There’s a scene in Fredrik Backman’s book My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry when Elsa, the main character, recalls a piece of advice from her grandmother:

Granny always said: “Don’t kick the shit, it’ll go all over the place!”

Why should this advice matter to you?

While Granny never out and out says it in the book, the unsaid yin to the yang of her advice would likely be:

Hug the sh*t.

Sh*t in this context is anything that gets in the way of what we want to do, anything unexpected that pops up and has us exclaiming “sh*t” or “shoot” or whatever your word choice is for such situations. Smells a lot like Resistance. The trick is to turn the sh*t around, to use it for good. Think fertilizer instead of nuisance.

In this post, examples of sh*t come courtesy of the recent ebook giveaway of Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t.

The Mobi/Firefox Sh*t

The Mobi file for the ebook wanted to open up, rather than download, for Firefox users. The result? Firefox users were presented with gibberish on their screens. Of the thousands that downloaded the ebook, less than 100 contacted us about this issue. Of that 100ish, a few e-mailed to give us a head’s up, and note that they sorted out access on their end (right click on the Mobi file image, rather than click on the Mobi file image), while the others assumed the link was bad, that we weren’t using a good service, that we were up to no good and literally providing sh*t.

How to handle this sh*t?

We e-mailed this group and advised them how to access the file and/or offered a print edition. The majority of the individuals were fine, but a few still couldn’t access the files. No luck period. A free print edition was offered to a number of people in this group.

Side note: When it comes to ebooks, one group will always consist of technically-challenged individuals. Even if your files are perfect, this group will not know how to access the files because they don’t know how to use their devices. Even if you make it as easy as possible, some will never sort out access to your files. Offering them a free edition when available has been our route in the past. It’s better to help than to restrict access to the one route they can’t sort out.

The Server Sh*t

We were overloaded and ran into an issue with the server for a short period. The result? Though it was a blink of a period, individuals trying to access the free download during that blink ran into problems. The files timed out, wouldn’t download?

How to handle this sh*t?

We e-mailed the individuals to sort out what was going on, apologized, and offered a free print book in most cases.

The E-Mail Sh*t

A few individuals scanned the e-mail with the free offer. Instead of clicking on one of the file images, this group clicked on the “more information” link, which directed to the sales page. The result? Once they bought the book, and then learned more about the free ebook via friends, other newsletters, etc., they became upset. In their minds, we should have offered the book for free first (which is what we did), before offering it for sale.

How to handle this sh*t?

The child side of me wanted to point out this group’s error, but the adult side learned a lesson. The “more information” link was sized on the large side. It pulled in the eyes. In the future, we’ll rethink the sizing and where the eyes are drawn. For now, we apologized for the confusion and refunded the cost of the book and shipping. Should the reader of the email have paid more attention? Yes. Could we do a better job making things as simple as possible? Yes. We can always do more.

As a side note on the e-mail, I had wanted to add a place within the e-mail for people who were interested to sign up for the Black Irish or Steven Pressfield mailing lists, too, but Shawn thought that might be too confusing. He was right. Had we done that, it’s likely that we’d have a group that felt they’d have to sign up to receive the promo. In the end, new people did sign up for more info. and they did it on their terms. Lesson learned: Keep things simple.

Hug the Sh*t

In the natural world, sh*t is a fertilizer. Rather than being a nuisance, it helps things grow.

One of the greatest lessons Black Irish Books has learned is that sh*t is a great way to grow relationships, hence all the outreach mentioned above, in the “how to handle this sh*t? sections.” While there are miserable people out there, the majority of those contacting us with one issue or another have been amazing. Some sh*t happens on our end, they reach out to give us a head’s up, and once we connect, relationship seeds are planted. The sh*t they contacted us about is potent fertilizer, rather than the variety of crap you drag your shoe through the grass to remove.

While my schedule could do without the sh*t, the Black Irish Books business can thank the sh*t for helping it grow.

So, as Granny might say,

“Don’t kick the shit, it’ll go all over the place!” Hug the sh*t instead.

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Steve shows you the predictable Resistance points that every writer hits in a work-in-progress and then shows you how to deal with each one of these sticking points. This book shows you how to keep going with your work.

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A short book about the writing of a first novel: for Steve, The Legend of Bagger Vance. Having failed with three earlier attempts at novels, here's how Steve finally succeeded.



Steve shares his "lessons learned" from the trenches of the five different writing careers—advertising, screenwriting, fiction, nonfiction, and self-help. This is tradecraft. An MFA in Writing in 197 pages.



Amateurs have amateur habits. Pros have pro habits. When we turn pro, we give up the comfortable life but we find our power. Steve answers the question, "How do we overcome Resistance?"



  1. gwen abitz on July 8, 2016 at 5:01 am

    Callie, LOVE IT!!! – Side Note Though: I did kick the shit and it did go all over the place which has been a good thing to be able to hug the sh*t, turning out TO BE many “genres” for the story.

    • gwen abitz on July 8, 2016 at 6:43 am

      Whoops did forget to write – The Sh*t has become the fertilizer.

  2. Scott Key on July 8, 2016 at 5:21 am


    Congrats on another successful launch. I’m not a novelist. But in my job, I frame facts for judges and juries, often in written form. What you guys do here is beyond helpful. The foolscap stuff and the latest book is like a decoder ring or a key to look at the machinery of how to put a story, a brief, or a trial together well. It’s almost hard to believe how long these structural pieces have been right in front of me without my noticing them. I hope my prosecutor friends never find this website. But I will keep recommending it when I speak to colleagues in CLE presentations and giving the book as a gifts.

    Thanks again,

  3. Regina on July 8, 2016 at 6:12 am

    Bravo on this one! Composters unite!

  4. Bruce Maples on July 8, 2016 at 6:26 am

    Thank you for this. Very timely; fits directly with something I’ve been struggling with (how to do political and policy work without being hateful or demeaning). Hugging the shit also can mean hugging the shitters — because that is how we learn, grow, and build coalitions.

    Good stuff.

  5. Paul on July 8, 2016 at 6:28 am

    A great lesson. The grit makes the pearl, etc.

    The world needs more people like you, treating the doing of business as an activity done by, to and between HUMANS, rather than DE-humanising it and hiding behind the distance between us and the small print. Too many treat it not as a social interaction, but rather as an opportunity to get one-up on someone; to get their slice of the pie.

    Thanks again.

  6. Mia Sherwood Landau on July 8, 2016 at 6:29 am

    Good one, Callie! Seeing frustrations as the best learning experiences takes learned wisdom, and you guys have a big pile of it, for sure. Thanks again for sharing the instructive insiders view with us. It’s priceless…

  7. Jack Price on July 8, 2016 at 6:52 am

    Hi Callie,

    I learned a trick for determining whether a topic has enough interest to support a blog — find out whether a print magazine covers the topic. So in my desultory research, I discovered a magazine dedicated to the manure industry: Manure Manager Magazine. Honest to god, just google it.

    Another tasteless tidbit. In the early 20th century, New York City had a tremendous pollution problem — not from cars but from horses. Hundreds of sanitation workers spent their days shoveling horse dumplings. And then where to dump them? Big problem.

    I’d to tell that story at a celebrity roast in NYC, then introduce the honoree as the man who brought horsesh*t back to New York 🙂

    Enough of this crap.

    Great article. Great book. Great title. Thanks for all you do.


  8. Mary Doyle on July 8, 2016 at 6:53 am

    Fantastic post Callie! “Hug your sh*t” is going up on my office wall – I can always count on you for a fresh perspective – thanks!

  9. BarbaraNH on July 8, 2016 at 8:01 am

    Thanks, Callie, for such good advice, for all that you guys do, and showing, over and over, what it means to be a pro. Have a super weekend!

  10. Beth Barany on July 8, 2016 at 10:12 am

    Caille, love this sh*t! So true! Love the transformative perspective! Thanks for all your hard work above and beyond!

  11. Melanie Ormand on July 9, 2016 at 7:46 am

    On some level, everything’s s***!!

  12. David Kaufmann on July 10, 2016 at 9:31 pm

    Thanks for all the insider information. I always enjoy it.

  13. Jeff Korhan on July 11, 2016 at 6:35 am

    It doesn’t get any more real than this Callie.

    Being in the midst of a launch myself your story helped me see the funny in the sh*t that we experienced.

    It’s all good. At least you know you have an audience. 🙂

    And you certainly know you have a great book on your hands. Loving it just as much on my second read.

  14. Geetanjali on July 11, 2016 at 10:53 pm

    Thanks Callie and Steve and Shawn for the fabulous inspiration.

    I just wanted to mention in case you aren’t aware – BookFunnel handles free downloads and caters exactly to the kind of people who can’t figure out the ebook downloads in the format they want (and deal with the help requests so you don’t have to). I am not affiliated with them or anything – just thought I’d give you the tip – it is a paid service but well worth it I think.

  15. anne marina on July 12, 2016 at 8:44 pm

    Life lessons and so darn Buddhist. The good paths always eventually collide. Thanks for turning sh$t into shinola.

  16. Meredith on July 13, 2016 at 10:11 am


    First of all, thanks for this. I always need reminders that my first instinct (which is to turn away and ignore the messy, smelly heap completely) doesn’t actually work any better than kicking it. Message received and new options are being created (in my brain).

    Second. I was one of those bunches and bunches of people that didn’t contact you to let you know that my download of the free book didn’t work. But… this is the good part… because of this post, I revisited the poor abandoned file and actually got it emailed to my “Send to Kindle” email address. That worked perfectly, and now I can access it with my mobile Kindle. So – thanks for indirectly telling me there was a specific problem with this file, AND for the lesson on sh*t and how to handle it with grace and style. It was definitely a great “two-for-one”!!

    Your student,


  17. Renita on July 15, 2016 at 8:16 am

    I could hug you! No offense. Words to live by.

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