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an open letter

Dear Friend,

Sorry it took so long to get back to you but I've been involved with an ongoing business situation for the last few days. That's why I sought your advice. But it seems the problem has resolved itself. Here's what happened:

Early last week I received an email from a photo editor for a German textbook manufacture. She told me an editor for the company had found a short story of mine on the internet and they wanted my permission to include it in an English language textbook for German 14 year olds. She sent a layout of the page and I noted several edits to the story. They offered $300 for the rights. I checked the company out on the internet, decided it looked legitimate, and accepted the offer. Then something suspicious happened.

The photo editor informed me that because of German/American tax laws I would have to give the company my ssn and/or my private banking information before I got the check. I refused. I told her that supplying that information was not part of our contract and that a deal as simple as ours did not require it. I reminded her I was not an employee of the company but a private contractor. She insisted.

I was frustrated so I went to the company website and emailed an company officer. I tried to explain the situation to him. The company officer wrote back and informed me I had two options: 1) Don't give them the information and then jump-through-hoops (my term, not his) to get the money or 2) give them the information and make it simple.

I thought it over and sent him the following email:

Dear Sir,

Thank you for your speedy reply. I've read your message and made a decision. I no longer desire any compensation from your company. I grant you my permission to use my story for USD 0.

I admit that all this business about publishing and money went to my head. I forget that I write all this stuff for the pure enjoyment of it. Making money was the last thing on my mind. In fact, the idea of it is laughable.

But now that our dispute is settled, I want to have a couple words with you, sir.

Let me remind you of the facts: YOU CONTACTED ME. YOU contacted me, sir. And then YOU made me a deal. And then YOU made me an offer. And I accepted YOUR offer, sir. Every detail of it. And then when the deal was done, what happened? YOU decided to complicate things!

Here's what I would do. I would tell ever prospective foreign author that doing business with your company might make them liable for taxes and therefore your company requires personal information. Period. End of problem.

A man is known by his actions, among other things. I don't know about you, sir, but I try to live an honorable life. I would never make a deal with someone...and then blind-side them. Not unless I just didn't give a damn.

I look forward to my copy of the textbook. Have a good day.


john. john doe.

What do you think, my friend? Will the company officer discover his manhood? Will he be able to make good on his company's contract and offer me the money along with a heartfelt apology?

Yeah, I doubt it too.

Thanks for looking this over. Write back if you have any comments.

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The following comments are for "The Love of Literature."
by johnjohndoe

No breath holding here
Yea...I agree I wouldn't be holding my breath either.

The writer did handle the situation in a way that showed he was a true lover of writing. It was an honorable thing to give up on the money. Smart person. The letter back was a stong, clear message as well.

( Posted by: TAMMYHENDRIX [Member] On: July 14, 2008 )

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