Pelgrane Biz Part 1 – Predictions

I’ve looked over my business-related posts on my livejournal, and scoured them for predictions, to see where I have been optimistic and pessimistic.

30th Jan 2008

I said “I”m just nostalgically hoping for an enormous 5000-book hit with ToC.”

In this post, I was justifying the fact we  sell through distribution, primiarily that it enabled me to afford litho print runs of some books. At this stage, Esoterrorists had sold 1000 copies, and I had decided to print 2000-off of Trail of Cthulhu. Not exactly a prediction, but there we go. In seriousness I would have been happy to sell through the first print run. My total sales to date excluding PDFs and foreign issues of Trail are about 3750. I am very happy with that. PDFs bring this close to 5000. I started this chart and added a trendline when this post was made and I see no reason to change it, though recent data (and optimism) makes me hope it’s become linear. Note this is distributor sales only.

Trail trend

9th Jan 2009

I said “I suspect that the success of Trail was a one-off, but that 2009 will still be better than 2007, with the release of new Trail supplements by Robin and Ken, Mutant City Blues and other yet-to-be announced projects.”

In fact, I was slightly pessimistic here in terms of sales – 2009 was about the same as 2008. Sales have fallen back in 2010; Trail really was a one-off, though the totals of our non-Trail products still outperform the later Dying Earth years. I suspect 2010 will continue to be good but lower than 2008-9.

27th Jan 2009

I predicted that I would run out of stock of Trail in early 2011 – I still think that’s accurate.

I also said:

…our early adventures sell consistently between 30 and 35% of the total core book sales across all lines. Our later material (and I only have Dying Earth to go on) sell significantly less. I have reason to believe that Trail and Eso supplement percentages will hold up better than Dying Earth, and I think the Esoterror Fact Book will be the proof of the pudding. It could be that the percentage just naturally falls off with the age of the core book, though, and there’s nothing I can do about it. The super-sweet spot is to have sold enough of the core book that you can litho print your supplements. I’ve nearly reached it with Trail. I had to do that with the Screen, but whether I’ll sell them all I don’t know. Shadows Over Filmland is a bit of a gamble as a duotone hard back, but it had to be that for aesthetic reasons. I just hope the sales warrant it.

The Esoterror Factbook has sold about 28% of the total Esoterrorist sales; Stunning Eldritch Tales is at 34% – it could have been litho printed. The Screen is at 25%, and nearly sold through.

The problem is with Shadows over Filmland – I printed it at the same time as Mutant City Blues, and got 1500 copies of each for the price of 1200. It’s only sold  20% of Trail, and is flattening off a little. Similarly, sales of Mutant City Blues have been little worse than I’d hoped. Both continue to sell steadily, but break even is a long way off.

Some of this is to do with the fact that the price per word in expense is fixed, but the price per word recovered tends to be lower for larger books. I certainly mis-priced Shadows at $34.95. Hint – it’s a bargain.

So, overall, I was slightly optimistic.

My latest offset-printed book is Armitage Files, which has a much steeper trajectory than any Trail supplement so far, but for which I only have 3 month’s data. I’ll need a couple more months to decide if I can risk further litho print runs for Trail.

16th September 2009

I said:

  • The continuing sales of Trail, and the total number of copies sold. mean the market for supplements is sufficient for me to do offset print runs.
  • I took a risk with Shadows Over Filmland, doing it hard cover, and I think it will take about three years to sell through the print run.

The first statement needs clarification in light of Shadows (if you’ll excuse the expression) – if I’m doing, perfect bound short-ish books, then it’s still true I can do offest. For other books, it’s going to be tough to decide. So, slightly optimistic.

Shadows over Filmland sales are flatter now than it was at that time, so it may take four years to break even. Mutant City Blues, another two years, I think. This shows the relative sales of GUMSHOE print releases (sans Trail)

No-Trail distributor sales

I love my offset-bound hardbacks, but it it is a hard-won love, except, of course for Trail.

But, I have a plan to keep up the printing quality for Ashen Stars, which I will reveal in part two…

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