Up Up Down Down Left WRITE: The Freelance Guide to Video Game Journalism, written by Nathan Meunier, is out today in both print and ebook formats. I’m noting this for three particular reasons. First, it’s a great handbook to learning the ropes of being a professional freelancer in the video game journalism industry. As someone who has freelanced full-time for more than six years and written for a few dozen major publications, I can speak from some position of authority on its potential usefulness. Second, it’s from a longtime colleague and friend of mine, and someone who has written a lot of articles for me at Mac|Life.
And third, I edited the darn thing. Which makes it difficult to be objective about the first point in hindsight, but I’m standing by my certainly biased analysis.
Mostly lost in me bring extremely lax about updating this blog over the past several months is the fact that I served as the editor of this fine tome. I backed and pushed the Kickstarter campaign last year before I had any shred of involvement with it, simply as a colleague and interested party, and I keep in regular contact with Nathan as his editor and industry pal. Early this year, he mentioned that he was at the step of needing to hunt down an editor for the book, at which point I threw my hat into the ring. I didn’t know if he’d want someone that already knew his writing and understood the source material at a comparable level, or if he’d rather have someone come into it fresh. (Or someone who makes a living from editing long-form writing, which I don’t.) All of which would’ve made perfect sense.
It was a shot in the dark, but he said he was planning to ping me about it anyway, so we came to terms, had a lengthy phone conversation about the process, and then got rolling in early spring. And then my wife gave birth to our first child in early March. It was potentially the worst time in my adult life to take on a lengthy, time-intensive project, but Nathan was very flexible with me and my limited time, and things flowed reasonably well, everything considered.
My role on the book was to be both the copy editor and the general editor; essentially, clean up his copy to make it as polished and readable as possible, and then dig into the content and figure out what needed to be bulked up, what could be chucked or approached in a different way, and where there were any potential holes. I made it clear from the outset that I didn’t want to lose his tone and sense of humor in the process. Nathan has a very fun and lively writing persona, and it’s pretty different from mine. I aimed to leave all of that intact while suggesting additions and changes that worked with his content.
We did multiple passes on the book over the span of about three months. I did an initial readthrough, then a first copy edit, then a deeper edit to suggest changes and additions accompanied by a giant stack of notes. I didn’t know if he would be open to it, but early on I suggested that it might be helpful to have a chapter on the possibilities and pitfalls of attending travel-based preview junkets and review events — which I would write. Nathan doesn’t travel much for his writing work, but I have done numerous preview events and a few review events over the last several years, so I felt it would be a worthwhile addition. I think my chapter fits in well amidst the rest of the book. It’s relatively compact, it’s lively, and it brings in real perspective based on experience and what I think is a level-headed view of such events’ place in the industry. And now I’m 1/32 a book author.
In the process of editing, we cut two chapters that didn’t seem to stack up compared to the others (some of those bits ended up worked in elsewhere), and in addition to the one I wrote, we added another based on a list of ideas that we concocted together. In the end, I did another readthrough and provided notes for Nathan to work with, and then last month he sent me a proof copy of the near-finished paperback, which we both did a truly final detailed look at to catch any last, niggling issues.
I haven’t seen the fully final paperback yet, but based on the proof, I’m extremely happy both my work here and his own. His original draft was strong in content, but I think we made it a better-reading, more cohesive and complete guide overall. We also bounced ideas back and forth on promotional strategy, the release, and who should write the foreword. Luckily, Andy Eddy, our editor at @Gamer and beloved elder statesman of the industry, knocked it out of the park.
And now it’s out! Kickstarter backers got their digital copies a few weeks back, and nearly all print copies were sent out last week, last I heard from Nathan. Everyone can buy it now from the book’s website or Amazon, and I really hope you’ll check it out, even if it’s not something you’ll put to practical use. On my end, it represents a lot of work, effort, and obsessive checking and rechecking, not to mention a bit of writing. I helped bring a real, quality book to market, and that’s something I’m really proud of.
That’s just on my end, of course. Nathan dreamed up this project, after he’d been helping prospective writers via his blog for a long time, and started writing it on his own without any guarantee of payment or success. It’s through his insane effort (and a whole lot of amazing industry support) that the Kickstarter campaign got funded right near the end. And then he followed through with a really stellar guide to an industry that many of us have had to figure out the hard way, and he’s personally waded through a lot of ebook formatting headaches, as well as having to order books and mail everything out personally at the expense of time he’d use for his day-to-day freelancing work. It’s his baby; I’m just kind of like a midwife, I suppose. He’s invested a ton of time, effort, and money into the book, and he put a lot of faith in me to help see it through, and I really appreciate the opportunity and his trust in my abilities.
And we’ll be doing it again at some point in the future. Following this large, full book release, he’s planning on doing a handful of smaller ebook releases that dig deeper into the video game journalism industry. Depending on how this book and those projects go, he’ll then be looking into doing a second full book, and he’s already brainstorming all sorts of ideas. And I’m currently slated to edit whatever he cooks up, large or small, because I enjoy the experience of editing and being associated with these things, and working with him.
Please check out the book! And let us know via Twitter or especially an Amazon review what you think and hopefully how it’s helped you if you decide to put some of that advice into action.