You really just never know. I talk to quite a few people throughout the week about publishing and writing. I accept connection requests from almost everyone who approaches me because I believe that everyone has a story. This, however, does not mean that I will allow myself to be verbally assaulted or insulted by those who contact me with bad intentions. For example, I had a gentleman contact me the other day regarding writing a book. He asked about my services and I explained to him that I was an independent publisher. I do offer some writing and editing services as a freelancer, but my main focus is publishing books for others as they fit our submission criteria. I talked with him for a few moments and then didn't hear from him again that night.
The next day, I got another message from him. This gentleman asks several questions and proceeds to tell me that he's great and wonderful and that he thinks I'm great and wonderful and that he would love to do business with me. All the while, I'm patiently listening. I tell him thank you for the compliment and that he should check out our website and submission guidelines and let me know if he has other questions. I watch for a response and after a few minutes, seeing none, I wrap up my day and move on. At that point it is after 6 p.m. and I have things I need to take care of, so I leave my computer and prepare to leave my house to go pick up dinner. As I'm waiting for my food to be done, I check my phone and notice that I had received several angry messages from this guy just moments after I had left my house. He had gone from pleasantly asking me a question to calling me an idiot and threatening to write a "scathing" article about me and my business because I didn't immediately respond to his message. Mind you, he had not submitted anything to me for review. We had no contract or other agreement. I was simply answering his questions about what I do as a publisher. Here is the rest of what was said:
Angry Guy 6:18 PM Are you still there? Angry Guy 6:19 PM Can you please answer this question as this is key. Otherwise I will go elsewhere. OK. I will go talk t an editor friend of mine. Thanks for your help. I don't have time to waste. Take care. I thought you were interested in my business. Boy how things change in a hurry. No problem. I will call a reputable publisher. You lost a shot at a LOT of business. How VERY disappointing. What the hell. I will NEVER contact you again. Angry Guy 6:24 PM You answer all my questions then sit there for many minutes and do nothing. Is this what I can expect from all publishers? I don't mess around. I am a VERY good writer and plan to release MANY books. Me 6:25 PM (At this point, I was waiting on my food and not really working and not in a position to respond, but I attempt to anyway) Wow. Listen, this is not the way business is done. It is 6:23 p.m. Past regular business hours. I am not interested in doing business with someone who is abusive, so please just move on. Angry Guy 6:26 PM Abusive? That is funny. Me 6:26 PM (And, I'm done) Good luck to you. Get some help. Angry Guy 6:27 PM If it is past your work hours, you should have said contact me tomorrow. I have NEVER been better. I will now spread NEGATIVE news about your company and you especially. Get another profession. You have a lot of nerve. Tell me why I need help. I often work until 2 in the morning and you are worried about missing dinner. I will send you a soother. You answered all my questions then had one more to go. You are an idiot. Angry Guy 6:31 PM I will be happy to write a SCATHING article on this interaction tonight. I am a VERY passionate writer. I have had accolades from all over the world. Look for another job maybe on Facebook or Sesame Street. You were ONE question away from lots of business. No longer. Angry Guy 6:43 PM Why don't you tell me why you simply dropped the ball? Exactly what did I do wrong? Just curious? Well, I struggled with whether or not to explain to him just exactly what he'd done wrong. Being concerned about this turn of events, I truly wanted to enlighten him. I wanted to say,
Here is what you did wrong. First of all, I did not drop the ball. I gave you information and asked you to check the website. My work day was actually over at 5, but I answered your questions and then I had things to take care of that didn't require me to be at my computer. I left my computer once it appeared you were finished asking questions. The next thing I know, you're telling me I'm unprofessional and that I've lost your business. You became way too aggressive and you had no reason to expect an immediate answer from me. I simply don't work with people who have anger issues or who are illogical in their responses. I wish you all the luck in the world with your writing, but I will not be working with you. You added unnecessary stress and drama to a situation where it wasn't warranted. Feel free to write a scathing article if that's how you choose to handle life. I will pray for you and I might even write an article of my own to my fellow publishers so that they can be on the lookout for you as well. And to answer your question, I would suggest you self-publish unless you are sure that you understand how to interact with a publisher more professionally than you have done with me. Good day, sir.
I did not, however, respond to this man. At least not via messenger. I decided to write this post and share it with you all in hopes of helping you to better understand some of the special challenges that small businesses encounter. Also, I am hoping to encourage other small publishers by saying here that no matter how much you would like to gain new authors, there is no book or project that is worth taking abuse over. If an author approaches you like this, tell them you're just not interested in entertaining egos. Think about your brand and your mission and gently tell them that it isn't going to work. Or not gently. It really is up to you. You know what you're willing to put up with, so proceed accordingly. But don't let anyone bully you into working with them. That's a recipe for disaster. It will never end well. Higher Ground Books & Media is not a vanity press, so contacting me doesn't mean that you can simply tell me you want me to publish you and it will be done. That's just not how it works. No more than I could contact Harper-Collins and tell them they'd be lucky to have me as one of their writers. I'm always more than happy to answer questions about our process and about the freelance services I offer, but when a conversation goes from calm to ridiculously abusive within five minutes, I just have to step aside. I have plenty of well-intentioned, professional authors contacting me for information. I do not have to put up with this sort of instability. I'm not a mental health professional, I'm a publisher. And while I never want someone to feel bad after an interaction with me, this does not mean that I will make myself a punching bag for someone who doesn't quite understand how all of this works, especially after I've taken the time to explain things. There is a very thin line between being good at customer service and being foolishly concerned with losing someone's business at the expense of your sanity, well-being, and possibly your personal safety depending on proximity, information you've disclosed, etc. In these strange days, we never know what someone will do if they are unstable and we say something to set them off. We have to use our best judgment and know when to disengage. There is nothing wrong with saying, "No, thank you." Be careful out there. Stand up for yourself when you need to. You don't have to be mean, just know when you need to be firm with someone who's acting a bit crazy. And if necessary, report them and/or block them. Take care of yourself so you can take care of business. Oh, before I go, can anyone tell me how to get to Sesame Street? ;)
Higher Ground Books & Media is an independent publisher located in Springfield, OH. We publish inspirational, educational, and motivational materials geared toward helping people understand how God has been working in the lives of His people. We publish most genres except horror and erotica. We are always accepting submissions and we welcome your questions. We love to tell the story!