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Author Topic: Module Design/writing Compensation Rates  (Read 1220 times)

Anthony Pacheco

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« on: May 27, 2019, 11:11:19 PM »
Soooooo...

We want to expand our output for 5E modules in the 10,000(ish) word range (18 to 24 pages). We publish hard fantasy, gritty type modules.

What is everyone's preference for compensation for freelance module writing? It's in our campaign world, of course:

A) In the book world, there is the advance, and then royalties for the book. When the book (aka module) earns out its advance, the author receives royalties for every copy sold.

or

B) Pay by the word.

I read somewhere freelancers prefer (A). Moreover, I thought it was this forum, but I think I might have been on allergy meds, Black Raven Brewery beer, or both because I can't find the original thread about it and my search foo is weak.

Thoughts from current freelancers?

Thanks,
Anthony
Our modular adventure brand: Tales of Lothmar

Shop hard fantasy for 5E and Pathfindfer: Griffon Lore Games

Spinachcat

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« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2019, 01:52:04 AM »
Advance + royalties requires transparency into the company's finances. AKA, the author needs to see the proof of sales or things can go higgly piggly and everyone gets pissed at each other on social media.

By the word is nice and clean. The author gets a set rate whether or not the book sells and the publisher gets to do whatever they like with the work forevermore. Of course, the publisher has to keep an eye on bloat.

Also, please define "hard fantasy"

Anthony Pacheco

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« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2019, 01:39:35 PM »
Thanks!

Hard fantasy has a rational, plausible system of rules for the setting, which includes the definition and use of magic. The system used does not bend for a narrative, "hand-waveum" convenience. That doesn't mean that hard magic has a scientific explanation and current logical principles; rather it has an internal consistency.

Hard fantasy doesn't necessarily mean low fantasy and not just about magic, but does take into account magical principals on everyday society. Since we're on the RPG site and not the special snowflake site, let's use gender relationship dynamics as an example--if we say in a setting where divine, elemental magic has an equal chance to appear in either a male or female, that impacts how a feudal-like society treats women. You have more than physical strength to bring to the table in many prominent roles, such as serving the common folk and waging war.

However, what if humans evolved from their current state and then someone like the asshole elves (but I repeat myself) introduced them to magic? Well, that's tension and somewhere in history, societal upheaval.

What do the gods feel about birth control? If there are real gods that derive power from mortals worshiping them, and in a hard fantasy setting, power at risk for not having enough of it, what's the role of a pregnant woman with sorcerous power? What is she allowed to do, and who enforces the rules?

The list goes on-and-on. How long would it take society with access to divination magic to stop throwing poop in the streets, and people should wash your hands before dinner? If there is a druid with minor healing magic in every village, what does that do to infant mortality? Would death from childbirth complications even be a thing?

I love hard fantasy. We might not get it right all the time, but you can see the principals at work in our premier mega-module, and the players love it. Hard fantasy takes things like "finding the secrets of the abandoned temple" and puts a fresh spin.

Thus endeth my screed on hard fantasy, heh.
Our modular adventure brand: Tales of Lothmar

Shop hard fantasy for 5E and Pathfindfer: Griffon Lore Games

Spinachcat

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« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2019, 10:10:39 PM »
Very interesting! Thank you for the definition!

Winterblight

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« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2019, 05:10:52 PM »
Quote from: Anthony Pacheco;1089663
Soooooo...

We want to expand our output for 5E modules in the 10,000(ish) word range (18 to 24 pages). We publish hard fantasy, gritty type modules.

What is everyone's preference for compensation for freelance module writing? It's in our campaign world, of course:

A) In the book world, there is the advance, and then royalties for the book. When the book (aka module) earns out its advance, the author receives royalties for every copy sold.

or

B) Pay by the word.

I read somewhere freelancers prefer (A). Moreover, I thought it was this forum, but I think I might have been on allergy meds, Black Raven Brewery beer, or both because I can't find the original thread about it and my search foo is weak.

Thoughts from current freelancers?

Thanks,
Anthony


As a freelancer I prefer the royalties option. If you are publishing on the likes of DriveThru/RPGnow you just need to set it up, it takes care of itself. If you are getting into printing runs for physical copies, it can be a bit more time consuming for the publisher and a fair level of trust is required. If I'm earing royalties, then I'm going to talk about the product, answer questions when I see them come up, its going to be in my signature, I will be happy to answer interview questions etc. I've written a few source books and adventures for various companies, but you won't find them in my signature as I'm not earning royalties on them.

Royalties over time also ensures the freelancer stands a chance of getting a decent return on their work.

Tinman

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« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2019, 03:49:46 PM »
I guess I will be the odd man here.  Personally, as a freelance writer, I prefer pay by the word.  I typically ask for a 1/4 of the value up front and the difference paid upon completion of the material.  I have a writer's contract that stipulates all of this.

Currently, I am working on an Monster Manual for a minis company with another Campaign book down the road.  It works well for both sides.  

-Tim
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Panjumanju

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« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2019, 12:19:33 AM »
I'm a freelancer who just finished a Bestiary for a company and I'm about to finish an Adventure Module. So-far I've been paid by the word, upon completion. This is only feasible because the publisher is offering fair market-rates. (If he were paying less I'd be losing money writing 150 page modules.)

Now that I've developed a good relationship with the publisher, however, we're moving to a royalties system for the next three books. That increases my own personal investment in the product, and makes me feel the publisher is investing in me, and wants to have an ongoing relationship. That's a nice feeling.

But, if someone's new or casual, I'd suggest by-the-word.

//Panjumanju
« Last Edit: July 05, 2019, 10:34:41 PM by Panjumanju »
"What strength!! But don't forget there are many guys like you all over the world."
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Homebrew RPGs based on 80s toy properties I take too seriously:
Masters of the Universe RPG: https://app.box.com/s/bb9fjiuqb27s0vzqti53
The Transformers RPG: https://app.box.com/s/vaq6x35typiz9pltmxk6

Anthony Pacheco

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« Reply #7 on: July 05, 2019, 03:58:38 PM »
Thanks for the replies. So--it's all over the place. Heh.
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Panjumanju

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« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2019, 10:50:09 PM »
Quote from: Anthony Pacheco;1094686
Thanks for the replies. So--it's all over the place. Heh.

Yeah, everything is all over the place, but that's not just this industry. That's paid writing.

I was a publisher for trade magazines for a few years. Ultimately paid writing is paid writing regardless of the industry. Just take your editorial budget, decide what you can afford, figure out fair-market rate for what you want (and if you need to scale back what you want), and give someone a by-word or upon-completion rate until you find someone you really trust and will help you build the business long-term. That's roughly the way it has worked for the last 150 years of paid writing.

//Panjumanju
« Last Edit: July 05, 2019, 10:52:31 PM by Panjumanju »
"What strength!! But don't forget there are many guys like you all over the world."
--
Homebrew RPGs based on 80s toy properties I take too seriously:
Masters of the Universe RPG: https://app.box.com/s/bb9fjiuqb27s0vzqti53
The Transformers RPG: https://app.box.com/s/vaq6x35typiz9pltmxk6

Winterblight

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« Reply #9 on: July 06, 2019, 07:30:48 AM »
Yeah, I wouldn't expect royalties the first time I worked on a project, but once I built up a relationship, royalties make more sense. I think both the publisher and the freelancer can benefit from this. Building a relationship is the difficult part. My experience is that both freelancers and publishers seem to pull disappearing acts way too often. Several publishers I've been working for have just vanished overnight, and several jobs I've got are from publishers that have lost their freelancers and need something written asap.

Chainsaw

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« Reply #10 on: July 12, 2019, 09:43:41 AM »
Pay a nickel a word with no royalties. It's an attractive rate and also won't obligate you to share your finances with the freelancers (messy, potentially awkward, high maintenance), which would be susceptible to all kinds of problems down the road.