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Promotion/marketing as the game's designer

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Paul Ott
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Anyone know how much board game publishers expect designers to be involved in promotion/marketing, and if that expectation affects the negotiated rates?

questccg
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I think it has to do with your relationship

If you negotiate a deal where you get paid a percentage for each sale and the publisher will take care of all the details, well most likely the publisher will decide when to involve you in trade shows (for example).

But if you deal with a smaller publisher where you are a partner, well everything you can help with... Is probably better for you and them.

(*** Sorry was on my mobile when I wrote this! ***)

Some designers "sell" their design and rights over to a Publisher. In return the Publisher does everything in their capacity to mass produce the game in question.

But there are some smaller Publishers who don't have an artist "on staff". Or even a Graphics Designer... If you can help them out with "getting the word out", running a Facebook Fan page, Answer BGG questions about the game, etc. Well you are doing a great service in helping your Publisher.

Choosing between the two (2) can be a "Difficult" choice. If you've invested years in designing your game, you'll probably want to go with a smaller Publisher and ask for some say in terms of the product's direction.

If it's just a design with no investment (like artwork) and you can convince a Publisher to run with the game... Well maybe making a small percentage on a larger volume might be more interesting...

So again, it's all about your relationship with your Publisher!

Paul Ott
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Thanks for the in-depth

Thanks for the in-depth response!

lewpuls
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Trend

In olden days, publishers took care of promotion. Now, they're publishing so many games just trying to stay in business (because the average title sells many fewer copies) that they rarely do much promotion. It's up to the designer.

It varies of course, but that's the general trend.

Jay103
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That's surprising.. the

That's surprising.. the publisher is the one on the hook to sell stuff or lose money. They can't rely on the designer to pay for advertising of any kind.

Now if a contract specified that the designer would make themselves available for X, Y, and Z publicity functions, that would still make perfect sense to me.

questccg
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Not part of a contract

There are no "contracts" that demand a that a designer be available for publicity. It's more a matter of "promotion costs". What I mean is that a Publisher could pay for a Flight + Hotel, IF the designer is willing to make an appearance at a Game Con. So it's the Publisher PAYING for the designer.

That's not generally stipulated in contracts, it's something that a Publisher will do to reinforce the visibility of a game... Games nowadays go under 1,000 units in many cases (outside from Kickstarters). We know that first time KS are usually 100-300 backers and that usually there is stock remaining or left-over which can be sold at Cons too!

A Publisher that decides to pickup a design usually has an already established network to push product. So there is an advantage dealing with more experienced Publisher... But at the same time, EVERYONE wants to do business with them.

But there are advantages to working with SMALLER Publishers too. They are more committed to the designs they Publish because it's not a question of volume but more a question of QUALITY. Small Publishers need to resell GOOD (maybe even GREAT) games. Things people WANT to play.

What I think Dr. Lew is talking about is SELF-PROMOTION. You, as the designer, need to get dirty and spend hours e-mailing Sell Sheets... Or go to local Game Stores and demonstrate prototypes, attend local Cons too, etc. I personally have done our local Comic Con, visited the Local Game stores to playtest with the people there, spent probably about 40 hours just e-mailing people about the game ("TradeWorlds") ... and have plenty more lined-up to do too...

I guess it depends on how much effort you want to invest in making your game as successful as it can be?!

lewpuls
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Even in the book publishing

Even in the book publishing world, few authors go on promotional tours (which are, as far as I know, paid for by the publisher).

The question in the end is, how much can the efforts of the publisher or the designer make a difference to sales. Unless the publisher spends a lot of money on advertising, not much. And few games are sufficiently likely to succeed, to warrant expensive advertising.

So designers tend to self-promote their games.

Tedthebug
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Ours has a clause

Our contract has a clause saying we have to help when asked basically. It doesn’t spell out any specific instances, hours, conventions etc

questccg
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Maybe 3 conferences a Year?!

Tedthebug wrote:
Our contract has a clause saying we have to help when asked basically. It doesn’t spell out any specific instances, hours, conventions etc

Does it stipulate WHO is going to PAY for the additional "help"??? Something as vague as that reference makes it more of an additional clause that cannot be enforced which makes it invalid (legally speaking). Usually it needs to be SPECIFIC something like this:

  • The designer agrees to assist the publisher in publicizing the work (known as your game) by attending conferences at the publisher's request. In turn, the publisher agrees to pay for lodging and flights to get to the conference and back.

Something like THAT doesn't say WHEN, nor HOW LONG, etc. It just stipulates that the designer will not pay for the costs of attending the conference and that the publisher agrees to pay for the travel and lodging costs.

It also says "at the publisher's request"... Which means not all conferences and probably only those that a publisher really wants the designer to be present.

Also remember that a publisher in a Year is selling and marketing many games. So if they attend 3 conferences in a Year... They may request the assistance of three different designers to spread the word about their different games...

I mean they can't PAY for "everyone" and mostly their TOP SELLERS in that Year are the ones that they will sponsor the cost... Something along those lines...

Tedthebug
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You’re right

It is more along what you have said. I can’t recall the exact wording but I do know we ask clarifying questions & small changes were made to the wording to ensure that. It just didn’t specify the hours, or conventions but did mention they would cover costs.

polyobsessive
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My limited experience

The two contracts I have signed so far (both with the same publisher, so this only really counts as one data point) state that promotion in general is the responsibility of the publisher, but that I should be available for interviews and other reasonable promotional activities, and that if travel is involved, this is at the expense of the publisher.

What is "reasonable" is a matter of debate, but as I have followed the first rule of contracts, which is to not sign a contract with someone you don't trust, I am confident that they will not be taking liberties.

Jay103
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polyobsessive wrote:What is

polyobsessive wrote:
What is "reasonable" is a matter of debate, but as I have followed the first rule of contracts, which is to not sign a contract with someone you don't trust, I am confident that they will not be taking liberties.

"Hey, there's this great Malaysian blogger with over a hundred followers. We need you to do a 2-hour video chat segment with him.. it'll be 3am your time, tomorrow morning. He doesn't speak English, so please brush up on your Malay."

polyobsessive
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:D

Jay103 wrote:
"Hey, there's this great Malaysian blogger with over a hundred followers. We need you to do a 2-hour video chat segment with him.. it'll be 3am your time, tomorrow morning. He doesn't speak English, so please brush up on your Malay."

After which, no court in the land would convict me! :D

questccg
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Canadian Humour! LOL

Jay103 wrote:
"Hey, there's this great Malaysian blogger with over a hundred followers. We need you to do a 2-hour video chat segment with him.. it'll be 3am your time, tomorrow morning. He doesn't speak English, so please brush up on your Malay."

I think I did a video chat with this blogger! Was a one-of-a-kind experience... (Jokingly)

On a side note, our game's writer is from the Philippines and he writes better English than myself!!! Go figure?!

Never know with the Internet where you'll find someone interested in HELPING. Look at Jamey Stegmaier's Scythe: Jacub Rozalski (Poland I believe).

For my own game I sent out Reviewer copies to Mexico!!! We never got a review, although I did get some e-mails about the game from them... Reviewers are a tough crowd... everyone is soliciting them for a preview or a review...

Jay103
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My tile artist is in Puerto

My tile artist is in Puerto Rico, and my lead illustrator is in Texas. I’ve never met either, or even spoken to them on the phone.

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