Wednesday, September 30

Publishing is Cyclical

The Summer has been pretty quiet here at Reiver Towers. After the rush of orders for the release of Sumeria, the quiet Summer months have just seen the occasional restock and submission.

With not a huge amount to do, and mixed sales, I've been feeling a little down and hence I've put off a whole bunch of things I should have been doing. Now all of a sudden I've got loads of submissions, a weekly playtesting session and only three weeks to go until Essen. Panic!

Let me explain the mixed sales comment. In a lot of ways my sales look awesome: I've got year-on-year growth of 1000% for the first quarter of this financial year and 150% for the second quarter. My second best month of sales ever was in June. For the first eight months of 2009 my monthly sales were up (and often by a lot) over the corresponding month of last year.

Of course, as with any statistics you can spin them any way you want, and if you're not feeling too chipper you look at the other side: September was the first month where sales were worse than last year. October last year will be a very hard month to beat. Last year with two games coming out in September and November, the vast majority of my sales (85%) were in the last half of the year, so although I've done much better this year so far the real test will be the next six months when I don't have any new games coming out. My sales so far this financial year are half of last year's total, with half the year gone and no new games on the horizon. I'm hoping for a boost from Essen and the holiday season, but how much of a boost will I get?

Anyway, I digress. The last few months haven't been that busy. All of a sudden there's loads going on and I'm struggling to keep up. I've been approached by Grégory of Vassal Factory to do a Vassal module of Sumeria. I've got to finalise everything for Essen (and by everything I mean: flights, getting my games there and any overstock back, stand display), I'm trying to work on two prototype games and trying to get playtest copies for a third made up and sent off to my blind playtesters. In addition I've got to catch up on my books, do a VAT return and calculate and pay my designers their royalties.

This is definitely a business where I go through cycles. When I'm getting a game ready to go to the printer, or getting ready for a big convention like Essen, there's loads to do (and of course a bunch of other stuff just happens to fall at the same time), then there's a lull until the next period of frantic activity. Fun!


Darren said...

Hey again, Jack. Thanks for all your advice so far. I asked on if anyone is interested in sharing. I read you made lots of copies of your games yourself. Have you ever made square tiles? I asked on BGG and they all direct me to American products. Mine are simple square tiles, like the Eternity II puzzle. If you don't have a quick answer then don't worry about it, I don't want to take up too much of your time. I just thought that
you might know a good way off the top of your head. I wish to sell these, so it's not just for a prototype. I was thinking of sticking photo paper to chipboard. A sheet of chipboard is £2 in B&Q.

If you don't know anything about that, maybe you know about the best way to make a board & box. The board is a simple 10x10 grid, though I wish to make the border squares dark grey and the interior 8x8 light grey. I was thinking of just sticking it to chipboard and cutting it to quad fold, allowing me to cut costs by making a smaller box. Do you buy your boxes from anyone? I was thinking of just sticking printed paper onto the boxes as the simplest way.

I appreciate all your help, Jack.

Jack said...

Hiya Darren,

For making boxes, boards and counters I've using greyboard (available from, and then glued paper on. I used 3M Display Mount glue and got the printing done by (ideally laminated for a nice finish). I then cut out the counters using a craft knife and steel ruler (be very careful - I cut myself a lot!).

If you want to buy pre-made boxes, I've used - they will also glue the label on for a more professional look.