Archive for the ‘Industry’ Category

I don’t know what it is, but despite the fact that I’ve barely posted over the last couple of months (and let’s be honest, this year has been a bit of a write-off so far), but I’m still getting 20 hits a day. Who are you people who keep visiting? What do you want? WHY HAVE YOU COME HERE!? I wonder if WordPress is fudging the numbers to make me feel better. Or even feel guilty. “These people come to your blog day in and day out, and do you talk to them? No. Shame on you” Well, I am ashamed. But mainly because, as a self-proclaimed ‘writer’, I really ought to be spending more time here.

As I mentioned in my pre-holiday post, I’ve been rather bogged down with this data-entry job since I was let go in May. It’s soul-crushing work, and to be honest once I finish my quota I don’t really feel like doing anything else on a computer for the rest of the day. I don’t even play many games at the moment – I’ve got a regular Battlefield 3 squad that I play with. All friends of mine from the area… It’s amazing how BF3 still holds up as being a genuinely solid experience. The only thing that lets it down now is the server populations on the DLC maps. It’s rare that I get to play on a map that was added after release these days.

Still, I’m hearing some positive noises about Battlefield 4 now, and with Hardline on the way the price has dropped in the shops, so I’ve picked up a copy to try out slowly while I wait for the rest of my friends to make the leap as well. I’ve only played one match so far online, and the only thing I’ll say is that their pre-spawn menu UI is horrible. I’m sure I’ll get used to it but I didn’t have a clue how to alter my loadouts or anything like that, or even which class I was. Weird.

Project Ascension

Since I haven’t been posting much, there’s only been a couple of blog updates since I officially announced my book – Project Ascension. You’ll be pleased to know (unless you don’t care) that I’ve now officially begun work on the second draft. I’ve had as much feedback as I’m going to get – 3/4 people read the thing the whole way through, while another couple struggled to get out of the first part. I realised pretty quickly that the first part needed a lot of work – potentially I’m looking at a complete overhaul at this point. But I got some positive feedback overall on the important parts of the book, so that’s encouraging. I’ll let you know how I’ll get on.

Job Update

Won’t waste too much of your time talking about this – but I’m doing ok. It was scary for a few months, and that is part of the reason why I took that data-entry gig, but now interesting times are ahead. I can’t talk about it too much (and I don’t want to jinx anything) but I think I’m done with games writing now. Moving into PR/Marketing work more and more, especially with some of the part-time/project gigs I’ve managed to pick up for the coming months. I may still do some writing, but it’ll be more niche stuff and few and far between I reckon. I’m saving what’s left of my writing passion for my book

Boardgames

Can’t remember how much I’ve talked about this, but I’ve gotten more and more into boardgames over the past year, especially since I lost my job. I may start talking about them more on hear as I’m currently experience the same passion for them as I used to have for videogames back in the beginning. Plus I’m also doing a Megagame in March next year, which I’m very excited about. If you don’t know what that is, go Google it. It looks immense!

That’s all for now. I should really get back to work but I know how worried you’ve all been about me.

Until next time.

2014 was the year I gave up on my Xbox 360. I’ve enjoyed owning it, and it’s given me some great memories, but over the last 12 months or so I’ve been throwing myself more and more into PC Gaming. My favourite genre has its home here, there’s been a lot more genuinely innovative games here thanks to the rise of self-publishing, and with the announcement of the Steam Machine late last year… I was ready to give up on the home consoles for good.

I didn’t mean to completely go cold turkey, mind. My pile of shame is shameful indeed, and half of the reason me and the missus bought a 50″ TV was so that we could get a visual treat whilst playing on our consoles. For some reason though, I haven’t touched my 360 for gaming purposes since I moved here last December. Haven’t touched my PS3 either but then the PS3 is something I’ve always almost regretted buying, mainly because I never use it much. The 360 was my favourite console of the last generation, but now that the ‘New’ generation is here, as a 360 owner I don’t feel satisfied anymore. All of the ‘cool’ projects are going to be new-gen from now on. At the very least they will be cross-generational, but I firmly believe buying a cross-gen game for the weaker generation is even more pointless than upgrading to the new generation (it’s looking like things will get better, judging by this year’s E3, but I’ll talk about that in another post).

That only really leaves the odd smattering of games that are still being targeted for the last generation, mainly because the install-base is there and proven, while the new generation don’t quite have the numbers yet to keep everyone happy. You’ve got Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel I guess, but I’ve got Borderlands 2 if I really want my fix for that. GTA V is something I’d rather buy on the PC (now that I know it’s coming), same with AC4, which is a cross-gen title anyway. All in all, I’m left with my existing library but I never really feel inclined to dip into it, so I don’t. Everything I *really* want, I own, and I can’t bring myself to spend the money on speculative purchases anymore when I have so many games already.

In February, I received an email from Xbox Support telling me my card details were incorrect, and that my automatic Xbox Live Subscription Renewal might fail. I didn’t feel inclined to rectify the issue, and I resigned myself to losing the only thing I really enjoy doing on my Xbox towards the end, which is playing multiplayer with my friends. Mainly Battlefield 3. That was four months ago, and all I’ve really done is play on my PC and twiddle my thumbs waiting for more Steam Machine news. Looks like I’ll have to wait until next year now, which is annoying, but what can you do.

Then I lost my Xbox 360 headset.

Well, firstly my best friend said he wanted to start playing Battlefield 3 again, then I realised I’d lost my headset when I went looking for it. Another friend of mine just got a 360 again (long story), so we’re going to surgically insert a copy of Battlefield 3 into his machine. To top it off, looking through my bank statements (for a different reason), I suddenly realised that my renewal payment HAD worked. My annoyance at losing out on 3 month’s worth of Xbox Live time, and free games, was quickly replaced by weird sense of joy and nostalgia as I realised maybe it was time to dust the ol’ gal off and take her for a spin once more.

Of course, I still had no headset, so I made what I suspect will be my last investment in my Xbox 360, and bought a new one.

Actually, I bought a ‘GioTeck Elite Essentials Kit’ for the Xbox 360 from Tesco. It came with a new headset, a HDMI cable AND a rechargeable Battery pack with charger cable. My last Charger cable broke years ago, so this was appreciated – all for £15! In contrast, headsets alone for the Xbox One were retailing for £50 – 80, depending on what type you got. Another reason I’m not adopting new-gen now (if ever) – the pricing of everything.

So, for now, my 360 has been given a breath of fresh air. Will be on Battlefield 3 tonight, and who knows? Might even start looking at some of the other games I’ve got lying around as well. I spend too much time on my PC as it is, so perhaps doing something different for a bit will be healthy. But if I still need my XBL Subscription come February next year, I’ll be surprised. Eventually, it’ll have to go in its box for the last time. What I’ll do with it, I don’t know… I still have my GameCube and my N64 in our loft, but then again I might just trade it in. My missus has a 360 as well, so we don’t really need to keep both, at the end of the day.

Hello, old friend. It’s been a long time.

Hello!

This is just a quick update for anyone who’s interested on my job situation. It’s fairly straight forward, but I know my circumstances has seemed a little confusing in the past, especially considering my ‘official’ move to freelancing back in 2012. Anyway, here we go:

* As of this week, I’m no longer Marketing Manager for Strategy Informer. You could think of this as a ‘contractor’-like set-up, as even though I used that title (because it was simple), I wasn’t really ’employed’ by the company because it made dealing with the HMRC more straightforward. But role has run its course now. If you’ve ever dealt with me in a capacity related to ad-sales or marketing, I’m afraid I’m no longer your point of contact. Please email Kres@strategyinformer.com and he’ll sort you out.

* I’m also, unfortunately, not going to be doing any freelance writing work for Strategy Informer in the foreseeable future. If you’ve thought of me as the ‘strategy-guy’ for Strategy Informer, or as someone who you’d generally like to see do coverage of games for that outlet, I’m afraid I can’t help you any longer. Please contact Jamie@strategyinformer.com from now on.

Moving forward

So, from today, I’m officially ‘back’ on the Job market, in the sense that I’m more actively seeking more work. I know I’ve been freelancing officially for a couple years now, but that tailed off slightly over the last 6 months or so as I got more involved in a specific project for Strategy Informer. With that work complete, I’m now ready to move on to bigger and better things.

I’ll be contacting editors again over the next week or two, trying to be more active in my dialogue with you guys, but if you want to get in touch with me my contact details are below. I’m still going to try and keep freelancing, but I’d also happily consider a more stable job. I have a mortgage to look after now, after all.

Things I Can Do

You can see my full CV on the ‘Employment‘ Page, but here are some things I’m confident I can do for you:

* Write.
* Sell your webspace to people.
* Podcasting, Streaming and more of this new fangled stuff (I have a guy).
* Events – I’m close enough to London that I can attend events if you need someone. I can be your guy.
* Think – I’m actually very good at thinking. On a serious note, I have been asked to creatively consult before (Creative Consulting is a thing).

Contact Details

You can get in touch with me through various means:

Email: joe@just-communication.co.uk
Twitter: @DigitalXentric
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/joe-robinson/20/8ab/394

I’m now at 50,000 words! Yay me!

After doing some calculations, I’d be surprised if I had more than 75K when the book is finished. At the moment I’ve got a structure of three parts, with six chapters per part and averaging at 4,000 words a chapter. I was hoping to hit 90,000, but I’ve already decided that I’ll just write the story as I envision it now, and see what happens. It’ll be as long as it ends up being – what’s more important is to start getting it into the hands of some ‘beta’ readers I already have lined up, start getting some genuine feedback. Maybe then I’ll be able to add, or expand, etc… 80,000 would be a good minimum to reach.

Anyway. To celebrate this milestone, I went ahead and bought a full-time use license of the software I’ve been using to write my book – Scrivener. Let me tell  you, as someone who started off writing his book in MS Word (What WAS I thinking?), this program was a revelation. It’s really easy to get into it, and it makes working with a multi-section document like a book so much easier to interact with. I wish I’d had this for my dissertation, I wouldn’t have had to go through so many headaches in the end.

The only thing I will say is that the compiling part – where you take your work and compress it into one, neat document – was a bit fiddly. It wasn’t 100% clear what all the options were and I had to compile several times just to figure out how to get the format I wanted. Other than that though – wonderful!

It costs $40 USD/£26 to buy, and it’s worth every penny if you need to write something big. It’s also got loads of built-in multi-media features as well that I don’t need to use, but that someone else might find extremely useful.

I sometimes feel I’m a man(child) of two worlds – born in ’88, I did most of my growing up in the 90’s before the internet and the digital space *really* took off. Because my Mum didn’t really see the point in the World Wide Web at the time (all I did was look up Porn), we didn’t get Broadband until the Phone companies had decided it was the future and aggressively priced separate broadband deals to be very attractive. Also, I begged a lot. Anyway, the point is I like to think I grew up with an appreciation of both ‘traditional’ media – books, CD’s DVD’s etc., as well as the emergence of digital/cloud/whatever content. Watching various industries deal with ‘teh interwebs’, even tech-grounded ones like videogames, is quite fascinating as a result.

I got distracted again today by a couple of tweets from John Scalzi – a sci-fi author whose work I really enjoy – and it got me looking at articles and posts about Author Salaries, Publishing vs. Self-Publishing and all that jazz. I’m trying not to do too much, as the more I read the more uncertain I become and I really need to get a first draft of Project Author finished before I even think about looking into how and where I’m going to sell it. Still, this one particular article interested me, mainly because of the parallels I can draw with the videogames industry.

In his ‘7K report‘, Hugh Howey tries to use what little data he has to draw some conclusions about Ebooks, their impact on the book industry, and what authors may or may not be earning through self-publishing as opposed to ‘traditional’ publishing houses. Obviously, the data he has access to is limited, and so he can only deduce so much. It’s not so much that bit of article that had me interested (even though it IS useful information to read), but it’s the fact that the Book Industry is also struggling with trying to fathom just how impactful the digital space really is. I’d like to think we’re over that particular hump now on the videogames side of things – everyone has realised that no, PC Gaming isn’t dying and Steam really is a force to be reckoned with, and even outlets like MCV have tried to provide concrete data on digital sales, to give a more accurate picture on how well our industry is doing.

Book publishing still seems to be struggling with this still, with no-one seeming to know what’s really going on. Obviously, the two industries are completely different, so there are certain things you could look too – there’s no equivalent of ‘Steam’, for example (as much as Amazon like to think they are, I guess), there’s been no break-out success like Minecraft or anything to point to how good self-publishing/digital can be, and then of course there’s the whole ‘DLC’ thing which has allowed traditional publishers to have the best of both worlds.

I can’t help but wonder why there seems to be resistance to digital ebooks – it’s well documented how much money is spent on publishing even a single book, an eliminating the physical book part of that would help a lot – it would also help authors get better deals.

As I mentioned last time, this is what is making me hesitate from going into traditional publishing. I know why the rates are what they are, I can respect it, but it doesn’t mean I like it. I’d rather go back to them later down the line with some stats and some gravitas behind me, so that I’ve earned a better deal.

I’m also going to make a vow (Again) to blog more, as if this author malarkey stuff is going to work, I need to develop a bigger audience and voice. We’ll see how well it goes this time.

As I mentioned in a previous post – I’m writing my first novel. Project Author is coming along alright, I think: I’m on 35,000 words, which while not even being close to half done yet (I hope), is still the longest single piece of work I’ve ever written. At the moment I’m working to three parts, with Part One being more or less finished. Working on Part Two now, which is proving a bit more difficult to write. When writing reviews etc…, if I get stuck I usually just go write another paragraph, like the conclusion or just a thought I had, and then jump around and slowly tie everything together, re-writing as needed. I’ve been doing that with my book as well, but the problem is everything is on such a larger scale that the tiniest change could mean I spend a couple of hours re-writing everything. It’s a bit of a drain on the enthusiasm tank, but I’m powering through.

The main thing I’m worried about at the moment though is what happens when I’ve finished. What happens when I reach the ‘summit’? Even before I started this, I’ve always followed one or two authors on twitter out of personal interest (John Scalzi, for one, is really interesting). From time to time these people will tweet, or re-tweet information and links about book publishing in all its forms. Sometimes friends of mine who happen to like reading as well will post some articles, like this post today about a fiction-author getting back at the people who fired her. Anyway – since starting Project Author for realz, I’ve been paying more attention to this kind of stuff, as obviously it’s going to be something I’ll have to deal with when I’ve finished my book. Honestly, I’m a little bit apprehensive about it all.

From what I can tell, self-publishing seems the way to go at the moment. For one, there’s a lower barrier for entry as there are many established platforms in existence now for selling your book online. Also, considering this is my first book, I’ll definitely appreciated the fact that A/ I’m in total control and B/ I get all the money. From what I’ve read, Publishing House Contracts haven’t gotten much better as the decline of print means these big behemoths have to fight harder to maintain their bottom line. I understand it, I can even appreciate it, but it doesn’t mean I like it. Also, it’s important I don’t get caught out by the fact that my favourite authors are also fairly successful, and they are barely a handful of people out of the multitude of authors – aspiring or not – out there right now. Not everyone makes it, so if I’m going to fail I’d rather fail on my own terms.

That’s not to say I’ll never go down the traditional publishing route – my book is only part one of a series that I can continue for an additional 3-4 books. The general plan, at the moment, is to start with EBooks, get a following, get some numbers and ‘PR’ behind me, and then at some point use that to go to a publishing house so that I can get a special paper edition made or something, and use my past success to leverage a better deal.

But then I don’t really know anything, so that probably won’t work. I’m trying not to waste too much time researching book publishing at the moment because, honestly, the more I read the more depressed I get about the industry. I want to write this book, and I want to get it out there. If I’m lucky, it’ll supplement or be a nice addition to my existing income. Whether I’ll write the rest of the series if it’s a financial flop is a bridge I’ll have to cross when I get to it. They always say get into book writing for the love of it, not the money, but my own personal circumstances mean I’m very much aware of how I spend my time, and how much money that brings in. Gots bills to pay, yo.

I’m already nervous because I don’t know the book is even going to be any good. Everyone I tell loves the idea, but having a great idea and then putting it to words are different things. But I plan to have some extensive ‘beta’ testing, so hopefully I’ll be able to work it into something majestic. I also plan to be smart about this – I’ll use my own money to hire proper copy-proofers, commission some nice cover art, and I may even approach an agent just to get their opinion on the book, possibly even sign up if they can help me with E-publishing.

Wish me luck.