Ken and I started Dire Rugrat Publishing because we had an idea we thought other gamers might find useful. Our line of Tangible Taverns has developed a bit of following with some people and we’ve had a bunch of repeat business as a result. The first time we sold a tavern was exciting. The first time we sold a second tavern to a previous customer was just as exhilarating. There’s something satisfying about knowing people don’t just like what you write, they like it enough to buy something else from you.
After our second tavern was released, I ended up sick in bed for a few days. Really sick. With no energy to get up and do anything, my laptop kept me company. My mind couldn’t function enough to do my normal job or write any game material, and so I Facebooked. I ended up making contact with a couple of people in the biz, and then ended up being offered work.
That was scary, but also really exciting. Writing for myself didn’t feel real. It was fun, but felt a lot like a hobby. And just a hobby. Being offered paid work… that was a different kettle of fish. I love working for myself (most of the time), but writing for other publishers is pretty amazing, and here’s why:
Writing for a company you own (when the company is teeny tiny and doesn’t make a lot of sales) means you don’t see a lot of income from your sales. Most of what we make gets poured back into stock art and other resources. Writing for another publishing company means you get paid for your work. Pay rates vary, as does the the time it takes to get paid, but there is a lot less financial risk in working for someone else. Plus, money = nice.
Cool New Art
We often use stock art, and I have a hand in picking it out. When we have custom art Ken creates it, and I see it each step of the way. But when it comes to writing for another publisher, I hand over a word file and the next time I see the content I wrote, it looks pretty in a layout I didn’t create with art I may have never seen. Some companies go above and beyond here with custom art (shout out to Playground Adventures), and that is even more exciting – the characters I created are there in full colour! Art and layout being done without me ever touching it really makes me feel like a professional, or like I “made it.”
Bigger/Different Client Base
We have a couple of avid fans (and we adore you!), but Dire Rugrat Publishing is far from a well known company. Our customer and fan base are minuscule compared to a lot of RPG companies. Writing for different publishers means there’s a better chance of someone new picking up something I wrote and enjoying it. (And hopefully returning to pick up something published under our own company name.)
Hand in hand with that, the promotion for a project I participated in with another publisher is so much bigger. I see posts and shares on Facebook. I see emails showing up in inboxes. People talk about it. It’s really cool that there is so much more hype.
I don’t want to say we are making this up as we go along, but we are kind of making this up as we go along. Ken has a lot of experience gaming, and I’ve thrown myself into it head first; I’ve always loved writing, and Ken’s been GMing for years. But it isn’t like either of us any experience designing content on a professional level before we said “Hey, let’s share this tavern with everyone.”
Writing for other publishers is a great way to fine tune some skills, or work on projects I wouldn’t be up for otherwise. Having a developer look over my work, and make suggestions (or full on requests) steers the work to a different place. Their experience can make for a much better project, as long as I’m willing to not take the input personally.
For awhile, when I’d write for Dire Rugrat I’d write until I thought the project was done. We’ve since made set word counts we aim to hit, but either way, sometimes life is busy, and the project takes a backseat. Sure, I could set a deadline for myself, and we are trying to stick to a pre-made schedule this year (a new approach for 2017), but it doesn’t always work out. (There are some projects that were in the works far longer than I’d care to admit.) However, if I’ve committed myself to someone else, I make sure I get the job done. Blood, sweat, tears: it doesn’t matter. I. Will. Finish.
As stressful as that can be, it’s also awesome the project doesn’t (usually) drag on and on. I write it by the deadline, I submit it, and voila! It’s off my plate (until they need revisions, which can happen depending on the publisher). And I get paid. Done. Apparently I commit myself better to others than myself.
Different Type of Work
Every company has a schtick. Or two. Or three. But most companies aren’t all over the map. There’s a cohesiveness to what they publish, often with specific lines of products. Writing for other publishing companies means I can write content Dire Rugrat would never publish. Dinosaurs are awesome, but they have no place in our collection. Magical items are super fun, but they fit better with someone else. I loved ponies as a kid, but an adventure about them really isn’t Dire Rugrat material. There’s some other fun stuff I’ve gotten to work on as well, and while it hasn’t been released yet, I look forward to the day it hopefully is. These projects don’t fit inside the sphere of this publishing company, but they were a lot of fun to work on, and I’m grateful for the opportunity.
And so finally, if you want to check out other work by me, you can find a list of it here, broken out by publishing company.