How to Sell Visual Novels at Conventions

Or, “how do you table at an anime convention and actually get people to stop by your booth and actually get interested in visual novels????”

Picture this – me, someone who’s never been to California nor flown alone arrived to the Hyatt at the San Francisco Bay, being greeted by several online friends I’d known for years but never met in person. After a great time walking around the surrounding Burlingame area and meeting back up with the rest of our group, we had to actually put in some work for the day.

That is, setting up our booth for the convention starting the next day.

We unpacked box after box, taking turns standing around with our hands on our hips and heads tilted wondering “how the hell are we going to set all of this up?”. I decided to make it my job to set up our keychain display. All I had to do was get a copy of each keychain we had and pin them up – we even had a box from prior conventions that had a single copy of (most) of our keychains, for displaying. But as I opened more boxes, I found more and more keychains…

After threatening to change the password on their Vograce account, I found we had 10+ boxes of merchandise for niche visual novels that we were trying to sell at a vtuber convention. Not an anime convention, not a gaming convention, a vtuber convention! Going to bed that night, already tired, I was sure there was no way we would make a profit…..

…And yet, we made more on Friday than they had for the entire convention in 2023. By Sunday, we had made more than double that, having sold items to over 100 customers with most purchases around $40 each. We weren’t selling fanart, we were selling a majority completely original art.

We lived the dream of a lot of indie developers – we sold physicals of our indie games and people bought them. But how did we do it??

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Developer Interview — Marketing A Date with Death

6 months ago, a brand new self-insert romance visual novel hit the market called A Date with Death, created by visual novel veterans Two and a Half Studios. Coming off of the success of The Divine Speaker, they dived into the chat sim space in visual novels with a huge splash. A Date with Death is currently sitting at over 5,000 positive reviews on Steam with a Kickstarter for an after story launching this week.

Today I’ll be talking to Gabby, the lead developer at Two and a Half Studios about designing and marketing A Date with Death!

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Talking to Your Visual Novel Players

Whenever you reach out to a company’s support line or interact with their social media, you’re engaging in their public relations personnel. These people are trained in customer relations and depending on their exact job, they’re usually well versed in different aspects of marketing.

But for indie game devs, we don’t have the luxury of having one person to answer emails & Steam support, one person to manage social media, one person to reach out to press, etc…. So how do we end up talking to players?

what is public relations

Public relations are essentially the communication (relations) between an entity and the public. In this case, it’s how you (and your studio) communicate to players.

There’s a lot of venues for this, including but probably not limited to:

  • social media comments
  • direct messages
  • emails
  • fan mail

Press relations are how you “voice” your studio to others. Don’t overthink this- it’s just how you talk to people and how those words come off to them.

For large companies, it’s not often that users can directly talk to employees (you don’t follow grocery store employees on social media and ask them about deals, do you?), but for indie studios it’s something that can happen often. While not every interaction may be with a potential player, there is more room for your teammates to talk to players.

So who on the team will be the designated person to communicate with players and how will they do it?

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Tips for Marketing Visual Novels in 2024

Social media and algorithms are changing weekly. It’s hard to keep up, and it’s my job to keep up, so how are regular creators supposed to understand all of the nuances that change all the time?

I could make new posts about updates to strategies for Twitter or TikTok or whatever, but that wouldn’t cover the full scope of things visual novel developers should be aware of when tackling marketing in 2024. So today I want to try something new- think of it as a collection of tips and mini advice for marketing visual novels going into 2024, ranging from social media to Steam to best practices and more.

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why does aniplex want mahoyo to fail

I love visual novels. being a long time fate/stay night fan and only having heard of mahoyo from hushed whispers about its cinematography, I was super invested when it was announced to be coming to the west and I could finally play an official version of it.

however, a lot of people interested in type-moon works had never heard of mahoyo, let alone it getting an official english translation. but how? aniplex is publishing the game and they’re one of the largest anime distributors in the world.

with the console release of mahoyo being almost exactly a year ago and the steam release being just 10 days away, I want to look over some of aniplex’s bizarre and nonexistent marketing for one of my favorite visual novels.

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should I market my visual novel?

One question I get asked a lot is “should I market my visual novel? It’s [insert a lot of caveats and complaints]”. When people ask this, they ask me because they know I’m the marketing person. They’re usually not asking for advice, but rather either an easy-out (“she saw how many caveats my game has that’ll make it hard/not worthwhile to market and said I don’t have to!”) or a final push (“she gave me the push I needed to get up and go market my game”).

So let’s answer this once and for all (???)…

should you market your game?

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