Writing ebooks has changed a lot since the 80’s

Ahh…I remember it so clearly, back in the 80’s…

I’d just gotten home from school, sat down on my Commodore 64 and brought up Amazon (formerly called “river-in-south-america.com”) to check my sales report: 20 downloads!  Where did they come from?  Back then, we didn’t have any cool sales statistics like KDP does today. You know, with that tiny little map and lightly shaded areas indicating that humans with ebooks had at one time downloaded something.  And Google wasn’t Google back then, it was simply called “a-whole-bunch.com.”  Still, it was all we had, and we were happy to have it.

So anyway, I pulled up A-Whole-Bunch and clicked around with my joystick and guess what? Turns out Michael Jackson, fresh from his Victory Tour, had been Tweeting (Twatting) and Digging (called Dig-Dugging) and Tumbling-Upon (Nudging-Along) all day long, telling people it was awful and not to buy it!  Apparently he’d downloaded a very early, incredibly preliminary version of Kick, which I’d uploaded before it was ready because I heard you could make millions of dollars (hundreds, in 80’s money).  Back then, the working title was “Bop.”  At the time, I  thought it was best not to respond to critics so I ignored Michael Jackson’s attacks.

Maybe a day later, a strange man in a suit showed up at my house and demanded I come out.

“What do you want?” I said.

“I demand that you take “Bop” off of river-in-south-america.com immediately! ” he said.

“And why would I do that?”

“Copyright infringement, you pathetic fool!”

“Who’s copyright am I infringing upon?” I said.

The man laughed mysteriously, adroitly, and emphatically all at the same time, then switched to a maniacal laugh that set my teeth on the edge of my seat, causing my eyes to drop in mesmerizing, ecstatic, anticipatory wonder at him.

“Funny you should ask,” he said. Then he spun around three times, whipped off his glasses and coat, still spinning, and a wind picked up outside and suddenly he was Michael Jackson, hands spread out to his side, yelling, “Hee heeeeeee!

“Wow,” I said.  “You’re Michael Jackson!”

“Shamon,” he said.

“So how am I copyright infringing you?”

“I’m the King of Pop…the name of your book is Bop–it’s too similar.”

“What if I changed it to ‘Beat?'” I said.

“Nice try–my biggest hit was Beat It.”

I thought about it.

“How about Kick?”

He did that kicky move thing he always does and I rolled my eyes.  “Ok, yeah, you got that too.”

“Hey,” he said.  “Why don’t you call it–Hee heeee!

I blinked at him.  “But I thought that was one of your little catchphrase things?”

“No, not ‘Hee heeeee,’ I meant to say–Hee heeeeeee!

Now I was really confused. He’d just said he didn’t mean “Hee heeeee,” and then he’d suggested I use “Hee heeeee.”

“But you just said…”

Hee heeeeee!” he said again.  “Can’t Hee heeeeee! say anything Hee heeeeeeeee! else because Hee heeeeeeeee!”

And suddenly it was clear to me what was going on.

“Come on in, Mike,” I said.

I sat him down, got him a Coke (he flinched when I offered Pepsi), put on his Thriller video, we watched it, it scared him, Heeeeee-cups cured, he said I could call the book “Kick,” and I rushed this blog post to it’s happy/sad/laughed/cried/amazing yet subtle conclusion, with very little editing, and hit “Publish.”


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