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asmkm22

Question about printing

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Who do you go through for book printing? I'm having to start looking at distribution and printing methods, and any advice would be great.

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I use a few different printers and most of it depends of the job Im doing.

 

Core books (usually hardcover) I go through a traditional printer

 

GODSEND Agenda (hardcover black and white guts) was printed in America by Bang Printing (someplace in Michigan)

 

HELLAS (full color hardcover landscape) was printed in Tiawan. By a company with a very long and very whacky sounding name that I cant remember.

 

Both print runs were about 1,000 copies (actually HELLAS was 1,200 copies)

 

 

For my entire supplement runs I use Print on Demand (PoD) printers. They charge more per unit but you can get quantities as small as one book.

 

My book have been printed by Avalon Printing (now defunct)

Goodman Games (they currently do my printing)

Guild of Blades (They do goo work too and I use them as much as Goodman)

 

I usually do print runs of 75-200 for supplements and when I sell through them I print more.

 

For distribution I use Impressions and IPR. For online sales I use IPR and Amazon

My books are warehoused in a few different spots depending on what type of sales I’m doing. For Amazon sales I have some books warehoused in Seattle, for distribution sales I have them warehoused in Northern Nevada and Indiana. Warehousing cost money but in Seattle I have connections and pay nothing but the other two charge per pallet.

 

 

I manage to make money because I run really lean with my operation. Since Im a graphic designer by trade I do my own layout and some of the art. I also network with a lot of people and get stuff done very cheaply and have a good interface with most people allowing me to broker favorable deals when I need to do something.

 

I make most of my money through internet sales through Amazon and other direct sales outlets that cut out the middle man. At cons I make most of my money and I hustle like crazy when I’m there.

 

 

I do squander lots of money on hookers and blow but that usually comes out of con money

 

 

Any questions in particular I can answer?

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have you had any, or heard of any, experiences with Lightning Source and it's Ingram network?

 

Also, how did you determine the cover price for your work?

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Lightning source was over complicated for me so I took a pass. It was more work than other priers waned and from what I remember they had protocols and set up fees that my caveman mind didn’t want to deal with.

 

As for cover price I use a few rules

 

I charge what I want to make through distribution. If I want to make $12 through the 3 tier system I charge accordingly.

Depending on the deal you have you will most likely have to sell the book at 60% of cover price. So a $30 book will make you $12 minus any cut your fulfillment company takes.

 

I sell D6 Powers for $30 so I make around $12 a book minus fulfillment, minus printing so at the end of the day I make about $4-5 dollars a book through distribution. If I sell it direct or at a convention I make the whole $30.

 

Its better to do traditional print runs because the price per unit is better but you have to fork out more money and then you have to warehouse it, and then you have to hope you make enough in the first 90-120 days to pay for the product.

 

 

Why 90 days? After that initial burst of sales the orders start to drop off unless you have a hit. Some products are evergreen and will sell decently for some time (like D6 Powers). After that window is closed you may sell a few here and there but not like the initial release numbers. Also if sales aren’t stellar you will be rotated out of the Game Trade catalog and usually the only way to get back in is to have a related product (supplement) so that they relist your core book.

 

You can hope to sell 2-300 books per release. If its an awesome seller maybe 500, if it’s a hit maybe 1000. You want to price your books so that you make your money back within half the print run. So if I print 200 book I need to sell only a 100 and the other 1000 becomes profit.

 

 

 

Since my products are niche product I know I won’t have mass market appeal so I can’t count on volume. I know that the people who want the product are going to pay for it so I don’t pussyfoot on the price. With some products I know I won’t sell many so I inflate the price to the point of almost breaking and this usually works. Better to overprice a bit than underprice and not make your money back.

 

GODSEND Agenda M&M Superlink sold out in the first week I listed that (200 copies). And almost all of that was profit since most of the work was just conversion and I didn’t have to pay for art since it was already done. I hired a cleaver gentleman to do the conversion and the rest was gravy. The book was roughly the size of D6 Powers so the printing was cheap and I priced it at $39.95. I made roughly 2 grand on an investment of $200 plus my time laying the book out. I sold an additional 100 before that one tapered off. I now sell a few here and there.

 

 

With RPGs you have to get in and get out fast to make money. You have to hustle and do a lot of face time. You can’t expect to make a product and sit back and collect money. You have to promote it, talk about it, believe in it and sell it. At Origins last month I ran four games that were each 4-5 hours long plus I sold books at the booth. I average 1-2 book sales per game I run plus what ever is sold in the booth. I don’t sit down in the booth, I don’t eat in the booth and I try to shake the hands of everyone who buys a book and I say thank you. Its sometimes brutal because at a 4 day con I don’t get to play games or even see the rest of the convention hall but at the end of the day I make my money back for the trip, the room, the booth, and the hookers.

 

 

All the above examples are my experience and all experiences may be different. I’m essentially a bottom feeder who has to hustle for every sale and I’m thankful when some buys a books. Also The above works for me since this isn’t my living and I want to see how fast I can spend my kids college money

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To parrot Jerry, charge what you want to charge. More specifically, look at what similar books in from similarly small publishers are charging, and plan to charge accordingly. Then, when pricing out your book, try to determine if the book is salable. If not, it's a bad project.

 

Do yourself a favor and do NOT use cost based pricing. It's a bad, bad, bad idea. People do it, but shouldn't -- especially in a mature industry. Cost should be used to check product viability, not price.

 

With that said, many publishers used the 1/5th rule. That is, the likelihood of a profitable product increases if you cost to produce and sell costs 20% or less than the retail cost. This has a few different basic gross (pre-tax) margins:

 

For distribtion:

 

Retail price = x

wholesale (revenues) = .4x

Cost = .2X

Margin = (.4x-.2x)/.4x = 1/2 = 50%

 

Online Sales

Retail Price = x

Revenues post royalties (based on 35% royalties) = .65x

Cost = .35x (there is no production in PDF so the only COST in this Cost of Goods Sold scenario is the selling, which in list case is the royalty to you PDF distribution service).

Margin = Margin on online sales cannot strictly be measured. Margin can only accurately be recorded for variable costs and since there are NO variable cost in excess of revenues except taxes (which I'm not figuring in here), then your margin will always be 100% (or 65%, whichever way you choose to view distribution service royalties), but that number is not the least bit helpful, as you can plainly see.

 

Direct Sales

Retail Price = x

Revenues = x (this assumes you are charging full price and you are passing 100% of shipping and handling cost to the customer)

Cost = .2x

Margin = x.8/1x = 80%

 

 

The numbers are not helpful in themselves since margin is really only useful in comparing products between themselves and do not take into account VOLUME which is the number one factor in determining profitability, since margin doesn't account for product development costs. Most books greatest costs were in developing the item (writing, art, and editing) and that is the same whether you sell one copy or ten thousand (unless you have product royalties which SHOULD be considered variable costs because, well, they are).

 

Also, don't forgive to add in taxes. You don't want to forget about those since Uncle Sam certainly wont.

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A lot of this information has been very helpful, thank you. I'm sure I'll have more questions down the road, but this gives me something to chew on for a while.

 

On a side note, I'm considering a series of illustrated children's books to get my publishing feet wet. Hopefully, that experience will also carry over to RPG's.

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On a side note, I'm considering a series of illustrated children's books to get my publishing feet wet. Hopefully, that experience will also carry over to RPG's.

 

That’s awesome.

 

 

I have a feeling you will be more successful in that market than in the RPG market.

 

Good luck

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I do squander lots of money on hookers and blow but that usually comes out of con money

 

If you need a fresh face for a con job, I'd like to get in on the cut. Baby needs a new pair of shoes.

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That’s awesome.

 

 

I have a feeling you will be more successful in that market than in the RPG market.

 

Good luck

 

What do you feel is the biggest challenge in the RPG market?

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Market penetration and distribution

 

 

You can have the best games ever made (like I do:D) but if no one sees or hears of them you may as well write the game on the wall in an alley.

 

The RPG book market is controlled by a select few distributors. Since there are so few they can dictate how your product reaches the retailer or if it does at all.

 

You can sell directly yourself but unless your game is super popular you’ll only reach *maybe* a few hundred people and only a fraction of them will buy your product.

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So what would the best way to get your product noticed. Say you’re working with POD and PDF. Word of mouth only goes so far. Are there any types of advertising that one should do.

 

I’ve seen several associations out there that caterer towards small self publishing RPG companies. Would joining them help one out?

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Consistency goes a long way. I don’t put out product like gang busters but there are products and they are a proven commodity. Put out good product or really bad product either one will get you noticed.

 

Get reviews, become part of the online communities

 

Are you planning on doing books that go out into distribution? If so send out samples…lots of samples. You have to pay to play.

 

RPGnow and RPG.net will only get you so far. You have to glad hand, go to conventions, talk to retailers at shows like GAMA and hustle in every venue available to you

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