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Some Questions about Third party publishing


Compatible Products from Other Publishers

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Ok, first just to be clear two things.

One this is not a bash thread, I have nothing but respect and approval for Paizo, their products, and the wonderful community of third party publishers that has flourished in the environment they have created.

Second this will be a long post as I am trying to make sure that if I am going to do this I do it right.

Now to the basis of my post, I love table top role playing games. I have been playing and GMing them for the last 20 years and I have been GM’ing without playing for the last 15 simply because I love crafting worlds and new things to work within a game.

I have multiple large detailed (~400, or more for some older ones, page) worlds created and love them dearly due to the wonderful campaigns that my friends and I have managed to create through them.

I was discussing this with a friend of mine and she remarked to me “Why don’t you publish some of this stuff?”

Now honestly I cannot say the idea had never occurred to me it was
simply that until Paizo and Pathfinder I was always very intimidated by the thought of the legal hoops required to publish anything inside of a pre-existing game system. Please note my stuff is all original in setting and honestly in rules as well, however it is all made to be PFRPG compatible.

I have two products, both of them of more recent construction that are done or very near done in terms of data, however I would need to pay for a professional editor, buy some art, and do some layout work.

I just want to get some questions answered if I may before I spend quite a bit of my time and a bit of money turning my labor of love into a labor of commerce.

Most of the Questions below are me trying to be legally correct and also respectful to Paizo, since as I have said I have a lot of respect for the environment they have created.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

1.) I have read the Compatibility agreement and the community use license, and from what I can understand since my end goal is to have the products I create placed on the Paizo website under the Pathfinder compatible third party products heading and sell them, then I am not eligible for anything except the Compatibility agreement. Is this true?

2.) Am I allowed to have classes or races that gain feats or abilities as they are described in a Paizo copyright book such as the core rule book if I reference them in the following manner?

Class Benefit: At levels X,Y,Z a member of this class may select from the following list of feats: Toughness*, New Feat 1, Endurance*, New Feat 2, Medium Armor Proficiency*…

Note: All items indicated with a * are listed in the Pathfinder Core Rule Book Chapter four: Feats and are trademark and property of Paizo publishing.

Race Benefit: At level one members of this race gain Endurance* as a Bonus Feat.

3.) Am I allowed to do a similar thing with spell lists for new classes?

New Class Spell list:
Level 1: Grease*, New Spell 1, Magic Missile*, Color Spray*, New Spell 2……

Note: All items indicated with a * are listed in the Pathfinder Core Rule Book Chapter Eleven: Spells and are trademark and property of Paizo publishing.

(I would obviously use clearly different marks/indications that were easily visible throughout the product to indicate different references to Paizo owned material.)

4.) I have quite a few races that are custom tailored to my worlds; mechanically they are very different from Paizo created races. They are also very different in terms of story/fluff, however several of them use the same names I.E. Human, Elf, Gnome. Am I allowed to include these in my published works?

5.) Am I allowed to reference to a Bestiary that Paizo has created by saying something similar to the following?

This encounter includes three “Dog, Riding”* and four “New Creature” distributed as shown on the map included.

Note: All items indicated with a * are listed in the Pathfinder Bestiary and are trademark and property of Paizo publishing.

6.) I noticed that there was a clause that specifically forbids the use of similar “dressing” for any third party books. Does this mean I am not allowed to use similar format tables and have to mix up the layout of race or class info, or is it simply that I am not allowed to create a product that is near identical in appearance to Paizo products so that they are difficult to tell apart? Is changing background color and page appearance enough? In short is the purpose of this clause just to ensure third party products are easily visually differentiated?

7.) To publish a product like this do I have to become a publishing company and fill out some forms to create a corporation or anything like that?

8.) If the answer to Number seven is yes, then where can I find a guide or some instructions on doing so, or do I simply need to consult a lawyer?

9.) Is there anything else anyone would recommend I read or study before making this plunge?

10.) Is there any general advice that you would like to give to someone new to the publishing game?

11.) I was planning on making my products available via PDF only at first, and if there was sufficient demand adding print later as I am worried about cost. Is this a good idea, a terrible idea or what?

12.) How do normal third party publishers’ price there PDF’s? By the word? By page count? Is there a formula?

13.) When you purchase art for a product, are there market norms for art pricing or are all artists different?

14.) Does anyone have any editors or page layout tools they would recommend?

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Anyway my thanks to anyone who makes it this far in the post let alone takes the time to answer. I hope to talk to you all again soon.

Osirion President, Silver Crescent Publishing

Covent,

I'll try to answer your questions as best as I can, though any of the Piazo staff could likely give you a better answer.

1.) Pretty much... yes

2.) You actually don't have to have that asterisk. But you do have to post the compatibility license in the book as well as some other verbage to make sure you are abiding by the terms of the license. You can use the asterisk to show the reader what books to reference (i.e. Ultimate Magic, Core Rulebook, etc.) but as far as the legalese, it isn't required as that material is open content.

3.) Same as above.

4.) You may want to rename them. Term them as subraces, much like Gray Elves, Sylven Elves, etc. That is most likely the easiest way around that.

5.) You can reference the Bestiary and even post the exact stat blocks from it in accordance with the Compatibility License. Just don't reference page numbers.

6.) The purpose of this is to prevent third party publishers from masquerading as Paizo books. It isn't difficult to make the page borders, cover, etc. look significantly different from an official Pathfinder book by Paizo. And the interior tables, etc. can be formatted the same to prevent confusion among readers. Just don't use the same backgrounds and such.

7.) If you do become a publishing company, there is a great deal of legal things that must be done. Tax documents for federal and state governments, etc. There are advantages and disadvantages to doing this so it really is up to you. You can also do it all without becoming a company, but you'll at least want to make sure you get copyrights and such done for any product you publish.

8.) Consulting a lawyer can be much easier, but ultimately more expensive. The best thing to do is contact your state department of commerce or someone who has done it before to at least point you in the right direction should you choose to become your own company.

9.) If you are going to do print copies, be prepared to invest a good amount of capital into it. If you are going for solely digital products that is one thing you won't have to worry about. I would look into marketing possibilities and get in touch with some other third party publishers. You may be surprised how much help we are willing to provide.

10.) Make sure you understand the costs of doing it before you jump in. If you aren't looking to make profit, then it may not matter. Many of us are in the business because we love the game and we enjoy creating worlds and adventures for others to experience. It can be very easy to be overwhelmed by all of the things you may need to think about or expenses you didn't think of initially.

11.) There tends to be a larger profit margin in digital products for the simple reason that you don't have to pay for printing. If you price your products appropriately, the quality is good enough, and you do a good job of spreading the word about it, then you shouldn't have too much of a problem. You can wait to decide if you want to invest in print products until much later.

12.) I can't speak for other third party publishers, but we produce both print and PDF versions of our products. We price the print versions competitively, and the PDF versions are generally around half of the cost. For you, you simply have to look at similar products in the market and make sure you are competitive.

13.) It really depends on the style, quality, and how well known the artist is. If you find an artist you like, and trust, stick with them and send all of the extra work you can their way if they want it.

14.) For layouts we use Adobe InDesign. We do our editing manually so I don't have any suggestions for a tool to do so other than friends and family.

I hope I answered everything acceptably. Feel free to contact me with any other questions you may have about what you are trying to do. I'm sure in not too long a number of others will correct or add to the information I've put here so you'll have no shortage of help and knowledge to pull from.


Daniel Marshall wrote:


Lots of very good Info

Thank you very much for all of this information and for the speed of your response.

Osirion President, Silver Crescent Publishing

No problem at all.


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Consider that my own publishing efforts come from something very similar to your situation, just a couple years ago.

Instead of becoming a publisher myself, I did a search for publishing companies willing to let me publish my setting, adventures and supplements under their label, with access to writers, artists, editors, and an agreeable contract with them for share in profits.

Steve Russell of Rite Publishing turned out to be the man and company I could work with (and he was interested in my project), and have released 10 publications over the last year, and now we have a Kaidan Campaign Setting Kickstarter. Note: my setting is Kaidan a feudal Japanese horror setting.

Send your setting/product ideas to the top 3pp companies, ask for interest. If something comes up, then terms between you must be determined and you move forward from there. It's your idea, and no one is going to steal it.

Going as an imprint under another publisher is just another way of getting your material published, where you don't have to assume all the costs, you can get access to quality freelancers with whom they hire, and have their reputation (and ready market) behind you.

I thought about doing it on my own, but being an unknown and lacking the experience to know how to best schedule, market, outsource my intended products. It was important to me to get it right, but I didn't want to screw it up, cost me a bundle, and show only loss.

I chose a less risky way.

And from my experience, publishing a setting is expensive, publishing a set of adventures is expensive also, but less so. First I published a trilogy of adventures, and then a series of smaller product supplements with less costs. Based on their success of these I was building a market of those interested in my products and setting ideas, eventually allow me to finally attempt to publish the setting. Your case may be different, but just something to consider.

Andoran

4 people marked this as a favorite.

Excellent advice - working with an established 3PP is a very good way to go, especially when you are first starting out. You can always try soomething on your own later once you've established a name for yourself


Marc Radle wrote:
Excellent advice - working with an established 3PP is a very good way to go, especially when you are first starting out. You can always try soomething on your own later once you've established a name for yourself

To Both gamer-printer, and Marc Radle:

Thank you both very much for the advice. I am honestly a little intimidated by the idea of going my own way at the very start, so I may just do as you say.

I just have to shine up my product a little before I start knocking on doors.

One question I have however.

1.) If I work with an existing third party product maker, will they have existing contracted artists that I will be required to use, or will I have to contract and acquire art myself before coming to them?


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Hi Covent!

Different companies work differently when it comes to artists (and other staff members). We have in-house artists but a lot of companies recruit freelancers. One of the best reasons to contact an established 3rd party company is that they normally have an existing network of professionals. Instead of having to search high and low for that artist who has a style that matches the themes and aesthetics your imagined for your product- they may already know someone.

While the 3rd party industry is made up of some great people, you might want to conciser looking up a Non Disclosure Agreement ("NDA"). You can find templates all over the web. It's a legal document that basically says "The idea I am pitching/presenting to you is my idea. Please do not develop something like this or based on this material in the future".

If you are wiling to listen to some advice, it sounds like you care a great deal about your material and have a very special connection with it. It doesn't seem like you want to start a business or develop content long term- but you do want to see your product launched and reach the community (and heck- make a few bucks while you are at it!).

I'm going to echo just about everything Daniel Marshall said. I would suggest reaching out to a 3rd party company and seeing if you have something. Don't be dejected if they refuse it. Some companies might not be able to support a 400 page release at that time (or ever- smaller products allow for smaller turn around times and not as many man hours). You might have to shop around a bit. See who gives you the best deal. If you are REALLY attached to your IP (Intellectual property) you should be aware that sometimes the rights to your IP may transfer to the developing studio (or at least the distribution rights).

As hard as this may be- your content may also not be up to publishing standards (thats not to say it's not good). A great place to go to see if your stuff has potential would be Open Design/Kobold Quarterly. Christina Stiles and those guys really put your idea through the ringer and can tell you just how viable it is and where the holes are.

-Scott Gladstein (Little Red Goblin Games LLC)


Covent, where-as everyone wants cool custom art right out of the gate, if you end up buying your own art, stock art and public domain are two of the greatest friends to a starting 3PP. I handle the PDF production for AdventureaWeek.com, and stock art and I have become the best of friends, lol. There are some truly great pieces out there to fill an assortment of needs, and it's an insanely cheap alternative to paying an artist to do every single thing you might need. Obviously when you get into more specific items, like custom creatures, you'll be back at needing an artist most of the time, but for a lot of standard imagery, there's stock art for it available.


Covent wrote:
If I work with an existing third party product maker, will they have existing contracted artists that I will be required to use, or will I have to contract and acquire art myself before coming to them?

I had been commissioning art with what little I could afford, and had cover pieces and some monster art before I hooked up wih Rite Publishing, I even brought one of those artists with me to Rite, who currently does lots of work for them.

Sometimes the artist is part of the company staff. Most often publishers work with numerous artists for different styles of work, and sometimes take on new artists - so each company is different in the freelance art department.

I am a professional fantasy cartographer, having done work from small 3pp's all the way up to Paizo, even as I was just making in-roads with setting materials. So I'm a freelancer as well, though I do mostly my own projects rather than other 3PP companies these days.


Marc Radle wrote:
Excellent advice - working with an established 3PP is a very good way to go, especially when you are first starting out. You can always try soomething on your own later once you've established a name for yourself

This is really the safest most effective way to go. First a 3PP and learn how to do it right. Several 3PP, including myself, did a seminar on this topic at PaizoCon 2012. If you are lucky you might be able to find a podcast that recorded the session.

Andoran

Covent wrote:


1.) If I work with an existing third party product maker, will they have existing contracted artists that I will be required to use, or will I have to contract and acquire art myself before coming to them?

Although a few 3PP companies have artists, cartographers and/or graphic designers on staff, most instead have a small stable of established freelancers that they tend to work with on a regular basis.

Most likely, the 3PP would take your words/content and then arrange for the art, maps and layout to be done using the folks they are confident can get those jobs done for them. Your main job would be to concentrate on the actual content.

In my case, I do freelance illustration, layout/graphic design and writing for a number of different 3PP companies (I won't bore you with details - you can check my profile if your curious:) These companies simply contact me when they have a project that needs art, layout and design and/or writing/game design.

Hope that helps!

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Daniel Marshall wrote:
11.) There tends to be a larger profit margin in digital products for the simple reason that you don't have to pay for printing.

And shipping and warehousing. Those costs aren't trivial additions.


Little Red Goblin Games wrote:

Hi Covent!

As hard as this may be- your content may also not be up to publishing standards (thats not to say it's not good). A great place to go to see if your stuff has potential would be Open Design/Kobold Quarterly. Christina Stiles and...

To Scott Gladstein, KTFish7, gamer-printer, LMPjr007, Marc Radle, LazarX,Daniel Marshall, and anyone else I missed.

Thank you all for your plethora of excellent advice.

I appreciate the honesty, and all of the information.

To Scott Gladstein,

The comment above is exactly the kind of honesty I was hoping for from the excellent community at the Paizo boards, as I would rather be warned of dangers and suggested possibilities than anything else.

In addition I appreciate you saying that because if my material is not up to snuff then I would rather be told so as to allow for me to improve.

Anyway I guess I am just saying thanks everyone, and it looks like its time to get my polishing cloth out!

Paizo Employee Webstore Gninja Minion

Once you've got your product all polished up and ready to sell, please read the Consignment FAQ. I look forward to hearing from you! :D


First of all, dotting. I and a few friends are looking into this as well.

Secondly, my most heartfelt thanks go out to Daniel Marshall, Little Red Goblin Games, and LMPjr. Your advice is so appreciated. Many other publishers would not give out advice as you have done.

Third, Gamer-Printer and Marc Radle, thank you for sharing your experiences and lessons learned.

Finally - Thank you Covent for starting the thread and asking all the questions I have been pondering.

P.S. Thanks Liz. I have no idea how I missed that FAQ. -_-'


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
Liz Courts wrote:
Once you've got your product all polished up and ready to sell, please read the Consignment FAQ. I look forward to hearing from you! :D

Liz, is there any facility/process/possibility of making a PDF produced under the Community Use Policy available for download from Paizo's website?

Osirion

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Douglas Mawhinney wrote:

Secondly, my most heartfelt thanks go out to Daniel Marshall, Little Red Goblin Games, and LMPjr. Your advice is so appreciated. Many other publishers would not give out advice as you have done.

Third, Gamer-Printer and Marc Radle, thank you for sharing your experiences and lessons learned.

You'll find the Pathfinder 3pp community fairly friendly. We all want other 3pp people to succeed.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Steve Geddes wrote:
Liz, is there any facility/process/possibility of making a PDF produced under the Community Use Policy available for download from Paizo's website?

Not currently.


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
Vic Wertz wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:
Liz, is there any facility/process/possibility of making a PDF produced under the Community Use Policy available for download from Paizo's website?
Not currently.

Cheers, Vic.


One more thing, having reread Scott Gladstein's post - the Pitch.

The Pitch is something I haven't mastered yet, but a necessary document you will need to create as your means of "knocking on doors". This presents your core product idea in a single sentence. Then, without being too wordy (like this post), you need a slightly more detailed (say 3 short paragraphs) overview of your concept and presented in such a way as to entice potential customers/publishers to want your product/concept - as you're offering something unique and desirable to some segment of the gaming market. You need to fully explain what your product consists of (very briefly), who the target audience is and what you want the reader to do.

You're going to have to create a 'pitch'.

If you haven't done so, visit my Kickstarter page for Kaidan, written by Steven Russell from Jonathan McAnulty's pitch. It is essentially a pitch to potential pledge-makers to join the project.

Your document needs to be something like this, but pertaining to your product concept and probably a third it's length to a publisher - our pitch targets a different audience. (You won't need art, just the pitch.).

Osirion

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

A pitch should be...
1) Interesting and exciting. Talk about things that are happening in your adventure/campaign/world, not technical or mechanical aspects of what you are doing.
2) Evocative. Use your words to captivate the mind and curiosity of the reader. Leave them wanting more.
3) Active. Avoid passive grammar whenever possible.
4) Pithy. As in engineering, good writing, in my opinion, is finished when there is nothing left that can be removed. Try to say as much as possible with as few words as possible.


10 people marked this as a favorite.

A pitch should be like a girl's skirt: Short enough to be interesting, long enough to cover the subject.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

And don't pitch above your ability. Everyone wants the next big thing but don't sell what you don't have.

Another bit of advice when dealing with publishers is to be friendly and communicative (don't suddenly drop off the face of the planet after making a pitch as I've had writers do to me). Our corner of the industry is small and everyone pretty much knows everyone else. Thus, if you make someone happy that information gets around while, of course, the opposite is also true.

Bret Boyd
Tricky Owlbear Publishing, Inc..

Andoran

TrickyOwlbear wrote:

Our corner of the industry is small and everyone pretty much knows everyone else. Thus, if you make someone happy that information gets around while, of course, the opposite is also true.

Very, very true!


I'm glad you found the information useful. If you have any other questions please do not hesitate to ask.

Coming from the video game industry I can tell you a very useful way to pitch a game concept is called a high concept.

A high concept is generally a paragraph or two (Tops. Mine are generally a sentence or two) on what makes your game interesting and what it is. LMP put it very well- long enough to cover the subject but short enough to be interesting. Try to reduce it to the fundamental building blocks. Condense it as far as possible so that only the core concept remains (this is also a great design exercise).

A story from the guys over at Rockstar Games was that one of the high concept pitches for Grand Theft Auto: Vice City was simply the words “Miami Vice” on a piece of paper. If your concept works intrinsically and it gets your friends excited about it, chances are it will get other excited about it.


Little Red Goblin Games wrote:

I'm glad you found the information useful. If you have any other questions please do not hesitate to ask.

Coming from the video game industry I can tell you a very useful way to pitch a game concept is called a high concept.

A high concept is generally a paragraph or two (Tops. Mine are generally a sentence or two) on what makes your game interesting and what it is. LMP put it very well- long enough to cover the subject but short enough to be interesting. Try to reduce it to the fundamental building blocks. Condense it as far as possible so that only the core concept remains (this is also a great design exercise).

A story from the guys over at Rockstar Games was that one of the high concept pitches for Grand Theft Auto: Vice City was simply the words “Miami Vice” on a piece of paper. If your concept works intrinsically and it gets your friends excited about it, chances are it will get other excited about it.

To everyone who has given me advice and the tons of wonderful info in this thread, my thanks.

I apologize for the delay in this reply, I am however working in Japan for a Japanese company at the moment and the hours this week have been very odd.

So again thank you all. I am currently tightening up some of my campaign info and was planning on a campaign guide and the first chapter of an AP like campaign for my starting project. This will be a 25-30 page guide and a ~100 page first part of a campaign rather than a 400 pg detailed world ala inner sea world guide, which I can understand would be difficult for publishers to accept from a first time RPG author.

I will try to get back here regularly for advice, updates, and thanks.

BTW if anyone wants to see anything feel free to PM me and I will work something out for you, I always appreciate feedback.


KTFish7 wrote:
Covent, where-as everyone wants cool custom art right out of the gate, if you end up buying your own art, stock art and public domain are two of the greatest friends to a starting 3PP. I handle the PDF production for AdventureaWeek.com, and stock art and I have become the best of friends, lol. There are some truly great pieces out there to fill an assortment of needs, and it's an insanely cheap alternative to paying an artist to do every single thing you might need. Obviously when you get into more specific items, like custom creatures, you'll be back at needing an artist most of the time, but for a lot of standard imagery, there's stock art for it available.

BTW Ktfish7, do you have any websites you recommend for stock art or public domain art?

Cheliax

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Covent wrote:
KTFish7 wrote:
Covent, where-as everyone wants cool custom art right out of the gate, if you end up buying your own art, stock art and public domain are two of the greatest friends to a starting 3PP. I handle the PDF production for AdventureaWeek.com, and stock art and I have become the best of friends, lol. There are some truly great pieces out there to fill an assortment of needs, and it's an insanely cheap alternative to paying an artist to do every single thing you might need. Obviously when you get into more specific items, like custom creatures, you'll be back at needing an artist most of the time, but for a lot of standard imagery, there's stock art for it available.
BTW Ktfish7, do you have any websites you recommend for stock art or public domain art?

RPGNow/Drivethru has a number of companies that sell stock art. I admit I have not payed to mention attention to it, but from what I have heard they have some pretty reasonable prices for the stock art packs.


Ok, Everybody I have been looking through my notes and such and am having a hard time shrinking down the campaign guide below about 100 pages.

My questions after running some numbers are several.

1.) What in terms of length would most existing publishers want from a new author?

2.)I am planning on a campaign guide and the associated first adventure section for the campaign. Is this too much?

3.)If this is too much what exactly are what people would be considered most important in a campaign guide?

I have new races, new archetypes, new spells, new feats, new materials,new gods, new domains, and new magic items for crunch in the guide.

For fluff I have seven sections of history about the world and the different races involved.

This is all after cutting down severely on my campaign info so as to present just the basics.

I guess I am just feeling lost.

4.) If I can get my product to a suitable length, how should I approach a publisher?

I have read what was offered for advice about a "pitch" up above and I am thankful and plan on the development of a pitch for my material. What I really am wondering about is stuff like asking for an NDA.

5.)Is it rude to do so? I do not want to offend anyone and would like to build cordial working relationships.

I do respect the Pathfinder Third party publishing community after lurking on these boards for awhile and sampling quite a few very nice third party products for Pathfinder, however I am naturally cautious and I admit tend to over prepare for any commercial venture.

You should have seen me buying a car...

Anyway thanks all.

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
LMPjr007 wrote:
A pitch should be like a girl's skirt: Short enough to be interesting, long enough to cover the subject.

Or a Manly man's kilt?

Qadira Contributor; Publisher, Kobold Press; RPG Superstar Judge

Covent wrote:
1.) What in terms of length would most existing publishers want from a new author?

Speaking purely for Open Design and Kobold Quarterly, I'd want to see a magazine article or PDF-length piece first.

Quote:
2.)I am planning on a campaign guide and the associated first adventure section for the campaign. Is this too much?

Yes, probably. The adventure alone might be plenty.

Quote:
3.)If this is too much what exactly are what people would be considered most important in a campaign guide?

This varies from gamer to gamer. I think you need to think about building smaller blocks first. Again, speaking about Open Design, there were 5 years of city design, race design, monsters, spells, etc before it was clear the Midgard setting was rich and deep enough to publish as a setting for Pathfinder.

Quote:

4.) I have read what was offered for advice about a "pitch" up above and I am thankful and plan on the development of a pitch for my material. What I really am wondering about is stuff like asking for an NDA.

5.)Is it rude to do so? I do not want to offend anyone and would like to build cordial working relationships.

You can always ask for an NDA, and I don't think a publisher will necessarily be offended. This is a business relationship, so just ask professionally if you need an NDA.

At the same time, if you require extra paperwork and hoops from a busy publisher, you slightly increase the odds of them saying "No thanks, not looking for a big pitch." I know that I have limited time to review magazine queries, for instance, and the bigger the project, the more confident I have to be in the freelancer proposing it. I have a lot of projects cooking, and I'm always looking for new projects and new writers.

However, just to be realistic about it, I would probably not review a campaign setting pitch from someone I had not worked with for at least a couple years. The exception would be if they had signed up for an Open Design project and done well there, or if they had great credentials with another project as a novelist, video game, or tabletop designer.

Really, I look for magazine articles and PDF pitches first from newcomers.

Layout and Design, Frog God Games

My advice is not to pitch a campaign guide.

Pitch short adventures in a series contained within the world, polish small sections of the world first, introduce your new races and feats and such within the shorter adventures.

The reason for this is that campaign guides are a large investment for a potential loss. A 32-page module doesn't hurt as much if it does poorly as a 200+page guide.


Even before my first adventure, my first product release under Rite Publishing was In the Company of Kappa, a 30+ page PDF product that served as a racial guide with I-C introduction, favored classes, traits, archetypes, a racial paragon class, feats, equipment, and some fluff regarding the elders of their race. I also started work on a second, similar race book as my adventure scenario was coming into fruition.

Since my adventures lacked a proper setting handbook up front, the first adventure had about a 5 page introduction to the setting, touching upon the most unique aspects, as it might apply to the adventure. This was followed by an overview of the adventure itself, then in 3 parts the adventure itself was presented. At the conclusion of the first adventure I placed a 'cliff hanger' to lead readers towards the second adventure. Finally I placed three appendices in back containing specific required unique mechanics, followed by a new monsters section, pre-gen PCs, and a glossary for the many Japanese terms.

Both the next 2 adventures were similarly developed, so any new setting rules could be extrapolated in each adventure it made an appearance.

So there was some 'setting info' though not extensive - the goal being one day, I would be collecting all the setting info and creating my setting handbook. Through my current Kickstarter Project, I am finally doing just that.

Of course between those first adventures and my current plan for a setting guidebook, I created 2 more race guides, 2 faction guides, a free one-shot adventure (released last Halloween) and haunts guide.

Not trying to tell you how to do it, just suggesting we had similar goals and the direction I took might be similar to what you have in mind, as well as accomodating those concerns from publishers like Wolfgang.

Qadira Contributor; Publisher, Kobold Press; RPG Superstar Judge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Yep, an adventure with a limited amount of setting material is way more appealing to me than a 200+ page book.

Oh, also, there's this Guide to How to Pitch, Playtest, and Publish.


Covent wrote:


BTW Ktfish7, do you have any websites you recommend for stock art or public domain art?

Several different companies offer up varying amounts of stock art, with sales constantly at either RPGNow/DriveThruRPG, or right here at Paizo. Purple Duck is part of the Christmas in July sale going on right now at RPGNow, and they have several pieces that are very good, ranging from line art, to B&W and color. LPJ carries a full line of stock art portfolios that primarily feature Storn's work (with the occasional other artist) that are filled with highly usable pieces.

I would recommend you simply type in stock art here at Paizo, search through, see what you like. Price shop over at RPGNow, see where things are going to get you a good deal...I will say RPGNow has the larger catalog of readily available stuff. And don't be afraid to contact an artist if you aren't finding something you are looking for, a lot of these folks are really very nice and easy to approach, and more than willing to either take on a commission piece, or help point you towards someone who is, or even add your idea to their list of things they are doing for future stock art projects.

Google Public Domain Artwork, tighten your search to the types of things you are looking for...there's a lot of really good artwork out there that is free for usage...true, a great deal of it is of an older style, but that can add a really cool feel to a product, you just have to find the time to hunt through stuff and find things. I will point out though, if you do decide to go the Public Domain route, verify that the copyright is within the Public Domain, you don't want to release something only to have the artwork become an issue for you later.


To Wolfgang Baur, Chuck Wright, and gamer-printer:

Thank you for the advice and information this is exactly the kind of thing I was hoping to hear. A decisive answer and some good suggestions.

Also thank you Wolfgang Baur for the pitching guide I am going to go read it right now. Its 9:00 A.M. Sunday my time ;-)

To KTFish7:

Thank you for the advice on stock art and how helpful you have been.

For everyone,

Thank you all for the wonderful advice, I think after hearing it I will try to pare down my material so as to have a pitch-able adventure or perhaps just the materials and magic items section of my guide as both of those could be around 30-50 pages depending on what I do with them.


1.) That’s a really hard question to answer. It has less to do with what you have and more to do with what scale a publisher is able to handle.

Little Red GENERALLY does the following lengths:

Less than 10: Free Goblin Ration
Aprox 20-30: Normal splat book
50-70+: Source book

This is by no means industry standard.

Something to keep in mind is that the higher the page count the larger the investment (time, money for art/editing/whatever). Think of yourself as a consumer. When you see a product you are not familiar with are you more apt to buy the $30 100 page book or the $5 splat book if you are not familiar with it?

2) Once again, it depends on the company. I would suggest getting the adventure out before investing time into a giant campaign guide.
3) This is really dependent on the campaign setting. Does your setting NEED new races, new archetypes, new spells, new feats, new materials, new gods, new domains, and new magic items to make your campaign setting feel unique and interesting?

The more important thing I look for in a campaign setting is something that makes it unique.

“A rich Tolkien-esque fantasy world with 200 pages of backstory!” isn’t as exciting as “A gut-wrenching campaign setting inspired by 80’s Death Metal Cover Art and featuring 35 new and unique playable races!” or “A abstract campaign setting in which you play as a teddy bear protecting children from the murderous things in the closet…”

What’s the selling point? What will make it stand out? As yourself “Why would someone want to play this?”

4) I would just shoot them a quick email. “Hay, I’m so-and-so and I wrote up this great campaign setting (insert mini-pitch). I heard you guys accept public solicitation of new material and I was wondering if you’d like to take a look!”

If they bite and are interested I would look at possibly doing an NDA if you want. (Like Wolfgang said- it is extra hoops to jump through)

An NDA is really… formal. I don’t think you’ll be “rude” but it might put them off a bit (or heck- maybe they would like to see someone who knows how to protect their IP!) but you should gauge the water yourself.

Cheliax

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Tales Subscriber

dot

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16, 2012 Top 32

Lots of great info in this thread. Thanks for starting it, Covent.


Epic Meepo wrote:
Lots of great info in this thread. Thanks for starting it, Covent.

Np, but I admit I did it with the selfish goal of getting published in mind.

I think all of the people who have been nice enough to stop by and give out this great info are the ones who deserve the thanks.

So, thanks again everyone.

Oh also, Complete KOBOLD Guide to Game Design

Some great stuff in this book.


Another Question for you wonderful Pathfinder people, both third and first party.

1.) When presented with content electronically is there a specific file format, or option that is preferred as an industry standard?

I have heard Adobe In-design mentioned quite a few times and am thinking of purchasing it, as my first offering is very near completion, and I am going to be sending out pitches soon. Would this be wise so as to offer my creations in a widely accepted format, or is another format/program usually preferred?

My thanks again for all of the help.


PDF is usually the standard file format that non-print products are presented in (though I have seen ePub as well).

If you're not a professional graphic artist, I would hesitate to purchase InDesign yourself. If you can, find somebody that is willing to do freelance layout for you, that way the burden of its cost is not on you (it's a very expensive program, after all) and you can use your publishing budget on other things (like art). Decent layout can be accomplished with other programs—it's not the tools that you use to create it, it's the results.


Lilith wrote:

PDF is usually the standard file format that non-print products are presented in (though I have seen ePub as well).

If you're not a professional graphic artist, I would hesitate to purchase InDesign yourself. If you can, find somebody that is willing to do freelance layout for you, that way the burden of its cost is not on you (it's a very expensive program, after all) and you can use your publishing budget on other things (like art). Decent layout can be accomplished with other programs—it's not the tools that you use to create it, it's the results.

Lilith, Thank you for your advice. I think I will contact some of the freelance people who were nice enough to get in contact with me after I first created this thread.

If I may disturb you or someone else further, however I do have another question that has just popped into my head after your answer. I have asked very similar questions to this before so please do not think I am ignoring any answers, I am simply trying to create the best product I can so as to "start strong" as a freelance RPG supplement author.

1.) Assuming I have a completed product with the exception of art, should I try to acquire said art before making a pitch or is it better to simply allow space in the layout for it and provide my content and layout without art?


If you're pitching this to an existing publisher, I would say wait on the art. Publishers often have a preferred art style that they like to use, though most third-party publishers that I've worked with will certainly listen if there's a particular artist that you would like to recommend.


Lilith wrote:
If you're pitching this to an existing publisher, I would say wait on the art. Publishers often have a preferred art style that they like to use, though most third-party publishers that I've worked with will certainly listen if there's a particular artist that you would like to recommend.

Lilith, My thanks again.

I will do that then. I just like to be as prepared and professional, along with polite as possible when starting any business relationship.

*Giggle* alliteration...


Brilliant thread Covent if its not too much hassle can you keep us up to date on how it all go's. Its intresting to see someone take the bold step and would like to hear about your experiences.

All the best.
Eldred


Eldred the Grey wrote:

Brilliant thread Covent if its not too much hassle can you keep us up to date on how it all go's. Its intresting to see someone take the bold step and would like to hear about your experiences.

All the best.
Eldred

I will try to update, as it seems there is some interest.

Just for informational purposes, I do work in Japan so my time is not US time. Please do not think I am ignoring anyone.

Thank you.


Another question has just percolated out of my mind.

1.) I have in house play tested quite a bit of the material (90%-95%) I am about to try and offer. I have mathematically checked everything.

I was thinking about potentially offering a few copies to select individuals on the boards for play-testing and review. Is this something that is normally done by a publisher, or should I do it before approaching a publisher? Opinions very welcome.

Yet again, I am sure you are all getting tired of hearing it, my deepest thanks.


Covent wrote:

Another question has just percolated out of my mind.

1.) I have in house play tested quite a bit of the material (90%-95%) I am about to try and offer. I have mathematically checked everything.

I was thinking about potentially offering a few copies to select individuals on the boards for play-testing and review. Is this something that is normally done by a publisher, or should I do it before approaching a publisher? Opinions very welcome.

Yet again, I am sure you are all getting tired of hearing it, my deepest thanks.

Does anyone have any idea on this issue?

Sorry to be a bother.

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