Q3 2010 sales figures for Engine Publishing

The first full quarter of Engine Publishing sales just ended (July-September 2010), and in the interest of helping out other small-press publishers and folks who are curious to see actual numbers — which aren’t always easy to find in the RPG industry — I’d like to share our sales stats.

Eureka preorders opened on 6/28/10, so the book’s been on the market for just over three months as of the end of Q3. I broke out stats for our preorder sales in their own post, if you’re interested.

Sales stats for Eureka

These stats are for Eureka, as that’s currently our only product. Going forward, they’ll include our other products as well.

Lifetime (through Q3 2010): 510

(When we crossed 500 sales, we also hit the third milestone I originally had in mind for Eureka. Next up: hit 1,000 sales.)

Q3 total: 458
Direct print + PDF bundle preorder: 76
Direct print + PDF bundle: 50
GenCon print: 50

Direct PDF: 92
DriveThruRPG and RPGNow! PDF: 189
Paizo PDF: 1

…and here are those numbers in pretty chart form (including our first three days of preorders from Q2, 6-28-6/30):

Some observations

Preorders are a good thing. We planned to break even for this project during the preorder period, and we did. Engine Publishing was able to pay back the design team for our initial funding of the project, pay back our investor, and become profitable as a company on the basis of Eureka preorders. Granted, that’s considering only money — it’s best not to think about the time involved at this stage. 😉

Direct sales are also a good thing. There’s a PITA factor in opening and running a webstore, warehousing books, and handling shipping, but it’s worth it. On the PDF side, it’s a no-brainer: Our e-commerce system handles everything except bookkeeping and the occasional customer service email. With the barrier to entry so low, I’d need a pretty compelling reason to ever stop offering our PDF products directly from our website.

DriveThruRPG is powerful. Even though the Eureka PDF wasn’t up on DTRPG until a few days after we started selling it direct, we sold over twice as many copies through DTRPG and RPGNow! (but mainly DTRPG) in the same time period. The big spike in PDF sales in the middle is due to a mention in the DTRPG newsletter, as well. Even considering their cut (35% for a non-exclusive agreement), being on the OneBookShelf sites is awesome for sales.

PDF sales outstripped print sales. The design team speculated that this would be the case, and at least for Q3 it was. Eureka is a “prep book,” not a “table book” — 95% of the time, you need it before you play, not during the game. This makes a strong argument for picking it up in PDF. As a group, we suspect that PDF will outsell print going forward, too.

International sales are important. Out of 126 direct sales (both bundle and PDF), 56 were to non-U.S.customers (44%). 22 of those were print + PDF sales, or 17% total. I don’t know if not all small-press publishers offer international shipping, or if there’s some other factor, but the decision to sell internationally was a good one.

There are lots of variables that will start to come into play over the next couple of quarters, too. For example, we shipped Paizo 28 books to sell on their website, and I’m curious to see how that goes. We don’t push Paizo for PDF sales, viewing it more as gravy (so the one sale there so far doesn’t worry me), and they seem to have a fewer tools to encourage discoverability than DTRPG. If we get mentioned in Paizo’s newsletter, though, that will rock.

Similarly, Eureka will be in stores in December 2010. It’s an evergreen product, not tied to editions or even to specific games, and I believe that’s a compelling value for retailers: There’s no reason not to keep restocking it if it sells. But we’re a brand-new company with one product, and I don’t know how that will play.

I do know that it’s fun to be able to put a full quarter of numbers behind this crazy project — 1,000 sales, here we come!

2 Responses to “Q3 2010 sales figures for Engine Publishing

  • One thing of note with paizo is that print products sell better than pdf products,

    But you need a newsletter notice or mention on the store blog.

  • I thought that might be the case — I don’t think of Paizo as a PDF destination.

    We have two cases of books headed their way, and they’re currently available for preorder. I’m hoping for a newsletter mention!