#RPGaDAY2022 Day 28 – Style Sunday: Roll 1d8+1, tag that many friends with your favourite RPG cover art?

Welcome to #RPGaDAY2022! Now in its ninth year, #RPGaDAY was originally created by RPG author and games designer David Chapman (Conspiracy X, Doctor Who, etc) as a bit of fun and to get people talking about tabletop roleplaying games. August was chosen, I believe, to coincide with tabletop roleplaying’s gaming mecca that is Gen Con – which usually takes place in the States (Inidanapolis these days) every August.

#RPGaDAY is open to everyone so if you want to join in just check out the prompts below to inspire a blog, vlog, or social media post to celebrate everything great about our hobby with the tag #RPGaDAY2022

Day 28 : Style Sunday: Roll 1d8+1, tag that many friends with your favourite RPG cover art?

As mentioned before I don’t do the whole ‘tag your friends’ posts, but beyond that am happy to post some cover art.

The difficulty there is I don’t think I have a single piece of cover art that I’d consider my all-time favourite. There are plenty of pieces I like, and plenty I think are ok, or even pretty poor.

Cover art is one of the most important parts of a game as far as trying to get someone to pick up your game, from a publishing point of view.

I wrote the below as part of a ‘Print Partner Manual’ I gave out to people and studios I was helping, or acting as publisher for, a few years ago…

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How To Help Your Book Stand Out

The below is constructive criticism and is aimed at helping make the books stand out more in a crowded marketplace. They are not meant to annoy or upset you, they are intended to help support you and give you pointers to things to look at and hopefully help more people discover your games. You’ve already done more than many people have by actually putting pen to paper, making the games and getting them published and played. That’s a major achievement in its own right and one you should be rightly proud of.

My four stages of book selling go like this:

  1. The Cover is the most important thing on your book. This is what attracts the browser to actually pick up the book to see what it’s about.
  2. The Back Cover Text is the most important thing on your book. This should inspire the reader to want to know more. The back cover text should be no more than 2 or 3 paragraphs of text and inform the reader a bit about the game/setting and some bullet point highlights.
  3. Interior Art and Layout are the most important things in your book. Most people once they’ve picked up you book will flick through it. By flicking through they won’t be reading all your words, they’ll see the layout and the interior art. If the layout is pleasing on the eye and the interior art is attractive and inspirational then your chances of closing the sale are very good.
  4. The Writing and Editing are the most important things in your book. Once the customer has actually brought your book ‘then’ they’ll read it (hopefully). The writing inside is what will make them actually want to play your game and will also largely be the deciding factor on whether they continue to pick up any supplements (or indeed other games) you produce. This is where you can gain a long term fan who will continue to support your efforts.

Every single one of these four steps is crucial in initially attracting the attention of a possible buyer and then converting them into a fan of your books.

The Cover is the first thing that really stands out when someone looks at your book. This is your ‘first contact’ with a prospective buyer and it needs to make an impression. A good cover will get the book more coverage in trade magazines, will make retailers look more closely at your book as it looks attractive and eye catching, will make a gamer pick the book up to find out more about it. A bad cover can kill a games chances before it ever reaches a game store as retailers might overlook it. There are hundreds of books out there, yours needs to stand out and demand to be looked at. Demand stores to stock it. If you have a good cover a store who has a new releases section is more likely to position your book face forward, showing off your lovely cover and thus exposing it to even more people. Internet sites might have it on their front page, and even if they don’t when someone is browsing through the new releases page your book will stand out – remember initially the cover is the only thing many people will see and know about your book.

The Back Cover Text. Unlike PDF sales – where the consumer is probably on a website that has more information about the game, or can atleast google for reviews/more info – a physical book needs to inform both the retailer and the consumer what it’s about and why they should stock it/buy it. Most people who pick up your book to look at will have no idea what it is about and your back cover needs to put this across and sell it to them. The wording needs to be both concise and interesting. Try and keep it to no more than 2 or 3 paragraphs and maybe include some bullet points covering major points covered in the book or important new rules that you want the customer to know it includes.

Interior art and layout. The books needs to look both functional and pleasing on the inside. The initial introduction to your work once the consumer opens your book will be what it looks like. Not the words, but the way the words are presented and any artwork that is there. Flicking through the book the artwork is what will initially stand out. Interior artwork has to be good. You don’t need to overdo the art content, and if you’re on a tight budget you can get by with a quarter page every so often (especially if the rest of the layout is attractive – you can often get by with less artwork if you have a decent border motif on your pages as that also feels like the pages aren’t just a continuous sea of words), but the artwork needs to do its job. It needs to be good, firing the imagination of the viewer, making them want to interact with the places/characters/objects/creatures shown there. Good artwork can seal the sale, bad artwork can put someone off – which means no matter how good your game is they won’t end up reading it and the book will be back on the game stores shelf.

Writing & Editing. The writing and rules need to be both clear and inspirational. When someone who has just brought your game finally sits down to read it the book has to be interesting. If it’s not then they’ll put it down and it’ll probably never be picked up again or played – which also means that you won’t be getting any further sales from them. If the book is written and edited well (never self-edit; always get someone else to edit the book and then if possible another someone to proofread it) it makes the reading experience much easier and interesting. The ideas and setting need to jump out of the pages and fire the imagination. As the reader is turning the pages their mind should be a light with ideas of how they can implement these words into a game for their friends, the written words are the thing that will inspire the reader to actually run/play your game and explore the world(s) you have crafted. This is where you hook them in for the long term. If they enjoy reading your book they will keep an eye on your company and look at what else you release. You will have gained a fan and someone who will help support and promote your game.

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I’m going to post a cover from a forthcoming release that I really like. It’s actually from my old company, Cubicle 7, and from the new 5th Edition version of the Victoriana RPG (a game I love and was one of the first IPs I brought into the company after buying Heresy Gaming – the orignal publishers – and brining it under the Cubicle 7 banner to develope what was then the 2nd Edition).

The art is by Antonio De Luca and is an absolutelty fantastic piece.

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