Six Months of Tabletop RPG Sales

Posted by on May 10, 2009

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About six months ago, I started publishing tabletop RPG PDFs under the name Brent P. Newhall\’s Musaeum of Fantastic Wonders, starting with the short adventure War in the Deep in November 2008 and continuing with the sandbox setting The City of Talon in March 2009. I publish through DriveThruRPG, which takes a percentage of each PDF sale. The PDFs themselves are unrestricted.

I\’ve always been a bit frustrated at the lack of real numbers about publishing PDFs online. How much money do these things make?

Here\’s how much I\’ve actually made. Each PDF sells for US$5.00; I get $3.25 of that.

Sales

Product Number of Sales Gross Earnings Net Earnings
War in the Deep 14 $65.00 $45.25
The City of Talon 17 $75.00 $48.75
TOTAL 31 $140.00 $91.00

Month-by-month for War in the Deep, which was first published in November 2008:

Month Number of Sales Gross Earnings Net Earnings
November 2008 4 $15.00 $9.75
December 2008 5 $25.00 $16.25
January 2009 4 $20.00 $13.00
February 2009 0 $0.00 $0.00
March 2009 1 $5.00 $3.25
April 2009 0 $0.00 $0.00
TOTAL 14 $65.00 $45.25

Month-by-month for The City of Talon, which was first published in March 2009:

Month Number of Sales Gross Earnings Net Earnings
March 2009 11 $45.00 $29.25
April 2009 6 $30.00 $19.50
TOTAL 17 $75.00 $48.75

Web Traffic

Total hits for War in the Deep on DriveThruRPG: 3,737.

Unique pageviews for War in the Deep on the Musaeum:

Source Pageviews
ENWorld.org 32
Direct 10
Google searches 7
RPGBloggers.com 4
Others 10
TOTAL 63

The keywords used to find War in the Deep: \”heroic tier adventure\”, \”printable d&d counters\”, \”rpg adventure plots\”, \”rpg adventure writing\”, and \”rpg for commercial use\”

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Total hits for The City of Talon on DriveThruRPG: 1,734.

Unique pageviews for The City of Talon on the Musaeum:

Source Pageviews
Google searches 29
RPGBloggers.com 14
Facebook 11
Direct access 8
Others 24
TOTAL 86

The keywords used to find The City of Talon: \”crimes of talon\”, \”brentnewhall\”, and \”role play blogs\”.

Advertising

None.

Marketing

I described each project here on my blog in a couple of different blog posts. I\’m a member of the RPG Bloggers Network, so those posts showed up there.

Analysis

Making just shy of US$100 with no advertising budget is no mean feat. On the other hand, considering the dozens of hours I put into these PDFs, I couldn\’t exactly make a livable wage off this yet.

The biggest surprise is the 32 pageviews from ENWorld, a huge D&D-oriented site. Upon further investigation, I discovered that ENWorld has a wiki page of 4E 3rd Party Publishers (since defunct), and somebody kindly added my Musaeum and War in the Deep there. In writing this entry, I added the City of Talon to that page, so hopefully that\’ll drive some traffic to it.

I find it interesting that the RPG Bloggers network was much more interested in Talon than War in the Deep. This confirms my suspicion that GMs need higher-level creative resources more than they need pre-generated adventures. Note that Talon\’s made almost as much in 2 months as War in the Deep made in 4 months. However, Talon required far more time to create than War in the Deep did.

Plans

I plan to focus on settings. I\’ll continue work on my abandoned underground city setting and my floating city in the sky setting. I plan to publish both in the next six months.

However, given the relatively low time investment in writing an adventure, I\’ll probably publish one more adventure within the next six months. It seems worth it, especially if the adventure\’s fun to build.

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