It’s impossible to overstate how closely intertwined spirituality and books truly are.
The first modern printing press wouldn’t have been created at the time it was if not for the need for Bibles to become more widely-available. It’s interesting to think about the parallels between the original mass production of books making The Bible more easily accessible to the masses and the rise of self-publishing allowing more writers and readers than ever to create and consume the books they love.
By no means are spiritual books are a thing of the past. Like every other type of fiction and nonfiction, independent publishing has opened up the supply and demand for a more diverse range of spiritual texts than ever before.
Let’s explore the types of spiritual books available on the market today as well as options if you want to write and self-publish your own text.
What are spiritual books?
Spiritual books can be defined as any type of text that deals with questions related to religion, morality, God, the afterlife, and other matters of the spirit.
If you asked your average reader what constitutes a spiritual book, they might well respond by mentioning a classic holy text such as The Bible or The Quran. While these are certainly spiritual books, they are by no means the only type that fall under the category.
As you’ll soon see, spiritual books exist as a wide range of fiction and nonfiction categories. Whether dealing with traditional religions or less conventional approaches to spirituality, there are books catered toward any type of creed or reading preference you can imagine.
Types of spiritual books
One of the most awe-inspiring aspects of self-publishing is the sheer diversity of choice it enables within almost any genre or category, with spiritual books being no exception.
To help you grasp the full range that’s out there, we’ve provided brief summaries of 21 different types of book that can be classed as spiritual.
Religious texts are what most people would think of when hearing the term spiritual book. They include the major written scripture or doctrine of formal religions such as The Bible, Torah, and Quran.
While most people reading this may not be looking to create their own religious text, that doesn’t mean the subcategory of religious text is entirely off limits.
Some ways you can self-publish a religious text include by repackaging a traditional text for the digital age, including new illustrations or footnotes to accompany it, or by rewriting its main message for a new audience, such as by simplifying its wording or including informal language to appeal to a younger audience.
Books on Religious Practices
Religion can be seen as both the moral and philosophical standpoints it teaches as well as the set of practices it encourages believers to conduct. This type of spiritual book deals with the latter aspect.
You could, for example, write a book about praying according to the tenets of a particular belief system, or giving guidelines for fasting or ethical conduct according to a religion. Think of these books as the ‘how-to’ guides for various believers.
Devotionals somewhat combine the best aspects of religious texts and books of religious practices.
They are usually defined by a time period, such as sections intended to be read on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. They often combine extracts from scripture with prompts for reflection or practice.
Life of Saints/Prophets
People often relate to and draw comfort and guidance from the stories of saints, prophets, or other key figures within a spiritual belief system. This is because people often find it easier to relate to another human figure and might see parallels with their own life and spiritual journey.
Like any type of memoir, a spiritual memoir explores a portion of a real person’s true life story, often defined by a theme or particular aspect of their background.
Spiritual memoirs typically deal with aspects of a person’s development such as how they found faith, how their life changed by adopting a belief system, or their journey from believer, to disbeliever, to eventually rediscovering their spirituality with a more mature perspective.
Books about philosophy can either explore philosophical questions from the perspective of a particular religion, or explore such questions from a non-religious or comparative religious perspective. For example, you might write a philosophical text exploring free will from a Christian perspective. Or, you might write a book explaining the key philosophical questions throughout the ages without reference to any particular creed.
The purpose of this type of spiritual book is clear from its title – it aims to uplift people who might be suffering and give them a greater sense of faith, comfort, and drive. The approach to writing an inspirational book can vary between the author’s personal belief on inspiration, inspiring quotes directly from or based on a religious text, or an anthology or compilation of inspirational ideas or anecdotes based on a particular belief system.
Mystical and Esoteric Texts
Spirituality can be broadly defined into either its exoteric or esoteric aspects. Exoteric covers what most people think of when it comes to religion, such as the surface meaning of texts and the outward rituals and practices. Esoteric or mystical aspects can include symbolic or ‘hidden’ inner aspects of practice that aren’t apparent to most believers. Examples include Gnosticism within Christianity and Sufism within Islam.
Books on Mindfulness and Meditation
Awareness of the benefits of mindfulness and meditation have skyrocketed in recent years, thanks to it entering the mainstream and through the popularity of apps like Headspace. The popularity of this type of spirituality is something of a double-edged sword. On the plus side, there’s a proven readership for this type of book. On the downside, you’ll have to get creative to find an original angle.
Books on Yoga and Tantra
Yoga is another spiritual practice with huge mainstream interest similar to meditation. Accordingly, you can tap into a proven market for any book in this area but you’ll also need to come up with a fresh and unique angle to stand out from other options.
Self-Help Books with a Spiritual Focus
The self-help genre is one of the most consistently popular. People are more aware than ever of the need for self-care and the importance of working on their personal development. Spiritual self-help books are a popular subset of the broader genre. They may be overtly spiritual, by referencing a particular faith or belief system, or more subtle, such as those influenced by the author’s beliefs without explicitly referencing them. For example, Stephen Covey and Tony Robbins’ both authored spiritual self-help books without explicitly drawing upon their religious texts or terminology.
Metaphysicality is one of the deeper and harder to access aspects of spiritual writing. Therefore, it’s probably only a suitable choice of book to write if you already have a good grounding in these teachings. However, if you’re able to write such a text, you’re likely to find an engaged and receptive niche audience.
Books on Spiritual Healing
There’s a growing set of people who consider themselves to be ‘spiritual but not religious’. They often have the need for something deeper and more meaningful than their day-to-day material existence, but aren’t able to fulfill it through conventional faiths. Spiritual books covering ideas such as energy healing or reiki are likely to appeal to such people.
Books on Theology
Theology is the formal academic study and exploration of divinity and religion. If you want to write this type of book, you should ideally have a solid academic knowledge and the ability to write in the appropriate tone and style.
Books on Comparative Religion
Comparing and contrasting the beliefs, histories and practices of different religions is an interesting avenue for a spiritual book as there are so many permutations to consider. This can be done from a neutral perspective, or to show similarities and areas of common grounds, or to critically promote one type of spirituality over another.
Books on Spiritualism and the Afterlife
This type of spiritual book can deal with conventional spiritualism, such as mediumship, or explore aspects of the hereafter like near death experiences or people who claim to have been to heaven. This is often explored through a new-age spiritual perspective but sometimes takes the form of believers of a mainstream religion who claim to have had this type of experience.
Books on Astrology and Divination
Astrology is more popular than ever before. In the past, it was largely limited to newspaper columns and other trivial forms. These days, a lot of people have in-depth astrology apps and take it incredibly seriously when making decisions and choosing who to associate with.
Books on Sacred Geometry and Numerology
Sacred geometry, numerology, and gematria are fairly fringe aspects of spirituality, but while they may have a lower overall number of followers, those that do follow tend to be quite dedicated and passionate. If you’re passionate about these niche areas of spiritual belief and practice it’s worth considering whether you could write a book about them.
Books on Shamanism and Indigenous Spirituality
Shamanism is having a moment in popular culture thanks to mainstream figures like Aaron Rodgers talking about how its benefited him. However, be careful when writing about this type of spirituality. If you don’t have an authentic background with a particular shamanic or indigenous belief system, be sure to avoid writing anything that could be viewed as ignorant or misleading.
Books on New Age Spirituality
New age spirituality is a broad label that can cover aspects ranging from manifesting to the law of attraction. If you think of the type of spirituality promoted by Oprah, you’re most likely thinking of New Age. The popularity of books like The Secret and the work of Eckhart Tolle is a clear demonstration of how well this type of spirituality can sell.
Books on Spiritual Fiction
Spiritual fiction is one of the richest genres on this list and allows writers with a love of storytelling to convey their religious or spiritual beliefs and perspectives. Works of spiritual fiction range from the overtly religious, such as the Left Behind series, through to more subtle analogies like Christianity as expressed through the Chronicles of Narnia.
How to write a spiritual book step-by-step
Now that you know the wide range of spiritual books out there, let’s take a look at the practical step-by-step process of writing and publishing your own. This is intended as a brief overview, so please take the time to research any given step in more depth before you take the plunge.
Step 1: Make a shortlist of the spiritual book types you wish to write
If your heart and mind are set on one type of spiritual book, in particular, great! Skip this step. But perhaps more than one holds an appeal for you? If so, try narrow it down to three to five different types. That will allow you to evaluate them against one another to find the best fit.
Step 2: Weigh up the pros and cons of each type
We strongly advocate for only writing one type of spiritual book at a time. Your energies and attention should be focused on a single project rather than scattered among many. If you’ve got a shortlist of a handful of types, weigh up the pros and cons of each. Some factors to consider include how suited you are to each, how much reader demand there is, and the resources and time you’d need to make any given one a success.
Step 3: Choose your final type and conduct research
With the evaluation process you carried out in the preceding step you should now have everything you need to settle on a type of spiritual book to write and self-publish.
Once you’ve made your final choice, set aside time to conduct in-depth research. You want to get a feel for what’s selling, what readers expect, and how you can make a unique contribution to the genre that is aligned with both market demand and your own expertise and passion.
Step 4: Outline, draft, and refine your spiritual book
To ensure your self-published spiritual book is of sufficient quality to satisfy readers and generate sales, you need to consciously go through a process of outlining, drafting, and editing your work. Don’t skimp on this step as the consequences in terms of offering a subpar end product undermine all your other work.
Step 5: Launch your book
After you’ve got your book to a state where it’s ready for readers, it’s time to conduct a careful and considered launch campaign. This involves getting as many reviews as possible close to the time of launch and conducting social media, book promotion sites, and potentially paid advertising campaigns.
Step 6: Decide on what’s next
If writing and releasing a single book has satisfied all your goals, congratulations! You’ve achieved more than the vast majority of people who dream about writing a spiritual book but never take action ever will.
However, the successful launch of your spiritual book can be the start of your author journey rather than the end, if you want it to be. You could consider writing a follow-up and starting a series, writing another type of spiritual book, or launching a website and course based around your first effort.