How I’m Self-Publishing a Magick Book

by Mike Sententia on March 20, 2012

You found my old blog. Thanks for visiting! For my new writing, visit mikesententia.com.

I’m self-publishing a magick book. And I’m going to blog as I do it, to give you some ideas on self-publishing your book. I’m no expert on this, so take this as one guy’s experience figuring all this out, not necessarily the way you should do it.

I’m also going to blog each chapter as I write it, and continue posting answers to your emails and comments several days a week.

Today, step 1: Start blogging. Do this 2-3 years before you bother with the book, for two reasons.

First, your blog will be your main marketing platform, and it takes time to get traffic. (If you want details on how to market a blog, I recommend Problogger.)

Let me show you what I mean about “It takes a while to get traffic.” Here are the stats for my first month blogging, from Feb-March 2010 (click to enlarge):

The graph maxes out at 11 visits a day. Not gonna sell many books that way.

Here are my stats after 1 year of blogging:

Unique visitors are way up (from 37 in 2010 to 144 in 2011), but pageviews and total visits didn’t change much. I’m getting some search traffic, but not really connecting with people, and most visitors never return.

And for this past month, after 2 years blogging:

Between 50 and 100 visits most days, and over 8,000 pageviews* for the month. No idea how this compares to other magick bloggers, but I’m pretty happy. Certainly worth a halfway-subtle horn tooting in a blog post. And I think it’s good enough to warrant starting a book.

*Pageviews is a good measure of how involved your readers are — getting 1,000 visitors is great, but if they each only viewed one page, you aren’t selling a lot of books.

But there’s a more important reason to start a blog: The only way to become a non-bad writer is to write. And that takes time. For me, it took a little over a year. And that’s why I didn’t network much until mid-2011: I just wasn’t happy with my writing yet.

I stole the term “non-bad” writer from Study Hacks. Here’s a great section from that post on landing a book deal, which applies equally to self-publishing something worth reading:

You don’t have to be a good writer to land a book deal. I’ve been writing seriously for 7 years and am still trying to figure out how to become good. You can’t, however, be a bad writer. Your writing has to be tolerable for 200 pages. In other words, you have to shake off the stench of amateurism before you start talking to people in the publishing world. Trust me, one of the first things a potential agent or editor will want from you is writing samples, writing samples, and more writing samples.

How do you know if you’re bad? If your only writing experience is e-mails and school papers then assume you’re bad.

How do you become non-bad? My rough rule: spend at least one year writing for edited publications.

I don’t know many edited publications for magick. My best advice is to (1) get friends to review your posts and tell you what works and what doesn’t, and (2) read your posts out loud, to a friend if possible, and try to hear which parts aren’t up to snuff.

So, that’s step 1 for writing a book: Start blogging, become a non-bad writer, then build up your blog’s readership. Future steps coming as I get to them.

Other posts in this series: If you liked this post, consider visiting my current blog at mikesententia.com.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Yvonne March 20, 2012 at 4:08 PM

I can’t tell you how much I am enjoying your blog, and if you pin me down, I could probably tell you why, since I read lots of magick blogs but I only return to a couple. This thing is like a labyrinth, and while sometimes it reads linearly, it is not necessary to move in a progressive direction to do so. Your blog moves with one’s thinking, if you know what I mean. On the other hand, I do not think I would buy a book. I know several mages who are writing books, a group that I am involved in is writing a book, my mambo just wrote a book. Everybody wants to write a book and I am not sure why. Can you say why you want to write a book? Is it for posterity? Fame? It can’t really be for the money; I have two books out and the royalties won’t even buy my cat food. So why do this, especially since the “book” as we understand it (a physical, tangible embodiment of thought) has become more of an immaterial thing, with the kindle and the pdf. Why a “book?”
Just some thoughts…
Y,

Reply

Mike Sententia March 20, 2012 at 4:37 PM

Good question. You know the step by step guide I link to from the front page? ( http://www.magickofthought.com/2011/01/the-step-by-step-guide-to-learning-direct-magick/ ) The real answer is, because I can do a much better job of that.

A blog is great for exploring ideas. But for teaching a complex skill, you need to build through a series of exercises in a fairly linear fashion. I’ve had readers tell me that, while they love the blog, they find it hard to use as a training guide, because it’s hard to know where to start and what comes next. A book is better for that.

For me personally, I want to build a magick working group, which may someday become that company I keep alluding to. The book will help with that, both in terms of being a way for readers to really learn my style of magick, and by giving me another credential when I teach.

But, there’s good news for you: You won’t have to buy the book. I’m planning to blog all the content as I write it (and hopefully get more great questions as I go), and release the whole thing as a free PDF.

If all the material is available free, who would buy the book? People who want something physical to work through, take notes in, and dogear. Or someone who wants to give a copy as a gift, or have something to hold onto from this part of their magick career. Seth Godin talks about print books as souvenirs and gifts, and I think he’s right.

No need to buy the book to be a fan, though.

And thank you for your honesty. Please keep it up, and let me know any other thoughts you have on the book or other ways to achieve these goals.

Reply

Mike Sententia March 20, 2012 at 5:12 PM

Also, you said, “Your blog moves with one’s thinking, if you know what I mean.”

I’m actually not sure what you mean, but I’d love to know, since it seems to capture something about what keeps you so involved. Thanks!

Reply

Yvonne March 20, 2012 at 5:56 PM

Okay what I *think* I mean is that your blog is appealing because it doesn’t run in a “straight line” of thinking unless one wants to read it that way. Some of us like to jump quickly from idea to idea, and that is great with the way you set it up. If we are dabbling in multidimensionality I guess we will get used to different kinds of movement in thought, different kinds of time, different epistemological perspectives, etc. For those of us who travel out of body it makes even more sense. We move sideways with our thoughts, our energy spirals upwards, backwards, etc. It is a practical approach. I read your blog like that. Take an idea or a theme, move backwards, forwards with it, not “linear” at all. It is effective for the kind of teaching you are doing, at least for me. The *only* problem is that I tend to miss some of what you have written, like the fact that you answered the question about publishing elsewhere. (Sorry). But it is nice to double back and see what you have written. True, you can do that with leaves with a book, underlining on the text, dog-earring the pages, but as I said, I believe that the physical book is eventually going away…
Does this make sense?

Reply

Mike Sententia March 20, 2012 at 5:59 PM

It does. Thanks for explaining that. That ability to explore ideas is one of my favorite things about blogs, too. And I’ll definitely keep it in this blog, even as I start writing a linear book.

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Dark Arckana March 24, 2012 at 11:55 AM

Mike, I find your posts very interesting! I would buy a copy the minute it hit the shelves and I’d be interested in being a part of your Magik working group. I think that direct Magik is what the Occult Community needs, and, quite frankly I think it’s the most natural form of Magik there is. How else could the first system of Magik ever possibly come about otherwise? I think you’ll do great!

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