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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 38 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Indie Sales Numbers  (Read 7820 times)
Valamir
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« Reply #15 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.

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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #16 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
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Valamir
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« Reply #17 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.
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Gregor Hutton
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« Reply #18 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.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #19 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.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #20 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
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Adam Dray
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« Reply #21 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?
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Adam Dray / adam@legendary.org
Verge -- cyberpunk role-playing on the brink
FoundryMUSH - indie chat and play at foundry.legendary.org 7777
drkrash
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« Reply #22 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.
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Adam Dray
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« Reply #23 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!).
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Adam Dray / adam@legendary.org
Verge -- cyberpunk role-playing on the brink
FoundryMUSH - indie chat and play at foundry.legendary.org 7777
drkrash
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« Reply #24 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.
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Adam Dray
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« Reply #25 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.
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Adam Dray / adam@legendary.org
Verge -- cyberpunk role-playing on the brink
FoundryMUSH - indie chat and play at foundry.legendary.org 7777
Frank Tarcikowski
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« Reply #26 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
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Pelgrane
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« Reply #27 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.
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Vulpinoid
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« Reply #28 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
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