Filed under: Art, Book Conservation, Feedback, General Musings, Marketing, Society | Tags: art, blogging, book conservation, bookbinding, feedback, honesty, integrity, jim downey
This framed item has been on the wall of my bindery (at various locations) since I started work in 1992:
Here’s the same text, taken from the Services Offered page of my business website:
I am dedicated to preserving the legacy of books and documents that we have inherited. To the best of my knowledge and ability I use techniques and materials that will last for generations. Whenever possible, the materials are of archival quality: acid-free and buffered papers & board, inert and reversible adhesives, unbleached linen thread, et cetera. The techniques I use for binding and conservation work are likewise archivally oriented, non-damaging, and reversible in the event the book or document requires additional attention in the future. All work is, of course, unconditionally guaranteed.
That last line sometimes surprises people. But it is extremely important, and has stood me in very good stead over the years I have been in business. As I told a client by email this morning, concerning work on a recently-completed project (a 1910 D.A.R. charter on natural vellum which had been poorly framed and stored):
Well, I’ve done all that can be done, I think. The document is flat, the remaining wrinkling is where it was once wet and then dried in contact with the glass.
But as it says on my website: my work is unconditionally guaranteed. I want to wait until you have a chance to see the condition of the charter, and if you’re not satisfied with the work, just don’t send me payment (or if payment has already been sent, I’ll hold onto the check until you have the charter and can judge for yourself). Seriously, it is much more important to me that you be satisfied with the work than the few hours of labor I have invested in this project. I have always operated by this policy, and it has been by far the best thing for my customers and reputation.
You might think that people would take advantage of such a policy to try and screw me out of deserved payment. And maybe a couple have in my 23+ years of business. But I think the vast majority of people are honest and well-intentioned; if I think that a client isn’t trustworthy, I just don’t take the job. That has probably filtered out a few potential problems. And the others I chalk up to being a cost of doing business. Because when I tell a client that if they are not satisfied with the work, and I will either do what is necessary to make them satisfied or there’s no charge, they see that I’m not trying to cheat them in any way. And having that reputation as a craftsman is priceless.
Recently I was helping out a local NFP arts organization, by getting information together for some renovation work they need to have done. I met with several contractors, walked them through the facility so they could see the scope of the work, and then asked them to provide estimates for what needed to be done and at what cost, so that the NFP Board and Executive could seek funding.
With the first two contractors, things went exactly as expected. However, when the third contractor went through the facility, he saw something which caught his attention and he started reconsidering the whole project (one of the other contractors had noticed the same thing and remarked on it, but didn’t investigate further). By the time we were done, he turned to me, shook his head and said something along the lines of: “I’m going to talk myself out of a job, but I think that the problem you’re having isn’t the one you think you’re having. I think you should get a qualified structural engineer in to do a formal check, but I don’t think you need me to do the work you asked me to bid on. That’s just a symptom of what is really going on, and it’d be cheaper and easier to correct the actual source of the trouble.”
This was a construction job which was going to run into the low five-digits, so it wasn’t just some little thing. For a small contractor, walking away from that sort of job isn’t done lightly. Particularly when it would have been very easy for him to just bid, do the work, and then figure the repairs would hold up long enough that nothing would come back to haunt him in the future.
That, my friends, is integrity.
I reached out my hand to the contractor, thanked him for his honesty, and told him that from now on if I knew of anyone who needed the kind of work done that he did, that I would have no hesitation in recommending him as honest and trustworthy.
That’s why I have the policy I do for my conservation work. And yeah, I am convinced that it is far and away the best possible policy I could have.
Filed under: Amazon, Connections, Feedback, Kindle, Marketing, Publishing, Science Fiction | Tags: Amazon, art, blogging, Communion of Dreams, direct publishing, feedback, jim downey, Kindle, reviews, Science Fiction, writing
Two new reviews of Communion of Dreams:
on March 23, 2015Very well written..kudos to author. Just like seeing an engrossing sci-fi movie. Time flies as you turn the pages in this book!
on March 17, 2015An excellent new version of a future, well presented, lots of new ideas and interesting characters Enjoyed not being able to predict what was going to happen next!
Agree? Disagree? Nah, don’t tell me — go write a review yourself! After all:
Filed under: Feedback, Podcast, Society, Survival, Violence, Writing stuff | Tags: belief, blogging, feedback, jim downey, loss, podcast, This I Believe, violence, writing
The folks at This I Believe have now put up the audio of me reading my essay “The Power to Forget“, as part of having it included in their weekly featured essay podcast, as I mentioned previously was in the works.
And I’d like to ask a favor: if you know of someone who might benefit from this essay, please share it with them.
No, not for any benefit to me. I’m not above self-promotion, but that isn’t why I ask for your help in this case. A decade ago when I wrote that essay, I had hoped that it might help others navigate through their own anger and loss. I thought that it had just disappeared into the foam of internet verbiage, until the people at This I Believe contacted me the beginning of this year. And now it feels somewhat like it has a second chance to do some good.
I don’t expect it to work miracles. Each of us who has suffered a loss — whether of a loved one, or our health, or our dreams, or an opportunity — have to deal with that loss in our own way. But it’s sometimes good to know what path others have taken, what worked for them. So maybe my essay will help someone.
Filed under: Google, Science Fiction, Travel, Writing stuff | Tags: blogging, excerpt, feedback, Google Streetview, jim downey, Science Fiction, St. Cybi's Well, Stonehenge, travel, writing
As he crossed the earthen ditch which surrounded the stones some 20 meters out, following the usual paved walking path, he noticed that the shaping of the sound somehow changed. Perhaps it was the mass of bodies crowding in around the stones. But it seemed less to be coming from one particular place, and more like it was just coming up from the ground all around him. Then he stepped off the path, and onto the grass, and he could feel the sound more than hear it. It strummed through his heels, up his legs, vibrations caressing his entire body. It was the springiness, the resonance, which he had felt at St David’s, but infinitely stronger.
Stronger, and shared. Shared, he knew, by every person who walked this ground. By every person who had ever walked this ground. It was as though the earth itself were a drum, and this the taut, shimmering skin which they skittered across.
Slowly he made his way into the circle, almost in a daze. Others moved past and around him, making contact, sharing a smile, a laugh, tears. He had never before been this close to the stones, had never come on those rare occasions when the site was open this way. They seemed impossibly tall, impossibly old. He stepped past the first great upright before him, then paused, and gingerly reached out to touch it. Cold stone, rough weathered, aged lichens. A woman standing next to him had her eyes closed, the palms of her hands also on the stone, and for a moment he felt her mind there, the contact of lovers sharing a glimpse of the eternal. It caught his breath, he stepped back, turned in slight embarrassment and stepped further into the circle. Further into the crowd.
Now the press of people was greater. There were people everywhere, holding hands, praying, chanting, caressing. They were on the fallen stones, pressed up against the standing sarsens, moving. He felt himself drawn further in, pulled in by the sound vibrations filling the space, which became deeper and stronger with every step. He passed the inner sarsen, stood there in the inner circle, the sanctum sanctorum, the Garbha griha, the sacred center of everything.
I’m at that point in the novel where I have lost track of how it is going. Whether any of this is any good. Whether it will just confuse and disappoint my readers. Whether it is worth continuing.
This happens. I know it. I have been in this place before. And when self-confidence fails, only my self-discipline gets me past the lurking paralysis. Chapter 12 is almost finished. Momentum continues.
Filed under: Alzheimer's, Amazon, Connections, Feedback, Humor, Kindle, Marketing, movies, Privacy, Promotion, Publishing, Science Fiction, Violence, Writing stuff | Tags: Alzheimer's, Amazon, blogging, Communion of Dreams, direct publishing, feedback, free, Her Final Year, humor, introvert, jim downey, John Bourke, Kindle, literature, Monty Python, movies, privacy, promotion, reviews, Science Fiction, This I Believe, violence, writing
Today’s the official Third Anniversary for the publication of Communion of Dreams, and in celebration, you can download the Kindle edition today for free! Who doesn’t like free? I mean, yeah, sure, if someone walks up to you and offers you a free punch in the nose, you might not like it, but other than that …
Sorry I haven’t posted much lately. I was honestly surprised when I looked and saw that the last blog entry was ten days ago. I haven’t been ill, or traveling, or anything. But after I recorded the essay for “This I Believe” I was feeling very … quiet. As I explained to a friend:
It may be hard to understand, and I didn’t make a big deal out of it, but it (recording the essay) was actually a very hard thing for me to do. It wasn’t just any essay or promotional piece I’d written, not like doing interviews or anything. The essay was powerful because of the emotions behind it — I’m certain that’s why it has resonated for people. But that same source of power cuts very deep for me. Particularly after the stuff last month, it took a hell of a lot for me to come to terms with it all again, and to do so in such a public fashion.
You probably wouldn’t think so from reading this blog (or the book which came out of it), but I am actually a very private and introverted person by nature. My writing has always been a way for me to push myself out of my comfort zone, to force myself to be somewhat more public, more sharing. And it’s worked. Mostly. But there are still times when I just need to withdraw, to recover my energy and self-confidence. This last week+ has been one of those times.
Thanks for understanding. Now, go download that book if you haven’t already.
Filed under: Art, Harry Potter, Humor, Writing stuff | Tags: art, blogging, Communion of Dreams, direct publishing, feedback, Harry Potter, Her Final Year, humor, jim downey, This I Believe, Wikipedia, writing
Or perhaps I just won’t be allowed in the Headless Hunt anymore …
Ah well. Fame is fleeting. Such is life.
Oh, I recorded the essay this morning. It seemed to go well. I’ll post a link when it is ready.