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Post Posted: Thu Mar 15, 2012 5:10 pm 
 

mbassoc2003 wrote:
grodog wrote:[*]Starstone:  requires an OCR scan or transcription of the module text before editing or layout can begin.
[*]CH-1 The Morandir Company and CH-3 The Mountain King.

If you give me a few months, I'll try and get these to you in MSWord format.


That would be great, Ian:  is it easy to produce/export a .txt, .rtf, or .doc/.docx file from an OCR .pdf?  I know I can cut/paste the text, but am not sure if that's necessarily advisable vs. some sort of export process (if such a thing exists, and would preserve formatting better or whatever).


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Post Posted: Thu Mar 15, 2012 6:37 pm 
 

grodog wrote:
mbassoc2003 wrote:If you give me a few months, I'll try and get these to you in MSWord format.


That would be great, Ian:  is it easy to produce/export a .txt, .rtf, or .doc/.docx file from an OCR .pdf?  I know I can cut/paste the text, but am not sure if that's necessarily advisable vs. some sort of export process (if such a thing exists, and would preserve formatting better or whatever).


How many pages is the thing? As I mentioned in my pm, if you're not retypesetting, you can do 2-4 pages a night from scratch pretty easily. If you've got an OCR copy, well, then it's basically all done for you and it's just a matter of going through and editing it for typos, etc.

Are you looking to retypeset it in Word?


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Post Posted: Thu Mar 15, 2012 7:26 pm 
 

There are programs that conver PDFs to Word as a single process, but I've never used them. My experience thus far has been from printed doc to PDF only. I know I can copy and paste from my OCR PDFs, but I'd be interested to know if anyone here has tried any of the PDF to Word convertion programmes on the market. I was planning to do it column by column, by hand.


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Post Posted: Thu Mar 15, 2012 7:43 pm 
 

I use this..

www.zamzar.com

you can convert any sort of file to any other file for free.. (has some adds though)

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Post Posted: Thu Mar 15, 2012 8:16 pm 
 

I usually just copy from the PDF and paste into word and fix. I've not tried the conversion programs yet.


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Post Posted: Thu Mar 15, 2012 10:48 pm 
 

Busman wrote:
grodog wrote:[I]s it easy to produce/export a .txt, .rtf, or .doc/.docx file from an OCR .pdf?  I know I can cut/paste the text, but am not sure if that's necessarily advisable vs. some sort of export process (if such a thing exists, and would preserve formatting better or whatever).


How many pages is the thing? As I mentioned in my pm, if you're not retypesetting, you can do 2-4 pages a night from scratch pretty easily. If you've got an OCR copy, well, then it's basically all done for you and it's just a matter of going through and editing it for typos, etc.  Are you looking to retypeset it in Word?


Thanks for your offer to help, Busman, I do appreciate it :D   The Morandir Company is 160 pages typed double-spaced, with four pages of hand drawn dungeon maps by Tom.  The Halls of the Mountain Kings is 154 pages, typed double-spaced, also with 4 pages of hand drawn dungeon maps.


Busman wrote:I usually just copy from the PDF and paste into word and fix. I've not tried the conversion programs yet.


I haven't tried that either, but am willing to give it a go.  I'll see how it goes with the Starstone OCR first, I suppose.


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Post Posted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 2:12 am 
 

grodog wrote:Sorry for the slow reply, just read the thread Ian.

mbassoc2003 wrote:3. Black Blade seems to be in a hiatus**. Why? Is there a lack of material being offered in the market for publishers to publish, or is there a lack of time and resource vs. perceived return for putting in the time and effort? I know there were discussions of reprints of Starstome, Castle of the Mad Archmage and the Seren Ironhand bookend modules. It appears as though there is an issue of a credible return for putting in the time and effort needed to take the material and create a publishable product from it.


No, credible time rather than credible return has been our issue.  Carving out time to work on the projects was difficult throughout 2011:  Jon's been completely snowed under with work*, and I've been merely insanely busy.  To your project-specific questions:

  • Starstone:  requires an OCR scan or transcription of the module text before editing or layout can begin
  • Castle of the Mad Archmage:  it's a _huge_ project, and will take considerable time and funds-raising to bring to market (50+ maps ain't cheap; we knew this going in, but still aren't willing to sacrifice product quality to speed up the box set's time to market); given that we made minimal headway in 2011 on it, we'll release more info/details when we are able to do better than "in late 2012, hopefully"
  • CH-1 The Morandir Company and CH-3 The Mountain King (the bookend manuscripts to CH-2 Seren Ironhand):  require an OCR scan or transcription of the module text before editing or layout can begin

That help?

* real work, that keeps our families fed and all that---not this RPG stuff :D



** Point of order --

Just like to add a couple of comments to Grodog's reply, for the sake of clarity and so forth:

- In March 2011, Black Blade and Usherwood Publishing jointly released a 400 page hardback version of OSRIC, the AD&D retro-clone that launched the retro-clone bandwaggon; the writing, editing, layout, illustrating and proofreading were all done by the K&KA community, so I'm not claiming credit for any of that work (though Allan is a credited editor).  But for our OSRIC release, we secured 10 new b&w illustrations, we secured an expanded and more detailed Index (thanks, Jason!), we secured a Table of Tables for the rules (thanks for that, too, Jason!).  And we brought this manly-sized 3 pound rulebook to the old school gaming community for a meager $26 US!

- Over the course of 2011, Black Blade attended, ran games at, sold product at, and/or supported financially 6 gaming conventions across the US: Genghis Con (February - Denver), GaryCon (March - Lake Geneva), NTXRPG Con (June - Dallas), KantCon (July - KC), the SoCal MiniCon (July - Los Angeles), and Gen Con (through the OSRG booth/XRP).  That is a lot of traveling for a hobby-business, a lot of time away from our families, a lot of time taken off of work, and a lot of expense that we cover personally since Black Blade isn't capitalized to cover such marketing and promotional campaigns.

- We're coming up on GaryCon IV next week.  It's been just one year since the OSRIC hardbacks were released.  When we released the OSRIC rulebooks, we did a print run of 300 hardbacks, tying-up $6,000 - $7,000 in capital in the process.  We've sold through about 70% of the hardbacks, in just one year, which means we've packaged and shipped probably half of the copies sold, or 100 copies (with the rest being sold at conventions).  And each of those copies sold had to be painstakingly wrapped and packaged for shipping so as to withstand the riggors of handling by governmental postal workers around the world.  :lol:

- Also during 2011, Black Blade started carrying and promoting the awesome Monsters of Myth, a genuine spiritual MMIII from the First Edition Society.  Again, the pre-production work was done by the FES community, but the Monsters of Myth hardbacks still have to be ordered, funded, and packaged for shipping, all of which takes time away from other endevours.


So, while I'll allow that we haven't been as productive as we'd have liked, and I'll allow that we haven't brought to print some of the highly-desired projects we've been talking about for a while now, I think it's a gross mis-characterization to say that we've been on hiatus.  :roll:



  

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Post Posted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 9:38 am 
 

Other than reprinting the old ruleset, has BB published anything new in the past couple of years? Any adventures or new 1E conversions of existing adventures? I remember buying Smuggler's Cove and something else many years ago, but I got the impression that the company was then put on ice for want of new material/time/money.


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Post Posted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 11:54 pm 
 

mbassoc2003 wrote:Other than reprinting the old ruleset, has BB published anything new in the past couple of years? Any adventures or new 1E conversions of existing adventures? I remember buying Smuggler's Cove and something else many years ago, but I got the impression that the company was then put on ice for want of new material/time/money.


I suppose it depends on your definition of "new" Ian, but BBP had published quite a few S&W and related titles from 2009 through 2010, including:

- S&W: Core Rules
- Ice Tower of Salka
- Mythmere's Adventure Design Deskbook Volume 1:  Principles and Starting Points
- Mythmere's Adventure Design Deskbook Volume 2:  Monsters
- City Encounters (a conventions only special item; only 19 copies were produced)
- Knockspell Magazines #1, 2, 3, and 4
- Tomb of the Iron God
- Spire of Iron & Crystal
- S&W Reference Sheets

Other than the S&W Ref Sheets (which we bought all rights to), we stopped publishing and selling all of S&W-related titles at the end of 2010.  And then 2011 hit us.  

Anyway, between the S&W titles, and the current line-up outlined above, we've published at least 18 products (more if you count .pdf versions and reprints).  And more will be coming this year, as well.


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Post Posted: Tue Mar 20, 2012 11:14 pm 
 

All the info here is from Mythmere Games, which is entirely through lulu at this point, with the exception of most of the issues of Knockspell, which are also on RPGNow. I also handle the Swords & Wizardry side of Frog God Games, but that information is Bill Webb's to disclose, not for me.  :)

bbarsh wrote:
1. Do most of these ventures struggle solely with the issue of achieving sales of the finished product? Do they manage 50 units before having problems? Or is it 100, 300, 500 units before they feel they've saturated their market? And what are the parameters for optimum printing? I remember AGP saying their optimum return was on a BW product of 16 pages.

I am not sure about a saturation point overall, but certain products sell better than others. For example my T1 still outsells all other in print modules (except new releases in their first month). Without pulling out my spreadsheet, I think it is just over 300 copies sold to date. Most of the other modules I have done are less than 200 copies.


About 150 get sold through lulu for me, but the first 75 or so are within a week and the next 75 take months and months and months. It's a big spike and then a reliable trickle. My first module has also sold more than 300 and being first seems to give it a longer lead than it should over the others.

2. NTRPGCon seem to have the digest sized printing down to a tee. At this size, are you able/willing to discuss cost per unit printed? And how mauch time is put into assembling and proofing each product prior to publishing it?

The problem with the NTX digest modules is that they are pure collector items, for the most part. Their target buyer is most often the collector. Nothing negative about that, but they are not what I would consider a more mass-market product, if that can really be said about any OSR stuff.

Have to leave that one to Doug and Mike to answer.

4. What do FGG and GG have that make their product more viable than others on the market? How do they achieve the sales they do, and afford to pay for quality artwork and cartography? Is it purely a case of having thousands in the bank, or is there something they 'get' that the smaller presses don't understand yet? How do these companies' business models vary from those of other publishers? And why are their prodcts larger, better typeset, and better presented than the rest?

Yes, it is money. Also, I think many of their products cross platforms so this helps drive their sales. They are also well-established and the products are solid. But it can't be stated loud enough that good art costs money - big money in relation to OSR sales numbers. Getting an established (named artist) to do a cover is typically going to cost you several hundred dollars (and usually more). If you drop $800 or so on art, you are way behind the profit curve unless you can sell about 200 copies minimum to break even. Assuming you are selling a $10 book at about 32 pages.


Well, it's money, yes, but also (a) the mainstream gaming community has a component of people who play old school games as a secondary interest, or who just aren't interested in OSR websites/blogs/etc. Bill Webb's visibility in the mainstream community adds to the number of sales that Swords & Wizardry makes outside the "normal" or "hardcore" or whatever places on the internet. If you can sell more, you can print more, and if you can print more, you can print cheaper per unit, and if you can print cheaper, you can recapture more expenditures on art/cartography/etc. (b) also, a Pathfinder version is published as well as the Swords & Wizardry version. The PF books sell more, btw, which helps fund Swords & Wizardry resources.

5. What size of production team does it take to put out a product? What are the dispensible skills and resources a small time publisher can do without, and what impact does omitting those resources have on the final product, its sales, and the publishers perception in the marketplace?

Well, you can have people do all kinds of work for you. Layout, design, art, mailing, etc. All of that stuff costs money. That word again. With work and time, you can do much of the production on your own. But unless you have no life (and no full time job), you have to make time to get this stuff done. Definately can be done, and is in many cases, but it is not easy.
 


This varies. My Mythmere Games products are much rougher-hewn than the Frog God materials, because I happen to like a certain amount of rough edge in a gaming product -- a resource can feel too slick, if that makes sense, and it makes it feel a bit lifeless to me. So, on the Mythmere Games products I do a lot of my own art, do my own layout (mostly), etc.  The main skills involved are (a) writing), (b) cover art, (c) interior art, (d) graphic design for logo and for covers, also diagrams if applicable, (e) layout of text, (f) ability to turn the layout into a document that can be uploaded or accepted by a printer, (g) all the other stuff involved in generally running a business such as selling the product and doing taxes. (EDIT: forgot also (h) cartography).

  

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Post Posted: Wed Mar 21, 2012 1:53 am 
 

Thork N Hammer wrote:I know that Guy Fullerton has a working relationship with a local printer. Whether that affords him special considerations, I do not know. But he usually orders print runs of 50 thereabouts. From what he's told me(and I hope he sees this and pipes in) his unit cost is not all that high--less than Lulu. Which, to me, suggests some kind or "working deal" with the printer. But Guy's business is beyond d&d adventures, so that might have some bearing as well. I simply do not know.

I go through BR Printers ( http://www.brprinters.com/ ). I'm just a normal client of theirs, and as far as I know, I get no special considerations from them. I ask for quotes on projects, and they've always offered a great rate.

The recent reprint of F1 (24 pages, plus retro-style detached cover w/color printing on the outside cover and b&w printing on the inside cover) cost $1.18 per unit for 200 units. The upcoming first print of F3 (28 pages, plus same style of cover) will cost $1.68 per unit for 200 units. That may seem like a steep increase for just 4 more printed pages, but their prices appear to vary based on market conditions for their raw materials. This is way, way, way cheaper than going through Lulu!

One of BR Printers' physical printing sites happens to be in San Jose, near where I live, so I can driver over to pick up the proofs and the finished product, which means I don't have to pay shipping.

Dealing directly with the print house (versus going through a middleman like Lulu) means I get to talk to real people, ask questions about different kinds of paper/stock/covers, show them examples of what I want, and resolve issues quickly. For example: When I printed Thork's GS1, I ended up needing multiple proofs; during that process I noticed that some proofs looked a little different in terms of color palette or saturation on the cover (and this was not something I was intentionally tweaking between proofs). I talked to my sales rep and (IIRC) found out that they had two different brands (or something) of digital print machines that they used for covers. I told him which one I preferred, and my sales rep made sure that my covers got done on the machine whose output I liked best.

To anybody planning on generating inventory for booklet-style modules, I highly recommend checking around your town for professional print houses that are willing to do small runs (100-300 units) on their digital printing machines. Theses kinds of businesses are more common than you might think, and you might be pleasantly surprised by their quotes.


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Post Posted: Wed Mar 21, 2012 2:18 am 
 

Sorry so late, I don't read all the posts here on the site and just happened to read some of this and saw "we" were mentioned.

The digest copies we do for the NTRPGCon ...

Well, fist off the cost per copy is around $4.00, depends on the number of pages and we only print a color cover. We use an online PoD service and just print up what we want. We could open a "store" on their site and allow people to order what they want, but that doesn't limit printed copies and we are collectors at heart and would prefer to limit print runs to 100 or less.

For the most part we sell them all... PotVQ we sold about 1/2 and then took 6 months to sell the rest, but the next year with Dwarven Glory, we sold then all within 30 days of the Con. The "saturation point" for these modules actually varies by author. We seem to sell Tim Kask stuff the most, followed by Steve Winter, then Dennis Sustare. I think as more people become aware of these modules, we sell more of all of them... we will have one by Erol Otus this year, and I expect it to sell out. I am hoping down the road to be able to sell some stuff by Jennell Jaquays, maybe Jim Ward, and if I can strong arm Frank Mentzer... who knows.. we'd also like to get permission to reprint some other obscure stuff that people might find interesting at some point.

I'd love to convince some of the DMs to turn over their material, and we could print small runs of say 10~25 each in digest format for people to buy. We have done this with Ben Burns modules from the past (put 1-3 in a single book for $6.00 and sold about 20, cost was about $3.00).. even sold a few from Knight Vision Studios... they have PDFs for free and/or sale they allowed us to print up.. sold about 10 of each and still have 10 each left, but hey, we gave it a try.

I think the sales of the digest modules we sell are part "collectors" getting something "cool" at the Con that are limited in nature and they are helping to support the Con. We find this is a nice way to help pay for the Con (ie: special guest air fare, rooms etc).  And those helping the Con get something in return.

We don't have a lot of "cost" in the production since we are printing something created by a special guest (Tim Kask, Steve Winter,  Dennis Sustare, Erol Otus...) it just takes my time to get it in the proper PDF format etc. So far the only special guest that keeps any of the proceeds is Tim Kask (and nothing wrong with that) we really appreciate those that allow us to keep all the profits.

When we reprint items like PotVQ, Dwarven Glory etc, it's just my time to scan the pages nicely, then clean them up in Adobe, then convert to PDF, check the layout etc.

I am not sure I have it down to a "T", and it is time consuming, but I'd really be sucking wind if I didn't make these digest copies for sale at the Con, I can figure for each digest to print 100 copies of, we get $600.00... since we do about 50~75 on the special guest stuff, it's only $300~$450, but every dollar helps.

I don't think I'd want to try this with something I had to write myself, buy/pay for art, make maps, assemble, layout, proof read etc... It would be way more time consuming, costly and less likely to get done.


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Post Posted: Wed Mar 21, 2012 2:20 am 
 

mbassoc2003 wrote:1. Do most of these ventures struggle solely with the issue of achieving sales of the finished product? Do they manage 50 units before having problems? Or is it 100, 300, 500 units before they feel they've saturated their market? And what are the parameters for optimum printing? I remember AGP saying their optimum return was on a BW product of 16 pages.

F1 Fane of Poisoned Prophecies has sold about 150 copies so far, over three years. AND it was out of print for one year of that time. The first print run sold 75 in the first three months (early 2009) and then another 50 over the next year. The second print run has sold about 30 copies since being released two months ago.

All signs point to the OSR market being stronger (in terms of expected unit movement) than it was in 2009.

4. What do FGG and GG have that make their product more viable than others on the market? How do they achieve the sales they do, and afford to pay for quality artwork and cartography?

They publish for systems that have a larger base of established buyers. The OSR market is pretty small. GG also has the advantage of already being in the brick & mortar channel.

Also, a continuing stream of releases is important. New releases stimulate additional sales from the back catalog. Advertising should not be underestimated, either.

And why are their prodcts larger, better typeset, and better presented than the rest?

Attention to detail, experience, and the proper tools.

5. What size of production team does it take to put out a product?

Two, minimum. The editor and author simply should not be the same person. Plus one or more additional people if the first two are unable to perform any of the following tasks: Illustration, page layout, cartography, and dealing with logistics.


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Post Posted: Wed Mar 21, 2012 11:34 am 
 

Guy Fullerton wrote:The editor and author simply should not be the same person.

This is probably the biggest mistake self publishers make, and the one that removes the most quality from a lot of products 'hobbyists' offer up, thinking they can sell (at least in my experience). Seperating the Editor and/or proofreaders and the writer/author (regardless of what you want to call these roles), is the only way to get a decent product. The quality of the product should then become a combination of the better abilities of both the author and the editor (with the addition of contributing artwork/cartography as finances allow). When the author plays at being his own editor, the product more often than not becomes a reflection of his own ego and he cannot see his own shortcommings, ignoring his own failings in talent, grammer and spelling, or what his own doodles do to the product. The editor/proofreader should look at spelling/grammer, typesetting, uniformity in presentation and detail, and be wary of incongruities in tone and/or pacing. His job is to bring the balance and polish to the product, while not detracting from the author's intent.

Clearly the self published ego boost product with the skribbled drawings and fag packet maps go on to become highly collectable in the decades that come, but we're talking here about trying to publish reasonably professional products. Inevitably, the more professional and successful the product, the greater the return for the publishing team, and the lesser the return for the collector/investor.


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Post Posted: Wed Mar 21, 2012 1:31 pm 
 

mbassoc2003 wrote:. . .fag packet maps . . .


I am honestly curious as to what you are referring to here.

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Post Posted: Wed Mar 21, 2012 1:44 pm 
 

I'd guess fag packet = packet of cigarettes, so Ian is talking about small (cigarette packet sized) maps.


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Post Posted: Wed Mar 21, 2012 4:47 pm 
 

Nogrod wrote:I am honestly curious as to what you are referring to here.

:lol: It never occurred to me that this might mean something else in th US.
I suppose the US version would be a napkin sketch map.
I suppose someone who sketches fag's packages might end up with a little more than a bloody nose.
My brother is a policeman. It took me a long while to understand what he was talking about when he told me about a woman who'd called the Police because her boyfriend had come home drunk and smashed her back door in. :lol:


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Post Posted: Wed Mar 21, 2012 6:40 pm 
 

LOL!

Brette:)


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Post Posted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 8:13 pm 
 

mbassoc2003 wrote:
Nogrod wrote:I am honestly curious as to what you are referring to here.

:lol: It never occurred to me that this might mean something else in th US.
I suppose the US version would be a napkin sketch map.


I figured it was something like that :). I was honestly curious.

Two countries divided by a common language :)

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Post Posted: Fri Mar 23, 2012 4:39 pm 
 

Nogrod wrote:
mbassoc2003 wrote::lol: It never occurred to me that this might mean something else in th US.
I suppose the US version would be a napkin sketch map.


I figured it was something like that :). I was honestly curious.

Two countries divided by a common language :)

Zach


Well, that and they are nuts over there... :P


And I could've bought these damn modules off the 1$ rack!!!

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