One of the most powerful ways of engaging people, creating change and yes, transforming the world in which we live, is to tell stories. From Homer to Perez Hilton, from the Bible to the Simpsons, stories continue to shape our lives. And at the heart of the story has always been the desire to connect – between the author and the reader, the storyteller and the audience. This strange, sometimes antagonistic bond is as much part of the storytelling tradition as words themselves.
Interestingly, the production and distribution of stories also seems to have come full circle. We started with the bards who would memorise, distribute and share Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey for a few sheckels. One has to ask, “was the fall of Troy really a military victory or a massively successful word of mouth campaign?” It took Heinrich Schliemann centuries to uncover the truth.
Realising that knowledge and power were close bed fellows, the church accumulated vast stores of manuscripts. Cloistered away in abbeys across Europe, monks copied and created, philosophised and imagined – all the while contributing to a precious body of knowledge protected by the fortress-like walls of places like the Vatican Library.
Centuries of work would be swept away with the invention of the printing press, beginning a process which would not just share knowledge but transform our very notion of intelligence. Matching the newly literate population’s thirst for knowledge, whole industries sprang up – schools, printing houses, publishers – and of course, the mass media. Each of these cordoned off a market of their own in an attempt to capitalise on the changes coursing their way through society’s veins. Walls sprang up, money exchanged hands. The knowledge drug had us all hooked.
A century or two on, these walls are also crumbling. In minutes we can create our own blogs and websites, write our own stories and share them with the world. And with sites like Blurb.com, we can take these stories and share in the great literary and social phenomenon of authoring a book.
Last year, Mark Pollard and I, concerned at the mental health and substance abuse issues confronting young men, we reached out to colleagues, friends and family, asking for their stories and their experiences. We pulled it together into a powerful collection of short stories entitled The Perfect Gift for a Man. We published is using the Blurb.com self-publishing platform, donating the money raised to the Inspire Foundation’s Reach Out program.
Projects like this are now much easier for qualifying not-for-profit organisations. Blurb for Good enables citizen philanthropists to create, market and sell books – with a special page in the Blurb bookstore, and access to the BookShow widget (see below).
But how easy is it? I used the Blurb BookSmart software to create a family holiday picture book in about three hours. I had the photos and an idea and I got it done. You can too.
But the best thing about this, for me, is that NFP authors can apply to Blurb to receive an additional contribution from Blurb for every book sold. So, not only do you keep 100% of the profits from the sale of the book, you get access to a secure online shopfront, tools to help you market your book and a little extra cash to help change the world. Sound good? Check out Blurb for Good. Happy book making!