For everyone interested in the field of writing, the mantra ‘learn from best’ could not be more true. Nathan Meunier takes this and runs with it in his latest edition to the halls of literature and journalistic experience: Up Up Down Down Left WRITE!: The Freelance Guide to Video Game Journalism
In Up Up Down Down Left WRITE, Meunier delves into the intimidating world of freelance journalism while still holding on to a style of presentation capable of being understood by individuals from all walks of life. In other words, the book stands out from the rest (other guide books to video game journalism writing that is) in its insistence to portray the field of journalism as an approachable career choice both in Meunier’s emphasis on the systematic approach he has cultivated from years of experience and, in addition, the author’s delivery on the subject in terms that neither lack substance or specificity.
So for writers seeking to receive a few pointers from a professional in the field, Nathan Meunier has provided a guide that will keep you flipping through its contents as you begin to write your first blog posts to the point where you will have the opportunity to have your byline appear on a video game publication’s website. The excitement and unabashed sincerity that Meunier associates with his career of choice is what every fledgling writer needs as encouragement to get their name out there and begin to forge a solid degree of work experience. The latter will inevitably carry them through to their first post, comment, and paycheck!
Furthermore, it should be understood that Meunier is not new to the block in any way when it comes to giving advice. His advice column, which appears on his website in frequent installments, has helped many a journalist begin their career and embark on what some may call a ‘life-long journey’. Up Up Down Down Left WRITE holds true when it comes to considering the impact which Meunier is striving to achieve in his newest addition to the great halls of journalistic advice – especially when considering the difficulty that is often associated with penetrating the confines of freelance in the video game industry.
I managed to get a hold of Nathan Meunier amidst balancing his journalism career and advertising his new book and he had the following to say:
Me: What is your intended audience for the book?
Meunier: Up Up Down Down Left Write is primarily geared towards anyone who wants to make a living getting paid to write about video games, whether you’re a gamer who has always dreamed of penning reviews on the side or a budding writer seeking to carve out a full-time career as a game journalist.
The book specifically focuses on the freelance perspective, and it’s packed with detailed insider advice on how to score your first paying writing gigs, break into major print and online gaming publications, and build a freelance career in the industry, among many other related topics. While it provides a ton of in-depth info geared towards helping newcomers and aspiring writers get their start, there’s also a lot of content in the book that goes well beyond the basics and will be of interest to established writers.
Me: I understand you are a freelance journalist but what inspired you to craft a freelancing guide for fledgling and burgeoning young writers?
Meunier: Even well before I transitioned from a full-time gig as a news reporter to the self-employed freelance life, I’ve always loved talking shop, learning from other writers, soaking up as much information as I could, and sharing advice I’ve gathered over the years with other folks who could use it. I’ve been fascinated with the craft and business of freelance writing.
Over the last few years, I’ve received a lot of e-mails from other freelancers and prospective game journalists alike with questions about different aspects of the business. I’ve always been willing to write people back with advice and useful information whenever possible, and this led me to eventually begin publishing articles and regular advice columns on my website geared towards helping people interested in breaking into game journalism. These pieces were so well received that I decided to take many of those original articles, flesh them out more, add lots of new, and put everything into a book.
Up Up Down Down Left WRITE is essentially the book I wish I had access to back when I was getting started as a freelancer.
Me: What are qualities that would make a freelance writer priceless for a large publication?
Meunier: First off, you have to have good writing chops. Strong grammar, punctuation, an eye for detail, and the ability to turn in clean copy can get you very far. Sending in sloppy pitches and funky writing when approaching bigger publications is a quick way to get round-filed. Writing about games may be fun, and you can have a lot of freedom to develop your own voice, but being professional and showing you can deliver is key.
Beyond writing ability, being resourceful and able to come up with unique ideas and story angles that fit the tone, style, and scope of the publication your pitching is just as important. Show an editor you know their publication inside and out by delivering a pitch that’s not only a perfect fit for the magazine or website, but one that also fills a gap that’s missing. Once you get your foot in the door, be flexible, reliable, and willing and able to tackle any tasks an editor throws at you in a quick timeframe. If you can knock assignments out of the park and keep your editors happy, you’re bound to keep getting more assignments.
Me: 3 things anyone who reads your book should be able to do after completing it.
Meunier: By the time you’re done reading Up Up Down Down Left WRITE, you should know the ins and outs of crafting a compelling feature pitch and targeting it to editors in an enticing way. This is the best way to break into a new outlet, and it’s one of the most important skills in your freelance arsenal.
You’ll learn how to expand your game industry PR contacts to gain access to interviews sources, attend industry events, and score free games for reviews and previews.
You’ll also learn how to take your freelancing business to the next level, turning it from a part-time hobby that earns you a little extra spending money into a full-time career. Being your own boss is awesome, and while it’s a lot of work, it’s absolutely worth the effort you have to put into it.
Up Up Down Down Left WRITE covers a lot of additional ground too, including many topics and key aspects of becoming a freelance game journalist. You’ll learn whether freelancing is right for you, how to jump-start your freelance career in the game industry, how to work with editors and land paying gigs, how to handle the business end of freelancing, tips for troubleshooting common obstacles, and much more.
Me: For writers out there who seek to have their name on the byline of the largest publications in the industry, what is, by far, the most important piece of advice that you could give them moving forward?
Meunier: Don’t give up. Keep pushing hard, even when it takes a lot longer than you expect to get to where you want to be. Start by breaking into smaller publications, work your way up, and keep plugging away at your bigger goals as you expand you freelancing list and tighten your writing ability. Keep flinging yourself at the editorial wall until it starts to crack. If you’re constantly working to improve your writing, hunt down new gig leads, and network with other folks in this industry, you’ll eventually start to make some headway. Soon enough, you’ll hit the bullseye. So where do you come in?
Currently, the book’s Kickstarter is sitting at $1508 of its $7000 goal with 20 days to go. With a myriad of backers behind him, Nathan Meunier is striving to put the word out there in making this book become a reality for himself and the thousands of others who will find priceless advice within its contents. For those of you embarking on a career in journalism or even considering whether or not to do so should not wait another moment when considering if you should lay down anything from $1 -550 and support burgeoning and veteran writers alike the world over.