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State of 6e today

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Maded

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« Reply #255 on: <08-01-20/1305:37> »
once upon a time, before covid, the plan was for Rigger book to be out now at Gen Con.

The economic mayhem set everything back.

So wait, the Rigger book is coming out before the magic book in 6e? Thatís news that rings well in my ears. <plays Igasho Ten Bear, Cascade Ork Trucker>
« Last Edit: <08-01-20/1308:06> by Maded »
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Stainless Steel Devil Rat

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« Reply #256 on: <08-01-20/1327:29> »
once upon a time, before covid, the plan was for Rigger book to be out now at Gen Con.

The economic mayhem set everything back.

So wait, the Rigger book is coming out before the magic book in 6e? Thatís news that rings well in my ears. <plays Igasho Ten Bear, Cascade Ork Trucker>

No, the Magic book was always gonna be first.  But it got pushed back.  And so the Rigger book also got pushed back.
RPG mechanics exist to give structure and consistency to the game world, true, but at the end of the day, youíre fighting dragons with algebra and random number generators.

Maded

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« Reply #257 on: <08-01-20/1433:10> »
once upon a time, before covid, the plan was for Rigger book to be out now at Gen Con.

The economic mayhem set everything back.

So wait, the Rigger book is coming out before the magic book in 6e? That’s news that rings well in my ears. <plays Igasho Ten Bear, Cascade Ork Trucker>

No, the Magic book was always gonna be first.  But it got pushed back.  And so the Rigger book also got pushed back.

Now I’m a sad Ork.
« Last Edit: <08-01-20/1735:49> by Maded »
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markelphoenix

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« Reply #258 on: <08-01-20/1719:19> »
once upon a time, before covid, the plan was for Rigger book to be out now at Gen Con.

The economic mayhem set everything back.

This confuses me. From my understanding, Catalyst relies heavily on freelancers. From my understanding, Freelancers are not an on-site position, requiring physically showing up to a central office.

Other thing confuses me, is why wouldn't Catalyst shift to PDF releases? If they're worried about that sweet, sweet up charge for a physical book, why not just make it so that Physical book is what you're pre-ordering, with the PDF coming with it and being released early? Then when book is released, offer the PDF independently as they do today for people who didn't want to pay the full book price?

This gives the added benefit of the PDF being in users hands, and effectively field tested, so that errata can be accounted for when time comes to actually print.

We all poke fun at Catalyst, their editing process, and the condition SR6 was in at release....this would literally be customers paying to edit in advance of the print of the book, getting access to the 'release' version of the PDF.
« Last Edit: <08-01-20/1722:25> by markelphoenix »

Maded

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« Reply #259 on: <08-01-20/1737:09> »
once upon a time, before covid, the plan was for Rigger book to be out now at Gen Con.

The economic mayhem set everything back.

This confuses me. From my understanding, Catalyst relies heavily on freelancers. From my understanding, Freelancers are not an on-site position, requiring physically showing up to a central office.

Other thing confuses me, is why wouldn't Catalyst shift to PDF releases? If they're worried about that sweet, sweet up charge for a physical book, why not just make it so that Physical book is what you're pre-ordering, with the PDF coming with it and being released early? Then when book is released, offer the PDF independently as they do today for people who didn't want to pay the full book price?

This gives the added benefit of the PDF being in users hands, and effectively field tested, so that errata can be accounted for when time comes to actually print.

We all poke fun at Catalyst, their editing process, and the condition SR6 was in at release....this would literally be customers paying to edit in advance of the print of the book, getting access to the 'release' version of the PDF.

+1 on this. Can only hope the big guys listen. Iím probably too optimistic though.
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Michael Chandra

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« Reply #260 on: <08-01-20/1908:54> »
I imagine FLGS and distributors refusing to buy the physical books is the biggest risk if you release the PDFs too soon. And right now printing and shipping is a nightmare.

As for Freelancers: writing for CGL isn't their main job, after all. So yes, economic nightmare impacts them. But I'd suspect suddenly having to completely overhaul your company's plans to survive the death of con season and physical stores hurting has a bigger impact on things slowing down.
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FastJack

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« Reply #261 on: <08-01-20/2033:47> »
Um... when you're doing a Print Release, you're purchasing 5,000 books at a time. Right now, the problem is employees at the PRINTER, not freelancers. Now, if they release the PDF for a book, but can't release the printed book for another four months, then the printed book sales take a nose-dive and they are stuck with the books no one is buying.

Even if you pre-order the book, it doesn't mean they go to the printer and say we need 1,276 copies of Firing Squad. They lose money doing that instead of ordering 5,000 and fulfilling the pre-orders first. The only thing pre-ordering gets you is a guarantee on that print release.

markelphoenix

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« Reply #262 on: <08-01-20/2046:13> »
Um... when you're doing a Print Release, you're purchasing 5,000 books at a time. Right now, the problem is employees at the PRINTER, not freelancers. Now, if they release the PDF for a book, but can't release the printed book for another four months, then the printed book sales take a nose-dive and they are stuck with the books no one is buying.

Even if you pre-order the book, it doesn't mean they go to the printer and say we need 1,276 copies of Firing Squad. They lose money doing that instead of ordering 5,000 and fulfilling the pre-orders first. The only thing pre-ordering gets you is a guarantee on that print release.

Yeah, it gets you a guarantee on print release...so here is what I am saying.
Hypothetical Timelines here

Lets say you have a book release scheduled for October 15th of 2021
The actual pdf document is read on August 1st of 2021

You open Pre-Orders on August 1st for the PHYSICAL book at Full price of the book.
Every Pre-Order of the Physical Book gives the user access to the PDF file on August 1st. There is no other legal way to get access to the PDF than Pre-Ordering the physical book at this time.

On October 15th when the book ships, you also make the PDF order-able separately at a lower price at that time, just as they do today. People can now legally buy the pdf separately, just like a normal release.

This in no way should reduce Physical Book sales, if anything it should increase them, given that people tend to want access to things sooner rather than later, those who would normally wait to pay less for just the pdf will bite the bullet and pay full price for physical book pre-order just to get access to the PDF sooner.
« Last Edit: <08-01-20/2049:00> by markelphoenix »

FastJack

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« Reply #263 on: <08-01-20/2109:06> »
Um... when you're doing a Print Release, you're purchasing 5,000 books at a time. Right now, the problem is employees at the PRINTER, not freelancers. Now, if they release the PDF for a book, but can't release the printed book for another four months, then the printed book sales take a nose-dive and they are stuck with the books no one is buying.

Even if you pre-order the book, it doesn't mean they go to the printer and say we need 1,276 copies of Firing Squad. They lose money doing that instead of ordering 5,000 and fulfilling the pre-orders first. The only thing pre-ordering gets you is a guarantee on that print release.

Yeah, it gets you a guarantee on print release...so here is what I am saying.
Hypothetical Timelines here

Lets say you have a book release scheduled for October 15th of 2021
The actual pdf document is read on August 1st of 2021

You open Pre-Orders on August 1st for the PHYSICAL book at Full price of the book.
Every Pre-Order of the Physical Book gives the user access to the PDF file on August 1st. There is no other legal way to get access to the PDF than Pre-Ordering the physical book at this time.

On October 15th when the book ships, you also make the PDF order-able separately at a lower price at that time, just as they do today. People can now legally buy the pdf separately, just like a normal release.

This in no way should reduce Physical Book sales, if anything it should increase them, given that people tend to want access to things sooner rather than later, those who would normally wait to pay less for just the pdf will bite the bullet and pay full price for physical book pre-order just to get access to the PDF sooner.
Normally, that would work fine. But with how business is working post-pandemic, you can't give the October date in the first place. So, you release the PDF to pre-orders in August, but then the print release is delayed for over a year... By that time, the PDF has made it on to pirate sites and no one is longer interested in the print book.

markelphoenix

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« Reply #264 on: <08-01-20/2131:28> »
Um... when you're doing a Print Release, you're purchasing 5,000 books at a time. Right now, the problem is employees at the PRINTER, not freelancers. Now, if they release the PDF for a book, but can't release the printed book for another four months, then the printed book sales take a nose-dive and they are stuck with the books no one is buying.

Even if you pre-order the book, it doesn't mean they go to the printer and say we need 1,276 copies of Firing Squad. They lose money doing that instead of ordering 5,000 and fulfilling the pre-orders first. The only thing pre-ordering gets you is a guarantee on that print release.

Yeah, it gets you a guarantee on print release...so here is what I am saying.
Hypothetical Timelines here

Lets say you have a book release scheduled for October 15th of 2021
The actual pdf document is read on August 1st of 2021

You open Pre-Orders on August 1st for the PHYSICAL book at Full price of the book.
Every Pre-Order of the Physical Book gives the user access to the PDF file on August 1st. There is no other legal way to get access to the PDF than Pre-Ordering the physical book at this time.

On October 15th when the book ships, you also make the PDF order-able separately at a lower price at that time, just as they do today. People can now legally buy the pdf separately, just like a normal release.

This in no way should reduce Physical Book sales, if anything it should increase them, given that people tend to want access to things sooner rather than later, those who would normally wait to pay less for just the pdf will bite the bullet and pay full price for physical book pre-order just to get access to the PDF sooner.
Normally, that would work fine. But with how business is working post-pandemic, you can't give the October date in the first place. So, you release the PDF to pre-orders in August, but then the print release is delayed for over a year... By that time, the PDF has made it on to pirate sites and no one is longer interested in the print book.

Aren't you going to have piracy anyways? Current state, book and pdf release at same time. Suggested state, PDF is tied to a book  purchase and PDF isn't purchase able stand alone until book  is, regardless of when that is. Shouldn't the amount of piracy be the same, especially given that current state is that they're available at same time?

0B

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« Reply #265 on: <08-03-20/1333:17> »
Oh, now that's an interesting risk analysis. At what point do the lost profits due to delayed release outweigh the lost profits due to early release of a PDF?

I'm skeptical about how large the impact of PDF piracy would be on print sales: For example, when I bought Eclipse Phase, I bought a physical copy. An interesting thing about EP is that everything is released under creative commons. You can legally "pirate" EP, and part of the GM guide encourages the GM to send their players copies of the PDF so that they know the rules as well. However, Posthuman Studios is a little bit smaller than CGL and I don't know what their PDF-to-Print sales ratio is.

Without knowing any numbers, we can say that CGL has a monthly operating cost M. It has a book production cost of {C1, C2, C3} for different books. It also has revenue {R1, R2, R3} for those books (I'm assuming these are after royalties and pure print costs, but not the cost of producing the product in the first place). For the sake of simplicity, let's say CGL releases 3 books in a year.

To break even, R1 + R2 + R3 must be greater than C1 + C2 + C3 + (12 * M). To keep it simple again, let's say M=1, all the R = 12, and all the C = 4. In a normal year, 36 > 24, and CGL makes $12. If they don't release the third book, 24 > 20, and CGL makes $4. If they still paid the production cost of the third book, then CGL would only be breaking even. If they only release the first book, 12 < 16, and CGL is $4 in the hole.

To FastJack's point- we would need to identify what impact piracy has on sales. If piracy were to cut CGL's profits by 50%, then even releasing all 3 books would have them at 18 < 24, and put them $6 in the hole. If it cuts it by 25%, then 27 > 24, and CGL makes $3. This is still a lot less than the $12 they would have in a normal year, but they're better off than if they had only released 0 to 1 books. (And certainly better off than if they had paid the production costs for all 3 books, but hadn't released all of them).

I honestly haven't been able to find anything that supports the idea that piracy has a significant negative effect on sales of tabletop RPGs. You cannot count the number of downloads on a pirate site, since there's no guarantee that those people would've bought the book, or even had the money to buy the book.

However, most studies about piracy and game sales are related to video game sales, and most about TTRPGs are anecdotal (See my anecdote above- it proves nothing about other people, only that I like pretty picture books).

Regardless of the effect piracy has, there is a point where delaying sales will negatively impact a company moreso than piracy will. I don't have the numbers to say when, presumably someone else does.

Edit: I missed Markel's last post, which has a really good point- it's not the rate of piracy you should be concerned about, but the rate of change in piracy. If piracy normally only cuts into 25% of sales, then the 'base' profit of the Rs would be 16, and the 'effective' profit for each one is 12. You would need piracy to effectively double, increasing to 50% (Making 'effective' profit 8, or $24 total) to reach the break-even point for releasing all 3 books.

Edit2: Now with more realistic numbers! I put both a CSV and XLSX on github if you want to look at it (The "math_and_stuff" files). The total sales are based on Firing Line getting electrum; shipping/print costs are based on guessing. You can mess around with the values and formulas if you think my guesses are off. You can't adjust the formula of the CSV; that's there for if you're as paranoid as I am about random files on the internet.
« Last Edit: <08-03-20/1437:53> by 0B »

FastJack

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« Reply #266 on: <08-03-20/1709:41> »
That's a simpler way to look at it. In reality, there'd be more stuff like this:

M = Monthly Operating Cost
F1, F2, F3... = Freelance/other costs of Book 1, 2, 3...
C1, C2, C3... = Cost of 5,000 copies of Book 1, 2, 3...
R1, R2, R3... = Total Sales of Book 1, 2, 3...

Let's say, for the sake of argument, M is going to be about (~35 employees @$40,000/yr, Office space @ $5,000/month, 5,000 sq ft @ $1.25/foot/month) round down a lot $125,000.

The cost to Freelancers and Artists to complete a book is usually between $0.10 and $1.00 per word, illustrators usually average around $200 a book. So, taking 30 Nights as an example, and say we're paying the authors $0.20 a word (which is closer to the game book average from what I've heard): 11 illustrators - $2200, ~90,000 words - $18,000, about $20,000 to pay the help.

Now, I have no idea how much book manufacturers charge for books (there's a difference between manufacturers and printers. Printers usually top out print runs around 2,000 copies). but I believe the MSRP for 30 Nights was aroun $39.99. If they printed 5,000 copies, they were hoping to gross $200,000. Printers nowadays also help by, for a fee, producing your PDF to go along with the book. Oh wait, you thought the gaming companies made the PDFs and sent them to the printer? No, the printers make the PDFs to make sure the files match what is being printed exactly. The PDF goes back and forth from Catalyst and the Printer until everyone is happy with the layout and design, then it's locked in and the print run can start. Smaller, POD companies charge about $20 a book for full color, glossy pages that are 8 1/2 x 11. For 5,000, books, that would be a whopping $100,000. Bigger print manufacturers will give them a deal. Let's say, for this experiment, they offer to do the PDF and Print Run for $50,000 for 5,000 copies.

Now, the book goes for $39.99 in the bookstore, the PDF goes for $19.99. On DriveThruRPG, it's an Electrum seller, meaning between 250-500 copies. Let's say about 250 sold on DTRPG and another straight from Catalyst Store, total of about 500. It was released in March, so I'll say 80% of the sales were then, or about 400 copies. So, they brought in about $8,000 from pdf sales in the first month, with $2,000 in the 4 months since it released.

On the print side, I have no estimate on how many sold, but for fun, let's say they sold 4,000 hard copies, since it was a popular plot book. That would bring in $160,000 revenue for that book. Again, most of the sales will be in the first month, so let's break it down to $150,000 in the first month, $10,000 in the four months since release.

So, we have M = $125,000, F1 = $18,000, C1 = $50,000 and R1 = $158,000. Add in revenue from other books that didn't release this month, Rx = ~$12,000 per book, let's give them 6 books, so $72,000.

Total Revenue for the month is about $230,000 minus total costs for the month of $193,000 and you've got a profit of about $37,000 for one successful print run in the month. Hopefully you have one every month, since in months where you don't produce a book, you still have $125,000 monthly costs.


Now for the fun part. Let's say that the PDF is gotten back from the printer and some unscrupulous person dumps it on Reddit right as you find out that the print run won't be available for another six months due to shipping problems. To stem the tide of loss from the pirated copy, you release the PDF early.

The monthly costs are all still the same, but now you're revenue turns into only the $8,000 for the first month and, since you dropped the PDF much earlier than the print book, it's not as popular a release (most likely due to word of mouth about editing mistakes, how they nerfed armor, or some other factors). So the physical book releases, you've already paid for 5,000 books, but only sell about 1,000 since everyone is "waiting for the errata to be integrated" in the second printing (which would cost another $50,000 in our example). Revenue from the physical books are now only $40,000.

Total Revenue is $51,000 ($40K for Print, $11K for 6 months of PDF sales) for the book in the first month of physical release, but you still have $230,000 in monthly costs. Which, after six months is $1,380,000.

Now, this is all hypothetical and using a lot of guessing and estimates based on information found on the web. Their monthly costs aren't probably that high, but even taking out office space and bring it down to 15 employees, you still have $675,000/year or about $56,000/month (which is $107,000 profit on the print run of a successful book, and they are still hurting in the second example).

markelphoenix

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« Reply #267 on: <08-03-20/1737:04> »
That's a simpler way to look at it. In reality, there'd be more stuff like this:

M = Monthly Operating Cost
F1, F2, F3... = Freelance/other costs of Book 1, 2, 3...
C1, C2, C3... = Cost of 5,000 copies of Book 1, 2, 3...
R1, R2, R3... = Total Sales of Book 1, 2, 3...

Let's say, for the sake of argument, M is going to be about (~35 employees @$40,000/yr, Office space @ $5,000/month, 5,000 sq ft @ $1.25/foot/month) round down a lot $125,000.

The cost to Freelancers and Artists to complete a book is usually between $0.10 and $1.00 per word, illustrators usually average around $200 a book. So, taking 30 Nights as an example, and say we're paying the authors $0.20 a word (which is closer to the game book average from what I've heard): 11 illustrators - $2200, ~90,000 words - $18,000, about $20,000 to pay the help.

Now, I have no idea how much book manufacturers charge for books (there's a difference between manufacturers and printers. Printers usually top out print runs around 2,000 copies). but I believe the MSRP for 30 Nights was aroun $39.99. If they printed 5,000 copies, they were hoping to gross $200,000. Printers nowadays also help by, for a fee, producing your PDF to go along with the book. Oh wait, you thought the gaming companies made the PDFs and sent them to the printer? No, the printers make the PDFs to make sure the files match what is being printed exactly. The PDF goes back and forth from Catalyst and the Printer until everyone is happy with the layout and design, then it's locked in and the print run can start. Smaller, POD companies charge about $20 a book for full color, glossy pages that are 8 1/2 x 11. For 5,000, books, that would be a whopping $100,000. Bigger print manufacturers will give them a deal. Let's say, for this experiment, they offer to do the PDF and Print Run for $50,000 for 5,000 copies.

Now, the book goes for $39.99 in the bookstore, the PDF goes for $19.99. On DriveThruRPG, it's an Electrum seller, meaning between 250-500 copies. Let's say about 250 sold on DTRPG and another straight from Catalyst Store, total of about 500. It was released in March, so I'll say 80% of the sales were then, or about 400 copies. So, they brought in about $8,000 from pdf sales in the first month, with $2,000 in the 4 months since it released.

On the print side, I have no estimate on how many sold, but for fun, let's say they sold 4,000 hard copies, since it was a popular plot book. That would bring in $160,000 revenue for that book. Again, most of the sales will be in the first month, so let's break it down to $150,000 in the first month, $10,000 in the four months since release.

So, we have M = $125,000, F1 = $18,000, C1 = $50,000 and R1 = $158,000. Add in revenue from other books that didn't release this month, Rx = ~$12,000 per book, let's give them 6 books, so $72,000.

Total Revenue for the month is about $230,000 minus total costs for the month of $193,000 and you've got a profit of about $37,000 for one successful print run in the month. Hopefully you have one every month, since in months where you don't produce a book, you still have $125,000 monthly costs.


Now for the fun part. Let's say that the PDF is gotten back from the printer and some unscrupulous person dumps it on Reddit right as you find out that the print run won't be available for another six months due to shipping problems. To stem the tide of loss from the pirated copy, you release the PDF early.

The monthly costs are all still the same, but now you're revenue turns into only the $8,000 for the first month and, since you dropped the PDF much earlier than the print book, it's not as popular a release (most likely due to word of mouth about editing mistakes, how they nerfed armor, or some other factors). So the physical book releases, you've already paid for 5,000 books, but only sell about 1,000 since everyone is "waiting for the errata to be integrated" in the second printing (which would cost another $50,000 in our example). Revenue from the physical books are now only $40,000.

Total Revenue is $51,000 ($40K for Print, $11K for 6 months of PDF sales) for the book in the first month of physical release, but you still have $230,000 in monthly costs. Which, after six months is $1,380,000.

Now, this is all hypothetical and using a lot of guessing and estimates based on information found on the web. Their monthly costs aren't probably that high, but even taking out office space and bring it down to 15 employees, you still have $675,000/year or about $56,000/month (which is $107,000 profit on the print run of a successful book, and they are still hurting in the second example).

That still assumes you are separating the sell of the book and the pdf.

My proposal is sell the book as a pre-order, non-refundable. For everyone that does, provide them the pdf to hold them over till print of the physical book. This should provide an even clearer estimate of how many need to be printed ahead of the actual print, plus it provides an incentive to pre-order.

0B

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« Reply #268 on: <08-03-20/2100:03> »
I appreciate the more accurate numbers, FastJack. I think we're all still nowhere close to identifying the actual impact of piracy. It looks like you're suggesting that it cuts up to 75% of book sales, assuming that the initial print run would have otherwise sold 4,000 copies.

I'm not sure that's accurate- even among people who buy the book the month it comes out, at least some of them are going to be checking reviews of it first, and I'm sure people would still be ripping apart the PDF if they bought it/pirated it/etc the day of release, rather than a few months prior. The only difference is that word-of-mouth has a longer time to spread. I'd also question how many of the hard-copy buyers are looking stuff up on reddit first, especially the more "venerable" fans.

I think that the 6e release was also a "special circumstance" as well, which may impact things.

Also-

The cost to Freelancers and Artists to complete a book is usually between $0.10 and $1.00 per word, illustrators usually average around $200 a book. So, taking 30 Nights as an example, and say we're paying the authors $0.20 a word (which is closer to the game book average from what I've heard): 11 illustrators - $2200, ~90,000 words - $18,000, about $20,000 to pay the help.

I've heard that it's about 0.03/word on average in the TTRPG industry, topping out around $0.07 - $0.10 if you're lucky. $0.10 to $1.00 is more accurate for newspapers, magazines, and fiction freelance writers (Unless you're hiring editors/proofers as freelance, which are about $0.015 - $0.25/word. If you're totaling that together, then no worries). I've talked to people who told me that $0.10/word would be a pipe dream for RPGs, and one who got $0.015/word writing for Earthdawn 4E. Am I misinformed, or does CGL just pay a lot better than other RPG companies?

FastJack

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« Reply #269 on: <08-03-20/2215:26> »
My proposal is sell the book as a pre-order, non-refundable. For everyone that does, provide them the pdf to hold them over till print of the physical book. This should provide an even clearer estimate of how many need to be printed ahead of the actual print, plus it provides an incentive to pre-order.
Unfortunately, you have to put the order in with the printer six months to a year before release, so when are you going to pass on the PDF? And, also the PDF is created by the printer, but there's no date on when that will be available, or when it will be in relation to when you receive the print book. But with what you are suggesting, you are asking them for an exact print number, something that printers don't do unless you do print on demand, which costs $20 a book. So, you've already spent $20,000 to write and illustrate the book, and then go by the number of pre-orders. If only 100 people pre-order, do you then cancel the book and refund the money, eating the cost of the freelance work?

Trust me, the gaming companies have thought this through more than you or I. If it had a chance of working, you'd have seen it already.