What is crowdfunding and why did you decide to do it?
We’ve decided to publish our writers’ work with Unbound, a crowdfunding publisher, because it gives the writers complete control of their stories. Crowdfunding also puts power into the hands of readers by letting them decide whether a book deserves to be published or not. By pledging to order a book on our Unbound page (www.unbound.com/books/a-definition-of-snow), early readers receive a special edition of the book. They also get unique rewards and an insight into the publication process. As a thank you for being an early supporter and making the book happen, readers get their name printed in the supporters’ list in the back of the book. Unbound has won awards for its innovative approach to publishing, so we decided to publish with them to get the best support for our writers. I publish my own work with a traditional publisher (Penguin Random House), but they are also affiliated with Unbound so I'm confident our writers will get good support from them too.
What is A Definition of Snow about?
When Annina (our project coordinator) came back to Europe after working in a rural hospital in Bolivia for five months, there was a huge interest in her experiences there. However, when she talked about her work, she always felt there was an essential part of the story missing – that of her Bolivian colleagues. Realising their stories were not available in Western countries, she started to think about a way to change this. This was when she founded Project VOICE, and the rest of us (the VOICE team) quickly came on board to help with different areas, from editing to web design to coordinating outreach projects. Since then, VOICE has been working tirelessly to collect the stories of individuals from all over the world who are working or volunteering in social, humanitarian, development or peace-related fields in their home country or region. Our writers come from all corners of the earth and many different fields – from doctors in Bolivia to humanitarian and peace workers in South Sudan and Kenya, from an education worker in India to a Ghanaian UN peacekeeper in Liberia, from an International Red Cross Medical Delegate in Asia to an Eritrean refugee in Germany. A Definition of Snow, our book, brings their voices together. It is the first time such a book has been published. With foreign aid workers´ stories usually being the only narrative available, the voices of individuals from their own country or region are mostly unheard. A Definition of Snow gives a previously unavailable alternative to the narratives of the media or general publications. Our contributors are not professional writers – many of them have never written a story before. But they are people who dedicate their lives to working in their field every day, and they tell a story that no-one else could tell. As writing advisor, I came into the project to support the writers, and to help them find an audience for their work, but the stories are their own.
Why does the book need to happen and why are you personally working on the project?
When I heard about the project, I knew I had to get involved. I felt it was a real injustice that these stories weren’t accessible to Western audiences, and that the voices of people working for change in their own communities had gone unheard for so long. I believe that stories can connect people and open up experiences of other lives; this was certainly how I felt when I read the writers’ stories and began to understand their different experiences. This was why we decided to work together as an international team of volunteers to try and make their stories more widely available. It’s certainly ambitious and the whole team has given up many hours of their free time to make it happen, but we’ve done so because we believe that these stories are important and really deserve to be told.
What can I do to help?
1. Pledge to support our book! The project page can be found here: https://unbound.com/books/a-definition-of-snow
2. Share the book with others who you think might be interested, via email, Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Instagram or in person.
3. If you have any other ideas for how we could spread the word about the book, let us know! We would be very happy to hear them.
Meanwhile, it's back to draft two of my own second book, but more very soon on both projects...