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.

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2 Responses to Centurion: By The Numbers

  1. Hashemite says:

    Would you consider using 100% public domain art? There’s a lot out there. Were you thinking art from the period? It’d look like a history/archeology book, possibly, which might excite some people and not others. I would like it, personally.

    • Fraser says:

      I think for Centurion, I may need to use public domain stuff if I want to bring it in under $5,000 for crowd-funding. I don’t think Centurion will be my first attempt at crowd-funding. I’m torn right now between my Africa-set adventure/thriller and a fantasy short story collection.

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