I turned 34 today. There are plenty of things to accomplish on my to-do list but I did indulge in a leisurely coffee in Durham city centre this morning.
One of the things the preoccupies me in such moments of leisure is a personal writing project consisting of a series of “Fairy Tales for Grown Ups”. They are very loosely allegorical and heavily inspired by George Macdonald and C.S. Lewis. Robyn has kindly agreed to work with me by providing illustrations and having an element of teamwork in the project helps to keep me going and offsets the loneliness of writing. When I am not making imaginary journeys through story-land, I’m pondering how to get these stories out there. At the moment I am thinking of podcasting weekly installments and self-publishing in print and electronic format simultaneously. Another consideration is how much to give away for free.
All this was turning over in my head as I finished up my coffee and headed back out into the bustle of the city. I’m a great believer in Jung‘s synchronicity. So, I should hardly be surprised that, just at that moment, I crossed the path of a man frantically unloading books from a pile of boxes in the street and handing them out to passers by.
“The book is free, just leave some feedback on the website,” he said.
The book is “Wild Animus” by Rich Shapero, published by Outside Reading, and my curiosity is piqued about it already. Intriguingly some small print on the back cover informs me that “This novel is part of a larger storytelling experiment that includes three music CDs. Experienced as a whole, the music expresses the emotional core of the story, and the novel serves as its narrative shell.” I like the sound of a “storytelling experiment” and I’m also quite fascinated by the whole “free book” marketing strategy.
According to the blurb, Rich Shapero is something of an explorer and adventurer who is “captivated by the staggering beauty of the Alaskan wilderness.” His writing draws on this primeval landscape but is ultimately concerned with an inner journey. Wild Animus appears to be a transcendent tale of a reckless journey and an unhinged soul who identifies himself with a wild mountain ram, pursued by a pack of wolves. I have yet to read it but will be sure to review it on this blog. Will it deliver on the pitch, somewhere between Pirsig’s “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” and William Rayner’s “Stag Boy” perhaps?
Acccording to John Hilton and David Wiley, writing in “Tech Trends”, giving books away for free has been shown not to negatively influence sales. In fact, surely it can only boost interest and widen distribution although this is almost impossible to measure. One of the authors they interviewed, Corey Doctrow, swears by it and states that “What is certain is that every writer who’s tried giving away e-books to sell books has come away satisfied and ready to do it some more.”
As I turn back to my own little project with a few fresh ideas, I wonder how the whole “Wild Animus” thing will turn out.