This post is coming to you from the Castle Hotel in Windsor, opposite the Queen's house :-)
I've hardly been at home the last few weeks, and as a result my stock levels have dropped really low. Before coming out here I managed to get back up to seven finished copies in the flat, but at one point it dropped to zero! In such a situation (and especially with a lot of work travel on the horizon) I've not been putting much effort into publicity, which has had a knock-on effect with sales (as you would expect).
Sales have dropped to negligable levels (just two per week for the last couple of weeks), however, I'm going to be at home more for the next three weeks, so it's time to get back in gear. Yehuda got in contact with Scott Jon Siegel of Joystiq's board games column, and I sent him a copy last week for review. I'm hoping that will lead to a few sales, as it has an enormous readership, and being mostly focussed on computer games, the readership will probably not have a huge overlap with BoardGameGeek, where It's Alive! has already got a fair amount of coverage, thanks to Tom Vasel and Greg Schloesser among others.
In addition, I've been prepping for a potential second run. I should mention here that I think I've made a mistake regarding the second run. I've mentioned it a few times, here and on BGG and Boardgame News. My thinking was that I could create some publicity on a slow news day along the lines of 'This game is so good, it's going to be reprinted' which might encourage people to buy it. What I didn't think about were the risks involved in this course of action (can you tell who's been on project management courses for the last two weeks?). Thanks to the awful exchange rate between the US dollar and the pound, It's Alive! is fairly expensive for US customers, and the cost of airmail shipping just exacerbates the problem. Several Americans and Canadians have bought anyway (thanks guys & gals!), but the cost has put several (that I know about, and probably at least a few more) off buying. Then comes the news that you'll be able to cheaper, and potentially better production quality version fairly soon. There goes any incentive to buy the hand-made version. D'oh! An added downside is that if I can't sell the handmade version in a reasonable period of time, I'll be less inclined to spend the huge sum of money required for a professional run, as my confidence in sales covering those costs will decrease. Muppet. Still, at least I've learned from the experience.
In the background I've been investigating the professional run, if I do go down that route in the future I'll need to have several things in place to capitalise on the opportunitiees it provides. I've been investigating a few things to that end:
- Speaking to manufacturers to investigate costs and get quotes.
- Speaking to distributors in the US to investigate whether I'd be better off dealing with them or individual shops.
- Speaking to UK shops to gauge interest and raise awareness.
My list of UK shops has grown dramatically for very little effort. I did a search on Google for 'Board Game Shops', and I considered only the first page of results and the sponsored links. Surprisingly the ones I've already met/spoken to: Games Lore and Eclectic Games (which already stock It's Alive!) plus Shire Games, Spirit Games and Travelling Man didn't feature in those results (so either their search engine optimisation is failing or my search term was bad). But it did throw up an additional ten potential stockists that I wasn't aware of: Board Game Company, Farscape Games, Green Knight Games, Game Stack, Legend Games, Lingards Games, Orcs Nest, Secret Game Shop, The Games Player and The Game Store. These all seem to stock strategy games (i.e. modern Euro- & Ameri-games). So I've contacted them all to gauge interest. Hopefully it'll generate some, but it was remarkably little effort if it was a waste of time.