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Rebuttal from a PDF publisher


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Post originally by Allan S at 2005-07-13 08:21:56
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Lloyd Brown wrote:
<<On a side note. . .War Dogs is closed? Nuts. >>

<NO! I said "sold", not "closed"! The buyer is doing just fine, in fact. I should hope so, after I spent 2 years working with him. >

Heh - you know as well as I do - that the store is 90% about the man behind the counter and 10% about the inventory. :)

But that it's still got it's doors open is great to hear actually. Everytime a game store closes it's doors the community gets smaller.

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RE: Who pays 5 cents a word?

Post originally by Ash at 2005-08-10 09:25:30
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"Ash, that is without a doubt a lot of bull. It is not at all common for a PDF publisher to say "hey, I'm holding this contest where the winner gets to write the PDF!" "

You're reading too much into my message. I didn't say this kind of activity was common, but I've seen it happen several times, and yes it annoys the hell out of me. I stand by my original statement.


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RE: Thanks for interest

Post originally by Rawhide at 2005-08-11 17:42:02
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Okay folks let's look at what's realistic and what's fair.

A pdf publisher comes along and tells people "I'm looking for writers for some 5,000 word projects. I pay 1 cent a word. I can't afford more than that"

Now are writers forced to take that job? Nope. Do they know up front what they're getting in to? Yep. So where's the exploitation? Nowhere. The writers are free to seek other markets are getting what was promised and most likely aren't depended on one 5,000 word job to survive anyway. This isn't like sweat shops where illegal workers dare not call the legal authorities are often threatened and have few other economic options. There is real injustice in the world. Let's not belittle it by bemoaning a fair trade between author and publisher where everything is clearly agreed upon in advance.

Now is it possible for publishers to screw over authors and exploit them? Sure. If a pdf publisher offers a royalty of 25 cents per copy sold, and lies about how many are sold, that's exploitation. If the publisher leads the author to believe most of his pdfs sell 500 copies and in truth most sell 100 that's unethical. If a print publisher decides not to pay money owed to a writer so he can channel money into other projects -FOR ANY REASON- that's immoral and wrong.

(Yeah, sometimes the publisher claims they have to make more books so they can pay their debt. That's bull. If the writers -agree- to that I'm fine with it, but otherwise the publisher is forcing the writer to gamble on the success of future books. The -right- thing to do is declare bankruptcy and sell off assets to pay what debts you can.)

Now, I'm aware of all these things, but actually the pdf companies seem to have a better track record than print. (While I personally know of lots of current print publishers who owe authors money from contracts over a year old, the only pdf companies to have used the dishonest tactics I describe are no longer producing new works.)

Now if some people want to suggest no one should work for the really cheap amount someone offers more power to them. And a lot of people won't work for that little because they don't have to. There are authors who are regularly working for Wizards, Green Ronin and SJG, and are doing just fine. Some of them even seem to make their own pdfs which is one way to get around being decried for not paying enough.

No work situation is universally bad for everyone. I know a lot of pdf authors are essentially using their notes from home campaigns as the core of their pdf texts. That means they already did most of the work just for the fun of it. If 1 cent a word for the whole text means getting 10 cents for the few extra words they need to write that's a good deal.

And the deadlines and content requirements for pdf publishers is often much more flexible than print publishers. If you write a book for Wizards -they- tell -you- what the subject is and how many words it has to be. The days of taking an idea to a game company and getting them to publish it are mostly gone (though there are exceptions to every rule). But I know more than one pdf author who has simply pitched an idea to a pdf publisher and gotten it produced. For some writers that's much easier and thus they're willing to do it for much less money.

But any honest deal is going to look fair to someone. Don't give people a hard time because they'll do what you won't. If Thele wants to lose money, make money by offering insanely low rates, or break even because publishing pdfs if fun, more power to him. And if anyone thinks Philip Reed doesn't know how to make money they just aren't paying attention.

I believe the pdf market will save gaming. I've already heard the arguments about living wage when it comes to print books a thousand times. Let's not rehash it all again for a new market. Some people will get rich. Some will make ends meet. Some will do it as a hobby. Some will lose their shirt. As long as everyone is honest and up-front, that's fine. If more money becomes available, some companies will start paying more to attract better talent. Others won't. And that's as it should be.

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