Watch out, I'm about to get philosophical on y'all.
So what's it all about, eh, this life business? What's our purpose in being here? We all know that the answer to the meaning of life, the universe and everything is 42 but that can't be all there is to it, can it?
With such a diversity of belief systems (or lack of) among us all, I reckon there's one thing we can agree on: we're here to make a difference. In the week that Nelson Mandela died, we're all aware of the enormous difference one single person can make. Here's what Madiba said on the subject:
“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”
Madiba was unique, of course, but on a much smaller scale perhaps we can emulate his example. We're at our strongest when we join together, rather than act alone. I've seen people doing that recently. The Authors for Philippines project raised over £50,000 for the Red Cross Typhoon Haiyan appeal and is just one example of a good deed in a naughty world.
But the difference I'm posting about today is the Stories for Homes project which was the result of a community of people united for one purpose: to create a world-class anthology of short stories on the theme of 'home' with all proceeds going to the housing and homelessness charity, Shelter.
You can see the background to the project in this blog post in July, which celebrated the launch of the e-book - available here. Our community of supporters have made a promotional video, supplied unique artwork, come up with genius ideas, created a press release, contacted local and national media, emailed, blogged, Facebooked and tweeted. We've had authors, editors, proofreaders, designers, techy wizards, artists, journalists and more on board. There are far too many places where the anthology has been promoted for me to link to here. Check the hashtag #storiesforhomes on Twitter for a full list.
And readers, of course, we've had readers who have bought the book, knowing they can enjoy great writing while simultaneously sending money in Shelter's direction. Because we all know books need readers.
We started here, back in June:
The e-book was published in July and we watched as it leapt up the Kindle charts and the royalties flowed in. In less than four months, we raised almost £600. The reviews have awarded the collection an average of 4.8 stars and we knew we had achieved our aim. Truly, this is a world-class anthology and. most importantly, Shelter was receiving some serious money.
And now, five months later, we're here:
The paperback was published a week ago (available here) and has already raised £213 in royalties at the time I'm posting. Add this to the money already raised from sales of the e-book and we've already made over £1000. We have a launch event at my fave indie bookshop, Bookseller Crow on the Hill, coming up this Friday. (Other events will be taking place across the country.) Another talented person has joined our community and created this wonderful window display.
But hang on, let's just take a moment to remember what all this is about. All the following info comes from Shelter's news page. 80,000 children will be homeless in the UK this Christmas. The highest number of families are in emergency accommodation for a decade. In over half the country, less than 10% of properties are affordable for a typical working family. 45% of people renting in the South West are living in homes that are damp, cold, overcrowded or in a bad state of repair.
Shocking, isn't it? But behind the stats lie real people, real stories. You can see some of the people Shelter has helped here. It's in order to help Shelter help those who need their support the most that the whole Stories for Homes project was brought into being, inspiring dozens of people to take part and hundreds more to buy the book.
Please play your part. Buy the book. Post a review on Amazon. Come to the events. Tell others about the project.
Make a difference.
Going back to the point I made at the start of this post, I leave you with the Stories for Homes dedication page.
Since writing that post, I can report that we handed over a symbolic cheque to Shelter at the launch for the money raised so far!
- Can you see the amount on that cheque?This includes 45 copies sold at the launch. Many of them were signed by all the authors who came from far and wide - including one who flew in from Germany.We even had souvenir bookmarks.
In the days following the launch, we shot up the bestselling charts. At one point, we were number 5 in the bestselling paperback anthology charts, nestled between George Orwell and Doris Lessing. When you check out the massive marketing and publicity budgets behind the other books on the list and compare it to our shoestring-would-have-been-a-luxury budget this feat is all the more remarkable.
Cyberspace has been flooded with SfH book blasts. See the comments here on Squidge's Scribbles for a full list. The momentum has built, more events are planned, more books will be sold, more money will be passed to Shelter to help them to help those who need their services the most.