Free vs. Product — An Update

Nov 12, 2012
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Back in March, I released the Labyrinth Lord Treasure Book on Demand — the idea was inspired by feedback to allow people to generate random results into a transportable form. A month later, I added it on DriveThruRPG as a PDF download for free. Both continue to garner traffic, albeit much slower than during the months after the launch, but the static document on DriveThru has been downloaded slightly more than the on-demand version; 580 vs. 540.

The DTRPG variant had a bit of editing beyond what the raw system produces but frankly, that editing was very slight. Also, the overlap between the on-demand system vs. the document variant is unknown. My gut feeling suggests little overlap but I have no hard numbers to demonstrate accuracy.

The treasure document covers about 60 pages. To undertake a full-out product, I’d have to generate new cover art ($250-500), interior artwork every 2-3 pages (20-30 images). Some of it could be stock art but a third or more should probably be new art from artists. So perhaps 10 new works varying in cost from ($75-150). Call it an average of $100 for 10 images = $1000. Not to mention document layout, editing, etc that are crucial to the process. Roughly speaking, I’d have had to put $2K into the process to produce a quality publication. Perhaps a bit less or slightly more depending on my mood.

To break even, I’d have had to list the document for $2 and achieve 1000 sales or $4 for 500 sales. Either price point is cheap and I do enjoy cheap. However, I mostly wanted to test out marketing a product and try to decide if it should be a labor of love (aka hobby) or something different.

Suffice to say, I’m going to remain a pure hobbyist and not a publisher.

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