Skip to Content

Self Publishing?

41 replies [Last post]
hoduken
Offline
Joined: 10/03/2008

So my question is this. When someone gets a game published themselves, what kind of work goes into that? I mean, I see companies like fantasy flight and so forth who publish their own games, but how do they? Do they just find other companies that do printing and pay them or do they purchase the machines themselves? Obviously they probably just pay other printing companies in china or something but i just wanted to siphon some knowledge.

Looking on the net i see all these places that will print whatever really. So why not just get them to do the printing and contact distributors yourself? Do your own artwork. Submit your own advertising to distributors like alliance games or what have you and have them do advertising for you. Make your own website. Make your own forums. (Flying frog has yet to do that, it makes me so angry!!!!) Get your own business license. Start your own board game company.......come on places like here and tell people you’re open to print their games. (Assuming they fit your company)

So what am i missing? I'm sure there is a list. FLAME ME!!!!!!

Dralius
Dralius's picture
Offline
Joined: 07/26/2008
You tell me.

Yes you can have printing services handle the production end of it for you. I guess the question you’re asking is why can’t you start a game business.

You’re the only one that can answer that question. If you have never run a business get a few books on how to do it and read them cover to cover several times. This will include writing a business plan which will help you determine if it’s feasible. For game company specific business information read http://www.starfleetgames.com/book/

As far as doing your own art, if you’re not a professional artist get one. Art sells games.

Oh and I almost forgot FLAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

apeloverage
Offline
Joined: 08/01/2008
I suspect that

retailers would be reluctant to buy self-published games, because

i) there's no guarantee of quality or 'sellability',

ii) they'll only be ordering one game, where for almost the same amount of work they can buy dozens from a big company,

iii) there's less likelihood that you'll stay in business, meaning that the work to establish a system of ordering from you is likely to be wasted.

So if you are going to self-publish, perhaps you'd have better luck selling directly to the public, for example through eBay or your own site.

apeloverage
Offline
Joined: 08/01/2008
Dralius wrote:If you have

Dralius wrote:
If you have never run a business get a few books on how to do it and read them cover to cover several times. This will include writing a business plan which will help you determine if it’s feasible.

This is the advice I always give (I run my own micro-business). Sometimes I've given it to people who, if they followed it, would become my competitors. I don't mind though, because for some reason no one ever seems to follow it!

I'd actually say do a course - technical colleges in Australia run one, there are likely to be equivalents in your country.

InvisibleJon
InvisibleJon's picture
Offline
Joined: 07/27/2008
hoduken wrote:So my question

hoduken wrote:
So my question is this. When someone gets a game published themselves, what kind of work goes into that?
...
So what am i missing? I'm sure there is a list. FLAME ME!!!!!!
All previous advice is good advice. Also consider:
1) The time required to do all of these things correctly.
2) That you're not getting paid, yet you're relying on lots of people to do things for you. These people expect to be paid for their work - sometimes in advance. Unless you're independently wealthy, you're likely to have money issues.
3) Taxes. Ugh. 'Nuff said.
4) Import laws and shipping concerns - If you're printing outside the U.S., there's a whole 'nother world of stuff to understand.

...I'll stop here. It's hard work, but it can be very fun and rewarding to be in business for yourself. Just make sure you do your homework and walk into it with your eyes wide open. I wish you only the best of luck if you choose to self-publish.

EducationalCardGames
Offline
Joined: 08/17/2008
I have set up my own small

I have set up my own small publishing business. It's a lot of hard work and yes the retailers want at least 3 games to make it worth while to take you on as a supplier.

apeloverage
Offline
Joined: 08/01/2008
If your game is print-and-play

you can apply to sell the PDFs through http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com .

www.indiepressrevolution.com sell both physical products and PDFs .

Both of these sites mostly sell role-playing games. And it seems like they only take board and card games which have the kind of themes that get made into role-playing games. This means fantasy, science-fiction, horror, swashbuckling, Indiana-Jones style adventure etc. So if your game's about rival railroad companies, maybe add some orcs :)

(note that this is purely based on looking at the sites. No doubt contacting them would get better advice).

InvisibleJon
InvisibleJon's picture
Offline
Joined: 07/27/2008
apeloverage wrote:So if your

apeloverage wrote:
So if your game's about rival railroad companies, maybe add some orcs :)
OrcRails! That could be really fun and funny.

Sorry to digress, but it amuses me a lot.

apeloverage
Offline
Joined: 08/01/2008
and the sequel

Uruk-Highways.

guildofblades
Offline
Joined: 07/28/2008
Its totally possible to self

Its totally possible to self publish. But if you want to start wjth productions of the kind of bog box board games that Fantasy Flight does, it certainly won't be cheap. You'll be talking about production runs of 10,000+ units that might end up costing as much as $10 per game, all costs told. And as other have said, you might need 2 to 3 of these before retailers and distributors start taking you seriously.

So if you have $350,000 to $1 mil laying around, you can jump right in and start that kind of company.

Realistically though, even if you have that capital, without the right experience you'll likely burn through it trying to establish yourself and be bankrupt within 2 years.

I always advise people who want to start on the road of becoming a self publisher to start smaller. Pick products that are smaller and easier to manage, possibly those that can be produced via POD, be it through a provider or in parts and manufacturered at home. It lets you get a feel for the market, get a feel for what customers will react too, get some business experience under your belt and get connections enough so that later, when you are ready to plunk down some serious money, you'll be far better prepared to manage it all.

Ryan S. Johnson
Guild of Blades Retail Group - http://www.guildofblades.com/retailgroup.php
Guild of Blades Publishing Group - http://www.guildofblades.com
1483 Online - http://www.1483online.com

hoduken
Offline
Joined: 10/03/2008
Hey thanks everyone! I really

Hey thanks everyone! I really appreciate all your advice.

gameprinter
gameprinter's picture
Offline
Joined: 08/06/2008
Why not?

Excellent advice from everyone!

We print for a lot of start up game companies. Many of them underestimate the difficulties in marketing/selling their game. Design, artwork, and even production issues are all things that you can control. Sales and marketing you only have limited control over - it's hard to make the phone ring!

The Magician
Offline
Joined: 12/23/2008
guildofblades wrote:Its

guildofblades wrote:
Its totally possible to self publish. But if you want to start wjth productions of the kind of bog box board games that Fantasy Flight does, it certainly won't be cheap. You'll be talking about production runs of 10,000+ units that might end up costing as much as $10 per game, all costs told. And as other have said, you might need 2 to 3 of these before retailers and distributors start taking you seriously.

So if you have $350,000 to $1 mil laying around, you can jump right in and start that kind of company.

Realistically though, even if you have that capital, without the right experience you'll likely burn through it trying to establish yourself and be bankrupt within 2 years.

I always advise people who want to start on the road of becoming a self publisher to start smaller. Pick products that are smaller and easier to manage, possibly those that can be produced via POD, be it through a provider or in parts and manufacturered at home. It lets you get a feel for the market, get a feel for what customers will react too, get some business experience under your belt and get connections enough so that later, when you are ready to plunk down some serious money, you'll be far better prepared to manage it all.

Ryan S. Johnson
Guild of Blades Retail Group - http://www.guildofblades.com/retailgroup.php
Guild of Blades Publishing Group - http://www.guildofblades.com
1483 Online - http://www.1483online.com


I plan to start really small. Infact I don't know if I want to really be a full blown game designer, as I am making a game or two as a hobby. I would like to start by selling 100-500 games out of my house, maybe have a little website, and basically sell to a vary narrow group. Those are at least my short-turm plans. On that scale of bussiness, do I have to deal with all the pains of running a bussiness discussed here.

Dralius
Dralius's picture
Offline
Joined: 07/26/2008
The Magician wrote:I plan to

The Magician wrote:
I plan to start really small. Infact I don't know if I want to really be a full blown game designer, as I am making a game or two as a hobby. I would like to start by selling 100-500 games out of my house, maybe have a little website, and basically sell to a vary narrow group. Those are at least my short-turm plans. On that scale of bussiness, do I have to deal with all the pains of running a bussiness discussed here.

The answer is that even a small business is still a business.

I run www.pyromythgames.com and we do small runs and pdf products. I still must maintain the website, licensing, accounting, advertising & promotion, development of new products, production, warehousing etc..

To do all that you will need to be willing to give up some of your free time, likely allot of it.

Willi B
Offline
Joined: 07/28/2008
Choice made for me....

Unless an unforeseen fortune comes my way, I would rather freelance. Why?

Because from what most people say, you become much more of a business manager than a game designer if you are looking at a TRADITIONAL business model. All the worries are someone other than yourself outside of making games and doing revisions in a timely manner. Did the cheap (uninsured) warehouse you used just ruin your entire stock of your hot new game because of a leak in the roof they never knew about? Not a freelancer's problem. Did you get a funny feeling in your gut when the contact from China kept saying, "no problem, boss!"? You get the picture.

I talked to a guy trying to do both full-time (i.e., designing and running the business.... it has been 80 hour weeks for 2.5 years and that company has released only 3 games in 4 years. They are in a slightly different sector than Euro, but it can become that.... I have no problem giving that kind of work to designing, but the business part doesn't appeal to me that much.

The thing I wouldn't mind trying once I am established is similar to what Martin Wallace is doing with his Treefrog company... people pass on your game, make a few copies and see if the success changes their minds. Even then, I would be reading a lot of books on business and talking to many people with experience before undertaking such a task - and I have already done quite a bit of both.

The Magician
Offline
Joined: 12/23/2008
Willi B wrote:Unless an

Willi B wrote:
Unless an unforeseen fortune comes my way, I would rather freelance. Why?

Because from what most people say, you become much more of a business manager than a game designer if you are looking at a TRADITIONAL business model. All the worries are someone other than yourself outside of making games and doing revisions in a timely manner. Did the cheap (uninsured) warehouse you used just ruin your entire stock of your hot new game because of a leak in the roof they never knew about? Not a freelancer's problem. Did you get a funny feeling in your gut when the contact from China kept saying, "no problem, boss!"? You get the picture.

I talked to a guy trying to do both full-time (i.e., designing and running the business.... it has been 80 hour weeks for 2.5 years and that company has released only 3 games in 4 years. They are in a slightly different sector than Euro, but it can become that.... I have no problem giving that kind of work to designing, but the business part doesn't appeal to me that much.

The thing I wouldn't mind trying once I am established is similar to what Martin Wallace is doing with his Treefrog company... people pass on your game, make a few copies and see if the success changes their minds. Even then, I would be reading a lot of books on business and talking to many people with experience before undertaking such a task - and I have already done quite a bit of both.


That's basically how I am, not a bussiness person and no desire to be one. But when it comes to design, I will spend all day every day. What exactly do you mean by freelance? Is it that you design games for a publisher to pick up, but not publishing it yourself?

Willi B
Offline
Joined: 07/28/2008
Correct

-o-mundo.

JP
Offline
Joined: 01/27/2009
Brand New to all this :-)

Hi Everyone,

I'm brand new to making Board Games... I'll quickly explain, I direct a Health Education Resource Company, and own a small Interactive CD ROM Health Education Business. CD's are not selling that well at the moment... and as an ex-teacher I love using board games with young people... I am therefore venturing into the production of some Health Education Board Games... a very Niche market here in the UK, but I have the knowldge as a Public Health Specialist and some Graphic Artist knowledge and therefore thought I'd bring it all together to make some Health Education Board games. Knowing the market quite well I suspect I would be selling only between 100 - 300 a year of each board games (say one on the Dangers of Smoking).

Can anyone tell me a reliable printer who prints Board Games in the UK... and what kind of cost per board game it would cost to make say 300 units? Just a rough estimate would be a great help!!

Any other tips and advice would be greatly appreciated :-)

Yours sincerely,

JP

bluepantherllc
bluepantherllc's picture
Offline
Joined: 07/29/2008
Cost to publish

To get a fairly accurate estimate you must first provide...

Number and type of components - are they wood, cardboard or plastic? Does it have a board? Cards, how many and how nice do you want them to be? Type of box and size?. Rules length & number of languages, artwork (who will provide it).

There are more options than you might think depending upon what level of finished good (saleable game) you want. If you want a "turnkey" solution from a publisher that sends the completely assembled, boxed and shrinkwrapped product to your garage, you will pay more. If you have a low volume and are willing to do some of the labor of assembly, collating, boxing, etc., you might find a more reasonable sale price.

SJ

Harpero
Offline
Joined: 02/04/2009
Who would print/assemble a small run game?

I'm teaching a University course about game design where groups of students are asked to design a board game as part of the assessment. I'd be interested in 'publishing' the best board game from each year group to a run of about 50-80 (so that we could sell the polished game to students). Last year's best was called 'Trophy Wife' - great fun and it deserved more exposure than sitting on a shelf forever.

Can anyone out there recommend a printing company who could handle this kind of order at a reasonable cost. We're certainly willing to do some of the assembly, collation, boxing, but would need board printing, instruction printing and pieces at the least. Also, any idea how long an order takes to be filled?

I'm in Australia (Perth) so I guess printing companies around these parts would be preferred! If anyone has any other ideas about how to publish such a small run (cheaply, so students can afford them!) please let me know.

cheers!

Katherine
Offline
Joined: 07/24/2008
Harpero, Wilkinson printers

Harpero,

Wilkinson printers do games but require a minimim print run of a lot more than 80. You may have better luck talking to University Printers to get advise.

Willi B
Offline
Joined: 07/28/2008
I doubt you will find such a thing....

Cheap manufacturing is mutually exclusive with small print runs.

POD services are good for paper and card stock, but that's about the end of it. Individual components should be bought and you should assemble the games yourself, otherwise it will be financially unfeasible... and totally forget the idea if you need custom parts as it will be out of any price range you could find reasonable.

My advice is to order what you cannot make yourself and assemble it yourself. There is no "cheap".

brisingre
Offline
Joined: 01/21/2009
My scheme

When I get around to publish, I intend to get a die cutter, cast my own miniatures, do a lot of work to make my own small run, and pretty much sell online or at conventions during the summers. (I'm a student.) I don't expect to make any real money doing this, I just want to get my ideas out really. (Starving artist mindset. If I want money, I have better ways to make it. I'm a pretty good techie.) Is it conceivable that I would break more-or-less even on a venture like this, excluding the fact that the time I spend manufacturing the sets is time I could be spending earning money? (I enjoy manufacturing things quite a lot, you see.) If I can at least make back travel expenses, convention costs and material costs, I'd call it a good idea.

Taavet
Taavet's picture
Offline
Joined: 08/15/2008
Where there is a will there's a way

brisingre wrote:
When I get around to publish, I intend to get a die cutter, cast my own miniatures, do a lot of work to make my own small run, and pretty much sell online or at conventions during the summers. (I'm a student.) I don't expect to make any real money doing this, I just want to get my ideas out really. (Starving artist mindset. If I want money, I have better ways to make it. I'm a pretty good techie.) Is it conceivable that I would break more-or-less even on a venture like this, excluding the fact that the time I spend manufacturing the sets is time I could be spending earning money? (I enjoy manufacturing things quite a lot, you see.) If I can at least make back travel expenses, convention costs and material costs, I'd call it a good idea.

Go for it!! I have no idea how much money you could make back but I would think it would be a good experience for you. If I didn't have other responsibilities (wife, kids, home) I would probably do the same. Even if I only made back half of all my expenses I think it would be good. Besides that the contacts and friendships you make doing it would be priceless.

I think we are all basically in the same boat and unfortunately there is no easy answer, just hard work, lots of time, money and more time and hard work!! But it provides its own intrinsic rewards which is why we all enjoy doing it.

brisingre
Offline
Joined: 01/21/2009
Yes

And hell, even if the entire thing fails, I'll still get to spend a summer hanging around conventions... When I get enough money to start this, I'll go for it. If I'm losing money selling home-made stuff, do I need a business license? Nobody at a craft fair or a flea market has one...

Katherine
Offline
Joined: 07/24/2008
In Aus? The minute you get a

In Aus?

The minute you get a business registation ...Bas activity statements... GST ....etc etc etc.

A hobby costs you nothing.

The Magician
Offline
Joined: 12/23/2008
Is there tax right off for

Is there tax right off for producing a board game? A friend insists I keep every receipt I spend on something for the game and games I buy to study. I thought it was a bit silly.

CappedNAmerica
CappedNAmerica's picture
Offline
Joined: 02/06/2009
You said...When someone gets a game published themselves, what k

First of all, to self-publish a board games or line of games it takes a lot of money and there is a lot more investment of time involved than you may think. If you intend to make a profit and actually enjoy being the designer of a successful board game, I recommend you read some books, do some research and most of all find yourself a broker.

Toy and game brokers work with inventors to help them take their creations to a level that makes them suitable for mass distribution. Hasbro and Mattel both have brokers who they prefer to work with. So find out who they are and contact those brokers to get an idea of what the requirements are for submission.

skeye
skeye's picture
Offline
Joined: 02/06/2009
Be prepared !

I absolutely agree with CappedNAmerica. Publish by yourselves is very expensive and you need te be very prepared when you are in front of different buyers or retailers. And in the other side, it is possible to present your game to a distributor or a Company. So the Company get your game concept and assume the production, and in return you get annually license fees (in percent) for your concept.
I work for a game company since 5 years yet and there are SO MANY people who are interested to publish their games. The selection is VERY TIGHT and VERY STRICT. You have to impress at the first moment you open the box and the concept has to be really different of what we already have on the market.
Be prepared !
F.

guildofblades
Offline
Joined: 07/28/2008
Publishing a game yourself

Publishing a game yourself need not be "very expensive". With the right game design and the rise of Print-on-Demand options, it can be dirt cheap to begin publishing a game these days. I have a large number of card game publishers who print between 10 and 100 decks to start and have out the door costs of $40 to $500 or so, depending on the size of their initial printing (not counting art costs and such anyways).

So its possible to start small and build from there.

It seems to me that most folks seem to be chasing "instant success". Ala, design one board game and somehow have it instantly be as successful as Monopoly. Everyone wants to shy away from self publishing because its next to impossible to achieve instant success that way.

But...its also next to impossible to achieve instant success licensing or selling your game design coming from a place of having zero prior experience in the field and zero reputation. Your chances are only slightly better than winning the lottery.

Let's face it. Success comes from hard work and from putting in your knocks. It requires time and persistence.

I will say that, in my opinion, it takes a talented designer to be a successful small game publisher. Especially a micro board or card game publisher. Because its oen thing to design a game while working on the premise that you may have any type of board, pieces or components because Hasbro or Mattel can work out all that stuff easily enough on the production end. But as a small publisher you have to work with a much more limited set of options and often have to get creative on the use and sourcing of components and designing successful games under such conditions adds more layers of difficulty to the process.

Design good games. Then either shop them around, self publish them, or both. The big publishers have recently showh themselves to be more willing to buy up games from small publishers with an already established track record than they have to license new ones. So both publishing and shopping it around might yield more market opportunities than simply shopping it around by itself. And if, for some reason, publishing a game makes it hard to sell to one of the big guys, so what. You can always design new games. And any reputation you build by marketing and selling your previous designs will give you a better chance a broadening your options for your new designs.

Ryan S. Johnson
Guild of Blades Retail Group - http://www.guildofblades.com/retailgroup.php
Guild of Blades Publishing Group - http://www.guildofblades.com
1483 Online - http://www.1483online.com

coco
Offline
Joined: 07/27/2008
I agree

I agree on every single word.

Syndicate content


forum | by Dr. Radut