C h a z z W r i t e s . c o m

Write and publish with love and fury.

Is Give to Get wrong?

Recently I saw a note from a social media guru who decreed that we should definitely not “Give to get.” I’m really not too happy with too many rules. I didn’t go indie so people

English: One of my Ferrets, his name is Cincin

Image via Wikipedia

could handcuff me and tell me what to do. That’s what Valentine’s Day is for!

Have you noticed there are too many rules and they seem to be multiplying like ferrets high on Viagra? Quirky fact I learned today: A group of ferrets is called a “business.” Is that a semantic dig at business? Are we all a bunch of grubby, musky-smelling ferrets for holding ourselves out to the world as worthy of attention? Hm.

But enough ferret talk! What about you? If you give to get, would that be so bad? I don’t think it would be so bad, if it worked. I just don’t think it works, or at least it never works in any way you expect. For instance, this week I supported the IndieGoGo campaign for Joshua Moore, a fundraiser for a young man with leukaemia. Heavy, sad stuff which we all hope will have a happy, inspiring ending. I’m trying to help with that fundraiser because cancer makes me mad. My mom died of lung cancer and she never smoked once. That’s how unfair the universe is. Recently three friends of mine were diagnosed with varying forms of cancer. (When I say “mad” I don’t mean angry. I mean the “Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noonday sun” sort of insane.) We spend finite resources on the wrong things instead of using it for medical research to save us from the scourge … (very long rant abridged for your protection) …

Then, from the totally trivial department, I started a tiny project on Twitter to try to get one of my favorite comedians, Mike Schmidt from the 40 Year Old Boy podcast, on another of my favorite podcasts, The Joe Rogan Experience. Mike’s podcasts provide me with free weekly entertainment and, in a very generous move, he gave me the entire first season of his show for free last Christmas. I have a karma debt to him and I hope to make his random act of kindness pay off for him in a way he couldn’t have expected. Mike mentioned he’d love to be on Joe’s podcast and they already travel in similar circles. It’s amazing it hasn’t happened

Don't argue over parking spots with strangers. Or else.

already. I figured, “Hey! Let’s invite the next step to happen! It would have happened anyway. Let’s get it to happen sooner!”

I don’t really believe in karma because, from what I’ve observed, the universe just isn’t that well organized. However, I did feel instant karma with the first project. It feels good to give and Joshua’s family is in need. It’s a worthy cause and any time you’re feeling down, helping somebody else in any way you can makes you feel better. (Want to feel good, too? Go here.)

As for the second campaign, it’s pretty straight forward: If Joe Rogan and Mike Schmidt get in the same room for a podcast, the entertainment value alone is plenty reward. I love comedy and comedians (though, of course, the latter somewhat less so since many are big trouble up close and personal.) I have nothing to gain by trying to help Mike except more laughs. Show of hands: Who doesn’t think more laughs are worthy of our time? (Okay. You and you? Get out and don’t come back!)

Twisty and twisted. Click the pic for more.

People wringing their hands about the devious and ulterior motives of Give to Get needn’t worry. Giving to Get never really works in my experience. We can construct fancy plans to promote our ends, but there are many paths up the mountain and they are all hidden.

Case study: Once upon a time, I moved a thousand miles to a new city to open a new business. I didn’t know anyone, so I had to step far out of my comfort zone. I volunteered at a veterans’ home. I did free demonstrations and gave lectures. I taught classes and spoke to strangers in elevators. It was disgusting how hard it was on me. I was an introvert pretending to be an extrovert. (“Ahem. Still am,” said a small voice. SHUT UP!) I did a ton of charity work. I was out there with a missionary zeal and I was trying to meet as many people as possible so I could help as many people as possible. Much of it went under appreciated, under the radar and from my accountant’s perspective, was a waste of time and energy. Each morning I woke up very early, worried about where the money was going to come from. (Just like now.)

All that outgoing energy was sort of like Twitter, except back then I had to be annoying in person and some people were actually helped. Well…a few people. Mostly, all my plots and plans didn’t work the way I thought they would. People weren’t charmed. I did not form a swooning cult clamouring for appointments to spend time with The Magic That is Me. For quite some time, I got the feeling that, as a human being, I’m bad at being human. I suck at making new friends. I am, apparently, an acquired taste.

The business didn’t grow because of my plots and plans. The plots and plans travelled with reality, but in parallel. All my manufactured extroversion did nothing for me directly. I really didn’t know what I was doing. The word “flailing” comes to mind. Everything I thought should matter? Didn’t. And yet the business grew. Our plans do not matter. What matters is that we offer ourselves up and make ourselves available so connections we couldn’t have foreseen will emerge. I’m not talking about that Law of Attraction stuff. I’m talking about writing more books and being available so opportunity finds you ready.

Readers discover our work in organic ways not meant for mortals’ puny understanding. You dohave to put yourself out there to be found, yes. Write more books. Tweet. Help

What if God gives you what you want? What if you win an argument against God?

somebody out. Whatever. It doesn’t matter as long as you’re out there in the world—preferably the cyberworld for me—writing anew and doing things and doing your best. The organic growth (call it luck if you like) will happen in ways you can’t now imagine (or at least in ways I can’t imagine because you’re smarter and braver than me. I’m winking at you, brother.)

What worked? In the case of my business from long ago, I met a special person at a lecture. She hired me and I managed to help her. I didn’t know how influential she was at the time. However, once I helped her with her problems, she sent a lot of people my way looking for the same service. Today she’d be my dream book blogger from Publisher’s Weekly who discovers my lowly existence and campaigns to lift me from obscurity’s muck and declare me worthy. Or, it could be something completely different. My point is, all that dreaming of perfect, beneficial synchronicities is pretty much useless. Just show up and something will happen. (Woody Allen once said a high percentage of his success was attributable to just showing up, which of course discounts his genius behind a camera immensely.)

You can give to get if you want, but for all its effectiveness, you may as well give for the sake of giving without counting the cost. I don’t think anything specific will help much. I used to watch Survivor. I learned two things from that show:

1. No one can pretend to be nice if they are not. Not even for a week, let alone a month! Not even for one million dollars.

2. Whoever wins attributes their win to their godlike intellect and meteoric guile. This, despite ample evidence throughout the television season, that they could have failed miserably but didn’t because someone else made a bigger mistake; dumb luck was involved; possibly divine intervention hit; or the crafty machinations of others came into play. When we win, we think it’s all on us. When we lose, we look for someone to blame who is not us. And if we win, who is to say the same path will still be open to those who follow you? (Modeling a good bet. I’d take that path, but there are variables. One indie author success won’t necessarily translate to another success. If that were true, we’d all be at number one already.)

Author Devin O’Branagan said something pithy to me in her forum the other day.She commented that no predictable marketing patterns are emerging that show a clear path to

Asia_Unbound

Are we ever free from our secrets? Find out here.

indie success. Several authors who hit it big did so in very different ways. Some people are sure they know the way up the mountain. Maybe they’re even right, but the paths are hidden and there is no one right way. I propose that their are too many variables to make broad statements about The Way. We’re going to have to Jeet Kune Do this problem, be like water and adapt as Bruce Lee insisted we do if we want to kick ass.

Get Vengeance and get surprised.

For Scott Sigler, the way up was free podcasts. Now there are so many podcasts and Podiobooks and Audible.com, that may not be The Way anymore. It might still be A Way, for some. I’ve discovered I love podcasting so I do it for the love and maybe some influential reviewer will find me that way. I do my weekly podcast for the joy, so I’m in Follow Your Bliss Mode on this one and if it gets more people to read my books? Gravy!

Some authors are convinced Goodreads is their salvation while Amanda Hocking found it didn’t do a thing for her. Some have found great success with KDP Select while Joanna Penn posted this week that she tried it and she won’t be doing that again.

If you give to get, are you a bad person? No. No one’s totally selfless and martyrdom is overrated. In giving, you will get something in (almost) any case. I’ve discovered there’s great satisfaction in sending out a free copy of one of my books to book bloggers. It’s of immediate benefit because it’s an immediate, easily achievable, finite task. (Meanwhile, editing and revising is forever.) Maybe they’ll give it a good review or maybe it will languish unread for months. Shrug. You might as well enjoy the moment. Last week I detailed my many forays into press releases and book marketing to find what worked. Nothing really did. Yet. (And that local newspaper columnist still hasn’t called about profiling me!)

So stop trying to control the universe! That’s right. Let go. Just flail. If you flail enough, you won’t sink. Get out there. Get wet. You might even end

The Dangerous Kind

Let's get dangerous. And kind.

up swimming.

Oh, I almost forgot: The other problem with Giving to Get is that if people think that’s all you’re about, they will write you off as a bad, opportunistic  person. You no doubt noticed by now that my book covers and their links to sales platforms are plastered all over this particular blog post. Ironic, no? (But I’ll save that discussion for another blog post since this is so long, no one is reading these words: Squirrel, skedaddle, opossum, leather fetish, pistachio, surreal, Topeka. See? Nobody read that. By now you’re just skipping down to the red letters, like in the Bible. If I’m wrong, post a non sequitur in the comments and see how long it will take for others to catch on. Haha! I’m so full of old rope and blue piss tonight, as my mother used to say.)

Have a charitable and compassionate day. Or make it one.

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Filed under: Publicity & Promotion, publishing, Unintentionally hilarious, Useful writing links, What about Chazz?, What about you?, Writers, , , , , , , , , , , ,

5 Responses

  1. Hey Chazz, I so believe that giving is great, not to get but because it’s right. I always know, from experience, my experience, that when I give, it always seems to come around. Yet I still do not give to get. It just feels better to give. It relieves stress. Giving helps me make friends.

    As a result, I don’t mid giving my books away sometimes. I think Joanna is wrong on that, but then again we all have had a different KDP Select experience. Mine was good. I was happy to give my book away. I wasn’t happy about the “One hit wonders” as they’re called…you know, the ever famous peeps who attack indie books when they hit the top 100. Sickening.

    I’ll be a guest at The Creative Penn on Feb 29th… The title of that Post is Why Amazon KDP Select is… (get this)… God’s Gift to Indie Authors.

    Giving works. And if you you plan it right, it works great. See the results on the 29th!

  2. Good Post Chazz! I think the wisest thing you said is to let go. It’s also the hardest thing to do. 🙂

  3. carsoncanada says:

    Commerce (giving to get) is, from my experience, something that empties oneself, not fills it. As you showed yourself, what does work is just doing what feels right, which of course implies without expectation. Then the universe becomes a seeming magical place and results emerge. And yes, that letting go of control feels damned spooky, until you do it enough to trust it.

  4. Alana Woods says:

    Hi Chazz, thanks. I’ll let you know what my path was when I find it.

  5. […] Is Give to Get wrong? (chazzwrites.com) Please spread the word:TwitterFacebookPinterestEmailPrintStumbleUponDiggTumblrRedditLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

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