MAKING A SALES SHEET
You have completed the design of your game. Your game mechanics are solid. You’ve done plenty of playtesting, and played the game with strangers. You’ve revised and refined your game to the point where it feels like it is complete, and not so much of a “work-in-progress.” You’re now ready to talk to publishers, make a pitch, and see if they’ll turn your concept into a real product.
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 or Sell-Sheet (or sometimes even a One-Page).
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 a publisher they are valuable time savers!Also, showing a clean, good looking looking Sales Sheet to a publisher immediately tells them that you are professional and you know what you’re doing.
A Sales Sheet needs to include the following things:
- Title of game – preferably with a mock up logo
- Game Vitals
- Suggested age range
- Number of players
- Length of time to play the game
- Quick overview
- Category the game fits into
- List of contents
- Images of the game
- Sample of one turn or round of play
- Your contact info
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. These can be combined into a graphic similar to what we see on almost all published board games. If there are ways to remove or reduce text on this sheet, then do it!
3. 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. 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.
4. The publisher should already know what kind of game it is, but most games have subsets of categories that it could belong to. It’s beneficial for a publisher to know which categories you feel your game fits into as they could be looking for an Area Control game. Conversely they could be full up on Area Control games and will want to pass on your game – but it’s better to know that sooner rather than later.
5. A publisher is always looking at the bottom line so a list of contents will help them quickly understand if it’s a game they can make with a likelihood profit or not. Hopefully your game is as lean and clean as possible so you don’t scare off any publishers with a massive, unwieldy list of contents.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. Obviously don’t forget to put your contact info on it!
Treat your sales sheets like “business cards with a bang”. You want something to leave people with that says more than just your name/contact info/website. You want to leave them with the impression that you are professional, that you’ve got a prototype ready to play at the drop of a hat, and that you’ve put a lot of thought into the product you’re pitching. Short of giving the publisher a working prototype, you want them to be able to get the gist of your game – the general rules, the look and feel, the target demographic – with as little effort on their part. The less amount of time they have to spend scouring the internet, calling you, chasing you down the better for everyone.
The sell sheet is your foot in the door when your foot isn’t even nearby. Publishers will take the countless sell sheets they’ve picked up from a convention or had sent to them and sift through them, hoping to chance upon the next big thing. Make sure your game is poised to be picked up by making a sell sheet that helps them remember everything pertinent about your game without overloading them. Give them confidence in your product by creating a well-presented, succinctly worded sell sheet.
The time spent making the sell sheet and handing it out will pay dividends if it’s done right.