About this time a year ago, Yoon-Suin was released. I thought it might be fun to do a sort of summary of what's gone on.
When I was in the later editing stages for the book, I came across this post by Epidiah Ravachol, breaking down his first year of producing his Worlds Without Master magazine. This seemed to be following the trend set by Vincent Baker and others among the story gamers towards being transparent about their sales.
I found that post by Epidiah very useful and interesting, as somebody working on a game of my own, so I thought I'd share a brief overview of sales so far and some of the lessons learned.
I sell Yoon-Suin through three outlets: OBS (drive thru RPG/RPG now), Payhip, and Lulu (for POD). Sales as of 31st Jan 2016 were as follows:
Lulu (print edition): 620 units
OBS: 369 units
Payhip: 153 units
I've sold a handful more since then. Initially the big surge was through Payhip. Now I hardly get any sales from them. I would say now, a year on, in the "long tail" for Yoon-Suin, 80% of sales are from Lulu, 19% are through OBS, and 1% are through Payhip.
What have I learned?
1) Print does better than PDF. I was initially surprised by this. I was expected about 2/3 of sales to be in PDF when in fact print outperforms digital, and seems to increase its dominance over time. But the more I think about it, the more it makes sense: print is generally better than PDF - more useful and readable - and people recognise that.
2) Payhip is objectively better in many dimensions than OBS. You get the money straight away (its all automatic - sell a PDF, the money is in your Paypal account within seconds), they take care of VAT, and they take a tiny sliver for themselves (5%). There should be no competition. But...
3) OBS has a dominant position in the market among people buying RPG stuff, so you'd be a fool not to use them. I have never ever used a single link to the OBS page for Yoon-Suin, but I've still sold more than twice as many units that way as I have through Payhip. People just seem to prefer to buy through OBS. I hope the situation changes, but for the time being, you're better off making your stuff available through them to attract browsers and take advantage of the trust people have in it.
4) By the same token, though, since Payhip and other options are a bit more profitable, you'd be a fool to use OBS exclusively. Take the slight hit (65% share rather than 70%) as the cost of having the option to publish elsewhere.
5) Creating it was bloody hard work but worth it.