I’m a bit excited about the launch of my new book, My Exile Lifestyle.
Not only is this book a collection of stories from my last two years of full-time travel (and relevant ones from beforehand), it’s a collection of stories that I’m selling for $2.99.
Why am I selling it for the cost of a cup of coffee (or less, depending on whether or not you opt for the fancy stuff)? It’s an experiment. Big shock, I know.
I want to see if selling an ebook for essentially nothing can be a valid business model for someone outside of the small group of authors who have managed to make cheap online fiction their turf. I want to see which vendors bring in the most sales, what methods of promotion bear the best fruits, and which price-points establish the best balance between affordability and financial stability.
It’s also an experiment in terms of content.
Make no mistake, this book is different from my past offerings. This book will not teach you to network better, build your personal brand from scratch or become more remarkable. It will present tales of aventure, intrigue, and success, not to mention a great deal of misadventure, heartache, and failure. These are the stories I’ve been holding back — the behind-the-scenes narratives that I’ve been hesitant to share because they’re too personal, incredibly embarrassing, or simply not practical in a business sense — but I’ve decided to take a risk and share them.
Call it a personal challenge, call it a market test, call it a masturbatory analysis of past events told in meandering prose.
I’m not going to sales-page you to death, but if you’re interested in a more in-depth pitch, you can find one here.
Otherwise, you can pick up your copy from one of the wonderful shops below. If you do pick up a copy, I’d really appreciate it if you’d leave a review once you’ve had the chance to check it out, as a big part of this experiment requires getting the book out to people who don’t read my blog, and your thoughts will help me achieve that goal.
Thank you immensely for your support, and I hope you enjoy the stories!
Update! Here are some reviews/mentions that are rolling in from other blogs and such:
Van Halen. RVs. And Getting Down With (a cute boy) Colin Wright via SallyHope.com
Uncommon Profile: Colin Wright – Exiled from the Status Quo via TheUncommonLife.com
The Power of Simple: Interview with Colin Wright of Exile Lifestyle via Bootstrap Cafe
My Exile Lifestyle: A Video Interview with Colin Wright About Minimalism, His New Book, and Genghis Khan via The Minimalists
My Exile Lifestyle Book Review via Anna’s Life and Mistakes
Review: My Exile Lifestyle by Colin Wright via Nick Danforth
My Exile Lifestyle by Colin Wright via Objective Completed
PS: here’s the first chapter of My Exile Lifestyle for your consideration and enjoyment.
I pause, take a deep breath and start my pitch.
“Hey! My name is Colin Wright and I have kind of a unique job.”
I squint away as much of the projectorʼs light I can, trying to make out details in the darkened room full of older-teenager and twenty-something art students sitting in desks a dozen feet away.
As I reach over to click the mouse and move forward to the next slide in my presentation, I see the flier for my speaking engagement on the professorʼs desk next to my laptop. Thereʼs an image of me on the poster from over a year ago. In it Iʼm perched atop a desk much like the one Iʼm standing next to now, sitting crossed-legged and holding a fire-engine-red laptop. I seem to be gazing off-camera where an overturned chair is resting in the sand, as if the person sitting in it had rushed off suddenly and I had reflexively turned my head away from my work to see what happened.
“I started out as an artist and a designer, and like you guys I went to school for my craft, to create cool graphics and illustrations and maybe build a website or two.”
Now Iʼm at the front of a crowded assembly hall, brimming with tidy twenty-somethings, some in ties, others doing their best to stand out with stylish glasses or ironic pocket protectors. Iʼm elevated on a stage with no podium, and as I talk I remind myself not to walk around too much, not gesticulate too much, not elaborate too much.
“But then I ended up discovering business, and I realized I wasnʼt too bad at it. Iʼd like to say itʼs just a knack that I have, but Iʼm inclined to believe that the same skills and tendencies that made me good at creating art and designing also allowed me to create businesses, like what youʼre learning to do here.”
Iʼm acutely aware the audience is comprised entirely of MBA students, and that each and every one of them has more formal education in the art of business than I do. Their fault for inviting me to speak.
I look out across the lecture hall and instinctively thank the gods, from as many religions as I can think of, that I remembered to charge the battery in my remote, then continue on with my talk.
“After a few early attempts and failures, I finally had a winning model in a studio I started out in LA after school. Studios were crashing all around me, but because I decided to focus on sustainable design, I claimed all of their old accounts when the bigwigs in charge decided to invest in long-term, eco-friendly solutions. I got lucky, but in reality I was prepared, and I was able to roll with the punches and benefit from an otherwise bad situation, a tactic I decided to actively hone from then on.”
The podcaster interviewing me congratulates me and explains to his listeners that this is a common theme in stories told by the entrepreneurs he interviews — that preparedness is not always possible, but being capable of making the most out of a given situation is. I nod my agreement (though he canʼt see me) and tell him that adaptability is what determines whether youʼre lucky or unlucky, before I continue on with my story.
“I started a blog called Exile Lifestyle, posting things I knew about and things I wanted to do. I started talking about entrepreneurship and branding and design, things I already knew a great deal about and could share with the world, then I started talking about things I wanted to learn about. Things like minimalism, and long-term travel; things like extreme lifestyle experiments. And it took off, and I basically decided as a result that I was going to start traveling.”
I try and pace my words and explain my transition from businessman to globetrotting vagabond to an audience of Khmer students, Western NGO-workers and fellow speakers at the TEDx Phnom Penh event in Cambodia. Iʼm three kinds of sick and concerned my voice will go out or Iʼll start coughing uncontrollably at the audience watching the event as itʼs streamed live around the world. But the meds I picked up earlier on from a streetside, open-air pharmacy, along with the rush of adrenaline from being on stage seem to help.
“And thatʼs how I find myself here,” I tell the man sitting across the table from me. I take a sip of my green tea and watch as he processes the information. Without a word, he raises his elaborately-engraved mug in salute, flashes an enormous grin and pulls the drink to his lips.
“Well you are definitely doing things that wouldnʼt have been possible in my day,” the man says, “and especially not while running a company, much less a few of them. So you have the freedom to go where you want; how do you decide where to go? And how often do you change location?”
“I move to a new country every four months, based on the votes of my readers” I quickly tell the group of bloggers gathered around me at a Chicago bar; itʼs a few days before New Years Eve, and many of the people present have driven a long way to take part in the discussion.
Some of them already knew my blog and my shtick, but want to hear it again in person. In the past, Iʼve been paid for a full hour of consulting just so Iʼll explain my lifestyle one- on-one.
“But doesnʼt it get lonely sometimes?” one of the bloggers asks me.
I hear her voice, and as she speaks, I flash back to a moment almost a year before when another girl had asked me the same question.
The memory is crystal clear: I had just spent the night with her, and across the table, over a croissant and coffee, she uses the very same words, a questioning, slightly flirtatious, look in her eye; the flirtation masking concern and tense facial muscles coiling in preparation for my response.
“Yes,” I say to the blogger in Chicago, and in my memory, to that girl from what seems so long ago. “Sometimes it does. But itʼs worth it. For the personal freedom I enjoy, for the opportunities I come across, for the people Iʼm able to meet and the experiences Iʼm able to have.” In Chicago, I smile and take a sip of my drink. A year earlier, I take the girlʼs hand and lightly squeeze it before picking up my bag and walking toward the bus station.
I avoid looking at the camera as I respond to an interview question from the tall blond woman across the table from me, this time in an intentionally-rustic-feeling bar in Reykjavik. “Why do I lead this kind of lifestyle? Because Iʼm very much aware of the fact that I have exactly one life to live, and I want to fit as much into that life as possible; I know Iʼm not going to do that by sitting behind a desk.”
Fade to a photo of me sitting amidst all 51 of my possessions. Take the music up a tick and wait a short moment before rolling credits.
Thank the interviewer, thank the crew, say goodbye to the staff at the bar.
Say goodbye to the other bloggers before grabbing my jacket, preparing to face the icy Chicago weather.
Tell the other speakers and event organizers I had an amazing time and thanks for the opportunity, then head out in search of a scooter to take me back to my hotel on the other side of Phnom Penh.
Give a few clarifying answers to the podcaster before moving my cursor to the little red button to hang up the digital phone.
Improvise a whimsical bow and tell the design students thank you, and accept a shouted invitation to meet a few of them for a cup of coffee later.
Awkwardly wave goodbye to the would-be MBAs as they quietly file out of the auditorium, clutching their books to their chests and exchanging whispers.
Warmly clasp the manʼs hand after he pays the bill, assuring him Iʼll visit his home before I leave town. Pull my jacket back on, take a deep breath and walk out into the snowstorm that picked up during filming.
There has to be a bus stop around here somewhere. I donʼt want to be late for the next interview.