It almost always happens that when I go to any event, someone tells me they’d like to write a book. Sometimes their approach is one of looking for advice. Sometimes they are more aggressive (“I can write a book better than that!”). I always encourage them and offer to help. This is because when it comes to occult books, there really isn’t any competition. You see, I don’t know of anyone who buys just one occult book. When someone gets one of my books they end up buying books from other writers. And if they buy a book by someone else, they eventually get one of my books, too. Even if someone is writing on the same topics as I do, their book is publicity for my books and my books are publicity for theirs. So I encourage people to write books…especially if they’re good books.
Two Types of Occult Book Writers
Generally speaking, there are two ways to approach writing a book on an occult or magickal topic. The first is based on an old writing adage, “Write what you know.” This is the type of writing I do. I write on subjects I know intimately. I don’t write on subjects I don’t know. Right now, if someone were to ask me a question about a subject I know, work with, and try to embody in my life, I could speak for hours. What I say could become a book. In fact, Modern Magick began that way.
I spent well over a decade studying and practicing magick before I started teaching classes. After teaching the information for years, I took my classes and converted them first into a series of mail-order lessons, and then into a book.
But there is another way to write books. It’s based on the concept of “writing for the market.” A great book that explains this method is by Richard Webster:
How to Write for the New Age Market expertly explains this technique. The basic idea is that rather than writing what you know, you look to see where there is a hole in the market. Is there a subject that isn’t covered? Are there books already in a subject, but you have a different approach? When you determine that there is a hole that needs filling, your next step is to become an expert in that area. Read and study everything you can on that subject. Practice all of the techniques. Make sure you know a subject inside and out. Then, write your book.
So the two approaches are :
- Write on a subject in which you are already an expert
- Become an expert in a subject and write on it
Of course, the challenge in either approach is to determine the subject on which you are going to write.
Will Someone Publish This?
The best way to determine if a publisher will print and support you is to check with the publisher before you start to write. You could send a “query letter” asking if they’re interested in a proposed book. However, virtually every publisher with an on-line presence has a listing of the topics they’re interested in. This can usually be found on a page which tells you how to format your submission and is known as the “Submission Guidelines.”
If you visit Llewellyn’s Author Submissions page, you’ll discover a list of topics Llewellyn is interested in publishing along with specific guidelines for submitting your work for consideration. ItÂ doesn’t mean these are the only topics Llewellyn will publish, but they are the primary ones on which Llewellyn is currently focused. Requirements as to formatting the text and how the publisher wants to receive a submission will also appear on the guidelines. Pay close attention to them! Publishers receive many submissions and you don’t want to give them a reason to ignore yours.
That Other Option
Years ago, self-publishing was called vanity publishing. This was because it was very expensive and people usually did this when they couldn’t find a publisher for their writing. In other words, no publisher thought the book would be good enough to sell. Most often, that was true.
Today, however, many people are looking at self-publishing as a first choice. It costs far less than it used to, bringing self-publishing into most people’s price range. It has two great advantages. First, you have total control of the way the book will appear. Second, you will earn more money per book sold.
However, in my opinion, there are still a lot of disadvantages. Although you will have more control, most people don’t know about things such as editing and design. Many self-published books look absolutely horrible and unprofessional. Some people still look down on self-published books. Further, when you self-publish you are also the advertiser, publicist, distributor, promoter, etc. You literally have to do several jobs.
My friend, Devin O’Branagan, self-published one of my favorite Pagan novels, Witch Hunt. She has also published a hugely popular young adult vampire novel called Glory. They are well-written and exciting, however they have really obtained popularity because she is literally working on publicizing them every day with blogs, interviews, websites, etc. Self-publishing is full-time job and a lot of work.