A writer named Ruthie, who runs a blog called Fish Out of Water: The Life and Times of a Gay Girl in the Midwest, has written a review of my book UNFAIR. Her review begins with:
I’m not trying to exaggerate, but anyone who reads this book and still has a hard heart towards gay people defended by a christian worldview, I would seriously question the existence of their soul, conscience, heart or ability to reason.
I don’t know Ruthie, at all—and yet right away, somehow, I liked her.
No, but Ruthie’s review of UNFAIR highlights that which is so great about this new world of publishing we’re in. A regular book reviewer would never have written anything as personal as she did about mine or any other book. That’s not what “real” book reviewers do.
But out here, in the free-wheelin’ wilds of cyberspace?
We talk out here, man. We say some stuff out here. And we say it all exactly as we want.
Publishing this book myself was (to me) a pretty big deal. I certainly could have sold it to a regular book publisher. But I didn’t want anyone telling me what could or couldn’t be in the book—and I sure didn’t want anyone but me touching its precious letters from gay Christians. You know what they say: If you want something done right, get some people around you who know what they’re doing, and do it yourselves.
So I; my wife, Catherine; my web designer and all-around lifesaver Dan Wilkinson; Amit Dey, my e-book formatter; Lisa Salazar, my cover designer; Kathy Baldock, who wrote the introduction to UNFAIR, and Scott W. Bell, who is preparing the book for its print edition (not to mention Anonymous, who is translating UNFAIR into Spanish, and João Mattos, who is translating it into Portuegese) got busy.
And now comes the part where the Internet must, again, play its role. In the old book publishing model, the publisher took responsibility for marketing the book, for advertising it, getting the word out about it. No more. And certainly not for self-published books. You publish a book on your own, and you are really on your own.
Enter the heroic Han Solo-types of cyberspace: the bloggers. It’s bloggers who now have the power to make or break books. Bloggers are like little broadcasting stations, sending their signals out to all those attuned to them.
It’s so fun, basically.
And also so real. Bloggers don’t lie. They don’t have to: they’re not beholden to anyone. A blogger can afford to be absolutely honest, in terms as personal as they care to use, about how they feel about, say, a book they just read.
If you are a blogger, and you write a review of UNFAIR, send me a link to that review. (Thanks, Thom H., for sending me Fish‘s review.) If I get in enough such reviews—say, five of them—I’ll probably start a separate page here on my blog, on which I’ll list and link to each of the reviews, with maybe a little synopsis/commentary from me accompanying each one.
Anyway, a great thanks to all of you who are helping UNFAIR find its way through this strange, brave new world of do-it-yourself publishing. A lot of people don’t realize how vital each and every person online is to the fate of such a project. Every time you share a link about the book, or mention it in a FB status, or blog about it (or especially write a review about it on its Amazon page, if I can just come right out and say that), you don’t just do something to help it. You do the only thing that can help it. That’s it. For a book like UNFAIR, there are no radio spots, no magazine ads, no newspaper ads, no paid-for placement in bookstores.
There’s nothing but everything: there’s people, sharing what they know and think and learn.
Thanks to all of you who get that, and who have been, I know, out there, helping UNFAIR reach those it should. God bless you in that effort. I know that can’t help but maybe sound a little piously self-serving, but whatever. I mean it.
As the great Muhammad Ali put it: “Me. We.”