Centurion: By The Numbers

No, the silence hasn’t really been broken. You can pretty much expect the SEP website will consist of monthly sales numbers for some time yet. For those of you still hanging around, maybe with the site in an RSS feed reader or something, I thought I’d continue on with my crowd-sourcing thoughts, as promised.

Centurion, Legionaries of Rome is an RPG for playing legionaries in historical Rome, from the tail-end of the Republic to the Fall of the Empire. The system has been playtested, but is on hold right now (I’ve promised my home group 10 sessions without playtesting) and will require further development.

Were this to go to crowd-sourcing, the amount I’ve set is $8,000. That’s really steep. Here’s how it breaks down.

The entire project is planned at 45,000 words. That’s about 100 pages, possibly bigger with art. At 5 cents per word, that’s $2,250. Copy-editing would cost another 450 and rules editing another 100. The estimates for editing are low, but with these numbers that’s a text budget of $2,800.

For art, I’m looking at 6 quarter pages for $60 each, 3 half pages for $110 each, 1 full page for $225, 1 cover for $225 and 3 full page maps for $250. That’s an art budget of $1,895.

I’m throwing in a very low project management cost of $200 and a graphic and cover design cost of $400.

For the creation of the book itself, that’s a budget of $5,295

Now I could remove the art costs and just use public domain art. That’d actually be pretty time consuming, though it is tempting, as I was totally screwed on art for Kiss My Axe and was saved by a couple of artists who were able to pull together some stuff quickly. I could cut out editing, which increases the chance of people getting an inferior product. If I did all that, I’d still end up with $2,850. More manageable, but if I’m going to crowdfund something, I should do it right.

And creating the book is only part of the process. I’m going to need print copies. A very rough estimate of a softcover print run of 250, including shipping and handling, is around $3,350

Wait, we’re already over $8,000.

Yes. I know. It gets worse.

I intended to have hardcovers available as well. A print run of 50 hardcovers, including shipping and handling, would be around $2,200.

Printing costs are therefore around $5550.

That leaves a project total of $10,845.

Now, where did I get $8,000 from? That would be the cost minus the writing ($2,250). The math is still off, but I rounded down. And that doesn’t even count the Indiegogo fees, which would be just under 10%.

All told, it looks like the only way Centurion has any hope of a crowdfunding launch would be to use public domain art, not pay myself for my work, and don’t do a hardcover print run. If I do that, total costs would be around $4,500. Add the Indiegogo fee for around $5,000.

I really don’t like the idea of not paying me and not paying artists, but there’s no way my project could get off the ground at $10,000. It has more hope at $8,000, but I think $5,000 might just be doable. Maybe.

Then again, I have more research to do. What about doing the books as print on demand? What if I aim for $5,000, get real art, and PoD direct to the backer for books? It’s a thought, but like I said, more research is necessary.

And if I want to include perks like t-shirts or custom dice? Then things get really complex and I have no idea.

Or someone can just give me $5,000, and I’ll do the damn thing and release it for free.

Costing Out Success

Over on Sword’s Edge, I mentioned that I was eying crowd-funding as a way of addressing a couple of projects on which I am working. I gave some numbers in that post, but didn’t really offer how I came to those numbers. This does not relate to the perks, and

The shortest, cheapest project would be a modern, action short story tentatively titled “Boltcutter.” I put the amount needed for success at $500. The writing itself, at around 5 cents per word, would cost $350 (assuming around 7,000 words, which is a rather long piece of short fiction). For layout, I added 20% and rounded up, for $420. Then there are the fees required by the crowd-funding sources (almost certainly Indiegogo, unless Amazon Payments allows Kickstarter to begin embracing Canadian banks in the near future). I added on 10% for the various fees, which put the project at $462. Given that there will likely be unforeseen fees, I increased it to $500, a nice round figure.

The easiest to produce with a medium cost would be a new short story collection. This would include four new stories and one reprint (“A Dead Pound of Flesh,” published previously in Black Gate). I threw out $2,500 as a back of the envelope success point, but that might be too much. It depends on how I want to approach it. For the four new stories, I would want 5 cents per word, leading us to around $800 for those. The reprint, I would want 2.5 cents per word, for $125. Since I’m working with a budget, I’d hire an editor, which I’d like to pay 1 cent per word (not sure if that is a good rate or not) for $210. I’d like to commission a cover for it, so that’s $250. Then there is the layout, which is basic enough that I wouldn’t budget more than $250 for it. That totals $1,635.

Now, that’s just getting the book done. Since one of the perks is a print copy, I need to factor in print costs. I’d need around 250 to 300 backers to get this funded, and most of those I would expect would want a print copy if the perk is reasonable. A print run of 200 would likely cost me around $1,000 (based on previous print runs), and then there is the shipping and handling, which would likely cost me another $1,000, so it looks like my initial estimate was way wrong.

Including print costs, the total would be $3,635. Add in the website fees of 10% for $3,998.5 or $4,000.

That short story collection not looking so cheap now.

Next post, I’ll show you the math for Centurion: Legionaries of Rome RPG, which is even more developed than these, and which costs out at $8,000 including a print run of hardcovers or $6550 without hardcovers.

You can find my post on Sword’s Edge here.

You can find Indiegogo here.

You can find Black Gate here.

Monthly Sales for July 2012

There’s not much to say about July’s sales that I haven’t said before, so I’ll just leave you with the numbers.

Not a bad month, all told. Sword Noir inches toward paying itself off, which will be a glorious day.

Total Sales for July 2012
Khorforjan Gambit, 1
Qalashar Device, 1
Raid On Ashkashem, 1

Arcane Kingdoms
Arcane Kingdoms, 1

Covert Forces
Blood and Guts 2: In Her Majesty’s Service, 1
Canada’s Combined Security Reconnaissance Section, 1
Covert Forces Redux, 3

Cyber-state Avatar Toolkit, 1
Operation Nearscape, Free Product, 1

Sword’s Edge System
Crossing the Millers, 2
Kiss My Axe, 6
Kheufer Scrolls, 2
Suffer the Witch, 2
Sword’s Edge System, Free Rules, 16
Sword Noir, 5

Total Sales to Date
Albenistan: Election Day (Modern Dispatch 113): 32
Khorforjan Gambit: 103
Qalashar Device: 116
Raid On Ashkashem: 157

Arcane Kingdoms
Arcane Kingdoms: 38
Gifts of the Elder Gods: 34
For Simple Coin: 56

Charity Products
Relief Effort: 55

Covert Forces
Canada’s Combined Security Reconnaissance Section: 100
Covert Forces: 100
Covert Forces Redux: 156
In Her Majesty’s Service: 133

Cyber-state Avatar Toolkit: 36
Line Zero: 34
Operation Nearscape, Free Product, 299

Sword’s Edge System
Crossing the Millers, 91
Kiss My Axe, 130
Suffer the Witch, 70
Sword’s Edge System, Free Rules 1076
Sword Noir 337
The Kheufer Scrolls, 135