Analyzing 6 Months of Business

I just closed out my 6th full month of business with Minotaur Games and I thought I would take a moment to share some of my thoughts and observations. Working as my own publisher has taught me a lot about the 3rd Party business, and on occasion, I like to share some of what I have learned with all of you (just in case you have the mad dream of starting up a small business yourself).

Over the past six months, I have seen relatively steady growth. Nothing phenomenal, but the overall trend-line is positive. Things started off relatively slow in terms of growth. With each PDF, the overall sales numbers, week over week were steady with some promising indicators. Not surprisingly, release weeks were always my big peaks, with the off weeks falling off significantly. Here is what the chart looks like thus far.

6 Month Sales

As you can see, things were pretty even for the first few months. I had some drop off whenever I went three weeks without a new release, and as a result, the following release weeks suffered for it. At the time, I was convinced that I really needed to maintain a 2 weeks cycle if I wanted steady growth (this would later prove to be not entirely true).

Then came the end of the June and the Drive Thru RPG sale. That gigantic spike came almost entirely from that sale. Despite taking a smaller percentage of the price, it was still a phenomenal week. It also coincided with the release of Monster Focus: Liches, which made it an instant hit. Unfortunately, this was also the start of the summer convention season and a trio of freelance projects for me. Combined with the “sale hangover”, the next six weeks would be grim for the Minotaur.

Weathering the summer lull, I thought a lot about my strategy for the fall. I decided to launch a new line, Rule Zero. I wanted to put out some rules that tinkered with system components. I really had no idea how it would be received, but the idea was interesting to me (which is vital to help drive and motivate me to get the work put together). The next big spike was for Rule Zero: Critical Hits, and while it did incredibly well, I was not prepared for the roaring success that would be Rule Zero: Underlings. Sales from that first week approached those of the Drive Thru Sale, which is something I thought to be impossible without a much large line to draw from. To top it off, placing in the #1 spot on the Paizo list of 3rd Party Publishers seemed to really boost sales as well, leading me to have resurgence in the fourth week without a new release to bolster it. As of this post, Underlings has gone on to be my most profitable PDF, exceeding even my first PDF (Monster Focus: Skeletons), which has been out for over six months.

Its been a wild ride and I’ve learned a lot. I am not longer obsessive about my daily numbers, focusing instead on weekly and monthly trends. I am no longer convinced that I have to maintain a two week release schedule, as long as I stay relatively regular and put out PDFs that I have a passion for, the sales will come. Management and maintenance are a lot more work than I thought they would be, from keeping the site up and running to financial records. And finally, the Minotaur has a lot of great fans who help me spread the word, write reviews, and are overall good folks, interested in good games and engaging rules.

Running a 3rd Party Business is a tough job, and I’ve come to have a great deal of respect for my fellow 3rd Party Publishers. Long hours, lots of coffee, and tired fingers go into every one of these products. Go out there and pick up some of your favorites. Sales are the best way to show them that you appreciate their work.

To another great six months. I’ve gotta get back to working on Rule Zero: Gem Magic. There are still a few hours of night left…

Jason Bulmahn
Lost in the Maze