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Self-publishing using POD

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questccg
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Joined: 04/16/2011

Hi all,

I have been working on a 2nd Edition of Quest Adventure Cards. Learning from my past mistakes, I have been leaning towards self-publishing the new edition using POD (Print-On-Demand) service. After doing some research (and chatting with members of a POD community), I was very surprised that the average number of games you can sell on a POD service is about 20 games (only)!

Further research also determined that a $5.00 profit for a POD service was a GOOD return. Doing the math, $5 x 20 copies gave me $100 of profit. This shocked me... I thought that the POD service, with its community and the large volume of different games would lead to something more substantial. Unfortunately not.

I was told to either seek out a publisher or to run my own Kickstarter campaign. Since $100 of profit won't get me anywhere near the amount of funds I need for artwork, I am now considering running a Kickstarter campaign.

What is sad to say is that PODs who offer superior service and excellent quality, still provide little to no profit to its game designers (and their communities). If you are making a game it is because it is a labor of love... And if you self-publish it using POD it is because you want to release your game, for better or for worst!

Cheers all.

TwentyPercent
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Joined: 12/25/2012
Good to know...

That's really good information to pass on, especially to those of us who want to publish a game. Thanks a ton!

20%

Traz
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Joined: 04/06/2009
there's a community?

Never heard of a 'POD Community'. Where did you find that?

Am interested in who you contacted. I suspect they do direct sales from their site. Not surprised that not that few copies get purchased. Self-publishing truly is a labor of love, however there ARE benefits to doing it on your own.

* You control the quality. Once you've shopped around for all your components - you know what goes in the box. Simple.
* You control the advertising. If you're like me, you'll suck at it. You'll get it registered on BGG, start a blog for it, talk about it every chance you get and not get very far. If you're a marketing genius you already know what to do [can you help ME?!].
* You control the price. No brainer- you know what it costs, you decide how much to charge.
* You control the exposure. My suggestion has always been to take your games to a convention. Contact the organizers well in advance and offer to run your games at a table for a full day. You get awesome feedback, playtesting if you need it, and possible sales at the flea market to those who enjoyed the experience. This option is a positive symbiotic one because the conventions are always looking for extra events to give convention goers more options. The opportunity to playtest games before they appear on the market, or to play and buy prototype versions or 1st Editions is becoming a bigger draw every year. It also gets you into the Convention for free. Everybody wins!
* It gets you past the legal brain damage for large publishers looking for something to add to their lineup. If they know something's already been published, they don't need to do the legal disclaimer thing, they just need to look it over and decide if they want to hand a contract and a check. Sweetness indeed.

I'm sure others could list more, but that should get you started.

questccg
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In response...

Traz wrote:
Never heard of a 'POD Community'. Where did you find that?

The community of people who use the POD service... Some places have communities and forums of their own dedicated to game design.

Traz wrote:
Am interested in who you contacted.

I will PM (Private Message) you that info...

Traz wrote:
I suspect they do direct sales from their site. Not surprised that not that few copies get purchased.

Yes they do *direct sales* and it was the volume I was interested in knowing. Average is 20 games, some of the top sellers can sell 100+ copies, but that's not the norm.

BubbleChucks
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Joined: 06/07/2012
@ Traz re Marketing Marketing

@ Traz re Marketing

Marketing is like anything else in a competitive commercial environment, its a battle.

When you add a game to BGG you are setting yourself a hard task in terms of generating interest. I'm not saying adding a game to BGG is a bad idea, it most definitely isnt (and everyone with a game at the required level of development should be encouraged to do so).

Its simply a matter of being a little fish in a big pond (more like an ocean). Its hard to attract interest in a game when so many other games are represented on the site.

If the usual marketing ploys hold true then the best way to reach out to potential consumers - and the best way to win the interest battle - is to choose your ground and target potential consumers directly.

Or to put it another way, its better to be the only fish in a number of smaller ponds than a tiny fish in an ocean filled with big fish.

So if you have a fishing game then target fishing forums and fishing product review sites (before christmas might be a good idea). Got a game about trains then target Railway enthusiast sites.

Cutting it short - if you go where there isnt as much competition and if you have a quality product, one that a group can identify with, you are much more likely to stand out.

kos
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Joined: 01/17/2011
Self-publishing means YOU are responsible for selling your game

questccg wrote:
I was very surprised that the average number of games you can sell on a POD service is about 20 games (only)!

Yes, I'd agree with the number quoted there, but it doesn't surprise me. What you are saying is, "I was very surprised that most amateur game designers suck at marketing." The fact that most amateur game designers suck at marketing doesn't surprise me in the least.

Case in point: I am an amateur game designer. I suck at marketing. I have published a few games through a POD service. I have total sales less than 20 units. However, I acknowledge that I am 100% responsible for marketing my games, and I place 0% blame on the POD service for my lack of sales.

questccg wrote:
Further research also determined that a $5.00 profit for a POD service was a GOOD return.

Yes, I'd agree with this statement, with the caveat that you can set your own price. So if you want to earn $50 profit per unit then you just set the price to be Production Cost + $50. Of course you won't get any sales that way, but then your beef is with the economic theory of supply and demand, not with the POD.

questccg wrote:
What is sad to say is that PODs who offer superior service and excellent quality, still provide little to no profit to its game designers (and their communities).

I don't agree with this statement, on that basis that it implies the POD service is somehow responsible for providing profits to game designers. They are not. The profit you receive through a POD service is 100% determined by you. You choose the components, you set the price, you do the marketing, you do the networking, you do the promotions. If you don't receive much profit then you don't have far to go to find the cause.

I do agree with the general gist of your post, being that self-publishing board games is not the path to fame and riches. Being an amateur game designer is like being an amateur artist. Do it because you love it, or don't do it at all. If you end up with the fame and riches, congratulations.

Regards,
kos

questccg
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Joined: 04/16/2011
Lost art

kos wrote:
I do agree with the general gist of your post, being that self-publishing board games is not the path to fame and riches. Being an amateur game designer is like being an amateur artist. Do it because you love it, or don't do it at all. If you end up with the fame and riches, congratulations.

I'm not sure about the "fame and riches" but making some money versus none (taking a loss). 20 copies sold over the Internet is *horrible*. Websites get thousands of visitors in a day, you would think that would translate to more online sales.

Perhaps it is just me who is stuck in the past and believe card games are a lot of fun. But the way the sales seem to go (Proof from our First Edition of Quest Adventure Cards), it seems to be a dying art...

guildofblades
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Joined: 07/28/2008
Card Game Sales

H Quest CCG,

Card games right now are booming. We sell tons of them at our game retail store. Bu there are hundreds and hundreds of them avaiable, so there is a lot of competition at the publisher level to get the attention of the end consumer. Further, these are games that have made it to our retail store shelves. That means, by in large, they are availabe through distrbutors or direct from the publisher at functional business terms. These games are getting face time with consumers.

Selling games, sight unseen, direct to the public via websites is an entirely different animal. Most online sales are for games by publishers who have already earned a reputation with the end consumer and so the end consumer has confidence in their game, even though they are orderings that particular one site unseen. It takes a LOT of dedicated marketing to begin to generate enough positive word of mouth for a game or a game line to get past this hurdle in online sales. The vast majorty of small start up publishers, and especially those producing via POD (Because they have little money invested) do not put enough effort into the marketing side to begin to build that momentum.

Thats a lot of hard work and takes time. Guild of Blades Publishing began in 1994 and had published near 200 games by 2003 which is when we had finally achieved enough momentum for the company to become something other than a non-paying part time labor of love.

Ryan
Guild of Blades

questccg
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Joined: 04/16/2011
Booming business?!?!

guildofblades wrote:
Card games right now are booming. We sell tons of them at our game retail store. Bu there are hundreds and hundreds of them available, so there is a lot of competition at the publisher level to get the attention of the end consumer. Further, these are games that have made it to our retail store shelves. That means, by in large, they are available through distributors or direct from the publisher at functional business terms. These games are getting face time with consumers.

My reaction to this is first (Yay) and second (Really?!).

I have corrected several *challenges* from the First Edition of my product Quest Adventure Cards(tm).

The first is that ORIGINALLY the product was going to be sold in BOOSTER packs ($5.00 retail for 10 high-quality cards). But the first *challenge* was there was no instruction manual or game booklet. Yes - all rules were available online in 2 languages (English and French).

In the Second Edition, which is naturally incompatible with the First Edition of the game, we are no longer a CCG. We are more like a Munchkin or LCG in that we offer 10 sets (or 100 cards) in our product. This was another suggestion brought to our attention at a local game club: somebody wanted to buy the complete set, without worrying about boosters...

Another fix, was scoring... In the First Edition, scoring was a major part of deciding who wins the game and who loses. In the Second Edition we have 2 different play models: the first is without keeping track of score, first player to complete 3 quests wins. The second is again with points and players can establish a win score like 100 points or 250 points (sorta like Rummy).

I am going to hopefully launch a Kickstarter campaign to help with paying the cost to produce the artwork. I think our cards from our First Edition (when I see them) are a quality product. We are planning a simple reward system, with only 4 reward levels. Basically we are looking for players who want to buy into the game by pre-ordering with an exclusive Kickstarter limited edition of the Second Edition.

Anyways with a finished product (artwork, manual and packaging) we hope we might be able to attract a publisher to take the sale of our product to the next level...

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