selling your murder mystery party game

So, you've written your own murder mystery party. You've played it with your friends and they all loved it. You've read it through and you think it's slick and witty and you'd like to sell it. So what do you do next?

three things to consider

There are three aspects to this question that you need to think about:

  • making sure your murder mystery party game works
  • preparing it for publishers
  • selling it yourself

making sure that your party works

The great advantage that you have when you run your own murder mystery party is that you know how it works.

You know what's supposed to happen and when - and if things go slightly awry then it's easy for you to fix.

It won't be as easy for someone else to fix, so you will need to make sure that everything is crystal clear.

My experience of writing murder mystery games is that while I might think that what I've written is clear, someone else can find a completely different meaning.

(There are lots of reasons for this, but let's just take that as a given.)

So if nothing else you need to make sure that you test your game - not only with your close friends, but you should also see if you can find someone else to run it for their friends.

And if you can find someone to run it who has never run a murder mystery party (or anything else like it) before, then that's even better.

Feedback can be tricky.

Good questions to ask are: "What did you enjoy about the party?" "What didn't you enjoy about the party?" and "How would you improve the party?"

Don't get too discouraged if you get negative feedback - instead fix the problem and turn it into positive feedback!

So, my tips are:

  • Test it yourself - you obviously need to test it yourself. I find that when I'm testing a game I like to have a printout to hand so that I can make notes.
  • Test it blind - find someone to test it for you and ask for their feedback.
  • Test it with novices - if at all possible, find someone to test it for you who has never played a murder mystery game before. You'll get great feedback about clarity and usability from them.
  • Check your English and grammar - while you can make do with spelling mistakes, acronyms and a shorthand approach to your instructions, you will need to write everything out in full if you are planning on selling it. So check your English and grammar - and particularly be on the lookout for anything that might be misconstrued. Get someone else to check and proofread your work - it's almost impossible to that to your own writing.

Selling your murder mystery game to an existing publisher

There are several murder mystery game publishers and I know that most are prepared to consider submissions by other authors.

The most important thing to remember when trying to sell your game to an established publisher is that they have their own house style and you will find yourself in an uphill struggle if you try to sell them something different.

(As an aside, when I'm working with authors at Freeform Games I find it deeply unprofessional if they ignore the house style and our Writer's Guidelines. I have no doubt that other publishers and editors feel the same.)

I recommend that you don't send your game immediately to the publishers.

Instead, write to them first and ask for a copy of their writer's guidelines.

You should explain who you are and that you've written a murder mystery game.

You should provide outline details, explain why you feel the game is suitable for their range.

If you have any previous writing experience, I suggest you mention that as well.

If you do send your game to a publisher without any previous announcement or discussion, don't be surprised if it's returned unread - you need to follow their submissions process (if they have one).

Tips for selling your game to existing publishers

  • Research the market - make sure that your murder mystery game suits their existing range of parties. You may have to purchase a few murder mystery kits to see the kinds of things that they publish - that's a cost of being a writer, I'm afraid.
  • Ask - once you've identified a publisher you should write to them and ask if they accept games.
  • The house style - even if you think the house style is awful, you still need to edit your game so that it fits the house style.
  • Don't be too precious - it's likely that you will work with an editor who will invariably have lots of comments on how the game should work. Don't be too precious about your game and refuse to take on board his or her comments. That will only frustrate your editor and reduce the chance that your game will be accepted. Instead, you should respect your editor's comments. After all, they have the experience of dealing with their customers and they know what works and what doesn't.

going it alone

It may be that your game is so unique and original that nobody else has anything quite like it - and you want to go it alone.

(Alternatively, it may be that you simply don't fancy sharing the profits with someone else.)

The advantages of selling your own game are that you are your own boss and editor (so you don't have to worry about house style - in fact, you can invent your own house style) and that for each copy you sell you will probably slightly more.

The disadvantages of selling your own game is that Internet marketing is a skill unto itself.

You may find that while you really wanted to write murder mystery games, you end up spending more time on website design, coding and promotion.

Existing publishers already have their own loyal customers and web presence and are better positioned to promote a new game.

If I was going it alone, here's what I would do:

  • Review review review! Go over your game completely from top to tail, looking for anything that's ambiguous. Test it again!
  • PDF format - create your game in pdf format - all the murder mystery games on the Internet are published in pdf form. PDF files have two advantages. The first is that they can be read by anyone  The second is that you can copy-protect your text, if you're worried about theft.
  • Create a Paypal account - Paypal is an easy and popular way of sending payment over the Internet. If you don't have a Paypal account then some customers may not buy your game.
  • Join Clickbank - Clickbank offers authors a way to sell their e-books. They will handle all the credit card processing - and they also have an affiliate system that means that you can get other people to sell your murder mystery party on their websites. (This means that you don't even need your own website to sell your murder mystery game over the Internet.)
  • Build a website - I'm not going to cover building a website, other to mention that Solo Build It! is a proven system for successful small-business websites. I use it for Great Murder Mystery Games and it's the only system I recommend. Click here to learn more about Solo Build It!

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New game

Cover for A Purrfect Murder

A Purrfect Murder - a cat-themed murder mystery for 9-12 guests.

Don't know where to start?

Here's my suggested quick route through the site:

Step 1 - Go to Choosing a Game to choose the game that suits your party best.

Step 2 - Review the Tips for Hosts for helpful advice.

Step 3 - If you want to keep up to date with the latest murder mystery game news, click on my What's New page.

Step 4 - Once you've had your party - tell me how it went! Click here to tell me your murder mystery party story.

Got a question? Click here to go to the FAQ.

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