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Don't sell yourself short

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RPGnet Columns

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Post originally by RJ Grady at 2005-07-08 16:07:07
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... but for damned sure, sell yourself. Anyone who takes the advice in this article is nuts. Rewriting an article to perfection five times, has done five times the work for 100% less pay, in most cases.

The remark about feedback is a little misguided... I care far less about what editors think than what fans think. I don't need "practice" working for someone's preconceived ideas about how to write for a small industry, when by getting published early and often, I can hear from the people who use my work what is working and what isn't.

If people only worked at something because the pay was solid, Stan Lee would have left Marvel in the 60s and the latest Star Wars movie would be directed by Joey Schumacher when Lucas opted for royalties over creative control.

This article basically amounts to, "If you want to work in Broadway, don't do theater in high school and for god's sake, don't take a gig with the community choir."
 
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Post originally by Lloyd Brown at 2005-07-09 14:00:31
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<<I care far less about what editors think than what fans think.>>

Fans don't buy your work. Editors do. And if you're blowing off an editor's suggestions that you keep your phrases parallel, keep your POV consistent, use correct punctuation, use the right game terms in the right places, and spell your words correctly, you won't sell much.
 
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Post originally by RJ Grady at 2005-07-09 16:27:07
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"Fans don't buy your work. Editors do."

And yet you're suggesting I not shop around my work if the pay doesn't meet a certain scale. Fans do buy my work. Editors decide if they will sell my work to fans. Writing for editors is not going to make you into a name, or make people happy, or help you create works with lasting significance. Writing for fans is the goal; getting the work past an editor is simply an obstacle.

"And if you're blowing off an editor's suggestions that you keep your phrases parallel, keep your POV consistent, use correct punctuation, use the right game terms in the right places, and spell your words correctly, you won't sell much."

That's a pretty big assumption on your part. Actually, several pretty big assumptions. You're talking as if the editorial proceess does not exist in the low paying market. To put it plainly, even a mediocre editor can perform all of the functions you just described. Further, I can shop around for editors; I can look at what kind of work that press produces and see if I want to have my name on their products.

All that aside, though, to the fact that a writer can do all of these things you just described without any special editorial expertise. Those functions that are not performed by a good word processing program can be performed by proof readers. If a writer still feels he needs further editing assistance, he can hire an editor. The freelance editing market being what it is, I am sure many editors would be happy to pick up a few extra bucks.

Underpinning your entire argument is the assumption that editors know more about the writing craft than do writers. I believe there are knowledgeable people on both sides of that fence. I don't think most writers with a professional future is going to turn in 5000 words of barely intelligible, ungrammatical garbage that would give a high school grammar teacher an ulcer. Some writers are going to do that, sure, maybe even lots (or most, I don't know), but a well-trained writer can be his own editor in a pinch.
 
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Post originally by Lloyd Brown at 2005-07-10 08:35:22
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<<And yet you're suggesting I not shop around my work if the pay doesn't meet a certain scale. >>

Actually, that's exactly the opposite of what I'm saying. In short, here's what I do: I line up all of my potential products, and sort them by return for the work. Do them in that order. If I'm lucky (and I have been so far), I never get to that low-paying stuff because I find the better-paying work as fast as I can do it. Deadlines can change that order, of course.

<< Fans do buy my work. >>

I repeat: fans do *not* buy what you produce.

How many unedited manuscripts have you sold to fans? I bet the answer is zero.

Fans buy *books*. The book is a combination of a publisher's graphic design, carefully marketed price point, fit within a larger product line, art, and a dozen other factors. Your writing is a part of a larger package. Writers must not forget that.

<<You're talking as if the editorial proceess does not exist in the low paying market. >>

Please name for me the companies that have a full-time editor on staff with an education to back it up that also pay .01/word. We can leave this one on hold while you try to dig one up.

<<All that aside, though, to the fact that a writer can do all of these things you just described without any special editorial expertise. >>

I've worked in an editorial position before. Most writers--even some of the best in the industry--can use an editor's hand. In the book trade, what exactly is it that best-selling authors continually thank their editors for? Writers write. Editors edit. To quote Patricia Wrede, "it's a definitional sort of thing."

<<Those functions that are not performed by a good word processing program can be performed by proof readers. >>

I'm not talking about copy editing. I'm talking about editing.

<<If a writer still feels he needs further editing assistance, he can hire an editor. The freelance editing market being what it is, I am sure many editors would be happy to pick up a few extra bucks. >>

Hire an editor? With what money? Professional editors typically charge by the page rather than by the word, but it works out to about .005 to .03/word! You're suggesting that somebody writing for a penny a word pay 3 cents/word for an editor before he sends his work off to the publisher?

<<help you create works with lasting significance>>

And just as a side note, how long can you pay your health insurance with that work of lasting significance? How about the mortgage? Car payment?

Dollars pay those things. Or your equivalent currency wherever you live.

I'm not discussing motivation. If you get warm fuzzies thinking about how much you've contributed to the gaming community, that's great. I like it when people tell me how much they like what I've written, too.

I'm not downplaying the signicance of those factors. It simply isn't the topic of this column. Think of it as one of those guidebooks for doing Disney World on a budget: Disney might not be the best value for your money, but if you're going to do it anyway, you might as well make the most of it.
 
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