The Saddle Stitch Ripples

When Lighting Source killed off saddle stitch it caused quite a stir. In the grand scheme the biggest reaction came when DTRPG or LS have conceded to absorb the cost of converting existing saddle stitch titles to perfect bound. We will need to create new covers, to account for the spine, but they will do the interiors, adding a small gutter to the spreads, and adding any blank pages needed to bring the titles up to 18 pages.

The criteria was that the titles needed to have sold one copy in the past month, and six in the past year.

I think I will only need to pay for a single rework, and that is a title that was proof ordered before the announcement but not put live until after the cut off date of the announcement, meaning that it will not have sold six in the past two years, because it was only a day old.

As most of my print titles were well over the 48 page cap on saddle stitch, they are unaffected. All in all I go toff lightly.

I have been creating one page adventures for Zweihander. I also have a series of unpublished one page adventures for cepheus system.

The unpublished ones were going to be part of my Itch.io campaign. A series of regular new releases to build up my follower base.

The Zweihander titles are an experiement.

In the Grim & Perilous Library, there is a tendency to work on larger, multi-part adventures. I created one myself, Plague, Famine and War. This was a four-part mini-campaign. Part One sold well, Part Two sold well, Part Three not so well and Part Four was less popular again.

What I did was to turn Part One into the entire adventure, effectively giving parts 2-4 away for free, put the price up, to less than the cost of the four parts, to balance the difference, and then made it available as a single printed book, as well as PDF.

The net effect, I think, has reduced the number of people buying into the adventure, but when they do, I am earning slightly more on the transaction.

But… Plague, Famine and War is the 9th hottest seller in the Grim & Perilous Library. Other adventures released at around the same time, but left as four part/instalments have proved less popular. The Concordance series, part one is the 15th hottest, part two is 20th hottest, then 25th and 26th. This looks like it has the same drop off in sales as the series got longer.

OK, so Plague, Famine & War only costs $9.99 for the print version and the others like it would earn their writers $4.99 x 4 or $19.96 if someone bought it, but it looks like Plague is selling more at the lower price.

As we get more and more serialised adventures, I thought I would fill a different niche. That is why I started writing one page adventures. Now Zweihander players can buy entire campaigns for $9.99, serialised campaigns at $4.99 per instalment and one page adventures, designed to be played in one or two sessions for just $1.99.

On a $1.99 adventure, I earn just $1.20. It doesn’t sound a lot. But these things are so cheap that my reports show people picking up several at once, and repeat customers coming back again and again. The most common order I see is for five of these titles at once. That kind of makes sense, it costs just under $10, cheaper than even Plague, Famine and War, but you get a hand-picked set of adventures for your money. For me, they are earning my $6 on average per sale.

I will let you into a little secret, the first one in the set took me two days to write, now they take about 3hrs. The oldest ones have earned well over $100 a piece so they currently earn me something like $30/hr, which isn’t a bad rate of pay.

I think the experiment is paying off. As the other Librarians writer longer adventures, I am occupying the short or one shot niche, building up a following of repeat customers, and getting a rapid rate of new adventures to market. They are a weekly occurrence now.

My plan was to get to about 10 adventures and then create an omnibus of the first 10. This would have been a 20 page, or so, saddle stitch booklet, designed to keep the cost low. Today I released the 11th adventure in the series. Now with the death of saddle stitch the 20 page booklet doesn’t look as attractive. If I am going to print something, I would rather have it a bit more substantial. The Grim & Perilous Library stipulates that all books must be US Letter format, rather than my preferred US Trade.

So, for the time being I have shelved the plans for my omnibus, and will carry on making them. Maybe when I have 20, and it would make a 40+ page book I will look at it again?

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