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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 120 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Starting a Biz, but more than a little lost  (Read 1489 times)
Ben
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Posts: 63


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« on: June 19, 2010, 01:52:35 PM »

It has been a long time since my last post, I glad the Forge is still up and going.  Can't believe it has taken me this long to remember you guys.
If anyone can help me it's you guys.

So my problem is that I'm trying to self publish a couple of games I've made.  The games have both been thoroughly playtested and I've registered the copyrights.  Jared Sorensen turned me on to Lightning Source  for printing and I'm inclined to go with that.  Any better Ideas?  Now do I just go under my name or should I start a company and if so should I worry about registering the trademark which seems expensive and uncertain but possibly worth it.  What have you guys done?  Also, I'm at a complete loss as to how to advertise.  Where and Who?
Also is there anything I seem to have overlooked?

Any help with this would be greatly appreciated.
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Be Seeing You,

   Ben
www.ludusmerx.com
Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 2775


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« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2010, 09:45:14 AM »

I'll just give my opinions, based on my own experiences. I'm in Finland, but otherwise I don't think that our situations are so very different.

Copyrights and trademarks: it is very unlikely that you would have any need to register either as a small press hobby publisher. This is based on realism: nobody wants to steal your stuff, and if somebody does, you should basically be proud about it, as nobody else in the business certainly gets that level of passionate interest.

Printing: you need to have a business plan that answers questions about marketing, target audiences, sales venues and sales goals. This doesn't need to be anything complex, just decide on these points to your own satisfaction. Once you have those, you can answer the question about printing: you choose the best printer for the type of printing you need to do to accomplish your goals. The normal procedure would be to get quotes for your print job from at least a dozen printers that seem likely to specialize on the type of work you're doing; don't just go to Lightning Source or any other printer because somebody recommended it, a recommendation is at most worth adding the printer to your quote list and perhaps picking it over another similarly priced option when the quotes come back.

Advertisement: your business plan answers this one. If you're planning to get into the retail market (maybe not a good idea; we can talk about that), you'll want to market to retailers, which is different from marketing to the customer audience. In any case your most important method of marketing is likely to be web-based: you need a nice-looking, low-maintenance website that sells your game to anybody who ends up there, and then some activity to drive people there. Personal participation in web communities is a good tool for grassroots word-of-mouth marketing, while press releases are a good idea if you want the type of attention usually reserved to mid-range publishers.

Starting a company: you do not need a company at first, but it will help later if you start selling in any meaningful numbers. The particulars depend on your local taxation regulations: in most jurisdictions a natural person is taxed differently from certain sorts of company, so you might cut on your taxes (or add to them!) by starting a type of company that falls under these terms. Study the local business system for the particulars. It is always possible to do your business as a natural person - you can even invent a company name for yourself regardless, and perhaps register as a company later when you have a concrete reason to do so.

The first thing is for you to post your business plan, though. What sorts of games do you have and what sorts of goals do you have in publishing them? We can help you more if we know a bit more about why you're planning to do this.
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Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.
Teppich
Member

Posts: 3


« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2010, 02:50:19 AM »

@eero, I hope you get this ,message, i'm in a hurry need to get the next train:

can you send me the english variant of the (ZC) rules to my mailaccount? I got some time on train journeys I'd like to spend starting the translation.
greetings, johannes;

sorry for the offtopic.
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Nathan P.
Member

Posts: 590

emotional game design


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« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2010, 06:28:30 AM »

Hi Ben,

For short-run digital printing (like Lightning Source), there's many options. I've had good experiences with Fidlar Doubleday and Publishers Graphics, personally. If you have the time and energy (b/c it takes both), it's worth getting quotes from multiple printers - paper prices and labor rates can fluctuate greatly, and unless you're on a tight deadline it's usually worth shopping around.

In terms of a company: in the US (which I'm assuming you're in - if not, then I have no idea!), you can do business under your own tax ID (your SSN). This is called a sole proprietorship - you're an unincorporated business with one owner (you). Here's a link with the IRS info You can operate under your own name, or use another name (in which case you're technically a "Doing Business As" or DBA). For example, my "company" such as it is is me being a sole proprieter, DBA ndp design. Many self-publishers are sole proprietors.

Your other options are to incorporate, which involves filing paperwork and has real tax implications. There are three or four types of corporations, but I would recommend talking to a tax adviser or your accountant, if you have one. Honestly, as long as you're not risking a lot of money (like buying lots of expensive equipment that might break or doing 10,000 unit print runs), and you're not employing people, incorporating is probably not necessary or helpful - but that's my opinion. I know some folks around here are LLC's (limited liability corporations).

Because copyright is established upon publication of the work, legally registering copyright and trademark is not necessary - if you've already registered copyrights, that doesn't hurt, but it's more a legal protection than a necessity. In my personal opinion, registering a trademark is only worth it if you plan to litigate against someone who infringes on it. I don't know if you need to have a registered trademark to use the little "TM" in the circle - I know that you can use the "C" in a circle for your copyright notice regardless of whether you've registered the copyright or not. I would search the Patent and Trademark office site (USPTO.gov) for more information.

Advertising is it's own crazy ball of wax. In this community, most advertising is word-of-mouth - talking on forums, running the game at conventions, and generally being open and accessible to talk about your game! Have a website. Start a facebook page for it. If you have money to spend, try finding forums or heavily trafficked web sites that draw the target audience of your game. See if they have banner ads. Try google adwords, maybe? Go to your local game store and see if you can leave flyers, or (even better) have a special event weekend where you run your game and get people playing. It really depends on your goals for your game and how much time and money you have to spend on it.

Hope some of that helps!
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Nathan P.
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Find Annalise
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I design | ndp design
I blog | Games, Design & Game Design
I tweet | @ndpaoletta
Ben
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Posts: 63


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« Reply #4 on: June 23, 2010, 07:22:05 PM »

Thank you both, your posts have given me much to think about.

At the moment I only have two games more or less ready for printing.  One is about a group of super hero rabbits.  It is called Jump Force.  It's mostly a miniatures battle system but is also good for role playing.  The other is a zombie apocalypse "survival" game called EveryOne Must Die. 
My goals in publishing are to see my games in print and to make a bit of money from them.  I love RPGs and I love making them.  It just seems natural to do this.
As for my business plan, I still don't have much of one.
Marketing I have very few ideas on.  Target audience I guess is anyone who games though EMD is more geared towards mature payers.  I don't know anything about venues and as for my sales goals, I'd be ecstatic if I broke even but won't mind turning a profit. 

Hope that helps you help me.
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Be Seeing You,

   Ben
www.ludusmerx.com
Noclue
Member

Posts: 351


« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2010, 12:02:20 AM »

Hi Ben. Frankly, I see little benefit for you in incorporating or forming an LLC. Those entity forms are great for limiting liability and selling partial interests. For your needs, they're overly complicated at this point. Go with a sole prop until you're farther along. You can always change that later.

You really shouldn't be worried about registering your trademark at this point either.

You need a business plan! It doesn't need to be fancy or long, but failing to plan is planning to fail.

Business plan should have at least the following:

Market information, segmented into target customers and best channels to communicate with them.
Costs of using these channels.

Competitive Analysis comparing your product with others out there. Who is your competition and how do you differentiate your offering? What price point makes sense for your product in the market.

Detailed estimates of production and administrative costs to see what profit margin you can reasonably achieve.

Projected income and expenses. How many units do you need to sell to break even after all the costs? How long will it take to get there? What will it take to hit your profit goals? Don't forget to figure what your time is worth to you when you're calculating costs.

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James R.
Seth M. Drebitko
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Posts: 318


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« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2010, 07:28:42 PM »

Something I would suggest is googling how to start a business in [insert state you live]. Most states have resources to take you through the process, and I know NY has a little guide to let you know what type of filing fits you best.
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MicroLite20 at www.KoboldEnterprise.com
The adventure's just begun!
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