Game Design

The EXACT letter I sent to a publisher that got my first game signed

I believe that knowledge is power and to that end I want to arm you with the type of knowledge that will be really helpful for you when you pitch your game to a publisher.

So, I’m going to share with you today the exact email I originally sent that helped to get my first game signed with a publisher.

This is something I’ve shared with only a handful of people before now.

It’s probably not the best email I’ve ever sent, and I could definitely have improved upon it (and I’ll get to what I would do differently next time in just a moment), but it did the trick. It captured the publisher’s attention, got my foot in the door with them, and led to my co-designer and I getting our first game together signed (which is due for release this fall under a slightly different name).

Here is the letter I sent

Subject: Referral from [other designer’s name] – Four Letter Words Game

Dear [contact name],

I was playing a co-designed game called Four Letter Words at Breakout Con this weekend with friend and fellow game designer, [other designer’s name], and he recommended that we contact you as he felt you would be really interested in seeing our game of words and quick wits.

Four Letter Words is a fast-paced, simultaneous word creation game for 2-6 players, with each round lasting only a few minutes. Players each take two hexagonal tiles with alternating starting and ending two-letter combinations, and try to create as many four-letter words as they can by placing their tiles on the common board, which is constantly growing, and quickly replenishing their tiles in order to be the first player to create six words. The winner collects a victory token, and a new round begins. The first player to collect three victory tokens wins! 

I have attached an information sheet about Four Letter Words.  Just a note that this is a game created by [my co-designer], which I co-designed with him.

I would be glad to provide you with more information, the game rules, or a prototype if you’re interested in discussing further.

Kind Regards,

Joe Slack

What I did well

One of the things I felt I did most effectively was to establish a connection to the publisher.

They had already signed a game from this other designer and had a working relationship with them, so letting them know that this individual referred us to them directly (and having a specific contact as opposed to a generic submission form) gave us some instant credibility. His recommendation gave us direct access and put us in touch with the exact right person.

I also did a pretty good job of explaining what the game is about in a way that I felt would interest this particular publisher. They are also known for publishing books and I knew they were interested in word games, so I really wanted to emphasize the fast play and word creation aspects of the game.

What I would do differently

While my letter did give us a foot in the door and led to us getting our game signed with this publisher, I have since refined the way I write my pitch emails, so if I could go back in time I would change a few things:

  1. I would tighten up my pitch. I might not say as much about gameplay – just enough to get them asking for more (although in the case of this publisher, I do feel it still worked well).
  2. I would include a link to an overview video. More and more I am hearing publishers say how helpful these are for them to make a quick decision about whether this is the type of game for them.
  3. I would have also expressed why I thought the publisher would be a good fit for the game. By explaining the game in just enough detail, I think they saw this for themselves, but it never hurts to mention how your game would complement their catalog and why you’d want to work with them (potentially including other games of theirs you enjoy).

I hope you found this helpful. One thing to keep in mind is that while my letter was not perfect, it did the trick and led to getting our game signed. Don’t wait until you have your email pitch perfected, just get it out there and improve upon it over time.

Do you have any topics you’d like me to write about? Is there anything you’re struggling with related to game design?

I want to ensure that what I’m sharing is helpful and relevant to you.

Leave a comment below and let me know. I just might write a future article on this exact topic.

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