Boutique Product means Boutique Pricing

At heart I'm fairly lazy, so instead of working on the second level I'm writing this pointless blog post.  I promise the blog won't descend into a pile of self-promotional balogna, I just need to get some focus back.  Probably this weekend.

So, I've done the math.  I've got a small blog with a tiny following - people may say they love content, but as the content turns towards gonzo post-apocalyptic megadungeons, that content-hungry audience gets smaller.  Doesn't help that the whole notion of publishing a module turned out to be a vast undertaking that sucked up all my spare time for the past few months, so my content posts have became sparser and sparser.

The reality is that what I'm about to sell is a niche product within a niche of a niche.  Let's outline the nested niches here:

a. It's old-school.  Very, very niche
b. It's a megadungeon.  Niche
c. It's gonzo with robots and guns and other things that make "high fantasy"-type DM's blanche.  Yet another niche

So what's my audience here?  Possibly just me.  Now, on the other hand, there are not-insignificant expenses.  Mainly, art.  That stuff costs money.  It would be both stupid and unfair to my family to blow money on a vanity publishing effort where I can't recoup the expenses.  I don't need to make more than I spent, but I do need to try to not lose money - I especially need it to break even so I can finance art for the next book.

So, what I've got is a very boutique product.  There's no mass market here.  So, it's got to get boutique pricing.  No way around it.  I'm guessing most other modules I see being sold very cheaply are very very low on art and other expenses, or I am totally misunderstanding the economics involved.  Well, that's not me - I dropped some cash here, and the audience is tiny.  The price necessarily has to be high.

Of course, high prices can shrink audiences even further - the plus side here is though we are all cheapskates, the majority of us have reached an age where a wee bit of disposable income is available.  So, once a purchase decision is made on the quality of an item, the price isn't going to affect things too much one way or another.

So, it looks like my price is going to be $17.57 for an 87-page book, consisting of a city & setting painted in broad strokes, first level (or first two levels depending on how you look at it) of the megadungeon, a boatload of new monsters (34 entries there), some new magic items, etc.


  1. a. Old School? not as limited an audience as I would suppose, and one that is also surprisingly committed
    b. Megadungeon? perfect for adaptation; DM can scrap half of it and still have a great adventure, with plenty of rooms to refill with their own madness!
    c. Gonzo? Guns? Robots? Maybe not for everyone, but after 20yrs of great fun w/high-fantasy, I am simply bored to death with going on quests for noble elven kings, saving Hobbit villages from orcs, and - sad to say - knocking dragons off piles of loot.
    I like Henchman Abuse BECAUSE its different, innovative, and I want my gaming to be FUN - gonzo or not! The art I've seen is superb, and the maps are fantastic. I'd rather pay $17 for something cool,original,slick and surprising than $8 for some thrown-together rehash! You sure picked an ambitious project as your starter... and I'm looking forward to it!

  2. Pat, I may not be bing into "gonzo" style play, but I still read your blog for the simple reasons that there are gems aplenty that suit my tastes burried among the gonzo. Plenty of folk like Gonzo. You just need to get the word out. Try commenting on other peoples posts more to get yourself back out there in peoples perceptions.

  3. I don't think you're relying on such a "niche" as you said. People loves megadungeons! I think Stonehell have been pretty much good seller, despite the fact it was all made of one page dungeons (i.e. niche in the niche and so on.)

    On the other hand, you can always count on the blogosphere! I have no doubt the Underdark Gazette and Grognardia will talk about that.

    And finally, if you want to reduce the expenses, offer the artist you hired to work on "selling percentage" instead of actual cash. Maybe you can offer him the 25% or more of each copy you sell, so you can lower down the price, reduce investment to 0$, and still be happy with that. You're not doing this to moneys, after all.

  4. The price does seem a bit high. Though not terrible. How much art are you playing to use--and how much are you planning to pay for it?

  5. @iamthebrick - Thank you for the encouragement. I do still think I'm niche-in-a-niche, the answer will become clear soon enough though

    @Dangerous Brian - I'm a lot more of a silent reader. I read most of the blogs out there, but I'm not much for commenting. A handicap, but I am who I am.

    @Il Male - Stonehell sold 300 copies over 2 years I think, and that's using a lot of standard "high fantasy" D&D in the early levels especially. I expect to be less by an order of magnitude. I also wouldn't offer anybody a percentage - I'd be writing $2 checks for years on end... too much of a pain. It's just plain easier to pay people outright.

    @Trey - It's all already paid for now. There are 19 pieces all told. I can't discuss the exact prices as that's not fair to the artists.

    Everything's done now, I'm just waiting for a copy back from Lulu to see if the cartography printed out well, and if so, it goes on sale immediately. If not, I tweak and try again...

  6. Where can I buy this thing? Give us a link.

  7. Soon! It's not ready yet, the map detail was too fuzzy in the proofs I got back from Lulu so I'm fixing those up. It'll be ready in a week or two.

  8. I feel a little claustrophobic now that I've been made aware of how many niches I'm jammed into. Seriously tho, this sounds like it's right up my alley. I do like my wizards to be mutants, and have laser pistols, after all.

  9. I am entirely comfortable with people charging premium for well-thought out content. The race to the bottom mentality of the RPG "industry" has resulted in poorly thought out junk clogging up print and electronic retail channels at $1-$5 a pop. Better pay more and receive more.

    That said, this means a product has to live up to higher standards. Based on the Lulu preview, and my interest in this megadungeon, I am taking a look. :)