Once you’ve decided that you want to send your game to a publisher then the next step would be to create what we call a Sales Sheet. A Sales Sheet is a one-page document that gives a quick overview of your game to a potential publisher. To some this might seem superfluous, but to us, we credit a lot of our success to having these Sales Sheets ready.
Showing a clean looking Sales Sheet to a publisher immediately tells them that you are professional and you know what you’re doing. When I attend board game conventions and approach a publisher’s booth to ask them if they are accepting submissions, I often get an ‘eyes-rolling’ kind of vibe as they begrudgingly say “ok sure.” Then when I pull out my Sales Sheets, I can actually see a visible change in attitude as they immediately realize that they’re dealing with someone who’s serious about game design and not someone who has designed the next Monopoly clone.
A Sales Sheet needs to include the following things:
- Title of game – preferably with a mock up logo
- Suggested age range
- Number of players
- Length of time to play the game
- Quick overview of the game
- Category that the game fits into
- List of contents
- Images of the game
- Sample of one turn or round of play
Some reasons on why this game will sell
- Your contact info!
Here’s an example of one of our Sales Sheets for our game Jungle Jam (which has since been retitled to Jam Slam, but we haven’t updated our Sales Sheet yet!).
Our newer Sales Sheets have a lot less text, but this one had all the major points on it that I wanted to cover. See bottom of post for an example.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these.
1. The logo might seem challenging to you if you don’t have artistic skills, but you really don’t need a lot of skills to create a logo. Google ‘how to make a logo’ and you’ll find a bunch of resources to help you. The main key is that your logo should have the same energy that you want your game to have. If your game is a quick reaction game then your logo needs to be playful and punchy; but if your game is a serious game about trading antiques then an old fashioned feel is obviously better.
2-4. The next three can be combined into a graphic similar to what we see on published board games. If there are ways to remove or reduce text on this page, then do it!
5. The quick overview gives the publisher an understanding of what the game is all about and should not take longer than 15 seconds to read. So keep it short and concise. It will take a lot of copy editing to come up with the most colourful yet efficient ways to get your message across! Get your English Major friends to help you with this one. Here’s an example of an overview for our game, Junkyard:
6. The publisher should already know what kind of game it is, but most games have subsets of categories that it could belong to. Our upcoming game, Belfort is a Resource Management game, but it also has Worker Placement, Area Majority and Building as subset categories. It’s beneficial for a publisher to know which categories your game fits into as they could be looking for an Area Majority game. Conversely they could be full up on Area Majority games and will want to pass on your game – but it’s better to know that sooner rather than later anyway.
7. A publisher is always looking at the bottom line so a list of contents will help them understand if it’s a game they can make with a profit or not. Hopefully your game is as lean and clean as possible so you don’t scare off any publishers with a ginormous list of contents.
8. If you can include actual photographs of your game instead of just computer based samples, then it will go a long way to show the publisher that there is a full prototype ready to go. Just like when we look at a game we might want to buy from a game store, the image on the Sales Sheet would be better if it shows the game in progress.
9. It’s even better if you can use this image to show an example of one round of play. This part can be challenging because think about what everyone’s least favourite part of playing board games is…it’s reading the rules. So don’t just put a rules summary in your sales sheet. The publisher doesn’t need to understand why Player A did what they did – the publisher just needs to know how some of the mechanics work together. Here are a couple examples.
10. The last part is your chance to let the publisher know why your game is worth publishing. It’s important to keep to facts here instead of telling them how much fun your playtesters have with your game. Some examples of what you should talk about here: If your theme is interesting or hot in the market then list that if your game has a new mechanic that’s never been seen before If your game has variants or expansion possibilities If your game could be licensed to popular characters If you are open to re-theming your game entirely (instead of wizards collecting dragon eggs, it’s a bunch of Igors collecting body parts!) If it’s a kid’s game then list any educational impact If you can find any sales stats that support why your game will do well, then that’s perfect!
[EDIT BY SEN FEB 4, 2015 – in discussing this with James Mathe of Minion Games, he finds this offputting; I’ve also heard that from one other publisher. They find it presumptuous that designers would tell publishers what would sell. While I still think it’s good for you to *think* about the above points and perhaps be able to discuss them, it may be best to leave them off lest you offend the publisher you’re trying to sell your game to. This also clears up a poop-load of space from your sell sheet. Don’t be in a huge rush to fill it up, though – remember that white space increases readability and walls of text are an instant turn off! Feedback works! See?]
11. Obviously don’t forget to put your contact info on it!
Once complete you are now ready to approach publishers. We’ve found that whether we’re approaching a publisher in person or via email, we’ve used our sales sheets almost every time. In an upcoming post we’ll talk about the importance of conventions and how these Sales Sheets are invaluable to us as designers.
Here’s an example of a newer Sales Sheet that is more show and less tell. It works well for this kind of family game and this was what was used to show to Mattel and Hasbro.