2020 in review: Earnings

Continuing from my 2019 summary I once again want to talk about earnings as an indie publisher. I’m under no illusion about the fact that I’m operating at the bottom end of the scale with very little reach or name recognition but that’s part of why I want to report on these numbers, as I think it probably reflects on the scale that many hobbyist publishers are operating at.

So without further waffle here’s those numbers. Unlike last year I’m going to focus on just paid sales rather than total downloads.

drivethruRPG

ProductSales in 20202020 Earnings ($)Total salesTotal Earnings ($)
Channel Surfing*43.1188.23
A Demonic Fiasco*53.4553.45
Lockdown*21.20106.97
Talentless Hacks*32.4053.10
Missionary Opposition*21.2099.00
Trick of the Light*21.2088.22
The Tannhauser Investment*44.2344.23
The Synth Convergence4663.7762111.77
Mission Packet 1*2719.132719.13
Mission Packet 21612.401612.40
The Synth Divergence35.8535.85
What’s so [redacted] about [redacted]47.8047.80
Total earnings125.74200.15
*Was available as a Pay What You Want download for all or part of its release period
Numbers do not include any earnings from the affiliate program.

itch.io

ProductSales in 20202020 Earnings ($)Total salesTotal Earnings ($)
Channel Surfing0000
A Demonic Fiasco*10.5710.57
Lockdown*0000
Talentless Hacks*0000
Missionary Opposition*0000
Trick of the Light*0000
The Tannhauser Investment
The Synth Convergence1740.021950.74
Mission Packet 11115.081115.08
Mission Packet 277.4877.48
The Synth Divergence36.8936.89
What’s so [redacted] about [redacted]32.0932.09
The Stars will Carry you Home11.4111.41
Project Cassandra (beta)413.48413.48
Total earnings87.0297.74
*Was available as a Pay What You Want download for all or part of its release period
#Provisional, the final total may end up different from this initial reporting.

Thoughts

Across 2019 my total earnings came to ~£110, roughly half of which came from the stretch goal writing for the Crystal Heart Kickstarter. This year the total reaches $212.76, or ~£158. That’s just from direct sales of my own products. There’s another $25/£18 if I add in sales from bundles that I participated in.

In terms of totals that’s not a big jump but given that has come exclusively from sales of my own work (or bundles that I contributed to) it’s a massive jump. Unsurprisingly the vast majority of that has come from The Synth Convergence, with strong sales on both drivethruRPG and itch.io. Sales on drivethruRPG spiked after I put it on a 75% off pandemic sale but even after returning to its full price sales have continued to trickle in thanks to a bundle that adds both Mission Packets. While the absolute number of sales on itch.io have been lower the inclusion of tips and lower cut have brought its total earnings up.

That itch boost means the two sites are much closer than I would have initially expected, though I don’t feel like I’m seeing the sort of difference that many people in the indie community regularly talk about. I think that only really comes when you have an established following, which I don’t. I’ve made some small progress in getting my name out this year but not nearly as much as I’d have liked. I’d hoped that 2020 was going to be Convention heavy but, well it was 2020 and despite the many online offerings the online conventions never properly clicked for me.

So where do I go for 2021? Realistically the only way is up, as I’m working towards a ZineQuest 3 Kickstarter with a goal in excess of my existing earnings. I wouldn’t be surprised though if my total take home for the year is lower though, as the majority of the Project Cassandra money will be spent on its production, which doesn’t include a substantial writing budget. After that I’ve got a number of smaller projects planned but I don’t expect them to have the pull that The Synth Convergence had.

One thought on “2020 in review: Earnings

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