Self-Publishing Pipe Dream

So I just watched the Game Grumps Office Tour and boy howdy, apparently it’s the kind of thing that will make me say “boy howdy.”

There’s a different room for everything. Their company (because at this point, it is a company with a business model and everything) has multiple departments now. It started with just two people. Now there are about fifteen employees, each with a different function or role.

This is wild speculation and totally not where I was expecting this post to go originally, but could this be the future of self-publishing?

Hear me out.

It’s been a while since I’ve actually watched Game Grumps, but from what I understand, they all had day jobs when they started this gig. And once or twice a week they would get together and record enough video game footage to release two ten- to fifteen-minute videos a day.

Granted, the two who started it were both well-known for their previous work on the Internet. EgoRaptor (Arin) for flash animations and JonTron for very funny dissections of various video games. So they had a strong jumping off point; they definitely weren’t starting from the ground floor.

Now they have an office with a bookshelf that’s also a secret door.

Jump over to one of my favorite YouTubers who I keep up with regularly, TomSka. He started out humbly, doing silly sketch comedy and cartoons with his friends. Now he still does silly sketch comedy and cartoons with his friends, only some of the faces have changed, and he has coworkers. Well, employees, really. Now he has Eddie and Elliot, who he admits are part of his support network for actually getting things done. If he doesn’t make content, they don’t get paid, so there’s incentive there. They work from a modest office, they have a huge following, and they get to play Smash Bros. at the office to unwind.

So, how can this be translated into writing?

Well, I think TomSka already has a pretty similar model to what I’ve seen by others. He started out on his own, had a good group of friends to support him, and just did his thing. (Unrelated: I really want to move to London now. Seems like a place where you can build a good network of like-minded friends.)

After gaining a decent following—thanks in no small part to asdfmovie—he slowly started making enough money to live off his YouTube income. Later, he got an office and hired fellow creators for his company, TurboPunch Ltd. Tom is still the main creator of all sketches, but he gets a lot of input from his coworkers. Eddie seems to be the one who’s more in tune with coming up with comedy ideas and executing them, and Elliot is the editing guy, but they all contribute. In fact, some of my favorite TomSka sketches only feature these three.

Oh if only a writing trio like that existed.

Introducing, Johnny B. Truant, Sean Platt, and David Wright of Sterling & Stone.

Like the above folks, these guys all started out independently. It wasn’t until they joined forces and made a business out of their writing interests that they really took off, though. They revolutionized the idea of a serial story by giving out the first episode free and then charging for the remaining parts of the story.

It’s not as nefarious as it sounds. Truant, Platt, and Wright work together to make sure they have a sound idea from the get-go, and they only have part one ready when part one goes live. So it’s not like they’re giving you chapter one of a finished novel and charging you for the rest right off the bat; it’s no Mass Effect: From Ashes DLC. Each installment is much more than a single chapter; they’re whole story arcs, meant to entice you to read on and to be satisfying on their own.

It’s not perfect, I admit, but it’s a good start, and it gives me hope. I’m the kind of person who works better when he sees others working with him. I was always terrible at doing homework, until I got stuck in detention (I don’t remember why) and I got all my homework for the evening done before I had to go. I played video games for the rest of the night completely guilt-free.

So, I think an office setup with other creatives would be beneficial for me. We could all contribute to our own imprint and make it a legitimate business. We could pool our money and our reputations for editors (and try to cycle whose book gets published when, of course) and people would come to know our name to be one of quality. We could beta-read each other and help with editing and story structure and brainstorming.

Essentially, the idea would be to grow a small imprint into a potentially large publishing house where everyone is a writer.

Plus, we would have an office. An actual office where we have to show up and work. I have an “office” but it’s at home, and it has a TV with video games, and no one to keep me accountable. Also, the little dog pees on things and I have to keep an eye on him.

Being able to separate work from home is the greatest benefit of having an office. If I could just go to an office, spend eight hours working on stories, then go home, I’d feel perfectly content to unwind with a video game and a beer.

For now, the writing, gaming, and beer is all kept in the same room. Plus the dog who pees on things.

So, what do you think? Would a setup like this benefit your writing life? Do you think this is a possible future for self-publishing? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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