A few more musings from the fringe (me!) of this strange industry.

I’m constantly learning new things. Sadly, few are positive. Take the small-publisher discussion list that I’m a member/lurker of.

— Over the past six months one of the list members has related how a company has ripped him off in thousands of dollars worth of books and speaking fees; is looking for a new merchant account that doesn’t charge him a huge amount of interest or hold his money for 10 months at a time; and last month left his laptop on a plane (the laptop is long gone and contained the manuscript for his new book, along with plenty of personal info). This man makes his living as a financial advisor. I’m wondering how he manages to put on t-shirts without accidentally strangling himself.

— This list has also recently engaged in a war over how to treat list-newbies and their ‘dumb’ questions. So far, no one has pointed out the fact that even the ‘experienced’ people posting on the list ask dumb questions like “How can I use a blog for marketing?” Everyone is a newbie to everything at some point, and all newbies ask dumb questions. (That’s being a newbie.)

However, most of the people on this list are arrogant and think they have all the answers,* which they think gives them leave to be exceedingly rude (in all fairness, they’re pretty ugly to each other as well). As usual in the online world, the rudest people on the list are the ones who post the most, leaving me to conclude that they have lots of spare time. Lots of spare time when you regard yourself as an important person in the industry means you aren’t very busy. (And maybe they’re always cranky because they don’t feel successful?)

— One of the crassest posters on the list is also an interior designer (in this case, someone who lays out the text of the book, not a decorator). Because I wasn’t paying too much attention to the list postings a few months ago (I deleted 90% of the posts instead of actually reading them) and he is supposed to be a well-respected figure in the field — I contacted him first for an interior design quote.

Like most of his ilk, you have to waste your time with a long, back-and-forth process just to get a quote because these people never think to put a dollar figure on their sites. A little information on their typical range of rates would be a help. Just like contacting an escort who never posts her rates, one is usually unpleasantly surprised by the information. His fee for laying out my simple, text-only book was quite high. I told him thanks but no thanks; he well beyond my budget. (There were a couple who were much higher with their quotes and several much lower, most averaged slightly below his rate.)

I thought nothing of this until he announced he was starting a blog. Lo and behold, one of his postings was about my inquiry to him. He was uncomplimentary and ugly to the extreme. I tried to post a comment but he has a freebie blog that doesn’t work right so I sent him an e-mail, which, predictably, started an argument and I had to stop answering his e-mails.

Several things about this encounter were disturbing. First, and most obviously, this was a supposed professional whom I was contacting for services because they had no rate information on their site. I had no idea my inquiry would become blog fodder and I don’t appreciate it. Due to the reactions I’ve been getting about my book, I’m already leery of any service people in the small-pub industry, now I’m even more cautious in whom I choose to contact. It seems that a lot of this industry doesn’t pride itself on behaving professionally. (Since I’ve already found good people to work with, I’ll be sticking with them until they tell me to go away! But I may need to retain the services of new people, like a publicist or copywriter or someone else.)

Secondly, his words and reactions were those of an incredibly bitter, unstable man. He reacted to me the way he did simply because of the topic of my book and what I used to do. (I don’t think he would not have reacted this way if I was a teacher publishing a book on reading.) He found it unbelievably ironic that a former escort would make purchasing decisions based on price. This assumes that we aren’t human like everyone else, we’re too stupid to shop around, and should be happy anyone is willing to work with our tainted goods.

He reminds me of the men who would write me adoring mash notes (from my escort ads), requesting that I become their girlfriend and then turn vicious when I said no. According to them, the problem lay with me. According to this designer, the problem lies with me. I mean, why else would I turn down the chance to overpay the great Design Master? Frankly, he sounded like a man who’s propositioned too many escorts, been turned down and gotten bitter about it. (Or he contacts escorts and tries to negotiate their prices down because he is the sort of person who can’t believe that they’re worth their stated rates, whatever that may be.)

I’ll be happy when I no longer need to find new service people to work with. I’m becoming increasingly disenchanted with the field of alleged professionals in the small press industry (who often feel that being a ‘professional’ gives them the right to be nasty to those they consider unworthy).

— On a positive note: all this makes me really love the people I’ve chosen to work with. I will help them put their children through college.

*For the record: I don’t feel I have a lot of answers but I do have a lot of questions. That’s why I keep searching, joining lists and going to meetings.