Monday, November 28, 2011

Expectations of a Small-Time Publisher

There has been some interesting conversations going on about Professionals vs. Hobbyists and I guess like me, most of us are both.  Some may sway toward one end or the other, but if you have put something out there selling, you are a professional.  My definition of a professional is you get paid for what you do.  Quality doesn't factor in.  I am sure you don't need any examples of books or movies where the person got paid a boatload of cash and the product completely sucks. 

Being a one of many in the crowd of small-time publishers I try to be as professional as I can.  None of the products I produce will be flawless, but I try to get them as close as I can.  I just had someone the other day point out a typo I missed.  Much appreciated.  Those damn things seem to spontaneously spawn.  If someone dislikes my product for whatever reason, I just hope they will stick around and see if they like the next one.  And then there are those times when you have someone hate what you've done, but have no real basis, other than personal or they just enjoy being a dick.  Those I won't waste my time on.  You let them have their say then forget them and move on to something more important. 

Then there is the matter of money.  I've been open about the profit margin on my products, how many I've sold and how much I made so far.  It's still listed above.  I can do this because I'm a one man show so far, but if I was producing more and had a few people on staff I would still be open about certain things, but be more private about others.  But the point I what to get to is charging for what you've done.  Some will say there is so much free stuff out there why pay for it?  And the answer is you don't.  There is a lot of great quality free stuff.  Part of what makes the OSR great.  But the other great part of the OSR is being able to self-publish and make some extra change.  I doubt many will get rich, but some people are making some serious mad money.  The public will decide whether your product is worth purchasing.  It's not like we don't have any shortage of people with opinions around here.

When Knowledge Illuminates came out I was hoping to sell 25 to 35 copies.  I kept my expectation low partly because it was the first thing I put out there and it was pretty much a one man show.  I think with my $1 sale, I've reach 90 paid sales.  I'm thrilled with that.  It was fun and a learning experience.  With Starter Adventure I am hoping to sell a 100 copies print/pdf.  To me that's scary high because it needs to sell word of mouth.  I have no distributor and don't have time to sell them by hand.  With assistance of Underworld Ink for the art and the maps by Bat in Attic I hope to produce a good quality book that people will have fun with.  I really won't know until I get it out there.

But to all of you out there that has no taken the plunge and have something they may want to publish I say take a look at it again, have you made it as good as you can at this time, if so publish it and don't be afraid to make some money.  Even if you only sell a handful enjoy the pizza you buy.  If you sell a 1000 then go ahead and plan the trip to Tahiti.  It's all good.  This is a game we are talking about.  Not a necessity.  Have fun with it and if done right others will have fun with it to.

Unfortunately I haven't had time to edit this post, the dogs are biting at my jacket and I am late to work.  Game night tonight here at the Manor and I'm looking forward to rolling some dice. And as I mention, once the guys finish the adventure I'll put it up as a free download.  It's Monday, it's raining and I would wish you to have a good day, but I doubt it.  Ha.


  1. Okay, you've convinced me. Because I don't have a budget for art I was gonna make Redwald a free pdf when I finished it, but I think perhaps I should put out an art free edition at a low price, see if I can create a budget for some art.

  2. Absolutely. Sometimes if you ask around you can find an artist that will help you out for payment of a copy of the work and credit of course. Glad to hear your taking the plunge. Good luck.

  3. Wise words, I think. I paid for a good bit of art for Weird Adventures, but I used a lot of public domain stuff as well. Depending on the project, I think one good do a lot with that.

  4. Hey Tim, I finally got around to buying Knowledge Illuminates, nice job!

    @Lee: I've done some artwork for different projects (and I work for a free PDF of the product). Take at look at my artwork and see if you're interested:

  5. Oops. My artwork is at:

  6. Crockett, thanks for the purchase and a bigger thanks for offering help to Lee. That's what makes the OSR great.