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Title: Indie Sales Numbers
Post by: drkrash on October 19, 2010, 07:40:18 AM
Hey, all.  I haven't posted here in a long time because, well, I've been working on my game.  But I was curious about something I read this week.

I released my "core" book in March.  It has been well-reviewed, has found a small but dedicated audience, and has sold exponentially more copies than I budgeted for.  So I'm very happy.  As an important point to establish at the outset: I understand that if I'm happy, it's all good.  Having established that, let me move on to my question.

Some anecdotal wisdom I found here at some point suggested (according to my memory) that 200 sales in the first year for an indie game, and/or 500 sales in a couple-three years, indicated a pretty decent success in the indie RPG market.  Based on these numbers, I'm doing pretty well.

But this week, I saw sales figures on Fred Hicks' blog.  Dresden Files jumped out at me: almost 7000 sales since its release not that long ago.  Now, I understand we're dealing with a well-established designer, a known and loved property, a system that seems to enjoy some sort of darling-status at the moment, and a build-up that was years in the making.  I get all that.  I'm not expecting sales like this...ever.

But still: there's a big discrepency between 500 in 2 years and 6000 in 6 months.

So my question is: is my anecdotal wisdom totally offbase? Or is it more or less accurate and Dresden is a totally special case?  I don't need hard facts - just well-informed impressions will do just fine.  Thanks.



Title: Re: Indie Sales Numbers
Post by: Adam Dray on October 19, 2010, 07:58:09 AM
My (limited, no-special-access) understanding is that Dresden Files RPG is a special case. It's a hot property and Fred and team know what the hell they're doing.

Fred routinely posts sales figures for his other games. They're nowhere near as high. You should also be able to find sales figures for other indie games if you poke around. Ralph just posted lifetime numbers for Universalis. I think Paul Czege has posted figures for My Life with Master etc.

Selling a dozen or two games at GenCon is a really good weekend. Selling 50-100 copies in a year is a smashing success.

Really, though, define success on your own terms and do what it takes to reach your goals. If your idea of success is 6000 sales in six months, then make sure you have a product, market, and plan that will accomplish that.


Title: Re: Indie Sales Numbers
Post by: Mathew E. Reuther on October 19, 2010, 10:13:56 AM
You need to remember that it's a series of books with a large following that has been made into a TV show on a fairly prominent network. It has a fairly serious market going for it.

If you look at the sales numbers that other people have posted, you'll see that yes, it is indeed a pretty large aberration for those reasons.

So unless you manage to get the rights to something similar (and remember, Jim Butcher and probably his agent is/are making money on every copy sold, so there's a price to be paid for the success) you're unlikely to ever see anything close to that from a product.

I've seen mentions of runs of 50 to a few thousand over the course of years of sales for more "normal" products. I wouldn't go planning any runs of 5000 right off the bat. :)


Title: Re: Indie Sales Numbers
Post by: Ron Edwards on October 19, 2010, 10:23:05 AM
Hiya,

There's also a distinct difference between sales to distributors vs. sales to end customers. Moving books to distribution is a "sale" in most publishing parlance, without reference to whether anyone actually buys the book as a reader or user.

I'm not writing this to diminish the significance of the Dresden Files sales, but to clarify that a direct copies comparison of 7000 to 500 does not represent what is commercially happening in market terms.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: Indie Sales Numbers
Post by: drkrash on October 19, 2010, 11:43:16 AM
Thanks, guys.  I certainly would like to hear any other anecdotal evidence of what sales numbers you've been experiencing yourselves or that you may have seen elsewhere.

To re-iterate two things I said in my 1st post: I am very happy with my own numbers.  I have honestly made more money than I ever imagined I would.  So I'm not complaining about my own numbers compared to anyone else.  Also, I assumed Dresden was not the norm - which is why I was looking for what indie publishers seemed to be experiencing as some sort of "norm."

I'd even be interested to hear what publishers and would-be publishers realistically hope they will achieve in sales.  For my core product, I hoped for about 30 copies sold.  When I did that in two weeks, I was pretty happy.  It's been quite a few more since then. :)


Title: Re: Indie Sales Numbers
Post by: Valamir on October 20, 2010, 05:56:25 AM
Ron, I'm not following your distinction.

The difference between a sale to an end consumer and to a distributor is the price received per unit and whether or not there is recourse, where you might be forced to buy back unsold copies (Not common in game distribution, but I understand can happen with sales to the big chain book stores).

Once money is owed on a transaction a sale is registered.

Whether those books get years of enjoyment in the hands of an avid fan or sit on a dusty shelf for years before being mulched is an important issue (in the sense we want more of the former and less of the latter) but has nothing to do with registering a sale.  500 sales means:  I have or am obligated to deliver 500 copies for which I have received or am owed payment for 500 copies.  7000 sales means:  I have or am obligated to deliver 7000 copies for which I have received or am owed payment for 7000 copies.  The revenue is going to be different depending on who the sale is to, but the sale is the sale.

That said, in answer to the original question.  Yeah, Dresden is a huge success.  A ton of super hard work over alot of years by a team of guys who really have their act together; combined with a licensed property that is hugely popular whose fanbase has alot of overlap with gamerdom; paired with, as you say, the darling system du jour = lightning captured in a bottle.  Stupendous and they deserve every bit of success.  But not really a valid yard stick to measure other efforts by.


Title: Re: Indie Sales Numbers
Post by: Mathew E. Reuther on October 20, 2010, 07:12:37 AM
I suppose it depends on who they sold to . . . there's always the chance that some of those copies will be returnable should they languish.

Hard to know without being part of the EH operation. ;)


Title: Re: Indie Sales Numbers
Post by: Callan S. on October 20, 2010, 06:16:07 PM
I think the attribution of sales to a teams efforts is a little missplaced - unless you think that by having a tight act you can blow a whistle and make the market jump and backflip at your bidding. Otherwise you can have a tight act, but by the random elements of the market, simply not do as well. Success <> absolute control of whether one is successful. Some people roll a nat 20, so to speak - there's nothing special in what they did prior that lead to that.


Ralph, it depends on whether you wanna make sales and get out or make sales in the long run. If everyone else copies the "sell tons to retailers, few are bought" model, it does terrible things to the long term market. Or atleast by my estimate.


Title: Re: Indie Sales Numbers
Post by: Gryffudd on October 22, 2010, 07:56:54 AM
Hm, I suppose the distinction to me is what information you are looking for in the sales numbers. If you're looking at how much money is likely to be made, then total sales numbers, whoever they go to, would be the important bit, regardless whether they languish on shelves or not. If you're looking for information on the size of the game-buying market, then the numbers of games reaching gamers' hands is the key bit. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of information out there on either set of numbers.

I'd be interested either way, but I suppose people have their reasons for not divulging sales levels, so I'll have to largely remain in the dark.

Pat


Title: Re: Indie Sales Numbers
Post by: Ron Edwards on November 01, 2010, 05:30:57 PM
Took me a while to get back to this.

Ralph, that post is full of shit. I mean, it simply is.

1. Financial. If I sell a book to a guy, and he pays me every cent of the MSRP, and I have spent X on printing, and Y on shipping, and Z on whatever other costs, every bit over that total cost goes into my pocket. If I sell it to a distributor, then I get 40% of that MSRP, 50% if it's direct to a retailer, to offset that same cost.

So, on direct sale for a copy of Sorcerer, I make about $12. On a distributor sale, I make about $3. I don't call that the same thing.

2. End-user status. If I sell a book to a guy, he has the book. If I sell it to a distributor, it could get lifted by a light-fingered assistant, molder in the ex-wife's garage he laughably calls his warehouse, get sold to another distributor (or basically junkman like Crazy Eddie) in a manner suspiciously like unto mortgage bundling, forgotten under a pile of Silver Age Sentinels supplements, or basically find any number of other ways to be useless litter. One is a transaction; the other is a potential transaction. I don't call that the same thing either.

There is simply no comparison in units of copies. Dollars, sure - one business model may be better for a given game at a given time, in terms of dollars - in fact I'd be astounded it it weren't. But units of copies? Horse shit. "A sale is a sale" is a classic example of begging the question, sub-par sophomore logic - not something I expect from you at this site.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: Indie Sales Numbers
Post by: Valamir on November 01, 2010, 08:59:11 PM
Ron, the fact that I understand the distinction your'e trying to make is clear when I say "The difference between a sale to an end consumer and to a distributor is the price received per unit"

But that distinction is utterly irrelevant to the issue of sales totals and units sold.  Sales are sales is not only not sub par logic...its basic business 101.  When a unit leaves your inventory, and you receive payment for it (or a receivable for future payment) that is a sale.  Period.  Whether you receive full MSRP or 1 penny is relevant to how much revenue you book from the sale.  But it is NOT relevant to how many sales you book.  Sorry.  Not horse shit.  Basic accounting.

Also your aside as to end user status is likewise irrelevant to the question of sales.  Its very important to OTHER issues (like how much actual play is occuring) but when a business books a sale, they book a sale.  Whether that sale is to a wholesaler, retailer, or end customer again...impacts the revenue...does not impact the sales number.  Isn't relevant at all.  And here at all includes when half the total sales get mulched by a wholesaler who couldn't sell them.  From the perspective of the business...sold is sold.  The exception here is when the buyer has recourse and can force you to take unsold copies back.  In proper accounting this is treated with a special reserve account that reduces your earned revenue by the amount of the reserve.  In that case, a sale isn't necessarily a sale because it can be "unsold" so to speak.  But in that case there is a proper accounting treatment to handle that.

You also in your points neglect to account for the increase in revenue that increased volume provides.  If you sell 200 units direct you get to pocket 100% of your Revenue less your cost of goods sold.  If you sell 7000 units into distribution your per unit revenue is much less.  But I guarentee your per unit cost of goods sold is much less also.  So the deep discount isn't quite as deep as it looks when you do the math.  From my own experience simply going  from 100 copies to 1000 reduced my cost by nearly 5$ per unit.  On a $20 book that's 25% towards reducing that discount. 

I had thought perhaps you had a different point to make which is why I wasn't following your logic.  But after your clarification I just have to conclude your logic is just wrong.

Recording units sold based on when revenue is earned is standard operating procedure for pretty much every business in the world that deals in inventory.  Some sales generate more revenue than others, true.  That's what Profit Margin is designed to track. But units sold are units sold.


Title: Re: Indie Sales Numbers
Post by: Mathew E. Reuther on November 01, 2010, 10:40:06 PM
That's in line with what I was saying earlier, that the units that are sold can be sent back if there's a deal in place which allows it. In that case, those units are not actually sold until they reach the customer's hands and pass the return policy of the reseller.

In particular there are major resellers that if they stock your book, will generally only do so because you as a publisher have set a book's buyback option.

You may think, well, simple, just eliminate the problem by not offering it . . .

But if you could get a title into a major brick and mortar store, you might sell far more units than you otherwise could count on, making buyback an attractive option.

So in that case, books are sold when they are sold to customers, not when they hit the distributor, or the reseller.

In the case of the Dresden files, we cannot tell you what their policy is. I have not seen the RPG available from one of those major stores, but that's not proof of anything . . .

Sales numbers are important, but only tell a part of the story. Being a bestselling author generally means your book is sold places like Walmart . . . any idea what kind of a deep discount THAT store looks for? :)


Title: Re: Indie Sales Numbers
Post by: drkrash on November 02, 2010, 03:06:48 AM
Golly.  I was just looking for projections of what sales numbers people were individually happy with for their own work. :)


Title: Re: Indie Sales Numbers
Post by: Ron Edwards on November 02, 2010, 10:25:55 AM
Ralph, this is the same double-speak I got from the RPG publishers back in the mid 1990s, all of whose companies have failed in the interim. You can quote all the B-school text you want, but none of it is actually saying what you claim it is. You can say "you are wrong" loud and clear, but that doesn't make it so when your backup is nothing but circular reasoning.

To say that accounting terms 10 books leaving my stock is 10 books, always, is trivial. Of course it is, just as $10 in my pocket is $10 no matter how it got there. But none of that - or repeating it or waving "101" at me - actually challenges my points. In business terms, which is to say, to me as creator, publisher, investor, financier, and chief executive, the crucial question is how the variables interrelate. And the 10 books leaving my stock in the context of direct sales doesn't relate to any aspect of marketing, profits, effort in the same way as 10 books leaving it in the context of distributor sales.

I cannot believe you of all people are perpetuating the old Brooklyn Bridge line about lowered print cost to offset high print run costs. True: there is clearly a sweet spot where per-unit print cost meets print run size cost, specific to any particular project at a particular time for a particular printer. A big part of choosing a printer is finding the one who can provide it. But: too many times, RPG publishers get enchanted by "more more more" when they find out that unit cost drops sharply, and go past that sweet spot. Loading yourself with huge stock and congratulating yourself on the deal you've cut per book, is exactly what tanked so many RPG companies in the 1990s. The per-unit deal is only a deal if those copies actually move out of your stockpile - otherwise it's a deadly trap, especially when tax time rolls around. You yourself exemplify the smart strategy: shorter print runs sized and timed to pay for the next, within the sweet spot to be sure but never loading yourself with oh-so-cheap but mountainous inventory that won't sell fast enough and becomes a drag on the financial cycle.

To anyone reading this, I am not posting in advocacy of only doing direct sales. I am calling attention to understanding what is happening in your own business and making decisions about what to do next that make real sense to you. And not to gaze at some company with stars in your eyes because they look so successful to the naive consumer. D&D's financial history is a series of train wrecks. White Wolf's design and business model tanked when it encountered an actual marketplace and had to be severely revised.

Regarding buyback, that's a detail which cannot be automatically associated with direct vs. distributor sale dichotomy. Either way, you offer it or you don't. For example, for me, it's actually a benefit of distributor-free publisher-to-store sales, that the publisher has absolute personal control over it. I offer full buyback to the stores right up-front, which enhances my cred with them and also enhances the chances that every book actually gets into a user's hands. I don't think it loses me money at all; I know that the direct sales would in the fullness of time move all my books if they had to, and the retailer side of it is augmentation.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: Indie Sales Numbers
Post by: Gregor Hutton on November 02, 2010, 10:58:46 AM
For numbers there is a great article, based on real numbers, at the Collective Endeavour website: Small Press Publishing: Expected First Year Sales (http://collective-endeavour.com/articles/first-year-sales).

Oh, and I know of at least one "real" RPG publisher who tried to piss on those numbers online and imply they weren't very illustrative of gaming in general. I don't buy that.

To counter that opinion I will say this: I strongly believe the data in that article to be very accurate and realistic. I also note that when you look at 3:16's numbers and cross-reference it with The RPG Countdown Top 100 (http://rpgcountdown.com/2008) for 2008 (3:16 at #24) you can see where those numbers lie in regard to other products in the market.

In my opinion Dresden has been a huge hit, built solidly on a strong IP, a popular system and a lot of effort put in by people who know their market very well. Dresden numbers should not be expected by anyone under normal circumstances (but they are achievable as the Evil Hat guys have shown). And I tip my hat to them.


Title: Re: Indie Sales Numbers
Post by: Valamir on November 02, 2010, 04:11:09 PM
Ron, seriously.  You said
Quote
There's also a distinct difference between sales to distributors vs. sales to end customers. Moving books to distribution is a "sale" in most publishing parlance, without reference to whether anyone actually buys the book as a reader or user

Which is a ridiculous thing to say.  Putting scare quotes around sales to distribution as if those don't really count is purely your own indie bias.  Desireing a reference to whether anyone actually buys the book as a reader is purely your own indie bias.  A bias you're entitled to, but utterly irrelevant to the topic of sales numbers.  I was just at my FLGS.  There are two copies of each Dresden book sitting on the store shelves.  Am I to cry "aha!  Dresden didn't REALLY sell 7000 copies...I have proof it only sold 6998!"  That's ludicrous.  And yet that's exactly what your scare quotes imply and your follow up continues...that some how distribution sales don't count as much as direct sales. 

If your point was "there are also important differences between the various sales channels that you need to consider when making business decisons" you could have said that without the scare quotes and without the smug disparaging of publishing into distribution.



Title: Re: Indie Sales Numbers
Post by: Ron Edwards on November 03, 2010, 05:26:21 AM
Oooh, a scare quote accusation. Is that all you have in this? You didn't like my quotes? That is, actually, all you have.

I did not say that Dresden Files did not sell 7000 copies. I did not say that a non-direct sale was not a sale. You are getting bent out of shape over a gross mis-reading of my post. For the record, neither did I say that any non-direct sale of Dresden Files was somehow less good than a direct sale. I said the two kinds of sale are not directly comparable. Not one word about relative superiority.

That means that a publisher should simply and clearly know which type of sale they are making, per book, and which type of sale they want to emphasize, and in what ways, for a given project. That is my only point and it is very good advice for the question posed in this thread. Every bit of judgment or bias you are seeking to combat here originates in your reading.

Ralph, that's my moderator cue: you are being "Valamir," who has in recent years become a real asshole on-line. Post here, on the Forge, as yourself, not your internet persona. I'm not talking about the username as such, but about the way you post. Read the sense in what's posted and respond with sense, as you used to do even in the throes of serious disagreement, not with this Limbaugh-style button-pushing combativeness which only works if you can twist others' posts into nonsense.

Also, this thread is not a referendum on whether Evil Hat did something good or not. Gregor, your post appears to be a vote in that sort of referendum. Nothing I've written here is disparaging Evil Hat or the Dresden Files RPG or its marketing/sales success.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: Indie Sales Numbers
Post by: Valamir on November 03, 2010, 05:57:48 AM
My post is full of shit, sub par sophomoric logic, and circular reasoning and *I'M* the one being an asshole on line?

whatever.


Title: Re: Indie Sales Numbers
Post by: Gregor Hutton on November 03, 2010, 07:13:12 AM
Gregor, your post appears to be a vote in that sort of referendum.

I didn't intend for my post to be seen as a vote in a referendum (or to get one rolling). So, for clarity, it is not.

I was struck by this quote in the OP.
Quote
Now, I understand we're dealing with a well-established designer, a known and loved property, a system that seems to enjoy some sort of darling-status at the moment, and a build-up that was years in the making.  I get all that.  I'm not expecting sales like this...ever.

My take is that Evil Hat would not have expected the Dresden sales numbers themselves a few years ago. They've looked at what sales are achievable (via the various ways you can sell your RPG) and done all the things listed in that quote to get higher sales (and IMHO it's not easy to do that, which is why I tip my hat to them).

And I think this comes back to Ron's point (as I see it): which is that comparing one strategy of sales at 500 with a different strategy of sales at 6000 is like comparing apples and oranges.


Title: Re: Indie Sales Numbers
Post by: Callan S. on November 05, 2010, 01:15:39 AM
I'm kind of staggered - I would have thought a post that starts with 'Oooh' would trigger all sorts of moderator alarm bells. I'm idly wondering what a report post button means in these circumstances?

I think Ralph is correct in a short term sense. But in a long term sense, books need to be being used in order to further future sales. Books that moulder means less people gaming, and less people gaming means less people buying games. Perpetuate that brand, mofo!

On the other hand, if you don't own a huge share of the market, you can work the short term formula and it probably doesn't make a difference in terms of future buyers. So it is somewhat viable in as much as being inconsequential.

To me, I'm seeing the same arguement that occurs when two people want to do two quite different things, but each act as if they are doing the one thing and they other has clearly gone borked. Used to seeing it in terms of 'how to play game X', but I guess it translates just as well to the money game.


Title: Re: Indie Sales Numbers
Post by: Ron Edwards on November 05, 2010, 06:24:06 AM
1. You can always report my posts to me as moderator. You wouldn't be the first. I sort of rely upon it, actually, although it doesn't happen often.

2. Your impression of this discussion as mirror images talking past one another is incorrect. I have said nothing about hard-core emphasis on distributor sales being borked or wrong. The only issue is whether a publisher needs to understand the difference, and to strategize accordingly, and not to line up every company in a row with "sales numbers" as a single non-transparent variable for purposes of comparison. I say a publisher absolutely needs to do that, as a fundamental starting point in publishing RPGs. That is my single and only point in this thread.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: Indie Sales Numbers
Post by: Adam Dray on November 05, 2010, 07:37:28 AM
Is anyone addressing the OP any more?

Golly.  I was just looking for projections of what sales numbers people were individually happy with for their own work. :)

I think it's Christopher, right?

Christopher, why do you want sales numbers in terms of number of copies sold rather than profit dollars? If you sell 1000 copies at $1 profit (gross: $1000), do you consider that more success than selling 200 copies at $10 profit (gross: $2000)?

I realize that some designers have motives other than profit. However, if there's a price on your product at all, then profit is likely to at least rank on the motives list. (Though you might charge just enough to cover expenses, meaning $0 profit per unit.) Other motives: community, vanity, practice, experience...

I also realize that motive isn't a binary switch. You can want to make a profit but not prioritize it. Getting your book into as many hands as possible might be more important than making money, but you might want to make a little money to cover expenses and fund your air fare to GenCon.

How do YOU define success? What are your priorities?


Title: Re: Indie Sales Numbers
Post by: drkrash on November 05, 2010, 11:40:51 AM
Is anyone addressing the OP any more?

Golly.  I was just looking for projections of what sales numbers people were individually happy with for their own work. :)

I think it's Christopher, right?

Christopher, why do you want sales numbers in terms of number of copies sold rather than profit dollars? If you sell 1000 copies at $1 profit (gross: $1000), do you consider that more success than selling 200 copies at $10 profit (gross: $2000)?

I realize that some designers have motives other than profit. However, if there's a price on your product at all, then profit is likely to at least rank on the motives list. (Though you might charge just enough to cover expenses, meaning $0 profit per unit.) Other motives: community, vanity, practice, experience...

I also realize that motive isn't a binary switch. You can want to make a profit but not prioritize it. Getting your book into as many hands as possible might be more important than making money, but you might want to make a little money to cover expenses and fund your air fare to GenCon.

How do YOU define success? What are your priorities?

Heh.  Thanks for being back on point.  And yes, it is Christopher.

I want to re-iterate that I am quite happy with my success both in numbers and in profit.  Both are much greater than I expected and I know that that news alone can be affirming to others considering this "lifestyle."  :)

I had read Gregor's report previously (before I ever started publishing), so I had (I think) realistic expectations going in.  But I was kind of looking for other stories of satisfaction or dissatisfaction, of goals vastly exceeded or of disappointments from poor expectations, and what contributed to those results.

For me, I've hit over 250 sales in 8 months, and I'm pretty thrilled with that.  The primary thing I credit this with is creating a niche game that is a popular enough genre to generate interest, with (I like to think) enough innovation to warrent considering it vs. any number of generic choices.


Title: Re: Indie Sales Numbers
Post by: Adam Dray on November 05, 2010, 12:41:21 PM
So you're happy with your 250 sales, but is that due to the sheer number of copies sold or because of the amount of money that 250 sales represents to you?

Put another way, would you sell another 50 copies at $1 profit ($50!) or sell another 2 copies at $50 profit ($100!).


Title: Re: Indie Sales Numbers
Post by: drkrash on November 05, 2010, 01:01:52 PM
So you're happy with your 250 sales, but is that due to the sheer number of copies sold or because of the amount of money that 250 sales represents to you?

Put another way, would you sell another 50 copies at $1 profit ($50!) or sell another 2 copies at $50 profit ($100!).

Honestly, given those options, I'd gladly take the 50 additional copies for a dollar apiece.  With the money I've made on it, I'd rather be excited by people reading it, hopefully grooving to it, and of course, really hopefully, playing it.


Title: Re: Indie Sales Numbers
Post by: Adam Dray on November 05, 2010, 02:52:39 PM
Right, which is why copies sold means more to you than dollars in your pocket, and why you're not asking about how much profit people think is good for a small indie game.


Title: Re: Indie Sales Numbers
Post by: Frank Tarcikowski on November 09, 2010, 06:08:38 AM
I was really thrilled when we sold more than 200 printed copies of Barbaren! in the first quarter (in German language, mind you). Barbaren! isnít technically a small press game but itís very similar in presentation and target audience. After this initial huge peak, the numbers have been trickling much lower and we still havenít passed 300 printed copies one year later, which makes me doubt whether weíll even sell out the initial print run of 500, like, ever.

That first peak, I figure, consisted on the one hand of a lot of direct customers who had been following the gameís development over the years and had only been waiting for it to come out. On the other hand, it was owed to retailers stocking up. I actually fancy the retailer sales, I think itís great that my game can be found in RPG stores all across Germany, even if itís just a pocket-size book sitting on a shelf. There was at least one guy who registered on the forums to post an actual play report because he had bought the game in his local RPG store. Thatís exactly the thing I was hoping for.
   
The publishing deal I made means I have to share the profit twice: Once with the Red Brick guys who did editing, layout and artwork, and once with the Prometheus guys who did printing and distribution. The costs of the initial print run also had to be recovered first. The English version will work much the same, with the translation costs added into the bargain. Itís nice to get a little bit of pocket money but itís really in no relation to all the hard work and I didnít do it for the money anyway. The book looks great, and Iím getting it out to the people, even people outside the incestuous online communities. Thatís what matters to me.

- Frank


Title: Re: Indie Sales Numbers
Post by: Pelgrane on December 09, 2010, 03:17:42 AM

But this week, I saw sales figures on Fred Hicks' blog.  Dresden Files jumped out at me: almost 7000 sales since its release not that long ago.  Now, I understand we're dealing with a well-established designer, a known and loved property, a system that seems to enjoy some sort of darling-status at the moment, and a build-up that was years in the making.  I get all that.  I'm not expecting sales like this...ever.

But still: there's a big discrepency between 500 in 2 years and 6000 in 6 months.

So my question is: is my anecdotal wisdom totally offbase? Or is it more or less accurate and Dresden is a totally special case?  I don't need hard facts - just well-informed impressions will do just fine.  Thanks.


Dresden Files is a special case by almost any metric. As of Q3, Vol 1 has sold 733 PDFs, 1996 by direct sales, and 4040 through retail and distribution. Vol2  sold about 15% more copies in each category, and this since April. It's an extraordinary achievement, way beyond every COP rpg I know of on direct sales alone for such a short period, and a demonstration that with the right combination of factors, however unusual, it's possible to sell thousands of rpg books. However, it's just not a good benchmarch for a typical COP release.

I think with 200 sales into Germany you've done very well. 500 was an over-ambitious print run, I think.


Title: Re: Indie Sales Numbers
Post by: Vulpinoid on December 18, 2010, 06:54:51 PM
You want anecdotal evidence from the other end of the spectrum.

I released my game "The Eighth Sea" at Gencon Oz 2008, well I tried to, but the print run didn't make it to me in time. I sold a half dozen games as presales based on the sessions I ran, and I sold the remaining 50 copies over the course of a year. I didn't pump money into advertising, I still don't. But the game still sells a copy or two every month through Lulu (usually a pdf, but every couple of months another hardcopy is sold), RPGNow (pdf only) and direct pdf or hard copies sent if someone credits my paypal account.

This is based on not spending any advertising money, not doing as much convention support as I'd like, and not really having the population numbers in Australia that other audiences in the US or the UK might expect.

I'm still moderately happy with the sales results of the product, it's better than I expected it to be.

V