business of writing,  Magick,  Publishing,  S. Connolly,  Spirituality,  the writing life

Rant: The Future of Esoteric Publishing

Recently I’ve been reading a lot of blogs with posts about the future of esoteric publishing. Some people have a great deal of optimism – others don’t.

Admittedly, as both a reader AND writer of esoteric books – I’m finding myself in the naysayer camp. I’m not optimistic at all. Mostly because so much crap is being churned out of the limited edition hardcover market. I won’t name any names because that’s tacky. But I will say that when it comes to limited edition hardcovers – it’s hit or miss on what’s good and what isn’t. Sadly, the market is chock full of 101 nonsense being passed off as 401 in hundreds of pages of waxing philosophic prose that is great for mental masturbation, but not much else. I’m an actual practicing magician — not an armchair theorist. I don’t give two fucks about so-and-so’s thoughts on the nature of deity. Good for him/her. My experience is likely different.

I’m also an actual “trained” writer. I have a degree in English (Creative Writing) with a minor in Journalism folks. I had a 4.0 GPA in my major. No, having a degree doesn’t mean I write 100% perfect prose all of the time, but it does mean I know a thing or two about writing.

In college there was a professor who always told us:  “If you cannot make a difficult subject understandable in as few words as possible – you do not understand your subject matter enough to be writing about it.”

I agree. If you look at the plethora of nonsense being printed, you’ll see exactly what I mean. Perhaps if some of these authors would put away the thesaurus and give up the extended metaphors and run-ons, we could let the real writers write real books that help real working magicians.

If you want to sit in your armchair debating the nature of deity, or spend your time walking readers through your personal take on the Tree of Life or the Qliphoth, great, but do it in fewer words, okay? As a student of the esoteric and as a working magician, I know that I’d rather be in the temple or lab doing actual rituals, magick, and experiments that ultimately lend far more practical insight into such matters.

Maybe it’s just me and others like me.

Let me be up front with how I feel if I haven’t been already — MOST of the books the occult publishing market is churning out these days are not conducive to the advanced practitioner. The books cater to beginners, dabblers, “image” magicians who only want the darkest, most evil, and scariest books, and people too afraid to “do it wrong”.  Yes, I acknowledge there are a few readers out there who love the “philosophy” books, but I assure you, none of these writers compare to Socrates. If you want some wonderful spiritual fodder to chew on – try the Ancient Greek philosophers. I guarantee you they can say the same things in fewer words, and without the circular metaphor. If anyone knew Daimons – the Greeks most certainly did.

Of course catering to the dabblers, beginners, image magicians, and fearful is good for the book business.  Yes, I know that’s a harsh thing to point out. But think about it – all the crap being printed keeps our current generation of magi, all but the most creative of them, insecure and seeking assistance, thus buying more and more books that all say the same thing, in hopes of figuring out some great “secret”. The magick “pill” that cures all ills so-to-speak.

We’re being fed crap loads of philosophy being passed off as ‘the-one-true-way’ and ‘the only way to think!’  Or the authors tell their readers why all the other authors are just poseurs or fluffy bunnies (i.e. white light new-agers).  It’s great that the authors want to discourage the “competition”, and to share their personal philosophy built on years of their own WORK (hopefully). However – shouldn’t we, as authors AND students ourselves, give our readers more? Like *ideas* for *work they can do* to come to their own philosophy about the nature of deity etc…?

Authors OWE their readers more than just a dry, boring diatribe, and a quick mental wank. If you don’t know how to write – don’t. You’re ruining it for hundreds of readers/practitioners and for the *real writers* who don’t talk in circular metaphoric bullshit.

Maybe it’s just me, but anymore I only buy books about rare, unique, or specific subjects that interest me. There are few authors I’ll routinely pick up.  I have standards. You should, too.

As a writer, I want to tell readers that it’s OKAY to have standards. Just because they say it’s bound it goat scrotum or signed in babies blood doesn’t mean you should buy it. Seriously – CONTENT, CONTENT, CONTENT. Fuck the binding unless it’s a GOOD book that inspires you. Then go ahead and buy the one bound in the skin of a sacrificed goat with the hidden ciphers in the manuscript.

Buy what you like. Buy what INSPIRES your own WORK. For example: If you hate my books, don’t buy them! But if you love them, go for it. If you love the waxing philosophic crap – I guess it’s your dime. Enjoy.  I just know that a lot of readers are getting tired of it, myself included.

As to the future of occult publishing… I guess it remains to be seen. Hopefully once people realize that writing occult books isn’t the “get-rich-quick scheme” some seem to think it is, the drivel will fall to the wayside and the useful books will remain.

Also — Excerpts. Read them! If one isn’t provided, don’t buy. Any lack of an excerpt is suspect, or should be.

End Rant. (I imagine I pissed a few folks off with this and I don’t care. I’m tired of reading crap!)

Steph is an award winning and bestselling author of thrilling steamy and paranormal romances, dark urban fantasy, occult horror-thrillers, cozy mysteries, contemporary romance, sword and sorcery fantasy, and books about the esoteric and Daemonolatry. A Daemonolatress and forever a resident of Smelt Isle, she is happily married and cat-mom to three pampered house cats. Her muse is a demanding sadistic Dom who often keeps her up into the wee hours of the morning. You can contact her at


  • Morgan Eckstein

    It does not help that you have an moron in the Golden Dawn that tells everyone that occult writers are only doing it for the money (well, also to destroy his particular GD Order) and are making boatloads of cash while doing it. I wish this person would shut the f*** up because the truth is that you can’t even buy a box of groceries with the annual royalties that an occult writer makes. (Oh, dear–I feel a blog post of my own coming on.)

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