Freelance Designer Pay: Can I Pay More, and Will You Pay More?


Product Discussion

Sovereign Court Publisher, Raging Swan Press

As you may be aware, there's been some controversy over the weekend about the rates of pay for freelance game designers in the industry. It's been a spirited, but interesting, debate.

As a relatively successful 3PP, (as in I'm still around) Raging Swan Press has historically only been able to pay one cent a word - but should I pay more?

I've put some thoughts together over on my blog and I'd love to get your take on the matter. Please come over, read the article and leave a comment* -- whatever your opinion!

*I'd prefer comments on my blog so I can keep track of the general consensus of opinion.

Thanks very much!


In a word, yes. Historically word rates even for unknowns have been 2-4 cents a word and the cost of everything has gone up so should the cost of freelancers. I know I would not write for that rate even if I have not written for 7 years now. One has to at least cover expenses. There is an old adage garbage in/garbage out. Not that I think your material is garbage, I have purchased quite a few of your products and find them useful. I do, however, feel that their quality would improve with better paid freelancers.


Fantastic article. Worth reading for every freelancer (both the original and the one of the RSP site).


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I think we need to compare what small 3pp like Raging Swan Press do to the tradition of the literary and poetry presses.

These are small presses, usually operating as not-for-profit organizations that have a mission: to give writers and poets who would otherwise not have a voice a voice. To share with the world literature that is worthy but not otherwise sell.

And writers, even experienced writers who can command much higher fees, recognize this as a worthy mission and they accept a literary journal's very low per word or per piece rate as is.

Small press 3pp are much the same. They are making material available for the gaming market that would otherwise not be available. They are doing so, generally, with tight margins and low sales.

And writers who are writing for them, I think, recognize this.

Which means, as long as the publisher is making a good faith effort to pay as much as they can afford (and I think half a cent per word is not a good faith effort) I think writers understand that they aren't going to be making a few thousand a book.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

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I've had a related conversation before with some of the playtesters and fans of the stuff I've done, when I need to explain to them how or why agiven project's priority is decided.

I know when I started writing freelance, Will McCardell's first words to me were "Just remember when you're accepting projects, it's just going to be beer money, and that's assuming people like it". So I've done what I've done with that in mind. Obviously, I wish it could be different. If publishers could afford to pay me more, I'd be able to write more, and I'd be able to finish projects faster and move on to new ones more quickly. But I took the time to look at what it costs to be a 3pp publisher and I know that those profit margins are razor thin. That's a big part of why I decided I'd just work freelance instead of publishing my projects myself.

I'm not personally sure what it would take to change the current dynamics. Part of it would need to be a shift in the community; there's a lot of 3pp stuff out there that's simply amazing, but gets dismissed out of hand because there's still a lingering stigma from days when 3pp product quality was less closely reviewed. Every table that doesn't allow 3pp is a table that has removed itself from the market, and that's unfortunate. We've got really awesome reviewers out there like Thilo at Endzeitgeist.com who are helping to keep freelancers and publishers alike accountable for the quality of their work, so hopefully if we can keep them supported in the work they do, that'll help grow the audience for what we do. I'd also encourage any player who's interested in some cool 3pp materials but currently playing at a table that doesn't allow them to remind their GM that Paizo was once a 3pp company themselves, and some of their materials back in the 3.5 days were amongst the coolest and best balanced available!

Basically, I'd love to be part of a world where I could make more writing, but I know that that means the publisher has to make more. I think that really boils down to a few points:

1) We, as a community, need to grow the market. That means pimping each other's products, challenging negative preconceptions about the quality and balance of 3pp work, and supporting reviewers like Endzeitgeist who keep us honest and challenge us to keep being better than we are.

2) We need to develop a pool of skilled individuals who understand the 3pp marketplace. Layout and art tend to eat a lot of a project's budget, and sometimes new artists are given bad expectations of what 3pp publishers can and should be paying them. If we can bring in more of these talented individuals and set the expectation that 3pp is a gateway economy that will help get their names out there, we can both grow the community and create an environment where profits can be distributed more equitably.

3) As consumers, we in the community need to remember to support the companies that make the stuff we love. d20pfsrd is great, but if you play with Dreamscarred Press' Vitalist class and you think it's the coolest thing since sliced bread, go buy it! A lot of company's pay their writers based on the sales generated by their products and the best way to ensure those writers get to come back and write more great stuff is to make sure that they're getting compensated. Currently, my checks for things I've written net me just barely enough to pay for the apology dinners I treat my fiancee' to after a week (or month...) of her barely seeing me as I hammer stuff out during my free hours after work.

4) Review everything! I mentioned how we need to work on removing that 3pp stigma and growing the community, and there's no better way to do that than by reviewing the stuff that we like ourselves! I've never worked with Alluria Press, but I think Cerulean Seas is so awesome I tell people about it every chance I get. Whenever someone talks about running an Eberron campaign, I tell them how awesome In the Company of Ironborn is for providing a flexible and balanced alternative to the 3.5 warforged.

Anyways, that's my take on things :)


To answer the OP's question though, if you pay more to get better quality of course yes I will be willing to pay more. Of course generally I don't buy a lot of 5 page modules. I do tend to buy quite a few 500+ page ones and expect to pay $100 or more for a print copy + pdf.


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Ssalarn, you are spot on. Thank you.

Just another thing to consider: If you want us to play freelancers more, and trust us we totally do (most are our friends), how much more are you willing to pay (as a consumer)? We've gotten comments on books that are $10 that the price is too high.

A lot of times we work at higher page counts (100+) and as the page count goes up we can't pay the same due to price drops that occur. Creighton is talking about seling a 9 page book for $2.45. Would you page $24.50 for a 90 page PDF? What do you think the sales figures would be? We use a price per page scale based on page count from other publishers to determine the market value of a book in a certain page range.

However, it's like Ssalarn said- we are writing for beer money (that is actually the exact phrase I use for my writers too). If people believe the stuff is worth more- we will charge more and pay more. Margins are super thin as it is.

Reviews make or break a book. Seriously. We have sales figures that show a review or two earns us X% more sales directly. We LOVE reviews, not just for the monetary rewards, but for the exposure it provides us. We write this stuff because we WANT you to use it. When I can go and tell a designer that "So I was looking on this review of the book and someone wants to know how a X level this class feature works because they are using it in their home game" I see their faces light up (or... text light up sometimes?) because they know someone used it. However, we can't pay our monthly Adobe Creative Cloud subscription fee with warm feelings.

A while back I talked with some other developers about getting a "3pp seal of approval" thing going where products with that seal (defined by reviewers and a committee) would be indicated as being of exceptional quality and fair for use in any game. The biggest issue that came up was "those who have it will sell like wildfire and those who don't will feel cheated".


Would I pay that for a 90 page pdf? No, Paizo pays some of the highest rates in the industry and their 96 page pdfs are 15.95. $24.95 is about what print cost, not pdf. While I would not expect anyone to afford Paizo's rates, paying a penny a page is another matter. Not fair using Paizo's prices? Frog God sells 192 page pdfs for the same 15.95 and they are a small 3PP.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

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brvheart wrote:
Would I pay that for a 90 page pdf? No, Paizo pays some of the highest rates in the industry and their 96 page pdfs are 15.95. $24.95 is about what print cost, not pdf. While I would not expect anyone to afford Paizo's rates, paying a penny a page is another matter. Not fair using Paizo's prices? Frog God sells 192 page pdfs for the same 15.95 and they are a small 3PP.

Paizo also has infrastructure in place that makes it much cheaper for them to create a book, and they've got a much broader market, so if they only make $1.50 profit per copy, they can still make 1000 times more than a 3pp can.

Frog God consists of a small group of guys who write a ton of their own stuff, and generally they use less art, do fewer color runs, etc. Their larger products are obviously more reflective of what it costs for a small 3pp to churn out quality pieces of work.

You kind of made the point that LRGG was getting at though; a lot of people on the consumer end are simply unwilling to pay what it would cost for 3pp to pay their writers more. These guys aren't hoarding wealth here man; every 3pp I know has at least one regular day job and worries about the months where they may have to dip into their earnings there to cover the cost of doing business here. Jeremy at Dreamscarred Press literally stayed up until past midnight for months packaging and shipping Kickstarter orders from Ultimate Psionics because there's no room in the budget for manual labor types, and they put out a book that's been a top 10 best seller every week since it released. Owen at Rogue Genius did the design and layout for a .pdf I wrote for him in the middle of the night before coming in and working a full day at Paizo.

These people eat a lot of costs simply because they love having the opportunity to introduce cool new stuff to the people who are part of the community they love, and they're often lucky just to make back what they put into a given project. At the end of the day, something has to give somewhere. Publishers have set licensing fees for programs necessary to publish a book, art is incredibly expensive and often difficult to get at a reasonable price unless you find some starving artist looking to make a name for themselves or use stock art, the retail sites take their percentage... The only place small publishers have where they can really control their costs is what they pay their writers.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4; Contributor; Publisher, Legendary Games

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In many cases, comparing 3PP prices to Paizo isn't fair because their unit cost of production is much lower because their print runs are much larger. Case in point, we looked into doing a product for Free RPG Day, and the cost to print 700 copies of a 16-page color adventure was around $1400. If we tripled the cost to $4200, we could get FIFTEEN THOUSAND copies. That's 21 times the amount of product for 3 times the price. We didn't end up doing either, but were just looking into what it would cost, comparatively speaking.

If you have the marketing reach and sales channel and distribution access of the industry leader, you can leverage that to sell larger runs of product, and more to the point have a much lower "floor" of what you will sell, because you have a certain subset of your population that will buy just about everything with your logo on it. 3PPs don't have that advantage; almost everything that we do is a little bit of a crapshoot. You can plan and market what you want to do and have a pretty good idea of how it will do, but you will often be surprised by what hits and what misses. Sometimes reviews make a big difference. Sometimes they make no difference at all.

Paizo didn't just luck into this situation. They built it carefully and skilfully, and they MADE themselves into the industry leader. That said, the smaller fish swimming around the Paizo pool have different marketing and visibility challenges and different economies of scale than Paizo does.

Paizo is also in a situation to offer loss leaders, like a 560-page PDF for $9.99 - the Core Rulebook. I actually had someone offer that as a counter to why our PDFs should be cheaper. There's no rational counter-argument to be made to that, because the argument itself is not rational. Even if you compare it to Paizo's other products, where a 32-page Player Companion is 8.99 and the hardback core rulebooks are 9.99, from 256-pagers to the CRB, you can see there's no internal logic to the argument, yet some people will fervently argue the point.

At the end of the day, you have to find the sweet spots for your sales and your marketplace. If you're going to run sales where you discount things, you need to decide how deeply, how often, and how long. If you decide you want to change the price on something, you do it. Set it low enough that people want to buy it but high enough that you can make money on it. We've sold PDFs as low as $1 (or .50 on sale) and as high as $35, and print books bring a whole new wave of crazy into the situation because of the hard costs involved and the lower margins you get paid. If you're just starting out, I'd advise avoiding print. Even print-on-demand can be a pain until you've gotten into the swing of it (and even after that sometimes).

You also have to find the contributors you want to work with and that want to work with you. Develop a great collegial and collaborative relationship where everyone is invested in a product's success, a situation where people WANT to work on things, and you'll find a happy place.


The reality of how my books are written and published is this: I'm not trying to tap into the 3pp market, I'm trying to create it. If you have ever purchased a PDF Pathfinder-compatible book, from any company, at any time, you are probably in the minority, as some of the top selling books sell in the low hundreds. Every month I'm thinking about ways to beat the existing numbers.

Selling one thousand copies of something would be a drop in the bucket, in terms of potential sales. But for me personally, that would make a large financial difference.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

In my case, I'd definitely pay more (and regularly do). I find it quite depressing how lowly we, as a community, value the creative work of RPG designers, developers, editors, publishers, layout-people..... As well as all those who take orders, bundle up books, sort out freight mishaps etcetera

I remember a review here or on some other site that began "For $1.99, I expected so much more..." followed by a 'helpful' list of similarly priced PDFs from other publishers with significantly higher pagecounts - it made me so cross I had to go for a walk before I posted something I'd regret. :p

The thought that the effort the publisher had put into producing these few pages of RPG material was somehow less valuable than the labor of a barista making his twentieth cup of coffee in the hour really rankled...

In my mind, there are very, very few people who can produce professional quality RPG books and very few copies are going to be sold. Both of those things suggest to me that an RPG book should be valued significantly higher than a similarly sized "mainstream" book. I think a more valid comparison price-wise is with a college level textbook. Unfortunately, that's not how things are. It's an economic fact of life that if someone tried to release an RPG book at what I would consider a "reasonable" price, they'd be loudly derided (and would probably go broke). I think a corollary to that is that small publishers are forced to offer work to freelancers at a miserable per/word rate.

I see crowdfunding as an imperfect solution - at least it allows those of us who want to pay more to pay stupid amounts for "collectible" books or other follies. Hopefully, the companies running such kickstarters are building in significnant margins on their leather-bound, signed-in-blood, deluxe edition books. Rarity is something you can sell that literally costs you nothing (other than discipline down the track when something goes out of print).

EDIT: Sorry, I didnt really internalise the request to post replies on your blog. I dont generally post anywhere else any more - however I think the number of people sharing my views is sufficiently small as to be not economically relevant anyhow.


My issue is reversed. I'm a prolific writer, absolutely love design, and tend to be able to make something that survives the very first round of playtesting. People say 2,000 words a day is a good benchmark. When I'm motivated with no wall of boring ahead of me, 5,000 is easy!

Then I open up the layout software and my productivity tanks because I'm not doing anything creative anymore and my mind starts to wander. It can take a week for me to do something that should honestly take eight hours once that blasted software is open, and that's what kills me.

What I need for Interjection Games is a layout guy, but the last time I got an unsolicited quote for that, it was $25 an hour, plus a surcharge for each page completed. And this was from a fellow who works in this industry.

Given my compound 10% growth from late 2013 to mid-2014 collapsed back down to "barely staying alive" when I started focusing on Strange Magic (to the point that a failed Kickstarter would have ended the company outright), I can't actually afford to pay somebody else to "stay alive comfortably" on my dime.

It's a bit unreasonable to expect that from me at this juncture, though the very idea of picking up a helper on the cash I have turns my stomach. I've got nothing to give, and it'd be highway robbery to try to pay what I can afford!

So I keep doing the parts of the job I hate.


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Steve Geddes wrote:
I remember a review here or on some other site that began "For $1.99, I expected so much more..." followed by a 'helpful' list of similarly priced PDFs from other publishers with significantly higher pagecounts - it made me so cross I had to go for a walk before I posted something I'd regret.

Clearly, we must write in 14-pt Courier New. :)

On a serious note, I'm the crazy guy TRYING to make this a primary source of income. Having given up everything else, it rather is, and it works, if you're willing to live like an ascetic monk. A single PDF copy a day of Strange Magic, which is about the rate at which the tinker sold, so I have precedent, will pay my bills for 2015. And I hope to have three more Kickstarter plates spun up and paid for by the end of the year.

Is it a ton of work? Yes. Will my model sustain itself? Assuming the Kickstarters hit minimum funding, absolutely. I can look at it in one of two ways. Either I'm banking on huge sales from the last Kickstarter's final output, or the profit from all of the Kickstarters this year, even at modest yields, will pay my bills, thus letting me put all the storefront, all of them, directly in the bank.

What I've learned is this - do everything you can do yourself by yourself so the pie isn't shared as much, and crowdfund as often as you can! Many of my competitors are groups of four or five people, and this is when Wizards of the Coast itself is just eight designers in a room.

I'd have a Kickstarter rolling right now, but Endzeitgeist kindly told me to slow the hell down and have output from the first Kickstarter ready to show off in order to get rid of the "new guy" stigma for my second Kickstarter. Sound advice, and the common sense I tend to be missing. Bless you, Thilo!


brvheart wrote:
Would I pay that for a 90 page pdf? No, Paizo pays some of the highest rates in the industry and their 96 page pdfs are 15.95. $24.95 is about what print cost, not pdf. While I would not expect anyone to afford Paizo's rates, paying a penny a page is another matter. Not fair using Paizo's prices? Frog God sells 192 page pdfs for the same 15.95 and they are a small 3PP.

For context- our 100-120 range is $9.99.


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Interjection Games wrote:
What I need for Interjection Games is a layout guy, but the last time I got an unsolicited quote for that, it was $25 an hour, plus a surcharge for each page completed. And this was from a fellow who works in this industry.

That's actually pretty cheap. The going rate for design these days is $60-$100 an hour. From a pro, anyway.


JGray wrote:
Interjection Games wrote:
What I need for Interjection Games is a layout guy, but the last time I got an unsolicited quote for that, it was $25 an hour, plus a surcharge for each page completed. And this was from a fellow who works in this industry.
That's actually pretty cheap. The going rate for design these days is $60-$100 an hour. From a pro, anyway.

Depends on the size of the surcharge. Dudeface never defined it.


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I've done a per page things when I've done my freelance layout stuff. I know it works best for other companies. I'm generally $1 per page on high page count (200-300) and more per page (depending on the range- 3-5 ) on lower page count things. That's for SUPER vanilla formatting. More complex things drive the price up (do you need custom page assets made? How much art do you have? Do you have a cover? How many tables are there? How much formatting on the text is required, etc).

Liberty's Edge

JGray wrote:
Interjection Games wrote:
What I need for Interjection Games is a layout guy, but the last time I got an unsolicited quote for that, it was $25 an hour, plus a surcharge for each page completed. And this was from a fellow who works in this industry.
That's actually pretty cheap. The going rate for design these days is $60-$100 an hour. From a pro, anyway.

Maybe at a large Advertising / Design firm in a major city. Not in the RPG industry ...


Marc Radle wrote:
JGray wrote:
Interjection Games wrote:
What I need for Interjection Games is a layout guy, but the last time I got an unsolicited quote for that, it was $25 an hour, plus a surcharge for each page completed. And this was from a fellow who works in this industry.
That's actually pretty cheap. The going rate for design these days is $60-$100 an hour. From a pro, anyway.
Maybe at a large Advertising / Design firm in a major city. Not in the RPG industry ...

Yeah, I was gonna say. That's a bit high.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I'm surprised a freelance layout/graphic design contract would be negotiated on an hourly rate. Is that common? I would have anticipated it would be on a $x/page arrangement (with a varying rate based on complexity, whether there are pre-existing templates, etcetera...)


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Steve Geddes wrote:
I'm surprised a freelance layout/graphic design contract would be negotiated on an hourly rate. Is that common? I would have anticipated it would be on a $x/page arrangement (with a varying rate based on complexity, whether there are pre-existing templates, etcetera...)

For RPGs it would be silly. At my fastest (10 -15 years ago) I could layout 30 to 40 pages in a hour. My freelance rate for layout is $35 to $50 an hour, but in the RPG industry it would be $1 to $2.50 a page.

Liberty's Edge

Steve Geddes wrote:
I'm surprised a freelance layout/graphic design contract would be negotiated on an hourly rate. Is that common? I would have anticipated it would be on a $x/page arrangement (with a varying rate based on complexity, whether there are pre-existing templates, etcetera...)

Absolutely. In the higher-end advertising / design world, per hour rates are common. In the RPG biz, a per page rate is the norm


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As a customer I sympathize with the people that work in the industry either in a part-time capacity or as full time creators. You are not paid enough. That being said however, for nearly 35 years now I have been collecting Tabletop RPG supplements both in print and now in PDF form. I regularly support kickstarters and every month I spend more than I should. Saving's what's that. But their is so many choices out there and I cannot get them all no matter how much I might try. If a book hits one of my special topics chances are good I will buy it at any reasonable price. I have wishlist's here and on drivethru that are quite long and yes price does sometimes factor in each month when I make my choices, I wish I was rich but I am not. The industry needs more customers but that is way more easily said than done. And I think that would just inspire more 3pp companies to start up thus increasing the problem of too many choices not enough cash for customers.


Layout rate details:
My going rate for B/W layout without tables is $1/page for books with 50 or more pages, which includes a copy of and ownership over the InDesign template and any assets I generated. Color, epub, and indexing options add to the rate depending on the complexity; I'd top out at about $8/page for 4-color throughout, a full index, and an epub version (and most of that is the index and epub).

At a minimum, $1/page works out to about $25/hour for me (after taxes and expenses, typically a net of $20/hour); the $8/page rate winds up being around $40/hour gross, which is higher per hour for slower output because indexing and epub output are each separate jobs, and working with color means I'm generating lots of complex assets, dealing with color consistency and ink coverage, and expecting at least one round of revisions before release just to address color issues.

I'm a crank-out-pages paginator, not a graphic designer, and an editor more than anything else. In bigger projects and my old full-time job, I'm usually the one who'd take the carefully crafted template someone else made and blast out 300 ready-to-print pages in an 8-hour day. I've been turned down at $1-1.50/page by 3PP (and in one case, before even disclosing a rate or quote) because they can crank out similar quality.

That's great, and if it's an option, you should take it! But I love doing layout, I can crank at least 20 pages an hour, and I'm willing to at least try to hit whatever standard you set. If you hate layout, I can take that load off you so you can focus on the content and business and stay on deadline, or at least refer you to someone capable of the look or quality you're aiming for.

But $1/page is an absolute floor; past that, I might as well work on my own projects.


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The "should publishers pay more" question is a weird one.

Publishers should pay what they need to pay to attract the talent they want to have.

If you want Monte Cook to freelance write your adventure, he probably won't accept 1 cent/word.


As for per word rates, I don't like doing it. Lump sums work best for me, both as the boss and as the minion.


As someone who occasionally edits and gives feedback on Interjection Games material, I'm constantly incredibly impressed on not only the amount of material he cranks out in the time he does but the quality on even a first draft. The man has a serious gift, but he works a lot to be able to live off it.


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I'm primarily a cartographer, so the points I'm offering is less applicable to the conversation, but still has some impact.

Consider that the work involved in creating any map is measured in hours (anywhere between 2 hours and 20 hours depending on what is being created, how much detail is required, etc.) I've created maps for strategy guide publishers for major video games, like Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (my most recent map commission). Because of the detail necessary for those maps and an unduly short turn-around time - I basically had to create a map a day for 14 days straight, and I was working something like 16 to 20 hours a day to get it done in time. Some of those maps paid me $750 per map. There's no way a tabletop RPG publisher, large or small, that could afford that (not even Paizo). The video game industry can pay that, because it is mainstream, and video game companies make a lot of money, comparitively.

RPG publishers tend to pay something like $30 to $100 per map, on average. I too am working for beer money, hardly minimum wage in the grand scheme of things. I do so love to create maps, and I do so love to support the tabletop RPG industry. So I as an illustrator have to decide what I am willing to be paid to serve the industry I want.

Another consideration is that many small 3PP publishers might only sell 50 copies of a given product in the initial month of sales for a recognized, quality product, maybe achieving 100 unit sales over the course of a year - this is primarily for smaller PDF products of low page count. At those sales levels, the cover price has to be fair to customers, and still be able to pay for writers, editors, page layout, artists, designers and cartographers, mostly as freelance.

Brvheart posted above that he considered Frog God Games a small 3PP, and honestly that is not true. They are a larger concern than most small 3PP. Consider that Rite Publishing and LPJ Publishing, for example are small 3PP, and only consist of a single person for the entire company - Steven Russell for Rite Pubishing, and Louis Porter Jr for LPJ. Everyone else working for them are freelancers. One man companies, by and large, are what most small RPG publishers consist of.

The Kaidan setting of Japanese horror (PFRPG) is my published homebrew, published as an imprint under Rite Publishing. In order to keep costs down, I do all the page-layout for Kaidan products, I do some of the design and some of the writing, though I mostly just do the cartography. I am also the developer of the setting, so I work closely with the freelancers involved. The freelancers involved with Kaidan are generally one writer/designer, an editor, and at least one illustrator per project. Steven Russell handles the legal aspects necessary for each product and handles the back-end of sales. While there is a defined cost to page-layout and cartography, since my work is going towards the support of my own setting, I deliberately work at a far lower rate than I would as a freelancer only, almost doing page-layout for nothing, just to help release a best quality product at the lowest price possible. If I had to hire freelancers to do what I do for my products, I'd either have to significantly raise the cover price, or not release as much - perhaps I couldn't effectively do it at all. This is how small the margin is.

The tabletop RPG industry is very niche, and freelancers working for 3PP publishers have to realize this and understand that the pay will not be commensurate with mainstream publishers budgets. What you can be paid for by a small mainstream publisher is not comparable to the average small RPG publisher. Its "apples and oranges" or rather "pennies and dollars" - two very different economies at work.


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gamer-printer wrote:
Brvheart posted above that he considered Frog God Games a small 3PP, and honestly that is not true. They are a larger concern than most small 3PP. Consider that Rite Publishing and LPJ Publishing, for example are small 3PP, and only consist of a single person for the entire company - Steven Russell for Rite Pubishing, and Louis Porter Jr for LPJ. Everyone else working for them are freelancers. One man companies, by and large, are what most small RPG publishers consist of.

I would love to get to the size of Dreamscarred Press. They are a TWO men company.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Interjection Games wrote:
As for per word rates, I don't like doing it. Lump sums work best for me, both as the boss and as the minion.

I dont understand. Would you mind elaborating - what's the functional difference?

It seems to me that "I'll pay you $x for a twenty thousand word adventure" is the same as "I'll pay you $x/20000 per word for a twenty thousand word adventure".

Is it that the projects you're involved in are not so tightly defined at the outset, wrt word count?

EDIT: I guess it's surprising to me because I'm thinking printed material (where I'd expect the size of a project or section to be pretty clearly defined early on). I suppose it's less surprising that it may be flexible by a few pages if the product in question is PDF only.


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gamer-printer wrote:
I'm primarily a cartographer, so the points I'm offering is less applicable to the conversation, but still has some impact...

Your post felt very informative. Even if you are primarily a cartographer, you have a inside look at this industry that people like me don't have. That is valuable.

Also, Kaidan was something I want to run (or play in. not picky). I have heard way too much good stuff about those modules, and I really do love the mythology you've put into it. They've been sitting on my cart for a while. I just can't justify buying it when I can't run anything til a year from now.


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Weighing in as a consumer.

I can see that an increase in freelance rates would increase pdf and book prices. How do I honestly think this will affect my purchases?

Big Purchases of the Ultimate Psionics or Freeport Hardcovers:If they even got 10$ more expensive I wouldn't care. They are luxury items and I only buy them when I intend to buy something big and expensive.

Low page documents containing a class and maybe supporting materials:
Currently I see these for as low as 4ish bucks (Mystic from Amora). Supposing they went up to 7-10 range I'd be a bit more concious of reviews. I would still buy them, but a purchase like the Time Thief would be a regret at 7$ while the Mystic would have made me happy even at 10$.

Setting books like Obsidian Apoc:
Depends on quality of content. I want good organization, well written fluff, and what I need to run a game in that world. If they can do this and create a setting I want to play/run then I will try to buy it even if cost went up 25-30%.

Crunch PDFs with 5 or more classes like Book of Collective Influence or Spheres:
Similar to low page count books. An increase in price would just make me more cautious. Would I have been happy with Spheres, Liberus Influxus, and Ult Psionics PDF even at a higher price point? Hell yeah. Some other books not so much.

There are a lot of things I buy because it's just 5 dollars and a novel idea, but if prices went up that would kill those purchases. I'm far from opposed to spending more on 3PP material, but if I were it would be a lot more controlled and premeditated.

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