This post compares this year and last. I’ll look at my 2011 predicitions as I go through the figures. Another post will look at a few sales numbers.
The first thing to say is that this has been a great year for Pelgrane. Our turnover more than doubled, and it’s twice the turnover of the previous best year (2008) Pelgrane can support one employee with a little to spare. Our margins are still quite slim, though. I’d like to pay our freelancers more, but that will only be possible if our per-title margins increase – ideally by selling more copies of each book.
General reasons for increased sales:
- First, and straightforwardly, we released twice as many products – nineteen in all.
- The wide acceptance of GUMSHOE, in particular Trail of Cthulhu, and the resultant player network.
- Our much-improved and content-rich website, with regular updates and social media interaction
- Finally, a plethora of excellent reviews and a modest haul of awards.
- Beth. She is now working full time for Pelgrane and most of this increase is down to her work.
I predicted that distributor sales would increase by 50%. They pretty much exactly doubled. It’s not too hard to see why – in 2010, our big sellers through distribution were Armitage Files and Skulduggery – the only two products we released. By the end of 2011, new release Bookhounds, The Occult Guide, Ashen Stars all outsold the 2010 new releases. But existing games continued to sell well – Trail sales through distribution increased by 20%, as did Esoterrorists, Fear Itself and Mutant City Blues remained about the same. So, I was wrong in a a good way.
I predicted our mail order sales will continue at this higher level, but be lower as a percentage. Wrong and wrong! Our mail order sales more than tripled. It’s better to be wrong optimistic than wrong pessismistic though. So why did this happen?
- A much higher proportion of our sales were pre-orders at full retail price. For Ashen Stars and Bookhounds, we need to sell significant quantities at full price to pay for the offset print run and bring you casebound books.
- Limited editions, in particular the Bookhounds limited edition, sold through and brought in a lot of revenue, although the margins are pretty tight. Bookhounds limited edition in particular was a labour of love.
- we really tightened up and improved our mail order operation in the UK and Europe, and in December in the US and Canada, too. This lead to more repeat sales.
- we released a Page XX nearly every month, with a new release.
I predicted OBS (rpgnow.com and dtrpg.com) will remain unchanged. It increased by about 60%, partly for the general factors mentioned above, partly because we spent our publisher promotion points, and various site-wide promotions including Lovecraft’s birthday.
I predicted no change for IPR. Sales declined a little, but they improved in the last quarter despite the site being hacked and rebuilt from scratch.
Conventions sales tripled, with the usual low margin. So, we had an excellent GenCon, but the margin was eaten up by additional staff costs – but that was well worth while as it enabled Beth to meet the Pelgrane crew of freelancers, customers and friends (there being some overlap).
I predicted we’d make a modest stipend from non-PDF ebooks. We’ve failed to get any such books released in 2011. I’ll get it done for the new edition of Esoterrorists.