No offense to y’all, but how can it possibly be that Old Norse scholars are sitting around wondering how publishers can sell their books? This is quite possibly the most mind-boggling thing I’ve ever read in this history of reading about publishing.
Old Norse scholars and publishers, here is my advice for you, free of charge. Get your heads out of your asses about your audience and, even if you feel like folks who worship the gods of the people you study are stupid or ridiculous or spent too much time playing D&D or being in prison or smoking pot or all three as youngsters, suck it up and MARKET YOUR DAMN BOOKS TO THEM.
The number of books on anything having to do with Old Norse I would expect to be able to sell to scholars and academic libraries? Um. 500. Maybe. Possibly 750 if you can guilt your non-English reading colleagues into buying them out of fondness to you.
Here’s my question for you, then, Old Norse scholars and publishers. Do you think Hilda Davidson’s books have only sold 500 copies? No, and why not?
Because folks who describe their belief system as “the religion with homework” will buy scholarly books about their gods and ancestors if they know abou those books. And they know about her books and buy them. Every book about Old Norse and Old Icelandic literature I have on my shelves I learned about from Asatru and other heathen sources. Do not discount or disregard that market. It’s just so stupid it makes my brain hurt to write this post.
Sell to the amateur enthusiasts who are interested in your subject.
Do that and your discipline will thrive.
Are you going to sell 5,000 copies or 25,000 copies? No.
But you know what the difference between a project with a potential for 350 sales and a project with 1,000 unit sales? A project with a contract, on a list with a future in a field with some excitement surrounding it.
Edited to Add: I was all snarky in this post, but it’s stuck with me. I’ve been thinking about this all night, because it does boggle my mind that people who have information that people want feel so unsure about whether they can find an audience for that information. I mean, how many universities are developing courses on neo-pagan religions? You know what lecture I want to go to? The one where the professor of neo-pagan religions brings in the Old Norse scholar and the Old Norse scholar says “Here’s what the popular conception of these gods is. Here’s what we really know.”
I am at that class. I am liveblogging that class. I am crowding the dude afterwards like a lunatic.
My point? Maybe viewing yourself along the model of “Language and LIterture” as if you fall in with the Spanish and Russian and English departments does make you seem like Old English, but for an even smaller audience. But what if you are a vital part of someone’s MDiv or their Anthropology degree?
Then not only do you save yourselves, you’re the model for how less popular language programs save themselves.