Sorry I’m A Douche

Earlier this week I was pretty pumped about helping with the Movember campaign.  Now I just feel sick.

I was doing my rounds of the blogs when I ran across a post about sleazy book marketing tactics, and the second tactic they mentioned was donating a portion of book sales to charity.

The writer specifically targeted authors who announce a special offer on their books in support of a charity.  His exact words were, “…there’s an invisible line between using your work to help a good cause, and using a good cause to sell more books.”  Relenting, he did mention he thought it was okay if the author’s personal story was somehow related to the cause in question, or if it was a community effort.

I thought I was doing a good thing by advertising that I’d donate half my November book royalties to the Cancer Society.  I’m part of Bloggers for Movember, and cancer looms larger in my personal story than I’d prefer, but that post still hit me like a kick in the gut.

What kind of slimy, contemptible douche would exploit a charitable cause for their own personal gain?

Is that what I’m doing?

When I read that post, I felt as if I’d just mugged a cancer patient for lunch money.

I still feel awful.

My mom died of lymphoma when I was nineteen.  Anybody who’s lost a loved one to cancer knows how it ends:  the naked scalp, the bruised and jaundiced skin, the stick-like limbs, the sunken eyes and distended belly.  She had been a slim, attractive, athletic woman.  When she died ten months after her diagnosis, she was barely recognizable.

My dad was successfully treated for prostate cancer.  My aunt survived an intestinal tumour.  My step-mom is just recovering from her recent (and successful) fight against breast cancer.  Pretty much every year, my doc removes some bit of my skin that’s starting to look “suspicious”.

I’ve donated regularly to the Cancer Society for nearly three decades.  Often it wasn’t a lot, but even when I could barely make ends meet, I usually managed to send a few dollars their way.

Exploiting Movember wasn’t my intention.

I didn’t mean to be a douche.

But I really feel like one.


45 thoughts on “Sorry I’m A Douche

  1. I fall off the Internet for a few weeks and suddenly you’re a douche? I don’t think so! Sorry to hear how closely you’ve been tied to this disease – that’s awful, and good for you for helping to do something about it.


  2. It’s the motive that decides whether you’re a douche or not. Since your motivation is pure and personal, you’ve got nothing to worry about 🙂

    Sorry about your mom, I’ve lost my dad to lung cancer 8 years ago (I was 22), so I know a bit about how it feels.

    If it makes you feel any better, I used Movember as an excuse to not only grow a moustache but release two blog posts about it last year. Are you calling me a douche?! ARE YOU?! Oh, you are…well, OK then. Point taken!


  3. I totally think you’re a douche.
    JK. I just couldn’t think of anything to say that hadn’t been said already. My perception is that you are not a douche. And I am an excellent judge of character. Except in dogs. Specifically bulldogs.


  4. So true!!!!!!
    You are *not* a douche! It’s always the intention of the act that matters Diane. I am learning that intention is the key to most any act. And your intention was not to exploit the movement for cancer, and it comes across as that.:)


  5. I agree with everybody else–so NOT a douche. Not sure who wrote that article, but I would never have thought that, and it’s the first I’ve heard of such an association. Businesses make offers to donate a portion of profits to charities all the time (think of the yoplait and breast cancer donations). I’m sure if you took a poll, the vast majority would believe there was nothing wrong with what you did. On the contrary, it’s generous and helps spread the word about cancer. Carry on!


  6. You are NOT……don’t listen to that asshole…….we have all had to deal with it in more than one way, I don’t know anyone who had not dealt with cancer in there lives….. You Are great, don’t let him make you feel bad.


    • Thanks for the support, Jill. I don’t think he was an asshole; I think his intentions were good and he was trying to prevent obnoxious hard-sell tactics and PR stunts. He did say he didn’t have a problem with this type of promotion under certain conditions.

      It’s just that it had never occurred to me that anybody might see my book offer as exploitation, and I was sick at the thought.

      But I’m feeling much better now – thanks for the virtual hugs.


  7. Hi Diane.

    There’s always someone who will twist everything. Forget the douche who thinks there’s an invisible line between a good cause and selling more books – there isn’t, it’s a visible as hell.

    Intention makes all the difference. You’re doing the right thing for the right reasons – blogging, raising awareness, and raising money.

    Forget him and mo-ve on 🙂



    • Thanks, Nigel. I’m feeling better about this now. I’m glad my book offer doesn’t seem to have been taken as a cheesy PR stunt by anybody who’s been kind enough to comment. I shall take your advice and get mo’ posts ready. 🙂


  8. Your heart is in the right place and you’re helping a more than worthy cause. I applaud your generosity. Like you, a number of close relatives suffered the grips of cancer. Some survived. Some did not. What you’re doing is totally noble. Thanks.


    • Thank you, and I’m sorry for your losses to cancer. I hope some day soon our medical technology advances to the point where a diagnosis of cancer is an inconvenience instead of a terrifying life-or-death crapshoot.


  9. Excuse me, but were you intending to tell everyone you would donate half your November royalties to the Cancer Society and then keep all the money yourself? Because THAT would make you a douche. Otherwise, I’d say what you’re doing is just a damn nice gesture. The Cancer Society comes out ahead. How can that be douche-y?


  10. I have a hard time imagining that there’s a lot of people out there saying “well, I wasn’t GOING to read this lady’s books, but now that I see she’s donating to cancer sure.”

    If you were picturing lots of people doing that, and you raking in the dough accordingly, when you made the decision, that would be a little douchey (also overly optimistic, especially as regards other people’s charitable inclinations).

    If you were just looking for a way to help out that raised a little money and let your name to some awareness-raising, then that’s definitely non-douchey.

    Encouraging men to grow mustaches in the full awareness that some of them will grow douchey little faux-retro hipster ‘staches, now…that’s a gray area that you’ll just have to wrestle with.

    But I wouldn’t worry about the charity thing.


  11. As everyone already pointed out, I dont think anyone buys books strictly for that reason. Otherwise they could easily donate direct. (Personally i usually do that when i see something i want to support) I really don’t see it as any different from Tims giving portions of their sales to kids camps or McDonalds to their charities. It doesn’t make you a douche, just brings attention to the cause you are trying to support. Although you are my favorite auntie so really I’m kind of biased 😀


  12. I agree with BigSheepCommunications: people do not buy a book to donate to a charity. If that’s what they wanted to do, they would donate directly and not through buying a book.
    I think people are quite capable to distinguish between writers that do use a good cause to sell more books, and writers that use their book sales to donate.
    You shouldn’t worry about it, there is always someone that disagrees and through blogging anyone can get their opinion out there. Just stick to your own goals and let no one tell you differently. They could just be wrong…


  13. People don’t buy books because part of the proceeds go to charity, it just gives them a little lift to know they’re helping out when they’re buying something they want to buy anyway. Don’t let one little blogger bully you into feeling bad about doing something good : )


  14. You are not a douche! You are a talented author and a charitable person who is combining those two qualities into something even more powerful.

    Furthermore, the cause is deeply personal to you, and the writer of the article said it himself- “he thought it was okay if the author’s personal story was somehow related to the cause in question”

    I plan on donating royalties from my novels to charities and causes of my choice, and letting people know that’s what I’m doing. I don’t even care whether I’ll be perceived as not being personally connected to the charities and causes. They will be getting donations because of me. That’s a good thing.

    What you’re doing is awesome. I don’t see a thing wrong with it. You rock, Diane!


  15. You were absolutely NOT being a douche, Diane. At ALL. Anyone who knows you would know that your intent was absolutely well-intentioned and not at all meant as an exploitative thing. I thought it was a very nice gesture, personally. It would never have occurred to me to think that you were trying to capitalize on a charitable cause. Big hug, my non-douchey friend.


  16. Diane,
    I wasn’t aware of that article. And I do not think you’re exploiting anyone, nor a cause. Your motives are noble, and I do think you are helping raising awareness and funds for important causes (I do not think there is a lesser cause, though-all causes should have the proper support, it keeps us moving forward).

    I can only thank you for being incredibly generous. I think this is a post Adam Garone himself should see, and I will send it to him.

    Diane, props and kudos all around. You’re making a huge difference.
    Le Clown


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