black box movement
News and Updates

Is There Money in Self-Publishing?

Today I’ve got two ready questions. “Is there money in self-publishing? What do you think is a good day-job for tabletop game designers?”

Is There Money in Self-Publishing?

Step one, don’t refer to it as self-publishing. I am a publisher that also happens to be a content creator. This is a business (ask the tax collector), and it’s my full-time job. Even though I acknowledge that what I do falls under the umbrella of self-publishing, I reject the stigma. People hear that term and assume you’re amateurish and unprofessional. If you want to make money doing this, you can’t come in with the idea that what you’re doing is less legitimate than outsourcing the publication of your book to someone else.

Stop asking if there’s money in this. Start asking yourself how there’s money in this. In 2014 my wife and I moved to Finland so she could attend grad school. I don’t speak Finnish, and possess no skills that couldn’t be done by a Finn. Being unemployable, I had to invent my own job. Writing and publishing were things I could do. I had no choice but to figure it out, and quickly, so I could pay the rent and keep food on the table. There is money if you’re willing to work hard and be creative in locating revenue streams.

What’s a Good Day Job for a Designer?

Do you want to be a designer full-time, or do you want to do this as a hobby? If doing this is your dream, then any job that covers the bills while leaving you the time and energy to create will do. Nothing that’s going to suck you into a career track and pull you away from the dream. If you’re doing this as a hobby, then find something you enjoy doing and pursue that as a career. Tinkering with games will always be there.

I spent several years working in various aspects of the book trade, and I can’t say many skills were transferrable. Maybe look for work as a copywriter to hone your writing and editing skills. Find a job in marketing, because that often has more to do with the success of a book than that book itself.

The bottom line is that whatever you decide to do, commit to it. Expect that it’s going to be hard. Realize that there’s going to be a lot of trial and error. There is no universal path that anyone can walk. What worked for me won’t necessarily work for you. What worked for me mentors and role models didn’t work for me. We all have to find our own way to success.


About Dancing Lights Press

Dancing Lights Press is a lo-fi publisher of tabletop roleplaying systems and system-agnostic creative aids, including the best selling Building series, the DoubleZero action thriller system, and Hippogryph, a fantasy story game system with traditional  roots. Our products embrace a minimalist aesthetic in design and presentation because roleplaying is an activity, not a collection of expensive rulebooks.