Shooting your shot
I was thinking about news we have to release in a couple weeks and how I got there.
When I was a younger person I was very self-conscious. I attempted to maintain a status with everyone I knew in their perceived realm of influence (Hey, he's the cool guy, act like your cool / This guy likes X, act like you are interested in that s well).
Then I hit around 30 and didn't much care what people thought. Maybe it was because I had matured or was engaged, etc. But I still didn't shoot my shot. Not really. I never went out of my way to do things that were uncomfortable.
When I started publishing TTRPGs in 2019, I still had that mentality. I was very insular. I didn't reach out to anyone for help or knowledge. I did my first project in a silo with the other contributors which were already people in my gaming group. Let me tell you, doing things without talking to other people is a good way to fail. We didn't necessary fail, but that project could have been better. Sure, I was learning all the basics an indie publisher has to know. Layout, art direction, writing for RPGs, etc. Those are good skills that have brought me where I am today. But I wonder if I could have short cut some mistakes I made by asking people who had already been there and done that.
Plus, this Kickstarter process has shown me, if nothing else, having contacts in this business is HUGE. It is probably huge in any industry. I've never really made many at my day job. Insular, like I said. But I've been successful in spite of that. Maybe I would have really advanced my career if I had known the right people and done the right things.
Anyway -- when I started talking to other creators it was through the Community Content Programs on DrivethruRPG. This was where I started, and I'm glad I did, actually. I got to learn all those skills there. I don't know about big companies, but I don't have a background in publishing at all. I test tech and write technical documentation (Yeah, this translates a bit). I didn't talk much at first. I listened. I disagreed with a lot of what I heard at first. But I didn't understand everything. These were more philosophy of how to do things, versus how to specifically do something. But over time my understanding grew, and my perceptions changed. You also have to have empathy for the person and their ideas. Where are they coming from? What's their goals? Their ways of doing things might be different than yours, especially if they don't want the same business goals as you do.
Getting back to "shooting my shot". I hadn't really collaborated much with others besides a few people that I wasn't intimidated by. They were small like me, or smaller. Some were personal friends (Brandon @ Arcanum Syndicate. Really, get Demon Gate, it is awesome). Then Kickstarter came. I had to start making contacts with more experienced people in the field. My first marketing folks didn't work out, but they were pretty big (No matter how experienced, you should follow your gut. That's another story for a different time).
I reached out to two really well known TTRPG authors to write stretch goals (They both said no, btw). I reached out to DOZENS of artists. I used about 2 dozen +, I probably reached out to 3 times that many. Industry juggernauts in both video games, comic books, and TTRPGs. It didn't matter. I was shooting my shot. Some never responded, a fair amount did. That's why H&H looks incredible.
Then, I had an idea about a licensing deal. I thought that this IP was probably available from all the information I had. It fell into line with what I wanted to do with H&H post Kickstarter. "Shoot your shot." I did, reached out, and now I have a licensed IP to reveal to you on August 24th, 2022. All I had to do was ask. Would I have done that 10 years ago? I'm not sure I would have. Even 2 or 3? To make this Kickstarter successful I had to do these things. And that's what forced me forward to be bold (at least to me). My mom always said, "the squeaky wheel gets the oil." Be that squeaky wheel. Learn by doing and by listening. Reach for your stars, whatever they are.
Stay tuned for Heroes & Hardships' next big announcement in a couple weeks. And of course follow us on Kickstarter for when our project goes live.