I have gotten this question not a few times this past week. According to Wikipedia, there are now over 450 crowdfunding platforms, so you do have lots of decisions to make when you decide to take a project this route. IndieGoGo’s aesthetic appealed to me – it seemed to me to be less flash than the megalith Kickstarter, and it also appealed to me that it was not inextricably linked with Amazon. I guess it’s really all right there in the name: independence plus forward motion, which kinda suits the “forge your own path” metaphor.
But that’s not really what people are asking me: they are asking why am I not going with a traditional publisher (and thank you all for your publisher recommendations BTW). I decided to publish this book myself because I have a particular vision for the project that doesn’t seem to quite fit neatly into the categories it is supposed to fit into. It is a bit outside the box in its creative chaos. Also, there is the element of flipping the press / author relationship (not to mention royalty ratio) that also speaks to my desire to communicate more directly with my readers, and to have my book be shaped first and foremost by listening to what it is that they are sitting with, speaking with the voice and tone that best speaks to the reality of the task of forging your own path.
In honor of the launch of my Bringing Linguistics to Work campaign, a dear friend sent me a copy of Amanda Palmer’s book this week. Yesterday, I took some time out of the chaos of this week to sit and read, and I realized that what this is actually all comes down to is “the ask,” which I have been blogging about here for years!
For those of you who have not heard of Amanda Palmer (as indeed I had not – sorry sometimes I do get these reminders that I appear to have been living under a rock) check out her TED talk.
Crowdfunding introduces a spirit of collaboration or co-creation, of connection, but it is premised on someone asking for something. It is vulnerable. As I revisit my own words of a year ago in one of the post popular entries on this blog to date, honoring the ask means “paying attention to opportunities to ask for and to give things as well as being mindful of how these ‘asks’ in turn create and are created by relationships.”
My big ask this week was structured by relationships that I have cultivated, but it has also grown new ones, and I am humbled by the generosity which has been shown to me by people who only last week were strangers and who now are asking me what they can do to help. The internet is a truly amazing thing!
I am floored by the power of connections, and inspired to create more even as I am reminded about what my original vision for this book had been. I want people to use this book in community. To use it to build community. I have incentive packages that involve multiple book copies for a group and even more copies for an even bigger group that would have me come and do a workshop to kick things off. I have sold one of the former and and have been contacted by a university who are looking into how they can have me come do the latter.
Form your own career linguist group
Do you have a group (face-to-face or virtual) who meet for the purposes of supporting one another in career searching / to motivate one another and to discuss and share ideas? Could this book be the catalyst that you were looking for to form one?
While you are waiting for the book to be finished, you can start your first meeting by watching my 10 things video together and brainstorming career ideas.
And stay tuned for more ideas and activities as part of the Linguistics Society of America Special Interest group for Linguistics Beyond Academia.
The power of community
My ask this week has reminded me about the power of community, and so I am turning around and asking for another one: consider ways that you can forge community to support you in this important exploration and inquiry. We all need community to support and encourage and sustain us. Use this opportunity to strengthen yours!