I have a stack of sheets of paper much like the one above. Possibly two or three hundred pages in all. I’ve thrown away far more than I have kept. I haven’t exactly “kept” any of them. I just haven’t thrown them away yet. Which got me thinking… Why not keep them. Sell them maybe? One day?
A signed book is lazy in comparison. A postcard sent by the author too. How about adding something tangible that the author has worked on, sweated over even or tossed away, screwed up, left in a pile. More than just a window into the process, but a physical part of it, warts and all.
Perhaps you could include a signed book jacket together with one or two original, raw pages going through an edit. A handwritten letter from the author about that page, that edit, that period in the writing process. Bundle it together in a package made by the author and posted to the buyer by mail with old fashioned stamps.
Then I thought, what would I be prepared to pay for something like that? Say a limited offer of one hundred such packages from an author I really liked. $10? $50? $100?
It taps into a similar idea I had around working as a foreign correspondent. About sending a more personal “letter from…”
A physical letter, with stamps, a smeared inky date mark, a handwritten address, a hand written return address on the back. Maybe with an accompanying photograph printed by a local photolab with a handwritten inscription, dated and signed by the correspondent. Posted by hand, by the correspondent, from the country that interests you.
Would you pay for something like that? Once per month? Six times a year? link
I don’t know if either of these ideas could work in practice or what stumbling blocks might exist between idea and execution, but I’ve decided to stop throwing away every piece of edited manuscript. Times are hard for publishers and authors and, hey, you never know.
In addition, I strongly suspect that in the digital era, people desire physical objects endowed with personality, meaning and a sense of time and place.
Meanwhile, picture above, editing in the lobby of the King Fahd Hotel, Dakar yesterday.
Manuscript sample above by John Le Carre. How much would you pay for his pages?