Watching the opening ceremony of the Paralympics last night was an emotional experience for many people. It certainly was for me.
As many blog readers will know, someone I loved spent the last nine months of his life confined to a hospital bed and, on good days, a wheelchair, unable to move from the neck down, following a car accident.
During the two years that I worked on Tout Soul, I was determined that something good would come from tragedy – the coma, paralysis and untimely death at the age of 33 – and that a percentage of each eventual book sale would be donated to a worthwhile charity.
I didn’t plan to announce this, partly because I didn’t want Tout Soul to be perceived as a ‘charidee’ book; I wanted it to stand on its own merits.
Six months after its launch, not only have I had the most amazing feedback from my readers – the sort of feedback that a writer can only dream of – but it has sold close to 5000 copies: after an initial print run of 3000, the book is about to be reprinted; while 2329 copies have sold on Kindle.
The sales figures are light years away from those of EL James or JK Rowling but in a world where ninety per cent of books sell less than 1000 copies, they're respectable – and I'm proud of the fact that they were achieved entirely by word-of-mouth.
And so, I figured that my readers should know that some wider good will come of it. The specifics are this: 50p** from the sale of each English language version of the book – both print and Kindle/ebook versions – will be donated to charity. In territories where the wholesale price or amount of money I receive for a book is less than £1, then 25 per cent of the proceeds will be donated.
The sales figure will be audited by my accountant each year at the end of January* and the proceeds will be split between two charities.
While watching the ceremony last night, and after hearing of the work of the pioneering work of the late Dr Ludwig Guttman – the neurosurgeon who is regarded as the founder of the Paralympics – at Stoke Mandeville hospital, I decided that one of those charities should be Stoke Mandeville Spinal Foundation.
It’s mission statement is as follows: ‘Research will be concerned with practicalities of living with spinal cord injury, but also with a commitment to pushing back the scientific frontiers of spinal cord injury.’
As for the other, I would like it to be an organisation where the money goes directly to front line research into brain injury, as if there is one thing that the terrible events in recent years taught me, it is how very little is known about the human brain. I am still doing my research and will announce the charity in due course, but I feel very lucky to be in a position where I can do something useful in Luis's memory.
*Since posting this entry, I realized, that for several reasons, it would make more sense to calculate sales at the end of March each year – partly for accountancy reasons; and also because the print book was launched in March 2012.
**50p is the royalty that an author usually earns on a traditionally published book. It was the decision to publish Tout Soul myself that has allowed me to do this.