I think this will be the last update on this. I think the approach can be summarised as focusing your efforts in a small space to maximize the effect. It is also the idea of even the greatest oak can be felled with enough blows of even the smallest axe.
This graph of sales starts off every simple, as there is only one product being sold, but gets more complex as more titles are available, and new releases generate interest in previous titles.
This experiment was always going to be limited in scope. I chose Eldritch Tales as my target system. The game is only a Gold bestseller, meaning that it has sold less than 1001 copies. Trying to get big volumes of sales off a very small audience was never going to work. As long as each adventure eventually reaches Copper bestseller, I will have hit my personal goal of earning $50/hr. That covers the time needed to create them.
Hottest banners are based on the value of sales over time [Sales Velocity]. I was playing around with $1.99 mini-adventures, most of which were offered at a discount. This is not a good way of hitting the hottest banners. If I was selling $4.99 adventures they would be ranking much better.
Why didn’t I?
Because I was simply doing this to prove a point, it had to sit alongside other projects I am working on. There are only so many hours in a day. Bigger adventures take longer to write, require more art, more maps, and take longer to layout.
I also did no other promotion.
If you were to do this, I would suggest making the adventures more substantial, make them good value of money for $4.99, or even $9.99. Make them look good. I spent a grand total of $0 and 10hrs on these. Write your adventures, do the basic layout, decide what art you need. Then go and hit the stock art websites and find the art that meets your needs. Don’t commission anything, not if you are just starting out.
If you need small filler items, there are some really good public domain vector art libraries that will fit the bill.
There are good random map generators, or Dyson Logos, to fill your mapping needs. I like to take Dyson maps into an image editor and then move stuff around, block off corridors, remove bits I don’t need, and that sort of thing. The clone tool is great for moving stuff.
Think about settings. Either suggest places in established settings or interlink your adventures so together they start to build out a setting. MT Black is doing this with his adventures and his new setting Iskandar.
Your cover is going to be your biggest single opportunity to create your brand.
Look at how simple these covers are, and yet how recognizable.
You can also see a bit of evolution going on here. The Book of Wonderous Magic doesn’t have the corner graphics and a different 5E branding. Then we get the two corners detailed, then the 5e branding changes, and the newest title has three out of four corners detailed and a different border between the top and bottom panels and the feature art.
This shows how you do not have to have everything nailed down right from the start. You can evolve as you go. As long as the steps are small, everything will still appear coherent.
I suggest that you look at the most successful of your competitors and do your best to emulate what they are doing right.
Try cherry-picking great stuff from several successful publishers and then try and make something coherent from it.
Picking a category and trying to dominate it will help you build your brand. Making your titles easy to spot, and connect, will make that job even easier to do.