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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13299 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 48 - most online ever: 843 (October 22, 2020, 11:18:00 PM)
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Author Topic: Cost for a inDesign/Quarkexpress layout.  (Read 6334 times)

Posts: 148

« on: August 16, 2010, 08:34:54 AM »

Hey guys. I want to start this off by saying that I started this project (my Fantasy RPG) to have something that I enjoyed playing with my group)
It has morphed into Something I am proud of and although I don't plan to really "get out there" and really market the finished product, I will probably shop it around a little (with small hopes) but I do want (for myself if for no other reason) a nice layout and professional looking product.

I have so far done everything by myself. (except playtesting of course)
I have taught myself how to use Corel Draw and More advanced formatting options in Microsoft word.
I have began trying to learn to use Indesign for the layout of my book.
My motto has been "Don't let a little thing like not knowing what your doing stop you"
I think I might be over matched here though. InDesign is a very intricate program.
More than that I think someone trying to use it needs to know not only how to use the features
but also when and how to use the features. In other words - know about layout design and typography
Before just being able to draw text and graphic boxes and linking them and wrapping text and all that.
For instance - I CAN use the tools in indesign. (master pages and all the rest) but I just dont really like what I see when I am done.
I think it might take an expert.

Can anyone give me some information on what the cost for someone to layout a book
(like your standard RPG book)
We'll say 150-200 pages -- nothing too fancy (3rd edition D&D books) but just text and graphics
like in 2nd editon D&D or Chaosism's, Rolemaster, etc. etc

Has anyone here paid for a service like that? looked into it?
I mean I really do want it to look nice So what are we talking here, in terms of cost?

Longwinded, Corny and Right.
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Posts: 17707

« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2010, 09:44:19 AM »


I typically pay for layout so I hope my experience can provide some help. I've found that it comes in two kinds.

1. The person who has the skills and probably already makes a living using those skills on non-RPG material, and who is paid more for one month's work in his regular job than I'll probably ever make in any given year of publishing. This person (speaking of several, not just one) does layout for RPGs for vastly less than his ordinary fees because he likes games and likes to dabble in the hobby as a sideline. He probably doesn't even put it on his resume. I've paid around $400 for such work at the book length you describe, and most recently $150 for a smaller one.

2. The person who has the skills, or is developing them, but is not professionally established (and here I speak of mainstream society, not gaming) and would like to develop a career, in part or in whole by doing RPG layout. This person seeks payment more in line with what the #1 person ordinarily makes, and is perfectly correct in citing such figures as at least $1,000 per book of the size you're talking about, and perhaps requesting royalties payments, because that's what pro layout people get for non-RPG material. They are also correct to point out that RPG artists can get paid at these levels and with such arrangements, and that layout is at least as important as art, if not more.

The trouble is, and here you should allow for a lot of individual variation in the following, that the first person is usually more skilled and less expensive, but the second person has, or depending on your views, might have the moral high ground.

It's really trouble too, because most if not all indie RPG publishers such as myself could not possibly hope to pay layout people standard non-RPG fees, and I can say for sure that I don't even pay artists such fees.

In fact, let me clarify that, speaking for Adept Press only. I don't buy art at all; I lease it, without any ownership claim whatsoever and with no restrictions upon the artist, who is designated the sole owner of the art. This is possible for art because he or she can sell it or display it or whatever, as desired, independently of my use of it. But that's not possible for layout; it has to be more of a pay-for-X-get-X exchange. I find myself seeking out the #1 individuals I can find out of sheer necessity.

So it's a highly individualized situation. It comes down to you, to the specific person with the skills, to your budget and time needs, and to his or her expectations regarding payment. All four of those matter at once, because just as with art, a layout person may adjust fees up or down based on the project and person too.

As I see it, there is no standard or "normal" baseline for layout work on independent RPGs. I can't say whether this is a good thing or a bad thing.

Best, Ron

Posts: 148

« Reply #2 on: August 16, 2010, 07:35:05 PM »

Thanks a Ton Ron.
From the horses mouth that.
A note on my art. I am incredibly lucky. My Cousin is a budding digital artist and a long time amazing traditional artist. He of the "starving artist variety" So he wants only for me to get him a new Digital Art Tablet ($150). I refuse to accept this lowball price for all his work. Just for the cover Art I was quoted $1000 bucks from one guy (Gag) of similar ability. So I'm building him a new Computer ($400). $550 for A beautiful customized Cover (that wraps around to the back of the book) and a bunch of black and white filler pics (races/classes/Weapons/eye candy)
I would love to get him into the business Maybe once he is done with mine - I can Post the work and Folks here can Consider him? I don't know the policy on that type of "advertising"

Onto Layout.
After hearing some of your Quotes and agreeing with your Moral statement (royalties - I am a musician soo...)
Your explanation basically translates into..
"So you had better learn InDesign!!"
hahaha . Oh Well .. Who couldn't use another skill-set?
None-the-less I appreciate your input.
Its not everyday you get advise from an RPG hero.
Maybe Ed Greenwood will call me tomorrow and give be some ideas on spells and races. 8D.

any further advise and comments are well welcome.

Longwinded, Corny and Right.
Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters

Posts: 2775

« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2010, 01:58:13 AM »

I would love to get him into the business Maybe once he is done with mine - I can Post the work and Folks here can Consider him? I don't know the policy on that type of "advertising"

Artists are welcome to post about their work on the Contacts subforum, you can check that out to see what sort of posts people usually make. An Internet portfolio is de rigueur for this sort of thing so you have something to show off, of course.

As for the topic, I recommend learning to lay out your own book if you already have the program. This requires some reading about typography and page design. In fact, I recommend that you get an entry-level book on the topic, read that, make a page model for your book and post about it here; we have knowledgeable people here who can tutor you on the fine points. Layout works from the general towards the specific, so once you have a solid page design and book structure charted out with the help of interested tutors, the rest of the work'll be pretty mechanical, easily achievable by a beginner. The sort of 'early 90s layouts you cite should be easily achievable even for a first-time creator with solid groundwork and some tutorial overview from more experienced book designers.

Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.
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