Never stand begging for that which you have the power to earn – Miguel de Cervantes
Previously in this series - The Dissent of Man – 1st epoch
This post is about the newly launched book project The Dissent of Man now on the Unbound website. Most of the material related to the book will be going into the authors shed on that site, for which a pledge towards the book is firstly necessary to gain access. I’ll explain how all this works and why it’s justified in asking for money up front. Unbound offer crowd sourcing for books. This is not new in itself, but it is the first dedicated website and company doing so, to my knowledge. They also brilliant people to be working with; relaxed, professional, capable, and fun. They put the book and writing process before business. Profits follow as a natural product of enjoying their work. Here’s a nice little video to tell you more…
The effect is a fun, interactive publishing process where you, the reader, have a very real input. Not only does each project have levels where your pledge automatically gets a name printed in the book (your name, any name: GP Shagsboddy, Chesswater Rippington, Felcher Martin, Aspergillus Crototinine, Bob, Alf, Ug, Choochoo Samosa. You decide. Evidently a certain Mr Charles Dickens already appears in the acknowledgements of several of the published Unbound books), but many, if not all, projects offer levels where you get to share in celebration of a book’s launch, or be a part of the plot narrative, literarily in the case of fiction, and literally where you might take part in a journey underpinning the book. For my project, The Dissent of Man, I like to feel I have taken it one stage further. The top pledging levels will buy you actual space within the book.
Over the course of ten years, I have interviewed Richard Dawkins, Noam Chomsky, Oliver Sacks, James Watson, Ian Stewart, Edward Wilson, Martin Rees, Simon Conway Morris, David King, Aubrey Manning, Michael Behe, George Schaller, Brian Charlesworth, Bjørn Lomborg, Daniel Dennett, William Dembski, Stephen Wolfram, Rupert Sheldrake, Michael Ruse, Susan Blackmore, Lewis Wolpert, Steven Pinker, Richard Holloway, Richard Lewontin, Randal Keynes, John Polkinghorne, Tim Smit, Matt Ridley, Archimedes Plutonium, Richard Gregory, Ken Ham, Adrian Hawkes, and oh so many more.
The list is quite impressive and the longer, full list even more so. However, it has been pointed out that there is a distinct lack of women contributors, and this is not an issue that has escaped me. In fact it has been with me from the inception of the project, even the name of the book, although an obvious derivative and allusion to Darwin’s The Descent of Man, has been a matter of male chauvinistic concern.
Frustratingly though, for historical reasons, and yes, oppression of women scientists, etc, there just aren’t that many well-known female voices to ask for comment in this area. Sadly, my list of names is likely all too representative of persistent reality. However, it is an ongoing issue with the book, and the lengthier list does include several women, and I would be glad to add any more names that you wish to suggest.
So, your pledge buys you the culmination of ten years effort, on and off, towards amassing sufficient material, analysing it, forming conclusions and turning them into publishable ideas. sounds like value for money, so far. any pledge to support the book will gain you access to my author’s shed, an idealist space where authors can concentrate, isolated from distraction, and write. in reality, my shed is a cupboard in our flat whose constrained dimensions sadly cannot accommodate guests, but I am overjoyed to share my virtual shed with you. It’s where I will be posting images, excerpts, musings, and interview recordings. Peripheral material.
Furthermore, at the higher-priced levels there are, what I hope, attractive extras to tempt you with, prints of Simon Gurr’s superb artwork used for the book (see above), a Darwin statue (see below), invites to the book launch, and ultimately the opportunity to appear in the book, as one of my interviewees.
I think this is the first time such an opportunity has existed – that’s what I meant when I said that I have taken crowd sourcing for books “one stage further”: buying your own space in the book where you don’t only contribute an idea to spark the writer’s imagination, the seed of a scene, or a character’s name, but where you actually get to express your own views and ideas.
I don’t have a problem with this. I know it’s mercenary, but needs must. I selected my other interviewees based on their known opinions. I now want to also fill the book with a greater diversity of views. the unknown and unexpected. At those levels, you are not only buying my time, and expertise in the subject area and this style of interview, but also my writing and editing skills to bring the best out of your ideas, to present them honestly and so that they may sit comfortably shoulder-to-shoulder with the ideas of others.
Just for the record: this is horrible. I do hate desperately lobbying people on twitter. I do hate pimping my wares and begging for support. It’s not in my nature, but I very much believe in this book project and I’m very grateful for every single pledge. A final note on Twitter: when I do directly tweet someone, I feel that it’s rude to be ignored. This is different to the expectations for a people en masse, not directly addressed. However, we can all see who is writing to us, so pretending to not see a tweet is pointless – it’s there, and unless you’re getting dozens per minute, they are visible. No one is too big to be civil; silence is not golden on a social network, it’s more like a mouldy piece of half-chewed Bakelite.
More on The Dissent of Man book project soon. Meanwhile, please do pledge, RT and get involved.