I am not a business person, or at least I wasn’t until I started Weighed Words. So it’s kind of funny that I wanted to come up with a model for publishing that was different than the ones I was used to. Lit mags don’t usually pay unless you win a contest. Anthologies by fledgling presses don’t usually pay either. For small-time writers like me, payment came in the form of comp copies and the glory of publication. What was important to me as I worked on Solace in So Many Words was one guideline: everyone involved should feel valued. So contributors will get royalties because I want to give the writers a stake.
I also have a slightly different way of looking at profits. I am working with an accountant to figure out the actual dollars and cents of the whole operation, but for my own personal accounting (which until now was just a running tab in my head), I am looking at the connections I have made as the gold I am reaping from this venture.
First off, I made 52 connections at the onset when I signed on the contributors. Of course, some were already my friends whose work I solicited, but now our friendship is even deeper. Some were writers who I admired so much that I had to write them and ask them to contribute. Some were writers I knew of from their bylines or through publishing connections. And some were strangers who responded to my ad in Poets & Writers. Now we’re all on the same team, friends between the covers, so to speak. It is a bond I treasure.
Funny as it may seem, I met a lot of great people by asking them for blurbs. I am lucky to have known Sharon Fiffer for a while (she rocks), but Thomas Moore, Susan K. Perry, Doug Holder and John Evans are new acquaintances now. I have come to meet so many great people connected to events–bookstore owners, managers and salespeople; Father Ted Curtis and the gracious members of Grace Episcopal Church; newspaper writers (like Lilli Kuzma) and book critics; radio hosts like Rick Kogan and Ben Merens, the station staff and those who called into Ben’s radio program (there’s a poet I am still hopeful I will hear from). In promoting the book through Goodreads and Facebook, I have connected with people I otherwise would not have known. One reader who won the book through a promotion wrote me a note to say she has cancer and receiving Solace in So Many Words made her day. In turn she made my day. I was verklempt at the p.o. after reading her card.
A friend from childhood attended the Glenview reading and we were able to catch up with each other over coffee. Later her mother wrote me a letter and enclosed something special: a copy of a photo from 1960 when the little gang of us from Ravenswood Manor posed at a Christmas tree-trimming party. Other old friends and I have re-connected too, and it feels good, like coming home.
What I really love is to meet readers who tell me about themselves. I hope to introduce these interesting people to you too.
In one of my first posts I wrote about how grateful I was to the various people I consulted as I worked on this project. One of the people I mentioned was Paul M. Davis who does Is Greater Than, a blog that covered all kinds of topics, from making pancakes to album covers. Sometimes an essay was featured, and that is how I came to read “My Father’s Legs” which I feature as a guest blog. So first it was Paul and now it is my connection with Cory Fosco for which I am grateful and putting in the plus column. I just learned Paul is calling it quits as far as the blog goes, but he recommends to his Is Greater Than friends a site that is his primary gig. It’s Shareable.net, an online magazine about the sharing community. I am going to check it out.
Sure, sales are important, but connections are too. They may be less tangible but more valuable. I hope to hear from you.