[Neoplastic Press] The First Hundred Copies

Started by rafael, May 31, 2008, 02:43:19 PM

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This is a data point thread. Not necessarily an example of how you should do it, just an example of how one person has done it.

After resurrecting Malignant Games in 2006 (and subsequently changing the name to Neoplastic Press), I released a new edition of my first game, Dread: The First Book of Pandemonium. I then released a sourcebook called Pent.

The first edition of Dread was a lot of fun to work on, but most of the best lessons were learned after the final copy was sold in 2003. The book's layout was weak, the art direction was nonexistent (some of the illustrations were awesome, and some were god-awful), and the text would have benefited immensely from an editing pass (or three). Still, it was a real adrenaline rush to see the box full of books.

Anyhow, between the game's release in 2002 and the new edition in 2007, the publishing landscape changed. Rather than print up 50 copies (which ran me about six hundred dollars out-of-pocket), then mail them by hand to customers, I am now able to get the book out there via Lulu. No up-front printing costs, no going to the post office every time I get a sale.

When I was working on the first edition, I was told that I'd be lucky to sell 50 copies. Naturally, I wanted to print 100, but I didn't have 1200 bucks to gamble with. So I printed 50 copies, sold them, and then printed 50 more. Then I called it a day. I'd originally planned to follow Dread up with sourcebooks and whatnot, but after getting married, losing a family member, and getting a job in the video game industry (you win some, you lose some), I didn't have the time or mental energy to devote to the project. I released a few free PDF resources, but that was about it.

This time around, I figured I'd be happy with the project if I sold another 100 copies. Today, I sold my 100th book. Not a huge milestone, considering the sales figures for some indie games, but I'm definitely happy with it.

Here's how it broke down for the first three quarters:
First quarter: 19 copies
Second quarter: 8 copies
Third quarter: 42 copies

The fourth quarter, which covers April, May, and June, is off to a good start. 23 copies so far. There are now three books to keep track of, though: Dread, the hardcover version of Dread, and Pent. In addition, I've broadened my horizons slightly. In addition to being available via Lulu, Dread will also be sold at Horror Mall (an online store that sells books, DVDs, and paraphernalia).

Sales figures, fourth quarter:
10 copies of Dread (via Lulu)
3 copies of Dread (via Horror Mall)
6 copies of Pent
4 copies of the hardcover

In addition, over the past year, I've sold a few copies to local game stores, and also to customers at conventions.
7 copies (via FLGSs)
4 copies (via conventions)

100 copies sold. The beauty of Lulu is that I can leave these babies up there indefinitely, and just continue to collect royalty checks. The last one was five hundred dollars. Of course, I spent it on artwork for my next game. Theoretically, I could say that I'm close to breaking even, but the reality is, I just keep dumping the royalty checks into new projects.

Here's the dollars-and-cents breakdown:

Dread (via Lulu)
since August 2007
retail cost: $24.95
my profits: $11.86
copies sold: 79
profits: $936.94

Dread: hardcover (via Lulu)
since April 2008
retail cost: $38.95
my profits: $13.08
copies sold: 4
profits: $52.32

Dread (via Horror Mall)
since June 2008
retail cost: $24.95
my profits: $5.81
copies sold: 3
profits: $17.43

Dread (via FLGSs)
since August 2007
retail cost: $24.95
my profits: $9.87
copies sold: 7
profits: $69.09

Dread (direct)
retail cost: $24.95
my profits: $12.87
copies sold: 4
profits: $51.48

Pent (via Lulu)
retail cost: $12.95
my profits: $4.94
copies sold: 6
profits: $29.64

Total sold: 100
Art costs: $1,050.00
Total revenue: $1,156.90

Any questions about any of this, please post 'em!

-- Rafael

Rafael Chandler, Neoplastic Press
The Books of Pandemonium

Christoph Boeckle

Hi Rafael, thanks for sharing this information!

Do you have any idea which countries your customers come from?


Hi, Christoph,

Great question! Based on direct correspondence (via email, web chatter, and the Dread forums), I know that I've sold copies to people in Argentina, Brazil, France, Norway, the UK, and the US.

-- Rafael
Rafael Chandler, Neoplastic Press
The Books of Pandemonium