Friday, March 13, 2015

Adventures in Self-Publishing

Last summer I decided to start writing up a dungeon I had used in my game. The first level was 80 rooms. Took me about 3 months to get that first dungeon level into form from the notes I had written, but when I was done, I realized I wanted art for it.  I spend about $15 on art, but realized I needed more.

So I thought, why not try publishing some smaller modules (based on dungeons I had run) and make it Pay What You Want to be able to buy stock art?

The first one was HS1 The Lost Shrine of Sirona, which I released in December. It took about 4 days to write up and lay out. I used a couple pieces of free art in it. It was short (about 4 pages) and so I put a suggested price of 50 cents.

 Month                                                                Downloads  Gross      Net

 12-2014            HS1 The Lost Shrine of Sirona     128       $3.90       $2.54
 1-2015              HS1 The Lost Shrine of Sirona       50       $8.82       $5.73
 2-2015              HS1 The Lost Shrine of Sirona       35       $2.75       $1.79
 3-2015              HS1 The Lost Shrine of Sirona       27       $1.00       $0.65
                                                                                   240                      $10.71

Strangely, most the downloads came in the first month, but most of the money came in the second. And exactly 25 people donated money.  The average payment was more than the suggested price, but not by much.

Undaunted, in January I released a second module. As at the time, my first had pulled in $2.50, I had to use art I scrounged up from Gutenberg. It was much longer, about 15 pages and I put a suggested price of $1.00

 1-2015              HS2 The Forsaken Burial Vaults       141     $21.37   $13.89
 3-2015              HS2 The Forsaken Burial Vaults       30       $2.90       $1.89
 2-2015              HS2 The Forsaken Burial Vaults       39       $3.00       $1.95
                                                                                      210                    $17.73

Curiously, again exactly 25 people still paid for it, only this time they paid a little more because of the higher suggested price. The average donation also beat the suggested price by about 10%.

For my next product, I shifted gears. I decided to release a character class. I had known Barrel Rider had released them for quite some time, and then James Mishler released his version of the Barbarian last year. So I figured, why not release the Warlock class I had been using in my game?

 2-2015              PC1 - The OSR Warlock       79       $7.50       $4.88
 3-2015              PC1 - The OSR Warlock       54       $4.05       $2.63
                                                                         133                       $7.50

This time around 19 people have paid for it. The suggested price was 50 cents and the average donation has been 60 cents, which is 20% more.

Then last week, I published another module, this one somewhat longer (started working on it at the end of January) and with a suggested price of $1.50

Amazingly, this did much, much better than previous ones.

 3-2015              YS1 The Outpost of the Outer Ones  231     $49.37   $32.09

37 people have donated money so far.  I can only surmise it's because the module has a H.P. Lovecraft/Cthulhu mythos theme to it, even if I took a strange tack on the Mi-Go. On the other hand, it's average less than the suggested price, $1.33 per donation, or about 10% less.

This coincided with RPGNow's GM's sale, so I was able to buy a lot of art, though still not enough to commission art.

But all in all I'm pleased with what it's brought in. I do wish I had more free downloads though.

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