Friday, August 1, 2014

Unfriending Strangers

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.


Alexis Smolensk said...

An update. I wrote this post, went to get myself some lunch, then met an acquaintance on the elevator coming back I haven't seen in more than a year; he got off the elevator with me, let me pitch him the book for five minutes, got interested enough to go look at the preview.

Nothing feels good like sales.

Oddbit said...

I saw the beginning of that.

I'll leave the quality of Lulu to the author who is publishing on it and the speed and ease of acquiring the book.

Which was both quick and easy.

As for the other fellow. Whatever, I can claim to have written 150 books as well. Just give me an hour to google a few lesser known books and compile them as a list.

Eaterofkittens said...

I can easily find pages expressing disgust with Monsanto, Microsoft, and Walmart. I don't even know how to look for complaints about lulu.
They take longer to ship than Amazon but they actually make the book just for you. Like Jack in the Box, they don't make it till you order it. It was wished into existence.
I'll wait an extra week for that. Ill check my mail a hundred times a day every day past the 3-5they promised but I'm generally happy when it arrives.

Alexis Smolensk said...

That's right, consumer of small cats (I also considered "devourer of pure kawaii").

I needed a mock up for sales purposes; only needed one copy. Printed it through lulu, sent it to myself and the price was less than a R/L printer would have been.

F. Douglas Wall said...

I also have a book that I sell through Lulu and I have had very little problem with them. I also sell the book on Amazon via Createspace. Also very little problem.

My own feeling is to get my book into as many places as possible to make sure you can catch as many customers as possible.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Put up the link to your book, Douglas. I'd be happy to help.

F. Douglas Wall said...

It's a little indie game called Adventures in Oz: Fantasy Roleplaying Beyond the Yellow Brick Road. It's an attempt at representing the setting, as well as the tone of the classic Oz stories of L. Frank Baum. It's a great introduction to Oz for gamers as well as a great introduction to gaming for Oz fans.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Posted as a link: Adventures in Oz.

I mentioned Oz as an example in my book, Douglas. I hope you're getting good response on that.

Steven said...

I had never bought a book from Lulu before. I picked the cheapest shipping and was pleasantly surprised to receive The Advanced Guide 8 days after ordering. 3 days for printing 5 days for shipping. And the book looks and feels like it's made with quality material (nice medium weight paper).

VeronaKid said...

I will also vouch for the physical quality of Alexis' book. Since it is a print-on-demand, I wasn't expecting such such a high level paper and card stock or type clarity. I was very surprised when I opened my copy (only a week after I originally ordered it) and saw how nice of a job Lulu had done on it.

I am about 80% done with my first read-through, and will be sure to post a final review on the Lulu site once I complete it. For now, I can at least say, "good job all around."

Alexis Smolensk said...

I am sorry, VeronaKid,

Due to spamming and trolling, the Lulu reviews for the book have been turned off, as Lulu itself suggested (they have this happen occasionally, it is endemic with open review pages).

I would be pleased to see a review, good or bad; please post it on your site with a link, or feel free to post it here. Anywhere, really.

Steven said...

That's a shame. I added the paperback edition to goodreads. I plan to write a review once I've finished as well.

Maliloki said...

I purchased your book "How to Run" after finding your site, reading a few entries, then going back to the beginning and attempting to catch up. I've incorporated some of your house rules into my Adventures in the East Mark basic game.

I don't always agree with the way you say things, or even want to use everything you talk about, but I definitely think about them and figure out if I can use them in my style of play. The scope of your work is astounding.

Your experience and quality of writing is what made me decide to purchase your book, and so far, I am please with it. (I also like the fact that it is written with your strong, confident voice that knows it's right, but doesn't come off as so much of an uncompromising ass. And I mean that in the nicest way possible. :)

I've read the first section of the book and I skipped ahead to the world creation section to see whats there. Your book reads well and gives lots of good information without being boring. When I finally finish it, I'll probably put a full review up.

Thank you for putting a book like this out. There is definitely more room for books that try to help someone run a game.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Thank you Maliloki,

I hope the worldbuilding section lives up to your expectations.