My New Service: Short Developmental Consultation
Looking back, I’ve been a developer-editor in games since 2007, and in that time many of those books have hit acclaim. People keep hiring me to work on their books, so I must be doing something right. But I didn’t drill down into what that “something right” was until a few months ago: I’m constantly pushing my own mind away and putting myself in the mindset of various members of the book’s target audience, judging how well the book is transferring and cementing information and referencing.
Maybe you would like me to do this for you?
To that end, I have a new service that I’ve decided to offer: Short Developmental Consultation. This is a service geared toward making a functional book that succeeds in getting play — not a design consultation (though I may offer occasional feedback based on reading) or an edit pass (though I will point out major issues for you to address).
I’ll digest your work, finding high-level and recurring issues including:
- Your manuscript’s structure — chapter or section flow, and individually within chapters or sections
- Voice and tone — both consistency and impact
- Individual language choices and their impact
- Points of unintended and detrimental assumption
- Points where forward or backward referencing is crucial
- Vocabulary or grammar issues that are common & pervasive throughout text
- Inconsistency in rules explanations
- Points where examples or additional data flows are needed, as well as when they’re overdone
- Points where text flow is being interrupted
- If the game happens to use a system I’m particularly familiar with (like Fate), I’ll point out potential misunderstandings and misapplications of the system (as well as tell you that it’s “Fate,” not “FATE”)
- And so on
Before I take your project on, I’ll ask you:
- How large is your book? Speak in word counts and in what you’re assuming in pages (given page size and art factors).
- Is this a complete manuscript? If not, why are you approaching me now?
- Who is your intended target audience? What do they like? (If your answer is “all gamers” or similar, I will not take your project on; you’re not ready)
- Are you planning on this being a crowdfunded project?
- What’s your timeline?
- If there’s a given style guide you’re using? (If not, I explain why you should have a basic one, and ask what games you’re patterning after.)
- Do you have your manuscript broken up into logical segments? Chapters as headers or separate files, headers marked at various levels, boxed text marked as so, etc. That’s a requirement before I’m able to work, otherwise I can’t do my job well.
- Are there any social or disabilitiy issues you want this book to address?
- Do you already have art, or plans for art? Same with layout — knowing what the book will look like will tell me if your words are matching that atmosphere.
- And potentially other questions, based on your responses and the subject matter
What you’ll get:
- Your manuscript with comments, either in Word or annotated PDF form. Regarding Word, would be as comments or inline notes with a different font/text treatment to make them distinct, as needed.
- An overview report of the book’s strengths and weaknesses
- The option of an in-person (when available) or Skype/Google Hangout meeting to discuss my results
For a basic six-hour development consultation, I charge a flat fee of US$150.
For many games, my basic six-hour consultation will highlight many issues to tackle. For particularly large books, the basic six-hour consultation will do well the scratch the surface, and if you’re interested after that in a more detailed consultation, we can arrange that.
If you’re interested, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with something like “Short Developmental Consultation Query” in the subject line.
(Note that I do not require a credit in the final work, a complimentary copy of the final work, or anything else normally assumed and requested for services like detailed editing.)
When is the Right Time For This?
This service is intended for those who’ve designed, written, and playtested a game, and think they’re at the point to where they want to shop for an editor and get the game published.
If you’re looking for my help earlier in the process, that’s a different, custom service. Please email me and tell me where you are and what you’re looking for. We may be able to work something out that benefits your game.
On Games In Layout
This service doesn’t involve critique on graphic design issues unrelated to the flow of information processing. For that reason, I prefer games before they’re laid out. If a game is already laid out, you must be open to the idea that I will tell you to undo the layout work when the information flow needs to be adjusted (which could mean undoing the entire layout, or just undoing large portions).
If I agree to critique your game that’s already laid out, i will require it in PDF form. I don’t offer this service for InDesign files to avoid the pitfalls that happen when interacting with different versions of InDesign, as well as to keep any non-textual errors from occurring, like nudging a text box. (It also means you don’t have to share all of your production files, fonts, etc. for me to do my job.)
Why Do I Do This?
I love books. I love games. I want to see them succeed and be awesome.
Hiring Me as an Editor Afterward
If, after the consultation, you’d like to hire me to edit your book, we can discuss that. This consultation will give me a good sense of how long editing it will take.
If you’re looking to hire me to edit your book, this consultation is a requirement before we enter into any editorial agreement.
Questions? Ask away!
(At some point, I’ll have time to restructure my blog to have services like this easy to find. Apologizes in the meantime that this is a post and not a page.)