Since I began practicing palmistry professionally in the late ‘70’s, people have asked, “Have you written a book?” or “Why haven’t you written a book?” or “When are you going to write your book?” or “How can I learn to read hands?” I’d reply, “I’m working on it”. I had no interest in writing another palmistry cookbook, wasting trees, or ending up on some obscure bottom shelf in bookstores along with the worst selling astrology, tarot, and occult divination books. In my opinion, the literature of palmistry is the number one reason palmistry is misunderstood and unpopular. I’ve read almost everything ever written on the subject. I can think of one palmistry book that was actually fun to read ‘Confessions: Memoirs of a Modern Seer’ (collection of sensational personal palmistry stories). Not a ‘how to’ book, Cheiro’s melodramatic content and theatrical writing style made it impossible to navigate the blurry boundaries between truth and fiction.
Reading Cheiro inspired me to write ‘Your Life is in Your Hands’ in 1990. I decided to share my personal experience as an expert palmist and throw in enough ‘how to’ to inspire readers to want to learn more. I printed a few hundred copies and gave them to friends, family, and peers in the metaphysical world. My creation received plenty of praise, along with a healthy dose of criticism. Readers were excited to learn more about their hands, but confused about what to do next. I know from personal experience that it’s easier to learn from teachers than books. I had no desire to teach again. I decided to let go of writing books until I could figure out how to do it better.
Most palmistry books are cookbooks full of unrelated ingredients and unreliable recipes passed down for generations. The illustrations and the content are an unappetizing smorgasbord of poorly mixed details. This detail means this and that detail means that. The truth is that every detail must be examined in the context of the whole and all other details at the same time. All questions are in every detail and all details are in every answer. The danger in interpreting details out of context is in substituting one form of pre-determinism for another by reducing individuality to formulas. Sadly, that’s why so many palmistry books are like junk food for the mind.
In fairness to some modern palmistry authors, there are a few books I recommend. I devoted this blog post to the subject. I’m adding the science of fingerprints. ‘Life Prints’ by Richard Unger and other books by dermatoglyphic protégé’s are among the only original palmistry thinking in the past century. The most recent book I read was ‘The Art and Science of Hand Reading’ by Ellen Goldberg & Dorian Bergen. It’s the best “William Benham” upgrade I’ve come across. It’s fun to read if you love reading encyclopedias. As a textbook, it should be required reading for all western palmistry students.
Over the years, free-lance authors asked me to co-author esoteric books with them. I declined because I never felt the right chemistry with anyone. I’m happy to contribute to someone’s effort, but not to their speculation. I take my own calculated risks. When I examined Maurice Sendak’s hands, I asked him if he’d like to collaborate with me on a children’s palmistry book. I knew it would be an automatic winner. I visualized palmistry as finally out of the closet and seen as a valid portal to self and other. He declined, saying it was an interesting idea, but he was too old to work on anyone else’s project.
I’d been in books before like “Who’s who in the East” (for my industrial design work) where publishers honor you, and then encourage you to purchase expensive beautifully bound books and give them to your family, friends, and for promotional purposes. It’s risk free for them and very profitable when you pay to play.
It wasn’t until 1995 when I met Patricia Collins that I decided to be featured in a book again. Patricia was searching for the best esoteric readers in NYC. I was one of them. I recommended several friends, peers, and colleagues who are also in the book. Most major players know each other as metaphysics is a small world. Local books are best for local business, like newspapers and magazines. They generally have a shelf life of a year or two. You’ll find them on Amazon after that. If the content and artwork is laudable, you can increase your shelf life by speaking and promoting yourself on social networks.
I got a lot of calls from ‘Psychic New York’ the first year and still get occasional calls twenty years later. Although my prices have doubled, no one questions my cost.
In 2002, I was interviewed by another New York author. ‘Esoteric Guide to New York’ was similar to ‘Psychic New York’ with more new age practitioners and shorter blurbs. I liked my write-up. They called me “The Mozart of palm readers”. I got a lot of business from that venue and still get sporadic readings from infrequent queries, although I get more from ‘Psychic New York’, even though it’s even more dated.
Many authors self-appoint themselves as experts and talented researchers. We assume that if it looks valid in print, it probably is. That’s not true. I believe the goal of this author was to find 100 popular readers with enough of a following that the author could sell an additional 10,000 books. She assumed readers would buy a bunch for family, friends, and to promote themselves. I told her that I was a counselor who uses symbolism, not ‘a psychic’. She promised to give me my own category. My interview felt shallow.
It should be a big deal to be one of 100 in America, right? When the book came out, I wasn’t pleased with the quality of the printing or the content. I ended up not buying any books and only owning the free copy she promised with the interview. I think the other readers may have felt similarly. If you don’t promote the venue you’re in, it won’t fly. I didn’t. My one percent is sitting on a shelf somewhere gathering dust at the moment.
Around June of 2012, I decided to try again. Everyone was writing e-books. That made a lot of sense to me. I created ‘Real Palmistry’. I included content from ‘Your Life is in Your Hands’ (subtitle of all my books), plus I added over twenty years’ experience to the mix. It would be full color, provide plenty of thought-provoking links, and cost consumers only $4. I could promote it on social networks, pay for e-releases, and do radio interviews. I spent a few hundred dollars sending out press releases and was amazed at the stunning lack of response. Markets for e-books seemed saturated. A burgeoning glut of authors was ‘out there’ touting their book as the next best thing since the bible.
I tried selling ‘Real Palmistry’ to the metaphysical community. Many people wrote back and asked ‘when I was going to create a real book?’ Many esoteric people are living in an earlier era. They needed a paperback. I created a print version of ‘Real Palmistry’ and called it ‘Hand Book’. It was black and white, didn’t have links, artwork was straight from the e-book at 72 dpi (poor print quality), and cost $10.95 (three times as much as the e-book). I printed several hundred copies to give away and sell at the back of the room at my speaking engagements. I placed them in local bookstores and cafes on consignment.
Everyone was saying how important reviews were. In a short time, ‘Hand Book’ had more legitimate five-star reviews than any other palmistry book on Amazon. My best reviews were unsolicited. Here’s one of my favorites from someone who really got me. Reviews haven’t produced sales. I’ve sold around a thousand books. Writing has been a satisfying avocation, but not a profitable vocation. I’ve written other books I’d like to publish, but am holding off until I can figure out a better way of putting them out.
On another note, many years ago, I spent two days a week for two years getting to know over 150 serial killers, murderers, and violent criminals in a forensic psychiatric hospital. I examined their hands, cast their astrology, and threw the tarot for them. I decided to transform my incredible experience into a novel. There are eight episodes of ‘How I Lost my Sanity’ on my blog. Here’s the first episode. Click forward for the other seven. I stopped writing when my tale became too dark to publish alongside my non-fiction work.