Late last night, just before diving into bed (I have had a board built for the purpose), I received the strangest contention about my book, How to Run. The fellow told me that he refused to buy my book because I had chosen Lulu as a platform - even though he really wanted to support me and buy a copy.
Apparently, there are people who have problems with Lulu, who spend time harping about the company and who cry out for some sort of class action suit against them. I was directed to one of these sights by the commenter, just so I could see how 'evil' a platform Lulu is.
I won't link one of these sights, however, because I saw nothing on those sights that remotely meshed with my experience. By this, I mean that the accusations and complaints did not make any sense. For one thing, several people claimed that Lulu was charging them for an ISBN number. I could, if I wished, walk the reader through the Lulu process and demonstrate that they'll give an ISBN number for the 500-word paper you wrote in Grade Five, if you were willing to type it into MS-Word and desired to publish it. Free. There were several such examples I saw.
This is the sort of thing I must write off to the Internet. No matter what the platform or the product, I'm sure we can find hundreds of people with a gripe and a will to bitch openly about their gripe - even if the error in some way resulted from their own misunderstanding, irrationality or lack of experience. I believe we've all seen such things.
Naturally, I tried to convince the commenter, first, that I've never had any problems with Lulu. No good. By this point we were in facebook chat. Thinking the commenter truly wanted a copy of the book, I assured the commenter that Lulu has always treated me well, that no one has ever complained to me about the quality of the product they've received and that perhaps he could overlook the troubles of others in buying the book.
Whereupon, things got weird.
First off, I was attacked vigorously for performing a "hard sell" of the book. Now, this was coming from someone who had already said he wanted to buy the book, so long as he didn't have to buy it through Lulu. It felt strange being accused of pushing a book that, as far as I knew, was already wanted.
From the negativity I suddenly received (apparently because I wasn't willing to condemn Lulu along with the commenter), I guessed that the fellow hadn't ever read my blog - so I suggested, for the sake of understanding the quality of my writing, that he should check the blog out. At this point, I was attacked for trying to push the blog on the fellow when he hadn't ever asked for such a suggestion.
I'm staring at my computer screen and I'm pretty confused. I'm thinking, is this a spammer who attacks people who use Lulu? Does he work for Amazon? From the things he's saying now, I'm pretty sure he's never heard of me before. I'm guessing his 'support' for me, the one he's supposedly giving me by buying my book, is based upon a desire to support anyone writing a book about role-playing. He just happened to stumble across mine.
And . . . then it got weirder.
If you're going to sell a book, you can't be shy about it. You can't think to yourself, "This person will have no interest in buying my book, I really shouldn't bother them with it." That is a great way to fail. Truth is, it's like the old joke: a man is standing at the bus stop when a stranger rushes up to him, seizes him by the lapel and says, "I've gotta tell you this! I've just slept with four women at the same time! It was amazing!" Where upon the man says to the stranger, "That's uh, great. Why are you telling me?"
And he gets the answer, "Are you kidding? I'm telling everybody!"
That's sales. You tell everyone, you ask for the money, and if they make it clear to you that they're not going to buy, you keep pushing.
This guy, though, I had begun thinking was a whack job. Still, I decided to make one more pitch. I told him that it was a book like no other in the hobby and that he was really missing out simply because he wouldn't buy from Lulu.
At which point he scoffed, saying, "Do you know who I am?" Well obviously, some guy who had somehow gotten friended on facebook, the answer was no. I had no idea who he was, beyond a name, a rather piss-poor website that showed he was an obscure game designer I'd never heard of and a whole lot of conflicting interests.
"I've written six books about how to be a DM," he says. "And 150 other books." From there he begins to disparage me, my book, my existence in this world and my apparent inability to recognize him instantly from his use of text. I'm thinking, "Six books? Did he fail utterly with the first five?" Then I'm thinking, "Does he sell a lot of books by forcing random people on line to guess who he is?"
See, speaking for me personally, in writing a book I'm a big fan of putting my name, my real name, right there on the jacket. You know, so people know who wrote the book. I don't see hiding my name as being a strong sales technique. Apparently, however, this 'great' writer does, because I never did learn who the hell he was.
I'm a pretty strange fellow, that I'll grant. And my temper does put me into places I shouldn't go. But I don't believe I've ever praised someone's work, only to then tell them I don't give a shit about their blog or anything about them, while then getting irate when they encouraged me to buy the book I just praised.
Ah, the internet. I'm quite certain last night I was dealing with some fellow who missed his meds or has decided to stop taking them to enjoy a fuller life. All I could really do was unfriend him.
In the meantime, have you heard that I'm selling a book? How to Run: an Advanced Guide to Managing Role-playing Games. Yes, I use Lulu. Great platform. They've always treated me well, these past three years. Check it out, have a look at the preview, please 'like' the page and if you could, buy a copy. It's a book about role-playing that I've never seen written by anyone else. I confess, it isn't my sixth attempt, but then I thought I would research the text and produce quality the first time.