The Realities of Self-Publishing

Self-publishing your own homebrew material is a tradition about as old as the hobby is, and thanks to the combination of DriveThruRPG’s platform, the proliferation of games issuing Open Gaming Licence-style agreements to let people produce and sell material using their system, and the DM Guild-inspired fad for publishers to create curated areas on DriveThru where people can use even more of their IP in return for giving the publisher a cut of their take, it’s never been easier to produce something cool for your favourite game and sell it yourself.

One of the features that the DriveThru platform offers is to set the price of your product as “pay what you want”, so people can get your product absolutely free if they want or give you a tip if they want to help out. Some may wonder whether this actually raises a decent amount of money or not, but few are in a position to look at overall trends across the platform to make a call on that.

Fortunately, Chaosium are in just such a position since they are in the loop on how much all the products in their Miskatonic Repository sell. (The Miskatonic Repository is their “sell your stuff through this storefront and give us a cut and we’ll let you associate our trademark with it” setup.) Their blog post on this subject is worth a read for anyone considering the “pay what you want” route, but the summary is this: most people don’t want to pay anything at all, so if you actually want to get money for your products, charge an actual price for them. Even if you just charge 99 cents – which for most interested customers will be below their mental “might as well be free” threshold – you get more than if you go full PWWW.

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