I've now sold (i.e. received the money for and shipped) the first one hundred copies of It's Alive! I've a bunch of customers that still haven't replied to my emails letting them know their copies are ready, but I know for a fact that some of my notification emails are being swallowed by spam filters. I'm still not sure how to get around that. I wonder how many haven't heard from me due to spam filters, how many are waiting for more cash to come in first and how many have gone silent because they've changed their minds?
I've another thirty-eight orders outstanding, but a bunch of those are for friends and family who will get them when I see them, and at least fifteen are waiting to hear back from the customer. So the waiting list is feeling a lot shorter. Once I've cleared the waiting list I can make the game properly available, with PayPal buttons on my website, and a listing in the BoardGameGeek marketplace. Once the game is available to buy I should have less of the customers who fail to respond, as I expect that the first thing I'll hear is that I've received the money.
In other news, I've started playtesting some of the submissions I've received. Whether I publish a game of my own or another submission I only really want to go with games that I think are excellent. When playtesting another designer's game I have the advantage that there is a critical review by someone who isn't invested in the game (i.e. me). The game has to convince me that it's worth gambling some of my hard earned cash and a lot of my precious free time on. Whereas when the game is my own that is lacking - I've invested a lot in the game already and I want to see my name in print again, so I've got to look at it really carefully to make sure I'm not favouring it and pushing it out before it is ready. My company is too small to suffer from publishing a game that is not good enough, that kind of thing could really harm my fledgling reputation.
I'm going to hold a six-way play-off between the games I'm considering in the next few weeks in a pub in York one evening. If you'd like to come along and help out let me know in the comments. In return for your time and effort you'll get your name in the credits and a 20% playtesters discount on any of the games you play that I publish.