How to Self-Publish Your Own Tarot or Oracle Card Deck

The independent guide to designing, printing, and selling your own divination cards

Self-publish tarot cards to sell

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Whether you use your tarot cards for divination and fortune-telling, as a game with friends, for self-development, or just as an interesting accessory to your interior decoration, you may want to design and print your own deck to share with others or sell commercially. A quick search on Etsy soon shows just how popular — and competitive — the market is for unique, self-published tarot cards and other forms of oracle and divination decks. So, if you want to carve out a niche for yourself in this thriving market, you’ll need to make sure that both aspects of your tarot deck self-publishing project — the creative, artistic, and spiritual side on one hand, and the business, marketing, and promotional side on the other — are effective and well-balanced.

In this detailed post, we’ll guide you through each of the core elements of creating and self-publishing a tarot deck to sell. But there’s an important point to make clear before we go any further. So, let’s look at this now.

If you approach a tarot card business from a purely cynical viewpoint, you will have less success than if you approach it from a passionate and honest interest in the product you’re manifesting in the world. This is not for any mystical reason. It’s very simple.

Whether your passion for tarot cards comes from a spiritual, psychological, or artistic source, your insight and sensitivity will inspire you and that inspiration will suffuse the work and make your cards not only stand out in a crowded marketplace, but also make them genuinely helpful to the customers who buy them.

People who buy tarot decks are honest seekers after spiritual and psychological insights, or lovers of fine artwork inspired by mythical and mystical themes; often both. If you’re not genuinely “in tune” with their needs and passions, it’s unlikely that your attempts to create a meaningful tarot card deck will come to much. You probably could design and publish a deck, but you might find the marketing and promotion almost impossible if your motivations are sullied with cynicism.

With that caveat made clear, let’s dive in to what you’ll need to do to design a beautiful, functional, and salable tarot deck or set of oracle cards. From this point, we’ll refer only to tarot. Not because other divination cards aren’t valuable but because the same principles apply to both and the tarot cards are perhaps better known.

Decide why you want to create your own tarot deck

Before you get involved in the practicalities of designing the deck, devote sufficient time to contemplating and getting in touch with your motives — other than to sell them! Think about what the tarot means to you. Consider the feelings, what ideas and impressions, images and emotions, the tarot cards with which you’re already familiar inspire in you. Look for insight into the way that you could channel those feelings, perceptions, images, and inspirations through your own creativity to communicate them to others. You needn’t itemize this in every detail; but it’s important to get a sense of this to make sure that throughout all the practical work to come, you can keep coming back to this central focus. It’s what will make your tarot pack unique and what will make it resonate with others.

Create and design the tarot card images

This is the larger share of the creative work. A traditional tarot deck has 78 cards divided into the Major and Minor Arcana. These cards are all associated with one of the four elementary symbols — known variously as shields or coins for Earth, swords for Air, wands or staves for Fire, and cups for Water. The Major Arcana are all represented by a person, such as The Magician, The Fool, The Hermit, and so on. The other cards represent a relationship between the elementary symbol and a number, usually associated with an energy or location on the Qabalistic Tree of Life.

This isn’t the place to explore the esoteric and psychological significance of these facts. But whichever way you create your own deck, these are the “energies” or meanings that the cards have. You can reinterpret them for a particular purpose — such as an LGBTQIA+ version or a decolonized representation or anything else as you will — but if your images don’t “tap in” to the fundamental arrangement of the traditional tarot, well, it won’t be a tarot deck anymore!

You can approach the generation of the designs for the back and the faces of the cards in a number of ways. If you’re a talented artist, you could create the original artwork yourself in your chosen medium and then digitize the results ready for printing. Alternatively, you could gather either copyright free images, or buy licenses to pre-existing images, and then “compose” them in Photoshop, InDesign, or an equivalent software. But the best option for most is to engage the services of a sympathetic and skilled artist to realize the ideas you have for the images in collaboration with you.

It’s worth talking to your printer early on in this process as a good printer — we smile and say hello! — will give you lots of personalized support and help you to understand what’s needed in terms of the technical side of preparing the artwork for printing and advice about card stock, finishings and coatings, and more.

Once you have the artwork in place and the layouts fixed — which you can get your designer and printer to collaborate on if you don’t have the skills and the software needed — it’s time to design the box in which the cards will be housed and the booklet which will describe the deck, it’s inspirations, and uses.

Design the tarot card box

Your self-published tarot deck should be presented in a beautiful custom printed box. We’re experts in making these and can manufacture and print any box you wish from one with the simplest “handcrafted” look to a luxurious, glossy carton with detailed artwork and all manner of fancy flourishes. But typically, the box should show one of the Major Arcana on the front, the title and creator’s name, and on the back and sides, other information such as the ISBN number and barcode — these you can get through Bowker in the USA and Nielsen in the UK — and a short inspiring explanation of the cards.

Design and write the accompanying booklet

Including an explanatory booklet with your deck serves several purposes. On the practical side, along with the ISBN and barcode, it allows you to distribute and sell your tarot deck through all the major stores online and offline as it is then classified as a book product. It’s also an opportunity to share more in-depth the specifics of your deck and advice about how to use it. Don’t worry if you’re not “a writer”. The content of the booklet can be as complex or as simple as you like. Some will publish a small paperback which explains the history of the tarot, goes into detailed reading guides for each card, and more. Others settle for a brochure-style publication with just a handful of pages and only the basic publication information inside.

Prepare your tarot files for print

You will now have a series of files — for the cards, the box, and the booklet — which will need preparing for print. This is best done by a professional designer. But in any case, unlike many printers, we will manually check every file you submit to us with great care. If we find any issues, we’ll fix them ourselves if they are small and don’t impact your creative work or will alert you with an explanation if the problems are more complex so that you can get them fixed by our designer. We will only go to press once we are sure that the files are perfect.

Once we have the files, we’ll create and send you a “proof” copy of your deck which will be more-or-less indistinguishable from the final product. As soon as you approve that, we’ll set up the plates and start the press rolling to create your beautiful, unique, custom made tarot card deck. Shortly after, we’ll ship them to you wrapped and packaged with loving care so that you recieve them in perfect condition. Most offset printing companies set a high minimum order of 500 to 1,000 units but we specialize in supporting independent creatives just like you and so we’ve set the minimum at 100 units. Of course, if you are confident that you’ll sell more, you can order as many as you like and you’ll find that the cost-per-unit goes down the more copies your order in a single print run.

Market, promote, and sell your custom tarot cards

Marketing, promotion, and sales can be a lot of hard work and a steep learning curve. But with sincerity and determination, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to do it successfully. Let’s look at your options. You don’t need to do all of these. You can choose which to use and not based on your own situation, intuition, good sense, and experience.

  • Website and blog — if you have a website and blog already and it’s relevant to the theme of the tarot and divination, you can add an e-store into your site. Most platforms — such as WordPress, Squarespace, Wix and more — have plugins and add-ons which make this relatively simple to set up.
  • Social media and content sites — you can use your social media accounts to build your contacts, networks, and communities, and either promote you online store or even sell direct to your followers
  • Online stores — set up accounts with Amazon, Etsy, Ebay, and others and place and promote your tarot deck through them
  • Register your tarot deck with book distributors such as Ingram, Gardners, and Nielsen; put them in the catalogs and try to get the main high street stores to stock them
  • Do talks, readings, and signings in independent esoteric stores and bookstores where you can also sell your decks
  • Set up a stall at craft markets, Renaissance fairs, occult and esoteric conventions and events

You may come up with other ways of marketing and promoting your tarot deck. You can also experiment with paid advertising on social media, Amazon, the press, and more. Maybe put out a press release, get an interview with the local paper, radio and TV station. Exactly what mix of marketing methods you put into action will depend on the resources you have available, your personality, the size of your current networks and more. But you can always experiment and test the waters until you find the best methods that work for you.

Talk to us!

As we said before, it’s never too soon to talk to us about your ideas for your custom tarot deck. We’re an enthusiastic and friendly team with a real sympathy for independent creatives and a core commitment to “keeping it real” with a personalized, customer-focused practice which is sensitive to each client as an individual. Get in touch today for an informal chat or to ask us for a no-obligation quote on helping you manifest your perfect custom tarot card deck. We can’t wait to hear from you!