Blast. Here I’d come home last night emboldened and restored by having sold an eBook in Australia, yay! Then this morning, I noticed the royalty had disappeared from the KDP data and, to my utter disappointment, the sale had been “refunded.” I’ve experienced three of these so-called refunds – once for an eBook in Germany, another for an audiobook in the U.K. and now this. I scratch my head. With the “Look Inside” function available that allows somebody to read significantly large portions of the text prior to purchase, what in hell would prompt somebody to indeed go through the process of reading or listening, click the buy button, pay for the thing, receive it and only then become so unhappy with it that they request a refund? Who the f*ck requests a refund on a book to begin with? I like to believe they aren’t finding a way to steal it but how to rationalize this stuff?
I don’t know. I’ll never understand the epub culture to begin with – how anyone can enjoy a novel as an eBook is beyond me. By the same token, I appreciate that sometimes it’s all about the money. I have spent years borrowing books from the library that I would rather have purchased because the money has not been there. Cheap reads and all that. But goddamn $5.99? Albeit a little more, perhaps, in Australian dollars. You don’t have a sense that you got that much value out of the purchase? Jeezus.
I see it at the home improvement all the time, this cheapskate (I’m going to call it that), I want my petty cash back bullshit. It’s exemplified at worst by the weird morons who insist upon pilfering plumbing fittings or whatever else that amounts to pocket change. Stealing stuff. It’s beyond me. I’ve discovered tiny little packets of silicone O-rings, for example, in the return bin and sometimes, when I’m feeling curious, I take a second to count the parts and damned if there isn’t one or two missing. So, buddy, you had to yank out what you needed and either return the thing as whole or just stand there in the store and steal them out of the package and toss it aside? You can’t pay a measly f*cking goddamn dollar for that? Or two or three? Meanwhile, all the returns that glut the end of my workday. I have to put all this nickel and dime product – again, a dollar here and five bucks there – back on the shelves. Money is money, I get it, I’ve returned a couple plumbing fittings in my day but they cost me closer to ten bucks.
Anyway, I don’t know, it just sucks. Did somebody manage to steal this copy from me? Are they the type that finds a way to copy an eBook to something else besides a Kindle and then request a refund so as to get their freebie? I’m sure these folks are out there, the I-won’t-pay-for-my-books type. But if you read my blog at all you’ll know that you can get the eBook cheaper on this website – $2.99, almost a giveaway! – or, if you email me, I’ll just gift you a copy. Really. If you’re keen on reading it and really can’t get yourself to buy it or you really can’t afford it, I’m okay with making it happen. For the tribe, and all that, you know. I’m willing to risk being taken advantage of in this way.
Meanwhile, that a refund doesn’t completely shatter my soul or wreck my being or completely break my heart surprises me a little, I must say. I chew glass, yes. I’m hurt. But why aren’t I summarily crushed by a return? I don’t know for certain. Except that I suppose I appreciate to some extent the interest bestowed to even click on the book and then go to the trouble of buying it – it means something to me to escape oblivion even in this pathetic manner. That, and I simply do not know the circumstances of the purchase. I literally cannot know why it was refunded – there is nothing within KDP (besides a bad review, perhaps) that allows for that explanation to be communicated. Perhaps for the best. Meanwhile, my twenty-four hours of bliss from a sale has been snatched away from me and it makes me feel shitty.
I imagine a day when I’m selling my thirty-plus copies per day, every day, and a once-in-a-while “refund” wouldn’t mean a thing. Well, it will probably always be a disappointment. But someday, perhaps, when I’m no longer hinging upon onesie twosie pathetic-ness, when my sales somehow, someday attain something beyond the pitiful, if ever, gawd, fuck it. It feels like winter in my heart.
But then again, somehow it steels my resolve, too. Quenching a heated blade in water can further harden it, after all. In other words, not for a moment do I really believe that TC1 deserves a refund. Hell no! That it’s a silly cheapskate and insensitive thing to ask an artist-craftsman for a refund when you investigate their work goes without saying. And that, as I just said, you had a chance to read half the damn novel before buying transforms the transaction into absurdity. Go away – I don’t want your type as a damn customer. You’re enticed by something but then can’t work through your own mixed experience? The hell with you. I know what’s good and TC1 is good.
So, there. I am a professional. Intuitively. Because rejection in my biology, within the context of my true work, at least, immediately transforms, mostly in spite of myself, thank heaven, in alchemical style into more faith in what I do and more drive to deliver it to the world. I will not be denied. You’ll have to kill me.
Hey, Nick? You’ve done well to discuss your own sense of doubt and likewise to express your insights into it symptoms or manifestations. In your long and shamelessly and courageously openhearted career, you must have encountered the refund mentality. How do you cope with it?
Answer. Making the unconscious conscious in this way, perhaps akin to me writing things out, serves to alleviate the suffering and to get on with the properly productive, present and future oriented energies. The past is powerful, perhaps the most powerful thing in our lives besides our fears and it takes a lot to counterbalance its affect and effect.
It’s interesting how I don’t need to engage the real Nick Cave in order to benefit from his wisdom. I considered actually firing off a question to his Red Hand Files but then I realized it was just a silly and selfishly compulsive form of grasping and ultimately, manipulative. What kind of answer, anyway, did I expect? Any answer at all, was my first inclination. And what is that except a whiny type of PAY ATTENTION TO ME BECAUSE I’M SUFFERING obnoxiousness? I suppose it’s the kind of thing a successful art-crafter with a significant public career has to endure from their otherwise heedlessly neurotic fans, that’s all. It’s a price to pay for being a cosmic conduit of all of our personal mythologies. Energies of all types get fueled and released, it’s part of the game. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean I have to surrender to the impulse.
After all, Nick’s wisdom, clearly, if you connect with the man’s work, merely invokes the wisdom accessible within us all. If we let go and try to let it be. This may in fact indicate something of a particular work’s success. Certainly in mythological terms success can be measured in a thing’s access to or quality of invoking and evoking the best in things oftentimes, paradoxically of course, by way of its opposite. Namely, the dark, shadowy and unsightly energies we don’t like to admit are driving us from the backseat, so to say.
I recall Joe Jackson (and I may have written about this back when I read it a couple of years ago but it’s worth repeating) ranting about a concert goer (who happened to be from my hometown of Detroit) who had written him requesting a refund because, and I’m paraphrasing, I came to see your acerbic, biting and barbed more or less punkish energy on display for me, your Look Sharp persona as I see it and, well, where the hell was it? You gypped me. Out of yourself. Or myself. Or something. I WANT MY MONEY BACK.
I don’t recall how Joe responded to this guy, if he did, but it’s important that years had gone by and Joe, successful as he has been all these decades and having made all sorts of great records since Look Sharp and never getting hung up on repeating that gem – good for you – well, it still bothered him enough, this “I want a refund” attitude when you’ve given your all, that he had to comment on it. Because the negative sticks with you like gum on your shoe. It won’t go away. It takes a truckload of positives and fucking ten years and then not even to get over some of these slights, these stings, these wrongs that life insists upon wronging you with. I get it. Boy, do I.
I arrive, then, at the end of this post (because damn the torpedoes I intend to post this) with a renewed sense of galvanized purpose in all things Time Crime and authorpreneurship-oriented and thank you, thank you, thank you, dear reader in Australia who did not like the book or just decided against it, I don’t know and I don’t need to. With all sincerity I thank you for giving my work a shot; for paying attention to it, to making an effort with it. There are so many things vying for our time and money, after all, I know. That I almost made it around the bases with you is a far, far better thing than nothing. Nothing is what sucks. And this wasn’t nothing.