dealing with a distributor (selling a font)

Hey all.

I am a new font designer (though not new to the art of typography) and I have recently finished creating my first completed font. It's a TrueType font. It's a highly original and stylish display type of font.

Anyway, I was thinking I was gonna try to make some money with it, and was wondering if anyone out there could offer some guidance and advice. Anything I should know about finding and dealing with a distributor? Do I need to make them sign something to keep from getting ripped off if they prove to be scandalous? (I'm always suspicious I guess)

I'd rather not have to market it myself even if I had my own website, setting up a shopping cart system etc..

Thanks in advance.

blank's picture

I recommend just going with MyFonts. MyFonts pays a relatively high royalty rate and you will probably sell more fonts just at MyFonts than through multiple other distributors who pay lower rates. After your font sales start to slow down at MyFonts it might be worthwhile to start selling through other vendors as well.

Don’t bother with exclusive deals unless you either cannot finish the font production yourself or your work is so good that you can actually get someone to agree in writing to either promote your work or to give you a hefty advance on royalties. Otherwise they’ve got no incentive to promote your work other than just sticking it into a forgettable email blast.

kentlew's picture

This Typographica post from two years ago may be a bit out of date, but the principles are still worth understanding:

jonathanhughes's picture

I've had good luck with I only have one font distributed through them (the only one I've finished), and I've been very happy with how well the font has done, and how easy they are to work with. The downside is that after a week or so, your font is off their new font pages, and sales will drop off, so you might want to figure out some additional ways to promote your font on your own.

fontdesigner2's picture

Sorry for not responding back sooner.

Dunwich - Thanks for your advice again! You've helped me out a lot on other posts too! You're awesome. Your advice here is the opposite from a lot of advice I've heard on this topic. I've heard that myfonts has so many fonts that your font can get lost in the sea of fonts they have, like a needle in a haystack. I was planning on going to myfonts as a last resort. I would really like to get a foundry to sell my font for me and market it for me and everything, (exclusive deal and they would probably tell me to make changes or make changes themselves if they decided it was worth it) but that's a great idea to get in writing from a foundry that they will promote it (that's exactly what I need them to do) or give me a hefty advance (any idea what that might be?) or otherwise they won't really care if it sells well will they? That makes a lot of sense to me and no one has said that to me before!

So, if that doesn't work out and it probably won't (I wouldn't bet on it anyway though I will try to make a deal like this happen) I will just go through myfonts, and what I will try to do is somehow generate interest in the font myself and point as many people towards it as possible myself, through my own website, and other websites, or whatever.

kentlew - I read the article. Thanks!

jonathan - That's what I've heard. I'm worried about very low traffic coming my way if I go through myfonts. But you say you do get traffic huh? Or have you found it necessary to do a lot of promotional work to point people to your myfonts page?

I'm not planning on quitting my dayjob, but I would like to get as much quality traffic as possible, because if a thousand people see the font, way more people will want it and use it then if only 12 random people a year see it.

blank's picture

I'm not planning on quitting my dayjob, but I would like to get as much quality traffic as possible…

If you have a day job then you have the option of promoting your font yourself. You can set up a simple online store using Google Checkout or BigCartel & Pulley for under $100. Then you can buy web ads on sites like Typophile, UnderConsideration, and the various design magazine blogs at fairly low rates. If you have a few thousand dollars to spend you can even run a print campaign in magazines like Eye and Baseline. Just check out the local regulations on internet sales and sales tax first. I don't have an online store because I refuse to contribute to New York's idiotic approach to internet sales tax collection.

fontdesigner2's picture

Thanks for the advice. I may do that, as I will be promoting the fonts msyelf, even if it costs me money, and those are some great suggestions on ways to do it.

apetickler's picture

Your questions here have me quivering in anticipation to see what your finished product looks like. I know you probably don't want to show us any images before you're satisfied that you're as protected as you can possibly be, but you must promise to make a big deal out of it when you do make your design public.

butterick's picture

quivering in anticipation

I can understand. After all, it's a TrueType font.

jonathanhughes's picture

"I can understand. After all, it's a TrueType font."

That brings up a good question. Why, Fontdesigner2, are you making a TrueType font, and not an OpenType font?

Bendy's picture

Kent, thanks for reposting the link to that article. I was searching for it a few months ago but couldn't remember where it was.

fontdesigner2's picture

Oh - everyone - it's opentype now. I originally posted this like 4 months ago. I've really only been concentrating on creating fonts for 4 months now, but I've been designing unfinished ones for many years. I'm a graphic designer and I've studied typography for over ten years. Only recently have I felt that I was good enough to pursue font-design more, and I do now hope to make a side-business out of it.

Apetickler - it's funny you say that. Just today I was thinking how I'd be afraid to release my fonts onto this site for criticism. Some of the people here would tear into them like jackals, and I just don't need that negativity in my life right now. When I release them, I hope that no one on this site even connects them to me. Not because they aren't good, but just because I feel some people on this site would bash them anyway and put them under a microscope and criticize everything that they could possible think of about them, and most of the criticism would be a bunch of opinionated bs anyway.

jonathanhughes's picture

I've posted several things in the critique section and got nothing but good, solid feedback. In the dozens of other critique threads I've read, I can't recall any negative criticism that not intended to be helpful. Hopefully you're getting at least some critique from someone who has been designing fonts. Like anything, without an outside perspective, you're likely to overlook something.

"When I release them, I hope that no one on this site even connects them to me."

That's kind of shooting yourself in the foot. If designing type is something you want to pursue, having the people on this site be able to know what you've would be a good thing.

fontdesigner2's picture

Well so far in this website I've run across some people that seem very negative to me, who seem to love to argue and need to go join a debate team somewhere because they miss their old high school debate team. It's ironic that you are so fast to argue and disagree with me and say that I'm wrong when you want to be the first see my new font. Somehow I feel that you would not go easy on my font. I mean I'm literally laughing right now. You really crack me up.

fontdesigner2's picture

BTW the above comment is aimed at Jonathan and so is this:

If I were to decide that I respect your opinion based on your work, I would love to contact you privately and seek your critique in a private correspondence. So far I've looked at your stuff and to tell you the truth, I'm not really that impressed (and the last one you uploaded to this site for critique was like 2 years ago right?), so I don't feel that I need your opinion of my font published on this site, at this point in time. Let me know when you are ready to unveil another font of yours though.

jonathanhughes's picture

"It's ironic that you are so fast to argue and disagree with me and say that I'm wrong when you want to be the first see my new font. "

Wow.You seem to be really defensive. I'm not sure if the "you" is me, or if you're speaking generically, but I know that I never said I wanted to be the first to see your new font. I've reread my posts in this thread and I don't see anything that could be perceived as anything other than a helpful suggestion.

Like any community, there are people on this site who at least come off as less than pleasant. If you don't like some specific people, then why do you care what they say? Also, just because someone is a d-bag doesn't mean they don't occasionally offer some useful critique.

"If I were to decide that I respect your opinion based on your work, I would love to contact you privately and seek your critique in a private correspondence. So far I've looked at your stuff and to tell you the truth, I'm not really that impressed"

Again - wow. Where did I ever say that I thought you should put your font on this site so that I could critique it? I'm barely beyond the novice stage, which is precisely why I have posted various designs in the critique section, and also why I rarely post any critiques of anyone else's work. But thanks for the encouraging words.

I was merely trying to encourage you to get your work out in the community to get some feedback. Like I said in my previous post, I've gotten lots of useful criticism about my stuff (you know -- the stuff you're not really impressed with), and no one in the Critique section has been anything other than polite and helpful. So do what you want. I don't think anyone really cares of you post it here or not, or remain anonymous. But as far as I know, there are no other online communities like typophile that give you access to some of the top people in the field, nor are there any communities filled with as many people who are ready and willing to actually PAY for fonts. So again, I think anyone who is a type designer who willingly cuts himself off from this community is shooting himself in the foot.

Nick Cooke's picture

You're really going out of your way to endear yourself to people aren't you?

C'mon, don't be a chicken, let's see what you've got!

fontdesigner2's picture

Hey Jonathan I wanted to apologize for saying I wasn't impressed by your font. I thought it was fine and great. I WAS very defensive when I wrote that and in an extremely agitated mood from some of the other correspondences I've been having with other members of this site, and so I lashed out at you.

I feel like 95 percent of the members of this site are awesome, but it's that 5 percent that I don't need talking trash about my fonts. For example, maybe you are now angry with me and will take it out on my font when you critique it, or some of the other members who don't like something I said will do that.

I may change my mind about it in the future, but I haven't yet. I've chilled out a little, but a couple of arrogant, argumentative, (overly-critical-for-no-reason-other-than-to-just-be-pompous) members on this site really got my goat this week, and made me lash out at you because I was so irritated.

kentlew's picture

> a couple of arrogant, argumentative, (overly-critical-for-no-reason-other-than-to-just-be-pompous) members

. . . one of whom is probably me, I suppose. Ryan, I apologize if I came across as pompous and critical-for-no-reason in that other thread. I was trying to be informative and instructive. I did not mean to make you feel attacked or belittled.

— Kent.

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