What am I doing here? Refocusing, Reflecting and Rejoicing

Vago Damitio. What am I doing here?

Sefrou, Morocco
June 6, 2012

The past few weeks have been very good for me.  While I haven’t been doing much in terms of travel or exploration, it has been nice to focus on the things that are most important to me. My family and my writing.

Having the time to play with my daughter, to watch her become a person and to enjoy watching her explore and learn is perhaps the greatest thing of my life.  I am proud of the fact that thus far, her life has been good and I will do everything I can to keep that so, for as long as I can.  That’s my responsibility.

As she grows, I will encourage her, challenge her, support her, and eventually, I hope I can giver her financial backing to achieve whatever it is that she will dream of doing or becoming. I’m not working for me, I’m working for her.

Strange how many parents seem to forget that and focus only on themselves – they focus on making themselves happy at the cost of their children and often – they lose them. Incredibly sad, but I can only continue to do my best. My philosophy on raising a child is simple – love her and then love her some more. I hope it works.

In terms of love, I’ve been focusing on my love of writing too. Funny how I got a bit lost for a while. Don’t get me wrong, I love travel, but the fact is, I love writing more. Travel for me is just a way to collect ideas, experiences, material, personalities and perspectives so that I can write. My great love is fiction, though I also enjoy recounting tales of my adventures and offering what small advice I might be able to serve up for those willing to read it.

It’s a question every writer asks themselves…’Is anyone willing to read my work?’ and I am very thankful that over the past few weeks the answer has been a resounding ‘YES!’
BaboobThrough Google Plus, I’ve connected with editors and readers who have volunteered to edit, critique, read, and talk about my writing with me. The interaction with these wonderful people (in particular +Grace O’Malley and +Élan Karpinski ) Grace went through and did an astounding cleanup on my forthcoming novel Douchebags, Fags, and Hags and then went on to suggest some awesome cover elements and a nice blurb. I am deeply in her debt.

Élan is doing the same with Smooth Living: More Tips and Tales of a Vagabond which is my decade later follow up to Rough Living: Tips and Tales of a Vagabond.

During the past few weeks, I went through Rough Living and gave it some much needed attention. Frankly, I can’t believe that I’ve allowed it to sit with misspellings, typos, and some really really bad grammar for almost ten years!  I considered changing some of the text but upon consideration and deliberation, decided to leave it mostly unchanged (except for that misspellings, bad grammar, and typos.). Since I’m publishing on kindle, there are no ‘first editions’ left behind once I update the text, so, while there are a thousand or so print copies knocking around the world (if they haven’t all been burned yet) – I’ll leave this version with my 2012 author intro as is.

In 2013, I plan to release an updated and expanded version including photos and a lot more information.  We’ll see how that goes. In any event, people have asked me for years, just how many copies of Rough Living have been sold.  The honest to goodness answer is, I don’t know.  I know that between Booklocker and Lulu (the first two publishers) there were about 1000 print copies sold. At the same time there were about 1000 eBook copies sold which unfortunately were quickly uploaded to minimalist websites and shared all over the web.  I estimate that around 15,000 copies were downloaded, though that number may be very low as you shall see below.

When I saw that my sales had all but disappeared and people were giving away my book, I tried to ask them to stop but most of them ignored me. So, I resigned myself to it. I was a guy who had written a book about how to live life to the fullest without a job or much money, go figure I didn’t have the money or resources to hire a lawyer. So, I decided if I couldn’t beat them, I would join them. So, I pulled my book from Lulu and began giving it away on my own site. In a year, I gave away around 4000 downloads of it. That was just from my site – I figured it was safe to estimate that  10,000 copies got downloaded from the hundreds of other sites – some of which were quite large (hello Scribd). In fact, over the past nine years, it has probably been at least five times that many. At least.

This week, after uploading the freshly edited and author intro’d Rough Living: Tips and Tales of a Vagabond, I decided to run a two day promo for Amazon Kindle where I would give away Rough Living for free.  The results tell me that my estimates were almost certainly too low.

Here’s the stats breakdown for the two day giveaway of Rough Living: Tips and Tales of a Vagabond

Regular Price $5.99
Promotion: Free for 48 hous
# of free downloads: 4327
best rank on Amazon:
#1 in travel (free)
#8 in Nonfiction (free)
#82 in all books (free)

I didn’t beat the Holy Bible, which sat at #4 in non-fiction, but I got close enough to feel very good.  The fact that I had the top rated free travel book on (for kindle) is something I’m very proud of.  And hey, look at those numbers. In 48 hours, Rough Living was downloaded by 4327 people from all over the planet. That is AWESOME!

It also means that I can comfortably say that my book has been downloaded at least 10,000 times and probably closer to 35 or 40k, but I’ll never know the stats for those other sites.  Some of them are gone, some are still there but hey, like I said in the intro, that’s like me paying back karma for all the free TV shows and music I’ve enjoyed through the years.

Overall, I’m stoked at this promo. I hope that those who downloaded it, truly enjoy it and find some useful advice or interesting stories in it. I also hope that later this year when I release Smooth Living: More Tips and Tales of a Vagabond, people are ready for a book that goes beyond just surviving without a job and enjoying life, but also delves into world travel, overcoming obstacles, and still is focused on enjoying life.

Your reviews and ‘likes’ on the Amazon page are greatly appreciated and every little bit helps to push Rough Living up the rankings in the paid listings – which is also very much appreciated!

(As I write it’s #5 in Specialty Travel Tips and #14 in Budget Travel – which is better than being buried everywhere)

Now, if I can just sell that many copies at the retail price of $5.99 then I’ll be able to pay back my student loans, pay for Sophia’s college, buy a house in Morocco, and maybe finally pull my old VW bus out of impound in San Francisco (which was the last place I heard it was back in 2003). Ah, hell, if I sell that many, I’ll just buy a new one! :)


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Damitio  (@vagodamitio) is the Editor-in-Chief for Vagobond. Life is good. You can also find him on Google+ and at Facebook