02 - Book organisation

Submitted by ehanuise on Mon, 11/03/2013 - 17:34

02 - Book organisation

The first part of this book will cover the research and planning aspects of setting up shop as a board games publisher. Planning is the most important thing you can do to be successful in this business, as most failures and problems I have seen so far could be attributed to poor research, market study, understanding of the community, or even lack of basic research.

The second part deals with the different trades and professions that exist in the board games world. Many publishers are very small companies so the same individual often wears several hats and it is important to know which of these are for you and which are not your strong suits.

Then comes the business aspects. Running a board games publishing operation is a real business, and must be approached as such.

I will then cover the topic of board game development, the process that turns a designer's prototype in a finished product ready to be produced and marketed.

Production comes next, in what is the most technical part of this book. There are plenty of materials and techniques used in board games, and a publisher should know most of them first hand.

Along with production one important part of a publisher's business is the contracting and licensing of game designs and art for the games, another quite technical but important aspect of the profession.

Distribution and logistics are the next logical step, covering what happens to the games once they leave the factory until they reach the customer.

In the last part of the book, I will briefly touch on marketing, applied to board games. There are plenty of existing, better resources on marketing overall so this will be brief.

The Book Plan

01 - Introduction

  • Target audience : board game publishers
  • special note to self-publishers
  • This is not a book about board game design
  • This is not a book about video games (computer, console, tablet, ...)
  • Eric Hanuise
  • Flatlined Games

02 - Book organisation

SECTION 1 - The administration

03 - Study before you start

Stay a little bit more ... on the payroll

Build up your board games culture

Just ask

Get involved in your local community

Get involved in the global board games community

Learn about the board games market

  • Visit all levels of retail
  • Visit online stores
  • Browse Kickstarter's tabletop games section
  • Hard discounters
  • Read publisher's and retailers blogs and podcasts
  • Read company histories
  • Visit clubs, conventions and trade fairs
  • Talk with retailers, authors, publishers, distributors
  • A small, global and connected community

Niches within niches (wargames, abstracts, ...)

It is a moving landscape, stay updated

Build up your network


Trade Fairs

Find a Mentor

04 - The many trades of board games

  • Game Designer, 'Author'
  • Designer agent
  • Graphic Artist
  • Game Developer
  • Accountant
  • Lawyer
  • Game Publishing Studio
  • Media
  • Webmaster
  • Community manager
  • Communications and marketing
  • Sales
  • Board Games Manufacturer
  • Printer
  • 'bits' manufacturer
  • Project manager
  • Logistics provider
  • Distributor
  • Fulfilment Agency
  • Retailer
  • Event organiser
  • Scholar
  • Are you still sure you want to be a board games publisher ?

05 - Plan your business before you start

Location, location, Location

  • Study business laws and taxes in your and other locations
  • Compare office/warehouse pricing
  • Consider logistics costs
  • Is there a local community of Players ?
  • Is there a local community of Authors ?
  • Is there a local community of Publishers ?
  • Can you grow ?

Define your production and logistic paths

Define your identity

  • Name and Brand
  • Editorial line
  • Short and long description

Challenge your plan

  • SWOT, Porter's 5 forces and other market analysis techniques
  • ask around (retailers, distributors, authors, publishers, community)

06 - Setting up your business

  • This is a trade, not a hobby
  • You need a legal business form
  • It's complex and country-specific so get local advice
  • What is your job ?
  • Funding
  • You fund a company, not a game
  • Wages are a recurring expense
  • Fire if you must
  • Plan for the long term
  • Embrace profit, it's OK
  • Set goals and deadlines for evaluation
  • Manage by the numbers, not by the guts

07 - Game development : from prototype to product

  • playtesting and prototypes
  • no, I will not sign your NDA
  • duplicate concepts / you stole my idea
  • unsolicited submissions
  • events and fairs, contests
  • game groups
  • changes will happen - make sure the designer understands and agrees with that
  • documenting and versioning changes
  • designer, playtesters and developer - whose game is it ?

08 - Licensing a game from a designer

  • royalties
  • duration and extent of the rights licensed
  • advance payment
  • contract end
  • gentlemen agreements
  • when should you sign the contract ?
  • contract example

09 - commissioning artwork

  • artist selection
  • art direction and project management tips
  • the graphical brief
  • game description
  • target audience and markets
  • exhaustive list of commissioned pieces
  • other uses than the boardgame : t shirts, merchandising, ...
  • rough/sketches / colour rough / final art
  • scheduling and delays
  • deliverables definition
  • changes management
  • rights negotiation
  • single payment and/or royalties ?
  • the art contract

10 - Tendering for production

  • The quote request document
  • Purpose
  • Structure
  • Important aspects
  • Quantities
  • Over- and under-runs
  • Packing and packaging
  • Shipping
  • Guarantees
  • Annexes
  • Asking for quotes
  • Placing your order
  • Production schedule
  • Example quote request document

Section 2 - Common materials and production techniques

11 - Common materials and production techniques


  • Offset/digital offset
  • Flexography, serigraphy, heliography and other less common techniques
  • Varnishes and coatings, laminations, foils
  • The mounting process
  • Game boards and cardboard tokens

Paper and cardboard/chipboard types

paper and Cardboard weight measurements

die cutting tools

steel dies

laser cutting

Box assembly

board assembly

Taking cardboard one step beyond


  • Card stock = multi layered
  • Linen finish and textured cards
  • Cards layout
  • Card size
  • Sleeves

Wooden components

plastic components

  • Plastic
  • Injection moulding
  • Plastic components design
  • Creating a plastic part for your game

3D printing and rapid prototyping

Zip-locks and rubber bands

Laser cutting

metal components

  • Gravity moulding
  • Vibrating platforms and bubbles
  • Lost wax casting
  • Spincasting

Resin components

Box trays and inserts


Shipping cartons


Uncommon materials and production techniques


Other Components

Safety regulations, barcodes and SKUs

  • Europe: EN71
  • other regulations

Bar codes and product references

12 - Producing the games

  • the quoting process
  • price negotiation
  • ordering
  • approval and order confirmation
  • organising and uploading your files to the printer's FTP
  • cardboard blanks
  • colour-matched proofs
  • digital rendering proofs
  • sample components
  • factory samples
  • the special case of reprints
  • components batch ordering for future reprints

13 - Logistics

  • warehousing
  • shipping
  • TARIC/CN and HS codes
  • customs brokerage
  • insurance

14 - Selling the games

  • distributors
  • fulfilment agencies
  • direct distribution to retailers
  • direct sales to customers
  • market segmentation
  • geographic vs per language
  • a word about exclusivity

15 - Marketing

  • Marketing the company
  • Marketing the products
  • Packaging for your market
  • efficient advertising
  • community management
  • the 24h rule

16 - Prepress and desktop publishings basics

  • overview
  • software tools
  • bleeds
  • colour matching and proofing
  • die cutting safe zones
  • cards layout
  • cards borders
  • CMYK vs RGB
  • 300% ink coverage
  • Black and white is not that much cheaper
  • versioning your files