Thanks to everyone who stopped by our table at Further Confusion 2015! We had an over-whelming response, selling out of all of our stock! Our panels were also a great success, especially Aurelina and Agouti-Rex’s Found Footage Panel, so popular that it was standing-room only. Their eclectic retrospective included a unique look into the history of furry fandom, going all the way back to Confurence 1993, complete with commentary from people featured in the videos.
Look for us at Furry Fiesta in Dallas, coming up next month!
Okay, we’ve given you 100 hours to get used to writing “2015″ instead of “2014″. Now that you’re all set, use your check-writing skills to spend money at DriveThruRPG’s New Years Sale! Get deals on Ironclaw, Myriad Song, and other titles, from now until January 12. Click here to see the deals.
Further Confusion is one of the world’s largest anthropomorphic (or “furry”) conventions, which just celebrated its 15th year running! It is held in the San Jose Convention Center, San Jose Marriott, and San Jose Hilton. Many events and attractions, including the Dealers’ Room, Art Show, and Main Stage will be at the East end of the Convention Center and within the San Jose Marriott. The dates of the 2015 convention will be January 15th through 19th.
Sanguine Games’ table is #66, conveniently located near the emergency exit. (In the unlikely event of a water landing, any Sanguine merchandise that you purchase can be used as a flotation device.) Meet important anthrorati such as Aurelina, Norman Rafferty, and Mike Rosen. Ask them lots of questions about their work on Ironclaw’s Book of Adventures. Attend panels! Wander halls! Eat donuts! Tweet! And do so much more!
Hey there, fellow Sang-heads! Are you planning to tune in, turn on, and drop out of society? Gonna quit your job, buy a bus, and follow Sanguine Games on tour? Here’s our tentative convention schedule for 2015.
“13th Age” is a trademark of Pelgrane Press. “Dungeons & Dragons” is a registered trademarks of Wizards of the Coast, Inc.. “Mutants and Masterminds” is a trademark of Green Ronin Publishing. “Pathfinder” is a trademark of Paizo LLC. Most product names are trademarks owned or used under license by the companies that publish those products; use of such names without mention of trademark status should not be construed as a challenge to such status. The references to these trademarks is not an indication of endorsement from the owners, nor is it an indication of compatibility or co-adaptability with the trademarked products.
Sanguine Games will be at Anthroconin the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, PA, on July 3rd through the 6th. Look for us in the Dealer’s Hall, table F18! We’ll be working panels, game demos, and all other kinds of furry stuff, funny stuff, and so much more stuff.
Look for us at Furry Fiesta 2015 in Dallas, Texas! We’ll have books, panels, and all kinds of exciting stuff. More details to come, and thanks to the Dallas Regional Anthropomorphic Meeting Association for the honor!
Anything will sell – the questions are how much, for what price, and how fast. It’s perfectly fine to make a niche comic or game that will only sell to a dozen people if that meets your sales target. If you’re going to sell to 3,000 people, you have to make something 3,000 people are going to want to pay for. If you want to make $10,000, you have to sell a thousand at $10 each, or a hundred at $100, or ten at $1,000 each.
The Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 Rule, is that 80% of any traffic comes from 20% of the environment. When applied to sales, it means that 80% of your sales will come from 20% of the customer base.
A premium product is expensive and only for hard-core buyers – sell with high margins to the few who will buy it. Premiums are for that 20% that have disposable income and really want your product.
An economyproduct is cheap and markets to a broader crowd – sell with low margins and low production cost but to lots of folks. Economy is for that 80% who have a passing fancy, but they won’t want to spend a lot.
Where Your Product Comes From
Creating is making a product no one else is making and filling the niche. If the niche is small, go with premium pricing. If the niche is large, go with economy.
Licensing will get you a product identity people already know and identify with, and you’ll get lots of art and design to use. There will be expenses and riders, and all licensing agreements expire, leaving you with a product you can’t sell anymore. Licensing should almost always be economy product – you’re banking on lots of people knowing the brand and wanting a piece.
Imitating is like creating, only more mercenary – it’s following popular trends and making a product that synergizes. It can be cheaper than licensing and allows you to ditch any unwanted baggage. Plus your company will own the property. Imitating should almost always be economy product – you’re hoping lots of people who already like things like your thing will like your thing, too.
Updating is buying an older product and bringing it “to a new generation.” Re-releasing should usually be premium – you already have the last generation hooked, any sales on top of that will be gravy.
All talent contributing to the project should be contracted, and in writing. All contracts should include deadlines.
In-house talent are the members of your own company. You should file a business agreement with your state; each one varies. You really want a limited liability corporation (LLC) – this means that your company is only liable up to its own assets.
Anyone not a member of your LLC is a freelancer. Freelancers will need to be paid:
Flat fees treat the work as a single piece. These vary going with the talent of the artist, the materials needed, etc. Writers are usually paid by the word; artists are usually paid by the full-page (or portion thereof); your contract should state that this is work-for-hire and thus it all belongs to your company – but you can sweeten the deal by including a clause that after 10 years of disuse,copyright reverts to the author. (This means that if you go out of print or lose interest, the author gets it.). Artists are usually paid by the full-page; your contract should state that your company has unlimited non-exclusive reproduction rights; don’t expect to keep the originals unless you want to pay a lot more – instead, encourage the artist to promote the artwork separately and to sell it at art shows.
Royalties effectively lease the work for a fixed time period. Don’t consider a royalty period of less than 3 years; shoot for 5. (Royalties work great for licensed product, which is going to expire over time, anyway.) If you want to keep your accounting simple, offer a royalty based on manufacturer’s retail price, not on “wholesale cost” – otherwise, be prepared to keep track of what you sold direct and what you sold to middlemen.
Ask yourself, “How much am I going to charge for this product?” For economy products, it’s best to heed the Jackson rule: a multiple of 20 minus a nickel, or a multiple of 20 minus 5 dollars and a nickel – $14.95, $19.95, $34.95, and $39.95. For a premium product, go with big numbers like $59.95, $79.95, or $99.95.
Next question: “How many am I going to sell?” Logically, the more expensive it is, the less you will sell.
Once you set the final price, you can see a breakdown of how to budget for your product.
Your materials are the pieces of your game, the pages in your book, etc. This includes the printing costs. If you publish electronically, this piece drops to 0%.
Your retail mark-up is the profit the store makes by selling your product (if they ever sell it at all). If you sell direct to customers, this piece drops to 0%.
Your distributor costs are how much your warehouser and your distributor make off each copy. If you sell direct to customers, you will most likely have to take credit card sales, and this piece will actually rise to about 10%. If you sell electronically through a third party, this piece could rise to 20% or higher.
Your talent costs are how much you pay freelancers to work on your project (whether it’s royalties or fixed amount), as well as any fees for licensees. If you do everything in house, this piece drops to 0%.
For example, if you plan to sell 3,000 copies of a board game at $39.95 each, you’re looking at a gross budget of $119,850.
Talent (art, writing, etc.)
$39.95 × 3000 copies =
In this case, before you go to press, you’re going to have to pay the talent and the materials – so you’re going to have to put $22,771.50 … and then when all 3,000 have moved, you can expect to get $1,198.50 back. That 1% net gross is called the profit margin. When you hear business-people say “the margins are thin”, that’s what they’re talking about.
Remember that when you’re putting your product together, to exceed any of these percentages, something else has to give. If your materials and talent costs add up to more than 19% … you either have to take something out of another slice, or you’re going to lose money.
Electronic printing has the lowest material cost – effectively zero to make duplicates. However, consumers will also demand lower prices. Since you don’t want to skimp on talent, and since your materials were only 10% in the first place, this means lower retail mark-up and distributor costs.
Print-on-demand is expensive and works better for premium product. You won’t need to put as much money down – usually a fixed set-up fee, then a cost per unit. Many print-on-demand businesses will also distribute for you.
Mass printing will have lower margins, but you’ll also need warehousing for all your stock. There are brokers who will do this for you. If 10% of your product goes into the production cost, then the more you print, the cheaper your per-unit will be, but the more money you’ll have to lay out in the first place. Mass printers will want 50% of their costs up front, and then 50% before they even deliver.
Start a mailing list about your product. Get a web page and a domain. (Unless you have the talent or resources for full-time web design, put up something simple.) Get a blog and post updates.
Conventions are great for growing awareness. Go to conventions, and get a table or booth. Take out advertisements in convention programs. Have a freebie giveaway at your table, like candy or buttons or something. Conventions are fabulous for premium products. For economy ones, have a gimmick to make them buy then and there, like a 10% discount or some extra add-on. (If you sell at full price at the conventions, your customers will be too tempted to just go home and buy it later … if they remember.)
Advertising is expensive, but can be well worth it. Going by the model above, every $1 you spend on advertising needs to generate at least $1 in revenue – and your profit is only 20% of your product’s price. For example, If you spend $1,000 on a full page ad in a magazine, you should expect a sales spike of $5,000; if your product sells for $39.95 each, that means that 126 people who read the ad need to go buy it.
Games must be tested to destruction. Be prepared to throw each and every line of your first product away if you have to. Remember, if you’re going to sell a thousand copies, you’re making a game that has to be playable for a thousand people. Never make a game you wouldn’t play yourself.
Your projects should be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Aggressive, Reasonable, and Time-tabled. Don’t say, “I’m going to make a game and sell it!” Say something like, “I’m going to sell 3,000 copies of my role-playing game in two years, starting on June 1st!”
Deadlines are very important. Always give your freelancers precise deadlines. Be ready for the “whooshing” noise that deadlines make as they go by, but have them anyway. Remember – your project’s not behind schedule if there was no schedule in the first place.
Get a business card for a lawyer. You probably will never need to call one, but have a number ready in case you do. If someone threatens you with legal action, give them the contact info for this lawyer and thenstop talking to them or about them, forever.
Get your first product and the two supplements done before you even go to press. Release them in the summer, six weeks apart. If you get three books out over one summer, you will completely amaze the hobby industry.
Treat everybody right. Consider putting “kill fees” in your contact that say you will pay 10%, 25%, or 50% if your project stalls. If you rip someone off, the Internet will hear about it.
With production costs decreasing and direct-sales increasing, some people will tell you there’s too much stuff out there and the market is glutted. If you self-publish, make something no one else is making, or make something better that what everyone else is making. Take calculated risks.
Get the full version of Adobe Acrobat, and write everything to PDF. Use whatever programs you want for your layout, but put the finals of everything to PDF.
The race is long, and in the end, it is only with yourself. Look back two years, five years, ten years, twenty years, and take pride in what you’ve done.
To help us serve you better, Book of Foolsnow has implemented a “pay to win” system. While you are still welcome to level your characters up through experience, after 20 minutes of game-play, all experience-points are then on a one-megasecond cool-down timer. And after 40 minutes, all d12s are removed from the game. If you don’t want to wait the short time for the cool-down to refresh, you can use your persistent Internet connection to send us money. (Yes, another handy feature of the “pay to win” system is that we’re constantly aware of what you’re doing, where you are, and what’s stored in your device’s memory that you don’t think anyone else knows about. Don’t worry, this was all covered in that “I have read this” AUP dialog.) Send us enough money, and we’ll let you use d20s! Heck, we’ll let you use d22s, too. I’m sure someone out there has one of those. Pay us even more money and we will declare you the winner of the game!
One thing we really want to express—and it’s something that hasn’t really been touched on in a lot of the discussion about the game that we’ve seen—is that in Book of Fools, all content is accessible to paying and non-paying players. It’s just that paying players get all that content before 2020.
We’re always looking at new ways to gather player feedback so that we can improve our games. For example, we’re looking to improve the one-click rating system that, at present, only lets you rate Book of Fools at “six out of five stars”. While this system performs 20% better than a typical rating system, we have listened to your feedback. Some of you expressed concerns about a rare bug. Apparently, a confused user sometimes finds a way to rate the book at less than six stars. (At this time, our staff has been unable to reproduce this error.) If that happens, you are automatically signed up for a service that mailed you every 45 minutes to ask why. And then the service goes through your friends list and emails them to ask why. And the service makes your portable devices automatically turn on, just to ask you, again. Even when your device was in “airplane mode”. Our attorneys have advised us to say that there’s no scientific proof that cell phones actually crash airplanes, so you should totally be safe.
BOOK OF FOOLS – we didn’t make this for us. We made it for you, the players. And your money. You’re welcome.