Giving it away may make you bigger than Madonna


What’s true for me today is …

Giving it away can make you bigger than Madonna – at least in principle.

If you’re intrigued, read the Julie Bosman NY Times interview with Paulo Coelho about his new book, Aleph. You’ll need to read all the way to the end for the Madonna reference, which,in truth, is just a passing comment but too good not to comment on. Turns out Paulo Coelho has more Facebook fans than Madonna, which is more or less attributed to his prolific use of social media and Coelho’s habit of sharing his writing online for free.

Really, it’s the principle that’s important. Sharing your work for free, with positivity and in good faith, attracts positivity.

The second thing Coelho says that I think is important: “They used to see writers as wise men and women in an ivory tower, full of knowledge, and you cannot touch them. The ivory tower does not exist anymore.” (Click here to read the full quote)

It’s the mention of the ivory tower that struck me. I like the visual image of the tower barrier – it’s easy to relate to and sometimes cracking the publishing game can feel like scaling a tower, like there is a lot of distance between your writing/ideas, the editor who reviews them (decides), and the audience.

I didn’t really consider this from the reader point of view, however. Do you think social media, like blogs and Facebook, has removed the “ivory tower,” so to speak? Or, do you think there is less “writer’s mystique” because there is so much chatter about writing to communicate in the world these days?


If can download a recording of Coelho’s live interview with Brendan Burchard online here. In the interview Coelho mentions that he was forty before he published his first book. I didn’t know that. There’s hope yet!


3 responses »

  1. I do not think that the mystery of how to string words together in a fashion that moves the recipient has ever loomed larger. In many cases, the delivery system has changed…but the mystery remains. Those that have the gift, I think, are still thought to possess supernatural powers.

  2. I think that before I started blogging I always thought of authors as being in an ivory tower. If they had their name on a book then they were something really unique and special. Then, after reading a book that I really enjoyed, I decided to email the author. To my surprise, she responded, agreed to do an interview, and through email correspondance, I learned that she could hardly put two words together without a typo. Her writing was poor. I guess that she could be a unique case, but it brought “writers” to a much more real and personable level for me. Turns out, writers are real people too! But you, you are a real person whose writing I am always looking forward to reading. 🙂

  3. This is a great question! I guess I think that technology has tumbled the ivory tower in the sense that in the past, the mere fact of a publishing house printing something was the action that created the text as a valued cultural object. It was like the combination of talent and institutional approval produced the “writer’s mystique.” So now, technology has had a leveling effect, in terms of removing the power of the publishing house, since people can self publish. But even though this means there is a lot of junk out there, I don’t think “writer’s mystique” is gone. There are several writers who are still total magic in my mind. I admire their way with words – and talent is still valuable in some quarters.

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