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How to find the right publishers

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alandor
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I realize the answer to my question is out there for me to find if I search the net long enough, but perhaps you can offer me a shortcut, point me to some good resource or give me advice for my specific game.

Though I’ve have played a decent amount of games it is only now that I’m ready to pitch my own design that I realize that I’ve payed too little attention to different publishers. I couldn’t tell you the publisher of most of the games I’ve played. And now that I need to figure out which ones to contact I find it quite overwhelming to visit the hundreds(?) of publishers’ websites out there and sift through their products trying to determine which ones might be interested in my game.

I’m hoping to be able to book a few meetings in Essen. I may be too late for this but I think it could be worth a shot. Any advice on how to find the right publishers? I found this thread here on BGDF which gave me some direction but there must be many more companies than that (not that the list wasn't helpful). How do you all find out which publishers to contact for your own games (assuming you’re not self-publishing)? Is it just a matter of going through them one by one, one website after the other. Or do you have some other advice?

My game is a family game that focuses on adventure and exploration, from about 8 years.

questccg
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Our publisher list

Just as a point of reference, the link you have found is perhaps the best resource we have.

From here, you should spend time visiting each Publisher and comparing the games that they publish. If they publish War Games and yours is not, it's not a good fit. If the publish Party Games and yours is not, again not a good fit.

Right now - the resources that you see on BGDF demonstrates which publisher accept (or not) submissions.

As the maintainer of this list, I have contacted all those Publishers myself (on behalf of BGDF) to see what their status is.

The Admins of the board would like to make this a public Wiki where people can contribute links and then I would simply need to validate the entries submitted. It would be a lot quicker and we could have an even larger moderated list of Publishers.

My recommendation is this: Start with the Publishers you see on the BGDF list. See if any of those match your game's criteria (Game Type). From there maybe visit James Mathe list and see from those which might be fit. We have a lot of links - because there are a lot of Publishers.

Getting a game published is a lengthy process too... It's not like pick one and it's a done deal. It might take months of dealing (e-mails) before you get a final answer (which may be negative). So my second piece of advice is: start looking now! Don't wait, start contacting publishers with a "Sell Sheet" about your game.

Cheers and good luck!

mcobb83
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What I have started doing is

What I have started doing is contacting the publishers of games that I play (because those are the sort of games I make) and asking them about their submission guidelines, if they aren't listed on the website.

I confess to not knowing much about the world of game publishing (yet), but beyond that BGDF list you linked, I'm not sure how else to go about it. I've gotten replies from several publishers thus far, and every day I see if I can hunt down a few others. BGG also has some good info.

alandor
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questccg wrote:Just as a

questccg wrote:
Just as a point of reference, the link you have found is perhaps the best resource we have.

Thanks questing for taking the time to compile this list for us! It will be a good starting point for me.

The list mentions some publishers only work with agents. Does anyone have good/bad things to say about using agents to sell your game designs? I have been in contact with one but after understanding how that would make a small revenue even smaller I decided that it's probably not what I want. On the other hand I won't be making much money even without an agent so if it would improve my chances of getting published I should perhaps try it out anyway...?

I Will Never Gr...
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Here's a great read for

Here's a great read for anyone looking to court a publisher;

http://www.jamesmathe.com/courting-a-game-publisher-dos-and-donts/

TwentyPercent
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I can't agree with QuestCCG

I can't agree with QuestCCG more. Seeking a publisher is not far off from job searching. You are probably going to reach out to 50 potential employers to schedule about 5 interviews.

The more effort you put into personalizing your introduction/offer/pitch to a particular company, the better chance you have of getting noticed. What this boils down to, though, is time. If you put more time into it, your chances of success increase.

Another option is to draft up a template email and copy/paste that into your emails to publishers, then just change any specific information before sending that email out (such as publisher names, dates, game titles, etc).

When contacting publishers, Keep It Simple, Stupid! Publishers won't spend time reading through a long, drawn out email about your background or why you created your board game. Give them a brief elevator pitch of your game and tell them why they should meet with you.

There is a lot of useful information out there, and I agree it's overwhelming to sift through. In case it helps, here is my page of resources for game designers:
https://level1gamedesigner.wordpress.com/designer-resources/

Best of luck!

questccg
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PM radioactivemouse?!

alandor wrote:
I have been in contact with one but after understanding how that would make a small revenue even smaller I decided that it's probably not what I want. On the other hand I won't be making much money even without an agent so if it would improve my chances of getting published I should perhaps try it out anyway...?

Think of it in another way:

There are 100,000+ Game Designers all looking for their game to be published. There are internal teams responsible for development of new games. All these people trying to achieve the same thing you are trying.

I have not been very successful with my Publisher conversations. IDK why... It usually starts off good - I usually get a rapid response. But then it seems like the "process" of agreeing on continuing to "deal" with me - is LONG. IDK what a person who is supposed to be a "contact" for game submissions must effective DO (as their job) to convince their "people" to look into the game further.

All I know is sometimes it takes a month or so before they communicate with me.

What that is all about and why it seems to take so long - is where I'm not understanding the process. Maybe 1 to 2 weeks seems like sufficient time to bring up a game and see if they want to play a prototype... But like I said, that seems to be a "process" which takes seemingly MORE EFFORT.

Again I have no clue why.

Do they have a Gating Committee that needs to approve the fact that they are willing to take a closer look at a game, IDK. But there is something in the process which seems to take time. More time than usual.

Anyhow having dealt with about a half dozen or so Publishers, they all seem to go into "incommunicado" for periods of time - which seem larger than average communication times.

Must be part of the process - since all seem to do this.

Anyone else care to SHARE?

I know Dralius (David) has told me once he had a deal with a NEW publisher and several YEARS later - they bailed out on him.

So I know it's not just me. Radioactivemouse had one of his games published by "Victory Point Games" (VPG). It might be cool if he could shed some light about how long and what were the steps when dealing with VPG. As a reference for the rest of us...?

Try reaching out to him (PM: radioactivemouse - ask about the process with VPG).

Soulfinger
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alandor][quote=questccg

alandor][quote=questccg wrote:
The list mentions some publishers only work with agents. Does anyone have good/bad things to say about using agents to sell your game designs? I have been in contact with one but after understanding how that would make a small revenue even smaller I decided that it's probably not what I want. On the other hand I won't be making much money even without an agent so if it would improve my chances of getting published I should perhaps try it out anyway...?

I can't even comprehend hiring an agent for a game. It makes sense when shopping around a novel, because there is a much higher ceiling for royalties, rights, and advances. Even after the agent's cut, you should end up with more than you would have gotten otherwise.

With a game though, there's barely any money to be made to begin with. Considering that there are only two entries on the list requiring this, and one is a subsidiary of Hasbro that I happen to know for a fact accepts unsolicited material if you have the right credentials, I doubt that agents are a big thing, and any claims otherwise are to reduce their slush pile.

The key things to keep in mind are that no real agent charges you money up front -- no reading fees, signing fees, editing costs, etc. They only profit when you do, and you can tell them to screw off if they get back to you with a 2% royalty from My Cousin's Basement Games. I would also want to see a list of what any game agent has actually sold, and they had better include recognizable titles sold to high volume companies, like Hasbro or Mayfair. In any field involving writing, art, and design, there are a fair number of people who profit by selling the dream, charging hacks for services that will lead nowhere. That is by far more profitable than designing games.

I sold a pitch to a publisher on that list, first try and no hassle with a month turn around to receive a contract. The problem was that I still had to write it, and the birth of my medically fragile daughter shot that out of the water. I had a preexisting relationship with the publisher, which definitely influenced things. But also, and this has served me well with the fiction market and articles, it was important to be intimately familiar with the publisher's offerings, have a product compatible with their existing line, but also have a distinct voice of my own.

Know the name of the individual you'll be dealing with, and if possible research them. "Dear sir" gets you nowhere. "Dear Mr. Leibowitz" is a great start. Even better is if you have some personal details that demonstrate your due diligence. Better, better is if those details resonate with your game. For example, "I noticed that you blog about brothels and I have enjoyed your company's games about biscuits. My game, 'Brothels and Biscuits,' is a fusion of these two subjects that combines familiar mechanics with an innovative style of play. Players of your 'Biscuit Wars' line will feel the oven baked goodness the moment that they open the box."

Make sure to read the publisher's guidelines. They may have a design philosophy or tenets posted. More importantly, what makes the company unique? Work that into your pitch. "I am submitting my game to you because I admire your company's passionate approach to game design on a small scale and your unique marketing approach. I was blown away by your teams enthusiasm at GenCon, so I know that you will maximize the success of my game. Thank you again for the shirt." Something like that is a welcome relief from the sheer vanity of most submissions that publishers receive.

Confidence tempered with meekness. You are selling the product and only yourself to the extent that you are applicable to the product, which is to say, "My game is about the zeppelins that I pilot in real life" = good, "I'm a first time game designer and here's a dream journal about my very boring life . . ." = bad. Avoid passive language. Cover letters are the written version of a firm handshake and good eye contact, so good manners and invite a reply. I always end submissions with "Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you."

Maybe something there will be handy. I don't have game designer cred, but outside of that I have a respectable acceptance rate, so I know I'm doing something right.

alandor
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Thanks everyone for your

Thanks everyone for your great input. I realize there is a long way to go even when I feel that my game is finished. But you've given me good directions.

alandor
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Soulfinger - the agent I was

Soulfinger - the agent I was in touch with actually charged me up front for even looking at the game. I haven't accepted his offer but I have considered it quite seriously. Good to hear your opinion on agents.

Soulfinger
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alandor wrote:Soulfinger -

alandor wrote:
Soulfinger - the agent I was in touch with actually charged me up front for even looking at the game. I haven't accepted his offer but I have considered it quite seriously. Good to hear your opinion on agents.

That's a very bad sign. I bet that his non-existent list of published clients is "confidential."

As far as scams go, reading fees are a short-sighted money grab. You have to reel the person in first with an "I looked at your game, and it has real potential." THEN you charge the fee for professional feedback, and the sky is the limit after that. The best racket is when you pair that with production services, like at the vanity press where I used to work. We had so many worthless add-on services to offer once someone signed up.

let-off studios
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Business Sense

Soulfinger wrote:
...Avoid passive language. Cover letters are the written version of a firm handshake and good eye contact, so good manners and invite a reply. I always end submissions with "Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you."
Beautiful stuff here, Soulfinger. :)

Courtesy goes a long way, no matter what the business situation happens to be. It's good to see reminders like this.

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