I don’t want to get drawn into my first shitstorm fight on the internet, but I had to share this here:
This is a blog post from The Passive Voice blog about a former micropress that is trying to raise money to repay its authors their missed royalties.
First, DO NOT CONTRIBUTE TO THIS CAMPAIGN.
Because the person behind it has shown quite clearly in the comments section of that blog that they see nothing wrong with taking money from others.
The gist of the situation seems to be this: A woman started a micropress. She, out of the goodness of her heart and a passion for helping her friends, agreed to publish some of their books. All of the money for all of the books (the public domain ones she was profiting from and her friend’s books) was always paid in one lump sum. Shit happened. More shit happened. LOTS of shit happened. People stopped buying as many of the public domain books she was publishing. Revenues went down. She struggled to pay her bills.
So, what did she do?
She decided to keep all of the payments coming in. ALL of them. Even the ones that rightfully should’ve been passed along to her friends.
Why? Well, there was a lot of shit happening in her life. She needed to pay her bills.
Still does it would seem. Because in the comments to that blog she admits that she’s still keeping all of the payments that come in.
But, hey, out of the goodness of her heart she’s now giving away e-books to strangers to raise money to pay back all of those people.
Isn’t that great?
First, she freely admits that she’s barely making ends meet. So, what’s to keep her from paying all of her bills first with the funds received and then only later paying off those friends of hers?
They’ll understand, they’re friends. I mean, they forced her into publishing for them, didn’t they? So they can wait for her next fundraiser, right?
And, like she said in the comments, she needs to get that oxygen mask on herself first, right?
Second, if she didn’t have the time to compute payout amounts for one year worth of payments why on earth would anyone believe that she’s going to sit down and calculate payments for ten years worth of payments? And actually make them to however many authors she’d have to pay.
She’s stressed. Life sucks.
So, why believe that she’s going to change?
(Oh, but she still has plenty of time to respond to that blog post and to be an active participant on at least one author forum. Interesting that.)
It’s not going to happen. She is not going to pay those people back.
Read those comments. This is not someone who has even accepted responsibility for what they’ve done.
She STOLE from her friends. She can give as many justifications as she wants. But she basically admitted in those posts that she got overwhelmed, couldn’t be bothered to figure out what was owed to her and what was owed to them, so she took it all.
She could’ve made an estimate based on past experience and set aside 5% or 10% or 15% or whatever it was.
But, no. She just took it all.
Yes, times were hard.
Yes, not stealing from others might have resulted in misfortune for her.
But she consciously, knowingly made a choice to take money that she knew was not hers. It’s called misappropriation.
And it happens because people engage in the type of thinking in that thread.
“Things are hard. If I don’t do this I will be [insert chosen terrible consequence here].”
Why am I reacting so negatively to this?
Because I have seen it happen far too many times in my day job.
I have seen customers victimized by someone in a position of trust. Seen them talked out of their life savings. Bankrupted.
All by people who were “nice” people. “Good” people. Likeable people. (That’s kind of a prerequisite of the successful fraudster. People don’t give money to mean people the way they do to nice people.)
What did all of these nice, good people have in common? A belief that their own personal well-being mattered more than the well-being of anyone else. So, they cajoled and convinced and misrepresented and justified their way to theft.
And if often happens by people like “us”. It’s called affinity fraud. Someone becomes part of a community and preys upon its members. Church members. Members of ethnic communities.
Authors, it would seem.
NEVER give money to someone who admits to having taken from others because they were desperate and who doesn’t admit that it was wrong. Sure, people make mistakes. And people can change.
But show me in those comments where that woman has changed. Show me where she feels remorse or shame for taking what was not hers.
I don’t see it.
She could easily have done this with a lawyer who would’ve appropriately handled the funds. She isn’t.
Shame on her.
And shame on IndieGoGo for supporting a campaign like this.