Yesterday, I wrote a post, Let Them Eat Cake–The Slow Death of the Old Paradigm Author as a rebuttal to Turow’s Slow Death of the American Author. No, I didn’t address Turow’s legal arguments because 1) I’m not a lawyer 2) I have a Political Economy degree so could see most of the arguments were nothing short of absurd. Rather than pointing out Turow’s faulty legal logic, I focused on a positive topic, and 3) Masnik at Tech Crunch does a superlative job of debunking Turow’s Copyright Boogeymen and, since I couldn’t say it better myself, I took the argument from an angle where I’m strong.
Social media. Brand. Author platform.
A Little About Me
Part of how I became a writer was I was misdiagnosed with epilepsy and I lost everything, including my job, my savings and my home. After being evicted from my “fancy” apartment, I ended up moving to a complex in a pretty rough part of town. While others had their car windows bashed in and radios stolen, their homes broken into, etc. I remained safe and no one ever bothered me. Even the gang members and drug dealers not only left me alone, they were kind to me and even protective. Why?
I was nice to them. I smiled. I introduced myself. I remembered their names. If I cooked too much, I offered them part of what I had (which was very little, I assure you). I remember several times where I helped them write letters to the court or their parole officers, because they were in trouble, yet barely literate. They knew I was a writer and asked for help, and I gave it. I offered to watch their children when they had to go to court and had no sitter and couldn’t afford one.
Love Trumps Law
I recall one time I came home from my brother’s home with a horrific stomach bug. I was half-delirious from illness when I pulled into my parking spot. Raging with 104 degree fever, I staggered out of the car and threw up in the bushes on the way up the stairs to my apartment.
What I didn’t realize was that, not only did I forget to put my car in first, but I forgot to set the brake (I drove a stick-shift), and my car had rolled off into the middle of the parking lot, the driver’s door wide open, while I was inside vomiting my toes. A neighbor (later busted by the ATF) and his friends pushed my car into the spot and found bricks to lodge behind the wheels to keep it in place so my car wouldn’t get hit.
Another time, some dealers who lived across from me chased away a creepy guy hanging out too long under my balcony.
Maybe I don’t have a fancy legal argument to rebut Turow. I suppose I could articulate one if I had to, but to me the point is still moot. The best protection for your copyright is kindness. Love trumps laws every time. When we talk to people, engage, ask them about their day, tell them they have beautiful children, that is all an investment in piracy/copyright protection.
Just like the drug dealers didn’t have to push my car into my parking spot (in fact, they could have stolen everything in it), they didn’t. Instead, they went out of their way to be kind to me, to extend of themselves…but I had extended myself first.
The Common Human Need
Maybe you’re an introvert or shy. Maybe it is easier for me to ask you to extend yourself to a tribe of cannibals in Papua New Guinea than to be on social media. I know I was terrified of talking to the criminals living all around me, but I gave my best smile and offered authentic kindness because I understood (then and now) the common vacuum in the human soul—love, connection. I needed it. Why were they any different? Turned out to be the best security system available, and all it cost me was a bit of bravery and some time.
When I treated those criminals with the respect, kindness and decency they craved, they felt no need to steal from me. I could have gotten a Rottweiler and put up bars and a security system and brandished a can of mace every time we crossed paths, but I don’t think I’d be here to relay this story had I done those things.
What We See is What We Get
The hard truth is that we will always be open to people who want something for free and yes, technology can exacerbate this. Making more laws or making e-books more difficult to download or pricing them the same as hardbacks doesn’t deter thieves. In my opinion, it only encourages this kind of behavior.
There are people out there who will download free stuff no matter what. They were never a sale. But, the vast majority of people, if they know us and like us, have no issue simply shopping on Amazon or other major retailers for our books. There are plenty of places people can download pirated music, yet hundreds of millions happily go to iTunes.
We Reap What We Sow
Most humans have an internal desire to reciprocate. When we give freely, there comes a point where people say, No, you’ve given enough. Let me BUY.
I give freely to you guys 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year and yet most of you have bought my books or you have plans to buy my new one. I would even wager that most of you didn’t run off to some Chinese website to see if you could get my books for free.
I can’t count the number of e-mails I’ve received where followers even bought copies of my books for a friend, then that friend wrote to me and told me how she, in turn, bought copies for her friends. Some received the book as a loan from a writer friend, then went and paid for their own copy. The book had been such a blessing, they wanted to support me.
So if you desire a line-by-line legal rebuttal, I recommend the link above. But I don’t really need one. The world becomes what we see, and if we see thieves everywhere, that’s what we’ll get. And yes, maybe I am nuts or naive or a stupid Pollyanna, but I prefer to look to the good in others and trust that if I sow generosity, it will be returned.
What are your thoughts? Am I a moron? Do you disagree? You can, just please be respectful. Do you agree that connection makes the difference? Have you had similar experiences? Share!
I love hearing from you!
To prove it and show my love, for the month of April, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.
I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.
At the end of April I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!
I completely agree with you, love trumps it all…Beautiful post, I hadn’t realized you’d gone through such difficult times. Now back to piracy, I remember reading somewhere about Paolo Coelho being systematically pirated in Russia – millions of copies it seems but he didn’t do anything to fight it and told his publisher to forget it. Indeed, it seems that at the time of all this pirating on-going around him, Coelho felt it was okay, he was gaining readers! And of course, in the end he proved right. Look at him now, he’s one of the biggest selling authors ever, selling books all over the globe!
The other side of that story was Coehlo asked his publishers to release a version written in Russian and they refused. As I understand it, he actually wrote the Russian version and released it himself. If the publisher would have agreed to a Russian version, they wouldn’t have had the issue.
Good for you, Ma’am. Respect.
Shy person here, seeing your principle in action in a fabulous way. When I lived in Portland, OR, I stopped in Powell’s Books to see my one and only book on their shelves and to leave some bookmarks for my new ebook release.
A young woman watched what I was doing and picked up one of my bookmarks. I burbled. Yes, I did, high as a kite on the euphoria of being a Powell’s author.
Two years later, that lovely young woman posted a pic on my facebook page of that ebook, now in print, in her possession. We connected that day as romance lovers.
Thanks for your great column,
What a lovely post, Kristen. I have found some of the dodgiest characters to have hearts of gold just like your example. They will do anything for their own and never steal from their neighbours. I guess you can apply that to team building.
You are not a moron. Having grown up as a scrappy little white boy with glasses in a gang infested neighborhood, complete with drive-by’s, I had it pretty rough for a while. I eventually earned respect from a few gang members by standing up for myself, and then did “favors” for them. After that I was protected and even liked by my neighbors. It helped that I had picked up boxing from my Dad too, and I protected a kid from a bully once. It is true, respecting people and not judging them will earn not only their respect, but loyalty as well.
First of all, you are not a moron. I’m a new author and still struggling to make a buck. I don’t have time to go on all the pirate sites to see if my books have been pirated. Like you, I believe the people who go those sites are the same people who will down load illegal songs or movies and have not intentions of buying anything, but there are people who do buy books, songs or movies through amazon or other legal sites. I happen to be one of them. I appreciate all of the work you do and the free blogs and yes, I plan on buying your book when you come to Colorado and getting it signed. I plan on offering my books for free when I self-publish for a couple of days and yes, they will probably be pirated, but some people will buy them. Those are my readers.
Authors need to figure out whether they are going to focus on a glass of water and focus on whether it’s half empty or half full. Half empty would be the pirated sites or half full would be the legal sites. I know which one I plan to focus on.
Years ago, when I was a cop, I became involved with a young man who was fighting. I talked with him, befriended him, and generally treated him like a human being. Then he dropped off my radar. Some years later, I walked into a store and there he was, in a suit and tie, the manager of the store. He ran to me, picked me up in a bear hug, and yelled to his wife, “This is him! This is the guy who saved my life!”
Small things do make a huge difference. Thanks for bringing this fact to more people.
BTW: you’ve got a pretty cool new book coming!
I think you’re right. I’d rather spend my energy making friends and helping others instead of being on the defensive, trolling the internet for pirates and waging legal battles. Sure, there will still be some who will pirate books, but there will be many more who will buy our books because they’re nice, honest people who want to support other nice, honest people.
I so agree, Kristen. And I liked Duke’s comment above. That’s great!
Probably the most effective way to combat piracy in the long run. Speaking of piracy and copyright infringement, here is a story featured on NPR this morning on a court’s ruling regarding the sale of “used” Mp3 recordings which will also apply to the resale of ebooks. http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2013/04/11/176787372/whose-mp3s-are-they-anyway
I absolutely agree – more flies with honey is so true.
I’ve been accused of “doing too much” for others. I really don’t see a problem with giving…giving back, in many ways.
I remember one time my daughter and I were on a bus from Everett, WA to Seattle and there were two women with a small dog sitting near us. They were saying that they had no money for the night and no place to stay. So I gave them the cash I had on me – about $60. My daughter gave me a look but knows that I will do what I will do with my money.
I feel the same way about my writing career, such as it is. I promote and buy other writers’s books.
I see how you and Bob Mayer “write it forward” and I hope that if I ever make a “name” in this business that I can do the same.
Wiccans believe in the Three Fold Law: what you send out to the Universe comes back to you three fold…the good or the bad. I believe that and try to use it in my life.
Love conquers all.
Mitzi Reinbold w/a Mitzi Flyte
You are not crazy, you have simply found and articulated the truth of the “Golden Rule.” Some will always take advantage and they have to own that karma. I prefer to earn mine with kindness and by being helpful. Thanks for a great post.
I agree totally, Kristen. While it can occasionally backfire, I, too, have found that kindness reaps kindness. I little anecdote. Many years ago my then 18 year old sister and her 19 year old cousin visiting from the Netherlands got lost in the slums of Detroit. They stopped for lunch. Finding no parking on the street they filled up with gas an a station and asked the attendant if they could park there. He said yes. They found a tiny restaurant a block away and sat down. All the faces in the entire place were black. At first they stared. then they simply served them politely. When the girls returned the found the car intact. Being lost, they then accosted a police officer (white) who advised them this was a very dangerous neighbourhood to be in and that he would escort them out so they would not be attacked or their car hijacked. He was amazed nothing had happened to them already. I think they were safe because they simply treated everyone thy met with politeness and possibly their naivte showed. It had not even occurred to them that being in a black slum could be an issue. The year was 1974.
You are inspirational. I can’t believe that you put all that out there. Thank you for sharing with us.
So sometimes I read a post of yours and think, “That’s her best” and then later I read another and think “That’s her best.” Suffice it to say, this one is among your best.
The principles of respect, kindness, reciprocity trump the other stuff all the time. In fact, having worked as a legal assistant for years, I’ve seen lawsuits that were fueled less by the monetary damages claimed than the feelings that they’d been slighted by someone else. I’ve heard a plaintiff who suffered physical harm from a medical procedure say something like, “I wouldn’t have sued if the doctor had just looked me in the eye, admitted wrong, and apologized.” In other words, they just wanted to be treated nicely.
It turns out that nice is good business too. For example, I’m happy to pay the few extra cents for an item at my local H.E.B. grocery store because the service is awesome! And I’m happy to buy from authors who are personable and positive.
Very philosophical today. 🙂 Made me smile. Thanks.
Love the story here and the comments. How absolutely true.
You, sweet lady, have squarely nailed the major struggle most of us on planet earth have. A heart problem. A selfish me-first-attitude. God tells us over and over “be kind” and we are, on Sunday morning. In church. I lead a Christian teen writers group and will be using this blog tomorrow as well as with my big folks edit group on Saturday.
I’m a new subscriber to your blogs and want to tell you how much I have enjoyed reading each and every one of your posts. Also plan to use Les Edgerton’s wisdom on dialogue with my teens tomorrow.
Give respect to get respect. Absolutely! And I totally intend to buy your books when sell enough of my own. lol, I know that’s backwards, but unfortunately in my house, writing is still a “hobby.” Until then I devour your blogs and have withdraws on the weekends. 😀
Love and kindness will trump anything, even when it appears to be otherwise. We can’t always see what our love and kindness reaps, and yet it’s there, and all the sweeter.
And this is what so many today forget – people have good in them! You just have to help them remember that, and show it.
What an inspiring story. I totally agree about piracy. For one thing, piracy is the only way people can read our books in many places in the world that can’t access Amazon. It’s like the music business.
As Neil Young said, “Piracy is the way music gets around these days.” We need to learn to work with it, instead of digging in our heels and shaking our little fists at the 21st century. Some people will be honorable and some won’t. That ratio hasn’t changed.
I live in South Africa, famed for its high crime rates. An interesting trend I’ve noticed is that the houses with the lowest boundary walls get the fewest burglaries. If you have fancy electrical fencing atop a 12ft wall, lit with spotlights and patrolled by armed guards, thieves will assume you have something inside worth stealing and will go the extra mile to steal it.
Same thing with eBooks. The more you try to ‘protect’ your work, the more the pirates are going to assume you have something worth stealing!
By far one of your most enlightening posts. I have a similar experience of living in a “questionable” place. Fresh from my stint as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines, I chose to be friendly instead of fearful when I learned my neighbor was a dealer. Left my keys dangling in the door one night (not sure how that happened). Neighbor kept the keys safe and returned them next morning with a friendly smile. In later years, I confess to not always offering the honey jar, but I know vinegar wins nothing. Thanks, Kristin.
You are right. I believe that a vast majority of people are good people. Even those who end up on the wrong side of the law, for the most part, are not completely bad. When you engage someone with genuine interest and respect, once they get over the shock, they will usually reciprocate.
Loved your story – thanks for posting it.
I absolutely agree with you here. Who cares how the reader obtained a copy of a book. The important point is that someone read your book. Sounds like free advertising to me.
What an inspiring post! Thanks for sharing.
Outstanding story, Kristen. After hearing (but never experiencing, thankfully) horror stories about competition and credit-stealing in academia, I am very very pleased and thankful for the generosity of romance and mystery writers. The groups I belong to – RWA (Romance Writers Association) and their various chapters, specifically the Kiss of Death mystery chapter and my home chapter-Southern Louisiana of RWA – known as SOLA, are full of kind, sharing, how-can-I-help writers. It’s a joy to work with you, too, Kristen. Kindness and thoughtfulness is returned.
You are not a moron. Laws and anti-theft devices are meant to reduce the probability of theft and make it harder, not impossible. Nothing is impossible to steal, given enough time.
Kindness reduces the probability of theft just as much as fancy devices. I know this from personal experience because the last time someone stole directly from me, I was in grade school. Does this mean piracy won’t happen? Absolutely not. It will happen no matter what we do or how many copyrights we acquire. However, it will happen less if readers see us as human and helpful. They want to do something for us.
A lot of people I’ve met in my life have no qualms stealing from large corporations because they are “big” and “anonymous” and “evil” but I’m not any of those things. That means that when they find twenty bucks I dropped on my porch without noticing, they’ll point it out instead of keeping it for themselves. Big difference.
My mother-in-law gave me a copy of Turow’s article, and I couldn’t bring myself to read beyond the headline. I agree that you just need to keep putting one foot ahead of the other, and greet the people you meet on along your path with an open heart and kindness, rather than watching over your shoulder in fear. BTW, I bought a copy of your book as a way of working up the courage and commitment to start a blog, and the blog has been a wonderful way to connect with other writers and readers. Thanks for the kick start.
Kristen, you know I’m right there with you with the Pollyanna attitude. 🙂 LOVED this story! Thank you so much for putting words to our worries and our hopes.
Beautiful, and spot on.
Kristen, we need more people like you in the world. Thanks for being such a light for those in the world who need one.
Kristen, I truly love this post. Double awesome! 😀
I’ve always believed you get what you give. It’s not a principle with limitations. It applies in all aspects of being a human on this earth. Loved this post!
I retired in my forties, I am 59 currently, but that could change. I have enough money to get by. I got sick of money and give it away I think too much. Man, I have friends and family that think they need my money more than I do. Maybe they should live a downsized life style too and they could pay me back.
I lived a Yuppie lifestyle then gradually became homeless. My Pastors said it was my ministry. Oh boy. I guess that is what becomes of tithers. I have come up somewhat and it is more expensive where I used to be. So I have experienced all sorts of lifestyles and I am better for it. At my peak I was in Research and Development in the software industry. Now, I apply my acquired skills to writing.
Writing is fun and a challenge as well like computers. I graduated from Bible College because I did not understand people. People are a challenge and a trip. They are so sensitive. You have to watch what you say to them. Most responses are full of niceties. Hence Miss Manners invented IE (Internet Etiquette). Eventually I believe I will find my niche and get my writing to work.
I love responding to posts if I get a reply or not. I feel I am at least in the game and not a bench sitter. Write a novel like most of you? Hah, I am lucky to write commentary’s like this one. My blog is full of commentary’s. Okay, these are the only computer skills transferred to my writing. Perhaps I could do more if had I been a Tech Writer.
Love your posts. Kristen. I like informal informative writing but I don’t think you can change me into a novelist. But who knows. A quiet introvert guy turned into a blabber mouth author is a miracle. May miracles never cease! Sometimes I push someone’s hot button and they respond! How to push someone’s Hot Button is a book I read in the 80’s.
Great post as always, Kristen. A clear reminder of what we Pagans refer to as the law of 3 – what you give out, you will get back three-fold.
Interesting rebuttal to what is quickly [amazingly] becoming the topic of my week: copyright infringement. I have friends who come down firmly on both sides of this issue. As I’m a pragmatic soul, I believe that laws won’t stop people from pirating material when those people don’t believe what they’re doing is wrong. Until those who pirate believe what they’re doing is a problem, this situation is going to remain a stalemate.
My heart goes out to those creatives who are trying to stop the thefts, but like you I believe that at a certain point you have to stop focusing on the bad– and move on to focusing on the good. Simplistic + naive, perhaps. But ultimately, the most effective way I know of to protect yourself.
Focus on the bad too long and you will kill your muse. My POV. Focus on the art and focus on love and service and you’ll be better off. No, maybe we won’t be as rich because we can’t go shake royalties out of the thieves. But is the extra money worth the pieces of our souls? Nope.
Beautiful post…I think it’s absolutely true.
Your story is an inspiration and a lesson. We can afford to let loose the material things in our lives. We cannot lose the spiritual things but we can share them. A new book., wow. your previous ones have guided me through social media.
Tom, this new one is better than the other two combined. And I say that as humbly as possible. By blogging and serving (for free ;)) it made me a far stronger writer so I can offer you a far stronger book. Thank you for your support, here and everywhere. I always smile when I see your name.
Great post, as always. Your concept of engaging the customer/reader is familiar as someone who used to work in retail. We were trained to greet a customer as they walked in the store and ask if they needed help, making a connection was thought to deter theft. I liken this to your post above, obviously there are those who will steal, but by engaging people, it often deters potential others because it creates a sense of familiarity. In other words you are right. Thanks for the lovely post and for addressing this topic so wonderfully.
You reap what you sow. Words to live by.
I’m a firm believer in “what goes around, comes around” so I couldn’t agree with you more. And I chose to pay good dollars for your book. Worth every penny. You got me onto Twitter, and it’s been great.
Thanks. I needed that today. I’ve been feeling alone in my own little Pollyanna philosophies. It encouraged me to just keep swimming, enjoy the feeling I get from being kind, and not concentrate on the negatives I’ve been experiencing.
Dear Kristen, You do indeed “give freely to you [us] guys 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year”, and I hope you know that I recognize, realize and appreciate your warm-hearted dedication to helping other writers. I’m just an old wrestler, once a self-proclaimed soldier of a different revolution that ran its course and dug its own grave. And I’m always a skeptic.
I like the title of your article. The relationship between Law and Love? One of my brothers who passed away a few years ago was a brilliant lawyer. We talked quite a bit about his views, and mine, regarding the nature of our justice system. At certain times, and in certain cases, compassion ruled. At other times, cold and logical arguments won or lost the day, the people involved all but buried between the lines of a courtroom transcript. I lean in your direction — and I hope you’re right — when you say that “LOVE Trumps Laws.”
If Mr. Turow is reading your response to his NYT article, perhaps he’ll realize that today’s theme might serve as fodder for his next novel. I confess that I’ve enjoyed Scott Turow’s books, perhaps even more than I’m enjoying the debate that his NYT article inspired.
That is EXACTLY what I believe, too! 🙂 Some people think I’m nuts, but I think I’m right. We lived in a bad part of town, too, and I smiled at the prostitutes and drug dealers (many of which I thought were “just” poor people like me, I had no idea till later what they did for a living) and wished them a good morning and treated them how I’d like to be treated. Things worked out just fine.
I also am a fan of the philosophy of one major author (I can’t remember who – Terry Pratchett, maybe??) who said in an interview that it doesn’t bother him too much if people in China or Russia or India are downloading pirated copies of his books because they’re reading them and enjoying them and he’s noticed increasing sales in those areas that he believes is a direct result of piracy!
I am in complete agreement with you – if they don’t ever buy my books legally, they were never going to. But if they get some for free, or get all of them for free and tell their friends what great books they are, I think it still works out in my favor. I prefer to pretend to myself that they read my books from the library then. LOL!
What a wonderful and heartfelt post! Thanks for writing it!
This is the kind of thing the music industry has already been struggling with. Derek Webb, a musician wrote an article on the fact that he made more money giving his music away for free in exchange for zip codes and email addresses because he could make more money through concerts and by selling merchandise then by posting his music on itunes. Perhaps we have to view our blogs and social media like the songs. You can find them anyway. But the albums, concerts and merchandise (in our view, books, courses, lectures, teachings), those are things people will pay us for because we’ve given so much of ourselves for free.
That is a really cool story.
Are you a moron? Mwah ha ha hargh! NO you’re bang on the money. Being decent to people takes longer but it works. I’m convinced.
Excellent! Positive thought and energy can move mountains.
Those who add light to the world will fine good things when they least expect it.
That’s my experience.
This is such a beautiful, heart-warming post. Thank you for sharing Kristin. i always look forward to your blog.
I have to admit, this post made me get a bit misty– and it reminds me of when John Green came to do a signing at the bookstore I work at. He was the sweetest human being I’ve ever met: he had a deep, in-depth conversation with everyone who asked him for an autograph, he was kind and friendly to the volunteers working there, he was just overall a doll. I didn’t know the first thing about him at the time, but I seriously respect him because of that interaction, and I’ve become a big fan because of it.
Great article Kristen, you get back what you give out. I visited my sister in San Antonio 10 years ago. We did the tourist thing at the Alamo, I was driving and took a wrong turn ending up in a Hispanic area. I pulled up next to half a dozen large, tattooed men sitting outside a shop. My sister was beating at my leg, “We don’t stop in these neighbourhoods, get going.” I climbed out, went over and said, “G’day fellas, I’m lost how do I get back to the main highway?” They looked for a moment then gave directions. No problems at all. I think they were surprised that I spoke to them actually.
I can relate to your epilepsy diagnosis, after getting a whiplash injury I began exhibiting signs of epilepsy. Boy don’t people treat you differently, thank goodness I wasn’t ostracised like you were. Eventually after more tests it was revealed I had a benign tumour in between the hemispheres of my brain. I hated the medication for epilepsy though, they tried it to stop the seizures. Nothing much has changed after 30 years except the tumour has disappeared. 🙂
Mine turned out to be a violent allergy to gluten. With an epilepsy diagnosis no one would hire me. Additionally, as you might know, when you give seizure controlling meds to people who don’t have epilepsy it can cause seizures…so they would give me MORE medicine and the seizures would get worse, so they would up the dosage and….finally I tossed all the medication and told God to heal me or take me home, that I was finished with doctors. I went in search of natural remedies and an hourly wage worker at the Vitamin Shop listened to my symptoms and asked the question that forever changed my life, “You think you might be allergic to wheat?”
But I am grateful. Had I not lost the fab-paying sales job I would never have had the guts to pursue my dream—writing. Funny how when you have nothing left to lose you get a bit braver, LOL. Happy your tumor is gone and thank you for the thoughtful comment.
Tons of replies! Loved the post.
This is one of the best rebuttals I’ve read. And you’re not a moron; you’re right. I’m not a novelist (yet), but I have a passion for reading and if someone ever downloaded my book illegally, I’d probably just be happy that they were reading. And that they thought my book was worth breaking the law.
As for being nice — for me it’s a 50/50 gamble. Half the time it just bites me in butt or makes me wish I hadn’t opened my mouth. But the then there’s the other half of the time. And it’s those moments that often make my day worthwhile.
Instead of selling a book to the Half Price Bookstore, I gave it to someone who couldn’t afford it but whom I knew wanted to read it. She made my breakfast with extra bacon that morning. Instead of getting frustrated at the slow service at a restaurant, I let the waitress know that I realized she was busy and that as long as I had water, to not worry about me too much. The look of relief on her face was worth the wait. And my food arrived piping hot.
Right now, I’m helping a friend write a children’s book. It’s her dream. I just sent her a list of storyline ideas and she loved them so much she cried. If I never see a nickel for my work, it’ll still be totally worth it.
I can’t believe you’re so brave. I don’t think I would’ve gotten a Rottweiler and mace, but I’m such a big chicken that may have bought a shotgun and sat, scared in my closet..
I think this is a beautiful way of looking at things, and I loved reading about your experiences living in a not-so-safe neighborhood. I think there will always be problems with those who are willing to steal our work, but in the long run, the only ting that will matter is that people will want to read and share and contribute to our stories.
As a Christian, Love is what it’s all about. It’s the greatest commandment. As a Christian writer, why should it be any different? This is a poignant reminder of what LIFE in general is all about, leave alone the writing life. We would do well to simply walk in love in the first place in all things, and let God, Who has commanded us to love, do the rest. I do believe that we can’t out-give God, and since God is love, we can’t out-give love. It’s a spiritual law that we reap what we sow. Excellent, excellent insight on this blog!
I agree and God’s economy does the opposite of the world ;). Give more, trust Him to not only return it, but give you double for your trouble :D.
I am 59 years old. I am too old to learn and comply with all the rules, rules of grammar, and laws that did not exist 15 or 16 years ago. I just copyrighted some of my books. Years ago you had to send in a hard copy of your book to the copyright office. I am no publisher but a common man but I applied for so many copyrights the copyright office called me. I thought, “wow” I must be charting on virgin territory! Shortly there after the copyright office put ane new procedure in place. I had only to upload a word document. It would cost about $40 and I retained exclusive rights to my copyrights.
I have been a trailblazer (one of many) to self publish. I called a self publishing office and received the package. Extraodinary they w3ant to charge $8,000 for 250 books. They were very discouraging saying they could not get anyone into major book stores if any. They suggest I give copies to my friends and family.
Undaunted I tried another approach. I sent manuscripts to 5 publishers. Of course they rejected them. I was a neophyte trying to find my way into the business. I did a follow up on a few publishers. One the party I spoke to seemed angry. Another, a woman I talked to, ask me if she should could have the manuscript. I joyously said yes. Yet another Christian publisher, I found out later there are no Christian publishers, refused my writings because I did not go through the right channels of their denomination, have it checked out to see if it conformed with they believed about the Bible, and I would have to have letters of recommendation being in right standing in a local Church of their denomination.
Man, I felt like I did when I was downsized. I was a Systems Programming Analyst with over 40 years experience since 1970. Who knows what that means? Most people think they know more about computers because they bought an iPAD last week. (Chuckle, chuckle.) I finally got a job as a part time security job. It was funny. The only grey pants I had cost $450 my first wife bought me at Niemen Marcus in S.F.
I have been in ministry since 1980, traveled with my second wife all over the country and over seas to the U.S. friendly. I have seen movies with people of skills. There passports were taken and they ended up working for a foreign government. That scared me. As many a problem the U.S. has faced I am glad I am not in Africa where I belong?
I have a degree in Biblical Study and Theology and I am a C.P.E trained Chaplain. All though I am part of the Church Community the Bible College recently said I have a Public Ministry like Jesus. He was not liked by Church leaders of His days.
But I digress. I talked to one publisher who kept transferring me until I finally talked to the right woman (again it was a woman. No she was not named Mary.) She said, “Maybe the writings are for me?) I finally got the answer I needed and quit asking. The Pastor/Teacher at the Bible College said I have to write my own Epistles in the 80’s.
To make a long story shorter I produced many books at a copy/ binding company, could not find consignment, gave them away at a cost of $15 dollars a piece, bought a ebook generator program for $50, websites changed so you can’t download ebooks and music, email attachments became a danger to themselves and others throughout the universe until Kindle and others provided long term hospital care for and safety for us all.
But lucky for me God looks out for me and others that just want to give. God gave us THE BLOG! If I would not have gone through all these trials and tribulations I would have not appreciated THE BLOG! as I do now.
This is my first comment because I’m new to your blog. This blog was my “devotional” for the day. I realize you aren’t making a “religious” comment here, but I just finished a Bible study on the book of James called “Mercy Triumphs.” Far from crazy, you are SPOT ON. What the world needs now is love, sweet love–and lots more of it. (That rings a bell in song.) And the thing is, I didn’t sense you did those merciful actions BECAUSE you wanted protection; you did them out of your heart for hurting–though misguided–people (for the most part). I’ll be reading your blog regularly now! Blessings. (And probably I’ll be looking at your books, buying them.)
We are at the mercy of those willing to cause trouble for us. Those that can get away with it would appear to be protected by government or how could they really get away with it if there are laws and order in the universe. Corporations have the guidelines and corporate lawyers, which they have as a way of protecting themselves. But a self-publisher is alone in the wilderness needing to seek the information. We forget sometimes that we are not the first man and the first woman created by God and copyright laws are based primarily on WHO Was On First first not necessarily who scored first. I get accused of writing from pure imagination instead of writing about what really already happened written in Fiction. I guess; I was on first, first; I just have not scored.
Wow Kristen, what a great topic, awesome post, and meaty discussion to be had.
It’s funny, because I had an encounter with these issues a while back, when I found that my books had been pirated, put up as torrents, and shared on pirate sites. My response? I wrote an extensive blog on the topic here: http://www.peterkoevari.com/authors-and-piracy-ebooks-on-the-high-seas/
I hit a nerve with some people who disagreed with my approach and though that I should be fighting the pirates, and am condoning their behaviour. For me, I just feel that they didn’t ‘get it’. Whatever the case, I can choose how I respond to this reality in the digital age.
Your story of living in a low suburb that was filled with criminals has touched me. After all, they are still human beings. Having said that, I have been broken into and since put in a security system. Forgive me if I can’t respond nicely to the criminals who I suspect were the ones who broke into my home.
I make a point of smiling and being nice to everyone. When I moved into my area, which I knew was not the best in my city, I shrugged off all perceptions and went out of my way to be nice to everyone in the area, even in the streets where I knew that the drug dealers and criminals lived. Was nice to their kids, etc. In the end, I still got robbed. Guess there are different classes of criminals.
I honestly felt disheartened, and have since lost my ability to be “nice to all” in my area, also feeling unsafe every time I leave my home. That happens when your home is violated. I am nice to those who are nice to me and have made some amazing relationships in my area, but what do we do when people do something horrible to us?
None-the-less, I know that it is an example of what to do online, and that is incredibly important. As i’ve learned from your books, positivity attracts people, and negativity makes people draw away from you.
As an author, I also do many giveaways and try to help anyone, wherever I can 🙂
There is a lot to learn about how to make friends and influence people online, and in the real world. Hope you post more blogs on these topics.
I know how you feel. I had my car stolen and I’d come in from a business trip and had all of my luggage (most of my good clothes) and all my CDs (about $1500 worth because I did A LOT of driving) stolen. And that was from the FANCY apartment complex! So criminals are everywhere and it just proves that people who are going to steal will steal. I know that even though it has been 12 years since my car was stolen, I still panic a little if I can’t spot my car right away. It does affect you always.
HE double hockey sticks it makes a difference. I need to get better at this since my kids are always asking to drink my chocolate milk or have a bite of my snack. Maybe I’d lose some weight that way too.
I’m in the middle of a social psychology class, and the textbook says the same thing as what you’re saying here. We get what we are willing to get. It’s a law of nature.
Wonderful article! I went from well off to poor myself and learned the lessons of which you speak:) Beautifully put! Thank you!
As for books..I purchased a Kindle for my last semester in college (at 52:) I love it! Here is what I find..the free books on Amazon help me find authors I would never find otherwise! I read their books and more often than not go back for more! The next book..I pay for! As for me it is like a library I get to try out a book but rather than just go back and borrow the next one, I buy the e-book! ..I think paying a small amount (most are) well worth it for a well written story! Top that off with..I get to come and find your blogs and fan pages and get to know you as a person! Fan for life..you betcha! Sarah
This was an AWESOME post, Kristen. I completely agree with you. And I want to say thanks to you, and to all the others who have shared their stories!
Beautiful post, Kristen. I think there’s a lesson there that goes way beyond the realm of writing/publishing. “Do unto others…” is always a good choice.
Kindness is usually the answer to everything. To genuinely care for others is so important. There are too many that go about their day, the universe revolving around them that they don’t notice anyone else.
Kristen, I just recently found you and subscribed. Thank you for your positive outlook. There aren’t a lot of us who see the world this way. Your blog is so refreshing! (I’m on day 5). Looking forward to reading more …
Thank you, Laura and so lovely to meet you 😀
Very wise words to live by:-) Many of the parents of the students I teach are like those guys who lived in your tough neighborhood. Many teachers are afraid of them or don’t want to give them the time of day because they think they don’t care, but a little understanding and extra love goes a looong way! And as a writer of love inspired stories, I truly believe love is the answer~hugs!
Yes Kristen, I so agree with you. I worked for 7 years in Social Services, but it wasn’t work it was loving the needy. One Mother’s Day, the women celebrated by honoring me. They called me “The Mother of Mothers”. How do you think I felt after that? It’s all about love.
a beautiful point
If we treat everyone
as a loving part
of our family
we’ll be surprised
at the love
Botom line: treat your readers with kindness and respect. Seems like a good plan for the entire human race.
I’d add a rule: don’t call your fans criminals!
Turow mentioned Russian piracy. I live in Russia, and I know many Russians who want to read English books. Thanks to geo-restrictions, often books aren’t available. The message to the Russians, (which Turow clearly endorsed): “You’re all a bunch of crooks, so we won’t sell to you.” Yeah, that sure convinces people to respect and uphold the rights of the author!
The pirate sites provide eager readers with the books they seek. Thanks to the poor availability of legal English e-books, the pirate sites are like Amazon to the legal sites, which resemble the book rack at a 7/11. Is it any surprise that people choose the pirates? Often, the sellers of e-readers, friends and community don’t even bother to mention the legal sites. One Russian told me she got a Kindle because with a Kindle, the books are free. She was surprised I didn’t know this “fact”. She’s not a thief. She has the income and the ethics to buy books, but no clue that the only model she knows is not the legal one.
Pervasive piracy is a result of market failure, not a reason to avoid the developing a functioning legal market. In countries with dysfunctional markets, people develop informal markets. What Turow seems to be saying is that all these people should wait until their market is worth the publishers’ effort. That’s never going to happen. Apple introduced the iPhone to Russia well after you could find a kiosk to jailbreak your iPhone on any street corner in Moscow.
English is the most commonly learned second language in the world. This means there are people eager to practice their English reading books in the jungles of Borneo, the Arctic oil towns of Russia, the mountains of Peru. I’d bet hundreds of millions of English book readers live in places where it’s very hard to legally buy English e-books.
They’re only pirates because they can’t figure out how to be buyers.
There is the argument that pirates make it cheaper for the poor. During the Cold War it was used to change the thinking of a Communist mentality. Free of limited products versus the unlimited sold at the Black Market or the Underground.
And there is the “devil is in the details” or those playing games with society and it will encourage more corruption.
It is also used to minimize the success of targeted individuals, if you have family in government or relatives capable of getting away with such things.
*high five* I agree, it is a market failure. Well said.
great post, as always–
I prefer to call them readers versus fans. I have never been a fan, nor do I want fans. The whole fan thing is pathological, if you ask me. Yes, I would like people to read my works and and be moved by them one way or another, but that’s where it ends for me. Once you transcend that relationship then you compromise your muse, or at least that’s how it is for me. I cannot and will not let reader’s expectations dictate the course of my creativity, and I believe that’s what happens when you develop, inadvertently or not, a fan base. You become locked into a certain way, a way to which the fans have become accustomed, and thereafter become tethered to a hamster wheel that churns out one formulaic work after another. Sure, for some that may bring great riches, but for me that would be a creative prison. Stephen King, John Grisham and JK Rowling are but a few examples. Are these great writers? Certainly they are good and talented writers, but I don’t judge greatness by number of copies sold or number of novels penned. I determine greatness by how a novel moves me.
I do not believe in the adage “you get what you deserve” or “you reap what you sow.” Think about it. Did six million Jews deserve what they got during World War II? I surely hope your answer is no! Do you know the statistics on how many women are raped on any given day around the world? Are these women reaping what they’ve sown? I would think not!! For there to be true love, “me” has to be removed from the equation to the extent that’s possible. Do unto others still has “me” at the center. It says, “I want to treated nicely, so therefore I’ll treat others nicely.” The motivation puts “me” first.
We cannot control evil in the world. The world has goodness and it has evil. And yes, the Nazis were evil and many died. But countries also came together to destroy that evil and take measures to ensure it couldn’t happen again. Globally, we work to root out those who victimize the innocent. There was a time when women could be raped with no legal repercussions, and daily we strive to make those laws stronger. Suffering is part of life, but it’s also what generates positive change.
Had it not been for the Black Plague, we would never have had the Renaissance. When the plague wiped out over a third of the population, humans had to invent machines that could do the work that humans once did. This in turn spurred the invention of the printing press, the spread of literacy and scientific and artistic revolution the likes of which we’ve rarely seen. It dismantled the monarchy/serf system and paved the way for republic democracy.
Millions have died from cancer, yet now fewer die because we have treatments, chemo, surgeries, etc.
The innocent suffered, yes. But not needlessly. They brought about better change for future generations.
Yet, this discussion is a non sequitur. Writers who work hard, create art, learn their craft and engage with other human beings positively have a far better chance of success than writers who don’t want to read craft books and want to beat the snot out of people with book spam. Sow love because the world needs it, not out of selfish agenda, because then you aren’t sowing love anyway, you are sowing manipulation. If I only talk to people or am kind to people because I want something in return, I’m not sowing love, I’m sowing control.
Love does trump everything, and it doesn’t matter what a person’s religion is or isn’t. Love is universal and healing and protecting. Great post, as usual, Kristen. Thank you for sharing so much of you all the time.
What a beautiful article, Kristen! My daughter sent this to me. I too have had the same type of experiences as you. I was a teacher in the Barrio in East L.A. My students were all gang members. I loved them, and they loved me. It was as simple as that! Currently I’ve published my second book, a novel, and it’s about unconditional love…which is pretty much what you are about as well. Thank you so much for sharing your experience! Carol McKibben
Carol, this is just surreal. Are you sure we aren’t related? My married name is McKibben and my husband is from the LA area. Great to meet you and have so many McKibbens in one place…could be trouble ;).
What an extraordinary post, and wonderful discussion–thank you, Kristen! I do believe that we reap as we sow–and love your point about sowing love rather than manipulation. If we cast our love and respect for our fellow travelers like the “bread upon the waters,” without concern for if, how, where, or when it may come back to us, at the end of the road I do believe we’ll be able to look back on our lives and see that they were filled with love, small joys, and miracles even–and that we received more than enough loving sustenance to get us through those inevitable hard times, setbacks, and even evil doings. And if not in this lifetime, then the next 🙂 Becoming a loving soul is a little like becoming a writer, I guess — lots of hard work, plenty of stumbles, but worth it for those breakthrough moments of clarity!
Moved as heck by this post Kristen – you are so right in so many ways. Thanks for this. (I also read the Turow piece and thought your response was spot-on. New paradigms call for new tactics.) Great stuff all around. 🙂
Great post! The first comment, on Paolo Coelho reminded me of the Grateful Dead. In the days when the norm was to forbid recording at concerts, they set aside taper sections at all their shows, and let some of the fans plug into the soundboards. They encouraged an active online trading of concert tapes, yet never lacked for sold-out shows and multi-million copy sales of their albums.
People paid for a concert to get a free recording on tape. The people still paid to get the recording.
I love your blog. It always makes me feel good inside. I have unsubscribed from a few lately because, as a writer, I can’t afford to read a blog that’s going to have me asking ‘what’s the point?’ Thanks for all the great pep talks lately. You keep me going. Please don’t stop.
Thank you, Kristen. You said it so well. What an encouragement!
This is so lovely! This is the kind of connection I want to have with the people in my community, and the potential readers out there…why do we write if not to have a meaningful connection and exchange? Thank you for such an inspiring way to start my day!
I love your story about he gang member neighbors. 🙂
Hey Kristen do you know about Jacob Holdt? He’s a danish amateaur photographer who traveled in America and made the series “American Pictures” of the black, american slum. I was at one of his lectures and he told us about how he was friends with all kinds of people – that some of his friends had been people who first tried to roll him. But with kindness he turned the world around. It was pretty crazy. And I understand your point better and better each day. I personally want to support the people who teach me things, as well.
I so agree, if you download a pirated copy you probably wouldn’t have paid for it anyway or couldn’t afford to, so no loss of sale, but maybe you’ll just mention to someone else how fabulous the book/film/song was and they’ll buy it.
And most of us have checked out books from the library for FREE that we loved so much we bought our own. I still get $1 books from Half-Price Bookstore and if I love the book, I order it full-price so the author gets paid. FREE can be very useful for converting new fans who will happily buy.
The diversity of responses here testifies to the power of this post. “Love trumps laws” speaks to the heart of a legalistic vs. philanthropic approach to the world. I know you were writing about writing, but this makes me think about Gandhi. Leading with the heart actually IS the best utilitarian politics–as long as you are willing to risk and even to suffer.
I inspired reading your blog; you should felt love with someone you like.