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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 80 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Lines vs. Authors  (Read 6665 times)
Blankshield
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« Reply #30 on: December 02, 2005, 07:30:26 AM »

Jared and John's recent interview with Paul Tevis has some very relevent material to this thread:

http://havegameswilltravel.libsyn.com/index.php?post_id=35958


James
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I write games. My games don't have much in common with each other, except that I wrote them.

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LloydBrown
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« Reply #31 on: December 07, 2005, 07:55:55 AM »

From post 1 of this thread...

That's a fine idea, but it's really tangential to the point. 

The point of a product line is that the retailer makes $400 a year instead of $20 (in the case of a single product).  The name/company/logo/whatever on the cover doesn't affect the quantity of product on the store shelf.

Also, to be most effective, any branding effort must be repeated.  If you want to successfully establish a brand, you should repeat it.  And if you have 6-12 titles with similar trade dress coming out in a year to create your brand, then you effectively have a product line--again, whether your name is on it or not.
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Lloyd Brown
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #32 on: December 07, 2005, 08:51:09 AM »

Lloyd, you're repeating my point, actually:

If I've got four games that are linked not by "world" but by design philosophy, where they're numbered (with more coming soon, natch), that's an $80 line.

Quote
Also, to be most effective, any branding effort must be repeated.  If you want to successfully establish a brand, you should repeat it.  And if you have 6-12 titles with similar trade dress coming out in a year to create your brand, then you effectively have a product line--again, whether your name is on it or not.

... what do you think I'm talking about? That's exactly what I said.

Once more, with emphasis:

Quote from: glyphmonkey
So I think what we want to do is produce a personal brand. Make your books carry aesthetic similarities that make them a line, so someone will say, "Oh, this is a Ben Lehman game! I love his games!" and pick it up. Make things that should go next to each other on a shelf the way all my Asimov is together. Make it so that if you want to sell your games in a bookstore, the store owner will be able to buy the whole line of You.

Now, none of us are going to be producing any 41 books for Vampire, but Engel, which is an amazingly attractive series aesthetically, is a series of 4 books.

Vincent will have 3 come GenCon (up from 2 last year). I'll have two, perhaps three or more with tiny games included (up from 1). Ron has six. Ben will have at least two, maybe three (up from 1). Tim will have two (up from 1). Matt W. will have two (up from 1). Matt S. will have four (up from 2. )And those are just the ones I thought up off the top of my head.

See where this is going? See why I bring this up now, before it would require a massive redesign of a pile of books to make this work?
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
Roger
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« Reply #33 on: December 07, 2005, 09:57:14 AM »

Another data point for Lines vs. Authors:

Mark ReinDotHagen co-wrote a book on tramp freighters for WEG's Star Wars game.

I suspect people who pick that up because they love Vampire, Changeling, and Wraith would be a bit disappointed.


Cheers,
Roger
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #34 on: December 07, 2005, 10:11:00 AM »

Another data point for Lines vs. Authors:

Mark ReinDotHagen co-wrote a book on tramp freighters for WEG's Star Wars game.

I suspect people who pick that up because they love Vampire, Changeling, and Wraith would be a bit disappointed.

He's an interesting example. The dot in his name means that you can't forget it, for one thing. But that was before he devised the Vampire brand, right? I mean, the brand evolved since then.
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
Roger
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« Reply #35 on: December 08, 2005, 02:54:02 PM »

But that was before he devised the Vampire brand, right?

Correct.


Cheers,
Roger
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Michael S. Miller
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« Reply #36 on: December 12, 2005, 03:34:24 AM »

See where this is going? See why I bring this up now, before it would require a massive redesign of a pile of books to make this work?

It's interesting that this "brand identity" would work counter to the dominant design aesthetic that many of us have been following. Capes and With Great Power... look like comic books, Sorcerer looks like a text book, DitV looks like a 19th-century religious tract, etc. Creating a uniform design seems directly opposed to the whole "make it look like what it's about" thing we've been doing. It seems you've gotta choose one path or the other.
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Nathan P.
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« Reply #37 on: December 12, 2005, 07:15:22 AM »

A thought, and apologies if it's extending this thread un-necessarily...

Once a publisher has a number of titles out, even if they're published in a variety of "looks", how cool would it be to pull them all together under one cover? I mean, I would pay good money for "The Vincent Baker Collection" down the road, with edited and revised editions of kpfs, DitV, Red Sky AM, Dragon Killer, etc etc. Now that would be a full-size glossy hardcover worth every penny.

I mean, if you're interested in publishing enough games to make a line out of yourself, that might be an alternative to same-looking them - publish them idiosyncratically, and then package them together every so often (a row of Best of Clinton R. Nixon, Volumes 1 - 3, would be awfully sexy on the bookshelf....). I know fiction writers do this (I'm thinking of Steven Brust's The Book Of X series here). The No Press Anthology is similar to this too, and that's a wonderful collection.
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Nathan P.
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Josh Roby
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« Reply #38 on: December 12, 2005, 09:13:37 AM »

It seems you've gotta choose one path or the other.

Not necessarily.  You could still fashion the book to look like what it's about (which is a good thing) while still retaining similar elements across the "line".  Stuff like a little logo on the spine (if it has a spine), or in the corner of the cover, and using the same type style for your own name.  It is a design challenge, I'll readily admit -- not the least of which is choosing that uniform type style for your name that will "fit" with whatever books you happen to produce in the future.

Random note: White Wolf and Dream Pod Nine have unabashedly printed their internal inventory numbers on the spines of their books since forever, for exactly this reason: you can see the progression of titles and any "gaps" where you don't have that book.
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #39 on: December 12, 2005, 09:19:01 AM »

Mike, it's a challenge, but not a big deal. Joshua's right on the money.

The key is finding the things you can't change and the things you must from book to book.
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
Troy_Costisick
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« Reply #40 on: December 12, 2005, 09:28:00 AM »

Heya,

It's a fine idea and hopefully one I'll get to employ this year.  This has been a very useful thread IMO, glad the issue came up.

Peace,

-Troy
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Jonathan Walton
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« Reply #41 on: December 15, 2005, 09:34:09 AM »

Sorry to join this thread a couple days late, but there's another point I'd like to make, while we're at it.  If this starts a long discussion, we can take it to another thread.

I think, in these discussions, game authors tend to only think about themselves and putting their names on the cover.  However, while the game author is most critical in making the game successful, there are many more people involved in making the game book, as a product, successful, and, in my view, these people probably deserve to have their names on the cover too.  Comic books are a great example of this.  The writer, penciler, inker, and (in the companies that care the most about creator rights) colorer and letterists names are all on the cover. 

Even in indie games, though, it's often the case that artists, layout people, etc. are all freelancers that sell their work (and, sometimes, all rights to it) to the game author.  Personally, I tend to let my artists keep all rights to their work and simply license it for use in my (yet unpublished) games.  White Wolf's writers are all freelancers who sell their rights to White Wolf.  And if those folks deserve cover credit, I'd say that our artists and layout folks do to.  Now, they don't necessarily need equivilent credit or as prominent a name placing as the author, but it's easy to have "[author] (in big type)" and then "with [artist A], [artist B], [artist C], and [layout person] (all in smaller type)."

To summerize, if we're going to be about creator's rights, I think it's only fair that we stand for ALL the creators involved.
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Brennan Taylor
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« Reply #42 on: December 15, 2005, 09:53:37 AM »

I really like that idea, Jonathan. My upcoming project is only going to have one artist, and I think listing her name on the cover is a great idea.
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #43 on: December 15, 2005, 09:54:53 AM »

Not a bad idea, Jonathan.
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
Josh Roby
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« Reply #44 on: December 15, 2005, 10:51:08 AM »

Okay, Jonathan's suggestion makes me wiggy, and when I lay out the reasons it makes me sound like an elitist ass.  Again.  So, you know, you've been warned.

Here's the thing: there's a difference between being an author and being a writer.  An author is responsible for the finished product as its creator -- the author might work with an editor, designer, etc, but the work is still theirs.  Usually, but not necessarily always, the author is also the genesis of the project, coming up with the original idea or doing the heavy lifting of development.  The author's name should definately be slapped on the cover of that work.  A writer, by contrast, is hired to write material specified by someone else, usually an editor. The role of the writer is delimited by the terms under which they work on the project. The writer does not have an authorial role in relation to the end product; it is not their creation and they are not responsible for it.  The editor is.  A writer's name does not go on the cover, although they (should) get a byline on the title or imprint page so they can add to their resume and writing credits in order to garner additional work.

Personal Tie In: Tribe 8 is not, by any means, 'mine'.  Even the Capal Book of Days is not 'mine'.  I was hired to write it and given a broad outline of what should be included.  I wrote my parts, I got paid, somebody else markets and sells it and worries about it, now.  I'm not on the cover; I do have a byline.

Which brings us to artists.  Most of the time, artists are recruited and commissioned after the text is in a state of near-completion, and they are given specifications of what art is needed for the project.  They get an order for six quarter-pages and three half-pages and they put their utmost talent into them and create a very nice product but when they're done, they're done.  Do they have an important impact on the final product?  Hell yes.  But they are far more like writers than authors, and in most cases they are not creators of the material but interpreters of the material.  If this is what the artists are doing, then they should certainly get a byline, and if they're good, the authors and editors should sing their praises in order to get them more work from other people.

I can see two scenarios in which an artist should appear on the cover.  One of them is a sorta good reason, and the other is a very good reason.  The first, only sorta-good reason is if the artist has big name recognition, because this will increase sales.  It's suboptimal, but it's also realistic and pragmatic and makes economic sense.  The other, far better reason is if the artist is involved in the development of material from the start, working in tandem with the authors to collaboratively create the content being sold.  I'm thinking of concept art, dialogue between the image-guys and the text-guys, and the like.  I think this would be awesome, would love to be involved in such a project, and would insist that the artists be put on the front cover, because in such a scenario they are as much authors as any of us text-monkeys.

(Speaking of monkeys, feel free to substitute 'page designer' for 'artist' in those two paragraphs -- the principle holds.)

In the world of comics, authorship is spread out a lot more evenly between writers, artists, inkers, et al, and so it's appropriate that these guys appear on the cover.  In a situation where a contributor is not an author (text or otherwise), however, they should not be on the cover.

That is, at least, how the world looks from my corner.
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