Friday, July 23, 2010

Moving forward

Moving forward is the motto for the week, for the Labor Party in the Australian election. One ex-Prime Minister thinks it's a great slogan. I do too. It has time on its side; time only moves in one direction - forwards. So there is an air of inevitability about it, even wisdom. It's a bit like the king in Antoine de Saint-Exupery's book, The Little Prince, who is very careful to order the sun to go down only when the time is coming up to sunset.
But not a word does the slogan suggest about how one should move forward. One can move forward by trampling, plodding, dancing or walking sensibly. One can even move in the wrong direction - any movement at all tends to be "forward". So until I hear something about the particular way in which we should "move forward", I'm inclined to think of the slogan as so much tepid air.
So, how have I moved forward this week? The Ten Thousand Things is now for sale on the Holistic Page bookselling website: http://www.holisticpage.com.au/. Jolly good.
My progress in finding a distributor to bookshops is still "moving forward". I've had negative responses from two more distributors this week, and I have an enquiry sitting with another.
I've also had responses from many people to the announcement I sent out about the book launch at Gleebooks on Sunday 8 August. Thanks. Yes, I know it's the same day as the Sydney Morning Herald's City to Surf Fun Run. But if you run fast.....you could be back by 3.30pm to Glebe.
The book launch is organised. Alastair Rylatt (author of Winning the Knowledge Game) will chair the proceedings, and Jennifer Elliott (of Integrity & Values) and Claire Jankelson (President of Spirituality, Leadership and Management) will be speaking. You can register for the event, which is free, at the Gleebooks website (http://www.gleebooks.com.au/) or through my website.
And I have placed some book reviews and comments on the book on my website at http://www.glennmartin.com.au/.
I asked the I Ching about the novel - will it "move forward"? I got the hexagram 55, Feng, Enlargement or Expansion or Abundance. The image is of thunder and lightning.
In one commentary it says, "A student's strange thesis will eventually be appreciated by a scholar who sees its ingenuity. Elaborate your thesis. With his guidance you will make a name in the world."
Well, the novel is a strange thesis looking for appreciation.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Letter to a distributor

As a self-published author, I am a pariah to bookshops. Even local bookshops tell me they won't make an exception for me. I have to either be a publisher or operate through a distributor. And I am even a pariah to book distributors.
One of the distributors said, "we are unable to help you with distribution". Another distributor, one that supposedly caters to independent bookshops and self-publishers, replied to me after a long delay and several phone calls, saying they didn't think it would be worth their investment in promotion to take my novel, The Ten Thousand Things
Well, I say it would be worth it. I think: if you like the following books then you would like my novel: Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love; Robert Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motor Cycle Maintenance; Richard Bach's The Bridge across Forever. And Paulo Coelho's books.
I've written a letter to another distributor, an online bookstore. The letter goes like this...
Dear xxx,
I have written and self-published a novel, “The Ten Thousand Things: A story of the lived experience of the I Ching”.
I know self-publishing has a bad reputation – everybody thinks you can’t write, you’re a bad editor and you have no idea about design. But...
I have a good reputation as a non-fiction writer, with over ten years’ experience writing for Australian and Asian publications on human resources, training and development, employment law and business ethics. I have previously written and published three books, and written two more that were published by other organisations.
I am also an editor, the editor of Training & Development in Australia, and the editing for the novel was done by two colleagues as well as myself.
The design was done by a graphic artist whose judgement I trust. I think he did a great job on the novel.
And I have a lot of faith in the novel. It was unplanned – I had been intending to write a succinct book on business ethics, but what happened was the fictionalised version of a period of my life when I was the leader of a community organisation in a country town. It was the story I needed to write, once I saw that I could do it using the fiction genre.
I learned how to be a leader in the midst of ethical challenges – faced with power struggles, treachery, lies and even crude thuggery. As a user of the I Ching, I consulted it regularly for guidance on how to respond to situations.
I wrote the novel with the I Ching beside me, consulting it as I wrote on the situations I was currently facing. Hence the sub-title, “a story of the lived experience of the I Ching”.
My feedback on the novel is very positive, from people who do not know me as well as from those who do:
“Nearly finished your book on way back from spiritual retreat in Vietnam. Love it! Congrats. p.s. It inspires me to go throw my coins again.” Tania de Jong AM, Creative Innovation 2010
The Ten Thousand Things is a delightful and insightful journey of personal exploration and reflection. A compelling journey into one's quest for inner peace and mastery in life. Glenn Martin has inspired me.” Alastair Rylatt (author of Winning the Knowledge Game)
[SMS message] “Hi from LA. Read 10,000 Things on leg from Sydney. Well done! Great messages. Wonderful vehicle. Deep philosophies new to me. Looking forward to writing a review. And it has a strong pleasant after-taste. It lingers.” (Andrew O’Keeffe, author of The Boss)
I also have an ethics book and 2 poetry books that I would like to sell. The ethics book is freshly revised – first published in 2007 (Human Values and Ethics in the Workplace). The poetry/story books are Love and Armour, and Flames in the Open.
My websites (below) give more information.
Yours sincerely,
Glenn
That was the letter. It's gone, it's out there.
By the way, I've added some material to my Glenn Martin website - some feedback on the novel, and Andrew O'keeffe's review. See http://www.glennmartin.com.au/
I'll keep you posted.
Ah, the image? Taken from my lady Tiffany's top balcony at Umina. It was like a golden fountain for just 30 seconds, then it faded. It was like the bounty of the universe on show, just long enough to see it perform.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Cranking up to a book launch

I am working towards the book launch on Sunday 8 August. Three people are speaking at the event (apart from me), at Gleebooks, 49 Glebe Point Road, Glebe. Jennifer Elliott, with whom I did a leadership course last November - which happened to be when I wrote The Ten Thousand Things. And Claire Jankelson, from the organisation Spirituality, Leadership and Management. And Alastair Rylatt will chair the proceedings.
I have been compiling a mailing list, and a list of media people to approach. I will send out notice of the book launch in about a week.
I want my book to be known and loved, like Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love. Like Robert Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motor Cycle Maintenance. Like Richard Bach's The Bridge across Forever. Like Paulo Coelho's books.
I spoke at an ethics conference at Sydney University in June. I spoke about the power of stories to communicate the personal impact of ethics in the workplace - and hence the importance of whether people act ethically or unethically. Learning about ethical theories is not enough, learning decision-making processes is not enough.
I am speaking at a "Wisdom in Management" conference in Canberra this week. What an outlandish concept! When we are used to business people saying "business is business", and "nothing is more important than profit". I am going to talk about my experience as a leader, using the I Ching and trying to operate effectively but in alignment with ethics (ie, with respect and care for people as humans). In other words, I am going to enter into the story that the novel is about.
 In preparing this talk, I happened upon the infinity symbol. I was thinking about the deviations from the true that occur in living. For example, in thinking about our survival in the hurly-burly of existence, we can err on two sides.
First, we can be down-trodden and think of ourselves as victims. This is a bogey raised by the ego in its fear. "We" cannot really be harmed. (Ask Viktor Frankl.) Or, alternatively, we can go forth with aggression, prepared to crush anyone who may threaten us. This is the other way the ego leads us astray.
The two deviations are like the two loops of the infinity symbol. In the middle, between them, there is a still point where we act fearlessly and naturally, in alignment with the cosmic forces, without ego. Our mission? To stay at that still centre, neither a victim or a dominator. We come into our full power when we are not led by the ego, when the power of the cosmos moves through us.
I will have a summary of my Wisdom in Management talk on my website in a week or so. See http://www.glennmartin.com.au/. You can see details about the book launch there as well.
 Cheers, Glenn