Interview with William Martin

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
A mug of coffee, my spouse, and a walk through the park. I truly enjoy the early morning. We live in Northern California and enjoy a Mediterranean climate (for the time being) - warm summers, lovely Fall and Spring, wet winters - all contribute to great natural beauty. We live in a charming town and have a office/workshop located over our favorite coffee shop in the downtown area. Who wouldn't want to get out of bed?
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I paint. I illustrated a collectors copy of one of my books. (The Sage's Tao Te Ching) which my spouse is handbinding in a limited edition of 30 copies. I paint in the Sumi-e tradition - simple, monochrome images - Zen/Tao like (I hope) in their quality.
What do you read for pleasure?
I enjoy literary fiction and mystery. I used to read a lot of non-fiction. (That's what I write, after all), Now I get tired of all the words, concepts, and ideas. I try to keep my own writing of non-fiction brief - in the Taoist tradition. I enjoy novels by Arturo Perez-Reverte, the mysteries of P.D. James and Josephine Tey, modern novels by Gail Tsukiyama, Tan Twan Eng, and Ruth Ozeki.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I am a publisher's and agent's nightmare. I hate to market. Like most writers I have a split personality: one part cries, "Pay attention to me, me, me! The other part snarls, "Leave me the hell alone." The second part dominates. I am reclusive by nature and would rather not market at all. But actually, word of mouth has been my best tool over the past fifteen years. My traditionally published books stay in print and earn modest royalties because people often give them as gifts. Serendipitous marketing has been good to me. Fourteen years ago Oprah picked my Parent's Tao Te Ching book to be featured in her magazine. Last year a quote from the same book got a lot of attention on Face Book without my knowing it and the sales still are high from that.
Describe your desk
I write at a small writing desk tucked in a corner window of my bedroom. I also write at our workshop/studio where my wife binds and repairs books and I paint. The University library also provides me an alternative workspace.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Being shafted by a traditional publisher. My Parent's Tao Te Ching book earned out its advance in the first six months over fifteen years ago. It has sold well ever since. Now the publishers, Perseus, no scratch that, Hachette (you need a scorecard to keep track of the publishing world) are selling mainly to Amazon where the book is consistently among the top 5,000 books and usually top in its genre (Taoism) They sell at a huge discount to Amazon and I get royalties only on the discounted price. So - here's this modestly and consistently successful book on which I end up getting LESS THAN 4% ROYALTIES! Excuse me. I rant occasionally.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I just started with Smashwords. I hope to answer in a year that, "They were tremendously helpful!"
What are you working on next?
Shh. I'm working on a novel. That's another advantage of independent publishing. I can take the risk of a different sort of writing with no real downside. If I were to try to shift to fiction in the traditional publishing world, I would be told to stick with what works.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
The Gift of Rain, by Tan Twan Eng - earthy, compelling, rich, tender.
Desert Solitaire, by Edward Abbey - reflections of a marvelous curmudgeon whose "outlaw" life is my alter-ego
The Street of a Thousand Blossoms, by Gail Tsukiyama - a tender look at the way WWII impacted the ordinary people of Tokyo - the tragedy and resilience of a traditional family.
Walden, by H.D. Thoreau - all the usual reasons - "... not, when I came to die, to discover that I had not lived."
The Tao Te Ching, by Lao-Tzu - ancient wisdom that is completely relevant to modern life and the fate of the earth
Do you enjoy your life?
I enjoy it immensely! The Tao Te Ching, Lao-Tzu's classic poetic advice on living a satisfying life, has been my guide for several decades. Its ancient wisdom can be summed up with the modern philosopher Korzybski's phrase, "The Map is not the Territory."
I'm living the territory and it is a hoot!
Published 2014-07-02.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Time is Tao - Living Day by Day With Delight
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 52,390. Language: English. Published: August 29, 2017. Categories: Nonfiction » Philosophy » Eastern, Nonfiction » Self-improvement » Motivation & inspiration
In his latest book, winning Taoist author, William Martin, shares with readers his most recent exploration of the classic, "Tao Te Ching," in a daily personal journal. Each entry combines verses from the Tao with his own poetry and prose in an intimate and practical manner.
Walking The Tao - A New Translation by William Martin
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 16,610. Language: English. Published: August 4, 2016. Categories: Nonfiction » Philosophy » Taoist, Nonfiction » Religion & Spirituality » Taoism
Best-selling Taoist scholar and author, William Martin, offers a new translation and study of the Tao that is neither an intellectual philosophical practice nor an esoteric spiritual discipline, but simply a practical way of walking through life with awareness, simplicity, and contentment. A healing message for a chaotic, frenzied, frightened world.
Tales of the Happy Frog
Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 53,690. Language: English. Published: February 13, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Visionary & metaphysical
Best selling Taoist author, William Martin, has created a fictional community that will usher the reader into the magical ordinariness of living in harmony with the flow of life. His first work of fiction, Tales of the Happy Frog brings the reader an image of hope that the world may indeed have the hidden seeds of a transformation that will renew life on planet Earth.
The Wheel Will Turn - Reflections on a Quietist Revolution
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 15,750. Language: English. Published: September 1, 2015. Categories: Nonfiction » Philosophy » Taoist
A revolutionary collection of essays by award winning Taoist author, William Martin, exploring the seeming paradox of being a "Quietist Revolutionary."
Day by Day With the Tao Te Ching - A Wandering Taoist's Journey
Price: $7.99 USD. Words: 35,200. Language: English. Published: December 4, 2014. Categories: Nonfiction » Philosophy » Taoist, Nonfiction » Self-improvement » Personal Growth / General
Taoist author, William Martin offers daily reflections of life from Lao-Tzu's classic book of wisdom. Each day begins with lines from The Tao Te Ching followed by a short poetic reflection and a question for reflection. "It is not a devotional book," Martin says, "because the Tao does not need devotion. It flows through us every moment whether we are aware of it or not. Actually, it IS us."
Lost In The Tao - Reflections on Taoist Living
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 17,100. Language: English. Published: November 15, 2014. Categories: Nonfiction » Self-improvement » Personal Growth / General, Nonfiction » Philosophy » Taoist
Calling himself a "quiet revolutionary," William Martin continues to explore the Tao as a practical path for the modern person. His collections of short essay and wisdom poetry maintains the simplicity of Taoist writing while exploring the complexities of modern life and presents a truly revolutionary approach to finding joy and satisfaction in life.
30 Days of Tao - Practice in Living at Ease in an Uneasy World
Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 21,730. Language: English. Published: July 8, 2014. Categories: Nonfiction » Philosophy » Taoist, Nonfiction » Self-improvement » Stress Management
(5.00 from 1 review)
30 Days of Tao is a daily guide for learning to live with ease and contentment amidst the chaos of modern life. Feeling that life need not be a problem to be solved, but a gift to be experienced, Martin explores the Chinese classic, The Tao Te Ching, as a resource for quieting the mind, reducing stress, working with less resistance, and finding a natural satisfaction in being alive.