Over in his Ronnies thread, Ron posted about mutualism and the Ronnie Awards It’s led me to some thinking about “the other side” of the Forge model.
The standard Forge model, such as I understood it, is: Design the game that you would want to play. Produce it on the cheap. Sell it direct.
All supply-side stuff. I missed the demand-side of the model: Engage in “mutualism” to generate goodwill and interest in your products.
Okay, I try to be mutualistic as I can manage. I try to be a conscientious Forge citizen. I organize the Indie RPG Explosions at Dreamation & at GenCon. I gladly pitch other people’s games at GenCon. I carry other people’s stock to the con for them. I run other people’s games at cons and post about them. So, with the power of “mutualism” on my side, With Great Power… should be one of IPR’s top sellers, right?
Wrong. Sales are lukewarm, bouyed by an unexpected Christmas rush for everybody’s stuff.
This isn’t meant to be whining, it’s meant to be “obviously I’m doing something wrong. How should I change?” Kinda like Clinton’s insights on sales back in November.
Looking at what other people are doing, and factoring in my own (mis)perceptions of who’s more successful than others, I’m looking for trends.
Who’s publicly happy with their sales? Ron, Luke, Vincent, Matt Wilson, Ben, Tony, and Paul in 2003/2004.
What do they do? Well, they post A LOT. This only makes sense. Selling over the Internet means cultivating an Internet presence. They’ve got heavily-trafficked blogs or active forums devoted to their games.
Who’s publicly unhappy with their sales? Clinton, Matt Snyder, Paul in 2005.
What do they do? Clinton runs the Forge, helps people with websites, upgrades and tweaks the software that makes the website work, creates tools like FindPlay for people to use. Matt Snyder lays out lots of peoples’ games, and published Daedelus.
What’s the difference? The things that Matt Snyder, Clinton, & I do are easy to take for granted, easy to overlook or, at least, easy to fail to attribute to a certain individual (e.g., I doubt many people come to the Forge and say “This is such a cool website! I wonder who designed it?”).
The stuff that the first group does is more public, exposes more of their personality, and promotes a recognition of their unique identity and worldview on other people.
About Paul Czege, it seemed to me that his posting fell off in 2005, and so did his sales (at least at GenCon). Maybe there’s a connection.
So, maybe, if I want better sales, I’ve got to post more. I’ve got to SAY more stuff to more people. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
Does that mean I should pull back on the other ways I’ve been pitching in? Maybe. The Indie RPG Explosions are a hell of a lot of work for little in return. I’ve only got so many hours in the day, and I’ve already been reprimanded at work for my online time.
Okay, now it’s getting into whining. End of post.