I’ll Buy That For A Dollar

A while back, the prolific and excellent writer Joe Lansdale posted something funny on his Facebook feed.  I can’t find the post and neither can Joe, but it was really good.

The post said something about how, oftentimes, when you tell someone you meet you’re a writer, they ask: “Would I have heard of you?”

“How the fuck should I know? “

Okay, actually, I don’t think that was Joe’s post, but his was about going to the dentist and the dentist saying:  “You’re a writer?  I’ll expect a signed copy of your next book when it comes out. “

And Joe says:  “Good, and I’ll expect a free root canal.”

Totally paraphrasing, but that was the gist of it.

I laughed and laughed.

A surprising number of people don’t understand that writers and musicians and painters are not waifish dilettantes flitting about , subsisting on flowers and good lighting.  This is how we make our living.

Buy our shit or we die.

Most people grasp that Adele and Stephen King have products in stores that can be bought, but seem to assume that, if they haven’t heard of those of us who are less well known, then our work cannot be bought, or is perhaps shitty and shouldn’t be bought.

Sometimes people tell me:  Oh, after meeting you I went to the library and took out a copy of  one of your books. I really enjoyed it.  And then I loaned it to my entire family.

It’s a compliment, I suppose, but, really, can’t you just buy ONE of my books? They’re not all great, (I have them sort of categorized on my Facebook page) but they don’t cost more than a cappuccino and a muffin and they’ll make you feel things.  I promise you that.

More and more, a lot of us do give our work away for free — or for whatever a person wishes to pay for it.  We blog.  We put up pay-what-you-wish downloads of our records.  Etc.

See the indefatigable Amanda Palmer’s TED Talk, The Art of Asking.  It’s part of why I finally decided, Fuck it, I’ll ASK!

All the industries behind the arts are in upheaval.  I’m not going to snivel about it. The world changes, sometimes quite rapidly. That is one of the beautiful mysteries of being alive.

The writer Jon Katz muses on this sort of thing (and many other sorts of things) on his engaging blog Bedlamfarm.com.

It was seeing Jon Katz’s “Donate” button that was the final straw for me, that made me rip at the resistance I felt about ASKING.  And I’ve installed a “Donate” button on this blog.

Nurture the things you love or they die.

I supported a documentary, 12 O Clock Boys,  about  dirt bike gangs in Baltimore.  Now, thanks to all of us who gave Kickstarter contributions,  the doc has been released and just won an award from HBO and will find its way to a larger audience.

I gave Amanda Palmer twenty bucks when I downloaded her most recent record. She’s given me more than my money’s worth between the music and the online persona.   Her tireless willingness to keep putting herself and her work out there, no matter what, is inspiring.

Amanda Palmer naked

So I think it’s okay to offer people the opportunity to donate to this blog.

I might die tomorrow. You might die tomorrow.


If you found one of my books in the stuff your ex left behind and read half of it then forgot it on a park bench, you could give me a dollar.

If you saw me on MTV when you were 15 and thought I was hot and put me in the spank bank for future masturbatory fodder, you could give me five dollars.

me half-naked. photo: christopher wool

If you’re a high school student performing one of my poems in speech competitions, you could give me a dollar.

If you wonder how I’m going to keep from going to debtors prison before finishing my next novel, you could give me several dollars.

Or not.  That’s fine too. You can just think nice things about me.  In the yoga philosophy, they say this is really powerful. This thinking of nice things.  I have found it to be true.

Which reminds me of one of my favorite Bob Holman poems:

You know things


And then, if you want, give me a dollar.




21 thoughts on “I’ll Buy That For A Dollar

  1. Hey – I bought all your books. Happily. And not used copies either, new ones. I’ll have to have you sign them when I ever see you again.

  2. So a question (actually more like a couple): I recorded your spoken word songs off the radio in 1995. I would like a copy of the CD but I think most are second hand on Amazon and whatnot. So you will have gotten that money and won’t get mine. The question is if I buy a book (always willing to get more books!) will you actually see the money from that or would donating actually benefit you more? It’s more immediate, yes, but there are less immediate/obvious benefits to buying books that I am sure exist.

    So how would my money be best spent to benefit you the creator? I don’t have a lot (a book’s amount is it at the moment.) as I spend thousands on health care bills (yay America). But I definitely enjoyed the fuck out of your spoken word work and don’t mind giving back for what I got. Especially since as a creator I know how damn expensive a body AND art is to keep going. Not to mention furry companions.

  3. Hey Subgirl,

    Buy Alice Fantastic, from my publisher, Akashic Books site. It’s my second favorite of the books i’ve written, isn’t expensive, and then Akashic (a great small press) and I both see a few bucks at the end of the day.
    I hear you on the health care bills. I got slammed by them two years ago and my back is still up against the wall. Obamacare is coming. It really is.

  4. I will sign them, and you, and your white dog too. And then I will hug you. So there, Leigh, take that.

  5. I first heard of you on a CD I borrowed from the library I think it was Kerouac….. A slam by Maggie Estes and the spitters loved it. I will buy 1 Of your books maybe more. Good Luck and good thoughts to u

  6. The “saw me on MTV” link is broken because you have an extra “http://” part in there.

  7. After reading Emotional Idiot, I imagined I had the honor od cleaning your apartment. Spank bank mainstay.

  8. Done! Just ordered the book from Akashic!

    Glad I can help two awesome entities with one book purchase.

    I’ll keep it in mind too next time I’ve run out of books to read. I always forget every name or title I’ve ever heard when I get to that point and can’t think of a single thing to look for (why I miss REAL bookstores! There are no aisles to wander blankly on Amazon. Big box stores are no better.)

    Crazy how expensive it is to haul a meat bag around. Obamacare needs to hurry! ;)

  9. As Omar on The Wire liked to say: I feel you.
    Thanks for buying the book!

  10. Why on earth would you mention Amanda Palmer who has grossly abused crowd sourcing, fan funding and donation and blatantly lied about the production costs of her work, in the same breath as asking for fan funding and donations?

  11. Hey Maggie – your damned “donate” thingy won’t take my debit card. Don’t know why – everybody else does!
    Anyway – maybe I could buy you a sandwich or something one of these days.

  12. Sandwiches welcome, Peter. Especially if devoured while sitting in a copse of trees. Near a fox.

  13. I donated via PayPal, but the message got cut off, so I will complete it here:
    F* yeah, you rock, writer, dog rescuer or not ! Gros bisous.
    Oh, and the feed burner email doesn’t have the donate button, but found it on the web blog. Xoxo and thanks again for putting Amanda Palmer on my radar.

  14. Cool beans, Mickey. Lots of dogs (one very familiar) in ALICE. (And some people too.)