AGP April Update: Print, PDF, Freelancing for AGJ and More

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jamesmishler
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AGP April Update: Print, PDF, Freelancing for AGJ and More

Post by jamesmishler »

It has been a while since Ive posted an update on the state of Adventure Games Publishing. I figure the best way to open with this is a statement of where weve been, so you all understand better where were going. I say we because, though AGP consists of just me, I consider my customers, fans, and friends to have a reasonable stake in the company and where it is going (a very fine publisher calls all these folks stakeholders, and that is very true). I couldnt do any of this without all of you, as it really is a group effort.

Though AGP was launched at Gen Con 2006, we really didnt start up production until Gen Con 2007 with the release of XXXI, our first Gen Con Special, in August. The first issue of Adventure Games Journal followed in January 2008, along with the Southern Reaches Campaign Map.

Then, starting in March 2008, things really began to go seriously awry, for many various personal reasons. It wasnt until August that recovery began, slowly, first with the release of the 2008 Wilderlands Jam Gen Con Special, and then with the release of existing products in PDF format on DriveThruRPG and RPGNow. In September we began releasing original PDF products, which culminated in the release of four new PDF products in January 2009. Since then, again, things came to a screeching halt

To date, in the 20 months since Gen Con 2007, we have released four print products, two print maps, and 16 PDF products:
Print

XXXI (2007 Gen Con Special)

Adventure Games Journal #1

Southern Reaches Campaign Map

2008 Wilderlands Jam (2008 Gen Con Special)

Rhadamanthia Continental Map

Monsters & Treasure of the Wilderlands 1
PDF

Adventure Games Journal #1

Southern Reaches Judges Map

Southern Reaches Players Map

Rhadamanthia Continental Map

World of the Wilderlands of High Adventure Guidebook

Monsters & Treasures of the Wilderlands 1

Imperial Town of Tell Qa

Barbarians of the Wilderlands 1

Aendryths Eldritch Compendium

Skills, Feats, and Languages of the Wilderlands

Faiths of the City State: Forn Sidthr

Martial Artist Class

Western Karak Map

100 Treasure Troves Treasure Type 1

100 Exciting Encounters 1st Level Encounters

100 Calamitous Curses

Considering that AGP has been a one-man operation on the writing end, this is not too bad, really, but still falls far short of past promises especially to AGJ Subscribers. The now-defunct AGJ Subscription Program was originally intended to resurrect the old Judges Guild format; unfortunately, the decision to run with a subscription format was more nostalgia than good business sense.

Ive tried to make up the many delays to AGJ Subscribers by offering free PDFs and by expanding out the value of the product that they will (eventually) receive. Now the only thing left to do is make good on those new promises. Hopefully, soon, that will begin.

From going back over and seriously considering my failures of the last 20 months, I have determined that the primary problem is simply biting off more than I can chew. First the plan to release a different 48-page book every month failed; then the plan to put together a massive Western Karak book stalled. The best success I have had thus far has been in putting together series of short and sweet PDFs. When I concentrate on finishing one small project at a time, I flourish; when I put together a grandiose plan to publish a massive work or series of works, I fail.

So it has been decided that rather than shoot for big gulps, I shall go for small bites.

First, the huge Western Karak book is not going to happen; at least, not in the format originally described. Instead, I will do a booklet for each of the 18 Campaign Regions of Western Karak. Each booklet will be as big as it needs to be, and no bigger, from 24 to 48 pages. In addition to the basics, some books will describe a city or town, others might have a new class or race, or maybe a monster or three and a few treasures, or some combination of these elements. Im not going to try to shoehorn one overarching format on each different region; that way leads to madness.

Also, these will not necessarily be in numerical Region order; while the first book details Campaign Region #1, the second might jump to #12, or #5, and then back again. It will depend on whichever region piques my interest (and, perhaps, in whichever regions fans express an interest).

Similarly, print product subjects will jump around from product to product. After the Valley of the Immortals, I plan on revisiting the Southern Reaches and finally putting paid to that project. Again, the final format will be whatever it will be when I feel it is complete. Overreaching and trying to fit too much into one product has been a serious issue with actually getting products done! So the next print product after might be a region book for Western Karak, or perhaps another region of the Wilderlands proper, or something else altogether. No promises.

Another hard-learned lesson has been the relationship between print and PDF. Unfortunately, the sales of the print version of Monsters & Treasures of the Wilderlands 1 have been terrible. No, not terrible monstrously terrible. I have, to date, sold 12 copies and that includes those copies bought by subscribers using their page credit! Twelve yes, merely twelve copies. Were it not for the fact that I am able to print very small quantities at reasonable rates through print-on-demand, this would have been the end of AGP. As it stands, it is still a significant setback, and makes the success or failure of the next print product the make-it-or-break-it product for print format with AGP.

That said those subscribers who have stuck with me will now be rewarded as I can. Going forward, they will receive the PDF version of subscription-fulfillment products FREE when the PDF is released. No extra charge, no page credit charge, nada... FREE. However, the proviso is now that PDFs of print products will not be released until at least one month following release of the print product, similar to the policy followed by Troll Lord Games. Hopefully, this will spur sales of the print version; if print sales continue to be terrible, I may have to reconsider the entire print endeavor.

In addition to print products, I will continue the series of small PDFs, published in parallel to and distinct from the print products. Of these, the best selling have been the generic 100 series PDFs, so these will continue, particularly new Treasure Troves and Exciting Encounters, as previously outlined.

The first Wilderlands 100-series product will be 100 Ravaged Ruins of the Wilderlands, which will include the famous Ravaged Ruins charts (plus a revised version of the classic Startling Statues chart) as well as 100 Ravaged Ruins in full detail, generated using the charts. Depending on the success thereof, perhaps more Wilderlands-oriented 100-series PDFs will be published; sales will determine their worthiness. Other PDFs will also be published from time to time; perhaps a class PDF, perhaps a race PDF, usually generic, but again, sometimes Wilderlands-oriented.

Finally, as far as production goes, one last note, and its a big one.

Ive decided to open Adventure Games Journal to freelance work. Yes, you too might get the chance to write about the Wilderlands.

Note that like the Wilderlands of High Adventure, none of the material published in Adventure Games Journal will be official Wilderlands, merely variant. Also, all rights to anything Wilderlands-based must be turned over unconditionally in full to Adventure Games Publishing and Judges Guild on a work for hire basis this is non-negotiable. Generic, non-Wilderlands materials will be taken on a non-exclusive basis (i.e., you will continue to own the right to re-sell the article or re-publish it non-exclusively, while AGP retains the right to reprint it in further printings, in compilations, in print and electronically). At this time I will consider articles for Castles & Crusades and the OGL d20 System; I will also be open to featuring art from up-and-coming artists. Unfortunately, I will not be able to pay cash, only credit, at a rate of one penny credit per word toward AGP print products. Additionally, contributors will get a discount on the PDF when it is made available.

More details on writing for Adventure Games Journal will be made available soon. If you are interested, contact me at

freelancers

a t

adventuregamespubs

d o t

com

So once again, I say, things are going forward with AGP... slowly, and not very steadily, but forward.

At this point, I would like to mention that those of you who have purchased AGP PDFs are able to post reviews of the product on DriveThruRPG and RPGNow. If you enjoyed your purchase, please by all means, post a review if you have the time! If you found the PDF lacking somehow, please let me know before you post a review, so I can perhaps fix any problems.

Finally, the PDF portion of the AGP Customer Appreciation Sale is still going on, through May 23rd. I am still trying to find a way to show further appreciation to our PDF customers; needless to say, the folks at OneBookShelf have been busy, so weve not yet been able to figure out a way to make something work hopefully soon. And for those of you who do not yet have a complete collection of AGP print products, well, start saving your pennies, as there will be a big announcement on May 8th concerning the print product portion of our sale!

Thanks again to all of you for your continued patience and custom.

James Mishler

President, Adventure Games Publishing
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Post by Omote »

I'm sorry to hear that Monsters & Treasures of the Wilderlands 1 is doing so poorly. This book really is great. As for the new releases, I'm looking forward to more in the 100 series, particularly the 100 Ravaged Ruins of the Wilderlands. Seeing Western Karak all in one glorious book would have been so cool, but, *shrugs* what can you do? Again, seeing something on the Southern Reaches would be nice considering the awesome maps that were made for this area of the WoHA.

Best luck.

-O
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Post by Treebore »

I wish I knew how to help your sales more, James. The Monsters book is great, in fact I was reading through it yet again a few hours ago.

If you have to go PDF only I am fine with that as long as you have no problem with me getting my stuff printed somewhere.
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jamesmishler
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Post by jamesmishler »

Fortunately, with POD being what it is, I will still be able to fulfill subscriber page credits with printed product, even if eventually I give up on selling print product myself otherwise. However, in that case, most subscriber print product would be print compilations of PDF products or somesuch, I'm not sure exactly how that would work... I'm worried about dancing to the current song, not the set down the road.
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Post by maasenstodt »

It's hard to believe that M&TotW hasn't had greater success. It's a very fine product that works effortlessly with other C&C settings.

I continue to look forward to seeing more from AGP.
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Post by Heruka »

Likewise - that is very sad to hear, for M&TW1 is a wonderful bit of work and a great thing to own in its lovely print format too. If you haven't already bought one, do so next time you can afford to - you won't regret it.

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Post by DangerDwarf »

M&T of the Wilderlands 1 is indeed a good product but I think part of its problem is that much of it is reprinted from two earlier products, the 2008 Wilderlands Jam and an earlier M&T PDF. So, it didn't come off as a new product but as a repackaging of an old one. I picked it up regardless, because the packaging of this version was great but I would think that it could be a turn off to some.

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Post by jamesmishler »

DangerDwarf wrote:
M&T of the Wilderlands 1 is indeed a good product but I think part of its problem is that much of it is reprinted from two earlier products, the 2008 Wilderlands Jam and an earlier M&T PDF. So, it didn't come off as a new product but as a repackaging of an old one. I picked it up regardless, because the packaging of this version was great but I would think that it could be a turn off to some.

DD, I came to the same conclusion as you did, and that's why PDFs now follow print products no sooner than one month after print release. I hate doing it, but if I want to offer print at all, it's gotta be done. I could go the Lulu route, but the price per unit would be prohibitive if I were to add on any profit for myself whatsoever.

However, OneBookShelf (the guys behind DTRPG and RPGNow) are apparently putting together a print-on-demand plan, or so the rumors go. If they are, and it is workable... maybe that's a way to take care of print demand. I dunno. We'll see what they come up with...
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Post by Coleston the Cavalier »

Your doing very good work, James. Keep it up!

All this rpg publishing stuff is in flux. Just keep producing your high-quality products and things will work themselves out.
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Post by dunbruha »

Just wanted to send a vote of confidence. I really like your products, and as long as you are creating such good stuff, I will keep purchasing them. Print or pdf, both are good (prefer print, though).

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Post by serleran »

If I knew what sort of thing you were looking for when it came to freelancing work, I might be interested. However, we probably have differences that are too vast, and I am not exactly a Sage of the Wilderlands, so, perhaps it is best that way. I do wish you great success, though, as the work you do is first class.
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Post by jman5000 »

I have to say, as one of the initial subscribers (think lucky #13), I'm thoroughly confused as to the state of my subscription and what it means.

Guess by this point I've just written off that purchase, as it was "risky" when I made it. If I get stuff in the mail - printed stuff - groovy and bonus.

Best of luck James, I really hope your newly revised plans meet with great success.

cheers,

J.

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Post by moriarty777 »

jman5000 wrote:
I have to say, as one of the initial subscribers (think lucky #13), I'm thoroughly confused as to the state of my subscription and what it means.

Guess by this point I've just written off that purchase, as it was "risky" when I made it. If I get stuff in the mail - printed stuff - groovy and bonus.

Best of luck James, I really hope your newly revised plans meet with great success.

cheers,

J.

I don't think anything changes from the last communication that the subscribers have received. With some luck and a few contributors to the journal itself, there might even be a chance of getting some things back on track. As a subscriber myself, I'm at least content that James has been upfront with all of us. However, if you are not happy with things, I suggest maybe asking for a refund for the difference of your subscription. When the subscription model essentially tanked, and he put forth how he would cover our investments, he did offer the option of a refund though he also warned that it wouldn't necessarily be instantaneous. Something to consider but I think James would understand if you wanted to go that route.

M
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Post by moriarty777 »

serleran wrote:
If I knew what sort of thing you were looking for when it came to freelancing work, I might be interested. However, we probably have differences that are too vast, and I am not exactly a Sage of the Wilderlands, so, perhaps it is best that way. I do wish you great success, though, as the work you do is first class.

Doesn't hurt to send him an email to express some interest. It sounds like he's accepting regular OGL/C&C material as well that doesn't necessarily involve the Wilderlands. As strict non-Wilderlands OGL/C&C material, it also sounds like the author retains the rights.

Until we know for sure what he's willing to consider or accept, we can always ask remotely interested.

BTW... I'm not singling you out but this might be a similar sentiment that others share on the boards.

M
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