Friday, September 14

Run Sizes

I've been thinking about the size of runs that I've been doing. I did one hundred copies of Border Reivers and three hundred of It's Alive! When I made Border Reivers I was fairly happy that I could sell fifty copies, but one hundred was a push - I had no idea whether I could sell that many. I did, in less than a year, but the construction was punishing. I spent three hundred hours making the games, plus probably another hundred or more on the artwork. It's Alive! was an easier game to sell and manufacture. Having to pay a designer royalties and an artist for the artwork, I needed to make more copies to amortise the cost across them. Due to the quicker construction time I felt that I could make more copies in a reasonable time, though until I got some of the boxes professionally made it was very slow going.

In terms of raw sale potential (if I sold every copy at full price), the Border Reivers run was £30 * 100 = £3,000. It turned out being considerably less than that once I'd paid PayPal fees, convention fees, given a few copies away, wasted a few copies through cocking up construction, and given play-testers a discount. Still, theoretically £3,000. It's Alive! has a raw sales potential of £4,500 (£15 * 300). I'm thinking that aiming for a run size of £5,000 for hand-made runs is a reasonable target. The bigger, more expensive games will have shorter runs, which is good due to the higher cost in terms of construction time. The small, cheaper games (which take a lot less time to manufacture) I can do more copies of. Until now I won't have had enough cash to fund a run of this size, but It's Alive! should leave me with enough funds to do it.

I'm seriously considering a professional run of It's Alive! for after I've sold out of the hand-made run of It's Alive! It's proved itself as a popular game (inside the top 1100 on BoardGameGeek now) so I'm more confident about investing a large sum of money in it. I'm thinking of a run of 3,000 copies (which I will mostly sell through shops and distributors with possibly a few more at Essen and BGGCon next year if all goes to plan). That would have a sales potential of £45,000, but I would only see a fraction of it as I'd have to sell at a significant discount to shops and distributors. It will cost me a lot of money to pay for up front though, and I'll have to work out ways to contact shops and distributors and interest them in the game, otherwise I'll be significantly out of pocket.


Yehuda said...

I would think that a larger print run would allow the games to be somewhat less expensive (or bigger/better quality, take your pick).

Check out Larry's review on BGN.


Jack said...

I was very flattered by Larry's review - very complementary to both of us!

Very large print runs certainly offer the chance of cheaper prices, but a medium size run means the set-up costs (thousands of pounds) and having to discount it to shops and distributors limit the ability to reduce the price.


Philip said...

You games look really good! I've been keeping track of your progress the last few weeks. I am also self-publishing a board game. I am on the way to producing 50 copies (it's a bit bulky with several components). Your blog has been quite an inspiration to me. I have a blog and will soon have a website, but it's not all together yet. Anyway, just wanted to let you know you are making a difference out there! Thanks!

Jack said...

Hiya Philip,

I'm glad to hear Creation and Play has been helpful. The idea was to share knowledge that' I'd learnt the hard way, and prove to similar minds people that it is possible to publish your own games successfully.