By DAVID GREEN
Thirteen years ago I wrote a column about the self-publishing book industry. It was just last week that I heard from one of the people that I sort of made fun of.
An author named Kathlyn Hinesley wrote to tell me I spelled her name incorrectly. If my spelling—Kathleen—is used in a Google search, a convicted felon comes up and that, she assures me, is not her.
Here is how her letter begins:
“I came across a pretty serious mistake in a 2007 article of yours, which included mention of me (with my name spelled incorrectly) and the title of my ‘wacky book’ ‘Welcome to Infinity: Exploring Ancient and Modern Technology for Collaborating With Otherworldly Beings,’ which I self published with Trafford.”
She is incorrect about the date—my column was published Dec. 24, 2002—however, she is correct that I referred to her book as wacky. That's a rather narrow-minded thing to say about a book that I've never actually read. You know the old saying, "Don't judge a book by its cover," or in this case, by its title. Maybe it's a completely un-wacky thing to collaborate with otherworldly beings. Kathlyn obviously knows some stuff that has eluded me.
Anybody can publish a book these days for a pretty attractive price. I have received dozens and dozens of book reviews over the years from self-publishing companies trying to push their new authors. Reading some of the titles and descriptions reminds me how true it is that anybody can easily become a published author.
"For as little as 499 U.S. dollars," I wrote in 2002, "anybody can fill a shelf or closet with books that no one wants to read. But at least you’ll have the satisfaction of becoming a published author for the price of 20 cartons of quality cigarettes."
I added that I’m not faulting people for making this move. One of my favorite authors-thinkers-wanderers-naturalists, Henry Thoreau, would have made a good customer for the self-publishing industry. Henry died with most of his books still in his possession—unsold and largely ignored. It was only after his death that his writings became popular.
The same thing might be said for Kathlyn Hinesley. You never know, I wrote, Kathlyn's book might someday become a classic. Or, after she dies, perhaps her children will simply toss that wacky book their mother wrote.
I'm pleased that Kathlyn's letter never complained about the word "wacky." It was just the spelling of her name that rightfully troubled her.
Here's the author biography listed on her publisher's website: "Kathlyn Hinesley began to see and hear spirits as a child and channeled a spirit guide from the ages of 12 to 19." The book description says that she tackles questions related to life after death, spirit communication, shamanism, alien visitations, out-of-body travel, time travel, sacred sites, and the nature of reality itself.
I'm pretty accepting of people's interest in all things wacky. It's OK with me. I even use the label when talking about myself. If Kathlyn thinks the universe is "home to a variety of otherworldly beings existing at different frequencies of vibration," that's all right. I don't mind if she "explores ancient and modern techniques for communicating and collaborating with these beings, and traveling to their realms," but I’m still going to use the word "wacky."
Rick Ramsey of Kozmic Engine says her book is “the hard science of the future." My Google search fails to track down Rick from Kozmic.
Kathlyn was pretty miffed that I got her name wrong and she let me know about it on Christmas Eve when she was apparently Googling herself.
"In this day and age I think we can all safely worry about mistakes like these when it comes to Internet presence. Both of my names (first and last) are extremely uncommon. Periodically, when I search for myself on the internet, 'Kathleen's' mugshot comes up. Mistakes like these are quite worrying."
"For God's sake," Kathlyn ended, "please be more careful next time."
A few years from now, on another Christmas Eve Googling session, I suppose she’ll find out if I was.