2018 DM’s Guild Sales Review

With the end of the year fast approaching I thought it would be a perfect time to reflect on what I published on the DM’s Guild this year. 

At the start of 2018, I set a goal to publish a series of 5e D&D encounters on the DM’s Guild. I’m happy to say that I somehow managed to keep to my schedule and get a three-part side-trek encounter series finished. In June I wrote a short post on my sales at that time (A Fey’s Anger Sales Report). Here’s an update of where they are along with the release date for each publication:

  • A Fey’s Anger (Mar 23/18) Downloads:95, Paid:39, Net Commissions: $18.13
  • A Fey’s Evil (May 31/18) Downloads:63, Paid:26, Net Commissions: $11.13
  • A Fey’s Lair (Sept 23/18) Downloads:32, Paid:32, Net Commissions: $16.71

TOTAL TO DATE – Downloads:190, Paid: 97, Net Commissions: $45.97.

Initial Pricing

A Fey’s Anger, A Fey’s Evil and A Fey’s Lair were each initially released with a fixed price of $1. It took some time for me to decide on this price. Each of my publications covered only one or two encounters, which was smaller than a typical Adventurer’s League offering, so I felt my publications should be at the lower end of the market.

However, I consciously wanted to provide extra material in my writing that could be useful for DM’s who were crafting their own home campaigns. To that end, I included extra content beyond the encounter itself – NPC backstories, new magic items, new monster stat blocks – which expand the page count to twenty pages, which is larger than one might expect for a typical DM’s Guild publication that covered only an encounter.

Note that if I were to rewrite these offerings now, I’d make a few structural changes and edit some of the content down. However, I do believe the extra content I added provides good value for purchasers of these productions. ((addendum, check out a review from Merric Blackman where he commented on the size of my first publication))

It appears that the DM’s Guild market values work at roughly $0.10/pg as suggested in a recent twitter post by R.P. Davis. This would translate into a $2 price for each my offerings. As they were my first publications and they each provide only one to two hrs of game play, I decided that an initial $1 price was appropriate.

Pay-What-You-Want

With the release of A Fey’s Lair, I changed the first two releases to be Pay-What-You-Want, with a suggested price of $0.50. I wanted to make it as easy as possible for purchasers of the new release to get the full story-line encompassed by my three sidetrek adventures.

Since making that change, the total downloads for these products increased significantly, averaging 2 or 3 downloads a week. Paid downloads averaged around 1 for every 4 or 5 downloads.  The actual paid sale rate hasn’t changed much since the change as I’m averaging between 0.5 to 0.8 paid purchase per week. Note however with my small purchase volumes, a small blip in sales can dramatically shift those numbers.

Increased Prices

At the end of November I decided to adjust the suggested PWYW price for A Fey’s Evil up to $1.00 and set a new higher fixed price of $1.25 for A Fey’s Lair. I kept a Fey’s Anger at a suggested price of $0.50 as its a smaller product, covering a single encounter, compared to two encounters in the later publications.

I agree with a number of recent posts I’ve seen suggesting that items are generally under priced on the DM’s Guild. DungeonCommandr recently posted a great twitter thread on this very subject. 

Affect of DM’s Guild Sales

My products have been available during at least two DM’s guild sales. During each of these, I didn’t see any significant affect on the number of purchases of my products. I’m not surprised by this because, 

  • None of my products have yet achieved a metal sales status. I’m still a relative unknown in the gaming community and without consistent marketing it’s difficult for buyers to be aware of my offerings
  • My products are already at the bottom end of the pricing curve. A discount of a few cents of the purchase price is unlikely to affect buying behavior. My assumption is that DM’s Guild sale events will have a greater impact on higher priced items and for authors with a greater following.

New Releases

By far the biggest impact on my sales numbers has been the release of a new product. Each publication I’ve released has resulted in a spike in sales for my other products. As new buyers become aware of my offerings, it’s not surprising that a few may want to see what other products I have available.

Collaborative Efforts

At the end of 2018 I was lucky to participate in a pair of collaborative efforts.

The first collaboration was with Jeff C. Stevens Villains & Lairs. I wrote a description of Kalzok the minotaur pirate for his initial release. Later, this was expanded to describe a full lair when Villains & Lairs reached the Electrum Sales milestone.

In early December my second collaboration, an article titled “The Influence of Droaam”, was included in Khyber Khronicle – Volume 4. This is a monthly magazine that started in 2018 where each issue includes Eberron content around some theme. Although the product is focuses on Eberron ideas, most of the content is easily translated to any campaign setting. My new new rogue archetype, The Thug, that is included with the Influence of Droaam article is a great example. 

Thug: Where many rogues focus on deception and guile, you are not one of them. You reinforce verbal threats with acts of violence. You excel at inciting fear in those who oppose you. You know the best way to strike with a club and mace, and you’ve discovered that the application of pain is an effective motivator when dealing with uncooperative individuals.

Future Plans

Looking back at 2018, I’m happy to see what I’ve accomplished. I achieved my goal of completing a side-trek encounter series and was ecstatic  collaborate with other creators on the DM’s Guild. 

Looking forward to next year, I’ve already committed to another pair of collaborative efforts. I’m going to be submitting a few articles for upcoming editions of the Khyber Khronicle, and I hope to again participate in an upcoming Jeff Stevens compilation.

I have started sketching the outlines of a few short adventures I plan to complete during the year. I’m particularly interested the possibility of creating a larger adventure as a collaboration with a few DM’s Guild authors in the coming year. Crossing-my-fingers I’ll be able to make it happen!


Further Readings

If you’re interested in reading a bit more on DM’s guild sales and pricing, check out the posts by the following:


Art

The classic image by Terry Dykstra from 2E’s Monster Mythology of a lich contemplating arcane writings,  seemed a great fit for looking back on my publications for 2018.

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Kalzok’s Lair

This week brought me a great sense of relief and satisfaction seeing my most recent effort make it onto the DM’s Guild. I’m pleased to share that “Kalzok’s Lair” was included as a bonus release for Jeff C Steven’s Villains and Lair’s production as a reward for reaching the Electrum sales level (> 260 units). It’s a wonderful production filled with over fifty unique NPC’s complete with backstory and game statistics to easily plunk into home D&D games. Thirteen of these NPC’s also include a detailed lairs to adventure in. I highly recommend it, and not just because I’ve got something within. It really is a well done product that is useful for DM’s creating adventures at home.

For this effort, Jeff forwarded me an image and asked me to create a backstory and motives for the villain. In this case the image was a great portrait of a minotaur by Dean Spencer. Dean offers a great selection of sci-fi and fantasy themed stock art at very affordable rates. I’d highly recommend checking out his offerings on Drive Thru RPG and his patreon site if you are interested in including professional quality images in your works.  I’ve recent signed up as a patron and hope to use his work in future DM’s Guild publications I’ve got planned for next year. 

It turns out I really enjoyed the exercise of crafting the villain and was even more appreciative of getting a chance to create a lair for this creature. It was a good challenge for me to tighten my writing so that it was more in line with current D&D adventure styles. Writing succinctly with just the right amount of detail that DM needs to run an adventure is not easy and still something that I need to work at. I think my contribution to Villains and Liars may be an indication that I’m making some progress int that direction.

And of course there was maps! I had fun drafting a secret lair for my minotaur pirate, and given my tenancy to write more than intended, I also created an outline of the island where Kalzok’s lair is found. This of course required me to draw the island as well. In the end, I suspect my finished lair write up was probably longer than Jeff was expecting. However, Jeff was very gracious and accepted my effort pretty much as written. I hope a few gamers out there will be able to make use of my work and I look forward to the chance to collaborate on other publications in the future.

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The Influence of Droaam

November was a productive month for me as I finished a pair of writing assignments for the DM’s Guild. It was an interesting challenge because the articles were for inclusion in other people’s production rather than a my own.  It proved to be a great way to enforce some discipline on me to follow a regular writing schedule to meet their deadlines. This isn’t always easy when you have a full-time job and a busy home life. I’m happy to say I stayed pretty close to my schedule. It also helped that I have a hugely supportive family who gave me the space I needed to get things done. 

The first publication I busied myself with was titled “The Influence of Droaam”. It appears in The Khyber Khronicles Volume 4 – a new monthly publication exploring the Eberron Campaign setting. The monthly magazine is a collaborative effort of three small companies: The Mount Ogden Gaming Company, Under the Wing Gaming, and Raven+Moon Co.  

In addition to the challenge of keeping to a regular writing schedule, I also was intrigued by the need to stay true to the source material I was writing for. Eberron is a D&D campaign setting released in 2004. It describes an engaging world full of pulp-fiction style adventure and where magic is omni-present powering all sorts of fantastical technologies such as lightning railroads and airships powered by captive elementals. For this issue articles were to be associated with Long Shadows, three days during Eberron’s year when dark magic reigns supreme. Wizards of the Coast just released the Wayfinder’s Guild to Eberron, a 5th Edition update bringing the campaign setting to a new generation of gamers.

Although I’ve played D&D for years, Eberron wasn’t a setting that I was very familiar with. I spent a good deal of time reading about the different nations and the layers of conflict that have been nicely integrated into the setting’s narrative. In writing my article I wanted to honor the great background material, offering up a few new wrinkles but in such a way that wouldn’t clash with any of the established lore.

For the most part I think I succeeded. Although I would have loved to have more time and create a few more drafts, I’m happy with the result. The piece provides a brief overview on the Daughter’s of Sora Kell – three powerful hags who have created the nation of Droaam. I followed this with adventure ideas associated with each of the hags. Next I wrote a few words on how Droaam might try to affect each of the five main nations on the continent of Khorvaire including a sample NPC who could be used to drive stories in each setting.

I finished the article with a a pair of new character build options. I described the Droaam Prophecy Bearer, a background describing characters who delivered prophecies forseen by Sora Teraza to people across the continent. I also included a new rogue archetype – the Thug – which is for rogues who focus on verbal threats and acts of violence. I’m actually quite pleased with how the Thug turned out and would love to play one in an ongoing campaign one day.

I’m quite pleased with the experience of writing for the Khyber Khronicle. I hope this magazine gains enough traction with the DM’s Guild audience as I already have a number of ideas stewing for future editions in the coming year.  

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Old campaign introduction

“Astronomer by Candlelight” by Gerrit Dou, circa 1650

While looking through some old notes, I came across a brief introduction I wrote for a new D&D campaign I was going to run for my home group in a home brew world I was crafting. This was back when 3rd Edition first came out. I’m amazed I still had this saved in my files. This intro was the start of a thirteen year campaign that transitioned from 3rd to 4th edition, and only ended with the release of 5th edition at the end of 2014. 

The intro was written from the point of view of Faerrin, an NPC, who would journey with the party at the start of their adventure. He was there as part of the hook that kick started the events and was intended as a way that I could share lore and information about the world as they explored.

At the time, I had grandiose ideas that I’d be disciplined enough to write a narrative of their adventures, and I intended to keep copious footnotes to explain concepts as they were introduced. 

Sadly I didn’t get very far with my narrative, and can only wonder at the massive library of lore I might have had if I’d kept this up. However, reading this does bring a smile to my face so many years later. This was the start of many wonderful stories my gaming group shared together over the years. 


Faerrin awoke from a restless sleep – he had been dreaming again.  The room was dark, as dawn still lay hours away.  A rough cloth hung over an open window and lazily swung back and forth by the barest hint of an evening breeze.  He could hear the constant breathing of his companions nearby.  At least they slept well.

They had arrived in Applehaven[i] two nights ago, being greeted by excited locals eager for the start of the Harvest Festival.  They were here to play the part of Sturgráin and his company – to capture a local maiden, escort her to Furdin’s Keep and then return her to the village with a King’s pardon[ii].  This ceremonial re-enactment of the early days of the village was always a popular part of the late summer festival as it ended with the arrival of a wagon full of dwarven ale. 

Faerrin’s induction into Moradin’s service this year had won him the honor playing the role of the dwarven hero.  Riding back to Furdin’s Keep[iii] with a young halfling and returning with a load of ale didn’t sound all that bad, yet somehow he felt uneasy.  In the bright of day, he would rub his newly bare scalp and wonder if he could live up to the expectations being one of Moradin’s Hammers[iv].  At night when he had his dreams, these doubts were pushed aside and replaced by the fear of what he knew was to come.


[i] Applehaven : Applehaven is a small halfling village located at the base of the Shield Mountains beside Cold Lake.  The village has sworn fealty to the dwarven lord of Furdin’s Keep.

[ii] Re-enactment: This re-enacted the early days of the village, when the overzealous warrior Sturgráin confronted the newly arrived halfling tribe for camping on Dwarven lands.  Sturgráin refused to hear the halfings’ explanations and instead took Oxalis, the daughter of Hollarmac , leader of the halflings hostage and brought her before the Dwarven King.  There he learned that the King’s son, Prince Fráin, had been saved from an orcish attack by the halfling tribe.  As thanks, Prince Fráin had granted the Hollarmac and his tribe the lands in the valley, provided they acknowledged his father, King Furdin as their liege.  Upon learning this, Sturgráin apologized to his King and humbly returned to Oxalis to Applehaven.  To make amends for his mistake, Sturgráin presented the halflings with 10 casks of dwarven ale and his services for a year.  Sturgráin tower located at the south end of town is named after him.

[iii] Furdin’s Keep:Furdin’s Keep refers to one of the few remaining dwarven strongholds found in the Shield Mountains. It was constructed by King Furdin I approximately 150 years ago.  It is currently held by King Furdin II.

[iv] Moradin’s Hammers:Traveling clerics of Moradin are known as Moradin’s Hammers.  They are entrusted with protecting the dwarven cause through honor, duty and vigilance.

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Draft Map

I’m working on a short adventure for a possible inclusion in an upcoming DM’s Guild compilation by the prolific Jeff Stevens. He’s managed to create a nice collection of D&D adventure products. I highly recommend you take a look. Here’s a link to his adventures.

And here’s a sneak peek at a map that I’m creating for it.

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A Fey’s Lair – Finished!

I’m pretty happy that I stuck to my schedule and published the last piece of my D&D side-trek adventure series on the timelines I’d set for myself. In truth, I missed the “end of summer” by one day, but I’ll put the blame on that to my wonderful friends and family who proof-read the production. Feedback is a two-edged sword, it makes your product better but you end up revisiting pieces of your work that you thought were finished. A Fey’s Lair is now available for purchase on the DM’s Guild.

Overall, I’m quite happy with the experience to date. Late last year I set myself a goal to publish a D&D adventure module on the DM’s Guild. Early on I realized that the realities of work and family life would limit my ability to deliver the product I’d initially envisioned, and so I decided to chop my idea into three pieces. The smaller scope helped me stay on focus and things published more quickly.

One of the hardest pieces of creating these products was changing how I write for it. Although D&D adventures share some similarities with story writing, they are not stories. I needed to scale back my exposition and focus on what a dungeon master was looking for. I still believe I need to improve in this area, but I think I’ve made significant progress, particularly if you compare my first production A Fey’s Anger to the new publication A Fey’s Lair.

So what’s next? 

I’m super excited to have been invited by Jeff C.Stevens to submit an adventure for a compilation he’s putting together. I consider Jeff to be a successful publisher on the DM’s Guild and so I’m honored to receive the invite. I also have a couple small submissions being considered for community publications – one on magic items and one on villains. Crossing my fingers, something may come of this as well.

Beyond that, I’m not sure what I have planned. I do know however I’ve enjoyed catching the writing bug and look forward to crafting my next adventure!

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Horrific Necklace – Cegilune’s Lament

What better magic item to give to a powerful hag than the shrunken head of a rival, hung from her neck like a pendant?

Introducing Cegilune’s Lament, a legendary magic item that Dread Polly Mudmouth possesses. She’s the main villain behind my next D&D adventure F3 – A Fey’s Lair due to be published on the DM’s Guild this coming weekend.

This adventure is the last of a three part series. F1 – A Fey’s Anger, and F2 – A Fey’s Evil are already available there for purchase.

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