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Subject: Format for Contacting Reviewers rss

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Greg
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I'm going to be at the stage of asking reviewers if they'd like to look at prototypes again shortly and am considering changing the format of my offer.

I have had a great time with the reviewers I've spoken to so far over my previous three projects and will definitely be contacting some of them again (And the ones I'm not contacting are because my next game falls outside of the type of games they like) but there are a lot of people I've written to over the past couple of years who didn't offer any sort of reply at all, not even a polite 'no'. I feel like I must not be doing a very good job of putting myself and my games across.

I'm considering switching away from a text email to one that's got something akin to a sellsheet, quickly highlighting what the game is about, why it'd be good to review and showing a few pictures.

This is an example of the sort of thing that I'm talking about.

Good approach? Horrible approach? What works for you? What would you prefer to receive?
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Brendan Riley
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I'm not a reviewer, so my advice might be worthless, but I wouldn't attach a sellsheet to an unsolicited email. You could write a brief paragraph and include a link to a PDF of it, perhaps.

Good luck!
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Greg
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Perhaps you're right, a link might be better since it won't take up space in their inbox or cause them a problem downloading if they've got a slow 'net connection.

That leaves me with the issue of what's best to put into the paragraph. I like to try to come to the point quickly so I'm not wasting anyone's time, but just jumping in with "check this out" feels impersonal and spammy :/
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Simon Neale
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Hi Greg,

I am a reviewer and you are asking the right questions.

Personally, when I am approached to review a game I like to have an overview of the game (theme, mechanics, runtime, age range, number of players etc) which is the sort of information on your example sell sheet.

The information that I need to know but rarely get given as part of the initial contact is: what sort of review is being requested (BGG review, review with photos, a review that can be used for Kickstarter, a review published in a magazine/online website etc.).

I hope this helps.

Good luck.
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Russ Williams
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FWIW I prefer plain text emails, with a link to download if I want, but I might be unusual in that way. (And I am not a reviewer.)


PS: Be careful about typos; stuff like "reviewers I've spoken too" (to) (in the OP) and "Do your fan’s friends a favour" (fans') (in the sellsheet) might be causing some reviewers to dismiss the game as an amateur production.

(As a game player/purchaser, I sometimes notice sloppy text editing in a game's materials or advertising as a warning sign. That's not always a reliable indicator of lower game quality, but one needs some kind of triage method if one is overwhelmed with choices...)
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Greg
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Thanks for the feedback Simon, it certainly helps to have an idea about things that I might fail to include. What do you think the most important thing to say first is? I can see a few ways to start...

[With the game, to get to the point quickly]
"Hi, I wanted to offer you a review copy of Shenanigans: The Musical, a light social deduction game for 4-10 players"

[With context, to establish some credibility]
"Hi, I've just finished review copies for my fourth game and I was wondering if I could get your help to show it off to our fans"

[With reference to your work, to make it relevant]
"Hi, I read your mafia review and saw that you really liked it. I'm working on a similar game that I think resolves that player elimination problem you brought up in a neat way and was wondering if you'd be interested in a review copy?"

...something entirely different?


Russ: Good points. Typically if I'm sending something out to reviewers or press I'll run it by our graphic designer and an editor to try to disguise my horrible grasp of layouts, spelling and grammar (though mostly at the moment it's that I'm using one of those horrible flat key laptop keyboards). I should put more of an effort into getting things right on the first pass though, I think having access to these facilities has the potential to make me lazy.
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John Carter
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Not currently a reviewer but I have reviewed in the past.

The danger of off the bat comparing your game to another game in the introduction, like comparing your game to Mafia, will be that the reviewer will most likely continue comparing your game to the already established game when they play it and review it. Having a review that starts "it's like Mafia..." is never a good thing. I'd advise against that.

I would support the "get to the point quickly" approach with a link if they'd like to research on their own. From my experience, don't attach files without consent from the reviewer. If they're interested they'll ask for more info.
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Simon Neale
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x_equals_speed wrote:
Thanks for the feedback Simon, it certainly helps to have an idea about things that I might fail to include. What do you think the most important thing to say first is? I can see a few ways to start...

[With the game, to get to the point quickly]
"Hi, I wanted to offer you a review copy of Shenanigans: The Musical, a light social deduction game for 4-10 players"

[With context, to establish some credibility]
"Hi, I've just finished review copies for my fourth game and I was wondering if I could get your help to show it off to our fans"

[With reference to your work, to make it relevant]
"Hi, I read your mafia review and saw that you really liked it. I'm working on a similar game that I think resolves that player elimination problem you brought up in a neat way and was wondering if you'd be interested in a review copy?"

...something entirely different?


Personally, the actual wording of the approach doesn't matter that much to me. Referencing my reviews feels a little creepy, unless in the context of "I am looking for a review similar to the one you did for xxxx"
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Edward Gilhead
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Greg,

Thanks for asking the question. We are about one step behind you and looking to start talking to reviewers in the next month or two.

Is there a list of people who are happy to review games here on the BGG?

Thanks,
TunzaG
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Steve Tudor
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Personally I would say you're doing everything right

My usual advice is as follows:

Be personal and address the email to the reviewer. Its usually not hard to find. I know some reviewers who will immediately delete any email that doesn't address them directly.

Give as much information about the game as you can. The more that can be seen the more likely reviewers are to respond.

Target the reviewers of similar games. Don't send a review request for the latest raunchy party game to a reviewer of kids games. (For some reason I get a lot of review requests for raunchy party games).

Check the reviewer works with Kickstarter / published games (delete as applicable)

Check where your reviewer is based. Don't contact a reviewer and then find out they live halfway round the globe and you can't afford to send them a review copy.

Keep in contact with your reviewer. Chase up the email, let them know you've dispatched the game to them, check to make sure they're not having trouble with the rules. The amount of times I've been told I'm going to be receiving a game and it never turns up is surprising and sometimes they get lost in the post and alternatives can be arranged

Don't fret about not getting a response. I get about three times as many requests to either feature or review a game that I can possibly do. I am also terrible at replaying to emails (I know I'm bad)
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Steve Tudor
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TunzaG wrote:
Greg,

Thanks for asking the question. We are about one step behind you and looking to start talking to reviewers in the next month or two.

Is there a list of people who are happy to review games here on the BGG?

Thanks,
TunzaG


There's a list at the Boardgame Reviewers Facebook Group

and a list made by James Mathe of Minion Games

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Brendan Riley
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Neale2006 wrote:
Referencing my reviews feels a little creepy, unless in the context of "I am looking for a review similar to the one you did for xxxx"


That's interesting! I would have thought the reference to the reviews demonstrates that he did his homework, rather than just spamming every reviewer he could find. As a public reviewer, why would it be creepy that he knew your reviews?
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Nyles Breecher
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Disclaimer, I'm not a reviewer, but here are some thoughts.

Include all relevant information in the initial email. If you have to correspond with the reviewer many times just so they can figure things out, they will probably be less interested. That means including:

**An overview of the game
**Your expectations/hopes of the reviewer, should they decide to review your game.
**What they would be getting (i.e. pictures to the prototype, etc.--you want to prove your game is in a good place)
**What the review would be used for. Kickstarter preview? Hype? Already printed?
(**Maybe discuss money. Unsure exactly here, since I'm not sure what reviewers charge.)

Make it personal in some way. You don't need to do a lot, but show that you put in some effort for that individual reviewer.
 
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Greg
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Aggregating the feedback from this thread I'm looking at sending something like this:

"Hi NAMEFACE,

I’d like to offer you a review copy of Shenanigans: The Musical.
This page (LINK) has a picture of the review copy and details about the game. If you prefer plaintext, read on:

It’s a light social deduction game about an orchestra trying to work out which one of their members doesn’t actually know how to play any instruments.

The main things that set it apart from other social deduction games are that it doesn’t require a moderator or night phase, it has a relatively huge number of unique roles (About 50) and the critical decision falls to a single player rather than requiring a vote.

We’re launching the game on Kickstarter in early April, so we’d be looking for the review to go live around then.

The reason that we’re seeking reviews is that we’re a charity orchestra rather than a games publisher so we’re trying to find ways to reach beyond our usual audience.

On a personal level, I’m also aware that I’ve designed this game for a different type of player than my previous offerings. I’m keen to make sure that my existing supporters have a fair and accurate idea of what to expect if they decide to back this one too, I'd hate to disappoint anyone by implying that it'd be similar.

IF REVIEWER IS RUNNING A SITE THAT ALSO DOES INTERVIEWS OR HAS GUESTS ON PODCASTS OR HAS OTHER OPPORTUNITIES TO GET INVOLVED OFFER TO DO THAT.

In terms of what we’re looking for, any review that is fair and honest is fine by us. We’ve no particular preference for one format over another, but are happy to supply images of the game or its artwork if you reckon that you’ll find it useful.

Thanks for reading and I look forward to hearing from you soon."

-Greg"

I worry that in trying to cover all of the bases it runs a little long though. I also wasn't sure about including personal touches or not, since there's one post in favour of it and another worrying it'd be creepy. In most cases if I'm writing to a reviewer I've not really spoken to before it'll be because I saw that they reviewed something in the same genre, read a few of their reviews and decided that I liked them.
 
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Brendan Riley
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x_equals_speed wrote:
I worry that in trying to cover all of the bases it runs a little long though. I also wasn't sure about including personal touches or not, since there's one post in favour of it and another worrying it'd be creepy. In most cases if I'm writing to a reviewer I've not really spoken to before it'll be because I saw that they reviewed something in the same genre, read a few of their reviews and decided that I liked them.


Looks good to me! I still think it's worthwhile to add a line along the lines of "I'm sending this request your way because on your channel, you tend to review games like Nincompoopery and Zaniness, so I think Shenanigans would be a good fit for your interests."

But I understand what other posters here have said about creepiness.

 
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Charles Ward
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I'm just in the middle of sending review copies out for Blood & Fortune.

The first stage was to reach out with a friendly message about 6 months ago and ask which reviewers they recommend (in general). The list I started with quickly became 100+. As a consequence I got to know (and love) a lot of new reviewers.

Once the game was published, website was made, the facebook page up, the online store set up, the game photographed and added to BGG... I took a break.

Then, the second stage was to send out feelers with a brief 3 word description of the game, with the links to follow. Great response.

Many people say they are busy, but its up to you to take the risk and wait. You might be waiting in vain with the big names, but its worth being a bit persistent, following up with the occasional message. You will get a sense of how long the review might take. Give yourself 3 months or more if you are aiming for a kickstarter.

Many people asked if the game was kickstarter. Make that clear (like I did, but was still asked about it).

Then you must send out a message with your expectations and ask for their address, to reviewers who expressed an interest.

Do it on a Sunday, give everyone a week before you go from feeler to expectations. This way you can do everything at once, but still make it personal. Everyone has different priorities and requests. There are many kinds of reviewers solo, euro, 2 player, family, podcast, written, video... so make sure you know who you are talking to. Get your spreadsheet on!

All in all I was flattered to get many complements for my game art. But in the end, I know it's a risk to send it out to reviewers. You know... what if they don't like it. They will. It's a great game! And if they don't, I will try again.

Any reviewers who I have not reached out to, please get in touch there is still time to catch the first wave of mail-outs.
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Brendan Riley
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ex1st wrote:
Then, the second stage was to send out feelers with a brief 3 word description of the game, with the links to follow. Great response.


Three word?
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Charles Ward
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wombat929 wrote:
ex1st wrote:
Then, the second stage was to send out feelers with a brief 3 word description of the game, with the links to follow. Great response.


Three word?


Here it is:

Quote:
I'm looking for a review of Blood & Fortune, which I self-published in November 2015 (at great financial cost, meaning great art, card-stock, box, etc.). It's a quick but tense card game about negotiation, deduction, betrayal. The game has 3 levels of play to help new players reach the deeper levels of the game. Are you interested in reviewing this kind of game?


Granted, 3 key words in 1 paragraph. But no mention of playtime, player count, components, rules, etc.
 
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Brendan Riley
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ex1st wrote:
wombat929 wrote:
ex1st wrote:
Then, the second stage was to send out feelers with a brief 3 word description of the game, with the links to follow. Great response.


Three word?


Here it is:

Quote:
I'm looking for a review of Blood & Fortune, which I self-published in November 2015 (at great financial cost, meaning great art, card-stock, box, etc.). It's a quick but tense card game about negotiation, deduction, betrayal. The game has 3 levels of play to help new players reach the deeper levels of the game. Are you interested in reviewing this kind of game?


Granted, 3 key words in 1 paragraph. But no mention of playtime, player count, components, rules, etc.


Thanks, that makes sense.
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Baden Ronie
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x_equals_speed wrote:
I'm going to be at the stage of asking reviewers if they'd like to look at prototypes again shortly and am considering changing the format of my offer.

I have had a great time with the reviewers I've spoken to so far over my previous three projects and will definitely be contacting some of them again (And the ones I'm not contacting are because my next game falls outside of the type of games they like) but there are a lot of people I've written to over the past couple of years who didn't offer any sort of reply at all, not even a polite 'no'. I feel like I must not be doing a very good job of putting myself and my games across.

I'm considering switching away from a text email to one that's got something akin to a sellsheet, quickly highlighting what the game is about, why it'd be good to review and showing a few pictures.

This is an example of the sort of thing that I'm talking about.

Good approach? Horrible approach? What works for you? What would you prefer to receive?


hey there,

I do videogame reviews primarily, but also cover boardgames.

Firstly, not getting a reply isn't uncommon, especially when contacting bigger names. When it comes to dropping in requests for videogames, even with a reasonable audience and a semi-known name in the review world getting absolutely no reply from a big company is fairly common. It can be disheartening at first until you realise that most of the time it's nothing personal - they just get a lot of requests.

You're on the right track. I pay the most attention to the Emails that succinctly provide me with the details I need. In this instance the name of the game, the style, the player count etc. and why it's worth checking out over something else.

Be clear; if you've got copies for review tell me outright at the start that you're willing to send it and send it soon. In my case I work alone, so I schedule stuff so I don't get swamped and have time for everything. I get a lot of Email saying that a game is coming my way so I schedule time and then the damn thing doesn't show up for like three weeks.

As for an intro, just introduce yourself, maybe crack a light joke. This is my standard opener when contacting a new company, "My name is Baden Ronie and I'm the founder of, and writer for, Wolfsgamingblog.com, a UK based videogame review site that currently gets about 80,000 views per month. Not the biggest amount, but world domination does take time. And giant death lasers, which are frankly hard to build in these harsh economic times. But hey, the evil lair is coming along nicely."

Keep at it, and if you're looking for reviews feel free to toss me an Email at badenronie@wolfsgamingblog.com or on contact me on here.
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Alex Thorn
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Hi all,

We are in a similar boat. We have published our board game through https://www.thegamecrafter.com/games/dinosaur-wars and have received good positive feedback so far.

We would now like to put it forwards to a couple of professional reviewers and start to get our game out there.

Our game is based around dinosaur bone hunting & the Bone Wars of the late 1800's so ideally we would like to send our game to reviewers who have an interest in this genera.

Could anyone recommend a couple of reviewers that might have an interest in palaeontology, natural history, museums etc. that we could contact?

It is a game that can be played by all ages and our main target would be to eventually see it sold in museum shops etc.

We would love a video / podcast review but even a simple written review would be great.
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Greg
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Charles: Thanks for sharing your experiences. I'm a little too far into the process now to do things the same way this time around, but I think being able to express what makes a game great in a few words is a great way to get in touch with people and fantastic for building clarity.

Baden: I sent you a message. Reading your site made me mad at XCom all over again though

Alex: I don't know a reviewer who has that particular interest I'm afraid. My list is getting quite long, but I guess it's rare for reviewers to state that kind thing up front. It might be best to look for reviewers who are a good match for the weight and mechanics of your game and try to persuade them that palaeontology is great rather than the other way around?
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