Why Immanion Press is so Important to me

Immanion Press I don't write much about the work I do with Immanion Press on this blog. Indeed, as far as many of you know, I'm just one of its authors. But the truth is I'm not just an author of Immanion Press. I'm also the Managing Non-Fiction editor of Immanion Press. (Cue in the jokes about being a Hair club for men member). For me, Immanion Press is one of the vehicles by which I express my passion for writing and publishing and magic in the world.

My service to Immanion Press is one of the ways I give back to the magical community and is also an offering to the magic itself. I am not paid a salary at Immanion Press. I get a small royalty for books I edit, but I don't get paid for the layout I do, or a lot of the other work I do and I am fine with that. My service to Immanion is a dedication of love to occult writing, occult authors, and to the magic itself. It is done because I want to publish books that I know will likely not see the light of day because other publishers are afraid to touch the books. It is done because I want to empower authors who have had bad experiences with other publishers, and show them that someone has their back. Indeed as I write this I reflect on an email a prospective author sent me on Thursday, telling me how validated she feels to have a publisher interested in her work who will respect her voice, who will edit the book, but not to commoditize it for the mass market. I like hearing that because to me a publisher has two clients: The Authors and the Readers. Too often, imo, most publishers focus on the latter and forget or neglect the former.

Way back in 2003, I had written Pop Culture Magick. I shopped the book to Weiser, New Falcon, and a couple other publishers. In some cases I didn't hear back from the publishers and in other cases, I got a rejection letter. I was told that my book was too niche and controversial. I was told that I shouldn't try to publish it because it wouldn't sell. So during a trip to England, I talked with Storm Constantine, owner of Immanion Press, and to this day a good friend of mine. I showed her my book and even though Immanion Press had originally been intended for Science Fiction and Fantasy books, she saw the potential in my book and agreed to publish it. In 2004, Pop Culture Magick was published and thus we started the non-fiction line of Immanion Press. It strikes me as ironic that NOW bigger publishers want to publish books on pop culture magic. I guess it's no longer so controversial, but in 2003, a decade ago, no one would touch my book. I doubt I'll ever really get the recognition I think is deserved for paving the way, but I know I paved the way. Not just with my books either, but with other books by other authors as well. Of course, I didn't do it alone.

I had help over the years from the authors, from Storm, from Kat, and from other people and I am thankful to all of them to this day, because the nonfiction line for Immanion Press couldn't be what it is without the authors, editors, and volunteers who've offered time, blood, and sweat to make things happen. Immanion Press has always been a team effort, and so really it's that all of us paved the way to one extent or another.

A couple of months after Pop Culture Magic was published, Nick Farrell emailed me and asked if Immanion Press would consider publishing his book Gathering the Magic. It's a book about magical group dynamics and big surprise, none of the bigger publishers wanted to publish it. So I asked Storm about it, and Immanion Press took it on. I was still just an author then, but as more authors found out about us, and discovered that we wanted to publish intermediate to advanced books on magic that were for niche markets and that no book was too controversial for us, Storm asked me if I would be willing to be the managing non-fiction editor. She respected my expertise as an occultist, and the way that I knew the market. I said yes and I began what has been and continues to be one of the most important callings of my life: I publish the books other publishers won't touch because I know there is a market and that those publishers are wrong. They don't get can they, when what they are focused on is really the bottom line? And I get why they are...and they have a place, and the books they publish have a place, but even so, on a certain level they just don't get it, and they never will. They aren't publishing for the same reason and what they publish is for a larger market. They aren't going to publish the controversial books, the risky books because they don't want to alienate that larger market. But the truth is that anything that is published is bound to offend someone. It's not always about hitting the largest market possible. It's about reaching the right market...the right people and meeting their needs even if it isn't an automatic hit. It's about knowing the market, knowing the people, knowing what they want...and knowing that giving it to them does involve some risk, because you can't please everyone...and maybe you shouldn't.

Working at Immanion Press hasn't always been easy. At one point I came very close to leaving, burned out, and fed up with how taken for granted I felt by everyone involved. And being a strong personality, I know I am not always easy to work with and that I've made a few mistakes along the way. But overall, I love the work I do at Immanion Press and over time the process has gotten easier. What people forget sometimes is that Immanion Press is a small press. We don't have a paid staff of editors, publicists, marketers, etc. We run on a tight budget and the people who work for us get paid in royalties. And yet they do it anyway, which I am so thankful for...because they believe in the vision of Immanion Press. They believe that what we are doing is important enough to support it. And despite not having what traditional publishers have, we make it work and we find ways to help our authors out. It's not a perfect system, far from it, and sometimes it doesn't work out as well as it could. But we make it work anyway.

And I am proud of our authors and books. I am proud that I've played a role, however small it is, in helping authors launch their writing career and when I see that one of my authors got a book published by another publisher I feel good about it, because I know that getting published by us helped with that. We publish the controversial books, and we also bring books back into print and what we have available is awesome. We've published books on the subjects that the other publishers won't touch and we've played a role in getting conversations to happen. We've also told the authors that we want them to write in their voices and that we won't sanitize those voices. At the same time, we've insisted on academic standards of in-text citation and quotations, which readers tell me they love because they see it so rarely in the majority of books published on magic and paganism.

At this last Pantheacon, two of my authors, Tony Mierzwicki and Crystal Blanton, told me in their respective ways how much they liked working with Immanion Press. Tony told me how he'd shopped his book Graeco-Egyptian Magic everywhere and was about to self-publish it when he remembered meeting me and decided to see if we'd publish his book. We said yes and he told me how getting his book published opened doors for him. He told me how much he appreciated a free marketing seminar I gave to the authors (and inspired me to start it up again for my authors). And I know that even if he never publishes another book with us, we played a role in his life and in his writing that he'll always remember. And that touched me so profoundly and I was so grateful for his appreciation and recognition of Immanion Press and my role in all of it.

And at one point I was talking with Crystal and she abruptly stopped me and said, with much emotion, "Thank you" several times. And later she told me how much she appreciated my vision for Immanion and she said that she didn't think I knew what an impact I had on her community because of how I'd supported her as an author and as an editor of The Shades of Faith Anthology we published. And she's right I didn't know it, but that weekend gave me a glimpse...and later she acknowledged at a panel my role in the anthology and how I'd recognized I wasn't the right person to edit that anthology, and that I knew I needed to find someone who could do it justice. I was so touched by what she said, so honored that she felt I had contributed to her vision and work.

And I've had other authors on occasions tell me similar things and I have always felt touched. To me that is the biggest payoff. I have helped authors reach their audience. I have respected their voices, their culture, their audience...I have done my job as a publisher and an editor and as a magician...I have believed in them and provided a platform to help them reach others who can believe in them as well.

And I've continued to write my books and place them with Immanion. I'll admit I do find it frustrating when I go to Powells books and don't see my books on the shelves or the Barnes and Nobles because we use print on demand and because we don't take returns. Yet that frustration pales to the joy I feel writing my books my way...knowing my voice will be respected, knowing that the cover of the book will be the cover I pick. And I know I'm reaching my audience. I'm reaching the people who need my work and that is what is really important.

I'm writing a book on Wealth Magic and I flirted with the idea of letting another publisher publish one of my books. I even sent a proposal in and then...I went to a panel held by the publisher and in that panel I heard everything that was an antithesis of my approach to publishing. They wanted trendy, marketable ideas. They wanted books that had cute titles and approached magic in a hip marketable manner that would hit the largest market possible. I left feeling sick to my stomach and I knew that none of my occult books will likely ever be published by a larger publisher. I simply can't imagine emasculating my vision and my words in that way just to make a buck. And I don't feel they will really get my vision or my approach or understand that I know the market better than they may know it. I know I'll write non-occult books (I'm starting one as soon as I finish the wealth magic book) and those books will go to more mainstream publishers, but my spiritual work, the work that touches the heart of the universe and speaks the language of magic...that work needs to be the way it is...not written for a general audience...not written to make a buck, but written to speak to the people who need it...written in my voice, written the way I want it to be written. And yes it means my books will always be with a small publisher. It means that I won't get some of the advantages that some of my other occult authors have. And I can live with that...because even though its a harder road to walk and there is more work on my end as an author, I've already been doing it for ten years, and I like how I feel about myself as a writer and as a magician. I don't say that to pass judgments on other authors. I recognize that many of the other occult authors have had awesome relationships with the publishers they've worked with. I just feel that for me I know where the home of my occult books are...and hopefully always will be. And that's Immanion Press. My publisher and one of my loves. I love Immanion Press. I love what we stand for and I love that I serve the magic with the work I do for the press. That is more important than anything else. I serve the magic.

A word about copyright

I got a Google alert recently that showed that one of my books was available for free download on a site. I checked it out. I never put the book on that site and my publisher didn't either. So I sent them a DMCA takedown notice. Hopefully that will resolve the problem, at least temporarily. It's a good thing that I had an alert in place, because I doubt I'd find out otherwise. When I posted about this on some social networks, one person asked why I was concerned.

I'm concerned because I'm the author of that book. I spent who knows how many hours researching, experimenting, writing, and revising that book. And honestly, I'm not going to get a lot of compensation for the book. I'm writing for a niche audience within a niche audience. I get royalties and if I'm selling the book directly, I might make a bit more money then if the book is sold through Amazon or a bookstore, but either way I'm still not making a lot. But you know what? I want to be compensated for my hard work and effort. I want to get paid, even if its not a lot, for the writing I've done. I don't think that's unreasonable.

I know...some people will say: "Information wants to be free!" It's amazing how they have ascribed a desire to information, but as far as I know information doesn't give a flying fig about whether its free or not. Me, on the other hand...I care about the information I've compiled and written and put together and since I consider it to be my information, I can safely it doesn't want to be free. If it wants anything, it wants proper respect given to it and to the labors of someone who's worked to produce it.

I don't have a problem with Fair Use or a person quoting me (I do like proper attribution though!). I don't have a problem with a person writing about his/her experiences with my ideas and techniques. But I do have a problem when I see a site that offers a free download of my writing. My effort, my creation, my books deserve more respect. And its that same respect that I give every time I buy a book, quote and cite it, and for that matter review it, so others can get my take on it. That's why it concerns me...that's why it matters.

My books are now available on Kindle and newest radio interview

I'm pleased to announce that my books are now available on Amazon Kindle. We recently were able to work out a deal where we could get them  placed on Kindle. We'll also be converting other Immanion Press books into Kindle files as well, so be on the look out for those in the near future. My latest book, Magical Identity, is now available in print, on smashwords, and Kindle.

In other recent publishing news, I was pleased to hear that smashwords was able to come to an agreement with Paypal where paypal will continue to accept payments on books published on smashwords. It's definitely a victory for free speech.

I was recently interviewed on The Infinite Beyond radio show about my newest book Magical Identity. Take a listen. It was a fun show to be interviewed on, and we got into some interesting discussions about identity and magic.

My books are available as e-books

I'm pleased to announce that my books are available as e-books. Immanion Press has also made some of our other occult books into e-books as well. You can purchase my books as e-books if you visit Smashwords and search for them, or if you visit the book page and click on the link that directs you to the e-book page. Smashwords publishes the books in a variety of e-book formats. I'm really pleased to have them available as e-books and hope you will enjoy them in that format as well as the print format.

Upcoming Releases from Immanion Press

We here at Immanion Press/Megalithica Books have a couple of surprises! In addition to the imminent arrival of DIY Totemism: Your Personal Guide to Animal Totems, we managed to release two other books this month! Ecstatic Ritual by Brandy Williams is a classic text on practical sex magic that's back in print after nearly two decades. This revised new edition has expanded material, as well as an annotated bibliography and other features. Lupa and I had enjoyed the book as readers several years back, and now we're pleased to be a part of making it available again!

Additionally, a last-minute decision led to the release of the new edition of my Pop Culture Magick. Updated with more recent examples of pop culture, and re-edited to smooth out the writing, the content is still the same innovative ideas about integrating video games, RPGs and other geekery with magical practice. We do have a very small number of the first edition left that we're clearancing out at a discount, too, and you can find information on it at the page above.

Advanced books: Is there a market for them?

Recently Carl Weshke, the owner of Llewellyn books put up a call for readers, asking them to email him about advanced books, i.e. what they wanted Llewellyn to publish that would constitute advanced material. Oddly enough, Donald Michael Kraig had recently written an article in New Worlds Magazine (A Llewellyn magazine), which seems to contradict with Carl is looking for in advanced magic. In Donald's article, he suggests instead that it's not deeper books, but broader books which are more important, and that there's no such thing as advanced material. I disagree with the sentiments of the latter article. I believe that it is possible to write and publish advanced books on magic and find an audience for them, but it strikes me as odd that there is such a fundamental disconnect, or rather contradiction at work within a publisher that wants to publish advanced works, but also discourages the concept. Granted, it could be argued that DMK doesn't speak for Llewellyn, as opposed to Carl Weshke, but he is an editor there, as well as an author. Then too, there's the question of whether Llewellyn ultimately can publish advanced books. Their focus is on trying to reach the broadest demographic, which is impossible to do with an advanced book. An advanced book is for a smaller audience and will generally utilize discourse that is focused toward that audience. The goal isn't to sell books to as many people as possible, but rather to meet a specific market's need, which necessarily limits the number of people who will buy the book.

Finally, The wildhunt as weighed in on this issue, as well as commentators. The sentiment there seems to be that the focus on advanced magic and esoteric technologies is too limited, with not enough focus on advanced pagan spirituality and theology and philosophy. While I think their is a point to be made for the lack of advanced books on those subjects, I also think it's important to find a way to bring some practical applications to those topics. Thus a book on advanced spirituality or theology could still include some form of practical exercises or magical work that integrates the concepts into the person's life. Then too there are publishers such as Asphodel press who do in fact offer a venue for publishing books on advanced spirituality, etc. The difference is asphodel isn't a big publisher, with access to big box book stores, while Llewellyn is...and perhaps that's where some of the discontent from some authors is, because presumably those big box book stores will sell lots of their books...but let me just say that any book of an advanced topic generally will not sell well in big box stores. The audience has to be reached through different means, through personal interaction, but also through recognizing that your audience probably won't go to Barnes and Nobles to buy a book on advanced magic.

As someone who helps publish intermediate and advanced books on magic, and spiritual practices, what I find time and again is that the sales are not driven by big bookstores, but by knowing the audience and recognizing it's not a large target demographic. And that's okay. It works, because the people who do buy the books usually end up being loyal and continuing to support the publisher, while also spreading word of mouth to other people. The market success is based on knowing what the audience wants, and also accepting that what is wanted doesn't need to sell in large numbers to be a success (though I'll never complain if large numbers sell). The bottom line isn't what's important. It's the value the audience places in the material and also the author's voice being fully listened and allowed to show through in the books that are written.