Friday, April 17, 2009

Pay writers and artists what the RPG market will bear...

A few days ago I wrote this, and yesterday I go this response from a well known writer who has done work for the top companies in this industry. Read it here:

I saw on your website that you pay up to .02/word, and I know that advertised rates and negotiable rates are often different. I was hoping for a bit more. A recognized name can bring with it some sales, and that’s always the wager: Do the extra sales make up for the difference in pay rate? The XXX sold its first 10,000 copies in six days and went to reprint twice. A lot of people read or have read Dragon or Pyramid. My name’s not Greenwood or Cook, but some people do look for it. You, of course, know best what works for you. In any case, I enjoyed selling Haven: City of Violence when I was a retailer, and I’ve wanted to work with you for years. If you find yourself producing something along these lines for print and have the budget for it, please drop me a line. Until then, best of luck.

This kind of letter comes off to me as a "You need me" letter. He told me why he was qualified (and his is), he told me about his previous sales (which are true), he even tried to butter me up at the email (proving he is a good writer). Here was my response to it:

Our maximum rate for this project is .02/word. Since PDFs sale are very different from actual book sale, the most we will sell PDF wise is 100 copies so we have to keep that in context since we are primarily a PDF based company. The only people who seem to break this rule is Monte and Wolfgang where they will sell in the 300 - 400 copy range. Name recognition doesn't really have that same effect on PDFs. Sorry.

See, he made the fatal mistake. He assumed his bookshelf sale would translate into PDF sale and usually, they don't. Why? PDFs are a nich inside of a niche. They don't sell much so you have to keep cost down to make sure you make a profit. This is the thing, if writers and arttists were craftier they will take a lower rate and ask for a percentage of the sales. See when you ask for a percentage over a flat rate you are saying to me, that my name is such a draw and people will be interested in it it will be a better deal for us both.

Most publishers would not turn that down due to the high win / win factor; if the PDF does well the publisher gets more money and the writer gets more money. If the product tanks well the publisher will suffer lower losses and the writer doesn't get the reputation of "being overpaid" for what they got. The person should get paid what the market will bear and in this setting the market will bear a maximun of $.02/word. Think this sounds rough to artists and writers, try being the publisher. Talk to you later...