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State of the Swan 2011/12

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Raging Swan Press is officially a two-year-old!

As it’s the end of one year and the start of another, I wanted to take some time to reflect on the year just gone and look ahead to the next 12 months as I did the same last year and found the process interesting and useful. Truth be told, I’ve actually been looking forward to writing this post for a month or so now.

General Thoughts on 2011/12

Like last year, I’ve been very busy with Raging Swan – in fact from September 2011 I have been able to devote significantly more time to growing the company. As I’ll discuss later, this has shown itself both in the number of products now available and our increased revenue. That said, as always, Raging Swan Press wouldn’t be where it is today without the help of many people. I’d like to publically thank (in no particular order) Andy Lewis, Andy Hodges, Rob Wills, Neil Wright, Steve “Taz” Cansdale, Martin Tideswell (and his merry band of playtesters), Aaron T. Huss, Marc Radle, Matt  Morrow, Simon Butler, Ryan Sumo, John Bennett, David Posener, Julian Neale, Landon Bellavia,  Ben Kent, Andrew J. Martin and everyone else who I have inadvertently forgotten. I’d also like to thank everyone who has helped spread the word about Raging Swan – in particularly Brian over at Game Knight Review, Aaron at Roleplayer’s Chronicle and Paco at GMS Magazine. Thanks also to everyone who has reviewed one or more Raging Swan products.

A Year in Review

2011/12 was a great year. Raging Swan more than tripled the number of products for sale.  Last year, Raging Swan had 26 products available; now Raging Swan has 104 products on e23, Amazon, Amazon UK, Paizo, RPG Drivethru, RPG Now and Your Games Now.

Overall revenue was also up (by roughly 250%).


Not surprisingly, monthly sales have also been rather strong as shown in the graph below. What has surprised me is how sales after Christmas has increased. I wouldn’t expect to have achieved record sales in the depths of February. Interestingly, the November sales spike coincided with Raging Swan’s first dedicated blog post on Paizo.com which somewhat confirms the importance of awareness.


PDF for Raging Swan is still king; print sales remain disappointing – but that said I still only have three products for sale on Amazon and Amazon UK. I would be interested to increase the availability of my print products, but I think in this instance living in the UK is a real problem as the cost of delivering my physical products to Paizo’s warehouse (for example) is going to crush any kind of unit profit. Still, there must be a way round that and I’ll be investigating print options more in 2012/13.

My sales mix has also swung around a bit. Last year, OBS accounted for 40% of my revenue while Paizo accounted for 50% Now (as the below pie chart shows) Paizo accounts for 57% of revenue while OBS has dropped to 37%.


The Upcoming Year

I’ve noticed, rather interestingly, that some kind of products sell better on Paizo than OBS (and vica versa). Adventures, for example, sell much better at Paizo than anywhere else. Small, nimble PDFs such as the “So What” line tend to sell better at OBS than Paizo. Looking ahead to this year, I’d ideally like to hit 160 products by the end of February 2013. That’s a pretty tall order – it means I’ll need to release a product every week, which is a pretty harsh release schedule. That said, I work with some very talented freelancers so I don’t think it is an insurmountable problem.

My general goals for 2012/12 remain generally the same as they were last year:

  • Maintain the high standards of product I achieved in my first year – I want to be proud of every single one of my products and I won’t release anything I wouldn’t use in my own campaign.
  • Produce more print products to support Raging Swan’s Free PDF offer.
  • Release a new PDF product every week. My plan is to release many 10 and 20-page products interspersed with a few larger supplements and adventures. (As an aside, after writing Shadowed Keep on the Borderland I’d forgotten how much I enjoy writing adventures – that’s something I need to do more of this year).
  • Raise awareness of Raging Swan Press. I’m getting better at this (slowly!) but I do need to concentrate more on this. I love creating and I spend so much time writing that I didn’t spend as much time as I should have spreading the word.
  • Keep the website updated and user-friendly.
  • Take more risks. Someone famous said “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” – that’s really simple, but wise advice.
  • Buy a desert island.

My specific goals are:

  • Have 160 products available by the end of February 2012.
  • At least double the number and availability of my print products.
  • Write more adventures. I really enjoyed designing Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands this year, but the overall process took the best part of nine months. That’s too long, if I want to achieve my goal of 160 products, so I’ll be focusing on smaller 20-page adventures that a GM can easily drop into his campaign.
  • Write one long adventure. I even have a title, background and rough synopsis so I need to get going on this.
  • Grow the “So What” line.
  • Make some iPad apps; I’ve identified a couple of holes in the market (or more accurately stuff I’d like to use at the gaming table).
  • Grow awareness of Raging Swan. This is something I’m not great at as I spend all my time editing and creating.
  • Have lots of fun.

Closing Thoughts

Hopefully, year 3 will be even more fun than year 2. If I can recreate the kind of performance increase I managed this year I will be a very happy camper.

But, what do you think about Raging Swan’s products this year? What did you particularly like or dislike? Is there something I should really be producing this year? Drop me a line and let me know!

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    Good news on the sales growth, and good luck in the new year.

    I'll be interested to see what your decision on Shadowed Keep will be.

    Thanks very much - all luck gratefully received.

    Still pondering the whole Shadowed Keep commundrum! My brain hurts...


    I've picked up handful of your products and have enjoyed all the work so far!

    And my two bits on Shadowed Keep? Sell & sample. It seems a better business model. Keep in mind that I wouldn't know good business if it leaped out of the grass and gave me a haircut.


    Thanks, Doug! our view certainly seems to jive with the prevailing wisdom. I however will not be offering a haircut with every copy sold!

    Enjoying your stuff

    I just found your products through DrivethruRPG. I'm 41 but have always been a wannabe RPGer. I've finally started as a player through Play by Forum over at RPGGeek.com. I've decided to jump in as a GM and have bought Retribution to start. Really looking forward to it. I'm hoping I can grow it into a whole "Lonely Coast" campaign. Keep up the good work!

    Re: Enjoying your stuff

    Thanks very much for the leap of faith! When your game starts, please post the link here - I'd love to drop in and see how it is going.

    Re: Enjoying your stuff

    will do.

    Re: Enjoying your stuff

    It has begun!

    Retribution PbF on RPGGeek:

    Re: Enjoying your stuff

    Thanks! This is awesome, I shall lurk and enjoy!

    Re: Enjoying your stuff

    Great to have you along. It's really an honor (and forgive my noobity as a GM). I'm a first time GM and very little player experience as well. I'm learning as I go, but having a blast. This group may head to the "Shadowed Keep" next.

    As long as you and your players are having fun, you are doing it right!

    Shadowed Keep is a good second module because it's a real change of pace from Retribution. You might need to modify some of the encounters, but the text contains suggestions on how to do so.

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