Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Savage Worlds: Pricing your SWAG

The Savage Worlds Adventurer’s Guild (SWAG) launched at the beginning of this year, and there have already been dozens of products released through the program, as well as a rapidly growing community of designers on the unofficial Savage Worlds Discord server. But one area that many people seem unsure about is pricing, so I thought it would be interesting to take a look through the SWAG releases and get a rough idea of their price/page ratio, much like I did for licensee products a few years ago.

It must be stressed that these figures have very limited value when viewed in isolation, because many other factors come into play -- the page size, the font and layout, the amount of artwork, the utility and complexity of the product, and so on. However, when combined and averaged, these figures can at least give you a feel for the sort of price range SWAG products typically sell for, and by comparing your product with other products of similar size and content, you can get an idea of what customers are willing to pay.

I should also stress that this post is not intended as a criticism of other people's pricing! There's quite a lot of variation between publishers, and I think that's great because it allows us to compare and optimize our strategies. In time, I imagine we'll see products start to align more closely in terms of price -- but SWAG is still relatively young, and it'll take time to establish a set of norms.

The 65 SWAG products listed above have a total of 787 pages for $122.71, which averages out at $0.16 per page. However, this figure is somewhat distorted by the larger PDFs, where the price/page is usually much lower. If we ignore the 5 highest and 5 lowest priced products, the average comes to $0.21 per page. Ignoring the 10 highest/lowest gives $0.27 per page, and ignoring the 20 highest/lowest gives $0.34 per page.

Note: I didn't include my Wild West Countdown Deck in the above list, as I price decks differently from books. Print-on-demand action decks typically sell for $10-$15, and I sell mine for $12. I sell the print-it-yourself PDF version for $3. More information about designing and selling decks can be found here.

My Pricing Strategy

My own approach to SWAG pricing has been to pick a nice round number that falls in the range of 10-20 cents per page, not counting the cover, credits, or table of contents. In the case of my Fantasy Archetypes, I also didn't count the duplicated pages (each character had a male and female illustration on a separate page, but the text was practically identical for both versions).

For larger books, I'd gradually reduce the price per page, to a minimum of around 5-10 cents per page. So for a 150-page setting book, for example, I'd be probably aiming for something in the range $7.50-$15.00 (most likely $10, that seems to be a sweet spot for many people).

Of course, I'm still trying to get a feel for different pricing and marketing strategies, so I may well end up changing my mind in a few months. But at least this gives me a rough figure to work with.

Free, PWYW, Pseudo-PWYW and Fixed Pricing

I've released a lot of free products in the past, as well as a couple of Pay-What-You-Want (PWYW) products. But over the last few months, someone has been vote-bombing all the free and PWYW products on DTRPG, damaging publisher ratings and pushing free/PWYW products down the search lists, so I've moved over to fixed pricing.

There is a middle ground though, something I keep meaning to try -- you can give a product a fixed price, but also upload the full PDF as a "custom preview", then in the product description invite people to download it for free or pay a dollar if they like it. Only those who choose to pay will be able to rate or review the product.

However, the most effective approach does seem to be a fixed price, and the SWAG guidelines even give some suggestions, noting that "the most successful price points are $1.00, $2.00, $2.95, $3.95, $4.99, $7.95, $10.00, $14.95, and $19.99."

Best Seller Medals and Hottest SWAG Titles

You may have noticed some SWAG products have a medal. These are awarded based on the total number of sales (including PWYW, as long as the customer paid at least 1 cent). It doesn't matter how much the customer paid, only that they paid something, so free downloads don't count. Note that an order containing multiple copies of a product only counts as one sale.
Copper Medal: 51+ sales.
Silver Medal: 101+ sales.
Electrum Medal: 251+ sales.
Gold Medal: 501+ sales.
Platinum Medal: 1001+ sales.
Mithril Medal: 2001+ sales.
Adamantine Medal: 5001+ sales.
By contrast, the "Hottest" lists are based on how much money your products have earned over time (based on the date they were first made public). This is why newer products tend to jump to the front of the hottest list, and then gradually slide back down. Whereas cheaper product might make more sales (and thus earn a higher medal), expensive products tend to do better in the Hottest list.