Building and Publishing a RPG series in France (2014)Let us go on with the Esteren review, which leads us to the year 2014… You can find the previous articles here (2010-2011), here (2012), and here (2013).
Image : Quo vadis, baby?
Since September 2010, many things had changed concerning our project. On the one hand, many positive things had happened, and we faced very thrilling prospects following the successes of the first two fundraising campaigns on Ulule and Kickstarter. On the other hand, we had a huge amount of additional work to bear, still without the possibility of being fully committed to the project–in other words, earning enough money to work full-time on it. My work as a coordinator had increased considerably, and I dreamed of having an assistant who could help me on a daily basis, mainly with production monitoring and logistic matters. Managing it all was getting increasingly demanding: there was more and more work to absorb, but the structure remained the same.
Another thing: even though every release was a success, we had to find a solution to set a schedule with regular releases. Otherwise, the professionalization of our activity would remain wishful thinking. Note that although there was no fixed monthly wage, the editor had increased the pay of the team to supplement the royalties. Adding this to the production costs and the expenses of the Esteren Tour, the amount was very significant. In short, with no regular income, the financing of the adventure could very quickly become complicated.
In 2013, the results were excellent. Our editor boasted an annual turnover of about € 200,000. Not too shabby! When we took into account that the money was generated by just one French RPG series, we could be proud! But the reality was thus: the financial situation was positive, but rather tight in the end. The added costs of producing, keeping the tour active, and paying the team made a heavy load.
I admit that this was a hard blow to the morale. With such successes in 2013, I believed we would be able to hire people in the first quarter of 2014: nope! As things stood, we could not afford it–we didn't have enough visibility. For it to be possible, our results for 2014 had to be at least as good as those of 2013 (?!). How could we do that? For a while, I felt crestfallen.
Of course, with our stronger experience as businessmen, we could have anticipated this reality. In our defense, I think that in 2010, it was very difficult for us to foresee the development of the series, and in particular the successes of the fundraising campaigns. We had spent the years 2012 and 2013 hastily adapting to the many necessary changes we had faced, month after month.
It was only at the beginning of 2014 that we started to take in the transformation of the project and to incorporate these new data in our editorial approach.
Feeding the Ogre
This was our state of mind at the beginning of 2014: heads full of magic memories, fostering wildest hopes, but also developing a certain form of lucidity, which was in some ways a bitter pill to swallow. And even though we wanted to keep trying to the bitter end, there was an urgent need to answer the question of the release schedule.
I thought I would finish my review today, but I must stop here for the moment. In the next article, I will tell you about the editorial solution we have developed–codename: squaring the circle–and will also look back on the adventure of The Monastery of Tuath on Kickstarter.
Part 1 (2010-2011)
Part 2 (2012)
Part 3 (2013)
Part 5 (fifth and last part)