I hit a milestone this week. I completed my 1000th game pitch. I’m defining a ‘game pitch’ as a game pitched or submitted to a publisher. In a pitch meeting, I would probably pitch 4 to 7 games, so this would count as 4 to 7 game pitches.

My first individual pitch was on 5th May 2021 – a little over 3 years ago. The first proper pitching event I attended was the Virtual Mojo Pitch in September 2021. This week I’m doing my 4th Virtual Mojo. 

Collapsed in a corridor at Mojo Pitch

About to pitch to Mattel at Nuremberg 

I have a pitching diary: Nuremberg in January, Mojo in June/July, Essen in October – these are my major events. But I pitch at other times too. In fact, it’s rare that I have more than a couple of weeks in between game submissions. As an independent designer or inventor, pitching is an important part of the job… if you want to get anything published by anyone else. 

The least glamorous part of pitching is the follow up and tracking. It’s crucial to make a note of which games you pitched to each publisher and what their feedback was. But this can be an afterthought – and afterthoughts so easily get forgotten. So in this post, I’ll aim to cover what and why to track pitches and how you might implement a system.

What to track

The basics

  • Date: The date of the pitch or submission. 
  • Publisher: The name of the company you submitted to.
  • Game: The name of the game you submitted.

Responses and feedback

Note any comments the publisher made about the game. This can include immediate feedback during a pitch and subsequent feedback. If you get specific comments, keep track of them, even if it is negative (especially when it is negative). You can also note the last date you followed up with the company here, if you’re waiting for feedback.

Status

This should state the current status of this game with this publisher. On my spreadsheet each status has a colour, so I can see at a glance, which publishers are still looking at which games and where my prototypes are. 

These are the statuses I have in my sheet. The numbers are the percentages of the sheet that are at each status at the time of writing this. 

  • Pass (67.4%): When you’ve had a clear no.
  • Assumed Pass (14.8%): When you just never hear back either way, nobody is responding to your follow up emails and it’s been a long while.
  • Not Now (0.7%): When the company has expressed an interest in the game and they have expressly asked you to re-pitch it in 6 or 12 months. 
  • Waiting (10.5%): After a pitch or submission – when they have the video/sell sheet/rules and you’re waiting for them to make a decision about next steps.
  • Prototype (2.6%): When they have a prototype of the game. I also note if they’ve had a physical prototype or just print & play files.
  • Scoop To Me (0.2%): When the company is waiting for me to do some requested development work on the game before getting back to them. 
  • Signed (1.6%): When a company licenses the game that was pitched.
  • Off Market (2.2%): When I’ve licensed a game pitched to this company before they’ve offered on it or rejected themselves.

Waiting to get into the halls to run to a pitch at Spiel in Essen

Just before the speed pitching event at UK Games Expo

Mid-pitch at the BGGCon speed pitching event

Method of submission

Note the way that you submitted the game to this company. Was it an email? Online form? Live pitch? Online pitch? Note the route you took, where possible. 

Person

Who did you pitch or submit the game to? Make a note of their name here. They may give you a generic email to follow up to and you’ll want this information later. 

Why to track submissions

Following up: You can see at a glance which publishers you need to follow up with and what games they are looking at. 

Developing a picture of a publisher: You can track feedback from a publisher over multiple submissions. You start to develop a clear idea of what they like and dislike in games and better know what to pitch to them in the future. You may even develop games with a specific publisher in mind. You’ll also be able to see the publishers that never respond or hold onto prototypes. 

Tracking feedback on a game: Is the same game getting the same kinds of comments from multiple publishers? You can see if you’re pitching it to the wrong people or if you need to do further development on the game or abandon it totally. 

Keeping publishers up to date: If you sign a game, you should tell all the other publishers that the game is now off the market. The tracking sheet makes this easy. Equally, if you’ve done some significant development to a game, you know who previously showed interest and can resubmit to them.

Avoiding unintentional repitching: You don’t want to unwittingly re-pitch a game to a publisher who has previously passed on it. It makes you look a little sloppy and disorganised. But it also wastes the publishers time and could make them less interested in what you have to say next. 

As a measure of progress: Most submissions end in passes (or assumed passes) and it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking you’re not making any progress. Pitching is progress in and of itself. It’s hard to get a game signed. Each time you pitch, you learn. Track that so you can celebrate it.

With fellow designer Danielle Reynolds after a long day of pitching at Mojo

How to track submissions

A single file: It’s really useful to have all your submission information in one place. Searching for the information in several places takes time and mistakes are more likely to happen. 

Searchable and sortable: A database or spreadsheet is probably the most useful format for your submission data because you can search and sort it. I generally keep my list in date order, adding new lines to the top so that upon opening I always see the most recent information. But I can sort it by publisher, game or status as well. I could even sort by contact – tracking people who move from one publishing company to another.

Keep it open: I like a tidy computer desktop and only have 3 tabs open all the time, but this is one of them. The constant presence of the tracking sheet in my chrome tabs reminds me to follow up with publishers and submit games that are ready to go. But it also reminds me to use the sheet. I log information as soon as I come off a call, when the feedback is most fresh in my mind and I have the piece of paper I jotted notes on in front of me. If I put it off, who knows where that paper will end up.

Of course, there’s more than one way to track communications with publishers and I’d really love to hear from you about how you handle your own pitch tracking. So please do share in the comments below.