Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Making Money As an Esotericist Through New Techs Paradigms
I got into a "how can you accept payment for the sacred art of X, Y and Z?" discussion on a group that got me thinking and I realized that books, whether as hard copy or electronic media, were likely to be considered more broadly acceptable. Of course, the "everything I want should be free" contingent won't like any of this, but nobody gets paid for nothing clearly isn't a viable option for the economy.
I'll still run into people that tell me they have written a book, or worse, a novel and are looking for an agent, so they can get a publisher. Folks, this is a very 20th century approach! This is still thinking in terms of printing technology where you do big print runs, store the books in a warehouses, sell through intricate distribution chains from a distributor to book stores. The publisher takes big risks and has big capital costs for author advances, printing, marketing, editing etc. The focus is on bestsellers and mass sales with a tiny profit per sale. Very hit or miss and only for the big boys.
Or alternatively you can do the tiny occult press thing. Again a big, big risk because you need to sink a huge amount of money into your print runs. Sales are slow, then you sell out your print run after many years and suddenly with the book out of print the price skyrockets and the used books dealers get the profit.
The game has, or rather, is changing drastically. Amazon killed the local bookstore. But they never had the titles I wanted anyway, even a huge Borders only had 100,000 titles, while Amazon has everything in print, literally millions of titles.
But the real change is print on demand (POD). Instead having to sink money into print runs, you publish by uploading a pdf and then when the customer orders it, the printer prints the book for them. The cost per copy is higher, but you don't need to have any money upfront. No risk means you can take more chances in terms of sales.
Put that POD book on Amazon and customers can't tell the difference between you and Random House. They order the book and it shows up looking like the paperback or hardcover they are used to.
Now Amazon takes a hefty bite and POD is more expensive, but you aren't paying the bookstore its 40% trade discount and you've cut out the publisher and distributor.
Couple of other points. First, you can target a much smaller, niche audience profitably. Our translation of the Complete Picatrix has sold less than 300 copies, which seems miniscule, but since we aren't splitting the profits with a publisher or distributor and we have no overhead, it's been profitable from the first copy. We even used the POD concept for our high end handmade cloth bound and leatherbound Picatrix editions.
Rather than doing very expensive print runs, the customer orders a copy and we had a local book binder do the binding. This meant that every customer of the cloth and leatherbound got a special dedication page with their name on it, the leatherbound, they could choose the color of leather, designs, sigils, etc, as well.
Basically we are back to the 14th century! Before printing was invented, each manuscript was done only after an order and could be done uniquely for each client. Modern technology has changed the publishing paradigm.
And this is just for hardcopy books! I'm not a big fan of selling pdfs because they are ultra easy to pirate. I know that some of the esoteric heavy hitters do have good luck with pdfs. I'm not quite ready to do Kindle or other e-book readers, but I think these have potential too. I was thinking I would do a pdf with a Creative Commons license that people could freely distribute it if they didn't change or charge for it, to get some useful information out there along with some advertising.
Any hooooo, when I heard on Jason Miller's Sorcery course (very interesting by the way, I love his practical approach) that a popular idea for making money with esoteric stuff is opening a bricks and mortar occult shop, I again, had to say, how 20th century! Heavy overhead, big time commitment and limited to local business. It might be worth it if you used the shop as marketing tool for your Internet business, but otherwise, no way!
I know that there are plenty of people out there that magic, etc., are just hobbies for or are something they do for free for friends and family. That's great, but there are increasing numbers of us that are so serious about this that they want to do it full time and give value for the $.
For those people, don't get locked in the past. We haven't really thought through how to use Internet and these incredible technological changes, but the opportunities are really out there! Don't get locked into the paradigms of fading technology!