This post is directed mostly at independent designers or small companies who are looking to have their board game reviewed. Many reviewers (myself included) can get anywhere from two to ten requests to review a game in a single day. When you consider that I only typically do 4-8 reviews a month, that means a lot of requests will not be accepted. Today I wanted to share what you can do to help make your game stand out among those requests and hopefully find the right reviewer for you. I will go step by step and include some things that I look for when working with someone new to make a decision.
STEP ONE: RESEARCH-Before you reach out to anyone, you need to do your research. It may be appealing to send out a lot of emails to reviewers without looking too much into their content in hopes that people respond. This becomes a problem though if you don’t have a thorough grasp of their audience. Sending a heavy war game to someone who predominately reviews party games is not going to be the best benefit to you, or use of your money. Additionally, this can trap you into sending out more requests for reviews than number of copies you have available.
Instead, you should be selecting reviewers that would be a good fit for your company by looking into their content. You can get a feel for someone’s reviews by watching or reading their past content. You can also often find if reviewers will not review certain types of games by reading their about me or contact sections. Personally, at The Meeple Street, I tend to avoid games that are only playable solo or games that are adult themed. I also only review board games, not computer or video games.
STEP TWO: CONTACT- Now you have hopefully found someone who you are hoping will be a good fit for your specific game. The next step of this process is reaching out to that person. Most blogs have a contact area or a contact information available for you to reach out with requests. Personally, I prefer when people use this contact information, rather than another account like Instagram or Facebook because it ensures I can easily search for them in my email.
How you word your email will have a huge impact on whether I decide your game is a good fit for my blog. My most important resource I have available to me is my time. I value my time, and I value the time of those I work with. There is some information that is necessary for me to have when making a decision, and if it is not included in your original email, most likely I will select another game that does include that information. If you include this information right away, it saves time emailing back and forth and I can let you know almost immediately if I think your game would be a good fit for my blog. In cases where it is not, if I have enough information, I can often suggest other blogs that could help!
Here are some things I am looking for to make a decision:
- Game Description- Tell me about your game. Include information like mechanics, theme, weight, number of players and anything you think makes your game special. It is also great if you can include a link or attachment with the game rules. If someone just emails me with just a game title and no additional information, I am most likely going to ignore it. Take the time to tell me why I should be excited to spend time to review your game.
- When Do You Need the Review By- This is the second most important piece of information I need from creators. I may adore your ideas, but sometimes I cannot do a review because of the timing of it. If you are launching on Kickstarter or need a review done by a specific date include that information right off the bat. Whenever possible, try to get review copies out at least a month before that date. As a written reviewer, I spend anywhere from 10-15 hours on a single review. Video reviewers take even more time than that often. By providing a copy of the game early, you show me that you respect that time commitment.
Additionally, include if you have a review embargo date. If you don’t want content released before a specific point, state that very clearly. It also effects a reviewer’s schedule, so it is crucial to know. It will likely affect whether I can get the review out in that time frame or not!
- Do You Need Me to Pass The Game To Another Reviewer- This is a topic that also fits somewhat under time, but is important to note on its own. When working with prototypes of games, I almost always end up passing the copy onto another reviewer. As a reviewer, I understand the prototype’s value and cost. I appreciate when designers mention that they will need the game passed on when I accept the review though. It is another step that takes additional time for me, and often means the review needs to be completed quickly so that the other reviewer will have time to complete a review as well.
- Social Media– I love when a creator includes social media accounts on their email. This allows me to see the engagement with community, and get a better idea of game play. When including social media, be sure to include links to your social media accounts. A pet peeve of mine is when a creator ends their email with “Check us out on social media” but does not include where to find their social media. This is information that you should have easy access to, and by including it in your email, you demonstrate you value the reviewer’s time. As a reviewer, I promise to do my part and look at those links to research whether your game is a good fit for my audience.
- Why My Blog- This may not fit for every review, but if there is a specific reason you choose my blog for your game, include that in the email. This shows me that you have taken the time to research reviewers, and explains why you would like me to review your game.
I most often see this with people who want me to review their game because they know I have a focus on games in the classroom. They know that this form of review is not seen in all reviews, and they believe their game would be a good fit for the classroom. When a creator notes this, it can make a huge difference in my consideration for the game because I know they have done their research and have a specific reason for what they are doing.
I love what I do! Especially, I love that I get to work with a lot of independent designers, and see people’s passions come to life. Hopefully by writing this, I am able to give you an insight into my selection process and help you find the right reviewer for your game. If this information is not included in your email, it does not necessarily mean I won’t review your game. It just means it will take more time going back and forth to make an educated decision.
Also, if I don’t accept your game for review, that does not mean I think your game is bad. More often, it just means that it would not be the best fit for my audience because of theme or mechanics. In cases where your game is not right for my blog, I always try to give suggestions for who might be a good fit. Hopefully with the right information I can help you find the right fit for your time and resources! As always, feel free to ask any questions you may have about this process below.