How RPGs are Edited

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series How RPGs are Made

I have been hard at work preparing for the Survival of the Able Kickstarter, with a tentative mid-October 2019 launch. That means preparing and planning the campaign, but it also means hiring artists, editors, and layout professionals to help finish the book.

Since Survival of the Able is all about representing people with disabilities, it’s important to me to hire a diverse team. I put out the call to Twitter to find a disabled editor, and within hours was talking to someone who wanted to help.

Side note: Before working with a new team member, I like to order some sample work to see if they’re a good fit. It’s important not to ask for work on spec–that is, it’s important not to ask for someone to give you a sample of any work without paying them for it. If they don’t work out then you’re out a little money, but everyone deserves to be paid for their work. You can always decline to hire someone for the long term, and that’s precisely why you order a small sample to begin with.

I’ve talked a lot in the past about RPG design, including how to run a Kickstarter campaign and how to create accessible PDFs. I’ve also given you a peak at what my raw manuscripts look like, and in case you haven’t checked out Survival of the Able yet you can see the first draft here:

Survival Of The Able First Draft
Survival Of The Able First Draft
1.3 MiB

Now let’s take a look at what that manuscript looks like during the editing process.

Edited Manuscript

One of the tricky things about being a good editor is that, if you do your job right, nobody notices your work. Your talent fades into the background and you make the writer look like a pro.

I fancy myself a competent writer, but I’m going to show you proof about why even competent writers need editors. Download this file to get an idea of what I mean.

SotA Editing Sample Revised
SotA Editing Sample Revised
23.1 KiB

Don’t have Microsoft Word? View this on Google Docs.

This is the sample I sent to my new editor, complete with all his corrections and comments. It’s just over 1,100 words, and you can see that there’s plenty for me to update, alter, and address. Now consider that the entire manuscript is around 35,000 words, and you’ll have an idea of the work that goes into editing a manuscript.

This work is important for making games the best they can be, which is why we hire experts to do these types of jobs for us. That work comes at a cost, so if you’d like to help me finish Survival of the Able and get it into your hands, please keep an eye out for the upcoming Kickstarter campaign. Follow our blog or find me on Twitter and Facebook using the social links on the right-hand side of this page so you know when the campaign goes live.

Next time, we’ll take a look at some of the work that goes into bringing you beautiful artwork.


Series NavigationHow RPGs are Illustrated >>