Industry Talk is a collection of two previously published columns by Jennifer Brozek, Dice and Deadlines and The Making of an Anthology. The collection also contains brand-new content including step-by-step instructions on how to pitch an anthology and advice on managing a freelance career.
PRAISE FOR INDUSTRY TALK
“Want to write for games? Want to navigate the dark labyrinths and endless mazes of freelancing? Let Brozek be your guide.”
– Chuck Wendig, game designer and author of 500 Ways to be a Better Writer
“If you’re going to make that leap, though, and come over to the freelance side to join us, don’t go blind. Do your research. Ask questions. Read this book.”
– Matt Forbeck, game designer and author of Amortals and Vegas Knights
“To those looking to save hours of field research into two highly specialized and hard-to-crack fields, Jennifer Brozek's pragmatic, down-to-earth advice serves as an essential clue-dispenser.”
– Robin D. Laws, game designer and author of Hamlet’s Hit Points
As Brozek says, “Freelancing for the RPG author is an active thing. You need to look for (or make) the opportunities and grab them.” The first opportunity you should grab is this book. It will give you the information you need to decide whether you’re dedicated enough to become a freelance RPG writer or anthology editor, and if you decide you are, then it will tell you how to go about it. Take Brozek’s advice to heart. She knows what she’s talking about.”
– Angel Leigh McCoy, writer for Guild Wars 2 and editor of Wily Writers Podcast
Industry Talk: Foreword by Matt Forbeck
I’ve been a freelance writer and game designer for over twenty years now, and I love it. It offers me the chance to work on all sorts of different projects, to create fun things, and to entertain (and sometimes even inform) others for a living. What more could I ask?
Well, other than being paid ridiculous sums of cash?
It’s possible to make a decent living as a freelancer, but it’s not easy. For many, the worst part is figuring out how to break in, but it can be just as tricky to know what you’re supposed to do once you’re in. After all, you’re working for yourself, and that kind of job doesn’t come with an employee manual that spells out what you need to do and outlines the kinds of pitfalls you should watch out for.
In this book, though, Jennifer Brozek gives you the next best thing: the details on how she got started and how she treats her freelancing business as just that, a business. Then she goes on to bore down into a particular type of freelancing—that of the anthology editor—and unearths the details about it to show you just how it really works.
Freelancing isn’t for everyone. It takes a strong gut to be able to go out on your own and make your living by your own wits alone. Most people prefer the comforts that come with having a steady job: a regular paycheck (so you can budget for the future), division of labor (so you can concentrate on what you do best), and a full slate of benefits (including items many consider indispensable, like a pension and health insurance).
I’ve rarely been swayed by such things myself. I’m fortunate enough to have started out at it when I was young and could play the starving artist for a few years without anyone noticing much of a difference between my state then and when I was in college. I also married young and qualify for health-care benefits through my wife, who has a Masters in Social Work.
And how many people have you heard of working as freelance social workers?
Still, the biggest reason many people stick with a full-time job rather than take the plunge into freelancing is that they prefer the security that’s supposed to come with such things. If you’re working as a teacher or on the assembly line at General Motors, it often seems like you’re insulated from the wild vagaries that afflict the freelancer’s checking account.
You don’t have to look far, though, to see how wrongheaded that idea can be, especially in turbulent economic times, during which no one’s job seems safe. No one can fire you from being a freelancer.
Sure, work can dry up, forcing you to explore other avenues. Clients can be frustrating to handle and may even try to stiff you. And you may find that you’re not raking in nearly as much as you think you’re worth.
But you get to be your own boss. You get to make the big decisions and call all your own shots. Rather than rely on someone else to keep at bay the wolf at the door, you get to do it yourself. In the end, succeed or fail, the only one who gets the legitimate credit or blame for it is you.
To me, that offers more security than a traditional job. As a freelancer, I don’t have to worry about my company making its quarterly numbers. I never have to fear that my boss will threaten to fire me if I take off time to take my kids to the doctor or to see them in a game or a play. When Christmas comes around, I don’t fret that someone above me might be tempted to cut my salary as a temporary way of improving the company’s year-end accounts.
Sure, I have to work for several clients at once, but that spreads around the risk that any one of them might fold up or implode on me through no fault of my own. That’s the secret of any wise investor who wants to succeed over the long term: to spread the risk around. And what investment means more to you than your career?
If you’re going to make that leap, though, and come over to the freelance side to join us, don’t go blind. Do your research. Ask questions. Figure out what you need to know.
Read this book.
But don’t just take Jennifer’s advice. It’s a good model for what to do and how to behave, but like all models, it’s not the real thing. Once you’re done with this book, find others.
Better yet, find the people who do what you want to do for a living, and ask them about it. Most of us are happy to share our hard-won knowledge with others, if only for the simple satisfaction that the lessons learned from those painful knocks might do some good for others outside of just ourselves.
In the end, of course, you need to step up and make your own decisions. You need to learn to rely on yourself and to put aside any excuses that let you off the hook. That’s when you’ll have what it takes to become successful as a freelancer — or at anything else you care to do.