We finished the previous part of this series with a manuscript that was shaping up nicely - just a bit of editing to go and it’s ready for layout. We also had illustrations that had gone through the main part of their process.
That means it’s… layout time. Somewhat flippantly I said before that the layout artist casts their arcane spell and magically the words and images create a finished book. In reality, it takes a lot of effort to create engaging layout. Not least, the main tool (Adobe InDesign) requires plenty of training to learn and a fair amount of wrestling to get things just right.
Let’s assume we already have an amazing page design that has been turned into an InDesign template. For Suzerain we do, but that took months of a very talented graphic designer’s efforts to create (kudos to Alida for her work there). Now we’re in the great position of being able to flow text very quickly for each of our sections. That gives us something like this:
It doesn’t look like much yet, but now we get to figure those boxouts and work out the positioning of each illustration. That’s when we add the post-processing onto the art since it changes the edges of the illustrations and can affect text flow as a result.
For example, we talk about applying the Storm-Born template onto wolves and that fits with the image of a wolf-like lightning elemental we have prepared. It’s a neat image but we want to rough it up a bit, to make it feel like it was sketched in the wild and quickly colored before the artist could be eaten. By applying a whole suite of effects we get to this:
As the layout comes together, all that’s left is to export the PDF file and have one last look through to check what we missed (there are always a few things, and even then minor errors inevitably have a d12 for their stealth checks).
It took about a dozen people to put together this content pack, from rules gurus to testers, line artists, colorists, a writer, editor, graphic designer and layout expert. Plus one publisher to bring them all together. In Savage Mojo sometimes a person wears more than one hat, but the same hours still have to go in.
Here’s a bit of perspective for you: the Patreon content pack that I’ve been walking you through took about 16 man-hours to create. I’ll let you decide how much you feel the various people should earn per hour for being professional writers, designers, and so on. Multiply that by 16 and add a bit to keep the internet connected, electric running, and so on. Being a small publisher gets expensive - you’re always hoping that your loyal community steps up to get the content you make or you can end up in a hole really fast.
Truth is, we work in hobby gaming because we love it and wouldn’t trade it for anything, and that’s all because of the community we get to share our passion with. Thank you for reading my journey behind the scenes of product development, and I look forward to hearing what you think of the final PDF. That goes out to patrons tomorrow, and non-patrons will be able to see the pages right here so you all can know what you’ll get when you become a patron too.
As a teaser I’ll leave you with the page I’ve been talking about in this post:
Until tomorrow, happy Suzeraining.
Publisher, Savage Mojo