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Becoming Visible

One of the things that I know every new designer and publisher is going to have issues with is becoming visible to the masses.  You can really run in to a chicken and the egg scenario.  What I mean by that is that in order to get attention in the market, you need to have a title that people recognize or have heard good things about, but in order for that title to be recognized or be heard about, you need to get that attention.

There are a lot of people that say they want to help new designers and publishers. But they are so inundated with requests that they only want to help the ones that are either, already there, or that they will be recognized because the title already has momentum and public awareness.

I’m not saying this is wrong, I’m just noticing that this seems to be the cycle that exists. If you take popular podcasts like The Dice Tower, Shut Up & Sit Down,  On Board Games, The Dice Men Cometh etc. every single new publisher wants their game (positively) reviewed by these reviewers. Rightfully so, a good portion of the board gaming audience listens to them and respects their opinions.  However, they get sent so many games that they may not even play yours due to the sheer numbers they have to deal with.

Even getting into the news on Board Game Geek can be a challenge. In fact you have something like a 5-10% chance to make it into the game announcements simply due to the volume of requests they get and how many they can process per post.

Have I cracked this nut yet, no. But I am learning. Some podcasts for reviewers tell you right on their site the process for submitting a game, and what to expect in the way of timelines, etc. Some will even offer to review your game and Kickstarter campaign, and then review it after your Kickstarter to re-boost visibility.  Read the information on the sites you want to have review your game.  But a better way to get noticed is relationships.

If you are on their guild forums on BGG, or contribute to their comments on their sites and videos, they will start to recognize your name. They will start thinking of you as a person, instead of a faceless internet alias.  Be part of their community. Then expand that community.

A friend of mine used to run the most popular web site about the movie The Matrix.  It was called WhatIsTheMatrix.com It was second only to the official site about the movie. He always told me, the only way to be there and be visible is consistent, regular content updates. Put information out there that people need, want, and are interested in reading. And do it regularly.  Contribute regularly.

Create a name that people recognize.  Don’t go into a forum cold and say “Hey we’re a new publisher and we have a new game, come buy it and review it”. If they don’t know who you are, they won’t bother. But if you have built a reputation for contributing to the community, and sharing your experience, people will listen. They will seek you out on their own. Once you have that reputation you can discuss what you are working on, and let it happen naturally.

Having said all that, you don’t want to do it artificially. Don’t just post random crap to build up a post count and then drop a “buy this” grenade. It’s just a simple thing. Be a valuable part of the community.

My problem is that I’ve been a lurker for a long time, but nobody knew I was there. So even though I know my way around things, and know the hot buttons, I haven’t built any street cred yet. As far as the perception goes, I only just landed on the scene, and my 15 years of lurking doesn’t mean anything.

So, comment, contribute, and just join the community. Worry about the rest later.

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