This guidebook to help aspiring freelancer is 32 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page inside back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 27 pages of content, so what is this book about?
Essentially, this book is Creighton Broadhurst’s wisdom (with a slew from John Bennett thrown in for good measure), or at least a part of it, regarding the nature of freelancing – and in case you wonder – he does explain, sans hubris or pretensions, what qualifies him to give this advice – which is valuable.
Now usually, I go into a point-by-point analysis of a product’s contents, but seeing that I’d have to essentially reproduce the whole book in this case, I’ll instead tell you about some of the articles herein: First of all, examine why you want to go into freelancing – 12 reasons against it (like “for the money”, “problems with taking criticism”) and 8 reasons in favor – while I’d consider many of these self-evident, experience has shown that not everyone is in the know regarding the realities of the rpg-industry; I’ve seen people actually expect completely unrealistic things, so reading these should provide a nice reality-check for aspiring authors. Once you’ve decided to take the plunge, make sure you follow his GOLDEN RULES.
They’re called like that for a reason – from editing, knowing and playing the game as well as the target audience/publishers, contracts etc. – there is a lot to take into account and yes, this includes the acceptance that whatever you write, it WILL be edited. Proper project management advice and further reading (re Kobold Press’ EXCELLENT, nay MANDATORY design-books, for example!) further should provide several excellent starting points for aspiring freelancers.
Now the essential thing beyond quality is actually getting things on (virtual) paper -advice for being productive is extensive herein and as a person who values efficiency (otherwise I wouldn’t be able to review…at all), I can attest that these are not only valuable, they even managed to teach an old dog like me a new trick or two, even if the pieces of advice in question were not that complex – just reading them has a benefit in itself -and yes, “Turning off the internet is just one of the pieces of advice I can attest to regarding efficiency, as is listening to music -fun fact: Whether I’m writing for my day-job, supplements or reviews: The proper music, much like a good work-out, can get you faster into the proper mindset. While Creighton doesn’t go deep into details, I’ll be egoistical for a second and provide some examples from my own array of writing-music.
Complete derail of the review in favor of some of my favorite tunes to write:
Are you writing something viking-themed? Get Turisas’ “Varangian Way” or Týr’s “Blood of Heroes” or anything by Amon Amarth. You’re writing some dark “Sword & Sorcery”-stuff? Put Bal-Sagoth on your speakers. Decadent gothic horror/fantasy? From “Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio” to bands like “Pretentious, moi?” or “Project Pitchfork” (Beholder, for example!), a mix of low-key songs and sinister, pumping beats can go a long way. And once you need to get stoked, KMFDM’s “Hau Ruck” or Sabaton/Blind Guardian make for a great background to get into the proper set of mind. Oh, and if you need some inspiration for disturbing imagery, there’s not much that surpasses Sopor Aeternus’ “La Chambre d’Echo” and for dark sci-fi “Darkspace”, for bloody, fast-paced martial arts, Combichrist’s “Today I Woke to a Rain of Blood”. Finally, there’s no track that better encapsulates a feeling of desolation on a post-apocalyptic level than the brilliant “78 Days in the Desert” by Sólstafir.
Sorry, got a bit lost there. Where was I? Oh, yes, project outlining – tips for properly outlining projects are provided herein as well and once you have started your career, the struggle is anything but over: Properly “leveling up” by pitching the right stuff the right way to the right people is crucial as well. Another page covers reasons why you want your own web-site – whether as a blog, a site or something else: There are benefits here and yes, the virtues and how and what to publish here are explained concisely.
Now what would make my job as a reviewer much easier is if everybody checked the “How to Kill your Career”-page here: There is a reason Raging Swan Press supplements only rarely miss the highest echelons of my rating system, and from missing deadlines to bad spelling etc., I can only fathom what some publishers have to deal with submission-wise. In fact, I do have some partial insights behind the curtain and having seen some submissions as they reach the respective publishers is sometimes horrifying to behold. Oh and there is the “Don’t Argue with Reviewers”-point – at least here, I don’t mind an argument, as long as it’s CIVIL. I’ve been insulted, called out and even threatened and don’t react well to the like – though I try to keep a calm head. Now on the other hand, I’m not perfect, nor is any other reviewer out there, so if you write something and feel a review has an OBJECTIVE mistake, feel free to point it out and discuss the review in a civil manner. I believe I have managed to remain civil and helpful in most instances and always like to provide feedback for improvements and at least I’m not beyond saying “Mea Culpa”, man up and rectifying mistakes I’ve made. Just my 2 cents, though. 🙂
Proper pitching of projects is also important and with some experience at choosing pitches under my belt, I can attest that these guidelines here should be followed. Next up would be advice not on the logistics of freelancing, but on the act of actual creation – from dungeon dressing to dungeons that make logical sense within the world and how to properly make a dungeon ecology that does not break one’s sense of immersion, these pieces of advice are GOLDEN. Oh, speaking of which -how to properly craft unoccupied rooms is handled here as well. What? Yes. And you should read and take this page in – there is a reason Raging Swan Press-modules tend to feel that realistic, concise and alive – and these are an integral part of it! Encounters, Treasures, Settlements, NPCs, Villain motivations – all the following pages should be considered a Bullet Point-check list to avoid bad design-choices and, more importantly, bland ones.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP’s elegant standard with 1-column-articles that fit (if your eyesight is as good as mine) up to 4 pages on one sheet of paper, making this very friendly on the printer. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and in two versions, one for screen-use and one to be printed out.
Creighton Broadhurst has provided a collection f articles and lists here that every aspiring freelancer should check out – the advice is thoroughly sound, concise and as a check-list to avoid design-sins and issues, this pdf can be considered an invaluable guide to help you get into freelancing – a cool and useful companion to have, well worth a final verdict of 5 stars +seal of approval.