The Intangible Cost of Self-Publishing a Tarot Deck

This is the sequel follow-up blog post to “The Actual Cost of Self-Publishing a Tarot Deck” that came after “What Does it Cost to Self-Publish a Tarot Deck?” If you’re not up to speed already, then start by reading the latter link (“What Does it Cost…”) and then the first (“The Actual Cost…”).

Here I want to address the intangible costs to being an indie tarot or oracle deck creator. Oh, and yeah, be forewarned that this is a very, very long and rambling blog post.

Risks and Rewards

Before I made a single penny, I had to go all in. Call it a gamble or you can call it a leap of faith, but either way, it’s a risk you have to take.

I did not crowd-fund but even when an indie deck creator crowd-funds the production costs, you’re still going all in. You are putting yourself out there and in fact, now you’re beholden to people. You’ve now got yourself a peanut gallery you’ve got to answer to. In fact, let’s not call them a peanut gallery because that’s not what they are. They’re your investors. You’re beholden to your investors whether you like it or not.

Your investors are displeased with your card back design? Well, now you have some thinking to do. They want more frequent updates and progress notes from you? Yeah, well, you’re obligated so um yes, you need to get on that even though you have a million more important things to do, like create the damn deck. So crowd-funding isn’t this magical solution to your funding concerns. It can be a good solution, but it won’t be a cure-all.

Also, what if no one is interested? What if you fall flat on your face and now, not only is the whole world watching, but that world has financially invested in you, so now they feel entitled to take you through the wringer, adding insult to injury.

Every decision you make is a risk. I dragged my feet over whether to place an order for 150 decks, 300 decks, 500 decks, 1,000, 2,500, or what. I mean, I didn’t even have a ballpark. I couldn’t even make an “educated guess.” I felt like I was aiming and shooting in the dark.

My deck is a hodge-podge black and white esoteric and alchemical deck that’s neither here nor there, illustrated by a non-artist. I’ve heard many a tarot industry expert remark in the past that occult-leaning esoteric decks do not sell well. Oh, and now I’m saying it’s in black and white only? No color? Oh forget about it. People want color.

So, given that the market preferences are stacked against me and I still want to publish my deck, how do I calculate how many decks to print? It really is a crapshoot, this completely arbitrary number I make up and go with, putting real life money behind a made-up number, all on a whim. Will 1,000 people want my deck? Or is it more like 500? Or is it really more like 100? It’s stomach-churning keep-you-up-at-night-with-cold-sweats scary for those who have never done it before.

I also couldn’t predict how the production quality would turn out. What if all the printed decks came out like crap? What do you do then? The risk of production error and then an overseas printing company leaving you high and dry is very, very real, and while doing a lot of homework and due diligence can reduce that risk, it’s never eliminated entirely.

There is so much risk involved and never enough information, it seems, for it to even feel like a calculated risk. My pounding heart was lodged in the pits of my stomach for months and I worried myself sick wondering whether or not I made the right decision.

It really is worth you understanding that these things are hard to predict. You may be able to tick all the standard elements and features of what every marketing guru says is going to be a hot selling deck and then get crickets. Or you might have a deck that everyone kind of side-eyes at you and says be careful, you know that no one is going to want that deck, right? And then it sells out from left field. You really just can’t say for sure.

It’s only hindsight that’s 20/20 where we who are standing along the sidelines can look at the most popular decks on the market and say with so much certainty, “Oh, yeah, I saw that coming.” Okay, but did you?

Think about it. Chances are there’s nothing special about the style of that particular deck. Everything has been done before. There are at least a hundred decks out on the market already similar to that particular deck. Why does one particular animal totem oracle deck succeed while the dozens if not literally hundreds of other animal totem oracle decks fall to obscurity? What’s so special about a new black and white esoteric, alchemical deck on the scene when it’s been done dozens of times before, and by way more professional, more artistic, more learned folks than I? So much of it is luck, risk, and gamble.

The very first intangible cost is the risk. You’re going all-in with zero promise or indicator of success.

Risk is frightening, a feeling of foreboding that’s stuck to the lining of your guts all of the time. While you’re creating and illustrating each card, you have no idea if you’re wasting your efforts on a flop. While you’re negotiating that purchase order with the manufacturer, you cannot say for certain whether you’ve chosen right.

Don’t even get me started on the month and a half to two months you’re waiting around for your decks to be printed and shipped to you. Or the five minutes before you hit “launch” on opening sales. Or whether all those decks you’re shipping out will arrive safely and intact at the front doorsteps of your customers. That feeling, those nerves agitating you is an intangible cost, for sure. Those nerves really do not settle down until the very last deck of the run is delivered. And even then, even after complete delivery, you still have to wait around with nerves, because you never know when a disgruntled buyer will pop up with a complaint in your inbox and demand something of you.

You’re Doing It Wrong, You’re Doing It So Wrong, People Can’t Even

People who have never tried their own two hands at self-publishing a deck have the most to say about how you’re doing it wrong. It’s a universal truth.

The thing is, secretly, especially if this is your first time, you think they’re right. You’re insecure. That’s the crux of the problem, isn’t it? You’ve got that bit of shadow in you that is completely petrified you’re doing it wrong and then here you’ve got a bunch of know-it-alls publicly declaring everywhere on social media that you’re definitely doing it wrong.

All the wise, supportive, telling-you-the-truth folks in the world, all your friends and family, and even seasoned deck creators can assure you not to pay any attention to your naysayers, but you still do. It’s hard not to, again, because of your own shadow. You’re already secretly afraid your deck isn’t worth the price you’re charging because you’re not worth it. I mean, who the hell are you? You’re a nobody. Of course, you’d never admit that openly, so you puff your chest out, get belligerent and defensive about it all, and publicly declare in no uncertain terms that you’re awesome and you’re worth it. But deep down you’re still scared and insecure as shit. Every deck creator, I speculate, has to go through this. I went through this– oh, for sure.

Publishing a deck and then having to market and try to sell it necessitates you stepping into the spotlight to get scrutinized. It requires you to make an effort to persuade people that you’re amazing, that they should buy your deck, and then having bunches of those people spitting in your face and saying you’re not amazing at all and then you just have to just suck it up and take it because, as they say, it “comes with the territory.” Thicken that thin skin of yours, will you?

You’re already aiming and shooting in the dark and then after you let the arrow fly on a prayer, people will come back and tell you that you missed the mark. Even if you’ve hit the mark, people will still tell you that you missed. Because the whole damn thing is subjective.

For any indie deck creator to say all of this doesn’t weigh heavily on the mind and one’s emotional health, I think, would be disingenuous. Even when you know people are being unreasonable assholes, their assholeyness still weighs unreasonably on your shoulders. Is the sales income and even the glory that comes with having published your own deck worth the cost to your mental health? I’m not entirely sure.

Also, the funny thing about human nature is humans feel this intense need to make sure you know that your deck did not resonate with them. They can’t quietly, privately not resonate with your deck. They have to write to you, insert in written form their opinions into your e-mail inbox, and tell you that your deck does not resonate with them. They simply must tag your name in that negative tweet about you. They must comment on your posts and videos where they know you’ll see to let you know that you’re overrated and actually about as special as a dollar store doormat.

Need an example? True story. One woman commented repeatedly in several of my posts how so-and-so is a better artist than me and she prefers the artwork of so-and-so artist. I ignore. Then she direct-messages me links to that artist’s portfolio and tells me, see? Isn’t so-and-so artist’s work so much better than yours? You should do your art more like so-and-so artist. I think you would be a lot more successful if you did work like so-and-so artist. I don’t respond. And then I get, how come you’re not responding to my messages? Are you offended? Wow, you’re so thin-skinned. Can’t even take constructive criticism. I’m just trying to help.

Another comment I got: If your deck really was a religious, spiritual experience and you really did come into knowledge and conversation with your guardian angel as you like to claim, then how come you’re putting the tarot deck up FOR SALE? (All-caps their emphasis, not mine…) Did your holy guardian angel really tell you IT WAS OKAY to profiteer off this work?

Please don’t misconstrue what I’m saying as meaning no one should ever write a critical review of a deck. I’ve certainly written a fair share of negatively critical reviews of decks, but you know what I won’t do? Tweet my negative review at the deck creator or tag the deck creator on my negative comment or go to that deck creator’s website and leave a nasty comment. I don’t feel this unrelenting need to plant my negativity intentionally in the path of the deck creator. What I’m saying is there are far too many of such folks in our tarot community who have that unrelenting need. They can’t just be negative in their own space. They have to be negative about you in your space.

Customer Service is the Devil

After a rather spiritual personal experience with Majors Key 14, my confrontation with Key 15 came in the form of handling customer service.

I am only half-kidding. Customer service really is the devil.

Something about people spending money on you means they feel completely entitled to your undivided attention, all of the time, and you need to be cowering your head, smiling in submission, and saying, yes, yes, yes to their every whim.

For fairness, about two-thirds of the people who write you with customer service related issues are plenty cordial, mind their manners, are kind, thoughtful, considerate of your circumstances, are patient, and were raised right.

But I gotta tell you it’s no exaggeration that about one-third start the conversation off with, “I am so disappointed in you…” or “You need to fix this immediately…” or “I sent an e-mail ten minutes ago and you still have not replied, this is very important, very urgent, I need you to reply right away or else…”

Also in fairness, the majority of the issues are legit. A deck is stuck in customs over in that country on the other side of the globe, except for some reason the buyer thinks you should be responsible for handling the situation, contacting customs in their country, and figuring out what went wrong on their side of the planet. A package has gone missing and you’re expected to be the one to play detective, you know, in addition to the hundred other customer service issues you are handling right now, on top of your regularly scheduled life programming.

So your guidebook comes as a digital PDF delivery via e-mail? Expect to re-send that e-mail over and over, on the daily. Also, expect a lot of disgruntled buyers who are upset that they have not received a physical copy of the guidebook and didn’t realize it was just the e-book, not the actual printed paperback itself. (You mean to say the fact the cost was only $10 more than the deck with no extra shipping costs didn’t tip you off that maybe it’s just a digital file and not a printed hard copy book?) You’re also expected to be free IT help when they can’t get the files to print from a totally unaffiliated third party print-on-demand website because they misread that website’s upload instructions.

By the way, to the buyers, I am in no way saying you shouldn’t contact me or any indie deck creator to report issues. Yes, please, you should report issues! Absolutely!

What I’m saying is issues are inevitable and as a deck creator, you do have to handle all the issues and people expect you to be Amazon Prime. Why can’t you offer customer service like Amazon Prime?

The great irony is even though tarot and oracle deck creators are servicing the spiritual community, these very-spiritual-people are hardly ever empathetic enough to put themselves in your shoes and take it easy with the angry e-mails that begin with, “I am so disappointed with you!….” or “I expect you to fix this… why are you taking so long to reply to my e-mail? It’s been a whole hour and…”

I’m also not placing the blame on others. It’s myself and facing my own inner demons, too.

Customer service is having to constantly and consistently confront some of the darker aspects of human nature, not just in terms of what you witness in others, but also in terms of what you witness in yourself, what you yourself have become.

I demonstrated all the qualities I had prided myself in not being. I got short-tempered. I got snippety, sarcastic, condescending, and resentful. Having to be the one to handle customer service can bring out the worst in you, a side of your own personality you would have assumed you’d never be capable of. Handling customer service kind of turns you in to an asshole.

Opportunity Cost

I’m going to talk about opportunity cost again. Accounting for opportunity cost isn’t fluffy padded bullshit. It’s real. Like the majority of self-published deck creators, I’m also a tarot reader (and astrologer and feng shui consultant).

I also like to create content for online courses. When I put out a new online course, I earn a surge of income (all course content creators acknowledge the same for them). The pre-existing courses I have do earn me some sales, but it’s definitely more of a trickle. In other words, creating new online course content is integral to the thriving business model.

Before I fell down the rabbit hole of Spirit Keeper’s Tarot, I had 3 more courses in the pipeline for 2018. All of those ideas fell through because I was working on this deck. And you’re going to find yourself in the same or similar situation if you want to self-publish a deck and try to sell it. That’s called opportunity cost, buddy.

Every professional tarot reader or spiritual entrepreneur who decides to self-publish and sell a tarot or oracle deck needs to make this sacrifice and sustain the cost of opportunity loss. You can’t accept those top-dollar tarot reading requests for the weekend if you’re already committed to packing and shipping decks out by Monday. You can’t write that book. You can’t create that online course (oh, meanwhile, someone else has come up with the same idea, is now selling that subject as an online course and making the money you’re losing out on because you’re handling customer service for a tarot deck).

The holiday seasons that readers earn the most money and get their schedules booked solid are the same holiday seasons people are buying tarot and oracle decks in greater numbers, so then you have to choose: earn the income from booking readings or forego that to stay home and fulfill deck orders. Not to mention even if you literally have the time to do both, energetically you might not. You’re just going to find yourself wiped, exhausted, and completely depleted, all of the time.

Sure, you can hire help. I just don’t know if it’s worth your while. First, how much time will you have to expend to get the new hire up to speed on what needs to get done and how to do it? Second, do you need to supervise? Isn’t that still your time? Wouldn’t it just be faster if you did it yourself? And what if the new hire bungles up big time and makes a huge packing and shipping error with 100 of your customers? Then what? The nature of the beast of self-publishing is it’s fated to be DIY, do-it-yourself.

And while you’re doing everything by yourself, something will get the short end of your focus stick. It’s the reality because of our human limitations. Oh, and whoever ends up getting the short end of your focus stick is going to be very unhappy with you, and yeah, justifiably so, which makes you feel all the guiltier. Thus, no matter what the printed bottom line of your profit sheet looks like, chances are there is an opportunity cost you haven’t accounted for.

Burn-Out and Mental Health

You look like a whiny snowflake when you want to talk about this subject, but I don’t know how to adequately emphasize the point that this stuff is real. And detrimental if you don’t address it.

It’s not that self-publishing a deck by itself is bad for you. It’s the fact that this almost always happens within the context of real life and every deck creator has other shit to do.

Self-publishing a deck is a 24/7 operation (or it feels like it) shoved in to your already packed life. You can’t do it full-time and just rely on selling your own tarot or oracle deck for a living. I mean sure, some special case person can do it, but for most of us, no, no you can’t. That means you’re hustling in other arenas while running a full-time all-consuming and demanding business operation.

No matter how smart or experienced or capable you may think yourself to be, I can all but promise you that you’re not ready for this. Everything requires more time and energy from you than you estimated it would. And then, no matter what decision you make, there’s a panel of self-appointed critics who will go around telling people you’re a hypocrite, you’re a sell-out, and you don’t know what you’re doing (probably true, and again, that’s the whole reason why you’re so upset by the comment…).

I wasn’t watching what I ate. I had irregular sleeping and eating habits. The house was a cluttered mess (bad feng shui?). I didn’t have any time to myself, to just unwind and do nothing, to simply take up space and enjoy a moment of total un-productivity. Any half a minute I took to catch my breath, I’d feel enormously guilty about, because there was so much left to do, so many people waiting on me to get their shit done, so I had to hustle and stop loitering around.

For most of the months, I was secretly and quietly on the verge of a breaking point, of a total meltdown, teetering and shaking inside but trying to maintain a cool and calm exterior, pretending like, “Yeah, no, no problem. I’m handling it. I got this.” My mental health suffered a great deal from the date I launched pre-orders to, well, still. I’m still working on it. At least right now I’m actually making efforts toward self-care whereas before I was shoving down all those feelings and faking my best act at being a trooper.

Not Everything That Glitters is Gold

A shiny new tarot or oracle deck out on the market is going to captivate a lot of people’s attentions. It’s not that the deck creator is exceptional. Your deck isn’t exceptional. You haven’t invented the sliced bread of tarot. So as the deck creator getting all the attention, you really have to maintain perspective. It’s just that this is a shiny new deck on the market and everybody wants to know more, this instant. It’ll pass. You are nothing more than the fad du jour.

With a temporary burst of buzz around your shiny new deck, you’re kind of thrust into the spotlight for better and for worse. Let’s not be fake-humble and pretend it’s not kind of an emotional high and you’re feeling all sorts of validated. Oh man, it really does feel good when people are giving you their stamp of approval.

You get addicted to checking social media hashtags to see what people are saying about you and your deck. You just can’t seem to look away. Flattering praise will send you to new heights of fleeting elation and negative remarks will send you crashing to the floor…hard.

To reel yourself in and find that level of undisturbed, unaffected calm is not easy. At least I will confess that it wasn’t easy for me.

Here, I struggle to fully put into words what I mean by “not everything that glitters is gold.” I can only tell you that’s how I feel, the sentiment I’m left with. It’s the total spectrum of relevance. It’s having to maintain your own realistic perspective about yourself and your personal capabilities when people are putting you up on an undue pedestal. It’s having to deal with the darkness that forms in stark contrast around the spotlight. It’s questioning whether the money you’ve earned in sales is really worth it.

The Intangible Cost of Being Not Good Enough

It doesn’t matter how much due diligence, preparatory work, praying, psychic readings, rituals, or calculation you do, things go wrong. People aren’t happy with you. This thing over here has this little error. That thing over there didn’t turn out as well as it should have. You don’t have enough hands, not enough time, not enough energy, this aspect of the deck wasn’t good enough, that aspect of production quality isn’t good enough, a couple of your drawings are shit… you’re not good enough.

That shadow seed is latent inside you already without the help of third parties, thank you very much, and then you get a disgruntled person on the Internet who declares it out loud for everybody to hear. They say you’re not good enough. You’re not enough. You already feel that way, trying your best to suppress it, and here is a total stranger on the Internet digging it up and putting in on display.

With being a traditionally published author of books, I think in a way it’s easier to stomach criticism. I never got bent out of shape over negative even hostile comments about my traditionally published books. I think I know why, too. At the end of the day, you’re a published author and something you’ve written is on the shelves prominently displayed at Barnes & Noble so your trolls can just go suck it.

It isn’t the same with a self-published tarot or oracle deck. Whether indie deck creators will admit it or not, we’re already going through an inferiority complex of “we’re-not-as-good-as-the-traditionally-published-decks.” Irrational and asinine? Yes. Indie deck creators think it anyway? Yes.

I cannot explain to you why, but healthy sales figures don’t make the not-good-enough feeling go away. It is just– illogical as it may be– an intangible cost you can’t recoup.

Your Deck Is Way Too Expensive

There isn’t any way around it, my fellow indie deck creator or aspiring indie deck creator. A certain segment of the community will make sure to let you know that your deck is way too expensive. And?

Here’s what artists hear when you tell them their work is too expensive: “You’re not worth it.”

When someone has the gall to write to an artist/deck creator and bargain with her for a discount, here’s what artists hear: “Your talent, hard work, toil, intellect, artistry, and that piece of yourself you have left open and vulnerable in your work is not worth $65. But I think it’s worth 50% of that, so could you please sell me your tarot deck, that 400+ page book you wrote, and all your intellectual property for $32.50?”

Artsy folks take it personally even when rationally they know better than to take it personally.

There is no winning here. None. You will lose, my love. Price your deck cheaply enough for everyone to be happy, competitive with the mass market produced $15 decks on discount for $10 with a coupon code and it simply won’t be worth your while to produce your deck. None. Forget “working for free.” You’re paying to work. You’re losing a lot of time and money from your own pocketbook just to work. And still all the mental health issues will crop up, so you’re really losing in every way for what you have to put in.

All right. After very, very careful and fair deliberation over how to price your deck, you arrive at a profit margin you feel you can be happy with, that makes it worth your while to go through all this trouble I’ve been yammering on about and that price, I guarantee you, is going to incite ire from at least some– but very vocal!– members of the tarot community.

I’m going to be bold here and go so far as to claim to speak for all indie deck creators everywhere…. we can’t help but to take it just a little bit personally when you make sure we know, “your deck is too expensive.” Adding adverbs or adjectives like “outrageously” expensive are extra sucker punches in the gut. Because what we hear, as irrational as it may be, is, “Your work isn’t worth it. Your work isn’t that good.”

I’m also flummoxed at the human nature of people who feel the need to hurt the deck creator because they themselves are hurt. Wait, what do I mean?

Let’s say there’s a deck that doesn’t even register on my radar, that I genuinely, I mean like genuinely couldn’t care less about. The deck could cost $10 or it could cost $100, I don’t care. I just don’t. I am not going to make one single peep about it. Because its existence couldn’t have any less to do with my life.

I only care that the deck costs $100 when I really, really want it but can’t justify shelling out $100 from my current budget due to my personal economics that have nothing whatsoever to do with the deck creator.

And instead of owning that and acknowledging props to that deck creator, what do I do? I take to social media to openly air my grievances against that deck creator. Extra points for me if I can tag that deck creator and my insults hit home. Maybe I even insult the deck creator and complain about how expensive the deck is on some subconscious effort to persuade that deck creator to reduce the price so I can finally afford it.

And how about the deck with artwork or a premise I don’t really care for, and here I mean I genuinely do not care for and don’t care whether or not others care for it? Again, won’t make a peep. Just not on the radar enough to be bothered to make a peep.

It’s when some secret part of me likes the deck art, is jealous of what the deck creator has done or envy the success that deck creator has achieved where I have failed, that I am going to make a peep. Right? I mean, right? I’m hurt, so I have to hurt. I have to make sure I use whatever platform I have to declare, “This deck art is ugly. This deck creator isn’t all that. What an overrated, outrageously expensive deck.”

I say all that in the hopes that a deck creator or aspiring deck creator who inevitably gets those “your deck is too expensive” comments and is now feeling down about it can take heart in this truth: it’s only the hurt people who hurt. Happy people do not go around hurting others.

Being Resentful of Other People’s Success

No one is immune to this, not even me, hell it wouldn’t be incorrect to say least of all me.

Even when you “know better.” Even when you immediately hit yourself for being such an asshat and change your tune. Even when you rush to the mirror to recite stupid fluffy affirmations at yourself for an hour. There is always someone more successful than you, with a way cooler deck than yours, winning at life way more than you’re winning at it– and the ugly part of you resents it. You don’t want to be that person and you quickly talk yourself out of being that person but oh man, the green-eyed monster is real people!

There are two sides of this coin here. The first is your own jealousy you need to reel in. Now that you’re selling your deck out on the open market, you can’t help but notice the indie decks that are so much more successful than yours (and, let’s be honest, way cooler than yours, too). And it eats at you even though you don’t want it to eat at you and you know better than to let it eat at you. The second is being the target of other people’s jealousy because your deck is the shiny new deck du jour getting the (very temporary–don’t ever forget that) spotlight.

Why am I putting this here as an intangible cost? Because it is. If you hadn’t put yourself in this situation, you would never have been put in the position of having to face your own inner darkness, that green-eyed monster within or be subjected to other people’s green-eyed monsters. I did a Bell Chimes In video on the Evil Eye before, linked here. So yeah. It’s an intangible cost.

No, But Actually, It’s All Worth It! 

There is so much I cherish about my experience and just as there are intangible costs, there were incredible intangible gains.

It would be imbalanced of me to not acknowledge the overwhelming kindness I was shown. A lot of folks wrote me just the most beautiful, thoughtful notes that more often than not, were the only things driving me forward, onward. I haven’t had a chance to reply to all of them. Isn’t that sad? I don’t necessarily reply to the love notes, but I almost always have to reply to the disgruntled customers. Sigh. Please know that even if I have not responded (because I’m self-absorbed…), I have saved these love notes lovingly and return to them when I am down. You are the strength that lifts me back up.

Once upon a time in a lecture hall back in my undergrad days, I was doodling in my notebook. The guy sitting next to me peered over at my paper for the full duration of the lecture, just fixated on watching me draw, a doodle that had by then taken over the entire page–monster-like creatures of my imagination with bulging eyes and cross-hatched skin, erupting volcanoes, cute-creepy things in caves, and– well– you’ve seen the deck art on SKT so you have an idea of what that notebook page might have looked like. All with a Bic pen on college-ruled paper.

After class was over, the guy hailed me down. “Are you an art major?” he asked. I shook my head no. “Well your illustrations are fucking insane. I can’t believe you’re not an art major.”

And as years of schooling rolled on, taking me farther and farther away from art, my first passion in life, I seriously wondered whether I’d ever be able to find my way back to art again this lifetime. By my first years as a practicing lawyer, I concluded any sort of art just wasn’t going to be in the cards for me (no pun intended).

So to now add creating a complete tarot deck to my list of achievements is pretty amazing, personally-speaking. If for no other point, creating this tarot deck and having the audacity to put it out there in the world, public, was me doing right by me.

2019 Redesigned Release of SKT

Yes, that’s right! There will be a future edition of Spirit Keeper’s Tarot and since there’s going to be a re-design, I’ll have to explain that re-design, and so a revised Book of Maps, too.

I don’t have a whole lot of details for you right now, so there’s probably little point in asking questions about what’s going to change. =) You can see how much I love to share and how I love to overload with the info dump, so trust that when I’ve committed to details, you’ll know. Right now, I’m toying with a lot of different ideas and haven’t made any final decisions in any direction, so that’s why I don’t know what to tell you yet.

And if you want to be the first to know, then sign up for the SKT mailing list. This is not a marketing my brandy bandy promos mailing list. This is exclusively second edition SKT deck news only. The best way to make sure you don’t miss out on any notices about pre-orders, releases, or progress updates on the SKT deck in 2019 is to put your e-mail and name on that list.

Go here to sign up.

19 thoughts on “The Intangible Cost of Self-Publishing a Tarot Deck

  1. Karen

    Amazing post. Fair and balanced journalism right here. I laughed and I cried. Missy, you are a funny, amazing, authentic, no-bullshit metaphysician. Haters gonna hate. If Oprah gets villainized then the rest of us have no chance of escaping the trolls…but more importantly you have grown with each step of this process. I am off to re-read “The Untethered Soul”… and thankful I don’t have the desire to produce a tarot deck. Hugs to you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You are truly inspiring. Every artist will ride that roller coaster of their heart as they create, refine, demolish, recreate and then wear out the floor before releasing that art to those that may embrace or reject it. That journey is much like a heroes journey. We come back changed. We face the slings and arrows of others, and the smiles and nods of some.

    It takes more courage to share the journey, as in a blog, than just traveling and hiding the battle scars.

    I’ve enjoyed every posting, and wish you abundant joy, success and trust you will continue to expand and liberate life through which ever medium you choose. Life is art…art is magic….be you! And $@& the rest.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. SK

    Hello Benebell,

    Isn’t that the whole problem with social media? The whole anonymity makes people vicious. The process of creating a new deck or a new baby, the comments are the same with people pouring vitriol. I miss the days of aelectic tarot and social media without the Facebook

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Hi! just to say You did Great & AMAZING job with selfpublishing this deck All by your self!:) Don’t Let Anyone take that down by saying otherwise!:) No need to feel anything but joy about it!:) must say I as selfpublhsher never got nothing but *positive critic & complain & did my best to sort out every shipping issue i got reported!:) lol Also i prefer checking youtube over hashtags!:) & never had that feeling *Not good enough bc I know IT’S NOT 100% Perfect & there is ALWAYS place for *improvement (maybe in next edt? WTA; Yes! I se you are doing it! can’t wait to read more about it!:) I’m ok with that!:) c’est la vie, so Don’t be such a *Perfectionist & you’ll feel better instantly!:P & for *price charged fact is its personal & depends from person & country & extra import post costs etc & regardless if you sell your deck for 20$ or 200$ there will ALWAYS be someone who can’t afford it or find it too much!x,x it can’t be helped as it’s hard to find good & affordable printing & shipping service & there are other costs we need to cover with all work & time invested in Tarot/Oracle creating/selfpublushing project! but once it’s all done there is satisfaction of knowing You CREATED SOMETHING WONDERFUL FOR PEOPLE TO ADMIRE LEARN AND PLAY ALL OVER THE GLOBE AND FOR YEARS TO COME!:D & That’s Why we do it; WE CREATE LEGACY FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS OF ALCHEMISTS! ;D bc WE CAN & LOVE DOING SO!^^ ;D

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sheri Lammi

    Dear Ms. Wen,

    Sadly I missed the first printing of SKT so am ecstatic that there’ll be a second printing. I appreciate your creativity and candor. Your skin thickens with time (I’m happily a Crone), as does the enrichment of your soul from such experiences. You’ve learned a great deal about the nuances of management, planning and execution. I look forward to the evolution of the deck.

    Have a wonderful holiday season!


    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you very much, Mrs. Poe. I’m happy to see how you inspire female tarot readers and Caucasian psychics everywhere.

      (And before anyone not part of the joke reads this and gets offended, relax. Arwen’s a friend. Sort of. Well, she seems to think she is.)

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I received my deck last week and the Book of Maps and color book from Lulu this week. I am blown away by your attention to detail. It is all so fabulous! I was up until midnight coloring last night!

    People who are complaining about the expense have no clue how much labor went into this. Now that I have the physical cards and book in my hands, I think it’s worth much more than what you charged, and I definitely got my money’s worth.

    I wasn’t personally familiar with your work, but have heard many good things from mutual friends. I’m so glad I payed attention to my friend Arwen when she posted about this deck and decided to take a chance on this deck, especially since you sold out so quickly. I’m so happy with it. Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Do not let others bring you down. You sold out, the deck is beautiful from pictures I’ve seen, and you worked hard! I’m glad you are offering those of us who missed out a chance to enjoy your work. Thank you for your honesty, and the willingness to share hard truths. Enjoy some time with family and friends this season 😊


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  9. Morgan

    I never paid attention to occult/esoteric decks until I encountered YOURS. So, it hasn’t all been done before. Each deck, deck creator, and accompanying journey is unique, and we’re privileged to live in a time when we have such a variety of decks to choose from. (Even those that “fail” create a pathway for those coming after them.) I’m astounded by all that you were able to accomplish and are STILL accomplishing with SKT. Thank you for putting up with all the struggle and bullshit to make this gift available to us.


  10. Wow! I sent this post on to a deck-creator friend of mine, and sorry to say mostly skimmed through myself. But i do have to say your deck looks beautiful, and you should be so proud of all the immense work you’ve put into it. And i must say that I want your book too!


  11. Pingback: Tarot Tube and Classism – benebell wen

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