It was a circuitous and unexpected road that led Amanda Palmer to become an author. Best known as one-half of the punk duo the Dresden Dolls, Palmer had already expanded her creative world to include songwriter, playwright, and blogger. Her million-plus Twitter followers and 250,000 Facebook fans had earned her the title of “Social Media Queen of Rock-N-Roll.” Then, in May 2012, she raised nearly $1.2 million on Kickstarter for her new album, Theatre Is Evil. The album went on to debut in the “Billboard Top 10” when it was released that September.
Palmer’s success on Kickstarter led to an invitation to present a TED talk at TED’s 2013 conference. That talk, “The Art of Asking,” has since been viewed more than 10 million times worldwide. “It’s about the shame people feel around the art of asking for money and help,” says Palmer, who still remembers the days she spent touring Europe with a punk cabaret band and reaching out on Twitter each night to find a place to sleep. “I think culture has instilled in us this fallacy that we can do everything ourselves. But asking is not a weakness but a gift, and that’s hard headspace to get into.”
Her Ted talk brought her to the attention of Grand Central senior editor Emily Griffin, who called asking if Palmer had ever thought about writing a book. She had, but “I always thought when I finally wrote a book it would be about street performing or social media, maybe a memoir.” Instead, it would be The Art of Asking (Nov.), in which Palmer expands upon her TED talk to reveal how ordinary people, those of us without thousands of Twitter followers and adoring fans, can use the same principles in our own lives to learn how to ask for what we need without feelings of shame.
Even though she’s been a blogger for 14 years, Palmer found writing The Art of Asking, which she calls “part memoir and part manifesto,” a completely different discipline. “It exercises an entirely different part of my brain. It’s been a totally new challenge, but one I’ve really embraced.”
Palmer will be doing an in-booth signing today, 11 a.m.–noon, at the Grand Central booth (2819).