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

On 2012-03-10, Leftahead wrote:

An industry point and a question!

The other reason a lot of hobby game publishers pay out on an extended billing cycle is at they like to play their creators after the big hobby distributors pay THEM. It's a big game of cash flow management. I get wholesale terms from Alliance of NET 30 and order a new game. Alliance pays out to the publisher at NET 45 or 60 or whatever, and the publishers us out to the freelancers on a 90 day cycle. if it works like it's supposed to, everyone has money in the bank from those sales before they need to pay their creditors. When you're publishing on a mass scale, and not on an artisan scale, you need that spread of capital and mitigation of risk. Distrobutors are valuable less because they provide fulfillment, but because they provide credit to retailers who generate the cash flow across the market required to keep mass publishing enterprises afloat.

On the question of 'profit', there's a big difference between having a day job and being a game publisher and being a full-time creator and being a game publisher. if a creator is working on a self-published game instead of doing freelance work, he needs to count those hours in his costs; the time he's budgeted for the project needs to be assigned a value and cred against revenue. that includes time and money he spends at Cons promoting the game, etc. If all you're counting is art, materials, an d the actual cost of printing, it's wicked easy to show a 'profit', but the question of the relative value of that profit compared to something else that you could havre been working on is what Chad is talking about. If I spend 200 hours on my self-published game and it makes me $400 after print costs and art but Vincent spent 50 hours on his and 'only' made $250, did I really make 'more profit'?

I am just really curious how you guys account for sunk time, or even if you count it at all. I suspect it's a major factor for folks who are trying to make a reasonable chunk of their living from the industry, much less so from people who treat it as a supplement to an outside, regular income stream. It's certainly an issue when I do mentoring/counseling for other retailers, who will talk about their stores being 'profitable', but they don't pay themselves for working in it... I am totally not disputing the characterization, just seeking a clarification of terms and expectations!

Just wanted to say how interesting this followup stuff has been! I care so little for internescene conflict that I have banned Edition Wars arguments from my store, so I'm thrilled that a productive discussion has emerged from that troubling start.

I'm really curious if the patronage/publishing model might be a good way for stores with some money in the bank to sponsor creators they believe in and be a new way to add value to the industry, but that's probably a separate discussion...

-Jim C.


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