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Merc Cruiser and other PDF Supplements


OK, I realise I'm probably being a pain in the a*se with all my harping on about the release of the "Mercenary Cruiser" EA, but it has led me to a serious question (and one which may have been answered previously, in which case just point me in the right direction!) - what is the process by which a successful submission becomes the next TA or EA on the website? Perusal of the "TA Authors" thread reveals that there are quite a few TA's and EA's that have been finished by their authors and submitted (and presumably accepted) quite a while ago - the two "Robots" TA's spring to mind for example - but have yet to appear "in print", so to speak. Why is this? Is it just a case of building up a stockpile of material against future sparsity, or are these documents in such dire need of editorial attention? I suspect that neither is the case, but I would like to know the real reason why so much material is apparently "delayed"?
It all has to do with artwork. TA's are very artwork heavy, and therefore take a lot longer come out. EAs are not artwork heavy, so take far less effort and time to be published in PDF format. Hence, more EA's have come out in the last little while than TA's, even though the number of TAs and EAs waiting for publication at this time is about the same.
The next TA to come out, whatever that will be, cannot come out until the artwork has been completed.
Okay, thanks muchly for the reply Michael. It raises a point I somehow hadn't thought of. The need to wait for artwork is definitely something that would delay the production of a project, as I should know from personal experience. Given the high standard of the existing publications in the TA and EA series, I can see that it would have even more of an effect, as the publisher waits for the artist to produce the required artwork.

(Maybe we need a competition or something to help discover the next crop of Traveller artists, so that Hunter always has a pool of talent that he can turn to? I mean look at some of the Keith Brothers artwork - they were without question good writers, but their art? There's GOT to be people on this board that could do better!)

This helps to highlight what I was getting at though - what else is it that goes in to making a TA or EA beyond the initial submission of XXXX number of words? The graphic design for layout? How much time does that normally take? The collection/commisioning of appropriate artwork?

I want to make clear that I'm NOT having a go at anyone here, and I'm NOT trying to collect numbers so that I can predict future release dates! I'm genuinely interested (as someone who has worked - albeit briefly and in an exceptionally small way - in the self-publishing RPG business) in the process behind the production of the QLI products that we enjoy so much. I kind of hope I'm not the only one!
Manuscript goes to MJD who then finds time to edit. Editing is absolutely vital, and even when edited still needs another pair or pairs of eyes before it goes back to Hunter/myself for layout in Adobe Indesign.

Layout is time consuming and tedious to say the least. Each EA takes 10-12 hours of layout, because there are 2 different verisons. If PDF maps are required, you can add 2-3 hours for each map/deckplan. Most authors do not do their own maps/deckplans, although I do my own in Freehand.

If any artwork is commissioned for an EA or TA Hunter handles the outsourciing of that. In generally takes a week to get one or two pictures done properly.

So, after the writing is done, a typical epic adventure, based on my own experience would require the following amount of time. Remember that I am a freelancer so I'm fitting this around my fulltime job and another large writing commitment (non-Traveller):

Writing 24,000 words: 100 hours
Editing and proofing: 10 hours
Maps/deckplans Qty, say: 5: 15 hours
pics, say 2: 1 week
Layout (2 versions, screen and print): 10 hours
Total time: 135 hours + artwork time.

For a TA however, the situation is similar for writing, but there are 20 times as many pics in a TA as in an EA, so the artwork takes *months*.

Hope this gives you some idea.
Thanks Michael, that's exactly what I was looking for. Sorry about the delay in replying but I was out of town at the weekend, so your comment about fitting things in around real life is especially pertinent!