Saturday, 10 October 2015

Notes on micro-publishing, part 3

This is my third post reflecting back a bit on making Oddpool and the experience of selling a little RPG product. On Thursday I shared a post about the practical side - how I made the pdf files and got things printed and assembled - and yesterday I looked at how I have been sharing and selling it. Today I want to look at the numbers a little bit, and then tomorrow I'll reflect on what I've learned from this small project, some questions or thoughts that I've had, and what this means for the future.
Unused piece of Oddpool artwork. Maybe next time...
One cost that I'm not counting in this experiment is the time involved: clearly in any business it's a factor, but I knew that doing Oddpool was not about generating massive profits, and so weighing time against money generated would not be productive (in this case).

Upfront Costs

The printing bill from Doxdirect came to £5.85; a big chunk of that was shipping because I couldn't wait on this occasion (or felt like I couldn't). I bought a felt backed metal ruler to help with folding Pocketmods - something that proved to be very useful - and which was only £1.75. I bought a pack of standard C5 envelopes for £0.50 - working out at two pence per envelope.


You can send 100g of paper within the UK for the price of a second class stamp (54p), but international rates rise quite quickly. It cost £1.33 to send 20g internationally, but I was lucky in this case that Oddpool was such a small thing. For future projects I may have to think about how much something might weigh before I finish making it, unless I'm going to do something on a POD basis.


For selling print versions there was only one fee to be concerned with: Paypal. For selling pdf copies there was both Paypal and Payhip, but I'll come on to that later. I created a spreadsheet to help me decide how much to sell Oddpool for, factoring in the cost of the printed work, shipping and envelopes and also Paypal fees.

Print Sales

As of midday on 9th October (yesterday), I had sold twenty print editions - and sent one gratis to Chris McDowall (since he wrote Into The Odd it really is the least I could do), and there had been twenty downloads of the fold-your-own pdf from Payhip. Nine of the print editions went to addresses in the UK and all but one of the others went to the US (it was the same shipping charge wherever they went internationally).

We'll come back to the Payhip downloads in a moment. I wish I had a nice graph of sales at this point... I might add a quick hand-drawn one later! But the facts are these: I sold over half of the print editions in the first 48 hours. I sold another half dozen by the end of the first week on sale (for a total of 75% of the print run in a week), and have sold a few more here and there since then, leaving four in the store cupboard.

For an Oddpool going somewhere in the UK I charged £1.99. Paypal took £0.27, the Post Office took £0.54 and the envelope was £0.02. Because of the two copies in the envelope and the shipping charges from Doxdirect on this occasion, the materials in each envelope cost just under £0.12 for each... Which my calculator tells me means that I cleared about £1.04 for each one old. International shipping and higher Paypal fees meant that I got a little less from each international sale, but only a little less.

PDF Sales

Again, as of midday yesterday there had been 53 people who had clicked through to the Oddpool Payhip page, and 20 people had picked up the pdf as a result from there. Of those, two people had paid for it - one person paid £1 and another paid £0.50 - and after Paypal, Payhip and VAT fees this resulted in a total of £0.89. Lesson the First: For payments under £1, Paypal fees can be brutal!

The Bottom Line

From upfront costs and shipping and other fees I've spent £35.01, and in terms of turnover I've earned £50.42, leaving a profit of £15.41. And I have four print copies of Oddpool left for sale!

OK, OK, clearly I've not gotten rich quick! But like I said, this was definitely not about getting rich quick - or even getting rich at all. As I said on Thursday I was looking at three things:
  1. To have fun making something and sharing it.
  2. To learn a little about the behind the scenes logistics of this kind of enterprise.
  3. To raise some money towards artwork for future releases.
In terms of those three points, how did I do?

This post has gotten long with the details, so I'll come back tomorrow and reflect on each of those in turn. Any questions or comments about this series of posts, please ask away or let me know!


  1. Do you print and bind your own books? I did that for my first book of poetry. I picked up a book binding tool from a business supplies company called office works and used blotting paper to create dustcovers. It cost me a thousand dollars and there are ten copies world wide.

    1. I think printing and binding books is beyond my skills; Oddpool is Pocketmod-sized, so is folded from a single sheet of A4, so much more within my skill level!