I met Jim Squires (real name: Jim Squires) a few years ago at a comic book store on Queen Street in Toronto. I was searching for one of the last issues I was missing from Warren Ellis’ Authority — I was going through my “Hey, let’s try bookbinding” phase, and I was trying to get the complete series. I caught Jim looking down my top and gave him a sly smile, which caused him to turn an adorable shade of cherry red. In his defence, I was wearing a shirt with the provocative caption THESE BOOBS ARE MADE FOR WATCHING printed on it (no, seriously — I had it custom made), so I didn’t hold it against him. He only wishes I had. This was back before Mrs. Jim was in the picture of course, and I swear, nothing happened between us (you really don’t want to get on Mrs. Jim’s bad side, darlings).
We got to talking and realized we knew some of the same people, and suddenly, I had an adjoining ring on my admittedly less than Olympian social circle. (Sorry, darlings, just trying to be topical.) We kept in touch, running into each other from time to time, both of us leading busy lives — me working on a career in self-pity and aimless wandering, while he somehow worked his way up to a job as the editor of a successful gaming website. Or gamer website. A website dedicated to people who play and develop video games.
Honestly, darlings, he’s tried to explain it to me, but my knowledge of gaming begins and ends with writing in extra zeroes on the $1 bills in Monopoly, ’cause who cares if you pay $5 or $6 dollars rent on Baltic? Or maybe that’s just the Canadian in me — there’s a reason we got rid of the penny, you know.
The fact of the matter is, he reviews and promotes things for a living. And like me, when he loves something, he’s passionate about it. Which brings me to the actual topic of this post.
Jim is passionate about my writing, and he has decided that I’m not a big enough dreamer; that my writing deserves a bigger audience than I’m able to reach with my pathetic marketing and sales skills. So he’s launched a Kickstarter campaign, not to try to make me a zillion dollars (we’re nowhere near there yet, darlings) but to kickstart my writing career by trying to raise the funds necessary to do proper promotion. That means review copies, advertising, hitting the pavement, kissing hands and shaking babies — that sort of thing.
Now, one thing you should know — that’s how I feel about this. I am terribly grateful to Jim for wanting to get behind me like this. I simply don’t have the time, energy, or know-how to be both writer and publisher. And I’m not looking to set up a cottage industry. It’s not my intention to set up shop and sell my books from home. No, my goal is to get my writing into the hands of those with deeper pockets than I, who are willing to publish my work in the traditional way before all of the bookstores close forever.
So this isn’t me turning into Salespitch Helena. I really hate selling. When I was younger, I had the vile misfortune to work in a call centre, selling everything from tickets to the circus to long distance plans to pantyhose of the month. Yes, you may have received a call from me. “Hi, this is Helena calling on behalf of Bell Canada. Is Mr….. oh, shit, really? (sigh) Is Mr. Penis available?”
If that was you, I’m terribly sorry I didn’t pronounce it Pay-Nee like you screamed at me, but honestly, darling, no matter how you say it, your last name is gravely unfortunate.
I never did stoop to “Hi, (moan) this is Helena (sigh)… what are you wearing, big boy?” But I did cross ethical lines I hope to never cross again.
Which is to say that I’m not trying to sell you anything. I’m asking for your help. If you were already thinking of buying my book, whether in e-book format or softcover, then nothing is really going to change. In fact, some of you have asked me about getting autographed copies, or pre-ordering — well, this should answer those questions. This Kickstarter campaign is the only viable method I have of making it possible for me to ship out personalized copies. This is an exclusive way to get something special — and I’ve got some surprises in store as well. I’m asking you to be a part of something exciting with me, so that if I’m successful, you can take pride in it as well.
I’m asking you to take a look at what Jim has to say (and try not to get choked up like I did) and do what you were already planning to do. If that is nothing, then all I can say is thanks for listening. But, buying my book is not all you can do — just pass this on. Spread the word, and maybe it gets into the right hands — hands that can grab a hold of me and put my book in the spotlight, where I honestly think it deserves to be.
Thank you for choosing Helena Hann-Basquiat for your favourite dilettante, darlings. I’m just going to put you on hold now and grab my supervisor for verification. This call may be recorded for quality purposes.