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Finding the Right Software Publisher? 40

Ace905 asks: "I am a software developer looking to market my product, and after weeks of research and rejections I've come to a few conclusions that I hope are wrong; Software Publishers are looking almost exclusively for Game Software, To get big you have to already be big, and nobody comes to you even when you have a great product! I'm wondering if any other developers have similar experiences marketing their life's work? Are there any publishing companies that actively persue new developers? Where does a developer go to sell their cross-platform utility software? Your feedback is much appreciated!"
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Finding the Right Software Publisher?

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  • by 4of12 ( 97621 ) on Friday September 06, 2002 @03:34PM (#4208590) Homepage Journal

    like with a mail order business spun off a website with some demoware?

    Publish a couple of advertisements in magazines read by your target market.

    In the short term, burn your own CDs and get a local publishing house to create some glossy user manual and CD covers.

  • The Internet (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RedWolves2 ( 84305 ) on Friday September 06, 2002 @03:36PM (#4208606) Homepage Journal
    The internet! Set up a website that makes you lok like a huge company. Market your product so that it sells. Have a great Shopping cart system. And sell them CD's or downloads of your software.

    After you sell your product you can then bring around to the publishers and show them the success it is and why they should buy your product.
    • A Publisher is a publisher, no more. DO NOT let the publisher buy your product, merely let them shave off whatever percentage they need to. But keep the rights to your creation, as many small companies have found when getting bought out by Microsoft, Oracle, Intuit, or the other big ones.
  • an idea (Score:5, Funny)

    by tps12 ( 105590 ) on Friday September 06, 2002 @03:47PM (#4208703) Homepage Journal
    Why don't you give it away under the GPL? That way, none of your customers will have to pay for it, and they'll be more likely to use your product. Also, some of them might help you improve on it. It's a win-win situation!
    • That way, none of your customers will have to pay for it...

      Then they wouldn't be customers, would they?

      I remember when salon.com went to big splash ads. A lot of people on slashdot said something along the lines of "well, they just lost a reader." Fact is, salon.com wasn't looking for readers. They were looking for customers. You become a customer by A) suscribing, or B) looking at their advertisements.
    • *rofl*

      Yeah, nevermind eating or paying rent. You'll get patches!

      While I'm not strictly against the GPL, I really hope the parent post was sarcastic.
  • Sourceforge! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by eggstasy ( 458692 )
    Why not just put it up on sourceforge? Really, if you want to have any hope whatsoever of selling a single copy of your software, it better be damn good. Your average user is quite satisfied with existing software and has no need for new one.
    Since you can't afford the expensive marketing that would persuade people into thinking that they need your software, user feedback could be a precious help in getting your wares to meet the user demands in that particular field. You've been rather vague in the article, so I'm making some educated guesses here, namely that you've been developing this using a "cathedral" model where the software is your work and not many people actually get to see it until it's released.
    I think you would help yourself better by revealing a few more details about your product so we could write better informed comments on your article. What with the huge amount of slashdot users reading this article, you'd be getting more advertising than you could ever afford, and free of charge as well.
    Good luck with your product though! Hope you succeed where many others have failed.
    • We have tried to get our product on SourceForge and it was rejected for having a closed licensing system. It is shareware.

      User feedback is an incredible avenue for us, and many people suggest opening up the software completely and offering it for free to get the information we need / help the project move forward so that a great product is produced.

      The only problem with that, as some commenters have said is that we then lose the ability to make any money what-so-ever on our product. We do support open source, but I don't wish to develop at night and do dishes during the day.

      The ability for a company to approach profitability in the open-source world is a whole other topic / many potential debates on its own. I do agree with the open-source model and I am aware of many companies profiting from Open Source, but for the purposes of this question let's assume we're speaking about a Closed Source Product.

      Thank you for the response, and the encouragement.

      • Just patent the idea. I think you have like a year after the development is made public to patent it.

        Then make it open source/free.

        Only you, however, will be able to re-sell the idea to big companies.

        And, I get 10% of the cut for this consultation.

        By reading this and following through you agree to this EULA.

        ~xintegerx
  • If your work is any good whatsoever, talk to Ambrosia Software (www.ambrosiaSW.com).

    In addition to Mac Software they also publish Windows products now. The only catch is they have a reputation for great quality work, so if yours isnt. I don't see them being interested.
  • How about mentioning the name of the software? Where to get information about it? You have a huge audience, some of which may be in a position to help you out, but not a single mention of a program name, type of program, audience, URL. Nada.

    That having been said. Release it for free(as in speech). Sell support, documentation, user-specific modifications, etc.

    Just a thought.

    Steve
    • The link is included at the start of the article. I respect the guy for NOT using /. for free advretising.

      now, I am sure this guy has a family, girlfriend, senile grandparent, etc that he has to support. Much as I love free software, it doesn't pay the bills. Oh well. Perhaps he could look into a government contract as well. As the gov't likes its own "custom" versions of software, and is probably interested in email filters
    • Steve,

      I do appreciate the huge audience and the support, but getting answers was much more important to me than having a Slashdot Story rejected.

      The name of my company is SolidBlue Software Inc, and our product is SolidBlue Spam Interceptor.

      http://www.si20.com [si20.com]

      At the moment we are targeting end-users on the Internet, we have gone through OSDN advertising, Google Advertising and are doing quite a bit of research on people looking for answers to Spam. Obviously we are not spamming people, that avenue is right out of the question.

      We have released a free, Shareware version and charge for the upgrade, + the Service of our Authentication System.

      What we offer for free, which I personally believe is much more important, is Support to all users. In my opinion that and a free product will get us much farther than a completely open product and paid-for support alone.

      We really want to move into targeting Businesses and finding a Distributor that has an established marketing channel. This has been our largest hurdle. Kaspersky, McAffee, Norton and a lot of other potential OEM buyers have actually turned us down with a full working product to persue development of their own product - based entirely on our small market share.

      I hope that's enough information, and everybodies feedback is appreciated!

      • At the moment we are targeting end-users on the Internet, we have gone through OSDN advertising, Google Advertising and are doing quite a bit of research on people looking for answers to Spam. Obviously we are not spamming people, that avenue is right out of the question.

        On the contrary, just imagine this situation: A user gets some spam in his inbox, opens it, and finds a message saying "You could have blocked this message and all of the rest of your Spam, if only you had Spam Interceptor. Try it now!" or similar.

      • Obviously we are not spamming people, that avenue is right out of the question. I actually got a spam about spam blocking software once (not yours). I thought it was quite funny. I've put it up here [xmission.com].
  • No good answer (Score:2, Informative)

    When my business partner and I faced this issue ten years ago, the conclusion we came to was that we would need to publish ourselves. This was after I worked both in retail software and for a software publisher, and discovered how hosed you can get by having an unscrupulous publisher.

    If you want any advice about self-publishing, or what to watch out for in publishers, I'd be happy to chat with you. E-mail me.
  • I'd probably add ``GNU/'' in front of it, and let RMS do your publishing...
  • Your product? (Score:4, Informative)

    by conner_bw ( 120497 ) on Friday September 06, 2002 @10:05PM (#4210664) Journal
    Uh, isn't this your product [si20.com]? Also conveniently located in my sig?
    • seems the guy already has customers :-)
      are you happy with his product?
      i wonder if the "send back an email to authenticate" isn't too bothersome or confusing for the average user (joe sixpack or the average HR ppl.. :-) )
  • by RhetoricalQuestion ( 213393 ) on Monday September 09, 2002 @11:04AM (#4220767) Homepage

    I'm a developer gone marketing minion, so let me offer some semi-informed advice. From what I've read, it sounds like you've gone at this a bit backwards. Product marketing starts before you build software, not after. It's part of the process for developing your requirements -- finding out about your users. (Yes, I know. Here on slashdot marketing == advertising. Not so.)

    I've read in one of your comments that you tried selling to larger software companies, which is an excellent idea. Unfortunately, companies don't tend to want to buy products unless they have an established market already -- basically, unless they've proven themselves. It's risk mitigation. Even if they're building it themselves, they won't invest in you unless you can prove that your solution has an established market. I'm dealing with the exact same situation for one of the product lines at my company -- trying to make money by aiming to sell the technology is a very risky strategy. When it works out, it's great, but don't count on it.

    What you need to do -- and maybe you've done some of this -- is research your market. Are you selling to home users or businesses? Both is not a good answer -- yes, both could use it, but you don't have the resources to market to both, and both have different needs that you have to account for. What's the level of technical expertise in your market? Where do they learn about new software? Do they download shareware? From where? Did they ever pay for it and why? Do they even perceive spam as a problem? Enough of a problem to spend money on? Have they used tools to help with spam, what are they and what do they like/dislike about them? Are they capable and willing to configure the filters themselves, or do they need something that will do it for them?

    The toughest part of this is finding the right people to talk to. And I mean talk. Preferably in person, or on the phone. You want to give your potential end-user the ability to mention things to you that you may not of thought of, or may have assumed differently about them. Doing this will require some creativity. Without knowing more about who you're aiming at, it's hard to give suggestions as to how to do this. The more people you can talk with, the better. One person is a market, but not a very profitable one.

    Don't try to be everything to everyone. It's expensive to develop that way, and nearly impossible to market that way. You may have a small technological niche, but you should also have a very targeted set of end-users as well.

    Once you have the answers to these, you can start figuring out how to take your product to market. If you're aiming at slashdotters, then perhaps open-sourcing the product makes sense. (Nothing against open source, but I don't think that's your best option.) If your aiming a specific set of home users, where do they get their software from? Perhaps you can uncover particular publishers that way, or improve your listing on sites like tucows or cnet, or wherever. Perhaps you'll find that your target end-users don't even see spam as a problem -- so you'll either have to dump the product, find a different market and re-tune, or start making them more aware of the issue.

    Developers, myself included, tend to ignore the sales side of business. Good technology seems like it should sell itself. But it doesn't.

    Best of luck.

    • "I'm a developer gone marketing minion, so let me offer some semi-informed advice. From what I've read, it sounds like you've gone at this a bit backwards. Product marketing starts before you build software,. . . "

      If ID software followed your advice, there never would have been a Doom.

      If Linus had followed your advice, there would be no Linux.

      If Bill had followed your advice, there would be no Microsoft.(like them or not, they are successfull)

      Sometime you have to do what you believe in, and run with it. Ask any successfull inventor/creator.
      • Geekoid,

        You're entirely correct, but I think he is really trying to stress the practicality of the situation. Your examples are great, and in terms of 'better worldly good' they are inspiring - but in terms of 'success' they really were a matter of being in the right place, at the right time, with the right idea.

        And having the right idea is very hard, it only seems obvious in retrospect.

        Our company has some lofty goals that do include open source software and re-writing some common protocols (Can't get in to much detail). This project is entirely about funding our future endeavours and as such really should be approached from a 'marketing' standpoint.

        Of course, there is also the argument that a product that sells is a good product ; so in many ways approaching the situation 'backwards' with marketing research etc, is really a boring tried&true method of determining what the world wants and giving it to them. Neither approach seems right or wrong in my mind, but developing based on need seems like a more surefire method of reaching success - but maybe not a method of creating or inspiring innovation.

        I appreciate the feedback and the encouragement.

  • It seems a lot of utilities who can't make the mainstream shareware it. They programatically disable features and then use a password key to unlock the features on software payment (One that I have registered products through, that seems to be good is Kagi. They do all the payment processing and take a paercentage or a per license commision off the proceeds. When I am looking for a utility (for my Mac, which has a lack of broad product range commercial vendors) I go to the Info-Archives and Download.com. So those are places I would suggest to post your apps. But don't forget an accompanying website, with good details and screen shots (even if it is a utility, people will want to see what the UI looks like.) If you get popular, then big vendors will look for you (or you will become the big vendor).

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