Writing for Pay – Freelancing 101

Happy New Year everyone, today I’m going to share a few insights into contracted work or Freelancing.

When I started making a noise about publishing my first book back in January a contact I had made previously got in touch and asked if I’d be interested in doing some Freelance work. ‘Great’ I thought because, you know, paid work writing, what’s not to like? And, I must admit, I really do like it.

The freelance work that I’ve done to date has been settings work for tabletop Roleplay books, setting the scene, building the world that the story will be set in. Having someone approach you with an offer of work is a wonderful thing but, if you’re interested in getting into such work you’re going to have to ‘pound the pavement’ a bit before you get an offer of work. Writing for the games industry can bring you into writing for Roleplay games, computer games and other areas in that sector.

Once you have an offer of work you’ll likely get a genre, word-count and deadline, this is likely before you even get a contract, it’s the final chance to decide whether you’re up to doing the work. If it’s a co-operative piece with a pool of workers you should get invited to an online workspace, I thoroughly recommend signing up since your fellow writer will prove an invaluable resource and it’s nice to be able to communicate with other people on a job.

The project should come with a style guide, the company layout for recieving work. This guide will cover format, layout and font, basically how to setup your document. This means you’ll have to know how to setup a template in your chosen word processing programme and even how to convert to a given file format. A full guide might also make suggestions on style and language, it’s important to read these documents and pay attention to what they say. They’re setup to ensure that the editors don’t have to make the changes for you and that means they can give the meat of your work their full attention.

On the subject of Editors, talk to yours, your project coordinator or whatever. That’s not to say barrage them with questions, compliments and small talk but, if you’re struggling for inspiration or look like you might fail to make the deadline don’t be afraid to speak up. Extensions can be granted in most cases also the project coordinator will be more familiar with the material you’re working on than you are. On the subject of the material, if you’re working on an existing Intellectual Property you ought to be granted access to related material already in print (but that’s not a given).

The first draft will go to a redline stage where the coordinator will look over your work and make edits or suggestions. If your coordinator is really nice (like mine) they’ll also provide some words of praise for good work. Now, this is the really important part, DON’T be too ‘precious’ over your work. You’ve written it for someone else, they WILL want to make changes. It’s not an insult to recieve suggestions. Your material has to fit THEIR brief. Once you’ve made tha amendments atthe Redline stage your work goes back, you might see it again for a final review but hopefully, by this point, it’ll be ready for acceptance.

I won’t be so crass as to talk about rates. Usually, as far as freelance work is concerned, it’ll be a rate of cents per word. Payment will probably be split between getting the draft approved and the product hitting the shelves. It will take some time, in order to make a living doing freelance you’ve either got to be very good or incredibly prolific.

Follow up. You might be content to sit around and wait for your coordinator to contact you about further work but, as mine has said, don’t contact them asking why they haven’t. If you want to work with them again by all means contact them and ask them if they have any work going but, if they don’t contact you after a job is done with a future prospect the liklyhood is that there isn’t a new project on the horizon or, that you made yourself unpopular for some reason. So, understand that the work you’re doing is on someone elses behalf, if you’re in a team be part of that team and, if you want work get out there and find it. Track down the companies who produce the material you like to write, put together a writers CV (these places don’t want to know about your time in retail or at a desk, they want to know what you’ve written and for who) and contact them, every couple of months if you have to.

Good luck, have fun, and here’s to a productive and prosperous 2019!


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