This might be a bit of a short post, because I’m at the very tail end of fixing up From Ash. I get into that jittery, weird, neurotic checking over of scenes to decide if I hate them or not state when I’m nearly done with a piece. The thought that I might be releasing something that isn’t as good as it could be worries me, probably more than my brain is used to. I tend to be reasonably relaxed when it comes to my writing—dedicated and stubborn when it comes to finishing my word count—but relaxed.
Anyways, what I wanted to talk about was something that a lot of artists have to deal with, I imagine. Actually, most everyone has had to deal with it at some point, especially if you sell something—it’s asking for things. I believe there was a TED talk done by Amanda Palmer about this very thing. I don’t believe I’ve linked it before, so I’ll throw it onto the tail end of this post. Pretty much what it, and life entails, is that we need to ask for things, as artists. To a lesser extent, I’m asking for money in exchange for a story that I’ve made up every time I sell a book. It’s a weird feeling, because I know there are strangers out there that have given me money in exchange for what feels like nothing. I haven’t grown food, or made a tool, or done whatever it is that people do when they make physical stuff—I’ve just strung words together in a hopefully pleasing manner. I then expect (or once again, hope) that people will want to exchange real money for the opportunity to read these words. It’s an odd feeling, one that you probably won’t experience in many other places except as an author, or possibly a speaker on a lecture circuit.
The selling of books, at least, can be somewhat rationalized by the idea that they’re getting a book, or an eBook file. There’s some exchange of goods, no matter how transient it might seem. What I was having an issue with last night was writing a little snippet to put at the end of From Ash, asking if the reader would post a review online. I know that this is such a simple little thing to ask of someone, it costs them no money, and no more than a few moments to log onto their Amazon (or whatever) account and say “Hey, it was cool/uncool/awesome/ew.” But for the most part, people don’t. It’s not their fault—I rarely review things online, even if I really like it, because it slips my mind. Putting a few lines after ‘The End’ would help jot their memory, and if they’re on a tablet, they could just pop over right there and then. If I’m able to do so, I might even throw in a hyperlink right to my book’s page, just for ease of reviewing.
I’m not sure why this, as I said above, simple act, has got me so weirded out. I spent probably an hour trying to figure out which of four sentences I should use that was the least offensive, and sounded the least like begging. I don’t want to annoy the people that have paid for my book, and asking them to do this almost feels like I’m nagging. It’s probably really nothing, and if I saw this at the end of a book, I’d pop right over to do it. Same goes for album sales—Amazon frequently asks me to review CD’s I’ve bought, and I do. Strange feeling to do it myself though, new, and unfamiliar.
And here’s the video from Amanda Palmer: