In 1988, after publishing my first book, The Birth of the Shining One: Moving Beyond Apocalypse Into Godbeing, I naively assumed the world would beat a path to my door and reward me for being the genius that I obviously am (said with tongue firmly in cheek). I also naively assumed that now that I had written my book, my publisher would do the rest – that is to say, the equally vital and arduous task of marketing and promotion that would ensure my success as an author. I was wrong.
My book sold modestly, and became something of a cult classic in small esoteric circles. It still sells on Amazon today for some ridiculously low price. I take the fact that it is listed at all, 20+ years after its publication, as a small confirmation of the worth of my effort. Yet, in the wake of my rude awakening to the realities of the publishing world, I suffered a post-partum depression that lasted 12 years. At the time, I vowed that if I ever wrote another book, I would publish it myself, not at all sure I would ever again put myself through such a disappointing ordeal.
It appears, however, that writing was in my blood, as necessary to my wellbeing as my next breath. So 12 years later, in 2000, I made the decision to take a sabbatical from a successful correspondence course I was teaching to make more space in my life for writing. I announced to my students that I was shifting gears to write a book that would encompass all that I had learned while working with them – or so I thought at the time. Over the next two years, I gradually brought my work with each of them to closure, and devoted my newly liberated creative energy to writing my book, and learning the ins-and-outs of the publishing business.
As much of a quantum leap as my decision to write a book turned out to be, my decision to self-publish was even more of a leap. The learning curve, I soon discovered, was incredibly steep. I made lots of mistakes. I was stunned by the hard reality of the publishing business just I had been stunned by the hard reality of becoming a published author 12 years ago. I developed a humble empathy for my former publisher and for all self-published authors and small independent presses everywhere.
Unlike my first round of disillusionment, however, this second round inspired me to want to dig in my heels, and do whatever it would take to find a business model that would work for me and get my books out into the world. I read books about publishing books. I joined associations. I formed business relationships with wholesalers, distributors and online retailers. I sent out review copies; did mailings to bookstores, libraries, and my own list of contacts; packed my books off to trade shows; and arranged as many book-signings and author events as I could. I dutifully followed the prescribed path toward success in publishing, and at the end of the day, found that very little of it actually worked.
I got great reviews and won awards. Each of my books was a critical success, but sales came slowly, and usually with a large portion of the pie already eaten by the time I got my share. After my wholesalers and distributors stopped paying their bills altogether, I fired them, and began to conceive of a new business model, which I call Fair Trade Publishing.
My vision is still evolving, but the essence of the concept is that what matters in the transition from idea to finished book is the relationship between writer and reader. If I could somehow eliminate all those outstretched palms between myself and those who resonated with my words, then maybe, just maybe, something more vital than money could be exchanged, and business would take care of itself.
I have, in fact, had many wonderful exchanges with my readers, and in creating this blog – and its companion blogs – The Astropoetic School of Soul-Discovery – and my personal astropoetic journey – The Sky Is My Mirror – it is my intention to cultivate more of the same. In fact, I will go so far as to say that when you buy a book from Ancient Tower Press, you are entering into a relationship with me. It is your choice how far you would like to pursue this relationship, but I did not build this Ancient Tower for myself alone.
In his autobiography, Memories, Dreams and Reflections, Jung describes one evening in his tower when he awoke to the sound of soft footsteps outside, accompanied by music. He got up and went to the window, but saw and heard nothing. Figuring he must have been dreaming, Jung went back to sleep and had the same dream again.
Once more I heard footsteps, talk, laughter, music. At the same time I had a visual image of several hundred dark-clad figures, possibly peasant boys in their Sunday clothes, who had come down from the mountain and were pouring in around the Tower, on both sides, with a great deal of loud trampling, laughing, singing, and playing of accordions.
Upon waking a second time, Jung had to acknowledge that his dream was as real as the silence of the moonlit night in which his dream occurred. However alone he might have been in his waking state, his dreams were peopled with the celebration of the curious.
I feel the same about my tower. As I gaze out from its windows, I record what I see. Then I close my eyes, and a community of readers, students and seekers of soulful truth swirls around me in joyous celebration of the sacred mystery.
If one of the books in the Ancient Tower Press catalog speaks to you, I invite you to enter the tower itself, and join me in whatever way seems appropriate and useful to you – through an Email exchange, as a student in my correspondence course, as a participant in one of my workshops, or as a fellow human being and celebrant of the mystery, waving in silent recognition of our kinship as you walk by.