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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 174 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: Mongoose contacted me  (Read 12933 times)
lumpley
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« on: June 16, 2006, 09:11:58 AM »

Matthew Sprange wrote me a little while back, offering to publish Dogs in the Vineyard under a new imprint that Mongoose is launching (or considering launching).

I'd keep intellectual property ownership of the game, Mongoose would publish, promote and sell it. After they'd made back their initial investment, we'd split revenues - he offered me "up to 50%." We were still talking in abstracts at that point, and I figure he wouldn't've mentioned 50% if he hadn't meant it.

Naturally, Mongoose would be selling the game to distributors at distribution terms. 50% of distribution terms would be a substantial cut in my per-book revenue. But maybe they'd sell enough books to make up for it? I asked him how many books sold per year he'd consider successful. He told me 1500-2000 the first year, and 500-1000 per year after.

I already sell books in that range, at 2-3 times better per book than the best cut Mongoose could conceivably offer me. They'd have to guarantee me around 2000 books sold per year for it to be a break-even proposition. THEN I'd have to decide whether I want to shift my target audience from genuine roleplayers to distributors, give up financial control of my game, and redesign my book for a format I dislike (8.5x11 hardback RPG format), all for the same money I'm already making - but as it was, I didn't even have to consider the artistic questions. The money just didn't make sense for me.

Matthew was cool and friendly and answered all my questions. It was an interesting conversation.

-Vincent
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Valamir
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« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2006, 11:03:29 AM »

I've always been very impressed with Mongoose.  I'm not thrilled that they made some of my favorite licensed settings d20...but at least they did d20 about as well as could be done and showed total respect for the property.  As a game company they're one of the few big names that I actually appreciate the quality way they run their business.

If I were to "team up" with a big name publisher, they'd be one I'd actually give consideration to.

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Vaxalon
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« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2006, 11:09:15 AM »

They're contacting the wrong people if they're going to you, Vincent.

The people they should be going to are the ones who have good books in PDF, selling in the 100 to 500 range.
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"In our game the other night, Joshua's character came in as an improvised thing, but he was crap so he only contributed a d4!"
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Andy Kitkowski
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« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2006, 11:14:07 AM »

Well, I can understand why the contacted Vincent: They simply didn't know his numbers. They saw a cool game, they like it, they love it even, and want to help it make the big distro circuit. They simply weren't aware of how much there was to be made outside of big distro.

But that's a cool story anyway, and yeah Mongoose are one of my faves of the d20 crowd.

Is there any option whatsoever where you can still sell copies of Dogs from your site as normal, and you craft the requisite 8.5x11 version for Mongoose, which they sell through distro, and split profit 40 (you) 60 (Mongoose) from those sales?  Cause an option where you can still sell your game from your site might still pay off. Though it may stymie Mongoose a bit and all...
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Pelgrane
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« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2006, 01:48:22 AM »

...but as it was, I didn't even have to consider the artistic questions. The money just didn't make sense for me.
-Vincent

This would be a risk, and probably an unnecessary one for you. One thing is certain though - you would sell a bunch of extra copies to people who otherwise would not have bought, or even heard of your game. If your sales were in decline, it would be worth considering - it would give the game new lease of life. Eventually an indie publisher will guinea pig this model, and I suspect Mongoose would be a very good choice of mainstream publisher. The indie publisher could well benefit substantially from this arrangment as long as IP safeguards were in place. Minimum sales guarantees could also help.

Simon
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Wart
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« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2006, 02:05:27 AM »

I can definitely see that Mongoose's new imprint wouldn't be useful for Dogs - heck, I've seen it on the shelves of several major UK game stores anyhow - but it would be an absolute boon for PDF publishers (and they do seem to be looking to the PDF crowd as well).

I think Mongoose would probably be the big-name publisher I would trust the most. Anyone who's seen the new edition of Paranoia they put out can see that they are, as has been said, very respectful and loyal to the source material, and at the same time they aren't exactly unaware of the Forge and what we talk about here. (I believe the new Paranoia edition namechecks this place.)
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lumpley
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« Reply #6 on: June 20, 2006, 05:45:17 AM »

Yeah, I don't have anything bad to say about Mongoose at all - they made me a business offer that didn't meet my needs, nothing wrong with that.

But damn, I predict the death of the industry. If a successful game to Mongoose is the same as a successful game to me, but I make more money off it than they do, then damn.

Eventually an indie publisher will guinea pig this model... The indie publisher could well benefit substantially from this arrangment...

It seems more likely to me, given the money involved, that the creative people doing mainstream publishing now will increasingly self-publish. I am not, at heart, a predicter of things, and I'm totally comfy being wrong about this or anything. But check it out:

Mitch: I've designed a roleplaying game! What should I do?
Mongoose: We'll publish it under our new imprint. It could sell 500-1000 copies a year and we'll split the money between you, us, and a distributor.
Me: You could publish it yourself, sell 500-1000 copies a year, and split it with nobody, if you wanted. That's what I did.
Mitch: Hmm...

-Vincent
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Thunder_God
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« Reply #7 on: June 20, 2006, 06:16:38 AM »

But, consider that most publishers seem to sell far less than 500 books a year.
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Guy Shalev.

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Adam Dray
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« Reply #8 on: June 20, 2006, 09:19:23 AM »

The question is, would your game that doesn't sell as well as Dogs in the Vineyard sell more if it had Mongoose's oomph behind it?

The next question is, should it? I'd love my game to get picked up by people who've never seen crazy stuff like what I'm doing, but I don't want them to buy it and not enjoy it. If my game ends up sucking, I don't want people to buy it just because it has an MGP product code. I'm not in this for the money.

Now Dogs is a great game. If Mongoose could get more people to play it, that'd be awesome. Maybe Mongoose can put it in the hands of people who wouldn't have played it before. Maybe there's a different 500-1000 people buying it every year, and Vincent doubles up. That'd be sweet.
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Adam Dray / adam@legendary.org
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lumpley
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« Reply #9 on: June 20, 2006, 11:08:53 AM »

If they'd offered me a non-exclusive deal, where they get to sell AND I get to sell, I'd've probably signed up. I can't imagine why they'd offer me that kid of deal, though.

Also I really doubt that Mongoose has access to 500-1000 customers a year that I don't. Some customers I don't, but not a whole separate audience. Here's what I base that on: Matthew asked me to revise the text, to maximize sales of the Mongoose book to existing Dogs fans. His estimates included those sales.

-Vincent
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Luke
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« Reply #10 on: June 20, 2006, 01:36:37 PM »

I disagree, Vincent. I think Mongoose does have access to a fan base that you do not. Most roleplayers don't visit the Forge or your website. Most go to their local shops to pick up books or hit well-known websites like Mongoose's looking for stuff. And I can see the logic behind Matt's request to revise and retool the book. You have an existing enthusiastic fanbase. It protects Mongoose's invest (in time and resources) and kicks the partnership off with a bang if your fans come out to support you. (Which does kind of suck that your fans would then be supporting someone aside from you, but that's another ball of yarn.)

Contrary to popular Belief, this is not the center of the world. Direct sales is an excellent method to get your game out, but distro/retailer sales are a separate venue and another set of opportunities, risks and people.

-Luke
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lumpley
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« Reply #11 on: June 20, 2006, 03:14:08 PM »

Fair enough!

-Vincent
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #12 on: June 20, 2006, 08:17:07 PM »

Luke, that makes sense if it's a non-exclusive deal. Mongoose would have to be selling so many more books than Vincent already does that it would have to make up the money in dollars, because there's not going to be another market to approach if Mongoose coverse V's market, plus more.

So, let's say Dogs sells for, like, $30 (which is I think what the hardcovers are going for these days). Half of that is $15, of which V would get half, $7.50.

If memory serves, that's about half as much as he gets now. So if Mongoose sells twice as many books (about 2000 a year) it makes sense.
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
lumpley
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« Reply #13 on: June 21, 2006, 05:30:43 AM »

I'm totally happy to defer to Luke about whether they'd probably be mostly the same 500-1000 sales, or completely different 500-1000 sales.

If I have to choose 500-1000 sales, I'll choose the ones where I don't split the cash with a distributor and a game company.

We could speculate that through Mongoose I'd really sell 5000-10,000 per year, if we wanted, but on THAT I'll defer to Matthew Sprange.

-Vincent
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #14 on: June 21, 2006, 05:50:05 AM »

Oh, I agree, totally. The numbers are all that makes a difference here. I mean, if they wanted to sell their Letter-size, hardback edition, and you could still sell your Digest-size one, then the experiment would be completely worth it, even. You'd be making ~$1.25x, your exposure would increase, you'd sell more books, it would be great. The offer they made just doesn't work. It's not that *no* offer could work.

I'd also want to ensure that the book is a Vincent Baker game, published by Mongoose, and not a Mongoose game, written by Vincent Baker.
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
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