PubFight 2013: Put Your Game Face On

As a relative newcomer to publishing, joining the PubFight league with the people who invented it is a little intimidating.

If you haven’t heard of PubFight, it is a fantasy publishing league that helps to develop inventory and P&L management skills using actual market data. You can learn all about it here.

Now let’s get serious—here are some of the key things I discovered during the BNC auction.

Lesson #1: These People Aren’t Your Friends

Sure, you might have lunch with your colleagues, or share personal stories about your lives outside of the office. Heck, you might even split a bottle of red with them every once in a while. But let’s be straight: PubFight brings out the ugly in people.

This isn’t the place for naming names, but I will share with you that one of my colleagues called for the end of our friendship during the auction, and another slyly shot me the universal hand sign for what is arguably the most overused profanity in the English language.

Key takeaway: don’t take offense, take bestselling titles.

Lesson #2: All’s Fair in Love and PubFight

I was not entirely surprised to see myself getting into the competitive spirit, using a technique that I usually reserve for poker: bluffing. After a few rounds, you come to understand that someone will almost always increase your initial bid, meaning you have the opportunity to stick someone with a dud. This is especially useful if not everyone has done their research.

Just remember, though, that if you play it, you better be willing to take it in cases where this strategy backfires. Check out the BNC PubFight Annual 2013 Trade catalogue and get a head start on your competitors.

Lesson #3: Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

If you want the big titles, you’ve got to be willing to pay for them. One title in our auction went for $135,000—that’s quite a commitment considering that we each only had $200,000 total to work with.

My understanding from the experts is that there are a few titles that can literally carry your list; a good thing, I suppose, given that when you’ve spent that much on one title, you don’t have much money left over to play around with. If you are lucky enough to take one of the sure-fire hits of the season during your own PubFight auctions, your biggest challenge will be to manage your inventory properly.

Lesson #4: Learn from the Champions of PubFights Past

Of course, not everyone is lucky enough to get to see the masters in action. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered: stay tuned to the BNC blog for PubFight strategy tips from Carol Gordon, CataList project manager and two-time PubFight champion, and Bill Holt, defending champion and programmer extraordinaire.

Carol’s obvious advantage is her familiarity with CataList. Her strategy, discussed at length in her forthcoming post, is all about comparable (or “comp,” as they say) titles. Understanding the relationship between the sales of one book and others with a comparable author, subject, or audience is a great way to predict future sales and dominate PubFight.

Bill’s strategy has everything to do with the numbers. While this includes doing your homework on comp titles, it also has a lot to do with SalesData numbers, list prices and pub dates. If you want to try out this strategy I have one piece of advice: Microsoft Excel—live and die by it.

Lesson #5: Trash Talk Where It Counts

When you get into PubFight, you are technically competing in two arenas: as a single player against your colleagues, and as a part of your company’s team, fighting the good fight as a collective against other house leagues from around the industry. To me, this can mean only one thing: endless opportunities at your disposal for smack talking! Don’t forget to direct your smack talk to where it’s appreciated most: @FakeFurt. I will see you there, suckas.