thread: 2012-03-13 : Indie POV pt 2: Does It Pay?

On 2012-03-14, Luke wrote:

Since Vincent asked: BWHQ has consistently grossed between $80,000-$100,000 a year for the past five or six years. After expenses (and taxes), I net a few thousand dollars. Expenses include: printing, shipping, conventions, wages for a bookkeeper and a fulfillment troll, research, travel, etc. I do not pay myself a wage. I do not get dividends or draws.

From past conversations we've had, I think I've sold more units than Vincent and my games are generally priced higher. Even so, I've never been able to do more than pay for a month or two of my own personal expenses with money from publishing. BW does pay for my electronic hardware (since I only use it for work/research), so that's a nice perk. Sometimes it buys me lunch.

An RPG usually takes me about 8 months of full time development. My games (and supplementary books) are 100,000 to 200,000 words. My games are solid directly, through hobby channels and through national and international distribution.

I've published my own work and worked under contract. I've licensed popular properties and I've also published the work of others.

If I quit publishing and worked at MacDonalds as a cashier, I'd be making more. I could probably work my way up to manager inside of a year and have benefits. I could post free RPGs to my blog at night instead of watching TV. Unfortunately, I'm an idealistic (and foolish) artist and I prefer poverty to security.

I think that publishing has some basic truisms: if you get lucky and produce a hit, you can live off of your success for a while. Otherwise, it's a side gig. For example, it's my understanding that VIncent holds down a day job in addition to publishing games. His side gig is profitable because Vincent is a smart publisher (keeping expenses down) and a gifted designer. Vincent is also a natural with social media, which helps him stand out in a crowded field.


PS And John Mc/Corey, having worked in electronic games, I've found that tabletop RPG credits are a dead limb at best, a blight at worst. If you want to work in electronic games at this point, you should get started working in electronic games via QA, art or coding.


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