What I'm Backing on Kickstarter:

What I'm Backing on Kickstarter:
After Winter Dark Campaign Setting

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Economics of Hobby Publishing

I define a 'Hobby Publisher' is someone who publishes material more out of an interest of the material being developed an printed but isn't something that one can financially rely on.  In this case, I suppose the word 'hobby' could also refer to the nature of the material -- in other words, gaming material.

Money has begun to leave my pockets as Arcana Creations is beginning to get things published.  Thankfully, this is done in partnership with Brave Halfling Publishing which means the blow to the wallet is a bit lessened.  However, I have been doing a lot more number crunching lately and these sort of calculations could affect how other projects are approached in the future.  While I never had any illusions on the costs of producing material for RPGs, I can say that I do have an ever-growing respect for those Hobby Publishers that do.

Some of these seem to be more focused on using a POD (Print-On-Demand) service such as Lulu.  I can certainly see the appeal of using a POD -- especially if you are also the principal writer.  There is little to no worry about have printed stock just sitting around and little cash is really needed as an investment.  Really, someone with a computer and some software (which all could be open source) may only have to worry about the writing and the art.  If they are talented and do both, the only 'cost' it may come down to, is time.

The other route is truly doing it yourself.  Arcana Creations and BHP has been progressing along this route... Lamentations of the Flame Princess and Adventure Games Publishing are also going at it their own way.  Black Blade Publishing is doing official 1st edition conversions of Goodman Games' "Dungeon Crawl Classics" line and have recently announced that they are going to produce material from Mythmere Games.  This is a welcome change since print material had previously been exclusively available from Lulu and hopefully, this will become the growing trend for Hobby Publishing

When looking at the numbers, and contemplating this sort of publishing, I couldn't help but think back at the various posts that James Raggi (LotFP) and James Mishler (AGP) had written about the subject.  I especially recall a series of posts that ruffled a few feathers back in July.  You can read one of them HERE.  Now, I'm not going to say that I agree with everything Mishler talks about but the basics ARE there.  If I was solely interested in Arcana Creations as a money-making proposition, doing just a bit of research would have lead me to the conclusion that there are better opportunities elsewhere.  That said, I'm not looking to lose money either.  It needs to pay for itself to continue and there needs to be some growth to allow for larger and better projects.

Is it worth it?  Sure it is.  It is a tremendous amount of work and the key motivating factor to doing it is because you love to do it.  You need to love the material you are putting out and it tends to be the sort of material you would be interested in seeing.  When Jim Raggi released his Random Esoteric Creature Generator (1st 'uncensored' printing), I don't think it had as much to do with money as it did with the importance of the content he was trying to release.  It was cheaply produced and priced accordingly but I can't begin to tell you useful it's proven to be.  The material contained in the booklet is simply fantastic.

If you like the sort of material being released by various micro-presses and hobby publishers, please let them know or simply help spread the word.  Greater exposure is always nice -- especially when some are also contemplating at getting their books into distribution and stores. 

Of course, the best paid compliment would be to simply buy one of their books.


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