Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Up and down in Pagan publishing

Lawyer and Wiccan author Phyllis Curott has stirred up a lot of dust in the past couple of months with dark hints of a conspiracy to suppress Pagan books.

Some see too many "Wicca 101" books or not enough editorial integrity.

Elsewhere, Kensington/Citadel laid off the editor in charge of its Pagan titles, ostensibly because the market had cooled, I am told.

And a literary agent whom I know slightly, who represents several Pagan writers, opined, "The market for pagan books has not only cooled, it's gone into the deep freeze. There was a glut of these books because the mainstream of society was hearing about Wicca and Paganism (mostly through media like the movie The Craft and tv shows) and wanted to buy books to learn more about what this religion was all about. After 9/11, we saw the vast majority of these people lose interest in new spirituality and return to the safety and security of the traditional religion that they'd grown up with."

I agree with her that the publishing market is cyclical. And 9/11 changed things. In 2000, I walked around the huge book exhibit at the AAR-SBL annual meeting with Graham Harvey, who commented on the growing number of academic titles on Paganism.

The following November, every publisher had dragged out whatever they had that somehow related to Islam and displayed those books most prominently.

Paganism seemed forgotten. Yet it was at that same meeting that Fritz Muntean, the founding editor of The Pomegranate, and I connected with our new publisher, to name just one development.

As far as Wicca and other forms of Paganism are concerned, it's good to make haste slowly.

The tide of scholarly books is slowly rising: 2006 and 2007 will see significant publications. And in terms of significant books of the past, Margot Adler is reworking Drawing Down the Moon, her groundbreaking survey of the American Pagan scene that was first published in 1979 and revised in the 1980s. I look forward to seeing it.

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