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Creating a Sell Sheet

By Simone Design Blog @HomeSpire

I recently submitted Burger Dice for Publisher Speed Dating at GenCon. I was selected by a panel of publishers as an alternate, which indicates that at least some of them are interested in my game. When you stop and think about it, it's a bit strange that someone would be interested in my game without ever meeting me or even seeing the game in real life. This is the true power of the sell sheet. This single page often decides whether your game will even be considered by a publisher; it is the ultimate first impression, so it better be good.

If I've scared you a little bit, good. Sell sheets are not something to be taken lightly and they are certainly not an "extra" in your game design process. If you want to get people interested, be they publishers, retailers, or even gamers, you'd better have a great sell sheet. Today I'll offer my take on the process, share my current sell sheet for Burger Dice as an example, and provide some additional links to resources I used when creating my sheet. Let's get to it!


First and foremost, you need to have a good idea what you're trying to achieve with your sell sheet. Obviously the ultimate end is to sell your game, but the route you take to get there can be tweaked to highlight the most enticing aspects of your game. For Burger Dice, which is a very light-weight game, I focused on the fact that it was very easy to learn, that it is playable almost anywhere, and that a wide range of gamers would enjoy it. If you have a really heavy game with a lot of strategy, make sure you play to that.

Above all you need to focus on what makes your game unique. It's easy to compare Burger Dice to other such dice games (Zombie, Martian, etc.), so why should a publisher care about one more re-skinned version? The rules for building burgers set my game apart from most press-your-luck games, so I make sure to touch on that in my sheet.


There are some bits of information that I would argue belong on every single sell sheet. These are the stats of your game and the high-level that will let the publisher know if they need to spend more time on your game.

* Pictures: Publishers can't touch or play your game, so give them something to look at instead. Try to capture gameplay as best you can. Also focus on showing off interactions of components whenever possible. Use at least one image, but don't crowd the sheet.
* Age, duration, & players: These are pretty standard and appear on the game box itself. They definitely need to be on your sheet so publishers can get a general idea what kind of game they're looking at.
* Mechanics & Genre: Some version of this should be on your sheet. The publisher can't play your game at this point, so describe the main aspects concisely.
* List of components: This helps a publisher start thinking about costs. You want to get with a publisher that has the means to publish your game, not just the good intentions.
* Contact information: Should go without saying, but make sure there is an easy way for a publisher to contact you. Use professional emails and websites.

Outside of that, you'll need to think critically about your game design and include only the information that is most critical in explaining your game. You probably have a lot going on, but only a few points will sell your game to a publisher. They need to be hooked, not convinced. Get them excited about the game on paper, and they'll come to you to try the game for real.


It will most likely change. I know that's a hard message to receive, but there is a real possibility that a publisher might like your game but not the theme. You need to decide now if you're willing to be flexible about your theme. Let me help: you should. I'd argue a published game with a different theme is always better than the "perfect theme" sitting on your desk at home. That being said, be thoughtful about how much theme you include in your sell sheet. You want some so the sheet is interesting; no one want's to read a list of mechanics and components on a white piece of paper.

For Burger Dice, I went heavy on theme. I used a font reminiscent of 50's diners and I included a lot of flavor text setting up the game. If you take away the theme of Burger Dice, it does become a list of mechanics, which is never interesting. I'm still very open to changing the theme of my game, but I feel including it was necessary to get publishers interested up front. You'll need to find the right balance of theme for your sheet.


While not something you'll necessarily write into your sell sheet, being respectful of the publisher and their time is important. Keep your sell sheet concise and to the point. Not only will this help your chances in getting picked up, but it doesn't force the publisher into reading a novel about a game they still haven't decided they're interested in. Additionally, don't pester a publisher. Send them your sell sheet and then wait to hear back. Daily emails will not help your chances in getting published

On getting your sell sheet in front of publishers, resist the urge to send a hundred emails to every publisher you can find an address for. Typically you will send your sheet to only publishers that you had some kind of personal interaction with, whether an in-person meeting, a phone call, or, potentially, an online conversation. Some publisher websites also have a form for submitting game ideas. If they're asking for them, it's always OK to send it along. It can still help you out to have some kind of preamble to this application though, so look for ways to contact the publisher directly first. Again, don't be spammy!


Creating sell sheets are more art than science. What I've provided here, as well as the extra links below, are all guidelines and opinions. If you happen to find a publisher that says exactly what they're looking for, retool your sheet to fit their needs; it's totally fine to have multiple sheets for different occasions. That said, here are some main points to consider when drafting up your sell sheet:

* Set clear goals: Before throwing everything on your sell sheet, decide what is important and unique to your game. Play to your strengths, apologize for nothing.
* Clearly define your game: Be critical about what you include. Not everything in your game is a selling point. Focus on what defines your game and sets it apart.
* Use theme appropriately: Publishers rarely buy themes, they buy game designs. Be flexible with your theme, but include some in your sheet for flavor.
* Respect the publisher: Publishers have no obligation to you or your game. Make your sell sheet easy to read and keep all communication professional.


I don't claim to be the pinnacle of information on the subject; in fact, I had to do a lot of research on the topic of sell sheets before I felt even a little confidence in my own. Here are some links to sites and resources I used in creating my sell sheet:

Additionally, you can find my sell sheet and other documents for Burger Dice on the the game page . Feel free to use these as a basis for your own design, which I'd love to see! If you create a new sell sheet, please share it here in the comments or on Twitter. Thanks for reading!

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