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!