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About Kat Black

The Story of Touchstone is coming soon. Meanwhile here are a few points:

The name of the deck Touchstone Tarot - was chosen for it's metaphorical meanings. Something small, that can be held in the hand... a tool used to assess if something is true... sounds just like the Tarot! This picture gave me the idea for the name.

Also, the fact that Touchstone is the Fool in Shakespeare's play As You Like It... tarot symbolism, the Fool... and of the right era even!

Although the images with which I work are public domain (as the artists have been dead for hundreds of years), the collages are my own creation, new works in their own right, and thus my copyright. They are formally registered as such with the US Library of Congress, to give additional protections against copyright theft.

There's also something else very unusual about this deck. It's creation was funded by a private benefactor, a Patron of the Arts who wishes to remain anonymous. This person's generosity meant that the deck can be created just as I intended, without commercial pressure to make it yet another RWS clone.

If you want to know more, or perhaps leave a message to the Secret Benefactor, check out the early thread at Aeclectic Tarot.

You can hear a podcast interview where Kat discusses Touchstone Tarot at - or an earlier interview regarding the ealy development of the deck can be bought on CD from

I get a lot of emails and messages about how to get published, so here is my answer:

At the risk of coming across as negative, I'm a "published author" and while I wouldn't discourage you from giving it a go if you'll enjoy the journey, my advice is to be realistic. Warning... long rant coming, but you *did* ask...

It's hard to be positive about a new author's chances of getting published at the best of times - the statistics of refusals are staggering - but with the current GFC, that's even worse. I've read that 0.03% of completed manuscripts submitted to publishers in the US were published before the GFC, and even the majority of books commercially published sold less than 100 copies. That's not to say don't give it a go, but to consider other ways to get your content to consumers.

An option worth considering, especially for niche non-fiction, is self-publishing. It no longer has the "vanity" stigma attached. Some books have sold more copies on than best selling technical books through major publishers. Apparently there's a Lulu book that has sold over 50,000 copies. Of course there are also a million Lulu books that haven't sold a dozen copies, but at least they existed, and seeing your work in print is a very exciting thing. If you want to do it, you CAN! No up-front cost, completely inclusive. There are quite a few of these now - including and

I have had two tarot decks/books published. The first is one of the most popular on the market, but still the royalties I get are very small. My second deck was done through a different publisher who gave me a much better deal, but then went bust thanks to the GFC. The hardest issue facing publishers at the moment is a business practice leftover from the last recession, when publishers started to agree to take back unsold books from retailers at any time. This was to stop the industry collapsing at the coal face, so to speak. Unfortunately, now it's meant collapse deeper in the mine. Apparently the returns rate since the GFC has exceeded new sales across the board, as retailers quit stock back to the publishers to stay afloat themselves. I don't know how any publisher is surviving in these conditions. My second publisher had won "independent publisher of the year" at BEA, but still they went under. The rate of returns killed them.

There are many good POD (Print on Demand) presses now, including Amazon itself, and if you have the skills to DIY or a small amount of money to invest in getting a good book designer and editor, you can now create your own book that's every bit as good as one made by a traditional publisher. Chances are a publisher would be making your book POD anyway, most of the Industry is going that way.

The upsides of doing it yourself are - you can make a lot more per book sale; POD is better for the environment (less transport and storage, and no unsold copies to be destroyed); you have complete control of the book itself and it's marketing; you can still sell it on Amazon, as well as your own website, at Conferences, to universities etc. Also, it WILL happen, which is a pretty big upside :)

The perceived downsides, although some of these don't hold true any more: Status among peers (it's like a band being desperate to be 'on a label' even though it often means they're shafted); marketing (although publishers expect you to do a lot of this yourself now); professional editing, layout etc.

If I was doing another book, as opposed to a tarot deck/book kit which unfortunately isn't possible POD, self publishing would be my first choice now, despite the fact that I'm a twice-published 'best seller' within my narrow field.

It's a bit of a bug-bear of mine, but I think many of the resources being marketed to would-be authors (eg creative writing courses, self-help books on getting published, dodgy Literary Agents with hundreds of authors on their books and very few deals made) are a bit of a con. Like the weight-loss industry, it's become a huge self-serving machine, where there is no incentive for real solutions because it's the customer's unfulfilled wishes that make them a profit. They all say "go for it" and coach you on the best way to get an Agent, the best way to write a pitch, etc, and stifle any talk about the reality that the Industry is really suffering. It's like an author-eating machine. They are profiting off peoples desires to get published, making a living from selling a dream. I think it's only one step up from selling real estate on the Moon, and just as exploitative.

Another bug-bear of mine is the emphasis (not yours, just generally) on 'getting published', as opposed to being an author for a living. It's like being fixated on the wedding, without thinking that it's the lifelong marriage afterwards that's the really important thing. If you just want to be published as a personal achievement in it's own right, a publisher will smell that a mile off. They need career authors, people who will keep supplying them with new books, so that the publisher gets better return on their very substantial investment in marketing a new author. For this reason, a reasonably successful self-published book or even a popular online resource is a good firm step on the path of proving to a publisher that you mean business, you're not one of the millions (literally) of people who have written one book and want to have it published.

I created my first tarot deck and put it online. I made it for my own enjoyment, and then I figured I may as well share it. It got commercially pirated in Germany, which made me sad but I couldn't afford to sue them since I'm in Australia. Then a fan in the US started a campaign to get the deck published 'for real'. I received hundreds of emails from fans, which I appreciated but politely told them I didn't want to face repeated rejections from publishers as I'd done when I was younger. The funny thing is, they also all emailed the two major tarot publishers, who ended up approaching me and asking for me to put in a proposal. The pirated version proved there was demand, and the fan campaign (which I had nothing to do with) showed them I had a following.

I think that path, ie being popular on the internet and then being approached by a publisher, is probably relatively common now. eg, they know people will buy a book based on because it has such an active fanbase.

Perhaps that's another path to consider? Try writing for the web and building up a fan base to prove you're saleable.

Sorry to have sounded like a negative-nancy, I know it's good to be positive, but you *did* ask... :)

Best of luck with your project, and my strongest advice is - write for yourself, because you love it. Share it, and see where it goes.

Buy Touchstone Tarot Limited Edition at Tarot Connection

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