I'm continually trying to improve my process for releasing a new game.
It's Alive! was a special case, as I'd already released a limited edition, so I had a lot of feedback already on the game. Still, I mentally fixed a price in my head (£15, the same as the limited edition) and then struggled to get the manufacturing price low enough to make it affordable. As a result, I need to sell a lot of copies to break even. Still, it seems to be doing pretty well at the moment and the upcoming BoardGameGeek competition will hopefully boost awareness and lead to a few more sales.
With Carpe Astra things improved a little further. I sent some blind playtesting copies to friends in Europe and America, and although the price ended up being more expensive than I expected due to the collapse of the pound, my margins are still better than I managed for It's Alive! I know that sounds money-grabbing, but if my margins aren't good enough to sustain me then I'm going to have to quit the company - I need money to eat!
Sumeria saw a further improvement in playtesting best practice, I sent more blind playtesting copies out, and to proper blind playtesters (people I'd had no contact with previously). The price is more expensive, but my margins will hopefully be better again - still not where it should be, but in the right direction. Of course, since I'm paying for this in Euros again, there's a few months worth of exchange rate shenanigans between now and when I pay for it which could go either way (though forecasts say it'll head in the right direction). I got everything in place a little earlier too, and so I've been able to send out solicitation information on the game, with some artwork 2.5 months before the game will be released. Hopefully this will help boost early sales from distributors to shops and hence from me to distributors. I've also started pimping it with local game groups, I took it to my game night last Tuesday, my games club last Thursday and I'll be taking it to a few conventions in the next few months, trying to build pre-orders and some buzz.
I also need a game or two for Essen release. I've been looking for games for a while now and have a few prototypes that I'm considering. One of these I'm quite excited about, so I'm trying to improve my process yet again. I've recruited more playtesters (I had two extra groups for Carpe Astra, six for Sumeria and now I've got twelve for this one), and I'm getting the game playtested before I sign it up. That way if the feedback is disappointing, I'm not tied into releasing the game. Feedback has been pretty positive so far though.
There are several processes I have to manage: game selection, testing/development, manufacturing and sales. I'm an expert at none of these, which is why I need to keep pushing myself to improve things, instituting what I think is best practice, what I've heard is best practice or what my customers request from me. I can't afford to sit still, making the same mistakes or missing the same opportunities time and time again. The company requires me to improve things continually, so that I can make the best of every situation and make the company successful.