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Subject: Self Publishing and the Obstacles rss

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Max Gillis
United States
New Jersey
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Hey!

This is actually my first post on BGG, but I've been developing a 2-player card game that is nearly complete.

I thought the design and art process would be the most daunting task, but now the publishing and distribution angle is honestly very intimidating to me.

I've read a few blogs and threads about pitching to publishing houses, but I'm pretty set on crowdfunding and distributing the game myself through a limited release.

- Assuming the project successfully funds, how would I handle distribution? Is it usually handled manually where I ship each individual order? Is it outsourced to some kind of shipping company? I'm pretty unaware as to how this process is handled.

- As a limited release, what's a realistic number of game copies to have manufactured? 100, 500, 1000? I have a pretty decent following of people who keep up with my work and projects, and I intend to market the project when it's ready to be funded, but I'm not entirely sure how to go about a realistic stock.

Honestly these two questions are the biggest ones I have but I'm sure I'm overlooking other angles. I'm creating this thread as a log of my questions for anyone who may hold useful information or experiences in self publishing.

All the best.

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Rob Harper
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I would strongly recommend you read Jamey Stegmaier's Kickstarter lessons. There is stuff in there about manufacturing, distributing, and pretty much everything else, most of which is relevant even if you aren't crowdfunding. Either it will scare you off before you are in too deep, or it will give you a good start in the things you will need to know about, including answering your questions.

http://stonemaiergames.com/kickstarter/lessons/

Good luck.
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Kai Herbertz
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Hi Max,

I'm in a similar situation - I playtested my fourth game and this time I hit the fun sweetspot, instead of the "has potential, but needs more work" feedback!
Therefore I have decided to go ahead and get it produced, so here are my answers from my limited, but fresh, experience:

In general I echo Rob Harper's suggestion to check out Jamey Stegmaier's blog. It is a lot to read, but there are many great things to learn!

Distribution:
Harking back to the Jamey Stegmaier blog, here is the blog post about his "5 Google Spreadsheets:" http://stonemaiergames.com/5-google-spreadsheets-that-can-he...

The second link on the page is called "International Shipping Partners" and implies that there are companies, which deal with bulk distributions. I have no personal experience with this, but do check out that spreadsheet, as it may be what you are looking for.

Of course you could also ship things individually (don't forget to add the correct shipping cost to the pledge levels on Kickstarter!), but if you get a lot of backers that may be tedious.

I haven't encountered that issue, because I will sell my game at SPIEL in Essen (shameless plug, do come by and say hi at booth 6-A126), so there is no shipping involved at the moment.


Realistic Number of Copies:
Ah, now that is indeed a tricky subject. Originally I wanted to produce 100 games, which struck me as a sensible number that I may be able to sell. However, after consulting with printing companies, I found out that producing just 100 games is so expensive that I would not be able to cover the cost of producing the games and getting a booth in Essen, even if I sold all of them!

Next, I considered 1000 games, since that printing option had a low production cost (~ 25% retail price). However, in the unfortunate event of merely selling a few copies, I would then face storing charges for the unsold games.
For that reason I opted to go with 500 games (~40% retail price), which allows me to make a profit if I sell at least half of the games and won't hurt as much if I do not sell.

Basically you need to contact the potential manufacturers of your game to see where the discounts are and what the production cost would be for the different numbers (100, 500, 1000).
One thing to keep in mind is that printers usually produce small sets with digital printing and then use offset printing for larger batches. My printing company switches over to offset printing at orders of 500 or more and that's where the price drops significantly.

Hopefully that helps!

All the best,

Kai Herbertz
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Max Gillis
United States
New Jersey
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Thank you very much for promptly posting this blog, as it is a wealth of useful information. I'm going over the articles now.

Also, thank you Kai H. for sharing your personal experiences, it gives me hope, haha.

 
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Matt Lee
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One obstacle I see that is happening is where a designer who wants total control over their design chooses to self publish (usually via KS or IGG) but without the understanding that they must now split their time and run this as a business, not just as a conduit to getting their game made.

Underestimating how much time and money is needed to do this has crippled many people, and by trying to undercut the process, a lot of people have lost serious amounts of money with no product as unexpected costs and price adjustments come into play along with distribution and storage headaches and charges that are ongoing.

Alongside Jamey's blog, you should also check out James Mathe's blog since he also does a log to KS campaigns and runs Minion Games.

I'd recommend starting with this for a reality check to be sure you actually want to self-publish first: http://www.jamesmathe.com/10000-feet-to-publishing-a-board-g...

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Metäl Warrior
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KaiHerbertz wrote:
For that reason I opted to go with 500 games (~40% retail price), which allows me to make a profit if I sell at least half of the games and won't hurt as much if I do not sell.


That sounds awfully optimistic. Here's a sobering read how you need to charge at least five times manufacturing cost to make it economically viable.
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James Campbell
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Jaffeli wrote:
KaiHerbertz wrote:
For that reason I opted to go with 500 games (~40% retail price), which allows me to make a profit if I sell at least half of the games and won't hurt as much if I do not sell.


That sounds awfully optimistic. Here's a sobering read how you need to charge at least five times manufacturing cost to make it economically viable.


IF, you plan on doing a second run and/or if you plan on going into distribution channels.

If you're only planning the one run and never again, or will only sell through your own website or in person at cons, less than 5x can work just fine.

But, I do agree that 5x is a necessity in the vast majority of cases.
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James Campbell
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KinkySketch wrote:
Hey!

This is actually my first post on BGG, but I've been developing a 2-player card game that is nearly complete.

I thought the design and art process would be the most daunting task, but now the publishing and distribution angle is honestly very intimidating to me.

I've read a few blogs and threads about pitching to publishing houses, but I'm pretty set on crowdfunding and distributing the game myself through a limited release.

- Assuming the project successfully funds, how would I handle distribution? Is it usually handled manually where I ship each individual order? Is it outsourced to some kind of shipping company? I'm pretty unaware as to how this process is handled.


Look into fulfillment companies, many of which are linked in Stonemaier and James Mathes' blogs.

Quote:

- As a limited release, what's a realistic number of game copies to have manufactured? 100, 500, 1000? I have a pretty decent following of people who keep up with my work and projects, and I intend to market the project when it's ready to be funded, but I'm not entirely sure how to go about a realistic stock.


To do less than 500 (generally) requires a Print on Demand type of service. PoD is not cheap. Manufacturers will not do less than 500, most won't do less than 1000, and the real price breaks begin at 2500+.

That said, if you're looking at 100 PoD vs 500 manufactured, manufactured may end up cheaper. Get quotes. Lots of them. Make sure they are for the exact same specs, so you know you're getting the right numbers to compare.
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Max Gillis
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New Jersey
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I've been researching some manufacturers and getting quotes based on the bulk of the orders.

I read the articles on the importance of selling 5x of the manufacturing cost per unit, and my current outlined planned seemed to have compensated.

The plan was to do a 1-print release with a hard limit of copies purchasable, and I want to be very clear on the total prints being made and that it will be a 1-print deal.

In the very low chance the project is overfunded, I'm not sure how I would/could compensate for another print release.

I was reading the KS Lessons on Stonemaier Games, and they said to plan for 3 funding scenerios (over funded, under funded, and breaking even).
 
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