A different episode for the podcast today. We start out with Roland and I discussing author news. As always, its fun to deep dive into what’s going on.
My guest is Jacob Way from Deep Water Gaming, so we don’t talk books. Instead, we have a great discussion on writing as it pertains to comics and games and how author’s can put creative effort into these other avenues to coincide with their writing. I also try to ask some questions of interest to educators and parents and what kids can do now to prepare for this type of career in the future.
Jacob talks about being creative and how that starts at an early age, but how author’s can channel that into more than books. Gaming teaches kids lessons, but so does interacting with content. And kids can develop a passion for entrepreneurship at an early age – which is something that happened to Jacob.
Roland brings us some great discussions about:
- Amazon fixes problems with returns
- Creating copyrighted works with A.I.
- A.I. in the current workspace
- A.I. voices or audiobooks
- Roland’s 3 areas A.I. is useful
I attended Origins game fair in Columbus and guess who I ran into!
o today, interesting, exciting episode for my podcast and for my other brand line of work. I want to welcome Jacob way to the podcast. He is the president of Deepwater Games. Jacob, how are you
Jacob: today? I’m doing fantastic. Thank you for having me on your podcast.
Stephen: And I must say I’m very jealous of your hair.
I saw the picture. Yeah, the camera doesn’t get it all. . No it doesn’t. It’s very nice. I, my son has long hair. I got not the front long hair and I used to have, not as long, but longer. Very jealous of that. . So Jacob, tell everybody a little bit about who you are and what you do and that’ll lead to the rest of the conversation, cuz normally anyone listening is hearing about a new author with a book they’ve not heard of before.
And then we sure discuss some author stuff. This is like a little different, but I still think it’s tied in. So give everyone a rundown of who Jacob Way is.
Jacob: I’ve been doing entrepreneurship for the last 10 years. I actually started as a print broker that brokered printing of comic books, board pgs, all sorts of different types of books from Taiwan.
And I started that when I was 23, 22. I can’t remember exactly how old I was, but , I had been doing that for a couple years and then I got into the board game space. So entrepreneurship has just been my path for the last 10 years. And now I run Deepwater Games, which is a board game company located in Saginaw, Michigan.
If you’re a Michigan Knight or if you’re familiar with the Midwest, we’re right here. Okay. Detroit is about an hour and a half away. And then we’re in the middle of this, not in, nearly in the middle of the state, but close to the middle of the state. And we make games that are approachable.
We try and do games that, that fit in our mission statement. And when I say games, I talk about tabletop games. So one, it has to be a game that is easy to learn. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s devoid of strategy but you should be able to learn it pretty quickly. Two, it is a theme or a story that is not just your traditional castle, European castle story, right?
We want to represent more than just the traditional story structure. And then three, it has to be affordable. So almost all of our games are under $40, and most of them range in the $20 price point. We had our most success when we first started our fourth or third game, something like that.
Was welcome to which was so popular that Daniel Radcliffe talked about it on people in People Magazine which was just nice. Yeah. Crazy okay. , Harry Potter himself is talking about one of our board games. And now we have a game called Monstrosity which sounds like it’s right up your alley as it’s about art and teaching and learning.
And it’s currently in all 1800 target stores as well as 600 Barnes and Noble
Stephen: stores as well. Beautiful. Beautiful. I must say I wish you hadn’t said that cuz I already bought five of your games and I almost seem to collect games more than I should. I was just at my cousin’s yesterday.
We played four different games and taught them all new stuff. I’m like the game master. Oh man. Yeah, I love that.
Jacob: Yeah, we need more of you my friend . I
Stephen: love, yeah, I love games. So here’s where I thought it would be great to talk to you for the podcast for two reasons. We have authors that listen and we have new authors I interview and a lot of times we’re talking about not just doing stories, but branding and other avenues that branding can take for other revenue streams, which comics and games is something that could connect to that.
Yeah. And I also do a lot with parents, educators for kids, and I think we’re missing an opportunity teaching our kids entrepreneurship. And when they get older they’re like there’s no jobs. They’re all taken away by the robots now that I can get, and I don’t wanna go to school and spend $300,000 and then get a $25,000 a year job as is becoming much more feasible not to go to college. That’s a whole nother discussion, . So what you have done is a great path that is a choice that they have more than ever. I think it hasn’t been since like the fifties that interpret ownership and starting your own business has been such a solid choice for people starting out and absolutely moving on.
And it’s not like you have to, oh no, I can never get a job somewhere. It could be part of, it could be the only thing it could grow. And you’ve even changed. So I just wanna jump in, dive in, have some questions, and if there’s anything you think would be super relevant, throw it on out. Just a little discussion on it, sure.
Jacob: Oh, one thing before we jump on I completely forgot to mention when we first met and talked Deepwater games as part of Oxi Media, yes. Oxi Media is a conglomerate of different companies including. Source Point Press, which was a is a comic book publisher, probably the biggest in Michigan, if not the Midwest.
And for about 18 months I served as publisher for Source Point Press. I dealt with Diamond Comics and Yes Simon and Schuster and we sponsored, we were the bad sponsors of New York Comic-Con while I was publisher. I have a lot of comic experience as well, so we can dump jump into there
Stephen: as well.
Yeah that’d be awesome. And we won’t talk about Diamond cuz we might keep things upbeat and happy. . I, I used to do small magic store buying, selling, trading magic cards and dealt with Diamond. Now my son works at a store and deals with Diamond, so that’s all we’ll say about that. Oh boy.
but your table was the whole reason I regretted taking a credit card to that show. . I ended up with board games and comics. My son had helped me carry stuff out f fantastic. These guys owe me. That’s what, that was the deal. . So let’s at, let’s look at the interpreter ship first. So you are not as old as I am.
And you’ve been doing this for about 10 years. You started young about where My son’s at. Why did you choose to go jump in and say, Hey I wanna do games, which isn’t like I’m opening a restaurant or starting a auto mechanic store. I wanna do games and see if I can find people to play them, and I wanna see about creating.
Why did you decide to do that and what were some of the struggles you had to overcome with that?
Jacob: That’s a great question. So I’ll start with. Since I was five years old, I’ve been, I’ve wanted to be an entrepreneur. I still can’t spell the word though, I’ll tell you that. I can’t say years old today.
There’s like way too many Rs and E in there. It just makes no sense. But yeah I’ve always been fascinating with business and I think it’s mostly my genetics. My, my grandfather was an entrepreneur. I never met him, unfortunately. He, a famous story about him is he had all of the franchise rights for Wendy’s in Texas.
Unfortunately, he sold those rights very early and the Wendy’s history and did not really cash into that. But it’s just been in my blood of tra blazing trails, right? And trying new things. And I actually did not start in board games. My first business was the print brokerage.
And the focus actually was on comic books. And if we go back a little bit, even farther I were, was starting businesses all throughout my childhood. My earliest known business that I can remember is I would cut limbs off of the trees of my grandma’s trees, which she loved
And then I’d fastened them into weapons and sell it to the chil children in the neighborhood. Beautiful. Yeah.
Stephen: It’s, you should have followed that up with packs of band-aids. So after you sold the weapons Oh, yeah. You know that Yeah. Missed opportunity
Jacob: at eight. I hadn’t learned about vertical integration yet.
It’s I was a slow learner. , and then I would sell Pokemon cards. I wish I had actually kept that business up. And then I played chess competitively for a little while. And then I was doing chess coaching. Business when I was around 18 years old. So it’s always been something that I’ve been experimenting with.
And it’s really interesting to me when you do see kids that have that spark that wanna do something that, that know, that business is like something they’re passionate about, because it just like art, it happens at a very young age and fostering that is extremely important.
My mom is a single mom and she went to college while she was raising me. And my older brother who’s actually a writer wrote on a couple of our comic books nice. Yeah. And she fostered that, that entrepreneurship, she encouraged it. She tried to connect me with different people that, that would show me the path of how to monetize that.
She really didn’t have that ambition herself. Skipped the generation she at least recognized it in me and tried to foster that. Love that. The path of, yeah, and the path of entrepreneurship is, is winding right? You’ll go one day and I was actually a wedding photographer for a little bit, there’s all sorts of different businesses that I thought this is the business that I was meant to be in.
And in reality it took a lot of those situations for me to realize what I really want to do and to say board games is the end. Goal and the end of my journey that’s where I’m retiring, I would say is probably not true, but I have found what I like to do, and that is helping creators create.
I’m not a creative person as far as writing and drawing goes. I’m creative. Business wise. But I’m very good at talking to creators and finding a way to make what they have in their mind or have on paper and monetize it onto the market. I don’t get bored by spreadsheets.
I don’t get bored by sales a lot of those things that creators don’t necessarily like to do. And that’s where I’ve, where I found my niche, I guess the best way to put it.
Stephen: And I think that, oh, I’m sorry. I think that tagline, whoever I talked with at the table, that was what they said, that kind of sparked me.
Oh, okay. I, if that’s what their, their goal and mission goal is, then that’s exactly somebody I wanna talk with. And I love that what your purpose is e Exactly. That. . Yeah.
Jacob: And that’s the cool thing about Axi Media too, is they have a lot of people at that company that still there today that are there to help creators create.
And there’s a lot of creators there still to this day, right? A lot of the founders are writers and artists and stuff like that but yeah, I mean that having those businesses that failed, having those jobs that didn’t necessarily work out of just take you on a path and I think that one of the most important lessons I’ve learned in life is there is no such thing is failure.
It’s just or failure isn’t a bad thing, really. You. . Just because something doesn’t work out doesn’t mean that, you know it was supposed to work out. Doesn’t mean that you did something wrong, it might just be that thing isn’t meant for you. And there’s a lesson still be to be learned in there.
Stephen: And look looking at it from the author aspect be before even looking at it from my parents and kids aspect in the author aspect helping creators create, I think a lot of authors get so focused on, I’ve gotta write, and yes, you do. The thing is write your next book. That’s the best marketing for your current book.
Get a series and people buy series more and all that. But the numbers show that you gotta have Like the book, 20 books to 50 K. You actually gotta have 40, 50 books before you start seeing enough of a real world profit that you’re making money. That’s what the latest surveys, numbers and all that show.
And I think for me, it never was, I just wanna be a writer and write and that’s all I wanna do. It was always other things. I actually have created a couple board games which I should talk to you about, off, off of this interview. But it was always more about the being creative and what I can do with that.
And you mentioned something else for the entrepreneurship, that it’s not you’re not stuck. Even if you have a job that someone hired you, they tell you, be here every day at this time for this long. We’ll pay you this much. Here’s the job functionality. Then the stuff you do, you, you’re stuck.
You have to do it what they say, when they say it, how they say it. And you do that every single day. . Whereas you, if you get an idea, you can go in another direction. You can add that idea on. And I had an argument with a guy during one of my talks once where he was like, oh I’d never want my kids to do any of this cuz I want them to be guaranteed they get a paycheck.
I was like, where the heck is that happening at? Cuz everybody’d love to know that . And the point was if you enjoy what you’re doing and you’re creative, you can always find a way to bring the money in. And that’s kinda the message. I’ve tried to get out with some of my talks.
Jacob: Yeah, no I agree with you. Like there, there is no guarantees on life, right? There is no guarantee that job that you have currently, it’s gonna be stable. Building value is what entrepreneurship is really about. And even if you have to. Straight from that path.
I’ve had times in my life where I’ve had to get a real job. For a little bit. And I still bring those lessons I learned from entrepreneurship, how to build value into those companies. And the other thing I love about both comics and writing stories and board games too is, and I, and some video games, is that it is, those are all things that kids younger than 18 can start doing, can do right away.
Stephen: You even said you, you made weapons. It’s old them I have a whole box inside of board games. I created Moon, I as a kid, based on all my favorite movies, Indiana Jones star Wars, et and I look at ’em now and a lot of ’em are real, like really bad. But I, that’s, I got started, I got the skill, I got that spark and it built, and now I created a game that people actually played and enjoyed and I’m working on another one.
And same with the writing. Kids can write they don’t have to wait till they’re 18. Yeah. Or outta college at 24. And okay, now I’m gonna be a writer and write. Cause if they have the same 10 to 15 year path that an adult would have, then let’s start ’em when they’re 13. That way when they’re 23, they’re already going with full-time income as a professional experienced already.
That’s my whole goal with kids is these are skills they can do younger and by the time they’re 18, 20, they’re rolling and they know what they’re doing.
Jacob: Absolutely. The. Board games are about problem solving, right? That’s the best way to look at it, is if you break it down into its base base equation, right?
Is that you’re putting a problem on the table and you’re trying to figure out what the solution is. And how do I make the most points in my turn? How do I I know my opponent’s plan, how do I beat them in that plan, right? So problem solving as a skill is something we learned very early.
So really having a way, not just Hey, cr, express yourself creatively, but also creating something just in general, right? Like creating a set of rules, creating a scenario, creating pieces. All of these skills that you’re teaching your child doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re.
Only applicable in the world of board games, right? Hey, I’m teaching my kid how to play a board game or make a board game. That’s what practical applications does that have? But in reality it has a lot of practical applications. When I was in high school I studied and played chess competitively, and that problem solving aspects go back to I still use them today.
18 years later, I’m still using some of the things I learned in chess on a daily basis. I don’t think, I don’t think you should parents shouldn’t think of the actions and the things that they teach their kids. A direct application, right? This should not be if you teach your kid how to draw a comic or write a comic, that doesn’t mean that they have to then become and take this 15 year path to become a comic book artist or writer.
It’s a skill that you’re teaching them that they, that then can distill different knowledge in different ways. Oh, this is how I express myself. That is one of the most important things to learn as a kid, is how to express yourself, right? Who are you as a person? Very true.
Yeah. And e even to today when I analyze artists, when I analyze artists for comic books and I analyze artists for board game I looked a lot at has this person figured out their style? Is this an imitation of somebody else or is this person’s style?
And it was, , it didn’t really matter necessarily. Okay did they accurately represent swords correctly? Did they get the reflection of the water? Correct? It’s not about accuracy, it’s about how you express yourself. And that’s so much more important I feel like in, in life than just learning.
Oh, okay you’re gonna learn all of these elements of art and you’re gonna become an artist. No just like that parent is really concerned about having that kid having the stable income it should be way more important. That kid feels fulfilled in this stuff that they do in life, right?
We spend a majority of our waking time working . You’re not gonna get around it, oh, unless you’re born into money, right? . But you’re not gonna get around this idea that you are spending most of your time. working. And if you can find something that is enjoyable, like I, I feel like I’ve found that’s much more important than the amount of money you earn doing that thing, as long as you can make a living, being happy is so much more important.
Being fulfilled is so much more important. That’s agreed. And being, teaching your kids how to express themselves is the first step to that in my mind.
Stephen: Agreed. And if you know how to create, you know how to think logically. Yeah. You know that you’re never really stuck. I know people who get nervous that, oh, I think my job might disappear.
I don’t know what I’m gonna do. I’ve been out of a job for three weeks and it’s just so make the money. And I, as someone told me that, they’re like, look, if you’re an entrepreneur and you need money, then figure out how to make that money. And that’s the end line. Does it always have to be writing the next book, writing a short story?
No. It could be creating a board game, which authors if you like, oh, maybe I’ll just whip up a board game. Create really coming up with a concept and then good game mechanics is way harder than you would think. it take even a simple game like I did, took way more iterations to get it, so it was playable.
But then for kids, also, the other thing that it teaches them, whether it’s drawing or creating a d and d module even or something is that they. One of the studies I mentioned in my talk is the rate of anxiety and depression in young people meaning under the age of 30 has risen like 18% in the last five, six years.
And yeah, part of that is they’re being told, go find a job and get the gold watch after you retire. And that doesn’t exist. So they get out into the world, they’re like and then they get a job that’s horrible and it’s no wonder they’re getting depressed and anxiety ridden. Whereas if they’re at a young age shown, look, you can draw this picture, you can make art, you can create comics, you can make board games, you can write stories, you could figure out some online thing.
Now for stores, t-shirts as big, you know that they, if they see that and it breaks through the I have to get a job somewhere else. Then they’re empowered to go do that and the world isn’t as scary and life isn’t as scary and they realize their lifestyle, they can make choices. That’s another part of my talk.
If you have a job where you have to live in New York, yeah, you have to make a lot of money and you have to make sure you keep that job. But if you’re doing that same job, but living here in Ohio, you don’t have to earn quite as much money, . So that takes on the anxiety away. So that’s the other big thing, is it teaches kids and empowers them and it helps break through some of the scary adult life,
Jacob: Yeah, no, for sure. And that’s something I’ve talked to a lot of entrepreneurs that are on their beginning of their journey, right? Is you have to figure out exactly how you define happiness, right? What is happy to you? Rarely is it a dollar amount , right? Rarely is oh, happiness is a hundred thousand dollars every year.
That’s not true. That’s not like I could be making a hundred thousand dollars a year and be in Manhattan and feel like sh crap, I could be in, I could be making a hundred thousand dollars a year and live in Ohio and feel much better because it’s much more affordable. Right?
So happiness, you have to figure out what that is. The other thing is that creating things in my mind, one of, one of the cool things about when you start creating things and realizing that you can create board games that people enjoy, you can create comic books that people wanna read is that everything around us has been made by a human, everything around us the computer that we’re talking on, the webcam that is filming us, the coffee that I’m drinking, , it’s all made by humans. Like this, these things are made by people. just like us just the same flaws. And it’s easy to be like, oh Nicola Tesla and Albert Einstein.
These people were the unachievable le levels of reality. But in like how many of those inventions are you using on a day-to-day basis? There’s other things that are in your life that other people made that are much more realistic. And I think realizing that you can have an impact on life itself is extremely important.
The things that are built around you, the road that you drive on is built by somebody just like you. And
Stephen: the improvements and the improvements in the road material. Somebody thought of that Sure. Some engineer probably went to school, learned new materials, and we’re learning new manufacturing techniques.
But somebody said hey, let’s use this hexagon, carbonite factored material for a road, and how much better is that? And then the business sprung up. And I know the last some of the studies I’ve seen that the rate of single person employment jobs that they’ve started has gone up 20% since Covid started 25% over Oh yeah.
Previous years instead of 2%, things like that. And there’s endless opportunities.
Jacob: Oh, absolutely. Our country was founded on small businesses. Yeah. And that’s the backbone of our economy. Yes. People don’t realize that it’s easy to think oh wow, Walmart has a hundred thousand employees or something like that.
It’s that’s not the. Majority employer, it’s usually small businesses, right? You go drive down your street and see how many companies you pass that have less than 10 people that work with work for them. It’s crazy to think.
Stephen: Yep. Absolutely. So what do you, when you say you help creators create, what exactly do you do to accomplish that?
Jacob: That’s a great question. My role in most creation processes varies dramatically. So sometimes I’ll be brought a product that is pretty well thought out as far as theme, as far as marketability, as far as concept core mechanics of the game. Vice versa with comics, right?
There’s a lot of similar thoughts in comics. Just different things like is this story captivating? Are the characters relatable? What perspective are you telling the story from? I see a lot of writers don’t really think about perspective, but in reality, most of the time you have to be like, who is telling the story where, you know, what information do they know, where are what’s still a mystery to them?
So it depends on where the product is brought in on the process. So I’ll give you an example. I have a game right now that we’re working on. It’ll be released at GenCon of this year. And the concept. The mechanism of what you do in the game was very solid, very enjoyable, very approachable created conversation and this is a party game.
So that’s, those are things are very important. But there was no theme and there was no hook. I went into the pro project thinking about those things. Okay, what is the theme? What is the hook? Where are we? Where do we. Hit so that we can sell more units of this game. Cuz I know that the mechanism, the way that people play the game is very enjoyable.
When I help creators create it’s really dependent on the product and it’s dependent on where they are with the product. But in the majority of the situations, my expertise lies in markets, understanding mass market, understanding, hobby understanding Amazon Convention, sales those places, they look for certain things.
They look for a game that’s understandable by just looking at the cover. They look at the back of the box is the back of the box, explain the game in three simple steps. Those things are difficult as a creator because you get kinda wrapped. This is the thing, and I know so much about this game, and like, how can I tell the story?
And I see this a lot with comics too, right? It’s like, how can I tell the story of my comic book in a paragraph on the back of the bo back of the book, , right? How do I summarize 18 months of my writing and to a single paragraph? And it’s easy to get lost in the weeds and be too close to a project so that you can’t easily summarize it to consumers, right?
And that’s why you need to find people that, that can help you with that, right? Either it’s an editor or it’s a co-writer, or it’s what whatever you need in that situation. Sometimes it’s just nice to have that outside fresh perspective. So that’s where I see myself fitting in a lot of these situations is assessing the marketability the sales ability of the product and expanding on it.
And another thing in board games, it’s not necessarily in comics or books, is expansions how do you continue the product? How do I guess you’d look at it as sequels or right storylines or different arcs for comics, but how do you continue the product so that it can continue?
Staying on shelves how could it keep fresh in the minds of the consumers? So that’s kinda where I see myself helping creators the most.
Stephen: So a lot like an editor. The creator came up with it and you help fine tune it from the outside perspective. And like a publisher if someone’s going more traditional route we’ve got this product with the editor and the creator have created it, but now we need someone to help get it out there and put it out in the world.
And as you’ve proven, you started a company that does all of that, and you get everyone. But it’s not saying that somebody could not say I have this game and I wanna put it out there. We have more avenues for that in today’s world than ever. Absolutely. So it’s still, you can have that choice if I like making games, but I don’t necessarily wanna spend all the time going to the cons and setting up tables and pushing it.
Then find somebody like you and make that agreement. And everyone does what they do best. I’ve got four or five game ideas that I if I sat and worked on ’em and really focused, instead of just toying with it on weekends, I could have five games in within a couple years. And it would make more sense for me to hook up with you to push that out.
And that’s the other thing I think parents with younger kids don’t understand is, doesn’t all have to fall on the shoulders of that kit. They, any business they wanna run doesn’t have to be full-time. It could be part-time. And there are other companies out there. Fiver is a great example as something that people can get work and do full-time work.
But not have to necessarily do everything if they don’t wanna start from scratch. And I like that aspect of what you’re doing with that much. It sounds much more approachable than bigger name game companies, .
Jacob: Yeah it, it depends on the way I always phrase it those same people that are looking at self-publishing and looking at trying to start a business is like, are what is, what do you want to do, right?
What is, if you close your eyes and you said, okay, this is what I’d want to do in this creative process, and if I then have you open your eyes and say, okay, but what, how do you feel about tape? How do you feel about boxes? How do you feel about shipping rates? Those types of things that are like business Bs, right?
What is a purchase order? How do you a acquire distribution deals? Those things that like. Boring business. Things in the creative world are very important if you wanna run your own business and self-publish. Now, if you define your success differently, right? And you just say, I just want people to read my pro, my book.
I just want it to be out in the world. And maybe that success means I put it on Amazon Kindle. It doesn’t have to be in bookstores. It doesn’t have to be in Simon and Schuster or the he who not must not be named. Like defining your sec success differently means that you can do different things and you can decide differently if you want a publisher or not.
And self-publishing, like he said, has never been easier. Now Amazon’s making it a little bit more difficult, , as Amazon wants to do. But you still you have so many d. Avenues for which to publish and promote your work. There’s Zup, there’s Kickstarter, there’s Indiegogo, there’s all sorts of different avenues.
And if you define your successes, I just want it to be out there and I want people to play my product, and I want it to reach to people. Then having a 5,000, $10,000 Kickstarter for your comic book is amazing. It allows you to do everything that you want to do. If you have higher ambitions for that product or you want to get there faster.
Some people bringing in a publisher and that situation is important. There’s a lot of people that self-publish that are okay with where they’re at. And there’s a lot of people that self-publish that are trying to reach a new a different platform, right? Like a different size of their publishing.
So yeah, I think it’s really important to define success to yourself before you start that process. The other thing is if you go through a publisher it’s a collaborative thing, right? I’m never gonna sign a game that the designer doesn’t want my input because then what am I doing?
Why am I publishing this right? I’m never gonna sign a design that I can’t talk to the designer and say, okay we think that adding this is going to help that, right? That’s not a good collaborative relationship. And as a creator, you have to assess yourself as being able or not able to take that criticism or that collaboration, cause as being a writer yourself, right? There is a lot of circumstances where writers aren’t able to take cri constructive criticism or constructive Yes. Collaboration. that’s a, the job of the publisher, right? Like they, they are taking a large part of that risk in publishing your work.
So you have to be ready to work with them to make a good product, right?
Stephen: Yeah. So I know you don’t do so much with the comics anymore but I myself have thought of doing a small prequel comic for my current series. I know other authors out there have said maybe I’ll turn it into a comic or a graphic novel.
And I’ve talked to a couple people who just made a straight graphic novel instead of doing the book version. So what types of things do you look for? What would advice would you give them to say, Hey, these are the types of things you need to know about comics to get a story in there because you got books and you got movies and comics are a little bit somewhere in between.
It’s got aspects of visual movie, but you gotta keep that story because you can’t hear anything and then on a page. So what advice or whatever about that.
Jacob: Sure. I think it goes back to that style aspect. There are a lot of Comic creators, comic writers, comic artists that tried to emulate what they’ve seen before.
And I think that’s important to learn, right? I think it’s important to study the masters study, how they did things. But it, the things that are getting attention and getting a lot of eyes are the things that are unique. Right behind me, I’m lucky enough to have a Matt Kent piece of art here.
He did he’s a big board games fan. Fan. I don’t know if Matt Kent from mind Management is his biggest, no, I don’t, but Depth and he’s also got a, his own label at Dark Horse right now. Oh. Oh, wow. Yeah. And he’s a huge board game fan as well. How I got him to do me a little piece there.
Beautiful. The thing is Matt Kent is so unique as stuff is him, right? And I think that’s really important is finding your identity as a creator, and that’s really difficult though. I will say it’s much easier to be like, okay, I like the Avengers. I’m gonna write an Avenger type story.
And I’m not saying that you can’t write a good Avenger type story, but if you wanna be a creator and you wanna self-publish, or you wanna get your stories out there and you don’t wanna work for the big two then you have to find your brand and your identity. So that’s first of all the most important thing.
Finding people that can contribute to your piece of work and not just do exactly how you scripted the panels to look, I think is another very important part. The best pieces of comic book. That were submitted to us had that feeling to it, right? That it didn’t, it’s not necessarily just the writer dictating to the art, the artist this is what I want.
It’s more of here’s the story, here’s the script. This is what I want people to say. I want you to take it and run with it. And that’s super important because as writers it’s easy to be like, okay, this is how I envision it. This is how it plays out in my mind. But in reality, like a lot of times that doesn’t look as good as you imagine it
And finding an artist that will translate your intention into visual visual piece is extremely important. And then finding an artist that compliments the style of writing that you have is extremely important as well. Yeah. Agree. Those are the things that I think are important, right?
Like I think the comic book industry itself is a very tumultuous, we’ll say . I think that’s probably the most conservative viewpoint. I could put
Stephen: on it as PC as we can get it. .
Jacob: Yep. Yep. Tumultuous is what we’re gonna deal with. Okay. . And if you define success in the comic book world as I need to make all my money back that I invested into this, and I need to be paid a fair hourly rate it’s gonna be very difficult for you.
I think you can find success in the comic book industry, and I think that I know a lot of people. Have started in the comic book industry. Like Paul Jenkins is a friend of mine and he started writing Marvel books and did a bunch of that stuff and then moved over to video games and started writing for video games.
There’s a lot of career paths to make a lot of money writing. Or when we say money we really mean have a happy and successful life. But I think that ties really right back to that defining success and defining happiness and what you create, right?
Because I know a lot of people that have just spent tens of thousands of dollars on artists. that’s just a hobby of theirs. And it’s just they’re creating comics because they want to create something. And that’s their happiness, right? They don’t necessarily need to make all that money back.
And comics is just very difficult. Anytime you deal with a $4 product in a market that’s probably three to 4 million people at the most that’s not, it’s not an easy market to, to succeed in. And like regular novels, books, it’s not always one is go make your success.
Stephen: It’s that series. It’s the 20th book you may do and sometimes you gotta keep going if that’s really what you love and appreciate. And I think what the way things are in the world with more people working from home, people getting used to Fiver and all the online everything. And I, in Kindle you can even publish independently though it’s very hidden and they don’t do much with it.
But the point is you can do it a lot easier, cheaper than you could have even five. Years ago, let alone 20, 30 years ago. Oh, yeah. And people are more open to the things that are not the Marvel and DC superheroes. My, my son and I, he wants to do a podcast where each episode he picks a graphic novel that we discuss and none of them Oh, cool.
Are the superheroes that you’ve heard of at all? The first one we’re doing is Murder Falcon, and I have it right here on my desk. I’m halfway through it. Oh, nice. Yeah. Nice. Yeah, that’s the type of thing more and more people are open to that, so you’ve got more of a chance. But just like you’re probably not gonna publish one book and make as much money as Stephen King or JK Rowling, you are not going to make one comic and become Spawn or Batman, and you’re not going to make one game and have monopoly that’s played a hundred years from now necessarily.
Just catch Oh, absolutely. Your expectations.
Jacob: Yeah, just find what you really love about the thing that you’re doing and try to do that more . Like some, for some people like me, it’s selling more stuff for other people it’s actually getting the products there and like creating a page and seeing that page finally in drawing form and that’s interesting to them, yeah I think you’re, I think you’re right on the money that just keep creating. And I think another important thing is push boundaries. Try new things for yourself. If you look at some of the most famous painters in the world and the ones that have museums after them, you’ll see that they experimented, they tried different things.
Van Gogh was not the same painter that he is, that he was at the end, right? Like when he started it was very much, he was doing life studies studies of people, and a very realistic setting. And he moved as he went on into more post impressionist, right? And did a lot more work on colors and experimented and pushed the boundary.
And he eventually found who he was as an artist. Those just like my path in business I had to try all of those different things to understand what I enjoy and what I like. In your creative world, in your creative career, you have to try different things And like you’ve said, what makes you happy?
Stephen: Which I think is something the even younger generation than you, is grasping more than the boomers and the Gen Xs like me that they wanna do something that makes them happy. And that doesn’t necessarily mean hitting that a hundred, $200,000. It’s something that makes me happy. If that means I don’t own a big car, if that means I don’t own a big house and I don’t have lots of stuff inside that house, that makes me happy.
And I think this the younger generations are getting that a little bit more than us past the generations have. And Oh, I lost my thought. What I was gonna say, I’m sorry. But so when you were doing the comic books, what did you look for in the comics to say, yeah I wanna get that one out and published.
Jacob: The biggest thing was definitely is this person unique? Is their story unique? There’s a thousand stories of superheroes. How does this one about superheroes? We didn’t really do much superheroes, but just to give you an example how does this one story of a superhero hit me differently?
One of my favorite books we ever published was a book called Darling. Brilliant book about drug addiction. Not kid friendly, unfortunately but it was about this character who was going through a heroin addiction and how his life just was affected by heroin, but also how his mind interpreted the world around him while on heroin as well.
And there’s just, it’s just a gorgeous book. I highly recommend it. And that’s the type of stuff that unfortunately it’s not always a commercial success, but it’s just a story that needs to be told and a story that needs to go out there. Because one of the other brilliant things about this book is that it’s based on reality.
The author’s brother Died of an a heroin overdose and he found his brother’s journals. Oh. And in these journals, he would talk about all of these things that happened to him, but in reality, none of these things happened to him. It’s just his brain imagining these things. Wow. Wow. The drug addiction.
And it’s it’s crazy. It’s a crazy book. It’s, and it’s drawn in the style that’s Miyazaki but different. Wow. It’s just so weird. And that’s an example that. Can get out there and get told that would’ve never seen the light of day 10, 20, 30, 40 years ago. I know I had a friend in late two thousands him and a another friend were writing a book.
Stephen: They had eight issues done. They did it all had it already, but they got held up. First of all, Marvel and DC weren’t even interested. Didn’t even wanna talk about it. So they were gonna try and do it independently before all the self-publishing stuff. And Diamond basically said, eh, nah, not interested.
So they were done. They had no avenue to do anything with what we have. They ha they would’ve had a chance to get that out there now. And that’s, I remember what I was gonna say is what you were saying earlier, I think authors quite often forget this. Don’t worry about writing this book cuz Oh, I want to make money and I have to make a lot of money, worry more about I wanna write and my craft of writing, my storytelling abilities.
And I’m just doing that. Okay, now I’ll do the next one. And each one is something where you’ve learned, you’ve expanded, you’ve gone different. And pretty soon you’ll have a lot of stuff behind you that you’ve written. And your craft you’re writing will be where it is making lots of money and the things that you already did that don’t need to be forgotten, you can bring those back in.
The back order nowadays is crazy how much people buy stuff that was came out years ago. That would’ve never happened before too.
Jacob: No it’s a hundred percent true, right? Like it’s you just gotta keep creating. And some of the best writers that I know, just, they just kept doing things, creating things, and then eventually it caught on and eventually they either found their audience or they or, and, or they perfected their craft.
And I think that’s important. I, the other thing that I always was looking for is somebody that knew how to talk to me as a publisher as far as what we were publishing, right? So I’ll give you an example, don’t pitch adult content to Marvel, right? It seems super simple, but that’s.
The same idea goes to don’t pitch horror books to action comics or don’t pitch kids friendly stuff to heavy metal, right? . You have to figure out who’s the publishers or who the publishers are that you are interested in publishing with, where your story fits in.
And don’t waste the time of the publishers that don’t fit this blanket email to everybody saying, oh, hey I have this great book and it’s gonna really work with you. It’s superheroes. I, we don’t do superheroes. You can see a publisher’s catalog and get a vibe of who they are pretty, pretty quickly.
And if you’re not doing the research when you have a book to put push to that publisher, they’re less likely to be like, Oh, wow. You’re sending us another pitch that doesn’t fit right. That’s so important to to really think about. It’s who is the publisher that I wanna work with?
Who should I focus on talking to? Who should I try and craft a tailored pitch to this publisher and say, Hey this is this book. I think it will fit in really well because it fits within your horror genre. And it’s similar to this and this that kind of stuff is way more important than the shotgun effect of, here, let me pitch to every publisher.
I can find the email
Stephen: of . Agreed. And that’s advice. I’ve seen the Facebook groups authors get on there and they’re like hey, I just finished my first book. You should all go buy it. It’s written for everybody and you’ll all love it. And chirp, nobody answers.
It’s dude, this is a group for authors. We’re all here for author advice, and your book is a fantasy. No one cares. We’ve got 20 other fantasy authors right here. And I’d be a little crass and cruel. But the point is, like you said, no you’re correct. Figure it out. Where the best place absolutely agreed.
Jacob: I’ll give you, I’ll give you an experiment you can do at home. Okay. go onto your TikTok if you have one, and scroll through and try and find the most obscure video that’s just made for you. Is it, I I have a redheaded, red haired husky and there’s not many red-haired huskies, right?
But on TikTok, they know that and they post, they give me videos of red-haired huskies and then go to that person’s profile and see how many views that video has. And you would be surprised how niche of. Content you’re gonna get. And then how many people watch that niche of content, right? The world is massive and you don’t need a billion people to like your product, right?
To be successful, right? You only need several thousand, right? That’s the reality of the world, right? And why waste your time trying to make the most commercial like Disney products, right? Why are you, right? Why are you trying to make the next Pixar movie when in reality you could be Guillerma Deltoro, right?
Not everybody likes Gui Deltoro , right? No. Not everybody likes how bloody his stuff is. But he has a fan base, right? And you can even go drill down farther and farther. We worked with Adam Green. Adam Green’s a great example hatchet. Yeah. He made the horror movies, hatchet and Holliston.
We did the comic books for Hollist. and you would be surprised how many people are fans of this canceled TV show that only had two seasons. Like they it’s. You don’t need the world to love what you’re doing. You just need to find who in the world
Stephen: loves what you’re doing. Absolutely.
Absolutely. Alright. Jacob, I’ve kept you for an hour. I was like, oh my gosh, it’s already been an hour. Honestly, I didn’t Oh,
Jacob: Geez. Yeah. I’m
Stephen: surprised. . Yeah. I appreciate the talk. It’s been great. I think you, you had tons of great advice for both authors to look at other revenue streams and these are some things that can be done and parents that it’s a reality that this could be something your kids could do in the future and they’re not missing out on life or anything.
To get it all together. Would you have any last words of advice for parents and kids or authors or anything about your company, the games, the comics that you’d like people to know about? And what’s your website? Let everybody know about that too. Sure.
Jacob: So our website is deepwater gaming.com.
We’re on TikTok, we’re on Facebook, Twitter, all of Instagram, all the different places. We’re actually doing a revamp of our website and everything pretty soon. Keep watching for that. As far as recommendations go, I definitely recommend Darling. I’m trying to think of some other ones that are just fantastic.
There’s also this other comic that we published oh my gosh, why can’t it, buzzard and Bone, which is Hatfield versus The McCoy’s meets Harry
Stephen: Potter. I crazy. I remember seeing that one. I think I may have got that one. I’ve got a huge comic book stack that I have to get through that I’m way behind on.
And then I do stuff like, bone is great. Yeah, I think that was one of ’em I picked up cuz I, I can picture it. It rings a bell.
Jacob: and then anything Matt Kent is fantastic too. Like I, I love reading and watching things from creators that have that style that they’ve nailed. And then as far as board games go boo right back here is made by one of my good friends.
It’s at Barnes Noble Stores. He also made cues and cues, which is a great party game as well. That’s, I played that one. Yep. Cues and cues is fantastic.
Stephen: Like two, three in the morning being a little wasted with a bunch of friends and we were laughing hysterically and it’s now we mentioned that game oh my God, don’t mention that game again.
Jacob: played that one. So he made this game Boo, which is basically I’m a chess nerd, right? So it’s just hit the right places For me it’s just like a strategy game where you try and move your cats onto this. actually got a quilt in it. It’s super, super cool. Beautiful.
But besides that I also wavelength is one of the games I always recommend for people. Very fun party game. It’s about communication and then our games monstrosity is one of our biggest hits. It’s in Target in Barnes and Noble. Nice. But my advice really is just you’re gonna learn a lot by just consuming content, right?
I almost always have a podcast on a YouTube video a show on Netflix and. just observe, right? You can observe and see, oh, why did they do this? Why did they tell the story like this? My fiance loves it when I’m interrupting and pausing the show and be like, that’s
Stephen: they set up this thing
Jacob: and this story, and it’s foreshadowing.
But you know what the great thing about that is? You’re learning about story structure, right? Yeah, absolutely. And I think that’s one of the most important things, even if your child isn’t interested in creating, or they are more shy about actually creating things. Get them to consume, get them to consume content. It’s not a horrible thing that they’re on YouTube, right? It’s not a horrible thing that they’re watching TV shows. It’s not a horrible thing that they’re
Stephen: playing video games. Yeah. I talked that exact same thing to parents. Yeah. Yeah.
Jacob: They’re learning about the way that we storytelling is the reason that we have civilization, right?
That is what has brought us together as a, as a. Oh my gosh. Science term, that is what has brought us together as humans. , right? Species. There we go. Species is this ability to tell stories and interact with each other. That, I think that’s probably my biggest tip for parents if they’re worried about getting their kids to create stuff, get your kids to interact with creations freedom.
Bring them to museums, let ’em play video. Talk about those video games and story, I’m like, oh, what did you think about the story in this game? Oh, what did you think about the story and this comic book. That’s super important, and for them to start analyzing those things, I’m thinking about them more critically as
Stephen: important as well.
Great. have you liked chess games? Have you tried Hive? Have you played that one? I
Jacob: haven’t tried Hive. I’ve heard it’s really good. But yeah, I haven’t, I’ve tried to avoid, I’m really obsessed with Party games right now. Okay. Just because I find them fascinating. Because it’s not designing fun is much more difficult than you can even imagine.
Stephen: So you ought to try a floor plan. I played that with a bunch of people. , we
Jacob: got that one. Where’s that one? I got that on my desk here. .
Stephen: Yeah. I played that with my cousin and a group of people. And my son loves Gladys or Gladius. Oh. Yep. Gladius is Glads. It’s one of his favorites now. And oh, what was the other one we played?
Oh we got Sovereign Sky, but we haven’t played Sovereign that one yet. Sky. Yep. Yeah. Yep. Whoever was talking to me at your booth was like this is special and it’s a special packaging and we got the expansion. And I’m like you’re just like, just to my arm right there.
Jacob: Hive, I know. Train
Stephen: them all. . Yeah, hive is very good. It’s very chest though my son and his friend said they figured it out how to. basically make it a stalemate in the game. Oh, interesting. Every single time. And so they’re like, eh, so I’ve bought the three additional pieces that they offered as expansions and I’m like, here, this changes the game a lot.
There you go. Yeah. Good game. I like abstracts cuz like that’s where my background is. But abstracts are, are hard for consumers, like they don’t do super, super well. So it’s hard for me to, I get excited about, we have this one game that’s been in our queue of pitched games for a while and it’s just this beautiful two player abstract game that just plays very easy.
Jacob: But it’s got a lot of depth and strategy. And I just can’t do it because it’s just not, or I can’t pull the trigger on it because it’s just not like in our realm of what our consumers are looking for. So it’s sad. I never actually like that’s the dirty secret of when you get into the business world of a creative world, right?
So like comic books, board games, you rarely get to actually do the thing that you’re selling . Right? Much I bar I barely get to play board games outside of the prototypes that we that we have. I mostly watch people review and talk about board games. And I barely get to I, at the time I barely got to read books outside of the books that we published.
Stephen: I understand that. Yeah. Have you played Is of Cats?
Jacob: I have, that is a brilliant game too. Yeah, that’s,
Stephen: that’s super good. Talking about esoteric. A little weird. It, my son loves it took me a bit to get into it. I’m like, what the heck is going on in this game?
Jacob: I love polynomial games.
Okay. Patch Patchwork is
Stephen: one of my favorite. Yes. I love that one
Jacob: too. That’s a good one. It’s about quilting too, so it’s like really weird. Oh, what the heck? Yeah. Yeah. I love that one. Picked it up, oh, my favorite game store is having a sale. Where’s my credit card? . Yeah, that’s bad me, all right. Jacob, I appreciate you taking so much time. Doing really cool talking to you. And I personally may be in touch cuz I do have a few ideas for a couple games. Yeah. I’m the toying with the idea. Using it as part of my writing business and attaching it somehow or trying to put it out myself or finding somebody to do it and which way I want to go and Sure.
Stephen: So maybe we’ll be in touch on that. That’d be
Jacob: awesome. Yeah. Just in general. know, My email is email@example.com and I don’t mind that being out there because I may not always have a ton of time to, to chat over email. But when I find the time, I try and respond to everybody’s email and talk to them about creation.
I think it’s important. To have a bridge to understand like the business aspect, just as much as you understand the writing aspect. So I’m always trying to answer questions about okay, what the, in, what is the industry like what does it take to succeed in this industry?
But also I love looking at people’s creations and trying to give some feedback like, oh yeah, this is great. Oh this needs some work here, but yeah. Cool. Great. No,
Stephen: I, I look forward to it. Nice. All right, Jacob, thank you very much. I appreciate it was great meeting you and chatting with
Great meeting you too. Thank you so
Stephen: much, Steven. Yep. Have a good day. And I’ll let you know after we play sovereign Skies and the others what we thought of them.
Jacob: Oh, perfect. Perfect. Floor plan Only. Good stuff though. .
Stephen: Yeah, Gladius loved it. Floor plan, I liked it. Took us a bit to click with it. I got Sovereign Skies left.
Oh. And fantastic factories.
Jacob: Fantastic. Factories is really good. It’s a solid engine building game. Very puy if you like that type of game, it, it’s gonna hit really well.
Stephen: Oh, good. Maybe we to move it up in the, let’s try this new game list, . All right. Thanks man.