When I started working on the card game, "Top That!" (the original name for what's currently, "Top Tale"), I figured I'd be selling games by the truck load in no time! Well, four years later, I'm now selling the game, but it sure took a lot more time and effort than I imagined. This is normal, this can be expected even, but I'm hear to tell you, it's worth the ride!
Since my last blog post, I have had 2,000 copies of "Top Tale: The O.G. Volume 1" manufactured and delivered to my home in Wellington, Colorado. When I say delivered, I mean I went to pick it up from a freight terminal near Denver, Colorado in early September. Here's what that looked like:
It was a pretty awesome moment bringing those games home. From there, it was a scramble to get the games sent to Kickstarter backers, retailers, donation recipients, etc. It took a lot of time and effort to get it all done, and now I'm left with about 1,600 games to sell and actually make a profit on. Yes, I'm pretty deep in the hole at the moment, but that's what it takes to start a business.
One of the primary routes to market that I've invested in is selling through Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA). It's a fairly efficient way to get products to customers when you're working a full time (plus) job, and in theory, once I get everything dialed in, it'll be a matter of shipping out few cases every few weeks to FBA distribution centers. That's the goal anyhow, passive income. Then when I get low on stock, I go back to my manufacturer, Meijia, and arrange for another print run. It's not as simple as I make it sound, but at least now I've got it figured out!
(Click on the Image to see the Amazon.com product page)
I'm also now a part of a platform called, Amazon Launchpad, which is for unique and innovative products from small businesses. Amazon features those products on a dedicated page (look at the upper left category on any Amazon page). All of the Amazon Launchpad products are also used for homepage listings to further elevate the brands above the bigger brands on Amazon. So far I've not seen a huge impact from Amazon Launchpad, however I'm not yet taking advantage of many of their services.
Currently, I'm selling on Amazon.com (US), Amazon.ca (Canada), and will soon be set up on Amazon.co.uk (United Kingdom). If you've not purchased a copy of the game yet, or you want to buy more copies to send as gifts, Amazon purchases are the best way to help me out. Interestingly enough, I get the most profit from each sale (compared to selling through retailers and such). After the UK product page is set up on Amazon (all that's left is for the games I shipped to be delivered), I'll be looking to sell in more countries, all using FBA. I also plan to fulfill UK backer orders through Amazon FBA (they help make VAT easier to process).
So you're probably thinking, "these things must be selling like hot cakes!" Well, it's not that simple. I've sold a couple dozen through Amazon in the last two months, and then about three dozen more through retailers. Then I sent another four dozen copies to the Indie Game Alliance to sell at conventions and such (you might be noticing that I sell in cases of 12 units; see below picture of an example). So although those seem like decent unit sales for a small business, it's a far stretch from being where I need to be to really scale the business.
What's next...? THERE'S SOOO MUCH TO DO!!!
I've already started working on the next two volumes in the Top Tale series, "Top Tale: The O.G. Volume 2" and "Top Tale: Tall Tale Volume 1". The Tall Tale series will be similar to the Original Game series, however when telling stories, you'll be encouraged to stretch the truth. To aid in this, each player will draw a "Player Persona" card at the beginning of the game. This Player Persona card will have five elements where the player must use at least one element every time they tell a story. This is the working idea at least, and it's still in early prototyping, so it's subject to change. Here's a snippet of the current rulebook for Tall Tale Player Persona card (I'd love to hear through thoughts in the comments below).
Player Persona Card Elements
Each tale must include one or more elements from your player persona card:
Character: Each character defines a role that the player can use when telling their tale.
Ability: The ability can enhance tales, by enhancing what the character can do in the tale.
Item: Items can be the central part of a story, or something that is present in the a tale.
Sidekick: Who’s in the story with you, is often as important as “what” the tale is about.
Setting: The location where your story starts, at your quest’s end, or the center of your tale.
Use one of the blank player persona cards to create your own persona. Unlike real life, Top Tale: Tall Tale, has no boundaries. Be who you want to be, and let your tall tales reach new heights!
There's still much to do to grow the business, and growing the Top Tale series is just part of that. I expect to do another Kickstarter campaign for the two new volumes in the second half of 2022. I'm hoping to have sold enough copies of The O.G. Volume 1 that by the time the 2022 Kickstarter campaign is funded, I'll be ready to order a second print run of The O.G. Volume 1, in addition to first print runs of the other two. There's still a lot to do with the Top Tale Mobile App as well... With so much to do, I'd better get to work!
If you like what I'm doing, and you want to help. The biggest thing you can do for me, is to play the game with friends and family, and have fun! A lot of games sales are actually driven by people playing a game somewhere, liking it, and then buying a copy for themselves so they can play whenever they want. So play on!