the Fairgame Archive

2006-03-03: Distribution
by Emily

Looks like folks from out our way are making the move to Indie Press Revolution.  Vincent posted today about making Dogs available via IPR, and I posted yesterday on Crowtracks about the same for Breaking the Ice.  I've been hearing great things from other folks who have been working with them and am totally psyched for this.

Distribution is no small part of publishing. I know Meg & Vincent could tell some tales of trying to keep up with orders.  We haven't commiserated over having to keep our respective cats out of the boxes of games, but I know that's something I've had to wrassle over.

I've found that I've been seriously undercharging for shipping as I've been selling my game. I really had no idea how much would go in to it: from postage to envelopes to paypal fees.  I've been charging $2 and just eating it until I got around to figuring out what I should do, and going from there. $5 seems to be fairly standard, so I'm going to jump to that, which I regret, but I hope folks will understand.

And also, already I'm seeing how much a difference it can make to your sales to have a central distributer for your games.  At the B&G games forum, TonyLB mentioned that now he can bring BtI to I-Con & Daniel (coffeestain) mentioned that his story could carry the game since it's with IPR.  These are all things I've been hearing from other designers, but it didn't really hit home until I actually did it. The virtues of retail sales are controversial in some ways, but the exposure they provide is not to be dismissed easily.

2006-03-03 17:39:54 Meguey

As I said in marginalia on anyway, I liked doing the books from home. I liked seeing how many were going out and where, I liked picking them up from the printer, I liked taking them to the PO, I even liked attaching lables and stuffing envelopes. I totally back Vincent because it's his game, and because he's right about the customer service angle, but I'll miss the hands-on part.

2006-03-03 18:03:38 Keith

Man I used to knock retail sales until it became my largest source of units moved through IPR.  And they have been repeat customers too.  I make shit, but so far it has been well worth it I think cause some money is better than a loss.

2006-03-03 18:14:46 Emily

I love being able to email the folks who order from me, say thanks & ask 'em stuff. But then, I mentioned that to Brennan at Dreamation & he said he had too many to handle to be able to do that. It made me think.

2006-03-03 19:26:35 Jonas Karlsson

I could ask the IPR people directly, but I'll ask you instead, Emily. With actual printed books, how much does the designer have to do to get IPR to sell them? Do you have to print them yourself somehow and have them sent to IPR, or do you just send them a PDF and have them handle everything?

I'm curious because I like to toy with the idea of actually publishing One Can Have Her sometime in the future, and it would be nice to know what my options are.

Congratulations on getting BtI there, your game totally deserves it.

2006-03-03 19:34:15 Emily

Thanks so much, Jonas. I look forward hearing you have this conversation about One Can Have Her some day too. : )

As to your question, while they do also distribute pdf's, as far as I know IPR handles distribution only, not printing/publishing in any way.  Brennan?

That is a very interesting question with respect to international clients. I know Ben has been publishing from China by having a print shop in the US print things & send them to Brennan. Lulu and other online POD could likely be used for the same effect.

2006-03-03 19:18:25 James

Death's Door is still teeny tiny enough (and will probably stay there) for me to do my own orders, and yeah - it's totally a buzz to do it myself.  If someone else was doing it for me, odds are that I'd never know I've sold Death's Door in Finland.  I'm not sure why the international orders are such a high, but they are.  Raven can tell you that every time I get a new order I come bouncing up the stairs with a big grin on my face, and something like this will come out of my mouth:

"Finland!!!  I've produced something that someone in Finland not only heard about, but wanted!  Finland!  Me!  My game!"

As to the shipping thing, I had an advantage there, because I'd done a whole bunch of small post shipping when I used to do Lego part selling, so knew the kinds of costs/time involved.  I can do $3 because Canada Post has really good rates for international to the States.


2006-03-04 01:25:13 Ben Lehman

Hi, Jonas—

What I do is I have people in the States who make the game, and when I run out I e-mail them, they print 50-100 copies to my specs, and mail them directly to IPR.  Operating from a distance like this is unwieldy (I want to switch printers, but it's really hard to get a proof, etc) but it certainly works.

Absolutely the biggest problem with IPR is the lack of order tracking.  I've been leaning on Brennan to make a system which gives publishers access to their own order data (addresses, e-mails), and apparently some work is in progress, and a system should be up in six months or so.



2006-03-05 18:38:54 luke

Hi Em!

Congrats and welcome to the fold. I'm really, really glad you decided to go this route. Breaking the Ice needs to be in game stores! The world needs you!


2006-03-06 03:57:23 Michael S. Miller

What Luke said. Welcome aboard!

2006-03-07 11:07:10 Jasper Polane

IPR charges very high shipping costs to customers outside of the US. Because I live in Europe, I pay $10 shipping, and no discount for orders over $25. So a copy of Breaking the Ice will cost me $24 now. That seems a bit much for the little book. I'm glad I already have the game.

2006-03-07 15:47:59 Emily Care

They are working on making it easier for overseas customers to buy.  That's important to me so I'll be encouraging them to work out something new.  And I bet the rest of the publishers are right there with me.

For now, I'm going to continue shipping the game myself, for those who request it. For anyone interested in getting a copy of other games too, it's a much better deal to go to IPR. But until things get sorted out for international sales, that's still a possibility.

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