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Monday, July 13, 2020

News - Lamentations of the Flame Princess over 100k in Debt


James Raggi updated the LotFP blog for the first time in three years earlier today. Here is the relevant news:
THE CURRENT SITUATION 
This one is for all the marbles. As you're probably aware, LotFP has gone through a rough patch the past year and a half. 
The tldr is we're about 90,000€ in debt, 60,000€ of which is due in about a month or we're done. And we have so much more to do. 
So if you want LotFP to continue, you need to buy something, preferably a lot of somethings, and very soon, when the new books go on sale. If you don't want LotFP to continue, you don't have to do anything. You're good. 
A more thorough explanation for those who will surely ask:
After a record 2018, webstore sales hit a wall in January 2019 (I assume because of increased Finnish postal costs; November and December 2018 were strong and then *bam*), but we were supposed to have a new US-based webstore opening in the early summer. So I was confident that I was in for a fifth straight year of growth and prosperity, and made plans to take care of that. 
The exact same week the Zak allegations hit in February 2019, I received the last of series of business loans totaling just about 70,000€. These would cover a number of reprints (which sell slowly and thus take more time to recoup their costs, making them very difficult to finance from normal cashflow), and convention expenses for the year. I secured these loans based on the fact that I'd grossed over 250,000€ the previous year, had two new Zak books set to come out in 2019 (not to mention Red & Pleasant Land as one of the reprints), with a few other new books on the schedule as well. 
The fallout from the Zak situation was that his upcoming work, and the Red and Pleasant Land reprint, were canceled. Everything else went into disarray and only one full-fledged (not limited edition) release happened all year, and that was a low-price short adventure. The US fulfillment center fell through and didn't get going until over half a year later than scheduled. 
Even so, convention sales in 2019 were greater than 2018 (and we did one less convention in 2019!), retail distribution sales was about even year-to-year, PDF sales were down a bit... but direct webstore sales were down 80% for the year. And direct sales are where we traditionally make most of our money. Webstore sales plummeting has almost killed the business: Gross sales were in total 40% down, and the profits (AKA my personal income) went from (rough numbers) 45,000€ in 2018 to 3,500€ in 2019. That's not a typo. 
By last fall, I started falling behind in loan payments. By spring this year, just as the world at large was beginning to fall apart due to the pandemic, I started falling behind on royalty payments to the talent. There's only so long I can shuffle money and beg for patience...
And now with the pandemic, conventions for the entire year are gone (conventions accounted for 25% of last year's gross income). Distribution/retail sales (by far the biggest income source last year) were wiped out completely for a time due to shutdowns and at best will be weak for some time to come due to the pandemic. 
And so here we are. Pretty much all of these new items were financed on credit, sparing no expense to make these the best books we could, and it's time for what just might be the last stand. It is my hope that not only can we clear this debt, but we can get a bit of a cash stockpile so we can make sure the next batch of books (and the next, and the next...) are up to LotFP standards of quality and deliver significant royalty payments to their authors. 
It's up to you now. 
Posted by JimLotFP at 12:28 AM 
Then there was this regarding the LotFP Referee Book:
February 2020 Update! 
The big news: So we've got what I'd consider a complete draft in hand. 296,000 words.  
As far as I'm concerned, this is it. Not throwing out large chunks wholesale, deciding entire sections need rewriting from scratch, or any of the other nonsense that has turned this into a hellscape forever project. 
But it will need editing. I'd estimate it's going to lose 10-20% of the word count through this process, because right now it's not tight. There are a few other things that are going to press imminently so those have to be shepherded first, but as of April 1 doing this will be my sole priority. 
After that we'll know what sections need to be shored up, plus the promised supplemental stuff that needs a tight draft prepared first in order to do, and then we start putting together the final layouts.
And the part that will cause trouble saying it out loud rather to the group than replying individually... there have been refund requests. I can't do it. The money simply isn't laying around. Over 7000€ has been spent on the project just the past 14 months, the whole thing is already way over budget, and I'd estimate there's five figures additional expense on the way getting this thing finalized and ready for print... and then there's the print cost which is going to be another five figures.
This has turned into the Homer and I can't see how it'll retail for less than 75€. Maybe significantly more than that (Veins of the Earth is about 100,000 words and that's 368 pages) and now that I see that written down, maybe broken down into multiple books (which you'd all get as backers at no additional cost but shipping). 
So that's not bad for those getting in for 30€ or 38€ books, and we've now got a US fulfillment center so it won't be necessary for those of you around that area to pay shipping from Finland. 
And that's just the main Ref book. Doesn't count the screen, slipcase, or the monster book due. 
It should be quite the exciting end part of the year. 
(I just jinxed it, didn't I...?)
Tavern Chat Podcast episode covering the current situation

YouTube of the same podcast episode (all episodes are available via YouTube)




24 comments:

  1. Both those links at the bottom go to anchor.fm.

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  2. I'm not part of LotFP's core audience, its vibe just isn't my thing. However, does it seem excessive that the manuscript for the new Ref guid already has 70k in their currency invested and its not done? They only raised $38k in U.S. dollars...how much does that equate to in their currency?

    I'm merely curious if someone knows the answer. I'm contemplating backing them because I think they got a raw deal.

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    Replies
    1. At current exchange rates, $38k is about €33.5k.

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    2. Where is the 70k figure coming from? The quoted update mentions 7k spent on the Ref book.

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    3. That was my mistake on the podcast. That being said, with a $65k hole that needs to get plugged in a month and the Indiegogo money long spent (no cash for refunds) I’m not holding my breath to see it in print. Especially with James quoting retail prices at twice what backers paid. It’s gonna be another Far West.

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    4. Dont bother backing him. He didn't a good businessman by the look of things and by the evidence the past. His business was based on one person who thankfully has now largely been dumped by the community. Raggi is spent. Literally.

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    5. "His business was based on one person who thankfully has now largely been dumped by the community." I'm going to go ahead and assume you're referring to Zak S, who wrote three and helped on the layout of one of the 70+ products James has published in the last eleven years. Zak was certainly a very lucrative corner of James business, but I would hardly describe him as the linchpin. As for Zak being dumped by the community, well it's mostly that weird chunk of twitterverse 'gamers' that think orcs are the equivalent of black people, or that antifa are actually against fascism. So really, who give a FAQ what they spout.

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    6. "As for Zak being dumped by the community, well it's mostly that weird chunk of twitterverse 'gamers' that think orcs are the equivalent of black people, or that antifa are actually against fascism. So really, who give a FAQ what they spout."

      Yiiikes. You really are out of touch aren't you. When the abuse and sexual misconduct stories came out from the women Zak lived with it was hardly some fringe. It was so pervasive that Gencon, WotC, and every small publisher including Raggi, had to put out a statement. Even Matt Mercer spoke out about it... so if you think that the Critical Role folks, who have the largest social platform in gaming, are just "that weird chunk of twitterverse 'gamers'" then you don't know how the internet works. Maybe you can find some nice like minded players on Stormfront, they probably have a crusty old gamer forums on their page.

      Delete
  3. The stuff he published earlier was useful material for my table, but as it became more on shock value I stopped buying his products. Which is a shame because I had hopes that the production values he put into Carcosa would become more of the norm.

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  4. I’ve always thought the stuff LotFP put out was pretty high quality. A corner of the hobby that pushed some boundaries for sure, but when you want down and dirty that’s the place to go. It’s a shame that this is happening if only because on the creative loss. Reads to me James waited too long to seek assistance. This hobby eats its own on so many levels.

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    Replies
    1. James himself blames the implosion of 2019 largely on Zak’s shoulders:

      I secured these loans based on the fact that I'd grossed over 250,000€ the previous year, had two new Zak books set to come out in 2019 (not to mention Red & Pleasant Land as one of the reprints), with a few other new books on the schedule as well.
      The fallout from the Zak situation was that his upcoming work, and the Red and Pleasant Land reprint, were canceled. Everything else went into disarray and only one full-fledged (not limited edition) release happened all year, and that was a low-price short adventure.

      Delete
  5. The above is in answer to Foreshame

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  6. There's more to it than just Zak blowback. This was a poor choice, business wise.

    https://dungeonsdonuts.tumblr.com/post/180010463949/preface-this-is-an-update-about-my-working

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    1. Yeah, that couldn't have helped. In his latest YouTube rant, Raggi went on to try and drag Kiel for his retraction while complaining from a point of willful ignorance. It is pretty disgusting. He also mentioned during that 3.5+ hour marathon of self indulgence that almost all his monthly rent is paid by Zak sales. 3 of his top 4 sellers on drivethru were Zak books and profits on that platform were generating his monthly rent.

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  7. I wonder what the overlap is between those that stopped buying because of Zac and those that stopped buying because of the Peterson picture. I suspect it's close to 100%.

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  8. Yep, that wasn't smart. At the very least he severely underestimated the reactions that would get.
    His recent 2 youtube podcasts give a good insight in how he thinks. Unfortunately, these come way to late to mitigate any damage done in the last 2 years.
    I just hope he has enough fans to get through this with the new products he was able to get printed.
    I am in Europe, so I hope my order ships before the loan is due.

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  9. the guy is about to go bankrupt i would not being spending a red sent on any of his "pre order" items. Since he still owes his last crowdfunding item "LotFP Hardcover Referee Book" i would call his company done and done.

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    Replies
    1. I hope he can find a job delivering pizzas in Finland after all this. He won't be good for much else, and he's way too homely to try and co-star in his pal's pornos.

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  10. Wow, the comments here are disgusting.

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  11. Welcome to the internet.
    Some people really want him to fail.

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  12. "I started falling behind on royalty payments to the talent"

    But how? That should come off the top, surely….

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    Replies
    1. In my experience, assuming the business has sufficient second or extra income to cover rent and food for the owner, usually the priorities in practice tend to be:

      * Pay the printer so that money can flow in, and they don't hold your stuff hostage.
      * Pay minimum on loans, as banks are scarier than freelance talent
      * Pay any in-house staff (not a situation here, as he doesn't have any) you can't lay off, as they are the ones who can show up at your door with an axe, since they live in your neighborhood
      * Pay freelance talent who are actively working for you on project you need to finish ASAP to get money
      * Pay royalties to other freelance talent (if they're lucky)

      Game companies do have a tradition of "took out loan to pay printing bills or other vital expenses, something goes wrong, doom comes" going as far back as the death/murder of SPI.


      Delete
  13. No big loss. His stuff sucked. Zaks stuff is all edgelord crap and hype.

    ReplyDelete

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