Anjuli Smith: Bringing your game to a larger market - DoodleMeeple
Anjuli Smith
Marketing and Publicity Manager- Aconyte Books (An Asmodee Studio)

Asmodee - How to bring your game
to a larger market

ANJULI SMITH is a super-nerd with a deep and unbreakable love of RPGs and storytelling. Always the Dungeon Master, never the Rogue, she spends her free time playing games, painting miniatures and enjoying Japanese craft gin (though her supply is very seriously depleted thanks to lockdown). 

She lives in Nottingham with her 2 cockatiels, Lady Marmalade and Archimedes, and new little baby conure, Terabithia. She is the Marketing and Publicity Manager for Aconyte Books.

She can be contacted for interviews, marketing opportunities etc at a.smith@asmodee.com

Anjuli was previously a publishing assistant at Asmodee. For the uninitiated: Asmodee is the largest board game distributor in the world. If you buy a game in a retail store the chances are it has come from them, they are definitely worth trying to build a relationship with if you are new to publishing games.

Hi Anjuli! Thanks for agreeing to telling us all your secrets about the games industry! You’ve been one of my favourite people ever since you bought some of my art prints at Dragonmeet maybe 6 years ago? I think then you were working at Asmodee, I know you sat next to Phil, the buyer who added my game Hero Master to Asmodee’s repertoire, and I think I probably have a few thank yous and probably beers to buy you for that! I’d love to pick your brain on the Asmodee side of things, then find out a bit more about Aconyte Books…

meeple

What was the general buzz like in the buying team at Asmodee, is there a careful, consistent approach to picking up new titles there? Or is it a gut feeling and intuition the buyers hired upon, that they use to select titles?

The Purchasing team has a wide range of experience and specialities, from mass market, to Kickstarters, to looking after the Asmodee Studios such as FFG and Catan. Each is handled by a different Buyer to make sure that the best member of the team is dealing with the product. A lot of the purchasing process comes from gut-feeling and intuition but there is also a great deal of budgeting and projections involved as well.

board game distributors asmodee

How are most new games put in front of you guys? Is email still a viable way of building a relationship?

The Buyers go to a lot of shows to see the new stuff that is out, they do a lot of research online and yes email is still a viable option. If you’re going to email, have your projections, costs etc ready because they will want to know that off the bat, and they will research your game themselves as well. They’ll probably like to see a demo copy of it to play in-house to get a feel for it.

I found that meeting people at conventions really helped build relationships, but going to an Asmodee mega-stand can be pretty intimidating. How should you prep, or facilitate a meeting?

The Asmodee UK Buyers book up really quickly. If you are looking to get to meet them at a show you need to contact them in good time, like months in advance, because they will be spending the entire show in meetings. You’ll want to contact the Purchasing Admin team who will filter your email to the correct person in the team. As far as prep goes Just bring your info in an easy to read and digest printed presentation. Graphs and easy to understand Excel sheets are a plus, and have a demo/prototype copy available that you are happy to part with.

What do you look for in a game to make it something that is worth adding to Asmodee? Does a game have to be a big crowd-funding success? How do you stand out?

It depends really. When it comes to crowd-funding they are interested not only in how much you make but also if the interest was in the UK/Europe as we do not sell into the USA/Canada. If all your backers are based in the US then it is less likely to be picked up. As for what they look for, quality, unique design and replayability are all key-factors. The team play the games before making a decision so easy to understand instructions are a big plus.

I was really fortunate and managed to get a meeting with Asmodee just after my Kickstarter campaign before I placed my final order with my manufacturer which meant I could push up my volume at the factory at the last minute. At what point in the process of designing a board game should you approach Asmodee for representation?

As soon as your campaign is funded start thinking of contacting them. If you want your game in retail then as soon as you know you will be able to create the product get in touch. Sometimes it can take a few weeks for them to get back to so sooner is always better.

The vast majority of board games, even if they get to retail will have a shelf life. However some retail forever. What gives a board game the best chance of being an “Evergreen” board game with Asmodee? One they will continue to buy for years to come?

Sales and interest from the consumer. This means that you are still going to have to market your product even after it’s in Asmodees’ hands. If you want Asmodee to do a feature special offer price you need to speak to your Buyer and work something out.

Aconyte books logo

Being the big cheese at Aconyte Books, I am going to guess that you love theme as a tool in games design. What part does world building play in the success of a board game?

Haha! Don’t let Marc hear you call me the Big Cheese, I’m small fries really. For me storytelling and narrative are the reason I buy a game. I’m not the most competitive and if I get to work with my friends, or build a story with them then I am more likely to buy it. I think the ability to continue to create narrative plays a big part in modern board games, whether this is expansions or replayability. But this could be my bias there.

Aconyte books

What exactly is Aconyte Books? What does Aconyte mean? Do you mainly cover novels that are linked to board games? Should I be approaching you with a Hero Master graphic novel? Should new publishers consider supporting their narrative based board games with novels in future? It could be great brand marketing!

That’s a lot of questions! Ok lets go. Aconyte Books is the new imprint from Asmodee Entertainment. We are a friendly fantasy publisher bringing you new adventures and world-expanding fiction from your favorite games and comics.

We launched in the UK in October with our first 2 books set in the world of Keyforge and Arkham Horror. Since then we have also released novels in the Legend of the Five Rings, Twilight Imperium, Descent and Marvel IPs. We have been working with FFG for a number of their IPs and we recently acquired contracts to create our own Marvel Universe (Aconyte-618), hack the world in Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs Legion and expand the world of Assassin’s Creed. 2021 will also see tories set in Gloomhaven, Terraforming Mars and Zombicide! We’ve definitely been busy in lockdown!

We focus on tie-in fiction in Aconyte so no graphic novels from us, though Asmodee Entertainment are creating some cool stuff in that vein. I think that board game and RPG designers should definitely consider us for further adventures in their IPs. We have some of the best people in the industry working with and writing for us, and your worlds would be in great hands! 

Marc, our head publisher, founded Games Workshop’s The Black Library and Angry Robot Publishing, and has worked on Fighting Fantasy novels and many many well-known RPGs so he knows what he’s talking about. Our authors are best-sellers in the tie-in fiction world and wonderful writers.

We are very active on social media and do a lot of interviews and game playing with our authors over on our Facebook channel. Come chat with us!

What’s your favourite colour Meeple?

GREEN!

Find out more about Aconyte Books 

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