It’s coming up on a month since the release of The Wisdom to Know the Difference, and things have been going well. I felt very loved and supported by the great attendance at the Big Blue Marble and Borders, excited by the chance to have so many articles and interviews published, humbled by the amazing people in my Pendle Hill workshop last weekend, and ready to lay in bed and read my twelve-year-old’s favorite vampire novel by the time I got home Sunday. I’m coming out of the stupor now (Thursday) and assessing what I need to do next. And what I need to do next is give some books away!
Despite the very touching things that people are saying to me about how the book is affecting them (and the popularity of the If You Love a Writer blog post), no one has reviewed it yet on Amazon, Powell’s, Goodreads, LibraryThing, or any of the other sites where people usually post book reviews. Likewise, while many Quakers seem to know about the book, I’ve been slow to get it into the hands of Quaker bloggers. Partly this is because I’m trying to figure out a Quaker approach to doing a book give away. Many authors do a book raffle where readers request a book, and the author pulls three names out of a hat. Others studiously study the Technorati rankings of various bloggers, and only offer a free book to those with a large audience. On LibraryThing, potential reviewers are encouraged to post a review somewhere in exchange for a book, and the people at LibraryThing select the recipients by a list of criteria that includes, random chance, expressed interest, and “other factors not revealed or not yet determined.” There is no obligation, of course, to write a positive review.
So, what would be a Quaker approach to the book give away? Well, we historically don’t engage in raffles (a topic that comes up every year or so at our children’s Quaker school). Although I’m confident that this would not debase anyone’s moral character—one of the concerns explained in Thomas Clarkson’s 1806 view of gambling–I’m also aware that I’ve already flaunted the Quaker tradition of not using honorifics, with “His Holiness the Dalai Lama” in bold on the front cover and a few people identified by their titles on the inside. While no one in my liberal, unprogrammed Quaker circles has given me grief about this, I’m curious what Friends more broadly think about it. (For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, Quakers historically haven’t used titles that put one person on a pedestal, such as “Your Honor” in court. In the seventeenth century, Quakers went to prison to uphold this principle.) Today, I try to honor the principle of treating everyone with equal respect, though in a multi-cultural and multi-religious context where intentions are easily misunderstood, I lean toward thinking that addressing people the way they prefer to be addressed is more egalitarian than just abandoning all titles.
In any case, one of my goals with the book give away is to get more Quakers from different branches reviewing my book, as well as people from other communities. So I’m thinking a discernment process, rather than a raffle. Here’s my plan: If you want a free copy of the book and think you’ll most likely be able to review it sometime in the next few months, leave a comment here saying so and some way for me to get in touch with you. If you have a blog or website, give a sentence or two describing your primary audience (FUM Quakers, people in recovery, women writers, etc.) and what your blog is about (free publicity!). If you don’t have a blog but want to review it on GoodReads or some other site, that’s fine, too. (If you don't have a blog and want to send your contact info privately, use the contact form on this site.) After two weeks, I will look at the submissions and pick five people to get free books that represent the most diverse array of audiences and “other factors not revealed or not yet determined,” which means I might just pray over it and see if any guidance comes. Let the fun begin!