Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Tracking the Wily Intermediate Freelancer Pt. 2: Working on Spec

posted by Mur

In doing general research regarding magazine writing, I've discovered that it is generally a bad idea to work on spec - meaning that you write the entire article and attempt to sell it to a magazine instead of querying, getting approval and writing with the secure knowledge that money will be made. However, I am discovering that the RPG world is, as always, a different animal than the rest of the publishing world.

(I still can't convince my mother that the tiny amount I make writing RPGs is industry standard for someone with fewer than 10 titles. She insists I need an agent. I imagine the look on an agent's face when she figures out what 10% of $.0X a word is. But I digress.)

Back on topic, it seems that you cannot get an assignment writing for RPG publications - just write the piece and send it in. Dungeon, Dragon, Knights of the Dinner Table and Eden Studios Presents all seem to work this way, according to my research. (please correct me if I'm wrong)

While it would no doubt be impressive to developers for me to hand them a copy of Dungeon and show them my 20K word adventure, I have a fear that if I write an adventure and it's rejected, that's a hell of a lot of time and effort wasted. It's not like there's a bunch of RPG magazines I can send an adventure to after one rejection, especially if it's focused on a gaming system like D20. If I wrote a women's health article and failed to sell it to "Shape," I could still send it to "Self," "O," or any number of magazines. My RPG choices are narrowed to keeping the stuff and running it for my gaming group or publishing it online.

Is there another way? I have plenty of RPG work I can show to a magazine; would they respond to a query? Or is the answer just to suck it up and write a bunch of stuff that might not get published?**


** "Ah," you must be thinking, "This Intermediate Freelancer is a whiny one." You may be right. Gaining experience in this field makes me feel as if my number of questions has multiplied. Before, when I scored an assignment or two, I was bowled over with my only question being "Golly, can I really write all that?" Now I look to get more, and more diverse, work, and am finding the prospect daunting. And to anyone who is keeping score, no responses back from any of the contacts I made at Origins, except from Eden who told me to submit (on spec) to Eden Studios Presents. Hence this post.