by In-N-Out Burger and their business model.

The company strives to do fewer things, better. They do burgers, fries, shakes, and sodas. Period. No chicken sandwiches. No salads. You won’t find whatever foodie fad is popular at the moment. By keeping a tight focus, they can concentrate on maintaining and increasing the quality of those items.

It’s also why they remain regional, and don’t franchise. They need to maintain quality control over the ingredients they use. The larger a company becomes, the harder it becomes to not take short cuts. There’s a tipping point where you need to leverage economies of scale to control costs, and that almost always means sacrificing quality.

Inspired by In-N-Out Burger

So how does that translate to a lo-fi publisher? For a start, it means trimming the “menu”. For the first 5 years, I had to grind to put out product on a regular basis just to pay the bills. That’s business. There are books I’ve never been happy with. There are things that don’t meet my standards for quality. They had to be released, though, because the bills needed to be paid. Those books are going to be cut from the catalogue. So no salads, no chicken sandwiches, no cash-grab fads.

The books that I do love, that I feel are useful or simply add something to the conversation, are being upgraded. Anything that I’m keeping in the catalogue, as I’ve previously announced, will be revised, re-edited, and improved upon. The best burgers, fries, and shakes translates to the best quality titles in the Building Series, the DoubleZero System, and down the line, the Hippogryph System.

Why Now?

Dancing Lights Press has been profitable. I’m now at a point where I don’t need to grind continuously, to constantly release product, just to make rent. After 5 years, I have the luxury of slowing down a bit. I get to spend more time on each book. I can be more targeted and thoughtful about the books that I choose to publish.

Doing fewer things better is a huge paradigm shift. I only want to put out books that I’m proud of. I want to release books that are useful to creative tabletop roleplayers. My goal is to be the small, lo-fi publisher you deserve. Taking some cues from the In-N-Out is going to help me get there.