thread: 2012-03-06 : Chad Underkoffler: Freelancing for RPGs

On 2012-03-07, David Berg wrote:

Here's one data point that may or may not be relevant here.  I offer it primarily for the sake of discussion about understanding and recognizing employers' positions.

My friend Mike is an awesome illustrator.  He did a bunch of illustrations for the New York Press newspaper.  Mike was having a hard time finding clients, so he kept doing work for NYPress even after they were late paying him for his first few contracted works.

I think they had paid him for 2 illustrations by the time he'd finished his 7th or 8th.  The people he spoke with about the matter were very apologetic but also didn't offer any great certainties.  No dates, no insights into the process, just, "So sorry, don't worry, we're working on it!"

As it turns out, NYPress wasn't selling well, and their organization was a disaster.  Payroll and editorial were both messes, and the interaction between them was a mess too.  I know this firsthand; I met these people when I did an illustration for them (for fun; I knew I wouldn't get paid).  My impression was that the lack of organization and the lack of sales were related.  It was simply not a well-run company.

Apparently, the owner agreed, and he fired everyone.  I mean everyone; every department.  It was almost like going out of business and then starting again.

No records were retained of the money they owed my friend Mike.  After trying a few times to get paid for the final 75% of the work he'd done, he gave up.  He couldn't afford a lawyer and wasn't motivated to look into collection agencies.

This is what flashed through my mind when I heard that Luke Crane lost a substantial number of Burning Wheel books when the distributor he used (Diamond?) went out of business.  Last I heard (a few years ago), no one had made any effort to send the unsold books back to Luke.

Whenever I start building a website for a new client, I think about how stable their business is and how likely it is that they will be able to pay me.  I don't have a formula for putting these thoughts into action, though.  I work on hourly rates whenever possible, which gets me all sorts of useful financial feedback; but I assume that's not a standard option for RPG works for hire.


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