thread: 2012-03-13 : Indie POV pt 2: Does It Pay?

On 2012-03-14, Simon R wrote:

@Graham "wrong, wrong, wrong" for you, or for everyone? This is a matter of fact not opinion, so data is what we need. Which COPs you know make a full time living from RPG writing and design, or an equivalent hourly rate?

My view on the quality of work-for-hire writers paid 6c a word vs non-work-for-hire writers is that the method by which the work is produced does not determine the quality. There are plenty of appalling painstakingly created COP games, and many terrible, turgid work-for-hire word-rate tomes. Likewise, the GUMSHOE system was created as a work for hire project, as was the marginalia in your Stealing Cthulhu. Is that turgid? Was it worth the money?

Finally, I think a word rate doesn't make sense for most potential COP designers in any case because of the vast amount of time it take per word - they tend to be compact games.

Anyway, to answer my own question:

"If you want to make a living from RPG writing and designer but don't want to publish yourself because of all the dull commerce involved, what's the best option?"

It seems to me that a license arrangement is the only way to go to fill these criteria. This does entail taking a risk, though - it depends on your sales. You may well be able to negotiate a minimum and an advance, though. I'm reasonably sure if Vincent approached say Peter Adkison and suggested an idea, he'd get such an advance. Not that he would.

@Jason N Very few people create RPGs full time, partly because it's not very lucrative, partly because it's such hard work, and partly because they very soon move on to other jobs for which RPG design is a springboard. The best paid are those who work for WotC. They are called RPG Designers, and their salary ranges from $45K to $70K as of when Rob Heinsoo worked for them. Where they are designing modules, they are expected to produce 32K words a month. I would not do their job, though they love it.

I solicited and am collating data from freelancers who earn 5c or more per word and publishers who pay that much.

Is anyone willing to solicit COPs, or should I do that, too?


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