The latest book by Malcolm Gladwell (remember “Blink”) gives a refreshing perspective on the less obvious power of the small–the David in us that often has to go up against the giants in our lives. In “David and Goliath” Gladwell illustrates with this classic biblical story, that David’s success was not such a fluke, or even as much a miracle as we sometimes believe. He points to the strength we often draw upon when faced with overwhelming odds and compares that to David, who had flexibility, strategy, mobility, ingenuity and skillfulness that outmatched the more solid, fixed, traditional power of Goliath.
His examples from other lives and other historical references are interesting, but the theme made me think of independent publishing, my little corner of the David and Goliath story. When I was finished writing “The Woman in the Photograph,” I gave it to about 100 people to read, including a best selling author and two very competent agents. Almost to a person, my first readers were enthusiastic and were touched personally by the story. They gave me rave reviews personally but the agents said they didn’t think they could “sell it.” They told me the world of big publishers used to take a chance on something unusual or someone less known. But the market has changed and now publishers want a big, explosive drama and a guarantee of your giant social network, your thousands of friends and fans who will promise to buy the book in advance.
This may sound like sour grapes, but I think I was relieved to hear this. The whole story of my twenty year search to uncover my mother’s hidden past was so intimate and revealing, that I felt glad to have more control over how the book would be produced and marketed. I was fortunate to put together a wonderful team of editors and designers (mostly friends who were also gifted professionals) who created a cover and a format that held the mystery and the beauty of the story. But the real “David” part was learning how to spread the news without the outreach of a big publisher or even access to getting reviewed in major publications or sold in major book chains.
That meant moving gracefully and wisely against the Goliath of a commercial publishing network. Several wonderful independent bookstores hosted my talks. Innovative creative literature festivals like Litquake gave me an initial platform for my book, and then the rest became the personal outreach to friends, networks, internet sites, book clubs and community events in my local area. There is a growing accessible network of online venues for writers and books. Rather than dying out with the new media we have, books are coming back in new ways.
I am thrilled every time a reader, usually a stranger, sends me an email. I am grateful for every review that appears on Amazon, Goodreads or other sites. (hint: please post your own reviews of my book.) The kinship between readers and writers is growing, and often there is no distinction as more and more people read and do their own creative writing. It has become all our domain. No more Davids. No more Goliaths.
To celebrate the growing emergence of the creative power in all of us, I am offering the Kindle version of “The Woman in the Photograph” as a FREE download November 19-21. This also commemorates the November 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall, where my story begins. A hidden photograph, a property stolen by the Nazis, and the collapse of an impenetrable wall take you on a journey across generations and continents. Enjoy it and tell your friends, as we all learn to move gracefully around the obstacles in our lives.