An Update on DMs Guild Sales

Posted: March 30, 2017 in General
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Last year I gave not one, but two status updates about my sales on the Dungeon Master’s Guild. I’ve got several pay what you want products in addition to a few paid products now on the guild. One of those paid products is the D&D Adventurers League adventure DDAL 05-05 A Dish Best Served Cold which is an official part of the Storm King’s Thunder storyline. (You can find Travis Woodall’s amazing Deluxe Maps for the adventure here.) People have been asking me to do another update and share my AL sales. I’m more than happy to do that.

First Let’s Take A Look At Pay What You Want One More Time

Below are all my sale numbers including free downloads of my pay what you want products:

And here are the sale numbers with paid purchases only:

For reference, the pay what you want products are:

*Free purchases are not factored into a pay what you want product’s average payment.

So it seems a lot of my assumptions about pay what you want products vs paid products hold true after over a year. Pay what you want products see lots of downloads and get your name out there. They can quickly become “best sellers” since any sale of $0.01 or more counts towards your numbers. Sounds great, right? Yet one year in and I’ve still made less than $0.01 a word on these products. Any further releases I have on the DMs Guild will likely be paid only.

If you want to know more about why I made my initial products pay what you want, see my first post on this topic. I’ve learned tons about layout, editing, and art acquisition since I started posting products on the DMs Guild, so future products will not only be paid, but they should also be of a superior quality to my pay what you want products.

Let’s Talk About Adventurers League Adventures

When it comes to making paid products, sales skyrocket if a product is part of the main D&D Adventurers League storyline. A Dish Best Served Cold has only been up since November 1, 2016, yet has over 1000 sales and is already close to Platinum Best Seller status. Add to that the fact that adventure designers make 60% commission on their D&D Adventurers League adventures if they were published in season five or later and it is by far my biggest money-maker, despite the fact that it has roughly 1/10th the downloads of 50 New Magic Items.

Now the question becomes, does this hold true for adventures in the convention created content program? Not as much.

If you don’t know what the convention created content program is, here’s a nutshell description. Wizards of the Coast allows conventions to create adventures set in the Moonsea region of the Forgotten Realms. Those adventures are then played at the convention that created them, are considered Adventurers League legal, and can be sold on the DMs Guild after the convention.

Many of the same folks who work on the main D&D Adventurers League adventures also write the con created content. The con created content adventures are often just as professional and put together as the main Adventurers League adventures, yet they have lower sales. I wrote a con created content adventure called Tales of Good & Evil for Baldman Games that premiered at Gen Con. It’s been available to the public since December 2016. While I don’t have the exact sale numbers, I can tell you that they are somewhere between 100 and 260 sales, since it’s a Silver Best Seller at the moment (more on best seller medals below).

Now, that doesn’t mean writing con created content isn’t worth it. First of all, it’s a blast to write in the Forgotten Realms and to share that story with players everywhere. Second, that’s a published adventure with your name on it, baby! I’m so proud of Tales of Good & Evil and it allowed me to work with an amazing team of people. (Don’t tell Shawn Merwin, but I would have done it for free.) If we’re talking financially, Baldman Games made sure designers were taken care of. In addition to a commission split that is handled by Baldman (which is why I don’t see the exact number of sales… that’s in their hands), Baldman also paid me an up front fee for my words. So yes, working on con created content does indeed pay, despite smaller sales.

Medals

After having products on the DMs Guild for over a year I feel confident saying the following numbers and medals correspond. It appears to take medals several hours to update, so if you just hit one of these numbers, give it a day or two.

  • Copper. 50 paid sales
  • Silver. 100 paid sales
  • Electrum. 260 paid sales
  • Gold. 525 paid sales
  • Platinum. 1050 paid sales

How do I know this? At the moment, here are my own medals.

My copper best sellers are:

My silver best sellers is:

I have no electrum best sellers at the moment, but I do have two gold:

Finally, my two platinum best sellers are:

Ratings and Reviews

Ratings and reviews are tough to come by on the DMs Guild, and even more difficult to get organically. When I was starting out, I asked friends to take a look at and rate honestly my pay what you want products, so keep that in mind when you see the numbers below.

Here’s how my reviews are stacking up:

  • 15 New Backgrounds – 36 ratings, 8 of which include a written review (up since Jan 22, 2016)
  • 20 New Traps – 20 ratings, 3 of which include a written review (up since February 8, 2016)
  • 50 New Magic Items – 32 ratings, 3 of which include a written review (up since February 18, 2016)
  • Arachnids, Wraiths, & Zombies – 8 ratings, 1 of which includes a written review (up since March 9, 2016)
  • Archons – 13 ratings, 1 of which includes a written review (from a personal friend) on (up since January 19, 2016)
  • Catastrophic Dragons – 23 ratings, 5 of which include a written review (up since January 19, 2016)
  • Greater & Elder Elementals – 13 ratings, 0 of which include a written review on Greater & Elder Elements (up since February 1, 2016)
  • Tarokka Expansion 2 ratings, 1 of which includes a written review (up since June 1, 2016)
  • A Dish Best Served Cold – 7 ratings, 1 of which includes a written review (up since November 1, 2016)
  • Tales of Good & Evil – 2 ratings, 1 of which includes a written review (up since December 2016)

I will say that my free and pay what you want products have more reviews than my paid products, even when you take into account the five friends I asked to rate things for me (not all of whom actually did because they didn’t have time to read the products). It MAY be that a small number of people who download for free take the time to leave a rating (essentially giving their time instead of their cash to a product).

So there you have. The latest update on the DMs Guild. Anyone else out there having success? Did I get anything wrong? Is this information helpful to you? Sound off in the comments below!

If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, like World Builder Blog on Facebook, check out my podcasts, find my products on the DMs Guild, tell your friends about the blog, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

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Comments
  1. Olav Müller says:

    It totally seems like you used the wrong picture for you pay what you want articles 😉

    Thanks for the update.

    Like

  2. James, thank you for sharing this info. I’m glad to see ‘A Dish Best Served Cold’ is doing well! I really enjoyed reading that adventure. There are some great encounters in it!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. richgreen01 says:

    Excellent and very interesting update – cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dpowell says:

    I Just ran Tales of Good and Evil at my FLGS, and everyone really enjoyed it. The Cloisternooks are among my favorite NPCs in any of the AL content I’ve run. After playing it at a con recently, It was my first choice when I needed to run something at the shop.

    Must review!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Rob Twohy says:

    I have info (direct from OBS – DMs Guild) that the medal counts are 51, 101, 251, 501 & 1001. Keep in mind, though, that should someone buy an item on DMs Guild and then CHECKOUT through any sister site (RPGNow, DrivethroughRPG, etc.) that sale does NOT count toward the medal count. This is why after selling 104 items of a title, I still do not have Silver Medal status. Meaning at least 4 of these sales were completed through a checkout cart on a sister site.

    Hope that helps.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Dave Zajac says:

    Thanks for taking the time to post an update on your sales. I really appreciate your transparency. I have a mix of 26 priced and free products available on the DMs Guild, so I’m always interested to hear about the sales of other authors. I tried PWYW at the start but changed in the middle of 2016. I don’t honestly know how much difference it made in sales, but I think it helped me appreciate my own work as an author.

    Overall, my products sell slowly. I typically earn between $50 and $100 a month from a blend of adventures, maps, covers, and miscellaneous other offerings. Since all of my products are aimed at DMs or adventure writers, the slow sales aren’t surprising. At least, that’s what I tell myself. 😉

    Much like you, I was lucky enough to be able to write an adventure (HULB1-1 Hulburg Rebuilding) for Baldman Games last summer. It hasn’t made me rich, but it was nice to have the opportunity to work with some great people (Shawn Merwin is one heck of a nice guy). I haven’t had the chance to write for an official AL story season yet, but hopefully one day I will.

    I know the standard AL adventures sell better than the CCC adventures, but A Dish Best Served Cold really is a gem, and I’m sure that helped your sales more than a bit. I’ve played and DMed it twice. It’s good fun, and it contains a great magic item!

    Good luck on your future products, and keep up the good work.

    Liked by 1 person

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