Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

The Four-Step Universal Indie Survival Guide

Posted by Rampant Coyote on September 25, 2015

The first day of Salt Lake Comic Con 2015 is done. Thursdays are typically sparse, so if the wall-to-wall people and standing-room-only crowds for some of the panels this afternoon are any indication, Saturday is going to be absolutely crazy.

The panels I attended (all three of them) were writing-specific. Naturally, the rooms were packed with aspiring or neophyte authors. I thought back to two years ago, with the first Salt Lake Comic Con, when I was doing much the same. There were differences for me, personally – that year I was still “aspiring” and hadn’t yet ever published fiction (though I may have gotten my first rejection by then), and this year I had to boogie back to my table to make sure we were covered for selling our books, which I guess makes me a “neophyte” instead. 🙂

Maybe I was just in the wrong panels or talking to the wrong (or right?) people, but it felt like the tone has changed a little bit about the indie, self-published route. Maybe it felt like less of a “gold rush” mentality, I guess. Dare I say, it felt a little more mature, and more businesslike? The thing is, the indie book scene has become pretty saturated.

Having also attended the Utah Indie Games Night earlier this week, which I think might gave set a record for the number of games being shown in various stages of development, I was struck by a few parallels. The saturated market is an obvious parallel. But also how you deal with it, as an author. There’s no magic to it. While the details may change, it still comes down to the same things whether you are an indie author, indie game developer, or I expect even an indie rock musician:

#1 – Improve / Master your craft! This part is sadly neglected, probably because during the “gold rush” phase it’s not as important. This doesn’t mean achieving perfection, but it does mean being capable of meeting a certain level of quality. Otherwise it’s like trying to make an epic rock album when you haven’t yet learned how to play your instrument.

#2 – Produce! Be prolific! Create stuff that speaks to you, personally, but make it more universal and tuned to your audience, and keep improving (or maintaining) your competitive quality. Finding that balance between what the audience demands and what you really want to make might take a little bit of juggling, too.

#3 – Do all the crap that you probably don’t want to do to build and grow your audience and your ability to serve them. The marketing / sales / PR / business development kind of stuff. If you are no good at it, hire someone else to help, but it will still demand a lot of your time and effort. Just remember: you aren’t helping anybody if you have the perfect book or game for someone but they don’t know it exists.

#4 – Go back to #2 (or, arguably, #1, because you can always get better).

There are many more details and variations within those steps, but that’s the gist of it regardless of which creative field you happen to get into as an indie. Periodically, disruptions may occur that allow some temporary shortcuts and change some of the details – sometimes forever – but they don’t change the fundamentals.

Filed Under: Game Development, Writing - Comments: 2 Comments to Read