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?

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