Here's how you PubFight: 10 years playing the game

After 10 years of our fantasy publishing league, PubFight, we wanted to know more about the players and how they play the game. So way back in September, we put together a questionnaire and circulated it for a couple of weeks. (Thanks to all the players, past and present, who filled it out!) Now we're back to pull the results together with some graphs, because of course we did.

We've also shared some of your best PubFight stories at the end. Some are anonymous and some are from our All-Star players, because who knows better how to play the game than those who've won it most often?

What's your gender?

Just like the publishing industry, PubFight players predominantly identify as female, 73% to 27%.

Pie chart illustrating 73% female, 27% male.

Have you ever won your league?

Pretty even split with 53% yes, 47% no.

Pie chart illustrating 53% yes, 47% no.

If you did win, did you have any of the following authors/books: Grisham, Riordan, Kinney, Rowling/Galbraith, Guinness Book of World Records?

Some people had more than one of these books on their winning list. Must have been a very good year for them.

Bar chart illustrating whether respondents had big books on their lists. Riordan=1, Rowling/Galbraith=1, Kinney=2, Grisham=2, Guinness Book of World Records=3, None of the above=5.

Where's the weirdest place you ever worked on your PubFight list?

We've got the travellers: one vote for airport terminal and one player who said: "I have managed my list whenever I've travelled. I have managed my list from the United Kingdom, Spain, France, Costa Rica, Nepal, Turkey, the Netherlands, Lesotho, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and the US!"

We've got the public transit PubFighters, three of them in fact; two players who PubFight in the pub; one who worked on their list in a meeting; and one at the Canada Council offices. 

One player claims not to be weird... Sure, buddy.

What's the most you've ever spent on one title at auction?

We have some big spenders amidst our respondents. More than half, 54%, say they've spent $52,500 to $100,000 on a single title, 33% have spent $102,500 to $155,000, and 13% say their max was only in the $12,500 to $50,000 range.

Pie chart illustrating the most respondents have every spent on one title at auction.

Do you bet on the PubFight outcome?

Is it shocking to anyone else that the number of leagues that involve betting is so low? The non-betters carry it with 73% to the betters' 27%.

Pie chart illustrating betting break down.

If you do bet, what do you bet?

Two votes for bragging rights, one vote for food, and one very creative write-in vote: "The 2nd place loser has to write a poem about the winner and recite it at the end of season party." Brutal.

Do you print all of your titles at once or rolling with on-sale dates?

You guys like to set it and forget it: 67% print all at once and 33% set their first print runs throughout the game.

Pie chart illustrating printing philosophies.

How much time per week do you spend trash-talking other players?

Never enough in our opinion. Most of you, 60%, spend less than an hour trash talking and 27% of you said never. Up that game! Be more like the 6% who said one to two hours or, even better, the 7% who said more than two hours. 

Pie chart illustrating trash talk time.

Estimate the most amount of money you've lost in lost sales for a single title

No brave soul would cop to losing more than $1 million. But 7% admitted to $500,000 to $1,000,000 in lost sales, 13% lost $300,000 to $500,000, 47% lost $100,000 to $300,000, and 33% say they only ever lost $0 to $100,000 in sales.

Pie chart illustrating lost sales.

Do you change your publishing house name every year?

What can we say, you guys are mostly a puzzle to be solved since 53% sometimes choose to change their name and sometimes choose not to. Just under half of you either always change your name (20%) or never change your name (27%).

Pie chart illustrating percentage of respondents who change their publishing house name.

Do you cajole family and friends to buy books IRL to boost your PubFight sales?

We bet the 40% who said nope are reconsidering now that they know 60% of their competition does it.

Pie chart illustrating who cajoles family and friends.

Could you, would you purchase a poetry title?

So many different takes on yes.

Bar chart illustrating whether respondents would buy poetry titles. I believe light verse and doggerel sells well=1, LPG represent=1, Depends on the year/releases=1, Leonard Cohen, Gord Downie, Rupi Kaur ONLY=1, House rules almost demand it=1, Stanning for Rupi=2, No=8.

How many books have you put up for auction only to get stuck with them because no one else bids on them?

The lucky 47% who said none have never felt the shame and fear of being stuck with one of those dud decoy titles. The rest of the players — 40% who said they'd been stuck with a couple and the sad 13% who said they'd done it too many times to keep using that as their go-to auction strategy — will probably never forget that sinking feeling.

Pie chart illustrating how many people get stuck with the auction picks.

Your best PubFight stories

The surprise opening move:

  • Stunning the room and opening the bidding with an impossible-to-beat bid for Orr for $155,000 (only possible as I, winner of the previous year, was allowed to start first in the auction). Not a popular move — had never been done in our league before. People were SALTY. Aggressive stock management and only ~$8K in lost sales for the year, [I] managed to eke out a victory of just over $90K above the runner-up.

Bryant Harte, All-Star, Last Word Press:

  • Back in the 2011 season, having already bagged Christopher Paolini's Inheritance for a mere $45,000, I waited until near the end to snag my second Juvenile title, which was only listed as Cabin Fever by Jeff Kinney, for a paltry $12,500 ... most all of the competition having passed it over, not realizing it was a Wimpy Kid title. Needless to say, the league was over by the end of the auction and I never looked back.

We think this one is a joke?

  • There was that time I bought 5,000 copies of one of my PubFight titles and then returned them to a different store after the game ended.

Sian Bumstead, All-Star, Bookstore Baby Publishing:

  • The year I won my PubFight league, there was no Grisham, but there was Guinness. The person who bought Guinness spent so much money on it that they had no money for any big commercial titles. So even though I lost almost $350,000 in sales on my biggest bet (Inheritance), and even though that meant that Guinness made more money than Inheritance, I still won because I had Arlene Dickinson and Ian Rankin on my list. Suck it, Guinness.

We didn't know Britney played:

  • I won. And then, oops! I did it again.

Weren't we all once naive and wayward youths?

  • I was a wayward youth and printed 100,000+ copies of everything on my list. Yes. Everything.