thread: 2012-03-06 : Chad Underkoffler: Freelancing for RPGs

On 2012-03-07, Chad Underkoffler wrote:


>>Your friend asks you:
1. How do I get a sense if these contracts will be honored or not? Is there any info I should ask or dig for?<


Not from the company. From other people who have worked for them. This is entirely IMAO. Every contract I've worked on has been honored, but that's because friends, people I respect, and people that I respect and consider friends keep working for them.

And then there can be a sudden implosion, like GoO, where friends etc. got burned.

My ultimate sense is -- save for one or two companies I've heard tell of -- contracts get honored. (And I'm not sharing scuttlebutt or rumor, because I don't have facts or personal experience. But the point is if you hear of dodgy terms or outcomes, investigate with people you know who've who've worked for them, and make a decision. That's smart.)


>2. Are there any precautions I can take? Is there an effective way to remind them to pay me?<


A nice, pleasantly worded email usually does the trick. If you suspect they're stalling overmuch... again, investigate.

Again, I've worked with honorable people thus far. I don't have advice for dealing with people who are less than honorable. (In every case, less than two, I think, that payment was late, it was because of cash-flow issues, or somebody got sick, or somebody just forgot, or stupid bureaucracy is slow -- and I'm counting in the professional technical editor freelancing work I've done outside the game industry in this.)


>3. If they don't pay me on time, I assume I can either maintain a good relationship (send polite reminders not too frequently, possibly to no avail) or go hard after the money (give notice of hiring a collection agency). Is there any way to do both?<


Hiring a collection agency is an escalation, and, truthfully... any money you get back from the company will probably go to pay the collection agency.

Polite reminders, spaced appropriately (two weeks post payment date, two months repeating after past payment date) are probably best. Within six months, the financial person will either cut you a check, apologize and explain, prevaricate and spin, refuse to answer, or say something stupid. Last three are when you consider lawyering up, if you can find someone pro bono. If you can't, don't even do it.

Because of the small amount of money in the hobby industry, it's almost never worth it. It sucks, but that's what we're dealt.

...But this is secondhand information/advice that I haven't experienced, so don't trust me on it. Explore.


>What do you tell them?<


The choice between two standard contracts by two different companies? Look into how the companies treat their freelancers. Talk to those freelancers (more than one). Look at how many freelancers stick around, year-to-year.


>Your friend only has the time and the budget to do this work if the contracts are honored. Your friend isn't just doing this for fun or to meet people. If they think the money won't come, they'll do something else.<<


If given a formal WFH contract, you've probably been involved with the company or their game already in some wise; thus—you respect, are familiar with, or are acquaintances/friends with long-term contributors. Just ask them. "Hey, XYZ wants me to write 'Elves Gone Wild,' and ABC wants me to do 'The Tome of Tomb Torchery.' What do you think about each company?"

A freelancer will tell you.

If it's completely out of the blue... I got nuthin'.


This makes...
short response
optional explanation (be brief!):

if you're human, not a spambot, type "human":