Interview with Kevin Hendricks

Posted on April 19th, 2010 by tim bursch. Filed under Community, marketing, social action, social media, spotlight.

Want to change the world? Kevin Hendricks does and his new book might give you some ideas. I had the opportunity to connect with Kevin about his book Addition by Adoption. He uses social media and everyday life to tell a hilarious and moving story. Read on:

Kevin, tell me about yourself:

I live in St. Paul, Minn., with my wife, two kids and two dogs. Of course that equation is changing—we’re starting the process to adopt again. I’m a writer, editor and web geek. By day I hang out with my kids (Lexi is 4, Milo is 1.5) and by night (and naptime) I do work through my freelance company Monkey Outta Nowhere. I do writing for all kinds of clients, the most well known of which is probably the church communications blog, Church Marketing Sucks.

So, what is Addition by Adoption about?

It’s a collection of Twitter posts about my kids, the causes we care about and our adoption journey. It runs the gamut from silly things a three-year-old says to challenging observations about the needs in the world. It sounds odd to think of a story being told in 140-character chunks, but it actually comes together in a fairly natural way. You get a pretty good glimpse of what it’s like to raise little kids and go through the adoption process.

What made you decide to write this book?

It didn’t start as a book. It started as a bunch of Twitter posts. As a work-at-home dad trying to find the balance between productivity and parental neglect, I found posting comments and observations on Twitter to be cathartic. It gave me a way to connect with the outside world. Then lots of people started commenting on those nuggets of silliness and telling me I needed to collect them into a book. The idea grew on me and I thought it’d be the kind of thing my family would enjoy. But as I pulled together tweets on potty training triumphs, I kept coming across tweets about our adoption story. I realized this wasn’t about funny things kids say and parenting and all that, it was a much wider story. Even beyond adoption, it was a story of how Milo widened our worldview and helped us to see and embrace other causes. Even though it’s about the day to day and our specific family, it became bigger than ourselves.

Can you talk about the writing and publishing process?

The writing process was already done because the tweets had already been written. The bigger task was editing and curating the thousands of tweets I’ve posted since 2007 into a cohesive book. In the end something like 500 tweets made it into the book. That’s probably what sets it part most from anything else out there—this isn’t just an archive of my Twitter feed. I cut out all the fluff and irrelevant stuff and got right to the heart of the story. The self-publishing experience has been pretty easy. Print-on-demand publishing makes the act of getting a printed book in your hands relatively simple. Anyone can do it. Of course you also need a manuscript, editing, proofing, layout and cover design. Thankfully I do a few of those things for a living (though my wife told me she did spot a few typos—I told her not to tell me things like that). I also had incredible help from Ronald Cox on the layout and Brian White of TriLion Studios on the cover. They really made the book look good, which is something I couldn’t do myself. Of course then you need to spread the word—books don’t sell themselves. So except for all that hard work, it’s easy.

What do you want readers to walk away with?

I want readers to walk away from this book knowing that we can change the world. That sounds so hokey and idealistic, and admittedly I’m a pretty idealistic person. But I think it’s true. Just like we face day-to-day challenges, we also have day-to-day opportunities to make a difference. You don’t change the world overnight, but you also don’t have to change the world with some grand gesture. You change the world in everyday actions. Maybe it’s bringing awareness to clean water issues or helping a homeless person or showing some love to your next-door neighbor. Shaving my head for my 30th birthday didn’t change the world, but I bet it changed the worlds of the 130 people who now have clean water. The story of this book is told 140 characters at a time. That’s one tiny story—and all those little pieces add up to a complete story of the book. That’s how we change the world—one tiny step at a time.

How can we help?

You can change the world by buying my book. Wow, that sounds awful. I hate saying it like that, but in a tiny way it’s true. A portion of the proceeds from the book will go to charity: water to build a well in Ethiopia. Clean water can be the difference between life and death, so in a very real sense you’re changing the world for people. You can also tell your friends about my book and spread the word. This thing is self-published, so I don’t have any marketing machine or publishing empire behind it. It’s just me. I need your help. But let’s move beyond my little book. There are causes championed in the book that are so important—adoption, water, homelessness. Adoption is a big one. Do what you can to support adoption. Consider it yourself. Support those involved in it—whether it’s kids, birth parents, adoptive parents, etc. Above all you need to find your own cause and fight for it. If we cared as much about a single cause as we do about our favorite sports team or our current hobby the world would be a different place. I don’t mean that to shame anyone, just to give a comparison. How cool would it be if people rallied around their favorite cause, whether it’s adoption or water or domestic violence or whatever? You don’t need to do full on body paint, but a tailgate party for good? Sign me up.

Make sure to check out the book here.