Normal or Fishy VN Company?

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rebmatador
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Normal or Fishy VN Company?

#1 Post by rebmatador » Fri Oct 11, 2019 9:25 am

Hi!

I'm a writer and I've just applied to a VN/otome dating sim scriptwriting gig. I've already submitted a 1000-word VN (otome) writing sample, but the company wants me to write a new "trial scenario" before they hire me, using their company-made plot, style guide, etc.

This will require 2000 words of free, tailor-made work, before being hired. Their plot is also listed as confidential, so I'm not sure if I could even use the work as a writing sample for other jobs if they decided not to hire me.

Is this normal? I'm new to VNs in general.

I'm looking for some advice about rates, too.

If you decide to respond, please let me know:

1. Are you a writer or a VN developer/company?
2. What's a normal rate per word/per page/per hour, etc?

Any info will be appreciated. Thanks everybody! :wink:

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Re: Normal or Fishy VN Company?

#2 Post by Mutive » Fri Oct 11, 2019 10:53 am

I don't work in the industry, so take my words with the appropriate salting. :)

With that said, typically it's seen as acceptable to ask for *some* work to be done prior to hiring, with the knowledge that it shouldn't be too arduous for the applicant and can't be used by the company as anything other than a test.

I'd guess that 2,000 words could be written in 1-4 hours by most writers. So that isn't *too* involved, although your speed and tolerance for doing this kind of task is something only you know. It might also help to get in writing that this project will only be a sample and can't be used by the company without providing you with compensation. (My guess is that a 2K sample couldn't be used for much, but it might provide some peace of mind.)

As far as rates go, $0.08 is currently the SFWA pro rate. (This would make for an hourly rate of $80/hr if you're writing 1,000 words per hour, which is pretty darned good. Of course, SFWA assumes you're writing and submitting stories to magazines that only pay if they *choose* to accept your stories...and pretty much all magazines have a sub 1% acceptance rate...so your actual $/hr will almost certainly be unlivable if you try to make a living writing short spec fic stories.)

As to what you'll request, I'd argue a lot depends on your own wants/needs. (e.g. if you're just doing this for fun, a low rate per word is probably fine. But if you're hoping to earn a living, you'll need to calculate how much time this will take vs. other things that might keep you afloat, how much it would take to survive, add in payroll taxes, etc.)
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Re: Normal or Fishy VN Company?

#3 Post by parttimestorier » Fri Oct 11, 2019 2:25 pm

That "trial scenario" idea sounds extremely sketchy to me. I'd be very suspicious that they're just trying to get free work out of as many writers as possible, and that they'd be planning to use all the "trial" stuff in their completed project without ever hiring or paying anyone. The only extra work I've ever needed to do when I've applied for VN writing jobs, if any, has been reading some of what the other people on the project have written already and discussing ideas a little bit. To be fair, I haven't applied for all that many, but I've never encountered anyone who's asked me to write something specific just for them with no guarantee that I'll ever get paid for it, and I would personally say no to that.

As for what people's rates are, you could take a look through the section of the recruitment & services offered forum where other writers post looking for jobs and see what they're working for.
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Re: Normal or Fishy VN Company?

#4 Post by rebmatador » Fri Oct 11, 2019 10:15 pm

Mutive wrote:
Fri Oct 11, 2019 10:53 am

With that said, typically it's seen as acceptable to ask for *some* work to be done prior to hiring, with the knowledge that it shouldn't be too arduous for the applicant and can't be used by the company as anything other than a test.
Thanks for the perspective, Mutive. I understand from the company's point-of-view that they want to see if I can follow their form and use their direction. My experience is not in VNs, so they want to see what I can do. I get that.

They're looking for 500-word stretches from 4 different scenes of a 15-episode VN (so 2000 words total). I think it's unlikely that they could stitch my writing together with the writing of other applicants--I've read a few of their VNs and the voice seems to be consistent. Getting it in writing that they won't use my material is a great idea anyway, though.

But I still find it a little strange that they would ask for so much, tailor-made, without compensation or any guarantee of future paid work. 500 words seems fair to me, but 2000 seems like a little much, as I do this for a living and not just for fun, and especially because I already submitted a 1000-word VN sample.

Again, this may just be my unfamiliarity with the industry.

Thanks for the advice Mutive and partimestorier!

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Re: Normal or Fishy VN Company?

#5 Post by jack_norton » Sat Oct 12, 2019 2:53 am

I've worked with A LOT of writers, and I've never asked such thing. A test scene yes, but 2000 words long seems a bit excessive.
As for the pay, I think 8 cents / word is more than what 99% of indies doing VNs could afford (doing some simple math with an average length of 80-90k words plus original art, music, etc they would need several YEARS to recoup the money :lol:)
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Re: Normal or Fishy VN Company?

#6 Post by Desertopa » Sun Oct 13, 2019 7:00 pm

To be honest, a lot of what goes on in Western VN development really blurs the lines of professionalism. I don't think there's even a single professional English language VN company right now with the resources and permanence to release successive games without resorting to crowdfunding. A lot of planned commercial development, where money changes hands in exchange for work on games intended to be sold for profit, never results in a game being released, or results in games which don't make back their costs of production. But even in projects which result in successful commercial release, I've seen management and planning issues serious enough that, in mainstream, professional industries, people would probably have lost their jobs as a result.

The upshot is that a lot of contractors work under bad management, and sometimes sketchy contracts, because they don't expect to find work if they hold out for employers with higher standards of professionalism.

The arrangement you describe doesn't sound great, but it doesn't necessarily sound so bad that something particularly out of the ordinary by the standards of VN work is going on. If the people in question have released other games previously, you could try getting in touch with other people who've worked on them to see if they'll share their experiences with you. It's up to you what you're personally prepared to put up with. Be wary though, since scams in this field are certainly not unheard of.

$.08/word is definitely well above what most writers in this field are asking for, and I'm honestly not sure if anyone writing for English language VNs right now makes that much. Somewhere around $.03/word seems closer to average, and honestly, you see tremendous gaps in quality among writers offering the same rates, so I think most employers know better than to expect that you get what you pay for.

Honestly, I'd be a lot happier if the English language VN industry reached a point where companies would just retain writers for a salary, but we're probably a pretty long way off from that.

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Re: Normal or Fishy VN Company?

#7 Post by rebmatador » Mon Oct 14, 2019 1:14 am

Thanks jack and Desertopa!

I realize now I didn't mention this in my original post: this is a Japanese company, but they are looking for native English speakers. (I'm American.) Their online presence claims they are based in Tokyo, and their assets are around 1 million USD. From my POV, this seems like a very small company, especially if it's based in Tokyo. But it's not indie, as far as I can tell. They've published as recently as August or September (according to Google Play).
Desertopa wrote:
Sun Oct 13, 2019 7:00 pm
The arrangement you describe doesn't sound great, but it doesn't necessarily sound so bad that something particularly out of the ordinary by the standards of VN work is going on. If the people in question have released other games previously, you could try getting in touch with other people who've worked on them to see if they'll share their experiences with you. It's up to you what you're personally prepared to put up with. Be wary though, since scams in this field are certainly not unheard of.
Again, I really appreciate this perspective. I'm a completely new to the world of VNs, so this is really helpful.

As far as getting in touch with someone who writes for them, it's a great idea but it's been tough to find any attributions/bylines. I'll keep digging.

They're called Genius, Inc. Sometimes called Genius Japan, Inc or Genius, Inc Japan. Anyone heard of them?
Desertopa wrote:
Sun Oct 13, 2019 7:00 pm
$.08/word is definitely well above what most writers in this field are asking for, and I'm honestly not sure if anyone writing for English language VNs right now makes that much. Somewhere around $.03/word seems closer to average, and honestly, you see tremendous gaps in quality among writers offering the same rates, so I think most employers know better than to expect that you get what you pay for.
$0.08/word seemed a bit high to me too, since I'm inexperienced with VNs. For other projects, maybe. But $0.03/word seems fair.

Since I last posted, I emailed the company directly and asked for rates before starting any sample work. They've yet to get back to me. I'll update here if they do.

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Re: Normal or Fishy VN Company?

#8 Post by Mutive » Mon Oct 14, 2019 10:53 am

rebmatador wrote:
Fri Oct 11, 2019 10:15 pm


Thanks for the perspective, Mutive. I understand from the company's point-of-view that they want to see if I can follow their form and use their direction. My experience is not in VNs, so they want to see what I can do. I get that.

They're looking for 500-word stretches from 4 different scenes of a 15-episode VN (so 2000 words total). I think it's unlikely that they could stitch my writing together with the writing of other applicants--I've read a few of their VNs and the voice seems to be consistent. Getting it in writing that they won't use my material is a great idea anyway, though.
I'd agree. It would be hard (and would yield a terrible result) to try to stitch a bunch of 2K word samples written by different authors together. And it's not beyond the pale (to me, anyway) that they'd want to get a sense as to whether you're capable of writing in their voice, and about their world and characters in a way that fits with their image. (Since enough writers are great at writing in their own voice, but struggle to write in a different one.)

With that said, if 2K words does seem like too much, it might be worth seeing whether you could at least start with a 500 word sample, or get a sense of rates + how many other people are in the running. (Writing 2K words may be worthwhile if you're one of 2 contenders, less so if you're competing against a thousand other people.)
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Re: Normal or Fishy VN Company?

#9 Post by rebmatador » Fri Oct 18, 2019 12:11 am

Mutive wrote:
Mon Oct 14, 2019 10:53 am
With that said, if 2K words does seem like too much, it might be worth seeing whether you could at least start with a 500 word sample, or get a sense of rates + how many other people are in the running.
Great advice, Mutive. Thank you! I'll keep this in mind for future projects.

A little update on this company. Like I mentioned before, I sent an email last Friday (10/11) about the company's policies re: rates. They'd been extremely prompt up until that point, responding to me within the same day, if not within a few hours.

Since I asked about rates, it's been crickets. I followed up three times. Never got a response. I think I'll give this company a pass for now.

Thanks everyone for your advice! I appreciate your help.

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Re: Normal or Fishy VN Company?

#10 Post by Mutive » Mon Oct 21, 2019 10:52 am

rebmatador wrote:
Fri Oct 18, 2019 12:11 am

Since I asked about rates, it's been crickets. I followed up three times. Never got a response. I think I'll give this company a pass for now.
I think that's wise as the only reasons I can see for the crickets are either that they've already found someone else or, more likely, they're like "Payment? What is this thing you call payment?"
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