By Lirio N. Blackburn (@herbaria51)
For both experienced and inexperienced game designers, it’s sometimes a daunting task to figure out what type (or types!) of editing your game may need. Here’s a quick guide to talk about different types of editing that you can request when you’re looking to hire an editor to help polish your work before you make it available for sale.
NOTE: Hiring an editor is always optional, and most editors who are worth their salt offer discounted rates for folx of marginalized backgrounds to make services affordable and accessible. Editing also is a service that is very subjective; an editor is offering you, the commissioner, suggestions. You’re free to use what you’d like and discard what you don’t like.
This type of editing is where an editor will work with you, the author/writer, to resolve “big picture” issues in your game – which can include but not be limited to structure, form, plot (if this happens to be an adventure module or hook), or characters (should this be a compendium of NPCs). I find it easier to consider this type of editing more like writing support with editing elements. I also consider this to be the most involved of the types of editing services that I offer because it requires me to really sit with a project to figure out how to help an author present the best version to their audience.
Sometimes also called “substantive editing,” this focuses on making changes to a document’s structure or substance. For instance, an editor who is doing a structural edit on a project is looking at the following things:
– Tone and style of the content
– Structural arrangement
– Language choice
– Flow of the content
– Character development (if this applies to your project)
– Consistent voice throughout the entire piece (usually very important if your project has multiple writers!)
This type of editing is more about collaboration rather than rewrites or modifying your ideas. It’s focused on the consistency and cohesiveness of your project.
The goal of copy editing is to polish the copy (your project) so that it’s clear while retaining your voice and meaning as an author. Or, to put it another way: this is to improve the readability of your project. Things that an editor will typically look for when they’re doing a copy edit are:
– Clunky transitions
– Confusing syntax
– Problematic or misused words
Line editing is a zoomed-in version of copy editing, where an editor will look at your project on a sentence level and they’ll leave suggestions for word choice, syntax, and tone to better enhance your writing style.
Proofreading, in my opinion, is the ‘least’ labor intensive of the types of editing services that I offer. Editors will look for typographical errors and mistakes in punctuation, grammar, and spelling. I personally also include in my proofreading ‘word substitution’ – in the event you’re using a single word too close to the last instance that you used it and will suggest a synonym for you to use instead so that a reader’s eyes don’t gloss over while they’re reading your work.
For anyone who’s new and looking to break into editing for TTRPGs – welcome aboard! I’ve decided to share a version of a contract that I use with my clients when I do work for them. I’ve highlighted the areas on the contract that will change or need to be updated, but this template should make it easier for you to get started on your freelancing editing career. I hope that this is useful and should you have any questions – feel free to reach out to me on Twitter at @herbaria51.
Editing Contract Agreement
[Project Name Goes Here]
Prepared for [YOUR CLIENT’S NAME HERE]
Created by [YOUR NAME HERE]
This Editing Contract (this “Contract”) is made effective as of [INSERT DATE YOU START PROJECT], by and between [INSERT YOUR CLIENT’S NAME], [INSERT YOUR CLIENT’S ADDRESS] (the “Client”), and [INSERT YOUR NAME], of [INSERT YOUR ADDRESS] (the “Editor”).
Editor desires to offer editing services to Client and Client desires to obtain such services from Editor.
THEREFORE, in consideration of mutual promises set forth below, the parties agree as follows:
1. DESCRIPTION OF SERVICES. Beginning on [INSERT DATE YOU START], Editor will provide editing services (collectively, the “Services”) to the work (“Manuscript/Project Name”) of the Client described here:
[the type of services that you, the Editor, will be rendering]
2. SCOPE OF WORK.
- The Editor shall do the following [INSERT SERVICE] of the Client’s work: [INSERT DETAILED SCOPE OF YOUR SERVICES/WHAT YOU WILL PROVIDE TO YOUR CLIENT AND ANY ADJACENT STIPULATION(S) TO YOUR SERVICES]
- [INSERT HOW THE PROJECT WILL BE TYPICALLY BE DONE, UNLESS OTHERWISE AGREED IN WRITING BY BOTH YOU AND YOUR CLIENT]
- [INSERT THAT YOU WILL USE YOUR BACKGROUND AND EXPERIENCE IN THE PROJECT, AND STATE YOUR SOLE FUNCTION IN THE PROJECT. IN THIS LIGHT, YOU WILL DO YOUR BEST EFFORTS TO ADVISE ON YOUR AREA OF EXPERTISE AND SUGGEST CHANGES WHEN APPLICABLE. LIST ANY SOURCES YOU MAY USE TO HELP YOU COMPLETE THE PROJECT, IF NECESSARY/INCLUDE ANY SOURCES THAT YOUR CLIENT WANTS YOU TO USE TO HELP YOU COMPLETE THE PROJECT]
3. DELIVERY OF [INSERT PROJECT]. The [PROJECT BRIEF/SYNOPSIS] shall be delivered to the Editor by the Client on or before [DATE AGREED UPON] in the following formats: [INSERT APPROPRIATE FORMATS – GOOGLE DOC, MICROSOFT WORD, ETC.]
[INSERT CLIENT’S TITLE]: [INSERT CLIENT’S FIRST AND LAST NAME]
[TYPE OF PROJECT]: [INSERT PROJECT NAME]
[LENGTH OF PROJECT/IF APPLICABLE]: [INSERT PROJECT LENGTH]
[GENRE OF PROJECT/IF APPLICABLE]: [INSERT PROJECT GENRE]
4. PAYMENT FOR SERVICES. Client will pay compensation to [INSERT YOUR TITLE] for the Services rendered. Payments will be made as follows:
[INSERT YOUR FEE AMOUNT, THE BREAKDOWN COST OF YOUR SERVICES, AND HOW YOU WILL ACCEPT PAYMENT FROM YOUR CLIENT. THIS IS THE AREA TO STIPULATE IF YOU REQUIRE A DOWNPAYMENT TO START SERVICES, AND HOW MUCH YOU WILL RECEIVE UPON COMPLETION OF THE PROJECT]
Further, the Client shall reimburse the Editor for any direct expenses incurred in fulfilling this Contract, which includes, but not limited to: [ANY COSTS THAT YOU WILL INCUR FOR COMPLETING THIS CONTRACT WHICH CAN INCLUDE THINGS LIKE GAS IN YOUR CAR TO ATTEND MEETINGS, MAKING PHOTOCOPIES, DOING MOCK-UPS, MAKING PHOTOCOPIES, ETC.]
5. TERM/TERMINATION. This Contract will terminate once [TYPICALLY WHEN YOU RECEIVE THE FINAL PAYMENT. THIS MAY BE A GOOD PLACE TO STIPULATE IF MAJOR WORK/REVISIONS NEED TO BE DONE TO THE PROJECT, THE CLIENT MAY NEED TO DO A NEW CONTRACT WITH YOU/ANYTHING ELSE THAT MIGHT SEEM PERTINENT TO THE TERMINATION OF THE CONTRACT]. HOWEVER, BREACH OF CONTRACT IS LISTED SEPARATELY IN THIS DOCUMENT.
6. RELATIONSHIP OF PARTIES. It is understood by the parties that the Editor is an independent contractor with respect to Client, and not an employee of Client. The Client will not provide fringe benefits, including health insurance benefits, paid vacation, or any other employee benefit, for the benefit of the Editor.
7. WORK PRODUCT OWNERSHIP. Any copyrightable works, ideas, or other information (collectively, the “Work Product”) developed in whole or in part by Editor in connection with the Services shall be the exclusive property of Client. Upon request, the Editor shall sign all documents necessary to confirm or perfect the exclusive ownership of the Client to the Work Product.
8. CONFIDENTIALITY. Editor will not, at any time or in any manner, either directly or indirectly, use for the personal benefit of Editor, or divulge, disclose, or communicate in any manner any information that is proprietary to Client. Editor will protect such information and treat it as strictly confidential. The provision shall continue to be effective after the termination of this Contract. Upon termination of this Contract, the Editor will return to the Client all records, notes, documentation and other items that were used, created, or controlled by the Editor during the term of this Contract.
- [INSERT THAT YOUR FIELD OF EXPERTISE (EDITING) IS A PROCESS OF BOTH KNOWLEDGE, SKILL, AND SUBJECTIVITY. YOU ARE OFFERING ADVICE AND/OR SERVICES TO YOUR CLIENT. IN ADDITION TO OFFERING THIS, YOUR RESPONSIBILITY IS LIMITED TO NOTIFYING YOUR CLIENT OF DIFFERENCES AND/OR APPROVAL OF THE CURRENT STAGE BEFORE YOU MOVE ONTO THE NEXT STAGE OF PRODUCTION, IF APPLICABLE. WHILE YOU MAY MAKE AN EFFORT TO BRING QUESTIONABLE MATERIAL TO YOUR CLIENT’S ATTENTION, THE CLIENT AGREES TO INDEMNIFY AND SAVE HARMLESS YOUR TITLE FROM ANY AND ALL CLAIMS OR DEMANDS, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO LEGAL FEES, ALLEGED LIBEL, OR COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT COMMITTED BY YOUR CLIENT IN THE CREATION OF THE WORK. THIS MIGHT NOT BE NECESSARY TO INCLUDE, DEPENDING ON YOUR FIELD.]
- The Editor, while working to aid the Client in preparing the best [INSERT TYPE OF PROJECT] possible given the submitted material, has no way of judging the market or the whims and caprices of the publishing industry.
10. ENTIRE AGREEMENT. This Contract contains the entire agreement of the parties, and there are no other promises or conditions in any other agreement whether oral or written.
11a. SEVERABILITY. If any provision of this Contract shall be held to be invalid or unenforceable for any reason, the remaining provisions shall continue to be valid and enforceable. If a court finds that any provision of this Contract is invalid or unenforceable, but that by limiting such provision it would become valid and enforceable, then such provision shall be deemed to be written, construed, and enforced as so limited.
b. Breach of Contract. Should either party fail to perform their duties as outlined above, the Contract will be void. In the case of the Editor, if theClient terminates the contract before services are rendered on the full [INSERT PROJECT TYPE] – Client will be responsible for paying the Editor for partial services rendered. Likewise, in the case of the Client – if the Editor terminates the contract before services are rendered on the full [INSERT PROJECT TYPE], Editor will be responsible to do a partial refund and/or absolve your client from paying you further for continued work. (This part is a good place to also include whether or not you’re going to also turn over any completed work you have finished LIKEWISE, IN THE CASE OF Client, IF THE EDITOR TERMINATES THE CONTRACT BEFORE SERVICES ARE RENDERED ON THE FULL [INSERT PROJECT TYPE] – EDITOR WILL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR (YOU CAN CHOOSE TO DO A PARTIAL REFUND AND/OR ABSOLVE YOUR CLIENT FROM PAYING YOU FURTHER FOR CONTINUED WORK. THIS PART IS A GOOD PLACE TO ALSO INCLUDE WHETHER OR NOT YOU’RE GOING TO ALSO TURN OVER ANY COMPLETED WORK YOU HAVE FINISHED THUS FAR IN THE PROJECT TO THE CLIENT, AND HOW YOU WANT THEM TO USE THE FINISHED WORK YOU’VE COMPLETED SHOULD THEY CHOOSE SOMEONE ELSE IN YOUR FIELD TO DO THE PROJECT)
12. APPLICABLE LAW. This Contract shall be governed by the laws of the [INSERT YOUR RELEVANT STATE].
13. SIGNATORIES. This Agreement shall be signed by [INSERT CLIENT’S NAME, INSERT CLIENT’S TITLE], on behalf of [INSERT CLIENT’S NAME] and by [INSERT YOUR NAME, INSERT YOUR TITLE], on behalf of [INSERT YOUR NAME]. This Agreement is effective as of the date first above written.
|CLIENT: [INSERT CLIENT NAME]|
|__________________________[First name]||__________________________[Last name]||__________________________[Title]|
|EDITOR: [INSERT YOUR NAME]|
|__________________________[First name]||__________________________[Last name]||__________________________[Title]|