about the universe forum commander Shop Now Commanders Circle
Product List FAQs home Links Contact Us

Sunday, March 29, 2015

On Writing and Proofreading and Marketing

Jean Sexton muses:

My job at ADB is different than the job that others in the company have. My work spans all phases of a product's life. Let me tell you about it.

As we start a new product I am often involved. For these meetings I wear my marketing hat. I ask myself, "Who will buy this? Who are we aiming for and can that be broadened? How can we add 'zing' and make it more exciting?" This sometimes worries the Steves. Will I ask them to toss out perfectly good (but too thematic or of limited appeal) ships? Will I tell them I need more excitement in a story? Will I barely restrain my eyes from rolling and pronounce their carefully laid plans as "boring"?

Then comes the creation of the item. I sometimes have a writing assignment. I have a confession to make. Writing doesn't come easily to me. I struggle not to sound pedantic. God help me if I must write dialogue as my characters would all sound alike. My creative writing is limited to Olivette Roche "research." I have to confess that is easy. I write something I know would have the Steves wincing. If they howl in anguish, it is perfect. Olivette is the right character for me -- she hasn't really got a creative bone in her body. She steals ideas from the past and writes them. She sees a situation involving the Federation and anyone, then believes that the "anyone" is in the right, especially if they are Klingons. Since I am writing a synopsis of a trivideo, book, or story, what is totally improbable to impossible gets blithely ignored and incorporated as part of a "good story."

Then comes the proofreading stage. Ah me, that is some of the most thankless work I do. The Steves hate capitalizing and de-capitalizing words. Before I came, no one cared if it were "Come to the Bridge" in the first paragraph and "The captain walked on the bridge" in the second. I have heard, "Jean, the guys know what we mean," until recently. To me, an edited book should never draw attention to the editing. You should never notice it, because what you are reading is right. If we write "The Gron ships are at SW-I and 21 hexes from the base," then you wonder if we meant 21 or 12.

The problem with proofreading is it takes a while. I might notice "Gron," but not see SW and see it as wrong until I read a couple more scenarios and ask "What is the difference between SW-I and WS-I?" Since I moved to Amarillo, I have insisted on seeing the "fixes." When I lived in North Carolina, I would check the new product when it came in, then wince as the "fix" to the problem wasn't. If "Bridge" became "vridge," that was a cringe-worthy error. I have had to learn that "perfect is the enemy of good enough" and turn things loose lest I proofread them to death and you never get them.

Once the item is released, the design team can rest on its laurels. I can take off my writing and proofreading hats. But what is this I see before me? It is the marketing hat! I need to build the buzz and keep it going until the item is available. I need to keep it simmering as people buy it and report how much they like it. It is a delicate balance to make people aware but not sound pushy and turn them off. I have to be aware of the rules of the various forums so as not to break them with commercialism.

In the midst of all that, I need to keep "housekeeping tasks" going. Just because we are working on an item doesn't mean that social media comes to a stop. Spammers certainly don't take a break. Customers have questions. Older books need to go up as PDFs (and they need marketing). All of those are part of my job.

Then just as I think the coast is clear come the clarion words, "Jean, we're having a meeting to discuss the next book. Come tell us what you think about it." And we are off to the races!

There is one thing I can say about my job -- there is never a dull moment!