Why you should make them, and what they are.
A press-kit is something that a lot of indie developers do, in fact it is something a lot of businesses do. It is basically a tidy way to package information that you would like to announce, and then give to ‘press’. There are a ton of amazing resources out there about press-kits, but, if you have no idea what they are or why you should bother this post will be for you!
Why should I make one? I’m just a small visual novel developer?
You obviously don’t have to make one but it is a good idea! Have you ever seen a youtuber play someones game or seen an article on a gaming website and think ‘I wish that was my game!’ This is how that happens. Yes, youtubers and journalists will often find their own things they’d like to cover, but just maybe they would LOVE your game and the only thing stopping them from looking it over is not knowing it even exists.
There are more games out right now (even visual novels!) than ever before, and people are absolutely flooded with them. To help make yours stand out it is generally a good idea to get people talking. The more, the better.
How can you do that?
How should I make one?
There are going to be a lot of great resources on this out there! (see links above). Specifically for Visual Novels, and as a brief intro I will sum it. You want to tell people about your game, and why they should care.
You’ll want to include the following things:
- Screenshots of the game
- 1 sentence “hook”
- Short plot summary
- Game Features
- Important links (Steam, Itch.io, your website, your twitter, ect…)
- Art assets for the game
This should all be kept as short and neat as possible. I personally use google drive to house it all, and then reiterate the most important info in the email I send out. Here is an example of an email template I would send.
Here is the first part of the sample. Notice the highlighted text! It is probably small and hard to read so let me reiterate. You MUST personalize the email, do not copy and send the exact same email out. Sure this saves time, but it makes it more likely the person reading it will regard it as spam or just not care.
Specifically the text reads:
Hi [their name],
[What you want to announce ‘My Game is out!’]. [What you want from them ‘Play it, please!’]. [Why you want it ‘You play a lot of games like it, you’ll like this one too!’]
A great image! (Do NOT flood the email with these, you will do yourself no favors. Limit to 1-2 tops. Also, do not make it too large!)
[Brief 1-2 sentence ‘hook’ that will catch their attention about your game. You can even customize this to the person getting it. Some people might be more interested in the horror aspects of In Blood, while others would be more interested in the romance.]
Then finally list your features! Use bullet points, and make it short and neat! (Are you noticing a trend here?) For visual novels/otome games you’ll want to mention things like: Romance Options, Endings, Word Count, Voice Acting(?), Music, Achievements, Mini Games, customization options, and anything you think someone playing a visual novel will care about.
This is a bit smaller so I can sum it up quickly! Links! They need to know where to find your game. List any platforms your game is on (Itch.io/Steam/ect), list a link to your press-kit (if it isn’t an included ZIP – more on this later!), a link to a youtube clip of gameplay is also highly recommended, and finally where they can find you (Twitter/website/facebook/ect).
Then just thank them for their time, and sign your name (include your email address, even if you emailed it! It’s a nice way for them to copy/paste it or if they print it out- it’s right there! Just do it.)
You’ll also notice I offered steam keys for my previous games. In emails I placed hyperlinks there to the steam pages, if they were interested. I only did this for youtubers who I thought might want to also play my previous games. I would not do this for press or blogs.
Do not make 1 press-kit include all of your games ever, either, that will be way too much to cover. Notice that I did not show images, discuss plot, or anything in that sentence. Short and sweet is the best route when doing a press-kit!
Wait, that was an email… not a Press-Kit!
You’re right! Notice how I included a link to my press-kit there? I also didn’t include the things above I told you to! That is because that is way too much for an email. The email’s purpose is to just catch their attention. If it does, then that is what the links are for!
For the actual press-kit you can use a file-sharing website (I use google drive), you can also zip all the items and include it in the email (PLEASE zip the files, do not send loose files!). I prefer to do the link to google drive because that way I can also link it on my website, and links might be slightly less scary to open than a zipped file.
Ok, so then what is in the Press-kit then?
Glad you asked! Let me show you mine. You can view it by clicking here, or by accessing under ‘Games’ on my website. Neat right! Let me show you an image as well.
See how I have the screen shots in their own folder? That helps cut down on clutter. I have a PDF document, a very simple black&white text information sheet, links, my logo, and other assets of interest. I’ll probably add more later, but for now that is a good basis!
Also make sure things are named in a way that makes sense. “In Blood Info Sheet” is good “FinalfinalPROBSomgIBhahaha.txt” is bad.
Want to see the screenshots folder as well? Sure you do!
You might not be able to see it, but if you clicked on the link you’ll notice they are named things like “karon teasing.png” not “Screenshot0003454.png”. That is another little touch to help the people viewing this, know what they’re looking at.
I have a Press-Kit and an email template, now what…?
Now you get to find people/websites and send it out! For visual novels there is a great resource Mikomi manages that you can find by clicking here. It lists some websites and streamers and youtubers who feature visual novels. It isn’t all inclusive though, but a great starting off point!
You should then find games similar to yours, and what I did was find who covered them and who played them. Just typing “otome game let’s play” into youtube will find you all kinds of channels. Then just find ones that are:
- Active (has made a relevant video or post in the last month)
- List their business contact info under the “about” section (Don’t just spam their comments!)
- Will be interested in your game
#3 is the most important. Don’t waste your time (or theirs) reaching out to people who only play Call of Duty or GTAV with your “Senpai is a shark girl who is in love with me??!!!” visual novel. There are people who write about, play, review, and care about visual novels of all types. Google is your friend.
Here is a section I have not mentioned much yet. Steam keys. Yes, if you are sending these out, attach 1-2 steam keys. Sometimes I give additional keys for a youtuber to do a ‘giveaway’ with, or I let them know they can just give it away.
If someone just emails you randomly, claiming to be youtuberMAN5000 asking you for steam keys, then no. You should do some research before sending them out. However, if you are contacting the entity specifically asking for them to play/promote/review your game than please send them a steam key! Don’t expect them to go out and buy your game.
Yes, I have gotten emails from “famous youtubers” asking for steam keys that 1-2 minutes of research proved were scams. That is the subject for another article though!
Don’t get too excited. A lot of times I don’t get a reply, and a lot of times I do not get the review/let’s play I was hoping for. That is ok! People are busy and they do not owe you or your game their time. The point is to try! If things line up, then wonderful! Be happy about the victories, and don’t let defeats stop you. If someone plays or features your game it is always nice to thank them/promote their article or video and let your audience know to check it out. If they don’t, I would let it go. Pestering people will not get you anywhere, but possibly blacklisted. It is important to be polite and professional!
Someone emailed me a press-kit… what do I do?
I have had a handful of people I sent press-kits to ask me this. It is typically a smaller content creator or someone a bit newer. It’s ok to get one and be like ‘what the heck??’. I just want to briefly answer the ‘what do I do?’ question.
Whatever you want!
Play the game, write about the game, feature it, ignore it, print it and toss it out the window (actually don’t do that, that is littering).
You’re getting that because you have caught the attention of developers, and are likely to get many, many more as time goes on! May you always get games you’re interested in!
You are under NO obligation to give a positive review or to only say positive things about it. You do not have to even cover it (it would be nice if you did, of course!) You do not have to use any of the assets provided, but you can. (Want to add sexy character art, helpfully provided, to your custom youtube thumbnail? There you go! Want to add a nice version of the logo to your website when you talk about the game? There you go!)
Don’t be afraid to reach out to the person who sent it to you with more questions, they will likely be flattered that you actually read the email and are thrilled to talk about it.