Sunday, July 18, 2010

You'll have to talk to my agent

Few weeks back two games companies asked if I was interested in writing for them. the projects sounded interesting, so I agreed to do some unpaid samples. [It's a sad fact of the writer's life that you do a lot of work for free in the hope it'll turn into a paying gig at some unspecified point in the future - but that's a different blog post.]

Whenever you start a new working relationship, at some point the ugly subject of money comes up. Now, I've got nothing against money. Money is my friend and has bought me lots of things over the years. It can be a capricious so-and-so, never around when you need it, but that's a byproduct of being self-employed. One month feast, the next three you face total cash famine.

No, it's the delicate dance of negotiating a fee that most freelancers find vexing. Nobody wants to show their hand first, in case they end up getting less or paying more than they'd hoped. Times are tough all over, so saving money is a bonus for companies and earning more a real boon for writers in search of fulfilling work.

There's a scary moment where you have to say a number, and the even scarier moments as you await a response. Do they suck in their breath and say it's too rich for their blood? Or is the worst case scenario, where they say fine in a trice and you know you could have asked for more - maybe much more. Nobody wants to get underpaid.

Now I have the lovely Katie Williams as my representative, I can bat away the question of money with a phrase I've always longed to say: "You'll have to talk to my agent." With one bound I'm free from the burden of negotiation. My agent gets to play bad cop while I remain friendly with the people looking to employ me. Aces!

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