Infinity Loop: Cost of One Product

It was interesting this week when I had a conversation with a friend of mine about the cost of publishing. As I’ve said time after time, I’m not in this for the money. It’s about the fun, the creative outlet, and giving back to the hobby that has given me so much over the last three decades… That said, it’s been a fascinating journey so far behind the curtain of being a small publisher.

Anonymous_Spreadsheet-dollarAnd if you are not curious in the slightest about what it looks like behind the scenes… I appreciate you getting this far, but you’ll probably be bored stiff for a bit. 🙂

I wondered at the cost to produce one little book – the newly released One Spot #3: Dolothar’s Shrine. At only 5 pages it’s about the average side of Moebius product these days.

Costs included:

  • Writing: $41 (4,000 words)
  • Art: $67 (three pieces from two different artists, plus a piece or two from a stock art collection)
  • Editing: $15 (I think this was actually for two separate products, but I’ll lump it together here)
  • My Time: 15 hours (approximate number between writing, editing, layout, coordination, and so on)

I never include my time, which I figure is my own to give to the endeavor. And it was well worth it to collaborate with George Fields on this one. Reminded me of the good old days with my original writing partner Sean Bindel, and that’s priceless. 🙂

So that’s a total of $123 without my time.

The full price of the book is $2.95. With the store’s cut, I end up with about $2 of each sale. That means 61.5 copies have to be sold to break even.

To give you a comparison, I’ll look at a different book with a slightly different set of costs – Insta-NPCs #3: Scum and Villainy, Inc.:

  • Writing: All me (nearly 2,600 words)
  • Art: $12 (Creative commons, public domain, and more stock art)
  • Editing: All me
  • My Time: 6 hours (approximately)

That’s a total of $12.

The Insta-NPCs series sells for $1.00 each. With the store’s cut I get about $0.70 or so of each sale. That’s about 17 copies before it breaks even. And as of the writing of this post, I’ve sold 18. With fewer costs, products like this break even much more quickly.

So though I may never break even on some of my larger products, the smaller products seem to be doing pretty well – especially the Insta-NPCs and Little Spaces products, which are just $1.00. Those smaller products break even more quickly than the big ones and help balance things out numbers-wise.

The only other big expense I have is for Adobe InDesign, which I do monthly for about $20. Everything else is mostly art and time, and I’m trying to use stock art more often – though I really like having custom one-of-a-kind art in my products wherever possible. So there’s a give and take.

Probably more than you ever wanted to know about my small publisher self. But I’ve sworn to do as much as I can transparency wise because it’s all a big learning process for me – and anything I can share that saves someone else some pain and suffering (or offers hope!), I want to do so.

Now 18 months into the rebirth of Moebius Adventures, I’m quite pleased with how we’re doing. Being able to pay a freelancer (George) for writing, a professional editor (Jim White), and artists Jason Banditt Adams and Bill Pfaff (and now Enmanuel Martinez, who has been working on some great art for the next One Spot or whatever form it takes) is huge for me.

And I’m proud to say that we’re breaking even on in 2014 so far. That’s all I’ve ever really wanted. I’m having fun producing products I want to use myself. Honestly that’s an amazing state of affairs and I thank everyone who has purchased a Moebius Adventures product or contributed to one. I’m honored by the fact that you’ve decided to join me on this quest.

So I give you a heartfelt thanks and hope that you’ll continue to enjoy the journey as far as it takes us!

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