"Fascinating, and not quite like anything you've read before, ENTHEOGENESIS: Origin of the Divine within Us is also a necessary book, a book whose time has come."
- Pat LoBrutto, recipient of World Fantasy Award for editing
"This book is so real because Brian Love is much more than a writer who carefully researches his subject. He has lived many of the realities he describes."
- David Holmgren, co-originator of the Permaculture concept
"The real secret of magic is that the world is made of words, and that if you know the words that the world is made of you can make of it whatever you wish."
- Terence McKenna, to whom ENTHEOGENESIS is dedicated
- THE STORY
- MY LIFE AND THE WRITING PROCESS
- HEMP PAPER
- MY PUBLISHING MODEL
- THE BUDGET
- MY EDITOR
- SCHEDULE AND TOUR
- YOUR SUPPORT
- TEAM MEMBERS
For more info about my publishing process, please visit the "Updates" tab (above my video). To see the book cover, or other graphics from beLove, click on "Gallery".
My novel is the synthesis of psychedelic initiation and biblical adventure, enacted by a fractal collection of our gods upon an irradiated island beyond the outskirts of a pre-apocalyptic empire.
The best comparison I've concocted is to the Lord of the Rings remixed by Philip K. Dick.
The events thus depicted address, in large part, a question near and dear to my heart:
Has our species already wrought changes on this planet that will make it uninhabitable to us?
This is not something that we can answer, but the likelihood of suicide merits our deepest reflection.
In our culture, there is often talk of "saving the world." My story posits the view that the world doesn't need to be saved; and that for us to think that we could do so is a perversion of the same arrogance that has caused its destruction at our hands.
Our potentially impossible quest is for the preservation of an environment that affords humans a modicum of hospitality. The world's would-be champions are hesitant to admit this, for fear of seeming anthropocentric. To me, saving ourselves as a part of (rather than apart from) creation is a goal no less important than saving the whole world, albeit somewhat more realistic.
ENTHEOGENESIS takes place in a world very much like ours; which is to say one of overshot carrying capacity. It is an America with a government that can fabricate history and erase dissent with keystrokes; whose doctrine of preemptive counterattack has been logically extended to encompass nuclear warfare; when famine has driven people to voluntary imprisonment; and where the remaining natural resources are consolidated in the service of corporate profiteering.
Yet is also a world of hope, where a few intrepid pioneers endeavor to repurpose the detritus of civilization for a future more beautiful, abundant, and peaceful than ours.
Our narrator provides a bridge between the two. He begins his tale as an alienated, ungrounded drug dealer lost in the chemical labyrinth of his own brain, and he ends it as the impassioned curator of an underground seedbank on a retribalized island. In order to understand the journey that transforms his consciousness, you will have to read the book.
MY LIFE AND THE WRITING PROCESS
I first wrote this novel when I was 17, but that version was for my eyes only. At the time, I was simultaneously influenced by psychedelia and prominent members of the anthropological and ecological intelligentsia. However, I remained disdainful of their predominant mode of exposition, wherein the problems afflicting (and inflicted by) humanity are described in excruciating detail, but a realistic solution is not. I have always imagined myself writing professionally; but wanted to do so from a platform of practical experience, so as to turn the evolutionary tide from academics to action. I dropped out of high school for a different path; and perhaps I am merely jealous of credentials, since I lack any. Regardless, I avoided the "armchair environmentalism" I would criticize in others by applying myself inextricably to a course of self-education. I've learned about my subsistence, and my effects on the living world (of which I am a part), by taking direct responsibility for them, from the ground up, at Earthaven Ecovillage.
I arrived here with little more than ambition, and my endeavor ever since has been to foster the synergistic integration of systems that perpetuate human existence, such that the products of one become the inputs of another, and waste is eliminated as a concept. To this end, I work in any arenas where sunlight is harvested or wealth is grown - as a forester, organic farmer, installer of renewable energy, and designer/builder/project manager for sustainable human settlements. In July 2011, during the somewhat anticlimactic culmination of my efforts here, I experienced the sudden concrescence of my various vocations and interests, via the vision of a new novel loosely based on my first. I knew from the moment of my epiphany that ENTHEOGENESIS would involve sailing; and because I had no relevant experience, I decided that I would need to gain some in order to write about it credibly. For five restless months, I incubated my ideas for the book, while I finished a custom house under a tight deadline, saved money, and made arrangements to facilitate the adventure.
By 12.21.11, I had disentangled myself enough from responsibilities at home to leave and undertake the writing project in earnest. My intention and budget permitted me a year for the purpose. I began by doing prognostic research, revisiting some of the settings already familiar to me, and exploring Block Island for the first time. The latter was a powerful source of inspiration; critical elements of the story seemed to fall into place as I discovered them. Then I isolated myself, with my incipient composition, aboard a sailboat with only one other person (the boat owner/captain). I disconnected myself from the concerns of work and the distractions of modern communications, and thereby created the conditions which enabled my manuscript to erupt within the eight weeks following my departure from Earthaven.
When the reality of my completed draft sunk in, I was excited by the prospect of not only being finished, but possibly being published, on 12.21.12 - significant partially because it is one year after the beginning of my project, but more so because of its importance to Terence McKenna, the quintessential experiential intellectual, to whom my novel pays homage.
I devoted entire insomniac nights of intention while sailing to this date, and undertook the conventional route to publication. I soon learned that it is very difficult for a first time author (who isn't already a celebrity) to even make submissions without a literary agent. Furthermore, obtaining one is unlikely, and an arduous process at best. For their services, the agent receives 15-20% of the earnings from sale of an author's "rights" to their own work. I spent two months querying agencies (about 70 in all); and whenever I received responses (which was not terribly often), they read to the effect of, "I admire your work, but don't know how to sell it."
Needless to say, that didn't last very long. I am not going to let my novel gather dust while waiting for agents and publishers to validate it on the basis of profitability, any more than I was willing to let institutions evaluate my potential contribution as a human being in terms of GPA and SATs. I have an urgent message, and a unique story that must be told. I believe in humanity, and in destiny. I know a rare opportunity when I see one, and I'm going for this one, "all-in", as they say in some circles.
In the village depicted by my novel, Cannabis is much more than a crop; it is a cornerstone in their agricultural and economic mosaic. For reference sake, I brought The Great Book of Hemp on my sailing trip. What struck me the most was the final page, which reads:
"Every reasonable effort was made by Inner Traditions to print The Great Book of Hemp on hemp paper. Unfortunately, imported hemp paper is still very expensive for large-scale use, and we were unable to do so."
Yet the United States remains the world's largest consumer of hemp. Cannabis is ideally suited to our soil and climate; affords innumerable resources; and was so essential to our historical prosperity that, in some colonies, Americans were legally required to grow it. Our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were in fact drafted upon hemp paper. Yet today, it is illegal to grow - because the Controlled Substances Act does not differentiate between marijuana and industrial hemp.
Instead, we have a wood-based pulp and paper industry, which is the third leading source of industrial pollution. The material produced, often laden with toxic chemicals, coatings, and inks, eventually comes to represent over a third of American waste. Meanwhile, a cultivated field of hemp can produce four times as much paper as the same area of trees through a non-toxic process, while sequestering carbon in the soil with organic methods.
As always, you have to follow the money. This subject is addressed in more detail by ENTHEOGENESIS, but for the moment it suffices to say that the present circumstances were created by the collusion of government (, private interests (petrochemicals, particularly the DuPont dynasty), and the media (Hearst, who drove the nail in the coffin of hemp newspaper). The economic roadblocks to ecological sanity are, in the present day, such that the publishers of Inner Traditions may say, in truth, that they made every reasonable effort in their unsuccessful attempt to procure hemp paper.
Fortunately, I am a man characterized by unreasonable effort.
In fact, I have been consistently drawn to allegedly insolvable problems and insurmountable challenges. Perhaps this is why I cannot resist the pursuit of human speciation, instead of extinction; and it is why I remained undeterred in my quest to find paper that was worthy of my story. In fact, the more elusive the material, the more attached to it I became. As one of my characters says in the book:
"I still refuse to accept America as it is as the best we can do."
Yet I have no expectation that solutions will come from America as an institution. The precedent set by prohibiting the cultivation of industrial hemp (after such a long tradition of our nation relying upon it) irrefutably indicates that politicians would rather deprive us of a cornerstone in our transitional strategy, than see their corporate sponsors make anything less than the greatest profits possible.
While sailing the Atlantic, I spent many long nights on watch reflecting on this, and decided that the single most significant legislative step that the United States could make for our culture's transition, and for the sake of our environment, is the repudiation of this ban.
Until it occurs, I believe that no one in the halls of American government has any business talking about sustainability, unless they refer to a constitutional amendment protecting my right to pursue it from the depredations of the DEA.
In the meantime, I aim to subvert branding, and harness the escalating trend toward commoditization of counterculture, to underscore the obscenity that is really going on here. If you've read this far, I trust that you are willing to participate as well.
MY PUBLISHING MODEL
The world of conventional book production is in tremendous upheaval, (which reflects the condition of our culture as a whole). With the accessibility of print-on-demand technology, vanity book packagers on every corner, and cheap materials, anyone with a manuscript can become a published author. Meanwhile, online vendors and E-books have upset the publishing dynasty known as "The Big Six", who now struggle to remain afloat by slashing their staff, reducing their offerings, and conspiring to fix E-book prices.
I brought an E-reader with me on my sailing adventure; considering the limitations on luggage, it proved to be an indispensable tool for research and reference during my composition. Since this may, in fact, be the most sustainable publishing format currently available, I will offer ENTHEOGENESIS as an e-book to whoever desires it, in addition to the physical version made of the paper described above.
THE EXTINCTION OF PRINTED BOOKS?
This possibility is examined in the future history told by my novel; and for my part, I hope that it does not come to pass because I love books. The sensations of actual pages; the fragrance of glue; the beauty of illustrations; and all of the other "extras" elevate writing to something that cannot be matched by text on a screen. A collection of titles on a server does not conjure the same ambience as someone's hand-picked collection.
If we expect to have printed books in the future, we must be thinking now about how to produce them sustainably; thus will we be able to fill our shelves with volumes of aesthetic appeal, rather than remorse. My hemp paper, textured as it is with flecks of green and brown vegetation, is beautiful on its own; and my first edition will also include several features I've always enjoyed in other books, such as deckle edge (to accentuate the paper), French flaps (for a more durable and interesting cover) and maps (to ground the story). To ensure that publications with such features will be available to future generations, I selected my printer based on their reduction of landfill waste; run the offices of beLove on solar energy; and will fuel my nationwide publicity tour with biodiesel (see below for more information).
A NEW PARADIGM
In the space between print-on-demand, electronic publishing, and the faltering "Big Six", lies the gap wherein the future of physical books may arise - in the form of small to medium runs from imprints such as my own. It has been pointed out to me that my readers do not necessary feel the same, or as strongly, about the plight of industrial hemp as I do. Therefore, the decision to add cost to book production, for a paper that may only console my own sensibilities, is my own responsibility. True enough; and only as an independent publisher can I realize this luxury.
If I sold my manuscript, I would essentially lose control of my design, pricing, and printing. Conventional publishers cannot afford to consider an author's ethical values; they make their decisions about book design based on their bottom line, as allegiance to shareholder interests dictates that they must. Similarly, POD is a system made affordable simply by cookie-cutter design, cheap materials, and gross volume.
The only way to create a book that I can be proud of, while keeping my cover price in the ballpark for my category (15-20 USD), is to produce it myself, and to this end I have formed the beLove imprint. My strategy is to offset out-of-pocket expenses wherever possible with my own time and energy. At every step in book production, value (and thus cost) is added. Through vertical integration, I can absorb some of the fees associated with my specialized book production myself, so that my readers don't have to.
It is fortuitous that I am already practiced in the manifestation of this business model. As a builder of custom homes, I have always involved myself in every detail, from schematic design to the processing of raw materials; from the harvest of the solar energy that powers the tools, to the selection of fixtures based on their lifecycle cost. The integration of all the trades (by keeping a comprehensive array of services in-house), and the elimination of mark-ups or redundant labor whenever possible, are the means by which my business has consistently delivered exceedingly ecological buildings for prices that are competitive with conventional construction.
My observation is that, in the absence of necessity, people will only voluntarily subscribe to a transitional strategy when it is financially accessible. As an entrepreneur, I have always sought to increase efficiency and reduce overhead so that I may have the satisfaction of offering a more ecological product (and thus more value) to my clients. This mode of operation has applied to my work with design, construction, forestry, renewable energy, and agricultural products. I now intend to bring the same ethics, of conscientious craftsmanship and authentic materials, to my publications.
It's no way to get rich, but that has never been my motivation. I am motivated by challenges, and by the satisfaction of knowing that I gave my best effort to leave the world a better place than it would be without me. In this case, there is the challenge of executing the project without losing money - in spite of the fact that my work lacks the guarantee of commercial success sought by the agents who rejected it. Most of the time though, I feel that there is no "why"; there is only me, and I am a process by which the will of the Universe is unfolded.
Above all, I know now that I would not have been satisfied with conventional publishing. I would never have made my publication date, and thus my chance to pay tribute to Terence McKenna; nor would I have been able to use the hemp paper. Now I get to have both, as well as the ability to create, or creatively collaborate on, all of my own graphics, layout, branding, and publicity. Instead of squandering my efforts on queries destined for the literary slush pile, all of my work applies directly to the enhancement of my artwork, manuscript, and platform. The learning curve in publishing very steep, but it is tremendously stimulating, and I'm having a blast overturning the system.
START-UP EXPENSES $ 20,000 + tour
These are one-time capital expenditures I've already made, or will soon incur, which do not affect the cover price of my books:
- Establishing beLove (web domain, trademarks, office supplies, etc.) 3000
- Editorial and consultation services 8000
- Cover and interior design 4000
- Illustrations and cartography 1500
- Galleys for review and postage 500
- Classification, bar codes, E-book formatting, etc. 1000
- Research and travel required for composition 2000
- Writing the book My contribution to the world
- Book tour expenses, marketing, and publicity To be determined
- Building the platform PRICELESS
RECURRING COSTS $ 21,000 + perks
The following budget is based on my first print run, which has a minimum size of 3000-4000 copies (due to my paper selection).
- Hemp Heritage paper (textstock), including freight 13500
- Production - printing, binding, packing, etc. 4000
- Shipping 1000
- Book cover 2500
- Payment of Indiegogo fees, and fulfillment of perks UNKNOWN
CROWDFUNDING AND DEEP ECONOMY
Although many of my endeavors at Earthaven have been eminently grant-worthy, I have never sought funding from such sources. To me, the concept of sustainability implies an enterprise that can stand on its own financially; if it is subsidized by the wealth generated in the petroleum economy, then it becomes merely a palliative agent to justify the continuation of our destruction. Furthermore, I don't have the patience to go through all the administrative waste of applications, grant reports, and so on; and I'm unwilling to compromise my values for the fiscal security of my organizations. In the grand scheme, government funding and philanthropic contributions are mostly allocated to B.S., if you will; and it is not a funding system to which I will be subservient or that I care to validate.
Thus, the model of innovation that I believe will blaze the trail of our transition is ecological micro-enterprise, wherein the wealth of our future is earned organically. Such businesses, with their risk/reward component, afford a more dynamic, cutting-edge, and evolutionary approach to our potential extinction than non-profits and such. Crowdfunding, in turn, offers us all the perfect grassroots mechanism to directly support the endeavors that will in turn become the reality we seek. As a "cause", I love the fact that I can market myself to, and correspond with, my stakeholders directly; and that doing so simultaneously strengthens both my network and platform.
WHAT IF I DON'T REACH MY GOAL?
I will beg, borrow, or otherwise obtain the capital to proceed with the project. However, any funds contributed to my Indiegogo campaign will afford me opportunity to devote more time to editing/improving my work, and promoting the finished book.
WHAT IF I RECEIVE MORE THAN MY GOAL?
If only I should be so fortunate ; )
First of all, I will cover the costs of fulfilling the perks I've offered. Each dollar contributed does not translate to a dollar applied toward the paper, since, with each perk, I incur costs that are additional to the expenses of publishing (such as shipping, travel, merchandise, etc.) At some point in the realm of $20-25K, I expect that I will be able to pay for both the perks AND the paper. If I don't reach that point, I will pursue other sources of funding as necessary to make up the difference.
After the perks and paper are paid for, surplus funds will be used to increase the size of my initial printing if possible. This will reduce my upfront cost per copy, and thus the cover price. Also, contributions above and beyond my goal provide me working capital to increase the scope of my book publicity tour, reprint ENTHEOGENESIS sooner, expand my line of hemp merchandise, andor begin composition of the sequel/prequel sooner.
By starting my own imprint, I committed myself to (among other things) the responsibility of hiring my own editor. With any literary connections to speak of, I hardly knew where to begin this process; but I had a specific "fit" in mind, and sought a relationship that would transcend marks on a page. After an epic investigation, I had the exceedingly good fortune of encountering the illustrious Patrick Lobrutto at a moment conjunct with an opening in his schedule.
He has stewarded works of several authors that influenced me (such as Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Philip K. Dick, etc.), and as editor of the "Dune" novels, is intimately familiar with the demands of constructing an imaginary alternate universe. This is an important factor since I hope to work with the same editor on the other books in my series; someone who will, as Patrick put it, know my world better than anyone other than myself, in the end. Thanks to his direct experience of the counterculture and psychedelic experience, he is perfectly positioned to understand what I aim to accomplish in the broader world with my work. He is a legend among editors (how many have a Wikipedia page, after all?), with thirty-five years experience, who won the World Fantasy Award for editing. Frankly, I was thrilled just to speak with him on the phone, let alone to have the once-in-a-lifetime chance to retain his services - which I did because we both agreed unequivocally that he is best editor money can buy for my project.
But what Pat brings to the table is much more than just expertise and prestige. He offers a holistic view of the cosmos, a comprehensive understanding of the entire publishing industry, and the wisdom necessary to polish my raw vision into something worthy of publication (and thus, of your reading time). I expect his knowledge of history, philosophy, mythology, and literature to improve my novel immensely; but his influence on the project extends to the cover design and publicity advice as well, and I am so honored to have him on my team.
SCHEDULE AND TOUR:
The launch of my campaign is conjunct with the transit of Venus, the last event of its kind for over a century, whose auspiciious significance I aim to harness for my success. Immediately afterwards, I travel north to meet Pat LoBrutto in person, and revisit geographic points of interests from the story. Our editing process will continue for the 9-week duration my campaign. Its conclusion on August 7th coincides with my 27th birthday.
August 7th is also Lammas, the cross-quarter date between the solstice and equinox. As such, I will be through 5/8ths of the year I have afforded this project; and at this point, I will have galley copies of my novel produced to send to reviewers.
The actual book production will occur as soon after the galleys as possible, pending a final edit and delivery of the hemp/recycled paper to my printer. I will have physical books for distribution to my Indiegogo contributors by the first week of November. The distribution that I have in place should permit me to place books in stores by 12.21.12; but retail booksellers make their orders so far in advance of the Christmas season that the only way to secure your copy is to pre-order one here, or purchase one from me directly at one of my tour locations.
Although the details are still coalescing, I can say for now that I intend to be on a publicity tour in a biodiesel-powered Toyota Previa for the end of 2012, and much of 2013; points of interest include:
10/30 - Asheville, NC
11/01 - Toronto, ON
11/09 - Cherry Hill, NJ
November-December - mostly in NC
12/21 - Block Island, RI
12/25 - Lisbon, CT
12/26 - New York, NY
12/27 - Ashland, OH
12/28 - St. Louis, MO
12/29 - Oklahoma City, OK
12/30 - Albuquerque, NM
-- 2013 --
01/01 - Los Angeles, CA
02/17 - Springfield, MO (tentative)
03/28 - Sea Tac, WA
08/29 - San Antonio, TX
10/31 - Brighton Beach, UK
I hope that you'll spend a few moments browsing my perks, and that one (or more) might catch your fancy. Regardless, there are also many ways you can contribute that don't necessarily involve spending US dollars. In order to succeed, my campaign must achieve virality; if you tell other people about it, and they tell others, I can raise awareness by exponential growth and guerilla marketing, where the promotion of my project is based on its own merit, instead of conventional advertising machinations.
To help, you can recommend/forward my project to your family and co-workers; post a link to it on your blog; promote it on your Twitter account or share it on your Facebook wall and invite friends. Send me your criticism or appreciation; offer to set up a book signing near you; get me an introduction or some coverage in the press.
Above all, I aim to advance our aspirations toward sustainability and cultural transition; selling my books is but one vehicle for the purpose. I'm always interested in meeting dynamic people and exploring endeavors that go outside the box, if you care to share with me your ideas for advancing our collective cause. And please don't hesitate to contact me about barter, non-monetary contributions, or any questions for might have about my campaign.
I look forward to thanking you at the finish line!