By any measure, Wizards of the Coast has developed a successful book publishing program, selling more than 40 million copies since the company began publishing books more than 20 years ago to accompany its various role-playing and board games. In an effort to make its publishing business a bit more diverse, Wizards has created a new line of independent fiction titles that it will begin publishing under the Wizards of the Coast Discoveries imprint starting in January.

While Wizards' Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms lines are among the industry's leading fantasy series, Phil Athans, editor of WoC Discoveries, said the company had become frustrated by the limitations it had placed on itself in the book sphere. “We would have passed on HarryPotter,” Athans said. To give it a chance to discover the next J.K. Rowling, WoC finally decided to go ahead with a project it had been talking about for years—an imprint in the speculative fiction area, free of any ties to WoC products.

WoC Discoveries will focus on titles for adults covering the fantasy spectrum, from mainstream fiction to urban horror and literary fantasy. Athans said WoC is looking to publish veteran authors as well as new writers, and to encourage unpublished authors to submit manuscripts, it has posted submission guidelines on the Web site. After being “inundated by inappropriate submissions,” Athans said, WoC modified the guidelines, and he believes he will find some worthwhile books through the channel.

The imprint's first list includes a debut novel discovered in a traditional slush pile, Devil's Cape by Rob Rogers. WoC Discoveries' lead title is a Southern gothic by Richard Dansky, Firefly Rain, and its February title will be Last Dragon by J.M. McDermott. Books will be released in a mix of hardcover and trade paperback (Firefly is hardcover, Dragon paper), and all will be reprinted as mass market paperbacks. First printings will be about 20,000 copies.

Athans said the imprint has an “ample marketing budget” that so far as been used to introduce the imprint to the trade. Despite the popularity of WoC games in a range of different retailers, Athans said the new imprint will initially focus its sales effort on bookstores as a way to build name recognition of its authors among booksellers. The company is building the new imprint its own Web site,, which will feature excerpts, author interviews and podcasts. The company does not sell titles directly from any of its sites. And there are no plans yet to publish e-books. “When [e-book] readers add value to a novel, we'll give it another look,” Athans said.