July 13th, 2012

Why I Don't Automatically Believe People Who Say Things I Wish Were True

There are LOTS of reasons why I don't automatically believe people who say things I wish were true (or even maybe believe are true), but they can all be lumped under the general heading of, "Uh, oh, someone is conning me. Again."

Recently, the Truly Excellent Nate Hoffelder at the Digital Reader linked to a blog post in his Morning Coffee. The blog post purported to describe how a woman had written a book, sold it to a traditional publisher and then was really, really, really appalled at how badly they were going to market it. After the publisher flew her out to New York to meet with the marketing team, she backed out of the contract and decided to self-publish. Implied -- altho not stated out right -- was that she was going to get to keep the advance money they had already paid her. Along the way, the blogger claimed to have run an independent bookstore (family business) while growing up and that the numbers the publishers had for how many copies of her book were going to sell in independent bookstores made no sense at all. She also asserted that 85% of books were sold through Amazon.

Now, there's a mix of things here, some of which are plausible, some of which are not, some of which I'm inclined to believe, and some of which I find incredible (that publishers are still using Usenet groups as a major way to publicize books -- altho Usenet is still around so it is possible this is true). But the tone of the post set off every single This Person is Nutty flag that I have, so I picked off the name of the blogger and googled it.

Boy, howdy. I first encountered her in one of her previous blogs, when she was going through a divorce a few years ago, which has not stopped her from really unsubtle attacks on anyone who gets a divorce written _after_ those events. There's the whole tweeted-miscarriage event and most recently (not counting the minor duststorm kicked up by the post that reminded me of her existence) the naked but carefully safe for work pictures of the bruise on her hip associated with allegations of domestic abuse.

My first reaction was, gah, run away. But for whatever reason, male bloggers have a tendency to stick with this stuff, so sure enough, another link in the Morning Coffee about the post in question and why it wasn't plausible. I'm not going to link to that; you can find it your own damn self. The author picks apart some of the same things that struck me as implausible, but then concluded with this:

"All that said, we have here the case of an author who claims she is upset at her publisher because her publisher wasn’t going to market her book the way she wanted. While many of the statements in the post reek of inaccuracy, I think there’s a lesson here: Publishers need to satisfy their authors’ when it comes to how they will market their books."

Ah. OK. So, here's what I'm going to say about this.

_I_ figured that any publisher who would hire this particular blogger because of her numbers (and she has those numbers, including print newspaper columns), would also recognize that this blogger is A Management Problem. However, the author of the piece at Digital Book World apparently DOES NOT realize this blogger is A Management Problem, and thinks it is the publishers job to "satisfy their author", which even the most superficial google search on the name would suggest is Probably Not Possible. Being dissatisfied is obviously Working Well for her, so I'm not saying she needs to change -- but if you're going to do business with her, you do need to set your expectations appropriately.

Meanwhile, I had used the entire exercise (prior to the DBW piece) as an example of how one should not worry about what Nutty People say about you, because Sensible People can Recognize Nutty People and Discount What They Say. Anyone who believes a Nutty Person is, ipso facto, nutty themselves.

Thus, I conclude that the author of the DBW piece is Nutty.

Wondering why I'm not mentioning any names? Because these are people who will force me to do much more active moderation in my blog and I Am Lazy. If you can't find the stuff from what I posted, google miscarriage tweet (doesn't need to be in quotes). Have fun. Stay safe. And remember that the blogger in question actively defends herself and reads very, very fast.

Great Uncle Harry and first cousin once removed Ellen Marie in 1940

Ancestry.com sent me an email to tell me that a bunch more states have been fully indexed and are therefore searchable -- including Washington State. This is exciting: I was born in Washington, and so was my father and his mother. I'd succeeded in finding my father's family in the 1940 census prior to indexing, because I knew where they were. I'd been less successful with his father's brother.

But he turned up instantly in 1940 with the index: living, as expected, with his 15 year old daughter. I'm having a lot less luck with Ellen Marie's then-future in-laws, however; I'm betting their last name was transcribed wrong so it'll be a bit tricky finding them.

Ignorance WAS Bliss

I have been on twitter for years, but I almost never check in and even more rarely tweet. However, in the course of doing a little egosurfing, I abruptly realized that this blog has collected some number (goddess I hope its small) of tweets and retweets -- including at least one hate tweet (probably justified: I was slagging Macmillan and along the way mentioned an author in a very contemptuous way; hardly surprising the author would respond somewhat pissily). Yikes. I think I might have been happier not knowing.