Turning a home campaign into some extra cash


Product Discussion

Liberty's Edge

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So I am not sure if this forum is right for the question, but since most of the 3pp guys view it it seems a good choice.

I am working on a campaign for my group and I think it is good enough for publishing as a pdf. I am only outlining at this point but had a few questions about the nature of this I am hoping you guys can answer.

1 - Forming an LLC is pretty much a must, right?
2 - Is there a free or cheap program to use for the layout and formatting of the pdf?

3 - Just how expensive is art on a 64 page book? Ballpark. I plan to limit it to inked sketches excluding the cover to save cash.

4 - How do you deal with taxes on the income?

5 - How much do merchants take off the cover? Paizo/drivethru are where I am expecting to make it available.

6 - Any other additional pre-sale costs besides art if you are writing/editing/formatting it yourself?


You could always try and sell / publish through an existing 3PP.

Dreamscarred Press

I'm sure other 3PPs might have different answers to some of these, but here we go!

1. It's not a must, but if you are going to be anything other than "My Name", you typically need to get a Doing Business As or Assumed Name license. Check with your state's particular laws. An LLC protects you in the case of legal issues, but it is not a must.

2. MS Word can do it, although it's definitely not the best.

3. Depends on if you're going to have maps. For that size book, I would anticipate at least $200-300, even going cheap. Maps will make it more than that.

4. You declare it as income from a business - Schedule C for your tax return. I recommend talking to a CPA or another tax consultant to properly deduct all expenses and claim all income. Remember, all expenses - art costs, etc - get deducted from your income.

5. RPGNow and DriveThruRPG take 35%. Paizo takes 25%.

6. Only if you want to have some sort of website - but that's minimal cost - you can do that for under $10 a year. Yes, $10 a year.


I have used this site in the past to print and publish books, the prices are on the medium end of the scale but the quality is first rate
http://www.lulu.com/

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Here's some linked advice from a professional.

Liberty's Edge

Thanks a ton Jeremy. Luckily maps I can draw myself. Not as fancy as Paizo does em but more than adequate for a GM to use.

Sovereign Court

I previously asked a lot of similar questions and got plenty of great input. You can find a summary of it all here.


I am currently working on a similar thing, so these questions and answers were great.

Sovereign Court

Coridan wrote:
4 - How do you deal with taxes on the income?

One of the benefits of a single owner LLC is that the personal and business income can all be handled together for tax purposes. You get the benefit of being shielded from some liability from the business end, but your taxes are easier to do.

You do need to go to the state you're will make the LLC in though and look at the fine print.


Coridan wrote:

So I am not sure if this forum is right for the question, but since most of the 3pp guys view it it seems a good choice.

I am working on a campaign for my group and I think it is good enough for publishing as a pdf. I am only outlining at this point but had a few questions about the nature of this I am hoping you guys can answer.

1 - Forming an LLC is pretty much a must, right?

I have a corporation and I love it, but you really need to research this to get what is best for you.

Quote:
2 - Is there a free or cheap program to use for the layout and formatting of the pdf?

Being a graphic designer for nearly 20 years I will say, hire a professional designer who works on the cheap. It is much better than you don a bad job as a graphic designer. There are several people who would be willing to trade their time for product, food and some times exposure.

Quote:
3 - Just how expensive is art on a 64 page book? Ballpark. I plan to limit it to inked sketches excluding the cover to save cash.

Are you meaning to print? Or Budget? A 64 page book is roughly 30K words with 16 half pages of artwork, not including the cover. Plus you need to get it edited and graphic designed. If you are looking for cost of printing, check out websites like Lulu.com OR CreateSpace.com for their cost calculators.

Quote:
4 - How do you deal with taxes on the income?

Depends, but get an accountant. If you want to be serious about running a business, be serious about protected yourself from the IRS.

Quote:
6 - Any other additional pre-sale costs besides art if you are writing/editing/formatting it yourself?

If you are starting out, don'r do everything yourself especial if you have no experience in doing it. You would buy a video game from a guy with no experience in making video games would you?

Dale McCoy, Liz Courts, Neil Spicer, Gary McBride, and I (Louis Porter Jr.) had a seminar about this at PaizoCon 2012 on this exact topic. I think someone recorded it so you might want to try to find it to help answer some of your questions.

Liberty's Edge

The $125 LLC fee is probably worth it in case I accidently mess up with the OGL or something and someone sends lawyers at me.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Coridan wrote:
The $125 LLC fee is probably worth it in case I accidently mess up with the OGL or something and someone sends lawyers at me.

Quite frankly, you don't need have systems material for a settings guide. You can pretty much keep it systems neutral and as long as you keep it to your own writing, it'll be okay.

If you see how the OGL is used you'll find that it's pretty much a cut and paste matter but again, unless you're putting mechanics in your settings book, it's not needed at all. If you're publishing through a third party which is what I strongly suggest you do, than there is absolutely no need for socking the money for incorporation.

Liberty's Edge

Well it is more of an adventure path, so npc stats and such.


Warning you now - campaign settings are the most popular RPG product to write but invariably they are the poorest selling product you can possibly write. The reason is time investment - it takes awhile for another GM to read your notes - almost as long as it would take him to write his own. So most elect to write their own unless there's either a large amount of it out there or an established player base that will come to the table wanting to play *that* setting, such as Greyhawk or the Realms.

It's nice to be able to put stuff out there under the OGL, but getting a profit back on it isn't likely.

Liberty's Edge

It's just a campaign, not a setting. As in adventure path. The only setting material (in the first part anyway) is just a town gazetteer.


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My advice: Take a look at Fire Mountain Games. They are pulling off a stellar AP. Hell, they've even scored Jason Bulmahn to write. They are the benchmark alongside Paizo. Other 3pps like Dreamscarred Press and Headless Hydra Games are also currently working on their APs and then there is Zeitgeist for the Steampunk aficionados, also on a VERY high level. Just to provide an overview. :)


Something you may want to look into is an "S" corporation. It combines some of the best parts of a sole proprietorship with the protections of a traditional corporation.

Also - dotting. I and a few of my friends are trying to put something together. Any and all information is appreciated. As the guy in the group working towards his CPA I have a feeling a bit more of the business end is going to end up on my plate. :)

Thank you LazarX and Mok for the links.

I apologize, if I may highjack this thread with two related questions?

Does anyone have any information on how to approach artists? I and my friends have been considering DeviantArt. What would be a ballpark going rate?

Also, does anyone have any tips relating to getting your product licensed as Pathfinder compatible and getting them to sell it on their website?

Thank You.

Sovereign Court

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Douglas Mawhinney wrote:
Does anyone have any information on how to approach artists? I and my friends have been considering DeviantArt. What would be a ballpark going rate?

One of the threads that I linked to goes into a lot of detail on artwork and should have some ballpark figures for RPG art. Specifically dealing with deviantart, I've been going there and it has been successful for me. The problem with a general going rate is that it will vary so much depending on size, complexity, B&W vs. color, volume of work, and skill and experience of individual artists.

Another nuance is that different markets pay for artwork at different rates. I got some very helpful lessons from some artists who were willing to work for me who explained that the RPG market is so small that it can't support the rates that an experienced artists can get in broader fields such as mass-market book covers or video games. I fortunately found someone who understood this and was willing to work for RPG rates, even though he could get much more within the video game market. For him it was a low pay, but stress free gig that he did in part out of the enjoyment of the work.

On the super low end you can get artwork for just a few dollars. Typically this is from a teenager or student, some of whom are very talented. The problem with this demographic is that they aren't professionals yet. The idea of contracts, copyright, communication skills and workflow can all be far off from what you need for a business venture. And of course lastly, at a certain point going so low in price is really just overly taking advantage of someone's inexperience in the field. People, regardless of their age should be getting paid a fair wage.

There are “groups” that you can subscribe to on deviantart that cover all manner of things. Some of these are focused on commissions. Every day you'll get “deviations” of people in these groups, showing examples of their work and are aimed at commission work. So that is one way to help filter through the vast amount of artists on the site. These are however dominated by young people asking for small sums of money to do sketches, original characters “OC” and small cute artwork. Still, so much activity occurs there that you'll come across someone who stands out from time to time.

What has worked well for me is to go to their job offerings forum and to just present an open call for artists. Rather than negotiating prices, just put right into the subject line and then in your post how much you're willing to pay for a piece, say in increments of $25 to $50, and then give details on what you want, the kinds of rights you want for the work, dimensions, file format and so on.

What will happen is a flood of artists will write to you over the next 24 hours and you'll be spending hours looking at people's portfolios and trying to make a decision on who to work with. A lot of the artists won't fit the style you're going after, but out of the 50 or 60 submissions you'll end up finding a handful that will really align with your vision of the artwork.

Here is an open call that I did when I helped my cousin find an artist for his book cover. Here are the detailed job specifics on the project.

Eventually we went with an artist out of Jarkarta, Indonesia. The guy was great, fast and very communicative.

One other benefit with the open call is that you now have scores of artists portfolios, contact information, and you know what they are willing to work for. So you can always reach out to an artist later to do work for you.

Douglas Mawhinney wrote:
Also, does anyone have any tips relating to getting your product licensed as Pathfinder compatible and getting them to sell it on their website?

That's really simple. You're basically just agreeing to their terms.


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Coridan wrote:
1 - Forming an LLC is pretty much a must, right?

Honestly, if you're a one person operation, especially a start-up, then Sole Proprietorship is the way to go - it would cost you less than $20 to register with your county or state. Staying OGL compliant is very simple, and as long as you adhere to what you can and cannot do in the license, there should be no legal issues to fear.

I run a daytime graphics and printing 'brick and mortar' shop and though I finally incorporated, I did not do so for 7 years and was not unduly affected for not being an LLC.

The idea that everyone needs to incorporate is an over blown concept.

Coridan wrote:
2 - Is there a free or cheap program to use for the layout and formatting of the pdf?

Having your layout look professional is important. Any number of affordable desktop publishing applications like Xara Designer Pro, Serif Writeplus can do a professional job for you and cost less than $200, although Adobe InDesign is the industry standard - very expensive.

Coridan wrote:
3 - Just how expensive is art on a 64 page book? Ballpark. I plan to limit it to inked sketches excluding the cover to save cash.

1 piece of art for every 4 pages is industry standard, don't go less than that, though more than that can be helpful. B/W art is more reasonable than color art. There are many sources for affordable artists.

If you're starting out, interior art should be in the $30 or less range for each piece, with $50 - 100 for a cover design.

Coridan wrote:
4 - How do you deal with taxes on the income?

Keep track of expensives, subtract expenses from profits, pay the tax for your profits - small business tax management is no more difficult than personal income taxes. It's just an additional income stream.

Coridan wrote:
6 - Any other additional pre-sale costs besides art if you are -uwriting/editing/formatting it yourself?

Advertising. Do what you can free as much possible: blog posts, ENWorld threads, threads in this forum, but you should have banner ads created to post on various blogs and forums, Google Ads perhaps.

As LasarX suggested, consider publsihing as an imprint under an existing publisher, I do with my Kaidan: a Japanese Ghost Story setting and supplements under Rite Publishing. Doing so gets me quality authors, editors, designers; someone to share expenses with, and an existing publisher with a good reputation to help sell the product.

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