Ars Magica schedule

Folks are wondering what is up with Ars Magica and coming books. What I can tell you is that the next book will be Normandy, and the book after that will be Art & Academe.

In the case of Normandy, the manuscript was turned in by David; Michelle gave it the in-house read-through/proofing edit; and I have begun page layout work and some of the art direction (specifically, the part that involves finding some basic public domain historical images, which there are more than usual to be found for a Tribunal book versus one that is more completely drawn from imagination).

In the case of Art & Academe, the manuscript has been turned in by David.

So why are they not on the schedule? A few reasons.

The staff of Atlas Games is now, well, me and Michelle.

Michelle's #1 priority of late has been the 40 Years of Gen Con book, a huge project (168 pages, full color, hardcover), which has an absolutely unnegotiably firm deadline, since of course it has to be there at Gen Con #40 this August. This means Michelle has not been available to help on Ars Magica.

As for me...I decided earlier this year (before we knew Jeff would be leaving) to run for city council in the town where we live, Maplewood. This has taken an increasing amount of my time, and going forward it's going to take a much, much larger amount of my time, as I literally need to make thousands of phone calls and door-to-door visits to likely voters (as well as fundraising, campaign lit writing, and many other things).

(If you wonder what might drive me to shoulder this thankless burden, you might read this article from our weekly metro paper about "the Twin Cities' most dysfunctional suburb": ... e15218.asp)

In the time I do have for Atlas between now and November, I have to prioritize very harshly. The number one priority is doing the essentials for cash flow and financial management -- packing distributor orders, writing invoices, depositing checks, making sure bills are paid on time. Then there are the customer service things, everything from helping replace defective game components to sending promotional materials to stores to sending out convention support. I have to return phone calls and answer e-mails on all kinds of random topics.

Getting new products out the door is actually pretty low on the to-do list. (New item sales are nice, but most of our sales and an even bigger proportion of our profit comes from the backlist sales.) I can't predict when I will have time for it, or how much time I'll have, or how long it will take to do the necessary tasks. For that reason, I am unwilling to promise release dates until I have something pretty solid to predict. (In the case of Glimpse of the Abyss, for example, I actually have a printout on the desk waiting to get bundled off to the printer...but I won't actually send it until sometime in July.)

Before someone suggests that we should hire another employee...understand that in the short term, a new employee would reduce productivity, as I would have to spend time on the employee search process, then training and the much higher level of assistance and supervision that someone new to a job inevitably needs (and given the size of Atlas, it's not just one job -- there would be no point in hiring someone who could not wear half a dozen or more hats).

Before someone wonders if Atlas is doing OK financially -- we're fine. More than fine, actually. I wouldn't take on this city council race if I had concerns about the financial health of Atlas; I'd be working to fix it. We have money in the bank from three nicely profitable years in a row -- and our profit in the first quarter of 2007 was actually higher than the full-year profit of 2006. We've seen weaker initial sales on most product lines, but very strong continuing sales (this is true of Ars Magica as well...we may sell less out of the gate in the first couple of weeks, but over a 6-month period or more, we're selling just as well as supplements did right after the release of 5th edition), and our core card game products (like Lunch Money, Once Upon A Time, Gloom, Dungeoneer, Let's Kill) just keep selling without requiring a lot of extra effort or investment.

As for the long-term future of Ars Magica, it's still moving forward. David Chart contract as line editor continues, and he's working on projects planned for the much farther distant future. There's a choke point in-house here at Atlas this year, but we're not slowing down David's rate of work; we'll just be accumulating finished books, basically. :slight_smile:

Anyhow, I thought I'd let folks get an idea of what's going on behind the scenes here, since it has an effect in particular on Ars Magica fans hungry for new books.

Thanks very much, John. I think your willingness to explain these details is one of those things that engenders the loyalty in the your customer base. I, for one, can see that you all have a lot on your plate, and will attempt to be patient. :slight_smile:

If, however, an idea occurs to you where we CAN chip in in order to move things along, please let us know.



Great news on the health of Atlas Games.

But for some reason I always imagined David Chart had somehow managed to conjure a team of elves from somewhere deep in the frozen north that periodically arrived in times of great crisis to help get manuscripts read, books laid out, packages shipped, and tea and crumpets kept flowing.

You've shattered my illusions now...

Oh, and that article you cited ... holy cow. I stay in sleepy little Burlingame. I might just as easily say "sleepy little Bronx." Geeze, what a great arguement for term limits...


Thanks for keeping us informed. You guys do really great work and it's appreciated. :open_mouth: Good luck, man! WOW.

Whoa! Best luck to you. :open_mouth: and thanks for the information, it's much, much appreciated. We'll be patient. :wink:

I agree. I appreciate very much the fact that you've taken the time to explain everything in detail.

It's good to know that atlas is going strong :smiley:
I just hope you'll find a solution to your problems, and wish you good luck with your city, as it seems to be a very demanding job.

John, thanks a lot for the thorough and informative statement on the current state of Atlas. I'm quite glad to hear that Atlas is doing rather well in the current RPG market downturn. Have my best wishes for your current political venture, and let's hope you will eventually find trusty and efficient help to swell Atlas' ranks (hell, if I lived nearby, I'd offer myself for some volunteer hours if it's all that it takes to have Glimps of the Abyss published sooner; it can't be all that different from sending a scientific paper for publication).

Just a further question: do you confirm that RoP:Magic is the book that is planned after Normandy and Art and Academie ??

Glimpse could go to the printer today -- it's not because we need to give distributors time to properly advertise it to retailers and get orders lined up. (The orders from when the book was originally planned have long been cancelled.) Once the book was finished, I (re-)announced it for the first available slot according to the solicitation schedule of our major wholesalers (who need 3-4 months to list a book in a catalog, get pre-order forms back, etc.).

I believe that is the case, but these things can always be subject to change.

I honour you for taking up civic responsibility, John. My mother and father both took up city roles in their lifetime (no pay, lots of responsbilities, but a real feeling of helping the community).

I think we call can understand any delays and hiccups that occur due to this situation.

Best of luck with your election!

You have my vote. Don't let the fact that I live 1952.73 miles away bother you at all. :slight_smile: