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Numbers that lie

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Post originally by M Jason Parent at 2005-08-04 17:59:57
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At this time, we have products that have sold over 1,000 copies in PDF.

We have authors who have been paid, on royalties exclusively, over $900

But I agree, don't bother writing for us. We have enough writers as it stands.
 
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Post originally by Ash at 2005-08-10 08:54:41
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You'd have to admit though, these figures are pretty darn rare for a pdf enterprise.

Ash
 
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Post originally by Philip Reed at 2005-08-10 14:44:16
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I have PDFs that have earned me as much as $2,000, $5,000, and $6,000. PDFs can be profitable.

I average about $0.04/word on most projects and some climb much higher. Few go below that rate.
 
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Post originally by Narf at 2005-08-10 15:02:58
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About how much were those in words and sales?
 
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Post originally by Lloyd Brown at 2005-08-10 18:28:05
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I take it that's $6,000 gross? That seems to fit with the popular $5 & change price point at your 1,000+ copies. Where are those available?
 
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Post originally by Monica Valentinelli at 2005-08-11 18:23:46
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Is it true that, when you're just starting out, a writer can't afford to turn down an offer for royalties provided the company is well-established? Surely, if Phil Reed offered me a job, based off of royalties, I'd be more apt to accept that than a game publisher who's never pubbed before. And, on the business side of things, offering royalties is a pretty good way to ensure even cash flow--so I can definitely understand why industry folk would want to go that route.

Where does a new freelancer, such as myself, draw the line for decision-making? How do you negotiate payment without coming across as arrogant and/or greedy?
 
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Post originally by Lloyd Brown at 2005-08-12 16:23:03
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Okay, first things first. You can *afford* to turn down anything you don't want to do. Whether it's because you don't like the topic or because of the rate, or because you don't want to write for a particular setting, or whatever, you can choose to turn it down.

But, since you seem to be talking about being offered a project by a publisher instead of fielding an open call or sending a query, that's a different story. In that case, you have a pretty strong position. Publishers simply have to announce that they're accepting proposals and they get dozens, if not hundreds, of responses. Someone seeking you out in particular is making a clear statement about his opinion of your work.

[And let's get this out of the way, too: I absolutely understand the publisher's desire to pay royalties. Deferring any cash outlay until later is certainly a good way to reverse the normal heavily front-ended cash-flow that a publisher experiences. They pay for *everything* before they get any money, and then have to deal with returns if they sell through the book trade. Ugh.]

If a publisher approaches you and makes an offer, do the math first. There's a discussion on the About the Industry thread here on RPGNet about this topic, so I won't repeat all the numbers (the url for the thread is http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?t=210868). Make your comparison to a word rate as a basis for your decision. Here's where my retailer experience comes in very handy. I can often guess fairly accurately how many copies of a book a publisher might intend to print, which helps with the calculations.

If you choose not to take royalties, that's your choice. You can simply tell a publisher that you're not able to take that kind of risk at this point in your career. Ask about an advance. In the book trade, the advance is the royalties from the entire first print run, minus a percentage held as a reserve against returns. If the publisher is confident that the book will sell, he should have no problem with an advance. Or offer to defer the payment until publication instead. You might let him pay in installments, such as 1/4 on delivery, 1/4 at printing, 1/4 on release and the last quarter 30 days after release.

One thing that helps in any negotiations is to offer to remind the other party that you're bound by any non-disclosure agreements they have you sign in a contract and that you honor that NDA. You won't tell anybody what you've negotiated. That makes them less leery about deviating from their standard offer and more willing to negotiate (I shaved about $20,000 off a commercial lease at my game store with that one).

The best tone to adopt to avoid the "arrogant and greedy" accusation is to remain professional and polite. "I love your products, and I'm looking forward to working with [editor's name], but I can't do this adventure for less than $2,000 over deferred payments. If you want to pay on delivery, I can take $200 of it in product. Having that backlist product available will keep me from contradicting existing canon, and it'll cost you much less."
 
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Post originally by Lloyd Brown at 2005-08-12 16:54:18
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Telling us how much they've been paid without telling us how much work they did is meaningless. What was the total word count on that $900 and how long did it take them to earn it?
 
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