2006-01-12 : Year-end sales chart

As usual, this doesn't include con sales, retail sales or upgrades.

All told, 724 games sold direct to customers from my website. With con and retail sales, my best estimate is 910.

1. On 2006-01-12, Vincent said:

For anyone to whom this is interesting: my profits so far are just better than 29.5 cents a word.


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This makes...
JBR go "Profit to Investment"*

*click in for more

2. On 2006-01-12, Matt Wilson said:

Nice! Your sales numbers really bounce. Do you have any understanding of why that is? Like what happened between Jan and Feb 2005?


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This makes...
JAK go "Flame War at RPGNet"*
LBK go "Flame War?"*
JAK go "Well, you know how it goes..."*

*click in for more

3. On 2006-01-12, Emily said:

Much better than Dickens! Congrats!


4. On 2006-01-12, Andy K said:

Yeah, when I was thinking of "Profits" alone, you've got over double the salary of a basic starting writer (which is something like $5K a year).



5. On 2006-01-12, Keith said:

Awesome Vincent.  Like Matt, I'm also curious if those spikes corelate with anything in particular...


6. On 2006-01-12, xenopulse said:

So, how does it feel when almost a thousand players are either running groups with or otherwise enjoying the fruit of your creative loins?


7. On 2006-01-12, Vincent said:

Matt, Keith: that question's getting easier and easier to answer. The spikes line up pretty much to the day with threads on the Forge and RPGnet - and recently ENworld too.

Like, right now I'd guess I'm selling maybe two thirds of a book a day steady when there's no lively Forge or RPGnet thread, and then something like 3-12 books per thread on top of that.


8. On 2006-01-12, Vincent said:

Christian: Strange, is how.


9. On 2006-01-12, Vincent said:

Oh and Andy's very right, in marginalia above - a flame war on RPGnet is CASH MONEY.


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This makes...
MSW go "Yup"*
MM go "No such thing as bad publicity..."

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10. On 2006-01-12, Levi Kornelsen said:

Oooooh.  So, are you saying it'd be nice if I started up a frothing fanboy discussion of niggling details?

'Cuz, hey, I'm up for that.


11. On 2006-01-12, Vincent said:

Levi: Yes! Woot!

No seriously, no need to do that. RPGnet can smell a shill a mile off. Better for me if conversations arise and develop naturally.

Oh, and this might be interesting too: the "best ever theory thread on RPGnet" generated -zero- sales.


12. On 2006-01-12, Levi Kornelsen said:

I didn't think so, but it was too funny to avoid asking.

And that theory thread, if it's the one I think, generated at least one sale.



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This makes...
VB go "it did?"*
LBK go "Yep."*
VB go "you make me a liar."*
LBK go "Sweet."*

*click in for more

13. On 2006-01-12, Brand Robins said:

Here is a freelancer's perspective on this.

From what I've gleaned from Vincent in the past about what he makes per unit, and looking at those numbers, I'd say Vincent and I made about the same amount of money off of gaming this year. Sounds nice, right? Well here is why Vincent is smart and I am dumb.

First, Vincent gets to keep everything he wrote. This means he has artisitic control, which I don't have. It also means that he gets to keep generating money from his work. I get paid and I'm done. Next year I have to write as much as I did this year if I want to make that much money again. Vincent, otoh, may be able to make more money without writing anything more.

Second, Vincent is in charge of his money and knows where things go. I would have made significantly more money this year, but I had a couple of publishers either go bankrupt or just decide not to pay me. (Because they didn't know my sister in law is a partner in a litigation firm...). Vincent may have to deal with retail shit, but he doesn't have to deal with that. Nor, like my publishers, does he have to deal with three-tier shit.

Finally, Vincent has managed—through his quality games and good web presence—to build himself as a brand name. This means things he does in the future will automatically get that "golden seal of Vincent coolness." I, otoh, am a lowly wage slave whose name is burried in the back of books and only gets brought up when the publisher wants a scapegoat for fan complaints. ("Don't blame us, it was our lousy freelancers!")

So for those looking to get into this shit, take heed: self-publication and control of your own material and distribution is the only way to fly. It won't bend you over a table like being a freelancer, nor financially destroy you like trying to open you own major publishing house to compete in the 3 teir system has done to so very many people.


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AJN go "Forge encapsulated?"*

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14. On 2006-01-12, Vincent said:

JBR, in marginalia: "Well, you're more than just an author, you're a publisher; I'd be interested in what your total profit to capital investment ratio looking like."

How do I tell you that? What do I count as capital investment?


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This makes...
JBR go "Oh, right."*
JBR go "Er..."*
MSW go "shipping?"*
JBR go "Only shipping costs"*
JB go "what i do for shipping"*

*click in for more

15. On 2006-01-12, Vincent said:

JBR: Cool. I have some back-of-the-envelope numbers for you then.

Considering only my direct online sales, but pretending that they alone had to pay for art and layout, I get:

Costs/Gross = 27%
Costs/Net = 37%
Net/Costs = 270%

I'm just going to ignore shipping, on account of how a) the customer pays for it, like Matt says, and b) if I have to include it, I have to go back and figure out which books were domestic and which were overseas, which maybe some other time.

So, ballparksville.

My numbers including con and retail sales (but still totally ignoring upgrades) are even more ballpark, as in I'm making 'em up out of my head, but:

Costs/Gross = 31%
Costs/Net= 45%
Net/Costs = 221%

These cost percentages are higher because a) all my no-cost PDF sales are direct, and b) selling into retail is really not very profitable.

Upgrades are gross=cost, so including them would make the percentages costs/gross and cost/net a bit higher still.

Also, all of these numbers assume that I've been selling Dogs for the same price all along, which isn't quite true.

Now, those percentages don't tell me a thing. What am I looking at?


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This makes...
JBR go "Healthy!"*

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16. On 2006-01-12, Roger said:

Do you dare estimate what that breaks down to as an hourly wage?


17. On 2006-01-12, Vincent said:

Oh, plus I did two thirds of the art and half of the layout myself, which saved me substantial, and maybe oughta come out of my 29.5 cents a word. At 1000 words per picture, make it ... 25.2 cents a word. Heh.


18. On 2006-01-12, Meguey said:

Just stopping in to say: "Cool!"


19. On 2006-01-12, Vincent said:

Roger: For just the writing time it'd probably work out to over $100 an hour - certainly over $75, and maybe as much as like $150. I didn't keep track of my writing time, so I'm going "100 hours? That's less than 350 words an hour, I write faster than that, but what about design time, I dunno..."

But anyway no, if I want to be paid for developing, playtesting, and then 17 months of supporting the game - no, I don't dare estimate.


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This makes...
MSW go "$00.0000001/hr"*
VB go "$00.0000001/hr"*

*click in for more

20. On 2006-01-12, Ben Lehman said:

For reference:

Advances on novels (which is usually most of the money) are between $3,000-20,000.  Although some range as high as $250,000.  Novelists aren't paid per year, they're paid per novel.

So Vincent is making about as much as a mid-level novelist.  I've made (so far) about as much as an entry-level novelist.

Is writing a novel or writing an RPG harder?  Well, one doesn't involve playtesting...



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This makes...
VB go "man..."*
MSW go "Me too."*
BL go "Fear of the unknown"*
DC go "Novel is harder, imo"*
BL go "I don't know, man..."*
JBR go "Different Animals?"*
JCL go "according to Orson Scott Card"*
JAK go "Card is also an arrogant fruitcake"*
BL go "Are we in Marginalia or what?"*
DC go "No, and furthermore..."*
BL go "Novelist payouts..."*

*click in for more

21. On 2006-01-12, Levi Kornelsen said:


Does your "time spent working" include the time you spent collecting orders, processing them, and physically preparing shipments?

Because that's a cost, too.


22. On 2006-01-12, Vincent said:

Levi: Oh no, I haven't tried to estimate anything but the time I spent back in '03-'04 actually sitting at my computer writing the text - and even that, my estimate is really broad.


23. On 2006-01-12, Blankshield said:

One of the nice things about running a cottage industry publisher (often termed derogatorily as a 'vanity press') is that you don't, in fact, have to account for soft costs.  Account for capital costs (printing) and running-the-business costs (website, conventions, etc) and whatever is left over, profit=salary.  Or cost=tax break.

Some people like to track their time, and do rough salary conversions, and I'm certainly not saying that's WrongBadPublishing, but there's no requirement to do so.



24. On 2006-01-13, Andy K said:

Hey, there's some real interesting stuff here overall.  I was looking at the stats of folks who made them available (Keith, Matt, Clinton, etc).

I was wondering if it might be interesting to bang some of your heads together to see if you can come up with any sets of guidelines, suggestions, formulae, narratives or similarities that set more successful indie games from less successful indie games.  Anything from the game itself to actions/processes of the author, etc.

I'd be really interested in seeing this kind of thing.



25. On 2006-01-15, Bryan said:

This is a great thread.  I wonder if you would care to share your margins with us and some more of your expenses.

ie. here's the formula for margin that I like: what you sell the games for - cost to produce in materials divided by what you sell the games for

sale price - cost
sale price

Do you have any expenses like loan interest, advertising, etc...

For your profit figure of 29.5 cents a word is that after expenses and product costs?

Anyway, this is very interesting to see, and I'm happy for your success.



26. On 2006-01-15, Vincent said:

Bryan: my margin's 64%, I have no loans or advertising. My con-going breaks approximately even - my margin on con sales is within 10% of zero, one way or the other - and that includes hotel, food, travel, and (ready for this?) my game purchases.

The 29.5 cents a word is after expenses and product costs.

Andy: that sounds like a great publishing thread at the Forge. Somebody should start it! I will unless someone else beats me to it.


27. On 2006-01-24, mythusmage said:


Thought you'd be interested in this posting at ENWorld. I've read through this comment thread, and nowhere could I see anything indicating nefarious plots on the part of anyone. Cynicism yes, but nothing nefarious.

Alan (


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MSW go "Man..."*
ak go ":Sigh:"*

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28. On 2006-01-30, Thunder_God said:

"Vincent wrote:

Levi: Yes! Woot!

No seriously, no need to do that. RPGnet can smell a shill a mile off. Better for me if conversations arise and develop naturally.

Oh, and this might be interesting too: the "best ever theory thread on RPGnet" generated -zero- sales.


What thread on is that? I'm also curious to see Matt and the others' sales figures, which I used to have(at least Paul's?).

Very enlightening.


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