In 1980, when Jeremy Tarcher published The Aquarian Conspiracy, he had no idea it would become a New York Times bestseller—and one of the first of many titles from J.P. Tarcher Publishing that would capture the imagination of mainstream readers who don’t consider themselves part of the New Age movement.
At the time The Aquarian Conspiracy was published, I think I was regarded as someone whose list was very marginal,” Tarcher recalls. “I published books I cared about rather than books people thought would sell. But it turned out that there were thousands of readers out there like me.”
Today, thanks to the passion of publishers like Tarcher, yoga is practiced in Midwestern church basements, Dr. Oz touts homeopathic remedies, and feng shui is part of the decorating vocabulary on HGTV. Although he is now retired from publishing, Tarcher’s legacy continues at Penguin’s Tarcher imprint, which, says editor-in-chief Mitch Horowitz, “still publishes New Age books that capture a wide audience.” Horowitz adds, “In a certain sense, we’ve not moved any closer into the mainstream. Rather, the mainstream has moved closer to us. Across the American religious spectrum, from evangelical churches to metaphysical spiritual centers, the core aim is to find a spirituality that is healing and therapeutic—and that’s the key principle of the New Age.” Forthcoming titles from Tarcher include Edward Viljoen’s The Power of Meditation: An Ancient Technique to Access Your Inner Power (Aug.); The Power of You by Chris Michaels (Dec.), ; and The Book of Knowing and Worth (Dec.) the third in Paul Selig’s I Am the Word channeled literature series.
“There’s nothing wrong with mainstream,” says Red Wheel Weiser publisher Jan Johnson. “I think that’s the evangelistic part of all of us who publish these books—we want people to understand metaphysical laws and use them in their daily lives. I would love the things I’ve learned and published to be more mainstream—not less.” Among the press’s offerings this fall, Do It Yourself Akashic Wisdom by Jacki Smith and Patty Shaw (Oct.) details how to access the records of your soul’s journey; and volume three in Aleister Crowley’s the Best of Equinox series, The Best of the Equinox, Sex Magick, is due in November.
Divine Arts marketing and publicity director Travis Masch says, “Instead of trying to reclaim things like meditation for New Age publishing, they can serve as a testament to the pioneering foresight of the New Age publishers who saw the value of bringing these practices to readers’ attention.” Masch adds that books such as Rivvy Neshama’s Recipes for a Sacred Life: True Stories and a Few Miracles (Nov.) “bridge meditation and Eastern wisdom traditions with the experience and insights of our own culture.”
Reaching the Mainstream
“Mainstream,” says Beyond Words acquisitions editor Anna Noak, is becoming more spiritual, “causing our two worlds to harmoniously collide. My Son and the Afterlife: Conversations from the Other Side [due out in October] is the perfect example of how we’re reaching out to the mainstream market.” Not only, she says, because it asks the most unanswerable question (what happens when we die?), “but because it’s written by a former atheist, Dr. Elisa Medhus, who now calls herself an open-minded skeptic.”
“New Age concepts have always been a cultural undercurrent,” says Quest marketing director Jessica Salasek, “and as they rise closer to the surface we see more opportunities to explore those currents and how they’ve shaped—and been shaped by—popular culture.” The Seeker King: A Spiritual Biography of Elvis Presley (Oct.), the third in Gary Tillery’s series of spiritual rock star biographies, examines the powerful effects occultism had on the spiritual quest of the King. Lyn and Tom Davis Genelli’s Death at the Movies: Hollywood’s Guide to the Hereafter (Sept.) explores how Hollywood conveys the deepest truths about death and the beyond.
The afterlife and past lives are also investigated in two forthcoming titles: Joanne DiMaggio’s Your Soul Remembers: Accessing Your Past Lives Through Soul Writing, due out in October from Rainbow Ridge; and Echo Bodine’s What Happens When We Die: A Psychic’s Exploration of Death, the Afterlife, and the Soul’s Journey After Death, coming from New World Library in October, which offers tools for being with the dying, grieving, and cultivating communication with the deceased.
The reigning champion of conquering the mainstream market is Rhonda Byrne, author of The Secret, published by Atria in 2006, which remained for 200+ weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Subsequent megasellers from Byrne include The Power (2010) and The Magic (2012). Byrne returns in November with Hero, which brings together the wisdom and insight of 12 of today’s most successful people. By following their seemingly impossible journeys to success, Hero, says the publisher, “reveals that each of us was born with everything we need to live our greatest dream—and that by doing so we will fulfill our mission and literally change the world.”
New Readers, New Writers
While attracting a mainstream audience isn’t the primary goal for New Age publishers, one thing on which they agree is the importance of cultivating a new generation of readers. For Inner Traditions, that includes signing authors in their 20s and 30s who bring, says marketing director John Hays, “new angles and depth to the study of ancient traditions and knowledge.” In December, 28-year-old author Louis Proud will examine the influence of the Moon in the occult, Qabbalah, the tarot, and several NASA missions in The Secret Influence of the Moon: Alien Origins and Occult Powers.
“For the young,” says New Knowledge Library publisher William Burrows, “it’s especially critical that the rubber meets the road spiritually—how will spirituality help me make a way for myself in the world?” Titles such as Marshall Vian Summers’s Secrets of Heaven (Sept.), a collection of short mystery teachings, which the author says were revealed by the Angels of God, and The New God (Jan.), described as a revelation of God’s true nature unbound by human belief, “are reaching a new generation who may not identify with the New Age.”
“Instead of the ‘drop out’ attitude of the ’60s New Age audience,” says Masch at Divine Arts, “today’s readers want to ‘drop in’ and be engaged.” He sees two examples of this engagement: Karen Speerstra’s Color (Sept.) on the healing properties of light and the connection between the spirituality of color and mysticism, and Richard Alaniz’s A Shaman’s Tale (Oct.), “as geared toward an audience looking to ground themselves in age-old wisdom while aligning with the energies needed to safeguard the well-being of the next generation.”
Shambhala’s marketing communications manager Steven Pomije thinks that “lighter fare” like Lodro Rinzler’s Walk Like a Buddha: Even If Your Boss Sucks, Your Ex Is Torturing You & You’re Hungover Again (Oct.) will “find an audience with a younger generation who may not be so religious, and perhaps don’t want to be.”
One constant in New Age publishing is the commitment to books that help readers live a deeper and more fulfilling life, says Llewellyn publicist Kat Sanborn. “Even though readers may be facing different stages of life, they are consistently curious and passionate about attaining wisdom—whether it arrives from ancient or modern sources.” In Become a Psychic Wanderer: Expand Your Mind & Soul Through Travel (Aug.), Kathryn and Jean Harwig teach the spiritual lessons that travel offers to seekers at all levels, while Sara Wiseman’s Living a Life of Gratitude: Your Journey to Grace, Joy & Healing (Oct.) invites the reader to revisit each stage of his or her life, reframing experiences from a soul perspective.
At Viva Editions, Mark Nepo follows his #1 bestseller, 2011’s The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present at the Life You Have, with Reduced to Joy (Oct.). Publisher Brenda Knight says, “Mark reminds us all of the secret and sacred places within, forgotten in the noise and chatter of our busy, distracted, 21st-century lives.” Kuwana Haulsey addresses those busy lives in Everything I Needed to Know I Learned from My Six-Month-Old: Awakening to Unconditional Self-Love in Motherhood, which came out this month; her perspective is that babies are extraordinary spiritual teachers capable of showing the way toward inspired living.
Coming next month from Berkley is Neale Donald Walsch’s follow-up to his million-selling Conversations with God series; seven titles in the series have landed on the New York Times lists. The first installment was published in 1996, and Walsch’s latest is What God Said: The 25 Core Messages of Conversations with God That Will Change Your Life and the World. Also from Berkley is The Values Factor: The Secret to Creating an Inspired and Fulfilling Life by Dr. John F. Demartini (Oct.).
At a time when many feel disillusioned with organized religion yet long to move beyond an exclusively materialistic, rational lifestyle, Thomas Moore’s A Religion of One’s Own, due in January from Gotham Books, points the way to a world of greater purpose, meaning, and reflection. And just out from Inner Traditions, Nicolya Christi guides seekers in the right direction in Contemporary Spirituality for an Evolving World. Two paths to fulfilling relationships take center stage at Hunter House. Already a bestseller in Germany, Ruediger Schache’s Your Magnetic Heart: 10 Secrets of Attraction, Love and Fulfillment (Nov.) explains the spiritual and psychological concept of the heart magnet and how readers can attune themselves to find their true life path.
Healing for Happiness
At New World Library, associate publisher Munro Magruder says that Bernie Siegel’s The Art of Healing: Uncovering Your Inner Wisdom and Potential for Self-Healing (Sept.) “will be [Siegel’s] most important book since 1998’s Love, Medicine & Miracles.” And at Beyond Words, Inna Segals’s The Secret of Life Wellness (Sept.) is designed to progress from healing the body to a healing way of life. Healing with the Arts by Michael Samuels and Mary Rockwood Lane (Nov.) uses meditation and visualization through art to access healing for the body’s mind, spirit, and physical self. At SUNY Press, Spirituality in Hospice Palliative Care (Aug.), edited by Paul Bramadat, Harold Coward, and Kelli I. Stajduhar, explores the end-of-life spiritual needs of those who do not identify with traditional religions.
New Age readers seeking a more fulfilling life have long embraced the practices of Buddhism. Somerville, Mass.–based Wisdom Publishing is a charitable organization dedicated to cultivating Buddhist voices the world over, advancing critical scholarship, and preserving and sharing Buddhist literary culture. Daily Doses of Wisdom: A Year of Buddhist Inspiration (Sept.), edited by Josh Bartok, draws on the richness of Buddhist writings for daily inspiration, while Toni Bernhard’s How to Wake Up: A Buddhist Inspired Guide to Navigating Joy and Sorrow, which is already on shelves, describes the path to peace amid life’s ups and downs.
On other fronts, Hinduism and Vodou are explored in Homegrown Gurus: From Hinduism in America to American Hinduism, edited by Ann Gleig and Lola Williamson. This November S.U.N.Y. Press title proclaims American Hinduism as a distinct religious tradition and explores an increasing Westernization of Hindu practices and values. And a first-person account of Vodou’s private, mystical, interior practice is presented in Mimerose Beaubrun’s Nan Domi: An Initiate’s Journey into Haitian Vodou, due out from City Lights in November.
Goddesses, Wise Women, and Shamans
Wisdom and the feminine aren’t overlooked this season. The venerable Joseph Campbell traces the evolution of the Feminine Divine in Goddesses: Mysteries of the Feminine Divine, due out from New World Library in November, while Bruce J. MacLennan’s The Wisdom of Hypatia: Ancient Spiritual Practices for a More Meaningful Life, coming from Llewellyn in December, gives insights into the teachings of the most famous spiritual teacher in ancient Alexandria. At Larson Publications, publisher Amy Opperman Cash says that Teresa Moorehouse’s Soul Stories: Narrative Sculpture (Oct.) “conveys the essence of women’s spirituality and takes our vision of it to a new level.” She continues, “Whether it’s archetypes of the feminine or goddesses, her narrative sculptures do more justice to the sacred dimension of life’s stories than verbal concepts from the head can ever do.” And Gus diZerega presents Fault Lines: The Sixties, the Culture War, and the Return of the Divine Feminine, coming from Quest in November.
Considering the myriad titles coming this fall from New Age publishers, and the variety of topics they cover, it seems clear that the category is thriving on love in all its variations.