Back in May I talked about the economics of a small print run of a game. At that point I was intending to start a second hobby publishing company (a la Reiver Games, my first, unsuccessful attempt) and make small print runs of hand-made games.
A promotion at work, coupled with the realisation that I really didn't have time for the sort of promotion required to sell 150 games in a year around my family commitments meant that pipe dream died, but I then resurrected a lighter version of it for NaGa Demon last year: instead of a 150 copy run - just twenty for the twenty friends and family who had pre-ordered a copy when I announced the 150 copy run.
I was going to make the run at cost, so I wasn't trying to make any money any more, just reward those supporters who'd backed me instinctively and do something fun for NaGa DeMon. I'd originally priced the 150 copy run at £9, cheap enough to encourage sales but expensive enough to make a decent return on investment, so I could invest further in future games. I decided to do the very small print run at the same price to be fair to those who had ordered at that price.
I found a local printer who could not only do it at that price, but also do the box labels as actual labels - on vinyl which (I hoped) would save a massive amount of hassle (affixing the labels to the boxes for Border Reivers and the hand-made first edition of It's Alive! was a massive pain and time sink), the only problem was that I needed to make thirty copies to (almost) break even. A quick post on BGG and another six were pre-ordered, leaving just four of the run unclaimed.
I needed greyboard (that's chipboard I think in the US) for the boxes, thick card for the box inserts and then the printing done. I had thick card and greyboard kicking around the house (what self-respecting game designer doesn't?) so I donated those to the cause for free which just left the cost of the printing.
The printing was going to be £255 for thirty copies, selling all of those at £9 would yield £270, but I'm keeping one, and I've given one to the designer of the font I used in the game in lieu of payment so if I sell the rest that's £252. I've also got to pay for the postage and packing to the US for the font-creator's copy, another £5.55, so if I sell out of the print run I'll have lost £8.55.
Once I've finished making the hand-made limited edition, I'm going to make it available on Drive Thru Cards as a Print on Demand game, which if it's priced sensibly might reclaim that £8.55 if I sell a bunch of copies - clearly I'm not getting rich from this, but hopefully not losing too much either.
I've got eight copies left at home now, five of which I've finished and three of which are just awaiting their cards (an hour and a half's work). Two of those eight are definitely spoken for, two of them were pre-ordered but I've not had confirmation from the orderers (muninnhuginn and Richard W, if you're reading this, please let me know if you still want one!) and four are as yet unclaimed. If you'd like one they're £9 plus shipping (£4.10 to the UK, £4.75 to Europe and £5.55 elsewhere). Americans and Candians are definitely best off waiting for the Drive Thru Cards version, which will be much cheaper for you, unless you're desperate for a signed and numbered limited edition copy!