OVERVIEW OF PRIVACY ON HOLLYSWRITINGCLASSES.COM
FROM HOLLY LISLE:
Since our beginning as HowToThinkSideways.com, at HollysWritingClasses.com, our aim regarding your privacy has been the upholding of two very specific and OPPOSITE objectives.
1) To be completely transparent with you about who we are, what we do, and how we successfully write and publish good fiction, while providing you with classes and conversations in which we share what we’ve learned, showing you by example how to do what we’ve done: In other words, to treat you as a colleague and potential friend — as folks like us.
2) To allow YOU to be as… well… opaque (that being the opposite of transparent) as YOU choose to be, and to avoid in every possible instance collecting information about you that, if hacked, stolen, or misused, could endanger your privacy or financial wellbeing: In other words, to avoid making YOU a collectible asset.
To understand how this informs every privacy-related decision we’ve made on this site, we must explain when people are “folks” and when they’re “assets.”
People are “folks” when we talk to each other, when we ask and answer questions about shared subjects of interest, when we write our next books or buy each other’s next books, when we build classes, or take the writing course that are built, when we consult with each other about areas of expertise, when we cheer each other on over creating, finishing, and selling work we love. When, in other word, we share parts of our lives that are both deeply personal and meaningful, with the objective of helping each other reach our dreams.
People are “assets” when someone collects information about them that other business folks want to share, sell, or buy — things like: What sites they visit, what products they buy, what ads they look at, or scary personal details like who they know, where they live, where they work… And when when that person gathers the information with intent to sell, share, or trade it for information from other people who collect
We will ALWAYS treat you as “folks” — as one of us. We are not it the business of collecting assets, and you will NEVER be treated as an “asset.”
From the beginning, we have never traded, shared, or sold ANY personal information given to us by site visitors, readers, or colleagues, and have never bought any such information from those who sell it — including Google, Facebook, and the like. We do not allow outside advertising, do not allow services that “follow” members across the web to show them recurring ads on multiple site, and do not buy any advertising on such services. Currently we don’t buy any advertising at all, but we are kinda cheap.
For advertising, we DO have a private members-only affiliate program. More on that toward the bottom of the page.
But along with not sharing information we receive, we have also intentionally severely limited the amount of information we collect…
BECAUSE what we don’t collect to begin with cannot be hacked, stolen, or demanded.
If we do not absolutely have to have a piece of information to deliver what you want from the site, we do NOT collect it in the first place.
The site has built-in anonymous stats tracking. It tells me in general terms:
Page errors generated when visitors land on a page
Most common search terms that brought visitors to the site
Most common links that brought people to the site
How many people visit the site hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly
Average visit length
Average number of pages visited
In VERY general terms, which part of the world visitors are coming from (countries ONLY)
Most common browsers (I’m amazed at the number of folks still using old versions of Internet Explorer)
Which days of the week are busiest and slowest (we’re pretty slow on weekends)
The front-page QUIZZES I offer only record anonymous clicks to let me know which results are most and least common, and do not include an email sign-up before you get your quiz results. I want you to be able to benefit from the quizzes without having to part with personal information.
If you are not a classroom member, that is all the site stores.
EMAIL SIGN-UP & INTERACTION INFORMATION
When you sign up for emails, you provide the email address of your choice (does not have to be your “best” address) in exchange for various information we offer, depending on what you sign up for. We do not provide a space for or collect your name or any other personal information from our mailing lists. Don’t need it, don’t want it.
We offer the following kinds of emails:
Updates on new and upcoming classes
Updates on classes in low-priced “early-bird” releases (we don’t do sales or discount classes, so the early-bird classes are always the lowest price any course will ever be)
Lesson reminders for classes you’ve purchased, which if you remain on the list also let you know when classes get free in-version updates
Updates on the novels or short stories Holly is writing
Transactional emails, such as receipts for purchased classes, and confirmation emails for setting up member accounts
Genre-specific updates on Holly’s new fiction releases
CONVERT KIT (our email provider) allows us to see how many folks click on a tracking link in an email. Convert Kit shows us not only how many people clicked the link, but, if we go into the “clicked” group, allows us to see which members clicked the link.
The purpose for tracking links is to let us know if readers are interested enough in the topic that they went to the site to:
Take a class
Vote in a poll
Comment on something we’re considering offering
Join the site
And so on
We don’t pursue projects that have low interest, so tracking links are very important in the early stages of deciding what new site features we want to offer.
Convert Kit also allows us to create Segmenting Tags, which allow readers to choose things about which Holly writes emails, and let Holly know that when she writes an email about that topic, like “Science Fiction” or “how to write better villains,” they would like to receive that email.
When Holly puts together an email, she figures out who might be interested in receiving that email, based on segmenting links they’ve added to their account, like “Fiction Writer,” or “SF Reader.”
She sends each email to just those folks who have tagged their accounts with a relevant tag.
HOWEVER, you might have been randomly interested in reading something that in general does not interest you, and may have accidentally added a Segmenting Tag to your account that does not match your interests.
If you start receiving emails from me that don’t fit your interest, please create a Help Desk ticket, and post a copy of the most recent email that does not fit your interests. Explain how that email does not match what you want to receive, and request that Holly go through your account and manually remove any Segmenting Tags that put that email in your inbox. We’ll let you know when the tags are removed, and which tags they were.
At any point, you can edit your account to change your email address by using the Subscription Options link, or to remove your own account by using the Unsubscribe link at the bottom of any email Holly sends out.
At any point, you may request a complete profile of email data Holly has connected with your email address. Create a help desk ticket, and within 30 days, Drip will provide her with your profile.
At any point, you may request your complete removal, with all associated data, from Holly’s mailing lists. Create a help desk ticket including the email address to be removed, and within 30 days of Drip’s receipt of the request, they will fully remove your account and all associated data.
All requests for assistance with classes are considered business-related, and commercial in nature, and are handled through the help desk so we can deal with them promptly and accurately.
If you REPLY to Holly from one of Holly’s emails (from ANY mailing list), it goes directly to her and will be read only by her. PERSONAL REPLIES TO HOLLY ARE NOT COMMERCIAL in nature, and are treated differently.
I SAVE the really good emails I receive from my readers, because they make me happy — and because they frequently include cool stuff like requests for new books or new classes, or awesome stories about how someone used a class to write and sell a novel, or a short story, or how a story I wrote or a blog post I did made a difference in that reader’s life.
I KEEP these emails. They matter to me, and I love to read them. When I can, I reply. If you send me a personal email, assume that it will live on my hard drive forever.
(I delete emails from jerks the instant the nature of the email becomes apparent. Those have the shelf life of a mayfly.)
HOWEVER, I currently receive a couple thousand emails a day, and while a huge chunk of those are spam, an awful lot of them are real emails from real people, and email is a tiny portion of my daily work load… so I can rarely answer personally, and when I can, it takes a while.
If you’re having a problem getting into your account, are missing a class you just purchased, or some other problem with the site or a class, DO NOT email me personally. Create a Help Desk ticket here, so my daughter, Becca, or I can deal with it promptly.
I DO NOT make lists of the personal emails I receive, do not file them in any particular place or fashion, and I have NEVER shared email addresses with anyone else from any source, either for money or for trade or for whatever other reason people give for betraying trust that way.
FINALLY, if you remove yourself from my mailing list, you will disappear from my universe without comment or repercussion. I don’t back up or store user-deleted emails into some sort of “throw them to the wolves” pile. I’m familiar with this practice only because it gets done to me pretty regularly when I unsubscribe from lists by people with whom I will no longer do business — and the practice makes me angry.
My objective in every dealing I have with you is to treat you like a person, NOT like a sellable asset.
SITE MEMBERSHIP INFORMATION
PURCHASING ANY CLASS, OR TAKING THE FREE FLASH FICTION CLASS, AUTOMATICALLY MAKES YOU A FREE SITE MEMBER. (There is no paid site member level. Site membership only comes in a free version.)
IF YOU ARE NOT A MEMBER AND PURCHASE A CLASS, either through an affiliate link or directly, you will be guided through the process of creating your member account at the same time that you purchase the class.
WHY MUST YOU AUTOMATICALLY BECOME A MEMBER IF YOU TAKE A CLASS?
Because classes are only delivered via the secure on-site classroom system, AND
Because there is no other way for you to securely download your class materials, watch videos, get transcripts and worksheets, or obtain other class materials, AND
Because there is no way for us to provide you with the included linked private forum workgroup (always available, never required) unless you have access to the member area…
Account creation is necessary for use of anything we offer in the classroom.
IF YOU ARRIVE AT THIS SITE VIA AN AFFILIATE LINK posted by a member, the link will register anonymous clicks on the classes you have looked at, but will NOT identify those clicks as coming from you, unless you purchase something or create an account.
EVEN IF YOU PURCHASE A CLASS through an affiliate link, affiliates never see your personal information.
This is important to keep in mind if you intentionally buy something through an affiliate you wish to support (if, for example, that affiliate is offering an excellent bonus).
If you’ve accidentally clicked through a different affiliate’s link, or failed to use an affiliate link at all when you intended to, then to receive the affiliate’s bonus, you must contact us through the Help Desk to ask us if the affiliate was credited with your sale. If he or she was not, ON YOUR REQUEST ONLY, we will happily connect your sale to your chosen affiliate’s account so you can get their bonus.
The affiliate may not ask for you. This is something that must come directly from you, because we do not share personally identifiable information with affiliates.
FREE MEMBERSHIP INFORMATION
I currently offer one free (as in free beer, not free with strings) class on this site: the How to Write Flash Fiction that Doesn’t SUCK class. When you sign up for this class:
You create a free membership, and by doing so, you give us explicit consent to process and store the following data on you:
Your email address, which needs to work, because you’ll use it for receiving your login credentials, and as your username when logging in — but which does not have to be your “best” address.
Your password (which needs to be unique for the site). Never reuse passwords.
The name you give us for use in the Help Desk and the forum, which may be your real name or a pseudonym. We don’t ask OR care whether this is your real name or one you made up.
The purpose for your name is to give us something to call you when you need help on a ticket, and to give your fellow site members a way to address you if you choose to use the free private forums.
If you want to be Bob StinkyPants… well… Hi, Bob.
We DO suggest you pick something you don’t hate and won’t get tired of. If you want to change it later AND require our assistance, there’s a $25 fee.
PAID STUDENT INFORMATION
When you purchase any class through the site, then along with the free membership information above, you ALSO give us contractual consent to process and store your payment information on any classes or workshops you may have purchased for the lifetime of your account.
With both one-time payments and subscription payments, we collect and store:
– transaction numbers
– dates and times purchased
– products purchased
– processor used
– and with PayPal, the unique PayPal ID for your account,
– along with the email address you use with either our PayPal or Stripe Payment Processors
We do this in order to give you ongoing (and where applicable, permanent) access to the courses you own.
WHILE IN SOME INSTANCES Stripe or PayPal will send us addresses, phone numbers, zip codes or other information not directly used for connecting students to classes, we do not capture, save, or store any such information. We offer no physical products on the site, and therefore have no need for mailing addresses, phone numbers, etc.
YOUR PERSONAL FINANCIAL INFORMATION
WE DO NOT process any financial transactions on this site
WE DO NOT store or have access to your credit card information, or your checking account information, or your banking information
To offer your financial data the highest security, all transactions are carried out on state-of-the-art software by the third-party processors STRIPE and PAYPAL on their secure sites
For NON-AFFILIATE members, WE DO NOT store personal addresses, phone numbers, birthdates, Social Security or EIN numbers. (If you are or want to be an affiliate for this site’s classes and workshops, please see the affiliate information at the bottom of this page.)
YOU CONTROL ALL PERSONALLY IDENTIFIABLE INFORMATION WE COLLECT:
You initiate our intentionally sparse information collection WHEN:
You purchase a class or workshop and we store your purchase information
You make payments for classes you purchase by subscription come in, and we add these payments to your account
You follow an affiliate link through which you then BUY a class or workshop
You ARE an affiliate and make a sale
You post on our private, members-only forums
In each case, you are the initiator of the data that is collected, and you have control over your data, and how it is used.
AT ANY TIME YOU MAY UNILATERALLY AND WITHOUT NOTICE TO US close your account, cancel any ongoing payments, and remove all personally information in your account EXCLUDING data regarding affiliate tax liabilities you may have incurred IF you are an affiliate. (This data will remain on file for the requisite ten years.)
Because we MUST retain payment records for a minimum of ten years, your receipts will remain on file, but they will be dissociated from your account and will no longer be connected to or connectable with you. If these classes are tax-deductible for you, we will NOT be able to validate your purchases.It is important that you understand the implications of data that is NO LONGER CONNECTABLE WITH YOU.
MEMBER-INITIATED ACCOUNT CLOSURE WITH ANONYMIZATION
This is the DOWNSIDE of our careful protection of your privacy!
PLEASE READ CAREFULLY!
While you may close your account at any time, without warning or explanation, and with the entire process in your hands requiring NO assistance from us or approval by us, IF YOU CLOSE YOUR ACCOUNT, we will NOT be able to return you to your previous account if you wish to come back.
Your old account will have been anonymized, and its numbers will be locked. In specific terms, what this means is that:
Any classes for which you have not maintained your own receipts will be lost permanently.
Any classes for which you have maintained incomplete receipts will require completing payments at the current prices to make up for any missing lessons.
CLASSES THAT WERE IN CLOSED ACCOUNTS
You are solely responsible for maintaining documentation of your class ownership, BECAUSE with your ability to close your account, you can break the link that connects your individual purchase to the payment I have received. We will still be able to report tax obligations, but we will not be able to point to you as a named source of that particular piece of income. And we will not be able to validate your purchase for any class that might otherwise have been tax-deductible for you.
Closing your account and removing your information from the site ALSO releases us from our contractual agreement that we’ll provide you with permanent class updates, upgrades, and access as long as the site remains open and updates are done.
If you close your account, we are not required to reinstate your account or classes, even those for which you have paid in full. As long as you did not breach site terms of service while you were a member, we will reinstate you ONCE for each class for which you have complete receipts. A single $50 reinstatement fee will apply if all receipts are presented at one time. If they are presented separately, the fee will be per account access on our end.
ADDITIONALLY… When you close your account:
Your forum posts will lose their signatures and connection to you, and will be given an anonymous number. These will be permanently irretrievable.
Your affiliate number will be decommissioned, all your affiliate links will change to plain product links that add a dead cookie for a dead account.
Any affiliate commissions you may have pending will be cancelled. These changes are irreversible.
No old affiliate number from a cancelled account will be reinstated for any reason. Your necessary legal affiliate details will remain on file for the federally mandated documentation period, and your income will be reported through the final tax period for which you had income, but no further money will be credited to you or owed to you, and you will not be able to reclaim this account.
VIOLATIONS OF TERMS OF SERVICE OR MEMBER CONDUCT:
In cases where the account owner OR site administration closes an account after violation of the site terms of service or member conduct rules, we will not reinstate old classes.
COLLECTION AND STORAGE OF YOUR ACCOUNT DATA
SOMEWHAT REDUNDANTLY… Because we offer permanent access to all in-version upgrades of classes you have purchased for as long as the site is operational and such upgrades are created, on the basis of our contract to provide services (we offered the class, you paid us money, we delivered the class) we will store your account information for as long as the site exists, so that you will have access to updates and upgrades as well as for reuse of existing classes.
The information we keep on customers is the absolute minimum needed to keep your account active:
The email address you chose when you created your account (which you can update)
Your log-in password (which you can and SHOULD update)
Whatever name or pseudonym you used to create your account (which you can update)
The email address through which you have purchased classes if different from the above (transactional – not updatable)
The specific purchase data that ties your purchases to your account (date, transaction number, price paid, product name and product code, and if applicable, subscription number and continuing payments made)
Your payment status on any subscription classes not yet fully owned
You can see all information we have stored on you in your account at any time, without charge and without asking, simply by logging in and going to the MY ACCOUNT link in the header.
If you are a US citizen or US resident, when you have earned $599, your account payments will be put on hold until you have added this information to your affiliate account. Commissions will accrue for you but will not be paid.
Because you may receive payment from me as an affiliate, and because these possible payments may result in a tax reporting liability on your part, the kind and amount of information we must maintain on you is much more comprehensive and held to a significantly higher standard.
IMPORTANT: If you are liable for US taxes and do not provide us with your tax information EITHER within 60 days of our FIRST email giving notice that you have reached the “no report” limit OR on JANUARY 1st of the new tax year, whichever is EARLIER, your earned commissions above $599 will be cancelled. Commission cancellation is not reversible.
Federally mandated information will be maintained for ten years after your last participation in the affiliate program.
As mandated by law, we require real names, real mailing addresses, real birthdates, and a Social Security number or EIN or other tax identification for all US citizen affiliates or US resident affiliates who earn $600 or more in any tax-reporting year.
All portions of this site are stored and operated within the United States of America.
GDPR-Compliant Update: 10/16/2021