The longer I spend on the road, the more opportunity I have to become socially withdrawn. It’s the nature of the beast: when you’re always somewhere else, society moves on, and although people may keep up with your words, and you with their work, your lifestyle and theirs no longer sync up very well, and meetups tends to be isolated events rather than habits.
I have no problem with this, actually. It allows me to choose my friends carefully, and my habits even more so. I’ve also come to realize that having an online community of friends and comrades-at-arms can be just as satisfying as having a real life version of the same, so long as that community is made up of the right people, and given the appropriate amount of attention.
Building communities from scratch is a far different creature. When you’re simply juggling the responsibilities of keeping in touch with friends, family, colleagues, and a core audience, the construction and maintenance of said groups comes second nature; instead of being a good friend on the playground, you’re being a good friend via email, or in 140 character chunks. Most of us have plenty of practice with this.
Starting up something new requires a great deal more than that; you can’t just sit and wait for your social gravity to pull others into a convenient orbit, you actually have to build a new planet and hope someone else shows up.
I had an idea for a business model the first few months of 2012, and I bought myself an LLC for that business model (as a birthday present) in April. I thought long and hard about who I should ask to help me build the thing, and thankfully all three people I asked (Joshua Millburn, Ryan Nicodemus, and Thom Chambers) were just as excited about it as I was. Just like that, Asymmetrical was born.
In our minds, at least. The foundational level of the business involved building a community of publishers that would allow us to hone and focus our ideas while locking down exactly what modern publishers need so we could be serve that audience with our intended future offerings. It wouldn’t be enough for just the four of us to get excited and be active members of the community: we’d have to present the idea in such a way that other people would do the same.
And so we built the planet (with the help of code-wizard Andrew Elkins), and invited people in. A few days ago we invited folks who had signed up early to join us and be part of our first round of community members. I was nervous at first — having lived in LA, one of my more frequent nightmares is still the social suicide that follows throwing a party and having no one show up — but the community has flourished from day one, and enjoys active involvement from people all over the publishing map. Poets and nonfiction writers. Bloggers and novelists. Journalists and screenwriters. People who are actively looking for agents and folks who have decided to self-publish. Authors looking to make writing their full-time gig, and part-time hobbyists. It’s a well-rounded community already and I couldn’t be happier about that.
I’d like to invite you to come check out the Asymmetrical Community at your leisure. It’s an online home — one that can be a periodic port in the storm, or your full time crash pad — and it’s full of people looking to up their publishing game, learn from each other, and share what they already know. I personally have made socializing there a big part of my day, so if you want to chat, that’s the digital coffeehouse I’ll be working from. I’ll save you a seat.
My next blog post will be an excerpt from my new book, Iceland India Interstate, which goes on sale Monday, June 4. I really can’t wait for you to read it; I’m truly proud about how it’s turned out. If you want more info, to see the cover, or to get an email reminder when it’s released, click the book title for sweet satisfaction.