Photo by Sophie Ellis
It all started with me peering into Twitter yesterday morning and noticing that Chuck Wendig tweeted about Amanda Palmer's TED talk and how it's a must see. I got distracted and sailed onto my typical social media morning meet-and-greet, when one of my Beta Readers sent me the same TED talk link, saying that it reminded her of me. Okay, now I had to drop everything and watch it, and watch it I did, and you must too, it's totally worth 13 minutes of your life. After watching it I cried, not only because it moved me, it did, but because it validated what I'm trying to do with my book, and, again, not because I know some secret marketing sauce or some other salesmen gimmick like that. No. It's because of how I feel. I want to share my story with as many readers as I possibly can, to change the world. Yeah, not a small goal. And in that, I want to give away my story into as many hands as I can, and I want to listen to as many Beta Readers as I can, to incorporate their feedback into my story, because, after all, this story is for my readers, it's not mine anymore, they own it. What Amanda talked about was her trust in her listeners. She said, fall into your audience, trust them, they will carry you out. It's what I do, and I've found so much love, that at times it overwhelms me. Yesterday, it overwhelmed me to the point of physically shaking. Here is what happened.
Can I crash on your couch? I'm not writing to make money or to become famous or to flaunt it into people's faces, hey, I wrote a book! I'm writing for therapy. I'm shedding my pain, and I'm hoping I can help others shed their pain too, by reading my story. So my biggest problem with where I am right now financially is not the fact that I have sold everything to write and can't afford to go to restaurants or go skiing, I can live without those things just fine, but I can't afford to travel. I mean, I could, I still have savings left, but I can't touch this money, otherwise whatever I have left won't last me long enough to finish Siren Suicides and start on other books I have planned. So, this really sucks! Airplane tickets cost a ton of money, traveling costs a ton of money, period. After watching Amanda's TED talk, I tweeted about wanting to meet my readers and asking them if I could crash on their couch, and people from all over said, yes, totally, you can have my bed! A bunch of people from places like England, New Zealand, and Australia, said, hey, you're coming to visit me, right? And I was, like, sure, I would love to, but I can't afford it! And then one of my other Beta Readers suggested I put up a PayPal Donate button on my site, to sponsor my book tour, and I did, and within minutes...
I got my first $10! I thought I would die from shaking when I saw it! And then another $10, and another $20! Within in hour, I had $60, but it's not $60 to me, it's pure gold. I will hold on to this money to save it for traveling when my book is done and I go to meet my readers, to share stories with them, to hold their hand, to feel whole, you know, they way we are supposed to feel, together and not broken. I've given away my heart to them, and they are giving me their hearts in return. This is so precious, it's worth living for, nothing else matters, really, and I can tell you that if I die tomorrow, I'll die happy. It's this connection that is possible between people through sharing stories that matters, not fame or fortune or success. I don't want to be some inaccessible fiend that is sitting on top of a mountain and only talks to select people. I want to be deep in the midst of those with whom I'm sharing my art. I trust them, and they trust me. I've been sending out my chapters to anyone who wants to read them, without getting worried about copyright, because I have a higher chance of not being discovered than being stolen from. These $60 are proof to me that laws don't matter, hearts do.
Who said publishing industry is dying? Day in and day out I see articles about the terrible state of the publishing industry, and how hard it is for writers to make it, and how impossible it is to break through. I stopped reading these articles, in fact, I stopped reading all articles, because they are looking at publishing from the wrong perspective. Somehow somewhere along the way writers have picked up this concept of "breaking though" to make it. But it's fundamentally wrong. You will rather bloody your knuckles and bruise your head if you do. Writing books is not about "breaking through" to readers or "making them buy your book." It's the wrong frame of thinking. Writing books is about giving your story away. Historically, before Internet was invented, the only way to pass on the story was orally, until mass printing was invented, to record spoken word and multiply it exactly the way it was told, and distribute it. There was simply no other way. All of this is gone now, we don't need paper anymore to print books on, we can read them digitally. We don't need to buy books in stores anymore, we can download them to our phones. The barriers are gone, and so it the old model. The only way I see you paying for an actual printed book would be after you read it, to have it like a souvenir, to own it, to display it, to perhaps re-read it again in paper just for a different experience. And this is why I'm giving my book away. Take it, read it. If you like it, if I delivered, if I moved you, give me money for it, if you want. There is the Donate button on my site. Right there, on the upper right, see?
I'm an artist, sponsor me for my art. I believe this is the new book publishing model, where if you want me to produce art for you, art that helps you cope with life, art that heals you, art that brings beauty to your thoughts and dreams, then enable me to do it. Give me as much or as little as my art is worth to you, or give nothing at all, if you have nothing. I will continue giving myself away to you, sharing my heart with you, as long as you want me to. It's not your money that makes me happy, it's giving my love to you, stretching out my hand to you, letting you to hold on to me. I'm happy. I've been through a lot of shit in my life and miraculously I survived and came out the other end. Now I have an abundance of it and I want to share it. Perhaps together we can change the world and redefine the way stories are shared, bring it back to that time when a storyteller told the story surrounded by listeners, breathless, catching each word, being in the middle of a miracle. I want to be this miracle for you. Will you let me?