In this series, we’ve talked a lot about investigating the company you want to work with, and reviewing what skills you have to offer. Today? I’m going to talk to you about communication.
When you’re a freelancer, you will need to communicate with people who don’t live in your area. That means you’re going to chat with them online or via e-mail. Unfortunately, e-mail doesn’t always work well to convey emotions. Sure, it’d be easier if we’d take a page from Dork Tower and color-code our text, but the reality is that when you e-mail? All anyone has is your words to go on.
Having good communication is crucial to building a good relationship with someone. But what should that look like?
Dear Game Publisher,
I your bestest fan evah! I play Dungeon Fabulista version 1.0 ALL THE TIME and my character is Lvl 3,000 hipster troll paladin. Get it? Hipster troll? Ironic, ain’t it? LOL.
i’ll be At GenCon this year and want to no how to werk for your company. Soooooo excited to c u in person. i no ur website sez u don’t wanna hire anybody but you’ll hire me!
Please hire me ‘cuz imma broke buyin’ all ur gamez. LMAO!
Okay, now you may either a) laugh or b) cry at the above, but these e-mails do exist. I’ve seen them. What’s more, I’ve had to tell an aspiring writer who wrote to me in LOLspeak that your e-mails are a representation of your professional work. Why on earth would a game company hire you to submit well-written text for their game if you sound like a cat who wants a cheeseburger?
The other issue with the e-mail is that it sounds like it’s coming from a fan. While that is not necessarily a bad thing, it can be difficult to transition from fan (this is what I think the company should do) to freelancer (I am now getting paid for what the company tells me to do). Games are fun! Yes! But? At the same time? There’s a business behind the games that needs to function, too.
Instead of treating a potential employer like your BFF at your gaming table, I recommend this for an introductory e-mail:
Dear Game Publisher,
I am sending you an e-mail because I’m interested in writing for [Game Line or specific game.] Based on your submission guidelines, I am attaching a few writing samples for you to review.
I have been playing [Game Name] for X years as both a player and a GM. I am an active participant on the forums and have also run [Game Title] at conventions. While I haven’t freelanced for the RPG industry before, I have a background in writing and have been published in [2 or 3 Publication Name(s)].
If I haven’t heard from you in a few weeks, I’ll follow up to see if you’ve had the chance to review my submission.
Thanks for your time and consideration.
In the second e-mail, the potential freelancer is specific about why he’s contacting the game company and what he wants to get out of it. The key thing a game company will look for? The fact the potential freelancer read and followed the submission guidelines. The e-mail is informative without listing every character stat and opens the door to further discussion.
Mind you, not every game company is the same. Some are more casual than others; sometimes you’ll get a gig over a forum post instead of an e-mail. The thing to keep in mind is that having good communication skills is crucial to your image not only as a writer, but as a professional regardless of where you are.