Back at the start of the year, Glowing Eye Games took a bit of a tangent. I mean, we love games, no doubt about that, but what else is there to do to pass the time? Read, of course! We’ve loved science fiction, horror and fantasy for quite some time. It’s a mainstay for many popular videogames, young and old (perhaps as far back even as Space Invaders!), but a lot of those ideas stem from books themselves.
After a lot of back and forth, thinking, writing, re-writing and re-writing some more, Glowing Eye Games produced No Bodies Buried by A. N. Warwick, a nail-biting science fiction horror novella. Short but definitely not sweet, this book was the springboard for us to take on another challenge.
Book writing and publishing is a totally different format to game development and publishing, but there are cross-over themes. You have the same back-and-forth between writer and editor, you have deadlines to meet, discussions about world-building, target market and an artist involved to help bind the book in a beautiful cover – even though it’s completely digital!
For our next adventure, we started out pursuing a LitRPG book, or Literary Role-Playing Game book. It’s a great market to get stuck into, with many books having great fantastical elements that really whisk the reader away without having to convince them too much. From research, we found the market was predominantly male, with a large amount being anywhere from teenager to late forties. That gave great scope to get stuck into, but it also meant that we needed to produce something that would cater for a range of interests and tastes.
But it’s not that simple.
We found a writer by advertising on Upwork [link]. Within a few days, that job had been shared on a number of sites throughout the globe, most of which we didn’t even know. Prepare to check your email regularly, especially the junk folder. You never know what could slip through the net!
Always base your decisions on written examples. As a rule, we did not even consider those who emailed without an example of their work, even if they were asking for clarification on what we wanted. It was all there in the job description, and any aspiring writer should know it is a competitive market out there. You’ve got to prove yourself from the off. It’s a very attractive and reassuring quality when you get someone who’s unafraid to jump into the deep end by giving us a story to read.
We got roughly thirty applications for the job, five of which were short-listed and two were chosen. Both had totally different ideas and we felt we had the ability to support both writers. One writer, however, dropped out shortly after hiring due to creative differences.
At the moment, the work is still ongoing, but what I can say is prepare to have many pots on the boil. We have an artist working on the cover, researcher looking into promotion and publishing and even a cartographer to give our fantasy book a very classic fantasy map.
The hottest boil is the one with your writer. We have weekly meetings to discuss the latest submitted chapters, but you may find your own writer might work differently. Make sure both of you are comfortable before you proceed or after a very short trial period.
Communication is key. Don’t be afraid to say if you’re unsure where the book is going or if you see problems occurring. A confident writer should be able to deal with creative criticism, as much as any of your work colleagues. Make sure you maintain patience, level-headedness but above all be open-minded. Whilst we agreed it to be a Lit-RPG novel, it’s turned out to be more like fantasy genre. This is an interesting diversion, but not an unwelcome one, as it’s allowed our writer to feel creatively passionate about her project, as well as keeping it close to the genre we were originally looking for, meaning our research and decision only has to undergo minor tweaks rather than an overhaul.
One last note to bear in mind is that prepare for deadlines to be overrun. Many freelance writers work other jobs on top of the one they’re working on for you; add a bit of writer’s block and some edits on our side, and you’ll be behind. Try to tune in to how comfortable you feel with a slower pace and how much you value quality or the wellbeing of your employee. It’s a fine balance and hard to tread if it’s getting down to crunch time. Be honest, understanding but firm, if you need to be. Sometimes having a bit of pressure is necessary to get the wheels turning again.
We’ll let you know how it goes in the future! The next blog will be about the trials of publishing, finalising artwork and promotion after publication.