Learning to Publish on DriveThruRPG

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When I started publishing on DriveThruRPG, this was how the Publisher Tools section worked: you emailed a zip file of your games to them and they did the work to put them online. I think there were about 40 publishers on DriveThruRPG when it launched, and by my rough math between 5 and 6% of total titles were ones that I personally uploaded!

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Times have changed. There are thousands of publisher accounts and hundreds of active publishers. Print on demand has come to books, cards, and other cardstock items. The varied Community Content programs have brought even more content to the storefront.

There’s a lot to take in, a lot to learn. Part of being a publisher — as opposed to someone who just “makes stuff” — is dealing with these systems, whether it means learning them yourselves or hiring someone to handle that aspect of the business for you. If you’re the learning it yourself type, here are five six things that you should do to start out!

If you haven’t made a Publisher Account yet

Make your publisher account under a different email address than your personal account. This makes all sorts of testing easier, as you can send your personal account complimentary copies, for example.

Know the difference between the Account and Publisher sections

You’ll need to use both of these sections to get stuff done. Under account are tools that are available to anyone using DriveThruRPG, even if they aren’t publishers.

As a publisher, the My Orders section of the Account page is where you can find ordering information for your print proofs.

Also, Community Content interface is in the Account section — so if you publish material on DMsGuild and DriveThruRPG, remember that you will use the Account tab for DMsGuld, and Publish for DriveThruRPG.com

Subscribe to the Publisher Email Newsletter

As a new publisher, you should be auto-subscribed to this newsletter. You can check if you are at this link. This is a monthly + important events newsletter, and you should read it when it comes out and archive it. It talks about upcoming sales, changes to the site, signups for charity bundles, and other stuff.

Explore the Publisher Tools section

The Publisher Tools section has a lot going on. I recommend exploring them in the following order:

  1. Accounting — there are some oddball things in here that aren’t quite accounting, but more like “acccount management.” For example, you can change your publisher logo under Publisher Account and Payment Settings, as well as configure what kind of notification emails the system sends you. You use this section to configure how and when you’re paid, which is important!
  2. Promotions — again, this section covers a lot of ground. Early on, you’ll want to explore Manage publisher page appearance, Opt in or out of site-wide sales, Send complimentary copies, and Report PPP spent and received.
  3. Title Management — this category covers some extremely nitty-gritty stuff (the individual settings for each of your title listings), and also big picture things, like categories and footers. Learn those big picture things and implement them earlier, and it will be much easier to keep up with them, as opposed to starting them from scratch down the road.
  4. Sales Reports — if you don’t have any sales yet, this tool is not very interesting. Over time, you’ll want to master filtering your sales, making CSV files, and then manipulating those CSV files in a spreadsheet application.
  5. Book Printing.
  6. Card Printing.

You can ignore Book Printing and Card Printing if you don’t think it’s in your short term plans, but knowing the basics of them will help you make titles that convert smoothly to the formats necessary for printing.

The top section of Publisher Tools also contains recent news, such as COVID-19 shipping status, tax season news, etc.

Read the Publisher Knowledge Base

The Publisher Knowledge Base is available for anyone to read, Publisher or not. It will answer a lot of your questions. However, be warned that sometimes it’s not 100% in sync with the Publisher Tools section, if those tools have recently changed. If you see a contradiction, let your publisher rep know.

Who is your publisher rep? If you’re new to the site, you’ll be assigned a rep, and you can always reach them at [email protected]. If you have any questions, especially those that involve information that you’d rather not share in public, get in touch with them! Be clear and concise, but include all the relevant details.

Opt in or Out of Sidewide Sales

I already mentioned this in Promotions section, but I think this bears mentioning twice. DriveThruRPG hosts many sales throughout the year, and this Medium blog post goes over their basics and the general time of year each occurs.

Your strategy with Sitewide Sales can vary wildly. If you have few titles, I’d suggest being conservative; if you have a lot of lower-priced titles, these sales may be of more benefit. The sales have different themes, so some of them will work better for the type of titles you make. Of course, the number one way to make these sales work for you is to promote them before and when they happen!

On the Horizon

DriveThruRPG has been previewing their new site redesign recently, and changes will surely come to the publisher interface when it hits. I’ll update this article when that happens, but in the meantime, spend some time exploring parts of their system that you haven’t yet!

What’s your Top Tip?

Drop your favorite DriveThruRPG publishing tip in the comments, or tweet it to me @adamjury!

1 comment

  1. I would add to your list is to start your social media accounts as soon as you can. They take time to build, so the sooner started the better. There is no point in being ready to publish and then wonder who you can tell about it.

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