Despite the slight disappointment of Essen, things are still going very well considering how new I am to this. While at Essen I sold my 4,000th game. 4,000! That's way more than I ever expected to make, let alone sell at the beginning. So I'm going to do a brief retrospective about how things have changed in the just over three years since I started Reiver Games.
In October 2006 my company was four months old. I had released Border Reivers only three months ago, and was still manically constructing copies by hand in my spare time. Each copy of Border Reivers took three hours to assemble from the pieces I had ordered - since I had to construct the boxes, tiles and cards from scratch. Things seemed to be going pretty well, I was making good progress through the print run, and the people I met at shows seemed to enjoy it. But giving up my weekends and evenings (and even some holiday from work) to manufacture the copies was hard work. I was already doing slightly better than I had hoped, but never in a million years did I think I would have sold 4,000 games in three years time.
A year later it felt like the company was going somewhere. I'd sold out of the original 100 copies of Border Reivers and made a reasonable profit. I was now a publisher too: Yehuda's It's Alive! was the second game in my catalogue, released five months earlier in June. Loads of people self-publish their own board game design, fewer make the jump to publisher of other peoples' games too. It's Alive! was selling well and proving very popular, I'd decided to make 300 of these, again largely by hand in my spare time around a full-time job, and I was on course to sell out of these too within the year. Could I do this professionally? I was beginning to wonder...
Six months earlier I'd made the jump to full-time publisher, quitting my fairly well-paid job in IT Project Management for a life of playing board games and begging for food. The first five months of full-time work had been disappointing, I'd decided to re-print It's Alive! professionally after selling out of the 300 copies limited edition in May. The reprint had taken a lot longer to manufacture than I had hoped, and I had spent many months without any products at all. Still It's Alive! had finally arrived in September, and I'd just got back from my first Essen. Essen had been a huge success and I was on a real high. I'd take 840 copies (a full pallet) of It's Alive! to Essen. Sales to punters hadn't been huge (I'd not really advertised at all) but I'd got rid of the rest of my stock to a couple of distributors and picked up four distributors in total. I was ready to conquer the world!
In the year since last Essen things have gone extremely well. I've picked up six distributors in North America, seven in Europe and two in the far East. I've released another two games: Carpe Astra and Sumeria and sales look promising. I've still not broken even on any of my games, but they continue to sell well (after a Summer dip) so I'm hopefully that I'll reach that point on at least one of them fairly soon. Essen this year was slightly disappointing, I'd hoped my advertising spend would have led to more sales to customers, and the freight prices for carting my games to and from the show meant that I didn't make a boat-load of cash (like I did last year). But with no brand new games and good distribution in Europe, there were more people there who owned my games, rather than had never heard of them. Still, I've got interest from a whole bunch of new distributors and the Christmas season is approaching, so I'm hopeful of better things to come.
I'm now beginning to feel like a proper publisher - I've several games in stock, pretty good distribution and people are beginning to know who I am. Onwards and upwards!