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The Best Laid Plans...
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
I hate airing our dirty laundry in public...
Who am I kidding, I relish airing our dirty laundry in public, but professionalism and good taste often makes doing so... "inadvisable." But this is a special situation and in this instance it's easy to talk around the specifics so to protect the innoce—well, in this case, to protect the guilty. As we've been trying to show off our editorial processes with this project, even more reason to let you all in on how things sometimes play out around here.
The product in question: From Shore to Sea, our Pathfinder Module partnered with Wolfgang Baur's patron-fueled Open Design venture.
The topic: Sometimes we get screwed.
So, let's backtrack a little bit. Here's something most folks didn't notice—unless you've been getting emails from me or really enjoy reading the credits pages of our projects. Around October of last year my title here at Paizo totally didn't change. What comes after that title did, though. Thus, "Managing Editor of Pathfinder" became "Managing Editor of Paizo Publishing." The distinction: now I'm not just in charge of making sure everything runs smoothly for Pathfinder Adventure Path, but everything else we publish too. And, as a special bonus challenge, that it all happens in a timely manner. That's been the real trick. It's like telling someone to build a number of towers (one for each product line) but, hey, for fun, let's start at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon, in this case, is our "schedule debt," a sizable hole with depth markers called Dragon and Dungeon magazines, the Pathfinder Campaign Setting, the Pathfinder Core Rulebook, and other beautiful fiascos that have gradually meant nearly everything we publish has fallen off its intended tracks. A real nasty peril when you've got thousands of gamers rightly demanding the products they've subscribed to and expect from month to month. But with my shiny Paizo-brand carrot and Paizo-brand stick, and the incredible efforts of our insanely talented and even more dedicated designers, editors (with a special nod to Judy Bauer, Chris Carey, Rob McCreary, and James Sutter), and folks at all levels of the company who have sacrificed nights, weekends, sleep, and meals to write and edit, those towers have reached up and up toward the light. The first tower to break the surface was the Pathfinder Module line with From to Shore to Sea, scheduled to go to print, on time, March 5th.
Or rather it would have, if the art we ordered actually came in. Oh, I don't just mean came in on time, I mean, was going to come in at all. What we got on the due date instead of a half dozen illustrations was an apology from Joe "You'll-Never-Work-in-this-Town-Again" and a very empty "good luck!" Lame. Now, art directorix Sarah Robinson is a goddess for a variety of reasons, but the power she employed in this particular crisis was to bat her eyelashes via email and coax a whole host of fantastically talented artists to take up the slack, and in record speed. What that did mean, though, is that instead of going out on time, From to Shore to Sea is now going out next week, three weeks behind my precious schedule. Ugh.
|Illustration by Dan Scott|
Wolf set us up with this great plan, author Brandon Hodge pulled together a fantastic adventure, the Open Design patrons made a host of inspired suggestions, and Rob developed this thing into a fine addition to our Pathfinder Modules line in record time. And Dan Scott, our ever reliably awesome cover artist, did the incredible cover I’ve attached here. (Again, Dan: great and timely work. We love Dan’s stuff.) Yet despite top-notch materials and everyone who touched the adventure doing heroic work, sometimes things still don't work out the way they should. Sometimes it makes things frustrating and stressful, but never, ever boring.
From Shore to Sea will be awesome, there's no doubt about that, and I'm more excited about this one than I am about most. But, sadly, this one has had a bumpy journey, and my first tower breaking the surface will likely have to wait for City of Strangers in the Pathfinder Chronicles line later this month. Missing a deadline sadly isn't something new, so don't go adjusting orders or rechecking release dates; this happens sometimes and no one outside this building ever hears about it. Our website and warehouse teams are also quite adept—to our chagrin—at picking up our slack. And, should all our plans continue to work and there are relatively few additional catastrophes, you shouldn't ever hear me griping about our "editorial debt" again.
So just a heads-up for all the folks who have been invested in and keenly anticipating Open Design's From to Shore to Sea: it's awesome and it's coming, but sometimes the path from author to your hands has some unanticipated adventures. And expect a very boring blog post from me in a few months announcing that all our product lines are, at last, shipping to the printer on time. It might not matter much to folks outside these offices, but here, it's going to be cresting the top of a very tall hill.
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