Yesterday, I was in a bookstore looking for a book. An occult book that I know exists. And it being big name chain store, naturally they did not have it.
Now those who know my tastes in occult books and the state of the book business will not be surprised by this. The occult section of big bookstores has descended into new age, sun sign astrology, and the fluffier wiccan books.
This very bookstore chain has actually canceled book signings that might offend people.
I won't name the bookstore chain; you can guess who they are. The odds of me having to do a signing for them is nil next to none; but there is still a slim chance, so I prefer not to burn any bridges.
But it reminded me of the sad state of the book market for writers of my irk. I write books on ceremonial magic--books that only a few online publishers will touch nowdays. The big pimp of occult books, again no names mentioned, a few years ago cut loose everyone who was writing the heavier, and therefore less read material. If you can't or are unwilling to write new age material, they don't want to waste their time with you.
And for me, that is a problem. Because I am an expert in the deep end of the pool, and the shallow end does not interest me that much. I would sooner consider writing a college textbook (that day may come) than writing fluff bunny material.
I am an initiated wiccan (witch) of the old school, besides being a card-carrying member of a Golden Dawn based lodge.
A lot of the stuff that I would find interesting is not being written becasue it is not economically feasible to do so. For instance, one of my favorite series was Mercedes Lackey's Diana Tregarde series. But because of poor sales, this series will never have another addition to it.
How many good books will never be born because of the state of the current book market? I fear a lot.
But it is not all gloom and doom for the niche books. Thanks to the internet, webpages and POD (print on demand) publishers are cropping up. The internet could save niche publishing. And with companies like Lulu and Google Adsense, one can get paid something for one's niche writing--provided of course anyone can find it or cares to read it.
I, myself, have resorted to putting something up on Lulu. My revision of the Golden Dawn Neophyte Ritual for Three Officers is such a niche of a niche type of work that I felt that it was unlikely that a publisher would ever include it in their catalog. And considering that I feel that it high time for more Golden Dawn lodges to arise, I chose to get the information out there, even if only a dozen people ever saw it.
My visit to the bookstore yesterday was a sad reminder that I am pushing a large boulder uphill. I wonder how many other writers are struggling with the same burden.
This post also appears on my Writer's Blog.
[Updated--June 21, 2013--changed the GD Neophyte 0=0 ritual book from its Lulu sales page to its Smashwords sales page.]