Monday, 27 October 2014

100 Crazy Ideas

 In the Spring of 2013 I was angry. Angry with  the Government, angry at politicians, angry at injustice and incompetence and greed and foolishness.

The UK economy continued to implode and instead of dealing with it, the government seemed hell bent on destroying the country.

I as often do when I'm angry, I started writing, let all that anger express itself on the page.

I didn't want to be angry. I far prefer optimism. I prefer hope. But sometimes we need to express our anger before hope can be heard, before creative ways of dealing with the problem can begin to flow.

As I wrote and thought and researched, finally some ideas started to pop into my head. My 100 goals have transformed my life, was it possible I could use the concept of 100 ideas to propose some ideas of my own?

But who would listen to me? Why should anyone act on my crazy ideas?

Still, as us writers often do, I came up with with a book title: 100 Crazy Ideas to Fix The Economy

Once I had a title, I knew I had a book. I just needed to write it.

That was in the Spring of 2013.

I wasn't ready though. I had two novels that were burning holes in my brain. I've since published one (The Great Scottish Land Grab) and taken the other to one hundred thousand words.

I had it in my head that I needed to have the complete book finished before I could publish and talk about 100 Crazy Ideas. But at the same time, I've always felt that I couldn't only publish the book, that it would be unjust of me to only demand that people pay for my crazy ideas.

These two thoughts kept battling within me. The desire to earn from my work; the belief that ideas that can benefit society should be freely available.

How to reconcile them?

As I've written and published Land Grab over the summer, I've also spent a lot of time researching publishing and marketing. In my reading I came across Dean Wesley Smith's site where he generously shares two excellent books: Killing the Top Ten Sacred Cows of Indie Publishing and Killing the Top Ten Sacred Cows of Publishing.

I've now read both of these books, both through Dean's website. And I've now bought one. I intend to buy the other next month.

But why buy them? Dean gives them away for free... For starters, it just feels wrong to benefit from someone else's work without paying them for it. For the same reason I don't download pirate movies or music. But also, there is a lot of good advice in these books. A lot to take in. I expect I'll be re-reading both books for years and it will be far easier now I've got a Kindle version.

However, I'm fully aware of open source and even worked for Sun Microsystems back in the day when they were giving software away for free (MySQL, Java). I've never been convinced that giving your product away for free is a good business model. The drop in value of Sun Microsystems stock and subsequent purchase by Oracle may lend credibility to that view.

But, Indie publishing is its own game and as Dean, Joe Konrath and many others have pointed out, giving a product away as a loss leader can work. The trick is to have other products out there to sell at the same time as giving one away. Also, there are many people out there who, like me, if they enjoy a free product, will also go on to buy that product just to say thanks to the creator. Or because it is easier to re-use (think buying a CD after hearing a good song on the radio.)

...and I cannot escape the fact that on my writing journey, I'm at the start. If some of my crazy ideas are crazy enough to work, they could benefit hundreds of thousands of people. (I always dream big ;)

Getting these ideas to as wide an audience as possible seems more important than making a few pounds.

So, I'm giving away my book through this blog, turning it over to my 100 Crazy Ideas for the next few months while I also will eventually be publishing the same book and charging for it.

I sometimes forget to relate my blog posts back to my original list of 100 goals. 100 Crazy Ideas is an attempt to achieve several of them:

Goal 2: To change and influence people through my writing
Goal 64: To be the change I want to see happen
Goal 89: To change laws for the better

The intention is to start discussions. To find out if anyone out there has had the same crazy ideas to fix the economy and to see if maybe the ideas are not that crazy after all. Maybe even to prompt others to share their own crazy ideas in the hope that something can be done to turn our country (and maybe even the world) around.

The fact is that politicians are no different to you and me. They don't have any special knowledge or power that makes their ideas any less crazy than yours or mine.

We need to believe in ourselves. Believe that our ideas can make a difference. Believe that if we work together we can change things for the better.

If you're are curious to find out more, you can sign up for my mailing list and I'll notify you when each blog post comes out. The first of my 100 Crazy Ideas will be published on the 5th November 2014.

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