Year in Review 2022: Sales

For this first year in review post I want to talk solely about sales numbers. As I’ve stated repeatedly I think it’s important to get these values out there for others to see as most of the time when people do feel like posting them it’s because they’ve done really well. I want to show what it looks like at the small end of the scale.

Digital sales – drivethruRPG (all in $)

20222021
TitleNumber of salesGross IncomeNet incomeNumber of saleGross IncomeNet Income
Channel Surfing57.54.544.952.97
Dr Ahoudi’s Mutant Menagerie2106.5
Lockdown45321.50.9
*Mission Packet 1: N.E.O. 233420.44867.2340.34
*Mission Packet 2: Subversion 223219.25173.2343.94
Missionary Opposition45321.50.9
Project Cassandra: Psychics of the Cold War 744.629.0314112.673.19
Project Cassandra: The Ajax Stratagem 728.6918.65
Rock Hoppers 15.923.85
Signal to Noise 17109.4671.15115233.8
Slice of Life: A Demonic Fiasco 32.11.3731.510.98
Talentless Hacks45321.50.9
*The Synth Convergence 25110.2266.1391292.87175.85
The Synth Divergence411.47.41925.3516.48
The Tannhauser Investment 342.677.85.07
Trick of the Light45321.50.9
What’s so [redacted] about [redacted]? 10.50.33263.9
Total136420.45263.12248649.54400.12
*Typically sold together as a bundle

Digital sales  itch.io (all in $)

20222021
TitleNumber of salesGross IncomeNet incomeNumber of saleGross IncomeNet Income
Channel Surfing11.50.81
Dr Ahoudi’s Mutant Menagerie13.52.7
Home Amongst the Stars242.6928.56.75
Near Carbon Blades49.56.39
Project Cassandra32419.7597260.16
Signal to Noise34233.5189.05148969.84
Sprawl Mission Bundle32117.59165.44
The Duskbringers242.65
The Stars Will Carry You Home37.135.28
What’s so [redacted] about [redacted]?37.135.28
Project Cassandra: The Ajax Stratagem142.87
Rock Hoppers739.531.26
Slice of Life: A Demonic Fiasco110.85
The Kandhara Contraband51310.18
ZineQuest 2021 Flash Sale67.57.01
Cyber [Week] Bundle5150.7944.87
Total62347.5281.2538202.13160.59

Zine Month – Signal to Noise

For the full retrospective see this post

Total backers: 68

Total raised before fees: £955.50, total raised after fees: £886.46

Digital: 22 backers, Print+Digital: 45 backers, Personal game: 1 backer

Dragonmeet

For the full retrospective see this post

Project Cassandra (£12) – 5

Numb3r Stations (£5) – 17

Espionnage bundle (Project Cassandra, Numb3r Stations, £15) – 10

Signal to Noise (£12) – 10

Rock Hoppers (£10) – 7

Kandhara Contraband (£5) – 8

Dyson bundle (Signal to Noise, Rock Hoppers, Kandhara Contraband, £25) – 5

Stealing the Throne (£12) – 14

Home Amongst the Stars (£0) – Many!

Total sales before any fees: £818, after card processing fees £805

Retailers

Peregrine Coast Press – 10 x Signal to Noise, 5 x Rock Hoppers at 50% retailer discount, total £85.

Indie Press Revolution – 130 copies of Signal to Noise, 50 copies of Project Cassandra. These are on consignment so I will get paid quarterly as and when they sell. At the moment I’m due $145 from 16 sales which will pay out Q1 2023.

Project Cassandra is also now sold out / unavailable at both Leisure Games and Rook’s Press after they bought copies in 2021.

Etsy

11 sales (7 of which were post-Dragonmeet in December) comprising:

Project Cassandra (£10-12) 7

Signal to Noise (£12) 2

Rock Hoppers (£10) 4

Numb3r Stations (£5) 5

The Kandhara Contraband (£5) 3

Total Etsy earnings: £166 before fees, £129.99 after.

Tallying all of that up (and adding some other miscellaneous income such as direct sales outside of a platform) my total earnings for 2022 came to £2379.94 and after all my outgoings (-£2528.14, a considerable increase this year) my total profit was -£148.20.

Dragonmeet Retrospective Part 1: The Money

This is a multi-part retrospective and you can find the full series via these links: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

This weekend (3rd of December, 2022) I made my yearly trip down to Dragonmeet. It is by far my favourite convention but this year was different. Why? Because it was my first as a trader. I’m planning to write a series of posts about the experience as I think it’s important to have this information freely available. For post number one I want to talk about money, so here’s the raw numbers.

Sales

Project Cassandra (£12) – 5
Numb3r Stations (£5) – 17
Espionnage bundle (Project Cassandra, Numb3r Stations, £15) – 10
Signal to Noise (£12) – 10
Rock Hoppers (£10) – 7
Kandhara Contraband (£5) – 8
Dyson bundle (Signal to Noise, Rock Hoppers, Kandhara Contraband, £25) – 5
Stealing the Throne (£12) – 14
Home Amongst the Stars (£0) – Many!

Total sales before any fees: £818
Banked after card processing fees: £805

Costs

Stand £150
Accomodation £274
Travel £100
Printing £262
Stealing the Throne stock £126
Acrylic stands £20
Envelopes £24
Banner £40
Card reader £23
Table cloth £6

Total costs: £1025

Profit: -£220

So attending the convention as a trader cost me money and there may be a couple of costs I’ve forgotten to add to that list. The biggest single factor was accommodation – two nights in central London is expensive, especially over a December weekend. I could, if I wanted, make arguments about why certain costs don’t really count. For example, I’d have spent that money on accommodation and travel if I’d gone as a visitor while the printing and envelopes included enough stock that I probably won’t need to order reprints until at least next summer.

Was it worth it though? That’s a topic for future posts but the short answer is yes. Some of those costs such as the banner were one offs that I wouldn’t have to pay for again while I already have thoughts on how to reduce other expenditure. The big reason it was worth it though is the exposure. So many people have now looked at or bought my games that, over time, it will start to add up and boost future sales. But as I said, that’s for a future post.

Signal to Noise retrospective 2: Post fulfilment

Back in March, I did an initial retrospective on my ZiMo campaign for Signal to Noise but now that I’ve completed the fulfilment of the game I wanted to revisit those thoughts and look at my options for the future. I’m also going to pull together final spending for a subsequent post as I like to be open about these sorts of things.

First up, the game – which is a delight to hold and looks beautiful thanks to Val’s fantastic art. It was such a pleasure to work with her and I hope I can do so again in the future. I can highly recommend commissioning her if you’re looking for detailed and realistic art.

Seriously, look at that art! If you somehow missed out on buying Signal to Noise before now then it’s available in digital from itch and drivethruRPG while physical copies are available via Etsy (with distribution via Peregrine Coast and IPR coming very soon).

Fulfilment itself was, I’m happy to say, a relatively straightforward process. That came down to a few factors – Mixam printing everything correctly the first time, the scale of the project (<50 shipments), most packages being a single zine and having help filling envelopes while I focused on the postage. At the moment I know the game has reached backers in the UK, US and even Australia but thanks to good old Brexit copies heading to the EU may still be in customs limbo.

So now that I have two successful campaigns under my belt how do I feel? Pretty good. I have no doubts that I’ll run another campaign next year and I’ve already started initial planning in terms of what to focus on. Starting planning six months out from Zine Quest might look a little premature but I need to ensure that I have a solid concept in place so I can advertise it at Dragonmeet (where I will be running a stall for the very first time).

The big question that hangs over any future crowdfunding I do is what platform I will use. I genuinely think that Game on Tabletop offers a robust ecosystem and the level of support I received from their team was outstanding. As you might suspect though there is a but hanging on to the end of that statement, in the form of “but I am certain Signal to Noise would have done far better on Kickstarter.”

And that is a frustrating situation to be in. I switched to Game on Tabletop because of Kickstarter screwing with Zine Quest and proposing that they enter the tech bro crypto market. While the community did try and support those of us that moved off of the platform many people stuck to Kickstarter and had wildly successful campaigns. I could say that I’m not into game design to make money (which is true) but on the other hand, making money allows me to make better games. I can’t afford to hire an editor or artist for games that don’t sell or fail to gather any attention, which is sadly true of much of my work.

On the selfish level, I also want people to play my games. It’s a fantastic feeling when someone says they’ve played something you wrote and that’s not going to happen if I only run campaigns that barely garner any attention. Signal to Noise is, I believe, a special game and I think it would have done significantly better on Kickstarter just by being tied into the ecosystem. Just comparing these two campaigns Project Cassandra was backed by 175 people, 107 more than Signal to Noise and every single one of them will receive an email if I launch a new campaign. Even if most of them ignore that email it’s such a big and effort-free marketing boost that I would be foolish to ignore it. That was true going into the Signal to Noise campaign but I had hoped the anti-Kickstarter feelings at the time would compensate for it and the truth is it didn’t. Or at least not as much as I’d have liked. I’ve always been upfront about the fact that Project Cassandra only did as well as it did because of the Zine Quest force multiplier effect and much of that is, frustratingly, baked into the Kickstarter site.

All of the above is really avoiding the big question – what am I going to do going forward? Honestly, probably go back to Kickstarter. I would like to pretend otherwise but the disparity in terms of the English-speaking market share between them and Game on Tabletop is so significant that I would be shooting myself in the foot if I didn’t. It sucks but as a tiny fish in the big pond of crowdfunding I just don’t have the influence to pull backers to a new platform when I’m struggling to even build an audience. I wish I was ending this post on a more upbeat note but, well I’m not, because like it or not Kickstarter remains the site to beat.