Dancing Lights Press hasn’t released anything new since 1 July. Part of that stems from the big move. Packing, traveling, and getting settled into a new place ate several months of this year. Another reason is that business has been good. I’m no longer in the position where I need to grind, pumping out product so I can make rent. While I can’t linger at this moment, it’s a blessing. I can focus on making the books I publish as good as they can be.
I wish more people in this hobby understood the economic realities of doing this for a living. There are fans with impossible expectations. They want small creators to have the production value of major publishers. It’s possible if you’re willing to break even at best. If you need to be profitable, forget it.
Every day on TTRPG Twitter, creators that try to do it this way leave comments. They complain that there’s no way to make a modest living in this industry short of working for one of the majors. They’re locked into a mindset that there’s only one way to do things.
Passion and Desperation
There are three ways to get a job in Finland:
- Speak fluent Finnish.
- Hold a degree from a Finnish university.
- Have a skill lacking in the workforce.
When I arrived in Finland in 2014, I met none of those criteria. To survive, I had to invent a job. I accepted every freelance writing gig I could land. In 2016 I started DXP, writing and publishing anything I could think of that might sell.
To cut costs, I learned how to do everything myself. The more I learned, the better I got. For five years, I cranked out books that I felt were helpful. Customers responded in kind. A few people didn’t get what I was doing, but most did. I managed to make a modest living.
As Good As They Can Be
Of course, I’m not happy with the quality of every single book I put out. I stand by the utility, despite the flaws. The problem I was solving for was to keep groceries on the table. Now the business is stable. I’ve got some savings tucked away. I can clear some of the older books. My focus is on quality instead of quantity without sweating how the bills will get paid.
I am remastering the core books in the three main product lines. That’s important for three reasons. First, those are the books that new customers are most likely to see. They’re the gateways into the DXP universe. If people don’t like what they see, then they won’t stick around.
Second, those books are foundational to everything else. A product line is only as strong as its core books. I need strong foundations to work. That way, every book that comes after can maintain that level of excellence.
Finally, I owe it to the people that have stuck with me over the past five years. They deserve the best that I can give them. Now that I’m in the position to do that, it’s a mandate.