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Designer Diary Bundle of Holding & ICONS Assembled

For the rest of May Bundle of Holding are running two ICONS Assembled bundles. The first is the rules, and supplements, the second is the setting or the ICONS Universe.

Why is this significant?

I have an ICONS Assembled compatible book, and for everyone who buys either bundle is a potential customer. They are also a potential convert to solo play, but that is a different topic. For me, the ICONS bundles are a great opportunity. The last few bundles were a 5e/Pathfinder adventure path and the Dusk City Outlaws.

Dusk City Outlaws has an SRD for there 100AC game engine. This means that I could easily write for Dusk City and any game driven by the game engine. I also know that these bundles sell by the thousand, which means that there will be an audience if I do support the game.

So, even looking at the last four bundles, three of them are useful, two for something I have that I have now, and a third that I could use in the future.

The current bundles are the most interesting. Ad Infinitum Adventures want to sell more bundles, Bundle of Holding want to sell more bundles, and the more bundles that sell, the more potential customers for my book there are. Therefore I want the bundle to sell.

We are all working towards the same goal.

There are two things within my power. The first is I can choose to promote the bundle and my own title, or not. The second is that I can choose to may my own title more attractive, by dropping the price for a limited time.

If I don’t promote the bundle, I could in theory still get a boost in sales, but my titles in only available in two places at the moment, and neither of them are mentioned on the bundle homepage. There is no real gain in not promoting the bundle.

I could leave the price the same and if I do get a bump in sales, I will get the maximum earnings from it.

That is all the least possible work, doing nothing combined with doing nothing.

Now, imagine I put some effort in.

I choose to advertise the bundle. What will happen is that the bundle may gain a few extra sales. Those sales become potential customers for my book. That is a bonus. If I advertise the bundle, I am likely to gain some goodwill from Bundle of Holding and Ad Infinitum. Goodwill is never a bad thing. If I advertise the bundle on social media I may get shares and retweets which can extend my reach. This is also a good thing.

If I drop the price of my book until the end of May, I may earn less per sale, but I have created a time limited window. This is called scarcity in marketing. That is why you see sales screaming Must End Soon!, or Last Day! and all that sort of thing. Scarcity is a powerful motivator, and limiting the sale to the same time period as the bundle makes your offer part of a much bigger offer.

Creating your own offer gives you more directly relevant content, or message to share. The first people who see my tweets are my own followers. I value my followers, they are not numbers, they are people who frequently share my interest in solo play. If I am going to tell them to spend their valuable time looking at the bundle of a game they don’t play, it is only fair to give them something for their time. In this case it is a discount so they can immediately play this game they just bought, if they buy into the bundle. I cannot compete with Bundle of Holding’s nearly 90% off, but 40% is a pretty decent discount.

I think the balance firmly comes down on the side of helping push the bundle, and hitch my book to that wagon.

There are 50+ bundles on Bundle of Holding each year. About the same on Humble Bundle, although less are RPG related. Watch the site and pick out the ones that work best for your products.

As an addendum, when I shared the video above on twitter….

I send out discounts of up to 40% to my blog readers. To qualify all you need to is join my contact list, so I have an email to send the discount code to!

You can of course leave the list whenever you want. Your support is greatly appreciated.

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Dungeon Crawl Solo (new)

This is my latest solo rules booklet.

Once upon a time someone bought my Solo Adventures for Stars Without Number, and liked the icon driven oracle. They then bought my OSR Solo book, and was disappointed that it did not use the same icon tools. The end result is that the Dungeon Crawl Classics [DCC] solo rules does have an icon oracle, but it also has the roll for page, paragraph and sentence oracle that was first showcased in Rogue Handler.

This book falls into three parts. The first is the oracles and questions and answers. The yes-no oracle is not ground breaking in any way. There are three DC target numbers for unlikely, 50/50 and likely questions. One is a critical no, Twenty is a critical yes. That is all there is to say about that really. This oracle is used to control NPCs, including other members of your party.

Part two is all about clocks and drama dice pools. I like these mechanics as they push things out of your control. You have a top level of control in so much as you decide when to start a clock and what the consequences will be, but from that moment onwards, the even happens when the clock or pool says it will.

Part three is all about building and running adventures. Building adventures is about building 5 room dungeons, one for the entire campaign, and then within that, a 5 room dungeon for each adventure. You then keep cycling through adventures as you level up. You use the stage you are at in the campaign to color the adventures you are creating.

I also cover running published adventures. The Portal Under The Stars was my testbed adventure, and I discuss a couple of approaches to running published adventures.

This book is available in print from my own store and lulu from today. It will be live on DriveThruRPG in a couple of hours, and the print edition will be available in a couple of weeks. On Amazon the Kindle edition is live, the print edition will be available in about 72hrs.

Patrons will get this book for free once it is live on DTRPG.

Newsletter subscribers on this site are entitled to 40% off during May 2021.

If you follow me on DriveThruRPG you will get a discount code for 25% off.

I send out discounts of up to 40% to my blog readers. To qualify all you need to is join my contact list, so I have an email to send the discount code to!

You can of course leave the list whenever you want. Your support is greatly appreciated.

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Print on Demand and Publisher Accounts

What do the changes in Lightning Source’s printing set up mean to you and I? It comes down to a slight drop in price and quality for colour books, and an increase in price for the black and white, but no change in quality there.

This combined with the recent killing off of saddle stitch does make DriveThruRPG less attractive to buy printed books from. That they are looking for an alternative gives credit to them. POD must cause 90% of the problems, and probably most of the customer complaints and not a great deal of added revenue either.

I have absolutely no idea what volume of books they send through LS but it has to be a lot. If a normal person wants to set up a POD title on LS, they charge you $49 just for set up, per title. Then you have to still order your proof on top of that.

I find for my titles I get between 1% and 3% of customers pay for the physical book. That could be because mine are pretty small. I use the 6×9 format, and typically a book is 30-40 pages. You can get two pages on a sheet of US Letter or A4, and printing double sided, you get away with just 10 pieces of paper. Of course that is not as nice as a physical book, but it may well be more functional if you want to flip between tables on different pages.

Exclusive vs Non-Exclusive.

I was wondering what the incentives actually were to remain exclusive to DTRPG. They make more money from non-exclusive accounts on a per sale basis, but lose out on sales made elsewhere.

I was looking at the benefits.

  1. You earn about 7% more as an exclusive publisher.
  2. You gain a bonus 10 Publisher Promotion Points to spend on the DTRPG marketing tools.
  3. You get additional homepage exposure in the Exclusive to DTRPG scroller.
  4. You are three times more likely to picked as DotD.

That 7% haircut on income is probably the biggest draw to remain exclusive. I need to make a couple of hundred dollars from other sources to earn what I will miss out on now that I have become non-exclusive.

That also gives me a very simple litmus test. If I earn more than $200 from the same titles that sell on DTRPG, on other sites, such as Itch, then I made the right choice. Less, then I am losing out.

The publisher points are a kind of currency linked to the gross value of your sales. It works out at 1 point for every $10 in sales. Non-exclusive publishers get 10 free points per month, exclusive get 20 free points. That 10 difference is significant when you first start out. Now it is less so. The free points make a tiny difference to how many points I receive each month.

There is another mechanism at work here.

Deal of the Day is the best use of publisher points. The queue of titles is normally 90 or so, and they only have one DotD each day.

The point I am at, I earn more publisher points in 90 days than the cost of a DotD. I can sustainably keep one title in the queue. Or that is the theory. In practice exclusive accounts are three times as likely to be picked. So, on average you should be waiting about 30 days. That does look about right in my limited experience.

But I could not afford to put a new title into the queue every 30 days. I would have to sell about $6,000 worth of books to hit that level.

If I was selling $6,000 of books on DTRPG each month I would not need Deal of the Day.

If I cannot sell $6,000 of books each month then I would not have enough publisher points to add a new title to deal of the day.

So as a non-exclusive I am likely to need to wait nearer the 90 days for a deal of the day. If I was exclusive I could only afford to add a title to the queue roughly once every 90 days.

The whole idea of extra publisher points and the priority picks for DotD cancel each other out, and that is no benefit.

The Exclusive to DTRPG scroller on the homepage is meant to give exclusive publishers added exposure.

It does work. Out of the12,688 books I sold last year, 23 came from people who clicked on a link in that scroller. At an average value to me of $2.49, that scroller netted me an addition $57.27. These are ballpark figures, I don’t know what they actually bought, but I know my average price per book.

As far as benefits go, I don’t think $60 is a huge draw. I can remember when I was starting out, $5/month seemed a lot.

I will add the $5 on to the goal amount.

I think that I can make non-exclusive pay for itself inside a year. The delay will be getting everything listed on all the sites where I can put them. What is one more job to do each week?