It's not every day you get a chance to help an award-winning impoverished author (er, that's me) solve a major dilemma, while simultaneously helping to humanise Capitalism, revolutionise Publishing, and save Civilization. But today is that day.
Here's the background (the dilemma will follow): my new novel, Jude in London, has just been longlisted for the Guardian's Not The Booker Prize. Now, The Not The Booker Prize is the most entertaining prize in the literary calendar; an annual online flame-war-slash-literary-debate that can be very helpful in drawing attention to unusual books. (The prize itself is a mug, worth about £1.50. But the glory is incalculable!)
BUT: For a long-listed novel to make the shortlist, readers have to nominate the book, and post a very short review on the Guardian website (to prove they've read it). The process is explained in detail here.
Here's the dilemma: Jude in London is officially published on September 6th. But the shortlist votes (and reviews) have to be in by this coming Wednesday. As my novel isn't in the shops for another fortnight, I don't have any readers yet to nominate it.
So, if any of you would like to read Jude in London, for free, I can send you a pdf of the entire finished book, nicely laid out and readable, today. And if you like it a lot, I'd be extremely pleased if you would post a 150 word review, and nominate it for the shortlist by Wednesday. You're under no pressure to review it or vote for it: only do that if you genuinely like it a lot and think it's worthy of going through to the next round.
There you go. Anyone who wants a free pdf of Jude in London, just ask in the comments below, or on Twitter (I'm @juliangough), or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org...
Now, here's the bit where we revolutionise Capitalism. My beloved publisher Ben, who runs Old Street, has conniptions at the thought of a professional-quality pdf of the entire book escaping into the wild before publication. Understandably so - he's sunk a lot of time and money into making a beautiful book out of Jude in London. But I think the future for peculiar writers like me has to be a kind of love-based mutant version of capitalism where you trust your readers, and in return your readers help to keep you alive. Because the free market isn't going to. Bear in mind, I've gone bust and been evicted while writing this book. I've wandered Europe homeless, relying on the kindness of friends (and the occasional stranger) to get it finished. So I, too, would like to see it, somehow, earn me enough to keep going and finish the next one.
So here's the deal: I give you the book for free. You don't have to review it or nominate it. But if you really like the book, if you read all the way to the end and have a good time... I'd love you to buy a copy for a friend. Does that seem fair?
And if you do like it, and buy a copy for a friend, tell me, and I'll tell my publisher, and maybe this trust-based model (where a book is always a present, and yet small publishers stay in business and weird writers get to eat) could take off.