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Neil Carr
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I've stepped onto the path of being an amateur RPG publisher via Kickstarter. I want to see how far I can travel from zero-to-hero and I'm looking for help along the way. These series of posts are in part just me thinking aloud, but also asking specific questions as I put the pieces together to achieve rpg publishing victory. 

A major issue that I've been grappling with for several months now is how much to charge for Companions of the Firmament. At this point I feel I've overthought the issue, having researched how other books are being priced, read a long list of blog posts and forum threads, and constructed detailed spreadsheets on various approaches.

When I decided to make the book I had several goals to help me through the process. Usually they have been in sync with one another, but with pricing I've found some conflict. One goal is experimentation and education for myself. I knew I'd be going into this rather blind, I'd stumble about and have many learning opportunities. You learn best by doing and so just slogging through the whole process has indeed helped me as I map out future projects.

Another goal was to help establishing myself in the market. If I could make a quality product and present it to the public then it would help establish a following which over time would hopefully give me enough leverage to tackle larger projects which require higher scales of funding.

The educational goal won out for me. The exposure goal would be easier in that I could either go with the pay-what-you-want plan that Fate has take on, or the free PDF as an ad for the hardcopy book that Eclipse Phase has successfully championed. However if I went in this direction I feel as if I would have missed another learning moment. I wouldn't get an answer to what the market sees as the monetary value of the book. For future projects I'd like to have experienced how this business reality unfolds. Still, I did leave a crack open for a free copy which I'll explain below.

Alright already, how much are you charging?

So how much should I charge for the book? One oft repeated answer is “whatever the market will bear.” That answer is cleansingly realpolitik for someone who is overthinking the issue, but it still doesn't help me answer the question. What follows is my rationale of pricing the PDF at $19.99, the softcover at $24.99 and the hardcover at $32.99 US.

Justify Yourself!

Time is money. I'm taking a conservative approach to the question and looking at the value of my time as the basis of the price. The Kickstarter funding helped to produce the book. It paid for artwork, publishing software, printing editing drafts, printing the proofs and the backers books, shipping materials, and a few more dull business related expenses through the process of bring the book to a coherent physical form. None of the funding went to my own effort in creating the book.

When I add up all of the time I put into creating the book, from the initial design work, onto writing, layout, editing, art direction, graphic design, proofing and fulfillment I've estimated it was 12 full weeks of work. That comes out to 480 hours of my time. Professionally my time is worth about $28 per hour, but I wouldn't use that metric because this is a business in a hobby market that is incredibly small and won't realistically respond to that level of compensation. Rather than making a guess at the value of my time in the market I just went to the bottom end of the scale with minimum wage which nationally is set at $7.25 per hour. Thus the total value of my labor was $3480.

Target, Maximum Firepower!

How do I earn $3480 for my efforts with Companions of the Firmament? The main challenge I've gathered is how many people will realistically pay for the book. If you dig about on the net you'll find that DrivethruRPG's Copper Seller Status is just a mere 100 copies sold. That's a very low threshold for modest success in selling RPG material. At that scale the book would need a profit margin of $34.80 to hit my labor value. This would mean just the PDF would need to be priced at $53.54 to take into account the 35% cut from DrivethruRPG. Hard copies of the book would be over $60. Those prices are untenable in the RPG market beyond the most popular core book titles with double the page count of Companions of the Firmament and far more ambitious production value.

So I'm already in a tricky situation as I need to aim beyond Copper status for any hope of hitting minimum wage compensation. With nothing but the fog of the market before me I settled on the idea of making at least a $10 profit margin on any copy sold of Companions of the Firmament. This would mean that 348 people need to buy the book. That's exponentially more than Copper level status, but it still falls within a zone of reasonableness when you factor in potential market reaction and the price point for different variations of the book. If the margin was only $5 then the compensation goal would need around 700 people, and that starts to look mythical in this marketplace.

Break it Down!

robotPDF (plus digital extras) - $19.99 retail ($12.99 to GIC, $7 to DTRPG)
ninjaSoftcover (plus PDF and digital extras) - $24.99 retail ($8.58 to print, $10.66 to GIC, $5.75 to DTRPG)
sauronHardcover (plus PDF and digital extras) - $32.99 retail ($13.32 to print, $12.78 to GIC, $6.89 to DTRPG)

But wait? I had said $10 per book, what is up with $13 per book? The extra is for taxes and that I couldn't find a cozy price point for the softcover that would also cover taxes, so the PDF and hardcovers are compensating.

What about Brick & Mortar?

I never considered a traditional approach to publishing when I began this project. Instead it was the maturity of the print-on-demand (POD) technology that helped inspire me to move ahead with the book. A traditional print run requires a sizable investment of funds because printers have an expensive setup that has to be performed to print the books and that amount of money hasn't been available to me. POD however avoids expensive upfront costs, replacing it with a higher per unit expense that is double or triple the cost traditional per unit costs.

Still, now that the book is made why not just use POD to create a print run and get the book into B&M distribution channels? Cost is still a barrier. Let's say that I aim for the Copper status with online purchases, setting my goal at 100 copies through that channel. Then I try and reach my minimum wage goal the rest of the way through B&M distribution with 248 copies. A POD print order for softcovers would cost $1589.18. That kind of funding isn't available at the moment.

Further, the retail price would need to be reworked for B&M because now I would have the print cost, the shipping cost, the distributors cut, the retailers cut and my own profit to have to factor in. The math could be done, however the higher per unit expense for POD would mean I'd have to sell much more than 248 copies to get to minimum wage and the retail price would likely be higher.

Due to that extra layer of complexity and risk I've decided to skip over that element for the time being. I could always revisit it at a later date as funding becomes available.

What about selling direct?

I could sell the PDF directly at a lower price, perhaps $10+tax+paypal fees. That would put the PDF price at around $12. I'd need to do research to see if there was any way to automate the process which might add further cost, but at the least I could sell a link to a cloud based storage area through regular email contact. The two complications are “location, location, location” and ethical standards. The GIC website isn't the right place to sell the PDF in sufficient quantities, so it is essential to have it on DrivethruRPG (and other online retailers) to reach the market. For the ethical component I found that the staff at DrivethruRPG were wonderfully helpful in making the project possible and so it just doesn't seem right to undercut them.

What about that Free PDF?

As a long time buyer I know how I could linger over an RPG for quite awhile before purchasing it because I want to avoid house clutter and want to make sure I'm spending my money wisely. If we were in a B&M store then I'd be able to browse a book at length to determine if it was going to work for me. So I was heartened to see that DrivethruRPG gives the seller the ability to show a complete preview of the PDF and allow the potential buyer to download the PDF so they could peruse it at their leisure. It only make sense that you get the same access to the content digitally as you do with physical products. The preview PDF does have a big watermark in the center of each page that says “SAMPLE” but I have no control over that. It seems like a fair tradeoff for someone who is considering buying the book.

Wrap it up!

So there is my rationale for the price I've laid out for the book. I have no idea how the market will respond to it. I'd hope that enough people would be able to say, “Yes, Neil ought to at least make minimum wage from his effort,” and if they end up using the book in their games be willing to pay the retail price. I'm certainly not expecting whole tables of players to each buy a copy. The sample PDF plus one retail copy at the table sounds like a great way to get everyone involved with my work.

Questions

I'm interested in getting general reactions, advice, questions or comments about this price issue. As with all of the other articles in this series I'm just wading into public view and trying to ask as many blunt questions as I can and offering up my own thoughts and experiences on publishing in the RPG market. Is my approach with the price moronic? Is there a better way to do it without assuming extra expenses to achieve a goal of reasonable compensation for my time? Does creating for the RPG market even allow for a reasonable expectation for compensation?

For all of the Amateur Kickstarter Question threads you can find them compiled here.
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Jamie Hardy
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First, I took a look at your interior art and I have to say most of it is great. Second, you need to go in the PDF price and put in an original price. Games that do not list that on the PDF price sell fewer copies even if there are print options below it.

With that said, I think you are overcharging for the product. I also do not think you, or anyone else, should even try to base their price on how much their time is worth. What will "earn" your salary is in volume. If you cannot sell the volume, you will simply never earn your salary.

Prices have to be based around what the market charges. If you want to know what that is, you simply see what your closest competitors are charging. There are a lot of good looking Pathfinder system games, that have around your page count, that are priced at $10 or less. Based on that, I think $14.95 would be pushing your price. I think $12.95 would probably be better.

Now, before I continue, another thing to take into consideration. It is not so much the price, but the perceived discount that helps move the product. You want a minimum of 50% discount from what the physical product will be. You can alter that slightly based on competitor prices. I should charge around $18 for 50% discount. However, the other games I priced around $24.95, so I can get away with $19.95. Again, given your set the softcover at $24.99, then $12.99 is looking like a better price point.

Here is another thing to consider, only 12.36% of products on DTRPG make it to copper status. So even getting that far is going to be an accomplishment. I mention this not as a discouragement, but to say that trying to figure out how much to charge based on perceived sales and how much you think you should earn for your time is not something people are likely going to do.

Instead, I think you need to put out as best of a product you can. You need to set your price based on market conditions. After that, it is up to each person to decide if the payoffs they will slowly earn justify the time they spent. However, the assessment of time and payoff needs to be done either before starting a project, or reflecting on the outcome. It should not come into play when setting a price.
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SteamCraft wrote:
First, I took a look at your interior art and I have to say most of it is great. Second, you need to go in the PDF price and put in an original price. Games that do not list that on the PDF price sell fewer copies even if there are print options below it.


So what's going on there? I saw the box but didn't put anything in it because it seemed to be a secondary detail. What psychologically is going on with the original price?

SteamCraft wrote:
With that said, I think you are overcharging for the product. I also do not think you, or anyone else, should even try to base their price on how much their time is worth. What will "earn" your salary is in volume. If you cannot sell the volume, you will simply never earn your salary.

Prices have to be based around what the market charges. If you want to know what that is, you simply see what your closest competitors are charging. There are a lot of good looking Pathfinder system games, that have around your page count, that are priced at $10 or less. Based on that, I think $14.95 would be pushing your price. I think $12.95 would probably be better.


This is great, this is the kind of input that I'm looking for. I did do a lot of comparison pricing. But I was also looking at the numbers in terms of what one needs to sell to make up for your time spent working on a project and it seems daunting. I guess that's what I'm really wondering is how are people pulling this off?

One approach I observe is to generate volume on the creator side. You create lots and lots of small projects and through that array of titles pull in enough revenue to cover your expenses and time. The challenge I'm having is that I don't see that as an approach that will fit with my life. I'm imagining a small number of projects per year.

SteamCraft wrote:
Now, before I continue, another thing to take into consideration. It is not so much the price, but the perceived discount that helps move the product. You want a minimum of 50% discount from what the physical product will be. You can alter that slightly based on competitor prices. I should charge around $18 for 50% discount. However, the other games I priced around $24.95, so I can get away with $19.95. Again, given your set the softcover at $24.99, then $12.99 is looking like a better price point.


This is one of the things that I'm finding fascinating in light of how things are unfolding in the digital media world. If you project out ten years we're likely going to be in a position where digital purchases will completely dwarf print versions of books. Somewhere along the way there has to be a shift in the perceived valued of PDFs from being the inexpensive option and instead just the value of the content itself.

We're not there yet as many people vow to forever use print but the trend is still there. I suppose the OP is me poking my foot into this issue. I'm trying to work out the cost of one of these endeavors from the creator's end. One thing I left out was generating enough revenue to go back into the next project, however in light of the challenge of even getting minimum wage compensation that is a bit of a luxury.

SteamCraft wrote:
Here is another thing to consider, only 12.36% of products on DTRPG make it to copper status. So even getting that far is going to be an accomplishment. I mention this not as a discouragement, but to say that trying to figure out how much to charge based on perceived sales and how much you think you should earn for your time is not something people are likely going to do.


Oh yeah, this isn't discouragement at all. I was aware that Copper status isn't even something that most titles achieve, but it is the lowest metric to aim at as a goal.

In a lot of ways what I'm trying to do with this just ask a lot of basic questions that anyone in my situation ought to be experiencing. How does one generate enough money to justify the effort in creating an RPG product? If thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours are spent creating something but it only generates a few hundred dollars in sales then it might not be sustainable depending on the creator's life situation. There is the fun factor in creating something that can mitigate some of that pressure but you would have to have the right life conditions to completely ignore the time and money factor.

So I guess that would be the question to ask from other creators. How are you as a creator weighing the "opportunity costs" with your own projects? How are you making sure that the work is sustainable in your own life?

SteamCraft wrote:
Instead, I think you need to put out as best of a product you can. You need to set your price based on market conditions. After that, it is up to each person to decide if the payoffs they will slowly earn justify the time they spent. However, the assessment of time and payoff needs to be done either before starting a project, or reflecting on the outcome. It should not come into play when setting a price.


Definitely. It does seem foolish for me to be asking this now, however I went into this project seeing it as a grand experiment. There is no overriding pressure on my end to make a certain amount of money from Companions of the Firmament, instead it's an educational exercise for myself so that with future projects I can be more informed on all of the aspects of being a creator. Future projects have to fit into my life which as the demands of being a educator, husband and parent... plus I want to have enough free time to actually play games!

I guess what would be really helpful would be to see more "case studies" where other creators are detailing the blow by blow process of running a sustainable RPG business.

Or is the answer that it isn't sustainable financially? That it's just a hobby business for the most part which is always running in the red? When people add up all of their time investment they aren't even making the equivalent of minimum wage? If that's the case I'd love to hear those stories also.
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A lot here, but most of it relates to pricing and psychology.

People like to feel like they are getting a good deal. I have seen people where they try to sell something, and it does sell. They put a 50% off tag on it, keep the same price, and people buy them up. J.C. Penny decided that instead of marking up prices and having 70% off sales, they would just put their lowest price on items. No need for coupons of sales. Just anytime you got a great deal. However, shoppers didn't like it. They would rather there be a "sale" every week or two where they saw the $100 shirt go for $30, then being able to show up any day and get it for $30. I find it idiotic, but that is what the customer wanted, so J.C. Penny's fired the CEO and brought back sales.

Having an original price followed by the actual price creates the impression that you are getting a deal. This is backed up by DTRPG data. According to them, when they looked into sales at the request of a publisher, it turns out the price didn't matter. There wasn't an ideal price for books. What they found was that it was the percentage off that mattered. However, the original price has to be something people will believe the book would be worth. You just can't put in $100. 40% seems to be the minimum to start getting a good return, but you also have to see what your competitors are doing. 50% might work better than 40%. If you plan on running sales, then you don't want to price things too low.

Speaking of sales and income, there was an interesting experiment that I repeated. Monte Cook has a PDF that is $60. For a one week sale, DTRPG got him to lower the price of the PDF to $19.99. That 66% off price got him 44 times his monthly income. Not sales volume, but income. So, if he brought in $1000 on average per month, this one week sale generated 44,000. (I am just making those numbers up so you can see how much the sale generated increased profit.)

I did the same thing. I ran a 66& off sale and I my profit for that one week was 2.5 times my previous monthly average.

This doesn't mean I should set my normal price at that level. People like sales. If it wasn't a sale, but a regular price, I would not have sold as many.

It turns out that how books should be priced doesn't match up if how customers want books to be priced. Say a book costs $40 at the store. If the printing and shipping come to $10, then you would think that the content is worth $30. However, people won't pay $30 for the content. I am not sure if it is they think the physical product costs more, they value the physical construction more, of if people who originally sold PDF games sold them too cheap so now we have a customer base used to PDFs that are cheaper than they should be. It doesn't really matter since this is the market we are stuck with (notice that in the fiction world, they kept prices high.)

I suppose one way to look at it, is that getting into stores usually involves 2 middlemen. So when you sell that $40, you only make $16. So, putting a PDF for $19.99 means the creators gets more for his effort per book than selling the physical book.

echoota wrote:

I guess what would be really helpful would be to see more "case studies" where other creators are detailing the blow by blow process of running a sustainable RPG business.

Or is the answer that it isn't sustainable financially? That it's just a hobby business for the most part which is always running in the red? When people add up all of their time investment they aren't even making the equivalent of minimum wage? If that's the case I'd love to hear those stories also.


It think having case studies can be good, provided that people do not take them as a how-to manual. I know that Jacob Wood has done a similar post to these. I think they are good in letting people know what they have to do. In how to go about it, I think there are problems. I have SteamCraft in game stores all over the world. If I had followed advice I read on gaming boards that would not be the case. I am not claiming I have the correct way to do things. I just know that my costs would have been substantially higher following advice I read. Thankfully, I know people who have been RPG publishers for a very long time that were very helpful so that I could keep my costs down.

Running an RPG business is mostly about the business. This means you have to keep your costs down. Second, you need to build up multiple product lines. In a sense, you are building up a catalog that will continually bring in income. You just need to get to that point. It also means you need to decide what "type" of publisher you want to be.

In the context of your post, I think I will stick with two "types" of publishers.

1. The PDF/POD publisher. If you do this, you need to do short PDFs and release a lot of them. Why put out a large adventure for $12.95, when you can put out 3-4 adventures for $4.95? The same amount of words, but more profit. Further, cheaper prices can lead to greater sales. This is haw Adamant Entertainment, at one time, became a success. You put out a lot of very small products with cheap price tags and that leads to larger sales volumes and higher profit per item than putting out larger works.

2. The traditional RPG publisher. Following this method, you need to get books into stores. You also need to continually produce new products to build up game lines and keep your core books re-ordered. Instead of focusing on small publications, you put out larger ones made for a game store.

The problem with either model is content. This is an issue I am having. I can only produce so much myself given everything else I have to do. (Probably why I should also spend less times on forums.) I can really only produce 1 book a year, 2 if I really push it. So, over time, I can build things up but I think it would bee too late because players will have moved on to other games/publishers who can supply them with the products they want.

The solution is that I have to higher freelance writers - something I am currently looking for. I focus on the main core book for a series. I then higher other people to write supplements. This is necessary for the business to grow.

If you stick with the PDF/POD model, you can do a lot yourself, maybe everything yourself. If not, you can also hire the occasional freelancer. If you cannot afford to pay, make a deal to get them a 25% royalty.

The key to making money in the RPG business is volume. If you cannot sell 1000 products, then make 10 products that you can sell 100 of. Of course, you just make a lot smaller products when you make 10. IMO, that is how you have to make money.

Just my $.02 on the whole thing.
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Jacob Wood
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Neil, I'm glad you're bringing this up. RPG pricing is an important topic, and one that I feel is seldom discussed in-depth.

I've gone through a lot of the same strokes that you have when it comes to determining how to price Psi-punk. It hasn't exactly been selling like hotcakes, but I don't blame that entirely on price. Here's my quick breakdown:

PDF: $20
Softcover: $30
Hardcover: $40

Psi-punk is a 192-page core rulebook with B&W interior art. By selling each PDF for $19.99, I make a $13 profit after DTRPG takes their cut. That's an intentional decision on my part. Like you, I determined that I should be compensated for my time -- after all, my artist and layout guy both made more money than I have on Psi-punk, and I spent far more hours on the game than they did. I feel it justified to ask for *something* in exchange for my work. To date, my personal cut hasn't exceeded the cut I gave to my layout artist, let alone my illustrator.

I started out by looking at similar products. Other core books sell for $20 or more, so it looked like that was a comfortable price for what I was selling. If I were just selling a supplement to another game, or if my page count were significantly lower, I wouldn't have charged as much.

For the softcover price, I determined what my margin would be after print costs and DTRPG's cut, then rounded up to the nearest $5. I aimed for the same $13 margin and made my calculations from there. Rounding up to the nearest $5 just made the pricing tiers look better (that is, $30 instead of, say, $28.46).

For the hardcover I did the same, and wound up with a nice pricing structure of $20, $30, $40. The side-effect is also that the PDF is half the cost of the hardcover book.

I'd like to make one opinion of mine completely clear, though. I feel that we undervalue PDFs, and anyone who tells you to always price your PDFs at half the cost of the softcover is giving bad advice. This sort of pervasive advice, unfortunately, hurts our industry as a whole.

I firmly believe in charging once for content and then delivering as many different formats as you can reasonbly manage. Creating a PDF is not 1/2 as difficult as creating a softcover book, nor is it 1/2 as costly. In fact, with the digital tools we use nowadays, creating a PDF is just one part of the process of creating a softcover book.

As an industry, we need to stop undervaluing our PDFs. There has been a lot of slush output to PDF and sold via DTRPG, but there are a lot of genuine, print-quality products being released nowadays as well. It's the content, not the delivery method, that we as consumers should be paying for and that we as publishers should be charging for.

With all of that being said, how can we expect to make a reasonable profit from our sales?

Johnn Four has a publishing course for game designers called Gamer Lifestyle (http://www.gamer-lifestyle.com) As part of the course, he offers a lot of advice about this very topic. He advocates publishing a lot of content and publishing often, to take advantage of frequent marketing pushes.

Using this model, a publisher would create multiple smaller PDFs but hope to sell in volume, as was mentioned with the Adamant Entertainment case. This is also what companies like Rite Publishing and Raging Swan Press are doing, and it seems to be working for them. Over time, sales will eventually cover costs and turn a profit.

Johnn Four also talks a lot about the "1,000 True Fans" method. By creating true fans -- fans who will buy just about every product you publish -- you ensure a steady stream of income. If you have 1,000 true fans and sell $50 per year worth of new products to each one, that's $50,000 per year of sales.

There's a lot more to it than that, but as he charges for the course I don't want to give away all of the gritty details for free. Rest assured, if you're going to get into the publishing industry then it's worth checking out.

So what happens when someone like you, Neil, or myself, or any number of other people like us want to create games with more vision? Games which don't just churn themselves out? How do we price books like Psi-punk and Companions of the Firmament, which are our initial products that we've spent a lot of time and money on?

Just like we already did. However, I think we need to set our own expectations as well. We may not sell enough of our initial product to really and truly turn a comfortable profit, but the exposure is worth a lot on its own.

Eloy Lasanta of Third Eye Games was a part-time publisher for 4+ years before he began making enough money on his business to quit his day job. He published Apocalypse PRevention, Incorporated, Wu Xing: The Ninja Crusade, Part-Time Gods, and Mermaid Adventures, as well as loads of supplements for API and Wu Xing, before he was able to quit his day job. Over time, I think API has probably sold enough copies to warrant its initial release, but I don't think he had a runaway success right off the bat.

The thing is, RPG publishing is a long game. If you stick with it and publish more products, you will eventually see a solid ROI. But I don't think it's reasonable to expect that within the first year of publication for a new publisher. It's a long-haul strategy.

I think the broader topic isn't really how to price an RPG so that it makes a profit, but rather how to create a long-term strategy so the net of all RPGs you published turn a profit. If your goal is to only publish one RPG, or one RPG per year, I don't know if there is any number that would be a magical sweet spot for your book's price.

Pricing is based on so many different factors, real and perceived, that it's impossible to really pick the right one. The great news is that you can constantly change it to meet market demands. If your book isn't selling, you can try some A/B testing on prices; sell it at a small discount, then sell it at a deep discount. Which price point has the most net sales?

But overall, publishing is a long game. If you don't plan on staying in it for a very long time, you may want to ask yourself if self-publishing is really what you want to do in the first place. (To be clear, I'm now addressing "you" as in all game publishers, not just Neil). If you can't fathom spending 400 hours on a product only to make pennies per hour, consider whether or not you can find a publisher for your book who would be willing to take a chance. Accessible Games is always willing to entertain new ideas from people who think they'd like to publish a book, and I'm sure there are other companies out there who accept submissions as well.

At least as far as the market is concerned right now, self-publishing is a great way to put a game out in front of a larger audience and hope people enjoy playing it. But without a shift in our marketing strategies and game design processes, it's not a great way to make any money at all. I don't necessarily think that's right, but until the industry has another paradigm shift then I feel it's still the case. The best way for self-publishers to make a profit for all of their hard work is to keep publishing or to band together with other self-publishers to make a small publishing firm with combined resources. At that point, the collective output might help everyone involved. The bottom line is that it doesn't matter so much how you price your books, but how you go about making them all sell in volume.
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Pickin Grinnin
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You may want to read J. A. Konrath's blog. It focuses a lot on ebook pricing schemes and issues, with a lot of detail backed up by sales data.

There is a sort of tipping point between what people can justify as an impulse or exploratory purchase and one that they really need to think about before buying. That transition point is generally lower for ebooks / PDFs because most people are acutely aware that they lose the ability to resell or return an item when it is not a physical item. File types change over time, too, so there is less permanence. It's harder to legally lend an electronic file to a friend, too.

With fiction ebooks, the tipping point is usually at the $5 range, or $10 for best selling authors. There are people who will pay more than that, but at a particular point the volume-to-price ratio gets out of whack. It's far better to sell 100 copies at $5 each than 50 at $10. All those lower price purchases in that example make for twice the number of potential repeat customers.

Your work effort shouldn't be a big consideration in pricing. The main consideration should be what people will pay. $20 is a lot to ask for an electronic file of a game that a person can't sit and flip through, especially when that person could buy 4 $5 games instead.
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pickin_grinnin wrote:
With fiction ebooks, the tipping point is usually at the $5 range, or $10 for best selling authors. There are people who will pay more than that, but at a particular point the volume-to-price ratio gets out of whack. It's far better to sell 100 copies at $5 each than 50 at $10. All those lower price purchases in that example make for twice the number of potential repeat customers.

Your work effort shouldn't be a big consideration in pricing. The main consideration should be what people will pay. $20 is a lot to ask for an electronic file of a game that a person can't sit and flip through, especially when that person could buy 4 $5 games instead.


Exactly. The higher the price, the fewer copies sold. The most copies sold would be free. So the task is to find the point of maximum profit. This is done by how many units sold times the price.

Suppose that are $20, you will sell 10 units. For every dollar decrease, you will sell 10 more units. So $19 sells $20 units, 18 sells 30, etc. This means you will make 200 at $20, $30 at 19 units, etc. The maximum profit is achieved at $11 or $10. Both result in $1100. You should prefer $10 over $11 because more people will have your product. However, at $9, more people will have your product, but you will earn less money.

The problem of course is pinpointing the price that will yield maximum profit. There are a lot of variables. Yet, the market supplies you with some of the information. If most prices are around $X, this means the market has determined the approximate value of the product. That point might not give you the maximum profit, but it is likely going to be near that point. Maybe a little lower or higher is where you need to be at, but that gives you an approximate value to start.

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Jeff Heikkinen
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Saved and bookmarked. As I prepare for my own (far more ambitious!) Kickstarter, resources like this will be very valuable. You're doing the community a considerable service.
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William Hostman
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SteamCraft wrote:
pickin_grinnin wrote:
With fiction ebooks, the tipping point is usually at the $5 range, or $10 for best selling authors. There are people who will pay more than that, but at a particular point the volume-to-price ratio gets out of whack. It's far better to sell 100 copies at $5 each than 50 at $10. All those lower price purchases in that example make for twice the number of potential repeat customers.

Your work effort shouldn't be a big consideration in pricing. The main consideration should be what people will pay. $20 is a lot to ask for an electronic file of a game that a person can't sit and flip through, especially when that person could buy 4 $5 games instead.


Exactly. The higher the price, the fewer copies sold. The most copies sold would be free. So the task is to find the point of maximum profit. This is done by how many units sold times the price.



It's also worth noting that free has other psychological issues - in fact, at least two companies have noted that, below a certain point ($3, IIRC, for their PDFs), sales drop off, rather than climb, as the perceived value is diminished.

$5 for PDF seems to be the sweet spot - still enough to be a "Purchase" rather than a gratuity, and low enough to remain an impuse buy.
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Emmett O'Brian
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aramis wrote:
SteamCraft wrote:
pickin_grinnin wrote:
With fiction ebooks, the tipping point is usually at the $5 range, or $10 for best selling authors. There are people who will pay more than that, but at a particular point the volume-to-price ratio gets out of whack. It's far better to sell 100 copies at $5 each than 50 at $10. All those lower price purchases in that example make for twice the number of potential repeat customers.

Your work effort shouldn't be a big consideration in pricing. The main consideration should be what people will pay. $20 is a lot to ask for an electronic file of a game that a person can't sit and flip through, especially when that person could buy 4 $5 games instead.


Exactly. The higher the price, the fewer copies sold. The most copies sold would be free. So the task is to find the point of maximum profit. This is done by how many units sold times the price.



It's also worth noting that free has other psychological issues - in fact, at least two companies have noted that, below a certain point ($3, IIRC, for their PDFs), sales drop off, rather than climb, as the perceived value is diminished.

$5 for PDF seems to be the sweet spot - still enough to be a "Purchase" rather than a gratuity, and low enough to remain an impuse buy.

Absolutely this. I've had hundreds upon hundreds of downloads but only a dozen or so plays that I've heard of people playing other than my group.
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Neil Carr
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To be more comprehensive I just wanted to link to another thread that emerged at a similar time to this one with lots of interesting discussions going on.
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Emmett O'Brian
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I ran across a PDFed copy of this post at Gothridge Manor about PDF pricing. It has a few more data points to look at.

In general, the author mentions the price of 3 cents a word as a "Normal" price, along with a few other benchmarks.
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William Hostman
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EmmettO wrote:
I ran across a PDFed copy of this post at Gothridge Manor about PDF pricing. It has a few more data points to look at.

In general, the author mentions the price of 3 cents a word as a "Normal" price, along with a few other benchmarks.


That 3¢ per word is the going rate for work-for-hire manuscripts, and not just in the gaming industry. And what he's made on a particular PDF he's sold via RPGNow/DTRPG is just a hair over that in the lifetime of that particular product at 3.5¢ per non-ogl word.

He gives his actual pricing scheme as:
Quote:
Pages Base Cost
1-5 $1
6-7 $1.25
8-9 $1.50
10-11 $1.75
12-14 $2
15-17 $2.50
18-20 $3.00

Additional Factors
Appropriate Artwork +$1
Established, Respected Publisher/Writer +$1

and notes that it's taken from RPGNow's epublishing 101.
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