Friday, December 30, 2011

Interview with Brendan P. Frye on Community Fridays

Welcome to Community Fridays! During this weekly event, I interview authors, editors, publishers, and pretty much anyone else who I can get my hands on from the writing and publishing community. Hope you enjoy, and feel free to suggest new participants. Check out current and past interviews here. Only have a minute? Click here for interviews at a glance.

Today's guest is Brendan P. Frye, editor for the Canadian online and print magazine Comics and Gaming monthly.

You’re a writer, as well as an editor, for the magazine Comics and Gaming Monthly. Which did you start out as? How did you transition from one to the other?

I started writing when I was in university, where I did movie and album reviews for local newspapers. First came unpaid opportunities, which I used as a chance to expand on my writing skills. From these jobs I moved to an online publication, Lucid Forge. I worked as content editor there for about 3 years, and while I was there, I ensured everyone worked together, but also that the site had the best coverage of the best music and film events for the area. The transition between the two was not as complex as you may think; once I took control I had a solid team of writers that ensured the move was easy and painless. Really it just comes down to doing what you love to do, and keep doing it until people notice you.

I’ve thought about becoming an editor myself, so that I can toy with the pawns – I mean, writers. How is the skill set that you use for writing different than the one you use for editing a publication?

Much of the job involves being forceful but also having a clear idea of what you want the overall feeling of the publication to be. It is easy to just boss people around but without a clear objective to present to them the magazine or publication will feel loose and uninteresting. You also have to ensure that you get the best work out of people. Constantly looking at the work you get in, ensuing it is the focus you want and that everyone is giving their best is another key aspect I would say.

But when it comes down to it, you always need to use your writing skills. You need to be able to step in and write an article if it is needed, and sometimes it is a few key articles and suggestions that make a publication go from interesting to outstanding.

What advice can you give to writers, from an editor’s point of view, for successfully pitching and contributing to an edited publication?

The best thing I can say is keep your ideas tight and well-thought-out. It is so easy to have a loose idea but when your editor gets a pile of them on his desk every day he is less likely going to look at yours. If you come to them with a well-thought-out, well-researched idea it is more likely that it will be chosen to be in the publication. Also be prepared for a fair amount of rejection. In this industry sometimes a great idea just may not work as-is and it has to be retooled a bit to fit the overall theme or structure of a publication.

You’re also developing a game. Is this a “gig” that plain old writers can get into, or do you need to have programming expertise as well?

I have worked with game development tools since I was a teenager and it is something I have always enjoyed doing. Really the only thing stopping anyone from making a game is themselves. With an ever-growing set of tools that are out there for new developers it has never been easier to get down and just create. If you have programing skills this is a bonus, but not a necessity. Make what you enjoy and hopefully other people will enjoy playing it as well. The only barrier to entry is your own creativity and I hope many people that read this go out and give it a go.

(Emma's note: if you're interested, here is a list of game design resources to get you started.)

What role does social media play in your life, as an editor, a writer, and a person?

If you had asked me this about a year ago I would have said a very minor role. But with the ever-changing landscape of media the need to reach out to new audiences is always there. Social media gives everyone a chance to have a louder voice and to reach more and more people than most people could have say 5 years ago. Tools like twitter and Facebook allow for everyone to get ideas to likeminded individuals and for a magazine this sort of thing is invaluable.

Lastly, because this feature is about establishing bonds within the writing and publishing industries, can you name one author, editor, publisher, etc. who's doing great things right now, and why?

It may be hard to narrow it down to one person. If you are talking games journalism I believe the people at Kotaku (Brian Crecente) is doing some really good things with the online medium. When you go over to print the people at Edge are a great publication and have some of the best writers in the industry contributing. That being said, there are many people that work in smaller publications around the world that are doing some great things for the medium and for games journalism in general.

Anything else you'd like to share?

I have been working in the journalism field for 8 years now. I started while I was still in university at Western and have been doing it ever since. I've written everything from political pieces to album reviews and hope to continue contributing to the world of journalism in the future. I've been the Editor-In-Chief at C&G magazine now for over 2 years. We have some extremely talented writers on staff and it is my pleasure to be working with all of them.

Want to know more about Brendan? Follow him on Twitter!
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