Pelgrane Biz 2013

For some reason I didn’t do a biz post last year, so I’ll refer back to my 2011 round up and predictions for comparison.

It’s been another amazing year for Pelgrane. Our turnover has increased by 30% over 2012, even though that year featured the Hillfolk Kickstarter. This was from a high base in 2011, where turnover had more than doubled from 2010. I dug deep into the past for this overview:


A more recent breakdown of monthly sales.sales from 2010

General reasons for increased sales:

  1. 13th Age starred as the top-selling individual product. However, total sales increased, even excluding 13th Age from 2012 and 2013.
  2. Somehow, don’t ask me how, Cat Tobin managed to release 17 new products last year, and in particular ten of them at GenCon.
  3. The community has grown, and in particular Ash Law’s Organized Play for 13th Age has been extraordinary
  4. Our social media presence, enhanced by Wade Rockett, and marketing by Matt McElroy over and OBS have made a huge difference.

On the expense side:

  1. Our expenses were much higher because of staff costs (Ken, Cat and now Gareth). It’s wonderful that Pelgrane can employ three permanent staff. (I’m a part-timer – most of my time is spent with ProFantasy and The Noteboard.)
  2. Releasing so many books at GenCon was amazing, but mad. It wasn’t intentional – we had issues with the printer on some books, while others came whizzing through. The expense of all those casebound books released at once together with reprints has converted cash to books.
  3. The Hillfolk Kickstarter fulfilment was way, way more expensive than our estimates. So we spent a lot of that money funding various delivery companies. We have learnt from that. However, Hillfolk and the DramaSystem are gorgeous and game-changing.

Sales By Source

Apologies for the variable pie size. What kind of world would it be if all pies were the same size?

First gross sales – simply, the total sales  through each channel. OBS is /

sales gross

And with some guesswork, net margin after all costs.

sales net marginSo what’s the point in doing distribution? The answer goes to the core of what we do. We want as many people to play our games as possible, and we want our games to look at beautiful as we can afford. You see that 48% / 7% for net margin there? In terms of unit sales, it’s very different. For example, we’ve sold equal numbers through distribution and mail order. This enables us to print twice as many books, and get commensurate economies of scale. In the case of Ashen Stars and Night’s Black Agents, makes a full colour casebound book possible.

 Sales by Line

Here are all sales in units, by line for most lines. 13th Age doesn’t look so exciting but…

sales unit

…when you look at sales of just the core book, ever, it looks a little different. 13th Age has quickly moved into the “casebound supplements are worthwhile” category. The Bestiary, our first supplement is casebound full colour, a minor risk at the time of commissioning, but looking worthwhile now.

It’s unlikely we can give all supplements the full-colour treatment – not only are the much more expensive to print, but the layout and art are more than double the cost.

core books


Print versus PDF

Sales through OBS continue to do well, though PDFs remain steady against print as a percentage primarily because of the success of the 13th Age Escalation Edition. Ease-of-use fights with the attractiveness of these physical books. It’s clear that our policy of releasing PDFs after the print version is out continues to bear fruit.

pdf vs print net

PDF vs print gross

Also for the first time last year, we were involved with Pay What You Want through Allen Varney’s Bundle of Holding, and we are repeating this with the Dying Earth Bundle of Holding. Early indications suggest that these bundles don’t affect ongoing sales.

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