Jun 27, 2008

Thoughts on Self-Publishing

On the BoardGameGeek forums, someone asked me if I had ever considered self-publishing. In truth, I have thought about it at times. Heck, I think about it every time I get rejected by a publisher (so it is on my mind quite often). However, I see several issues:
  1. Money
    I have heard an estimate that to get even just a simple card game through a small print run will cost at least $5,000. A full game with a lot of components, such as Titans of Industry, might cost at least three or four times that. I won't have that kind of "throwaway" savings for at least another couple of years.

  2. Time
    Selling your game to distributors has got to be absurdly time-consuming, especially when they've never heard of you. I expect it to be a full order of magnitude worse than selling to publishers. I don't want to spend my time cold-calling distributors. I want to spend my time designing games.

  3. Expertise
    Being a publisher is a business job. You need to know how to do things like marketing, supplier relations, cash flow management, etc. Now, I am not completely lacking in these skills. I have taken many business courses and will soon begin pursuing my MBA. However, I know enough to know that I do not know enough about business in general and the game industry in particular to effectively publish and sell a game.

  4. Name Recognition
    Let's face it: the euro/hobby game industry is like many other industries that serve consumers. There's the top 1% and then everyone else. Name recognition goes a long way towards selling your game. People know what to expect when they hear that a game comes from Fantasy Flight or Days of Wonder. Even publishers with diverse offerings, such as Rio Grande, are at least known for their quality. As difficult as it would be to get my game through distributors and onto game shelves, it will be sheer luck to have anyone even know about my game to begin with. Most enthusiasts keep abreast of major offerings from major publishers. They are certainly not scouring the internet for the latest press release from GDW Games. (Yes, that is what I would call my company.)

So, while I appreciate the suggestion, self-publishing just isn't in the cards for me anytime soon.

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