Publishing Advice - Other People's Stuff

Posted by: Gary Bowerbank On: Jan 23rd 2010


Is there much (any) value in writing things for other people? Given the prevalence and strength of independent publishing, is it worth contributing to others writing requests, getting odds and ends published - or should one concentrate on producing their own material for their own benefit?

For example, people like Triple Ace Games have called out for writers before now and would no doubt reward mostly for efforts - but could (should) one not look into self publishing Savage licenced material, if they have their own strong ideas?

An established publisher will no doubt have their own writing guides, ways of doing things and other guidance. But being your own boss means you're free to make your own mistakes.

What sort of effort do current small press pubishers put into getting someone else to read / preoff read / edit their wares? What's the minimum acceptable level?

Will having a licence like the Savage logo sell more games regardless of the writer's credentials? RPG writers are hardly the Rock Stars of the written word.

Food for thought


Posted by: Matt On: Feb 17th 2010

Crap, found this in my scratch file and realised I hadn't posted it. Sorry for the delay.

Writing for others? If the game in question is one you love, there's certainly no dis-advantage in doing work for other people. It'll teach you how to meet deadlines and accept an editors pen, help you polish your structuring skills and prose. I'd hope it pays too, of course... That's where you'll often lose out, somebody else foots the bill, so you get less of the return. And yes, you'll have to work within somebody else's constraints. That's not always a bad thing though.

Licensing, again, if you really love the game in question and can write good material, no reason not to. A lot of self-publishers dipped their toes in with D20 and Savage World or OGL material. Andy might have more to say, since he did some D20 work early on? If you're mainly interested in fictional content, rather than rules dynamics, it's maybe a better place to start even. Sometimes a really cool idea isn't in need of a new rules system.

Sales, I don't have any definite figures, but the D20 glut proved that publishing for the world's most popular system didn't mean you'd get any money. Like anything it's quality, word of mouth and standing out that matter. There's also the known fact that supplements sell often an order of magnitude lower than games.

Editing wise... It varies. I generally have a couple of readers who review everything and are told to critique the hell out of it, at least on major edit, then a proofreading pass.


Posted by: Tim Gray On: Feb 22nd 2010

Hi Gaz.

The answer to your first bit depends on what you want out of it. If you have your own brainchild you want to see published, do that. If you're looking to build a bit of name recognition, getting small bits in different places might serve better. If you're looking to make money - a little bit at least - do something that'll find a ready audience and perhaps have a long sales life.

The technical barriers to publishing are low, so in theory as long as you have some bits of common software you'll be able to do it. That's not the same as producing something to a good standard. And there are certainly people in the RPG marketplace who don't put enough effort into that.

This relates to your question about the level of editing/proofing required. The only correct answer is that it's whatever is needed to take what you produce and get it to the quality you want to have. That means having a good awareness of where your skills lie. There are certainly small publishers who have great ideas and can crank out entertaining stuff at a rate of knots, but aren't so good at spelling, grammar, etc. If they're good they realise this and get people on board to help with those aspects.

Savage Worlds material will instantly draw the attention of a fan community that's hungry for new fuel for its favourite system. From a commercial point of view it's one of the more attractive propositions in PDF publishing. Of course the onus is on you to offer content that those fans will find useful; that adds to what they already have. And to package it up nicely.

I think you're right about name recognition. There are a few people who are sufficiently well known to sell games on that. Even a small publisher who puts out a few products is likely to gain a small fan community who are very likely to buy further work. But in general people are much more interested in the product itself than who made it.

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