Publishing A Devotional Anthology
With Asphodel Press
Asphodel Press is dedicated to providing a forum not only for well-written small-market Pagan books, but also Pagan deity devotionals, something which most other Pagan presses won't touch. We promote deity devotionals out of our love for the Gods whom we respect and serve, and also because we feel that it is important that Neo-Paganism is an actual religion, not merely a subculture. We feel that knowing the Gods, and praying to Them, is an important part of worship, especially for solitary Pagans who do not have acceptable religious groups or churches close by. Devotionals are how we get people acquainted with the Gods.
If you'd like to put out a devotional for your favorite deity, but you aren't much of a writer and the idea of doing a book makes you turn pale, consider putting out a devotional anthology. While some of our devotionals are single-author by professional authors, others are anthologies that were contributed to by many people. As an anthology editor, you can make the devotional into a group project, harnessing the words and ideas of others who love the God/dess who you are honoring.
We've put the process into easy steps, so that it doesn't seem so overwhelming.
- Decide on the deity of your choice. While some of our devotionals are dedicated to groups of related deities - Full Fathom Five, for example, is dedicated to all the Norse sea gods - it's best to start out with a single God or Goddess.
- Decide who will profit from this book. While it is not required, most of the authors and editors of these devotionals have chosen to remit the profits of these books to a charity that would be approved of by that God/dess, and do their work. All profits for Full Fathom Five, for example, go to the Big Sur Land Trust; profits for Trickster, My Beloved go to save wild wolves. You may also choose to sell the books at cost. (The printing cost for a 100 page book from Lulu is $6.50.)
- Write a Call for Submissions (CFS). This missive should include the following:
- the working title of the book, even if you change it later
- a short description of the deity it is for
- a list of what you want (e.g. poetry, rituals, prose essays, personal experiences)
- possibly a list of what you don't want (e.g. bad fanfic about the God/dess that makes them seems like a superhero or has them fall in love with the author, etc.)
- word length (If you're not sure, we suggest no more than 8000 words for an essay. To give you an idea of how long that is, a standard 8.5"x11" page of single spaced text is roughly 500-750 words, and a page in a trade paperback book is around 300-500.)
- deadline by which submissions must be received (we suggest giving it 6 months)
- an email address for submitting, and for asking questions
- the format in which you want contributions (e.g. attaching a Microsoft Word .doc)
- a reminder for contributors that they will not be paid for this contribution. (Some editors will give a copy of the devotional to all contributors; some won't. It depends on you.)
- a reminder that you are only asking for one-time publishing rights, and that they retain all rights to their piece and can use it as they will after this publication
- a reminder to contributors that you need their legal names and addresses for purposes of sending the release form.
- Send the CFS around. Have friends post it on their online journals, and send it around to people who might be interested. Send it to Pagan lists and websites that you're on - if you're not sure whether it will be considered spam, send it to the list mod and ask them to forward it if it's appropriate. If you see something on the Internet that you like, find out who wrote it and ask if the author would like to have that piece or another piece of theirs in the devotional. You might especially look for lists, groups, and bulletin boards dedicated to the pantheon, cosmology, or tradition of your deity. For example, if you are doing a devotional to the Egyptian goddess Isis, you should check out sending it to lists for Kemetic religion as well as general Paganism, or possibly even for other Egyptian deities - someone who reveres Sekhmet might also have had an experience with Isis, for example.
- Write the foreword yourself. You can write as much or as little of the devotional yourself as you like, but we encourage you to at least write the foreword.
- Wait and collect submissions. If some of them are not very good, you will have to reject them. Don't be wimpy about this, because if you are publishing through us, we require a certain level of writing quality. That said, we do help with editing, and some people's work can be edited into looking more professional. A piece that is heartfelt and expresses something meaningful about the deity is valuable even if the person isn't a wonderful writer. Make sure that the contributions are on topic and spelled correctly, and have decent grammar and punctuation. No TYPING ALL IN CAPS and no multiple exclamation points!!!
- While you are waiting for submissions, look for cover art. You must get written permission for the artwork - use the release form - or be able to document that the work is in the public domain. (Contrary to popular belief, every random thing you find on the internet or that was posted to an email list is not public domain. Here is a Summary of US Copyright Law.) If you have the cash to spend, you might consider helping out a small-time artist and hiring them to create the cover; that way, you have absolute say over what it looks like. The back cover should have some uncluttered space at the bottom, because we will add a logo and possibly an ISBN.
- If you aren't getting any submissions, try sending the CFS to new places. Better yet, pray to the God/dess to whom this is dedicated, and ask for Their help in honoring them. If you have no luck at all, reconsider your motivations - perhaps this book isn't so much about Them as you? Remember that this work is an act of devotion, not a way to make a name for yourself as a writer. Or perhaps the time is just not right for this devotional. That is okay. Put it on the back burner and see what develops.
- When you have gotten all the contributions you want, or can get, or your deadline is up, send each contributor a copy of this release form and a self addressed stamped envelope. Fill in all of the information for them, so they only have to sign it. (A stamped envelope helps encourage this to happen more quickly, but be prepared to hassle folks who are slow to return the form.) We will not print the devotional without release forms from all the contributors. Put the contributions in an order that you like and make the final decision about what pieces to include.
- Send the manuscript in Word .doc or Rich Text Format .rtf to Asphodel Press at email@example.com. If we approve it, we will format the typical devotional for free. Devotionals are usually formatted to look like these sample pages, but if you have other preferences (such as a favorite font) let us know. If you want extensive specialized formatting, multiple images, or the devotional is substantially longer than 100 pages, our formatter (Joshua) may want to be privately compensated, or may ask you to do part of the formatting work yourself. Asphodel Press itself is part of a non-profit, and receives no money for doing this work. We do it out of our love for the Gods, and as a service to the Pagan demographic.
- If the manuscript is approved, Joshua will talk with you about formatting options and other publication details. Devotionals are usually black and white 6"x9" trade paperbacks, with color covers. Other sizes are available. Full color illustrations and hard cover books are also available, but they are more expensive to print. We'll ask you to put the cover art up on the Net as a .tif zipfile of at least 300 dpi where we can download it, and send us the url. You will also have to collect all the permissions from your contributors and mail copies to us.
- Next, sign onto Lulu.com and make yourself an account. Send us the name and password. (You can change the password once we're finished.) When we're done formatting your manuscript, we will upload it. You will have to pay for a test copy, which will get sent to your house. There you either approve it, or you decide that it needs changes and let us know what's wrong. If changes are made, you'll need to buy another test copy.
- Decide whether or not you want Global Distribution. You can publish your devotional without it, and pay nothing but the cost of a couple of test copies. It will get marketed through people looking at our website (although we don't do a lot of aggressive marketing, so don't expect too much) and announcements you and we send around. If you want it to have an ISBN and be available on Amazon.com and other such sites, you will need to pay about $100 to Lulu directly, plus the cost of the test copies. It's your choice. We will go through the process of getting you the ISBN and getting you onto global distribution. It will take about 3 months after you're approved for that to show up on Amazon (they're slow).
- After that, you can do whatever you want with the news of your book. Send it around to all the places where you asked for contributions - some people might not have had anything to say, but they might be interested in reading what others had to say. Remember that you are not doing this for profit. This is an act of religious devotion. Your sales are not the measure of the success of the project. Let the deity in question lead people to the writing. They'll do what They think is right.