Year in Review 2022: Publishing

In part 1 of the review I presented some raw numbers from another year of publishing, in this (rather late) post I want to add some context but first some summary stats. Compared to 2021 my total 2022 income was down, from £2362.41 to £2379.94 while my costs went up significantly. As a result I went from a healthy profit of £1280.69 to a loss of -£148.20.

That’s not great but it was also not unexpected and not as bad as it looks because of how the tax year falls. Signal to Noise brought in approximately half the amount of money that Project Cassandra did and virtually all of it went on art and fulfilment. The entire reason I ran a campaign for the game was so I could afford to commission Val and add her fantastic art to the game so that’s what I did, even though it meant my ‘profit’ from the campaign was non-existent. In terms of subsequent sales I think it’s paid off with the game selling well throughout the rest of the year and a number of people at Dragonmeet commenting on how great the art is. Project Cassandra used stock art throughout and its only non-production cost was editing so I came away with a much more substantial profit (~£600, which didn’t actually pay me a fair rate for the work).

Online my digital sales were down on drivethruRPG and slightly up on itch. The difference at drivethruRPG almost entirely comes down to one factor – The Synth Convergence being the deal of the day. That single boost brought in a substantial bump in sales in 2021 and many of those buyers then bought the rest of the Sprawl mission bundle. It just goes to show the power of promotion and I sort of wish I’d held on to the points to use with either Project Cassandra or Signal to Noise as it’s going to be a long time before I have enough to run another deal.

While my 2021 numbers on itch were boosted by being part of a couple of bundles pushing both Signal to Noise and Rock Hoppers throughout the year compensated for not being in any large bundles during 2022. Signal to Noise in particular caught some welcome attention including being mentioned by Sam Leigh (GoblinMixtape, who also did the playlist for the game) on one of their popular tiktok roundups. My attempt to run a ZineQuest bundle failed to gather sales and really reiterated how limited my online reach is (and how important it is for contributors to actively promote a bundle).

So what about my output in 2022? It was up from 2021. I released Signal to Noise: Interstellar Edition, Rock Hoppers, The Kandhara Contraband and Numb3r Stations. All of those got a print release and various combinations are now stocked at Peregrine Press and IPR as well as my own Etsy store. Given at the start of the year I only had a single product in print it’s a massive achievement to end the year with 5 distinct releases. Numb3r Stations turned out to be a tremendous surprise on all fronts – I could not have foreseen Albi approaching me about developing the game but the collaboration turned into one of the highlights of the year and I’m keen to work with him again in the future (also check out his upcoming Zine Month kickstarter for These Stars Will Guide You Home). The game also sold really well at Dragonmeet and we’ve discussed the possibility of extending the project further with duet rules so fingers crossed you’ll see that later in the year.

The big step forward during 2022 was Dragonmeet. I’ve already posted a four part round-up of that event so I won’t go into it again in too much depth but I think it provided a massive boost for me as a creator. I was able to get my games in front of so many people that hadn’t heard of me before and got to meet so many people in person that even if I had come away with a big loss (as opposed to the small loss I actually had) that I think it would have been worth it. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that everything lines up this year as I really want to attend again and showcase the development of the Dyson Eclipse and, hopefully, much much more.

With all that said what’s coming up in 2023?

Top of the pile is Hopes and Dreams of the Orbital Bound, my slice of life sci-fi game and the next entry in the Dyson Eclipse. That will be kickstarting in February as part of Zine Month / ZineQuest and I’m busy trying to pull everything together for that. I’m excited about how this game will start to develop the Dyson Eclipse setting and my hope is that it will lay the foundation for the wider world by allowing players to generate a home they can return to repeatedly during, and in-between, playing other games in the setting.

My second goal is to complete at least one of my outstanding projects. Those include Red Roots of the Rose, the Espionage Protocol for Project Cassandra and a few small games that are currently at the concept stage. I’m keeping this goal to a single project because I’m slowly learning what I can realistically achieve each year. If I can publish more than one then hey, that’s great but I’m trying to avoid setting myself up to fail.

Third is to work more on promoting my work. I’m aware of how limited my reach is and while I appreciate the audience that I do have I’d like to grow it. I’ve already seen a small boost in subscribers after shifting the newsletter over to substack and am going to be looking at other ways to actively promote my projects. Part of that is a small twitter bot that will post links to my timeline a couple of times a week. Promotion is one of these things that I know a lot of creatives both hate and struggle with, I’m no different but I’m all too aware that you either need to put the work in or be incredibly lucky if you want to get your name out there. The bot is my fuck it, who is going to complain about a couple of tweets a week when others are regularly shitposting dozens of times a day. Yes, that’s a rather crude way to put it but in some ways I think that’s how I need to start thinking when it comes to self promotion.

The final goal is related to promotion in that I’d like to take on some freelance work and start to build more connections in the industry. It’s part of why I attended Dragonmeet as a trader and while I did have some discussions with other industry people running the stall dominated my attention. I’m not really all that sure how to approach this goal and it’s something that I’m going to keep on the back burner during February while I focus on Orbital Bound.

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