Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Path to Hobbylancing Contentment

I was just looking for the current rank of Temporality on RPGNow's charts by company and product type and it doesn't even come up in the top 20 anymore. It's frustrating that a product which has been reviewed so favorably isn't racking up more sales. I'm experiencing similar dissatisfaction with the sales of Behind the Spells and other pdfs I've written. Am I to assume that consumers aren't interested in my work and just shuffle off to another kind of writing market? Well, duh, of course not. So, just what is the problem then? Several answers present themselves.

Name Recognition--I'm no Monte Cook or Steve Kenson but I'd like to think that people in the online community have heard of Bret Boyd. And that's all I'm aiming for, mind you, the online community. I'd be deluding myself if I thought that casual gamers who never venture off the WotC boards were my target audience. Over the six odd years I've been doing this I've written (as a contributor and solo) a lot of products. Hard to say though if I'm making penetration into d20 stardom. Since folks usually support authors they like, I can only infer that I'm below the radar since no products of mine have been universally panned. Although I wonder what penning an abysmally awful product would do for my notoriety.

Marketing--When a product of mine is available, I give it all the pimping I can without (hopefully) being a nuisance about it. Press releases are posted to Gaming Report, ENWorld, and RPG.net. If a message board thread surfaces that is directly related to my product, then I pimp it once there as well. If web surfers even casually follow the gaming news, then they at least see my PR for a brief moment.

Topic--Even I'll admit that my pdfs aren't exactly mainstream works. Temporality and Dread Codex are extremely limited in scope (and the latter is useful just to DMs). But the bulk of my Ronin Arts work is player-friendly and should, at their low cost, sell like hot cakes. I've often thought that my short pdfs do tend to be on the Tim Burton-esque wierd side of the gaming table. Is that a strength in itself? Guess not given slumping sales. Perhaps it's just a glut in the fantasy genre too. I mean, given all of the other support for d20 fantasy out there, why would someone even look for more material they may never use in a weekly or monthly game?

Are there any definitive paths to hobbylancing riches for someone like me? Nope. And therein lies the conclusion to all of this--at least for me. Balancing what one expects with what one gets. Sure, I'd like to sell a gajillion bucks worth of product and only write whenever I feel like it but these two things are incompatible. At this point, I want to expend a smallish amount of effort and see where that leads me. It seems that my returns are exactly what I should expect for my efforts then.

Every other hobbylancer must look at his own situation the same way when he's feeling like this. Got bad sales? Well, if you're not trying to feed yourself (much less a family), then consider your work an exercise. For as surely as your body needs to flex its muscles, so too does your mind. In a way, hobbylancers have it better than our big name counterparts. Our work comes from deep in the creative soul, where it has come to a boil on its own time. The result is a more engaging product as opposed to the "forced creativity" of 9 to 5'ers. And, perhaps, over time, our products will be recognized for their inner shine and we will be given appropriate validation--the true wealth of a hobbylancer.

7 Comments:

Blogger Grimbones said...

Bret,

These are good questions, and ones that I pose to myself. But I'm worried about the original premise --- just because your works have dropped of the top 20 doesn't mean that they aren't selling. Maybe you have other information that counters this, but if the top 20 list is the only gauge, then I wouldn't worry.

//H

1:01 PM  
Blogger Bret said...

Quite right, Harley. But I neglected to throw out my steady decline in sales numbers as well. Heck, I'd take good word of mouth over cash but I don't even see that going on. I'll just have to muscle my way in to higher profile projects. ;)

3:12 PM  
Blogger Grimbones said...

Maybe a collection? The Best Of Bret Boyd? :)

//H

7:31 PM  
Blogger Bret said...

That's closer than you think, sort of, with the Behind the Spells collection.

10:01 PM  
Anonymous Brad said...

I think "Bret Boyd Presents Bret Boyd's The Best of Bret Boyd" has a nice ring to it.

9:03 AM  
Anonymous DQG_Neal said...

If you write it, people will come...


although they made be weirdos from the past wanting to play a game of D&D, instead of baseball... but what the hey.

I know it is great to hear things from the players themselves, but we publishers are quite happy to have your work, so at least consider that favorability.

11:43 AM  
Blogger Bret said...

That's true, Neal. Publisher appreciation is nothing to sneeze at. ;)

11:48 AM  

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