Little Things Add Up #4 - Ongoing Costs II

This is part 4 of 4 of our guest blog by Janice Turner - designer of Assembly (which funded on Kickstarter in July 2018).

Marketing costs

This section will be the most variable for any creator and will be dependent on what your marketing plan contains. And I do recommend you have a marketing plan, preferably on paper but at least in your head on what you plan to do after you have fulfilled your Kickstarter – how are you going to sell your remaining games?

Webhosting: You might currently be using free hosting, but if you want to add a shop to your website and/or remove ads then you may need to start paying for your hosting (£3-£25 per month). Fortunately, this is relatively cheap now, but you may choose to pay for a theme to help you get your website off the ground more quickly, especially if you are doing it yourself. If you’re unable to create your own website, then you may also need to budget for someone else to create and potentially maintain it for you.

Domain Name: In addition to your webhosting, there’s also the domain name which should also provide you with a business email address. This can be pretty cheap for your first year or two but after that the price goes up somewhat (£10-£20 per domain, per year) – be aware of that if you are in it for the long haul, especially if you are buying multiple domain names (i.e. one per game, etc...)

PO Box: If you have an email list for your digital marketing you are required to provide a valid address. You can use your home address but you may feel more comfortable providing a PO Box so your subscribers can’t look up your home address on Google maps (£12-£30 per month). CE regulations also require that you print you address on your game box, however, as I understand these regulations, you cannot use a PO Box in this instance.

Ads: If you plan to order more games than you have backers on Kickstarter then you’ll need a way to sell them. You might think online, which is great but you’ll still need a way to drive people to your website and just shouting on social media will only get you so far – you might want to invest in some further ads, particularly if you are doing an official ‘retail launch’.

Shows: These are another way to sell your stock of games but comes with a whole host of costs. These include not only the stand itself but also the leaflets and banners to fill it, demo games to play (which will get worn quickly!) and your travel, accommodation and subsistence to attend. For larger shows you may also need some help either in the form of volunteers (you really still need to give them something even if it is just food, some games and a T-shirt) or paid helpers.

Reviews: Another way to raise awareness of your game is to get some reviews of your finished product. You probably got a lot of previews of your game before your Kickstarter (and probably are sending each previewer a copy of your game as a way of saying thank-you), but now you should get some proper reviews done too. These will generally cost you copies of your game plus shipping, which may cost more than the manufacture cost of the game! If you want rules videos or play-throughs then you are likely to have to pay for these, especially for the larger channels (£100-£800). However, you should never have to pay for a review.

Product Photography: For your marketing, ads and online store listings you are likely going to need some good product photography to draw buyers in. You may be a budding photographer and able to do this yourself, but you may need to get someone else to do it for you which may not be an insignificant cost. Often local universities have an ‘agency’ for their students so it might be quite cost effective to get a student to take these photos for you.

Demo Games: If you are selling direct to retailers then you may need to have several copies of the game for demo for the retailer to be able to better sell your game. These are in addition to the review copies and the ones you use for demos at shows. You may charge a reduced price for these games or you may provide the demo copies free of charge, possibly when a minimum number of copies have been purchased. It’s up to you.

Software & Subscriptions: The art and graphic design doesn’t stop when you’ve shipped your game. How are you going to make the ads, leaflets and banners? Maybe you have the publishing bug and have started work on a new game. Either way, you are likely going to have to maintain your Adobe subscription and/or purchase software to assist you with your marketing efforts.

Selling costs

So, your Kickstarter is complete and you are now focused on selling the remainder of your product and perhaps even covering some of the costs you incurred pre-Kickstarter. Unfortunately, the saying ‘you have to spend money to make money’ rings very true. There are several costs associated with selling.

Amazon Fees: Amazon not only has fees on each product that you sell, but also a monthly fee that you must pay as a business in order to sell on their platform. On top of this, given the number of products on Amazon, you are likely going to have to pay for ads (at least in your first month) to get your game off the ground and to give yourself a higher sales ranking, but potentially this will also be an ongoing cost. If using Fulfilment By Amazon (FBA) you also need to account for the cost of sending your stock to Amazon. Ultimately, you may end up with no more profit selling via Amazon than selling directly to retailers.

Other Selling Fees: If a platform doesn’t have a monthly, annual or upfront selling fee, most will have at least a per item selling fee (5%-15%) plus payment processing fees. And be aware the per item fee and payment processing fee, in general, applies both to the selling price of your product and any associated postage, eroding the total amount you get.

Payment Processing Fees: If you plan to continue to sell your game after the end of your Kickstarter, particularly if you plan to sell at conventions and/or online direct to consumers then you will likely incur payment processing fees. Depending on the provider this may be a monthly fee and/or a per transaction fee. If the latter, just make sure your pricing can cope with this. Additionally, if you want to be able to accept card payments at conventions then you’ll likely need to buy a point-of-sale device (c. £15-£50).

Shipping: If you’re selling to retailers, distribution, through a third-party fulfilment or consignment service (e.g. FBA, GamesQuest, CoolStuffInc), you need to ensure you budget for shipping your stock to them. In these cases, you are likely to be shipping cases at a time that will probably be heavy and quite expensive to ship. Make sure you have budgeted this into your costings and ultimately your sale price.

Storage: So, you’ve got all your games ready for selling but where are you going to store them? Yes, it’s great to build a fort made from games but realistically have you got space to store them in your home? Or maybe if you’re lucky your parents’ house? Are you even allowed to? Best check your home insurance just in case. Most people realistically won’t have space to store the games so you’ll have to pay to store them somewhere else. If you’re using Fulfilment by Amazon, they will also be charging you storage fees so make sure you’ve budgeted for these.

Stock Transfer: You may have had all your stock shipped to your fulfilment centres but you will need to decide where to store your excess stock in the long term. If you choose to move it, there will be costs associated with this (transport, insurance, incoming fees, etc.).

Hopefully having read this and all the previous blog posts you now realise that when you choose to self-publish you are actually starting up a board game publishing business and this has many additional costs associated with it. It’s not as simple as costs associated with manufacture, shipping and fulfilment there are many, many more costs that you will encounter.

If you’ve set up a business before, most of these costs won’t come as a surprise to you, but if it’s your first time, make sure you have a plan on how you are going to cover these costs so they don’t catch you out in the future.

Disclaimer: This is blog should not be considered financial and/or legal/regulatory advice. Make sure you consult your own independent experts before using any of these assumptions, particularly if you are selling in multiple countries around the world.


This article series is written by Janice Turner of Wren Games - you can find more about them here. Their latest game, Assembly, is now available for purchase (and is also a pretty nifty app on iOS and Android as well!).