Paying for League of Extraordinary Misfits

With a League of Extraordinary Misfits completed, I have to decide what I want to do with it. Do I want to release as something parred down – bare and functional? Do I want to include art? Maps? What are the costs?

Let’s look at the size. The rules themselves right now are 2,335 words. That’s a very basic “only what you need” rather than having examples and multiple explanations. Let’s say around 3,000 words once it is put into good order. That’s likely about 10 pages.

There’s no book there. Maybe a cheap PDF.

However, I don’t think League of Extraordinary Misfits works well without the campaign. This is the search for the Pithos – Pandora’s Box. The campaign reveals the fictional facts behind the myth, and hits six geographic regions in 1937 and a couple of mythical/fictional places. That might be another 40 pages there.

I still don’t have a book.

A GMing section? Sure, I could certainly do that, but I don’t think I would do much more than just repeat the GMing section from Nefertiti Overdrive. There’s not that much more to say, and unlike Nefertiti Overdrive, there isn’t the conceit of highly descriptive, cinematic action. Having said that (wrote that), there is something to be said for a discourse on taking myth and making it your own. It may have been done to death, but someone interested in action archaeology would likely be interested in some advice on making mythology their own. Can I pump out 20 pages on that (6,000 words)? I think it’s possible.

That puts me at 60 pages. Now, before considering budget, let’s make this my dream product. I want at least one 1/4-page illustration every 5 pages. That’s 12 1/4-page illustrations, which also makes the book 63 pages. I would love 1/2-page illustrations every 10 pages. That’s 6 1/2-page illustrations and another 3 pages, for 66 pages. And let’s say two full page illustrations for 68 pages.

Thin, but it’s a book.

Still not done. There would need to be eight maps, one for each of the adventure locations. Those would likely need to be full page maps (in my dream product). I would likely need at least six or seven other maps, probably half-page, for the adventure. So let’s say 11 more pages there.

So 79 or 80 pages. The printed Sword Noir is 82 pages, so this is doable as a print book.

Okay, here’s the splash of cold water: reality.

I’ve seen quotes from $15 to $50 USD for 1/4-page illustrations. That’s for line illustrations without background or with limited backgrounds.

For a 1/2-page, I’d expect between $45 and $80. These are going to be line art still (that’s really the only thing in my price range), but more complex, likely action scenes.

For a full page, I would expect a cost between $75 and $175. Like the 1/2 page, these are going to be scenes, complex illustrations even if they are only line art.

For maps, it really depends on what I want, but for a basic map, I’d expect to pay about the same as an illustration, although if I were looking for greater levels of detail, it could increase that price by up to double. Let’s say my maps are going to be the same cost as my illustrations. These are either going to be adventure locations (so basically illustrations rather than cartography) or very basic maps used for reference rather than accuracy something like this map of Manchuria during the Japanese occupation, but with less details and accuracy.

So let’s look at my art budget. I’m going with the highest of my expectations, because this is about that cold dose of reality.

12 x 1/4 page at $50 per illo = 600
6 x 1/2 page at $80 per illo = 480
2 x full page at $175 = $350
7 x 1/4 page maps at $50 = $350
8 x full page maps at $175 = $1400

This gives me an art budget of $3,180.

The entire budget for Nefertiti Overdrive was $3,000 CAD and that included printing and shipping. Centurion was $3,500.

And while that art is being done, I’d need to have the book edited. That is easily going to run me between 1 to 3 cents per word, or more if I want a more comprehensive job. Let’s go with 3 cents per word, so at an estimate of 33,000 words all told, that’s $990. Let’s got with $1,000.

Let’s talk layout and graphic design. Rob Wakefield does all my layout and design work, and he does an awesome job. He throws in a cover gratis because he’s an awesome dude. In my estimation, I don’t pay him nearly enough for his work. For this job, I would want to pay him no less than $1,500 (which is still relying a little too much on his friendship and enthusiasm).

Then there is printing and shipping. Let’s say a print run of 250 and shipping for that. I’d estimate about $2,000, depending on how postage rates hold out. It will probably be lower, but this is a cost that will definitely rise.

So, if I wanted to do League of Extraordinary Misfits as a book, the budget would be $7,680.

That’s not going to happen.

That does not include my pay as a writer. Since everyone else is getting market rate, I should be paying myself 5 cents per word (that’d be $1,650) though I’d settle for 3 cents ($990). I won’t be paying myself, though. I’ll get whatever profit comes from selling the book.

Let’s say I cut down on the illustrations and go with the lowest bidder (which means the art is going to suffer – Nefertiti Overdrive was pretty much sold on Kieron O’Gorman’s illustrations), I can cut my art budget in half to $1,500. Go with a less experienced editor, and I’m looking at $330 for a straight line edit – looking for spelling and grammatical errors, possibly some comments on comprehension. Could I get layout done for $750? Yeah, I probably could, but again, SEP is viewed as professional because I’ve had professional level work throughout. So, yes, I could cut my production costs to maybe $2,580. I might be able to compensate for the lower illustration count by buying some stock art and art collections, so maybe $2,650.

Printing and shipping won’t change, so the production cost would be for a PDF only product.

I don’t have $2,650 USD in my pocket (which would be about $3,060 CAD), so this isn’t going to happen.

At least for now. I’ll explore some options in my next post.

You can see the Centurion: Legionaries of Rome Kickstarter here, and you can but the book at Amazon or Drive Thru RPG.

You can see the Nefertiti Overdrive Kickstarter here.

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