How Not To Sell an RPG

I feel guilty about this post because I’m picking on a small publisher like myself and the life of a small publishers is hard enough already.

Any self-employed business person has to be a jack-of-all-trades because there is no one better trained or more experienced that you can delegate the work to. Inevitably there are some parts of the business you are just bad at but you still have to do them and accept the results are going to be far from ideal.

However all business people need to be able to sell. Whether it is face-to-face or through adverts or web sites, it doesn’t matter. Businesses need to have a basic competence in selling.

This morning I received this email from the Fantasy Games Unlimited email list.

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2010. We have news for you. Now Available:
2 new V&V Mini-Modules, available
Free!!!! Also
available for pre order: Aftermath! Magic! The long awaited Magical
rules supplement by David Harmer with new artwork by Eric Williams.200
years later....You can say the world has changed a bit. Dragons,
Elves, Wizards, and more - fighting it out with Dwarves and Orcs with
guns and technology. Will youChoose the path of the Mystical? Or will
you choose the Technological?AFTERMATH! Magic! is the essential
expansion to complete your AFTERMATH! collection. Filled with over 275
spells, mystical races, magic items, and more, AFTERMATH! Magic!
allows you to adventure in the world after a magical collapse. What
caused the collapse? Where did all these creatures come from? This is
left for your players to find out. • Humanoid Races•
Over 275 Spells• Spell Research Rules• Rules for:
• Making Magical Items • Sympathetic Magic
• Herbalism • Alchemy • Ritual Magic
• Dimensional Physics • Special Rules• New
Skills• Fantastic Monsters• A sample world 200 years
after the Magical CollapseStay tuned for more in 2010!

Does this make you want to buy the product? Can you even work out what the product being sold is?

This is a criminal waste of sales a golden opportunity. I joined the email list because I’m am interested in FGU’s products. Aftermath! was my favourite game system during the 80s and a new Aftermath! product is still very tempting. So selling me this product (the Aftermath! Magic Supplement) should be easy but after this email, I am far less likely to buy it.

I highlight this email not to ridicule Fantasy Games Unlimited but to warn small publishers everywhere. It is no good spending months or years creating a fantastic product if you let yourself down with the sales and marketing.

P.s. I know there are lots of errors on my web site and in my emails. Grammar and spelling are weak spots of mine but if I ever do something this badly, please, please, please tell me so I can fix it.


  1. I don’t know the product or it’s mother game, but the advertisement for it isn’t the best one. Actually, have to say, it sucks big time.

    As I don’t know what the product is like, this advertisement makes it look bad. I get the feel, that the actual product is a mess, printed at home office and distributed without any near professional manners.

    Making a good email ad is to keep it short and clear. Sell stuff with few key sentences what will wake your interest in the product. You don’t need to tell everything and certainly no need to sound like pitchman selling some cheap wonder-laundrer-thingie.

    It cannot be that hard to compose a email telling about new product. You don’t need layouting it or anything. Just write. But keep it simple. That text looks like the writer was in severe Jack Daniels influence! Not good at all.
    .-= Thaumiel Nerub´s last blog ..Campaign ending, wow! =-.

  2. Uhhh, not to be picky, but that looks like HTML turned into plain text. Are you sure your mail application didn’t just mangle the message?

  3. It looks like it should read “Loose 1 stone a week with our simple, age old technique” or “Earn £1000 a week from home” or “Increase your length by up to 4″ ” or “We know where you live. £10,000 in unmarked notes by Thursday or little Suzie gets it”

  4. *ding!* mthomas has it right, this has all the classic earmarks of an HTML mail that was either viewed on a non-HTML email reader, the recipient has all email being converted to plain text OR someone screwed up their email.

    One part of Chris’s point is correct – let them know! FGU may have screwed the pooch and have no idea they have a crappy looking email going out. It’s happened to the best of us, especially with mass email systems that sometimes hiccup.
    .-= Chgowiz´s last blog ..Campaign Conflicts – Players & Treasure =-.

  5. @mthomas768

    It is HTML converted to text because it has been cut & pasted from this page: and stuck into in an email.

    It does display (a bit) better if viewed in as an HTML email but that is irrelevant because what I saw was the text as you see it above.

    For fairness, I’ve done a screen shot of what I would of seen I’ve I enabled HTML in my emails (click for larger image). As you will see it is not exactly a brilliant example of salesmanship even then.


  6. @Rob G –

    Yep, it does look spammy and those first impressions count.

    @ Chgowiz

    See my response to @mthomas768 above.

    Even with HTML enabled it looks poor and the way the HTML has been used is pointless. Unless you are really going to town with the HTML, plain text email will look just as good as HTML with a lot less risks of someone’s system making a mess of it.


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