Behind The Joy #10: Details…They Are Everywhere
So…you decided to self-publish. You ran the numbers, and figured out a plan to raise the necessary funds. Sweet. Now, its time to get down to business. Literally. This article is a shotgun blast of some of the details you are now responsible for as an independent game publisher. It is meant to scare you…a little. Nothing here will be treated exhaustively. You will need to research each individual area and apply it to your game. In roughly chronological order, here we go…
ART (In Search of Shelf Appeal)
Good art can’t make a bad game good, but it can make a good game great! The bottom line is that people can’t enjoy your game unless they play it, and they won’t play it unless the art grabs their attention. The best way to find an artist is to walk the aisles of your local game store. See which boxes catch your eye. Then go to BoardGameGeek, and contact the artists responsible for those games. When you do, have a list of the number of illustrations required, the type of components, and what graphic layout you want them to do (card, board, rules, etc.). Ask if they are available, and for a quote. Chances are if they are busy they may be able to refer you to someone they think might be a good fit. The board game industry is awesome in this way. Actually this is how we found the artist for Commissioned. Kenneth Spond did a fantastic job for us. If you like how Commissioned looks and need an artist, send him an email!
MARKETING (Customers Don’t Grow On Trees)
The board game industry is growing by leaps and bounds. While that brings customers, it also introduces new publishers. The competition is friendly, but fierce. You will need a healthy budget for marketing. You can place advertisements on BoardGameGeek, Facebook, and Twitter. You can reserve booths, produce signs, and give out stuff at conventions. You can setup events at local game stores. All these are good ideas, and all of them cost money. You will need to assess your ability to travel, and prioritize accordingly. Conventions are probably the best return on your money, but only after you have a product to sell. Also, if your day job prevents you from travelling frequently (like us), the Double Exposure Envoy program is an interesting way to get your game in front of a lot of people. It isn’t cheap, but the service is top notch!
PRODUCTION (Good, Cheap, or Fast…Pick Two)
The growth of the industry is spurring an expansion of printing services. You can find reputable manufacturers in Germany, France, Brazil, China, Canada, & the US. Each offers a slightly different blend of customer service, speed, cost, and quality. Do your homework, get multiple quotes, and make sure the company is going to deliver what they promise. Recognize that it will be a back-and-forth relationship as you send in art files, proof samples, produce games, and ship them. We settled on Quality Playing Cards & Games for Commissioned. They are a US company with factories in Florida and in China. We have been very happy with our service, and would recommend them to other new companies.
FULFILLMENT (Logistics Make The World Go Round)
Shipping your game to people around the world could be an entire blog of its own. Wait, it already is! If you want a “how-to” manual on fulfilling games to Kickstarter backers everywhere, go to www.stonemaiergames.com, click on the KS lessons, and read everything Jamey Stegmaier has ever written about shipping. Then, read it again. The first time will probably make your head hurt. The second time through, you will start to connect the dots. We are following his model, and will be fulfilling to backers from Australia to Germany. We are tremendously grateful for Jamey’s blog, and hope it helps you as much as it helped us.
If that sounded overwhelming, good. It was supposed to. Remember it doesn’t all happen immediately. You will be able to take it a stage at a time, but you will have to do it all. Next week, we will talk about setting your crowd-funding campaign apart from the crowd. As always, fire away with comments & questions!
Pat & Kat Lysaght