I attempted to write a blog post, using my 34 years in public relations to help Faleena Hopkins fix this ridiculous and dangerous situation that will impact creatives for many, many years. Why? I can’t stop thinking about how she grossly underestimated the solidarity of the romance writing community, how she continues to assert she is just trying to protect her brand, how she continues to believe she is right. Then I remember the last 34 years and it all clicks into place. I’ve seen this scenario before . . . so many, many times before . . .
Starts blog post: You can’t stay quiet anymore.
Stops blog post: You should be writing your book instead of throwing unsolicited advice to someone who will never read it or take it.
Restarts: Self, you spent three decades in PR. Those 34 years of working in the most cynical, hard, arrogant, well-intentioned, mistake-prone place in the world called Washington, DC has to do some good.
Stops: And be seen as helping the enemy? Just go back to writing. You’re behind on your deadline, ya know.
Restarts: Everyone can be redeemed. Besides it might help someone else who falls into a similarly horrendous, completely-self-made, reputation f*ck up scenario like FH has created.
Stops: Elizabeth, you are being a pollyanna. She won’t listen. Narcissists never do.
Restarts: But this whole bloody mess could be turned around. I mean, to a point. She could at least reach the level of indifference.
Stops: Too many people will never forgive her. It’s a waste of time.
Restarts: The public has an enormous capacity to forgive—if you ask for it.
Stops:: Oh, come on. She seems to have crossed that line. Ya’ know the one that all humans have but rarely get to? The line where “being right” becomes more important than “being happy?” You’ve seen this before. Lordy, have you seen this before! They dig in their heels and double down on their stance in an attempt to further prove they are right even if the outcome is clearly going to show they are wrong.
Restarts: FH has dug in her heels so far she’s up to her ass in dirt. Help the poor woman save herself.
Stops: The steps are too hard. Most people, and certainly not someone like who FH has shown herself to be, won’t do the things you’d suggest.
Restarts: Listen, self, you really should support all the other authors who have stuck their necks out on this thing, like writing cocky-titled and cocky-themed books, with what you can contribute—PR advice. You can at least tell them what you’d tell FH if she’d listen, which is to:
1) Stop talking about it.
2) Start breathing — and thinking. Stop reacting.
3) Identify what she really wants from her life and her work.
4) Apply to rescind the TM on the single word, cocky, but keep the series TM.
5) Ask for forgiveness for all that came before this moment, and DO NOT say a word about angry responses. Be sure to say she made a mistake, and that she’s sorry. Like, really sorry and that she hopes others can forgive her.
6) Ask for forgiveness from the specific authors, attorneys and the publicist she’s gone after and not expect said forgiveness but rather hope for indifference. In fact, consider covering their legal bills.
7) Offer to help/financially support the Romance Writers of America (RWA) and the Authors Guild so they can work with the PTO in changing their policies so individual words remain in the public domain.
8) Find a tribe of authors who can provide future advice on what to do/not do so she’ll never, ever end up here again. Hold them close. Above all else, listen to them.
9) Ride off into the sunset to make her movies or whatever the hell number 3 is but remembering number 4
10) Understand none of this is guaranteed to work but worth trying anyway. What isn’t a reputation worth?
Stops: Take your own advice, Elizabeth, especially step 3. Go back to writing your own books. Support RWA and the Authors Guild in having that talk with the PTO about removing the ability for an individual, non profit, corporation or governmental body to “own” a word. Buy all the cocky books written by other authors that you can get your hands on.
Oh, and if FH does take the advice above? Forgive her.
But only if she asks for it.