Friday, August 19, 2011

The Honor System

Or, the best things in life are free, but are only really worth it if you pay for them.

My husband and I were walking in Harvard Square last week, and we saw a table of books. The sign (above) (sorry the picture sucks!) explains that this "book store" has been around for 5 years. The prices are inside the books, and please deposit the right amount of money in the lock box. Such a cool indication of what this community is like.

Plus, free WiFi.

Okay, so the books above aren't free. You must use the honor system to own one. Some of the best communities work off this system. Take the kidlit blogging community. Everyone is welcome to join in the conversations, and there is so much information to take away. But you get the most out of the community if you are genuine, and take the risk to put yourself out there. The more you give back to the community, the richer your experience. You could take the information for 'free', but then you wouldn't get much else.

Same with crit partners--you must pay it back, or pay it forward to have supportive, lasting relationships.

The Tour de Writing was based on the honor system, and when I pressed most people about their totals, I found that they had short changed themselves, or were honest to a fault.

Speaking of the Tour, thanks so much for the awesome participation--and congrats to the winners! If you want to sign up for an email reminder for next year, please check out the Tour de Writing page above.

I also would love to continue doing my Friday Feature interviews, but lack the time to dedicate to the process. Since I want to focus more time writing, I created a page for people to sign up to be interviewed. There are no requirements--I would love to hear about your journey no matter where you are on your journey. Please feel free to fill out the form connected to the Friday Feature page above.

And, please feel free to pass the word on to others. It would help me immensely to not have to create lists and wonder if I already bugged a certain person about doing an interview for me. Here's a link to the interview page, or you can see it at the top of the blog. :) I apologize that I will do less reaching out to people, but I really need to write. And I really love the interviews.

Another Honor System project that was worth it's weight in gold? WriteOnCon. I hope everyone gave back in whatever way they could there, either by saying thanks to the gals that spent so much time and energy putting it on, or critting in the threads, or donating a little. I still can't believe the caliber of that "free" conference. I will be hanging out there soaking in all the things I missed over the next few weeks.

And, sometimes just joining in to the conversation is paying your dues. Check out Jon and Kris' thought provoking, "Where are The Gay Parents in Children's Literature?" blog series, continuing today.

What are your favorite ways to give back to this excellent on-line community? Do you think that most people honor the honor system?


  1. Wow, how cool that a bookstore can do that without worrying about books being stolen. You are the queen of giving back, Heather!

  2. Pretty much all of Cambridge is awesome. Somerville too. I wish I lived there.

  3. Hah! You're right about the honest to a fault thing. I went back and forth sooo much on Tour totals...I couldn't decide which type of writing I wanted to count. I'm happy for all the winners (though actually I think we all won by participating). Will sign up now for an interview. Thanks for contributing...I don't know WHAT I've given back...will think on that.

  4. I like spreading good news and doing posts on books I've read, critiquing queries and manuscripts as much as I can...It is a total honor system--giving is so energizing as you must know from all the people you've featured on your blog!! :-) :-) :-)

  5. I love the honor system and believe most people are honest. And I agree with Anna. You are extremely generous about giving and helping other writers. The Tour De Writing was awesome. I'm amazed at how motivating it was. When I joined, I had no hopes of placing. Just participating and making an effort to write more was worth it. What a nice surprise that I'm a winner. There's another example of your generosity, giving away awesome books. Also, giving of your time to run the contest while you were in a whirlwind of vacation activities! WTG, Heather. I'm glad you're going to focus more on your writing. The way you're going to do the interviews now sounds like a great idea.

  6. Anna--I think that book store is so cool. Love the Harvard Square area. Aww, thanks. Warm fuzzies.

    Matthew--I used to live in Somerville. Got lost every day. But I did love it!

    Anita--You've given back honesty, clarity, and a refreshingly down-to-earth way of looking at the publishing industry. That's worth its weight in gold.

    Paul--I agree that giving is energizing. I have to admit that when I do interviews, and critiques, I learn so much for doing them, that I don't think of it as giving back. :)

    Lynn--I hope people do take the initiative to sign up to the interviews. I would love it if people would spread the word. I am so glad that the Tour was a motivator for you! I enjoy doing these things so much, but now I do need to write. :)

  7. OMG! This is the best post you have ever written. I love the idea of the honor system, but it would never work around here.

  8. I love the honor system and giving back. I agree WriteOnCon organizers do that in a big way. I try in my own way by promoting other authors, especially debut authors.

    Good for you spending more time writing. Ineed to focus on that as well.

  9. The honour system is a fine idea but I suppose there will always be those dishonourable few who try to take advantage of it. Nevertheless I would encourage it because it brings out the best in most people. We give at church and it hurts a little bit, but we get more than we give. You cannot out give the Lord. I try to give honest contructive comments to people on the internet. My spouse, the education tipster, has a new children's book out and I support her any way I possibly can, down to the smallest detail.

  10. Absolutely fantastic blog!!! Glad I found it! Love it!!!

    Lola x

  11. You have a fabulous blog! I’m an author and illustrator and I made some awards to give to fellow bloggers whose sites I enjoy. It’s not a pass on award. This is just for you to keep. I want to award you with one of my homemade awards: Powerful Woman Writer Award for all the hard work you do!

    Go to and pick up your award.

  12. Jon--So sweet! I'm glad you like this post. It seems a little clunky to me. :) I am resisting revising it. LOL

    Natalie--I love promoting authors as well. So great!

    Anthony--Congrats on your wife's new book! Nice job being such a support for her. :)

    Lola--Hi, thanks for stopping by and leaving such a kind note!

    Deirdra--What a beautiful award! Thank you. I'll treasure it in my Treasure Trove.

  13. Harvard Square/Cambridge is an amazing place. I love living here. It never ceases to amaze me what a giving community it is.

    Write On Con also amazed me with generosity. I already bought one book from one of the authors. And I have a big list of books to buy to support some of the others. The high # of commenters on the donate page gives me hope that Write On Con received a decent # of donations.