Buyer Beware

I was going to get on here today and write something warm and fuzzy about my writing process for NaNo or the wonderful discoveries I’ve made in the premade cover world of indie publishing, but this morning has turned into an utter nightmare and has really brought my mood way down.

One of the cover designers I’ve recently worked with has been skating on thin ice with me for a while and has just fallen right through it into the murky abyss below. I first contacted this person a few weeks back on a Thursday after stumbling upon this person’s site the day before. I liked a lot of this person’s covers, even recommended this person’s business to other indie writers on Lousy Book Covers, so I read this person’s FAQ section that says they answer all email inquiries they receive in a timely fashion and their turnaround time for premade covers is 24 hours.

Perfect, right? I thought so, so I ordered one for an ebook I had coming out. I did this on Thursday. When I didn’t hear from this person on Friday, not even to say, “Hey, I got your email – I’ll get to your order when your payment goes all the way through” or “Hey, got your email – I’m swamped so I’ll get to it within X amount of days,” I emailed again Saturday night asking to be contacted immediately since I paid for a product on Thursday and had heard nothing from the seller about it. For all I knew, I was sending money to a dummy account and talking to thin air.

Finally, this person gets back to me Sunday and states they received my order, but that the site states they don’t work weekends and it’s obviously a weekend. Never mind the fact that my order was sent on a Thursday, not the weekend. Anyway, this person did give me my cover, along with a snide comment, but I let it slide because this person also claimed to have been ill all week and couldn’t get to a computer. Okay, fine.

Letting this person’s attitude slide was the first mistake. The second mistake was ordering from this person again.

I went back, foolishly, thinking that that experience was probably just a blip – two people who have never interacted before just having different styles of communication. I think that when one is running a business where people are paying you for goods, if you’re going to be out of the office or away from your desk, then putting an out of office message up to let your customers know what’s going on is good service. I do it all the time both at my day job and when writing. But maybe that’s just me.

I ordered two covers from this designer Sunday night, got them Monday morning, and Monday afternoon I sent this person an email asking for a correction to one of the covers. Now, I sent this email because I thought I’d sent one earlier that morning asking for the correction, but checking my sent folder later that day, it hadn’t gone through. So I sent an apologetic email that afternoon saying I was sorry to be spammy (I wasn’t sure if this person had gotten the first message), but could this correction be made. I heard nothing from this person all week. Then, I get an email Friday morning, this person’s newsletter to be exact, and I was stunned. I’d heard nothing but radio silence from this person all week, but you’ve been in your email to send out your newsletter?

I couldn’t believe the rudeness. I’d checked my sent folder again, just to make sure my message hadn’t been swallowed by the iPhone Yahoo mail monster again – it was in my sent box. The message had gone through.

So what am I meant to take away from this? To me, it reeks of unprofessionalism and looks as if I’m being ignored. So I send another email asking where this person is and then ask about future covers, you know, trying to keep the conversation cordial and businesslike. Hours pass and I’m up early into the morning doing research on cover designers and find a few that are cost effective and good. I decide then that I no longer want to be bothered with this other designer any longer so I email asking to be taken off the mailing list.

Well, this morning I wake up to a page-long rant from this person that I stopped reading the minute this person referred to me as “missy.” First of all, no one is going to come out of their face and condescend to me that way. Period. I don’t care who you are and what you do – when I approach you courteously, you approach me in the same manner or don’t approach me at all. It’s that simple.

But in the beginning of this epic rant, this person went on to say they never received the email I “claimed” to send so I forwarded the exact message back and pointed out if the message hadn’t gone through, and this person genuinely didn’t get it, that’s all they needed to say. The nasty and belligerent tone wasn’t necessary. I would have apologized for my mistake and moved on, but I let this person know that their response to me was all the confirmation I needed that I made the right choice in cutting ties with this person.

So the designer sends me another email minutes later with my corrections – and another 50,000 word rant that I didn’t even bother to read. I thanked this person for the corrections and said that once again, they proved how completely unprofessional they were by their response. All this person needed to do was either a) move on (as I did – I wasn’t even expecting to get the correction at this point and figured I’d hire someone else to fix the cover) or b) send me my corrections with no message attached.

This person chose to act like a butthurt three-year-old because I asked to be removed from a mailing list. Now, I could have avoided this entire situation if I had done my homework before interacting with this person. This designer posts on a board I frequent and is constantly getting into Internet skirmishes with people who post things this person doesn’t agree with. I was actually very appalled by this behavior when I discovered it yesterday because if you’re trying to promote your business to indie writers, fighting with them over nonsense isn’t the way to go about it. Again, it smacks of an unprofessional person. If I had seen these posts prior to yesterday, I would have taken my business elsewhere.

The real capper came a couple of hours ago. I’d told this person to stop contacting me, that our business was through. This person sends me yet another email (although, this one wasn’t the length of War and Peace so I guess I should be thankful for small favors) telling me that they are apart of a mailing list of other cover designers and this designer has told them about me, calling me “Rude, unprofessional, and not worth the time,” or some other such nonsense, and then basically threatens me by saying none of the designers in the business will ever work with me. This person then signs off, “Good luck.”

I was livid. I was shaking, I was so pissed, but you know what my response was? “Wow! Very classy.” And that’s it. I couldn’t say anything else or stoop down to this person’s immature level and I’m not going to let someone bring me to that point. It’s not worth it.

Moral of this story? Vet the people you do business with before any money changes hands. Seriously. Save yourself the headache.

Now I’m off to go ogle the beautifully weird cover I just received from another, highly respected indie cover artist this afternoon. It’s awesome and the designer was fast, courteous, and professional. Love it.

UPDATE: The person she was talking about has emailed her once again. The email has been deleted with no response and was not read. We’re looking into blocking the email address from coming to Indie Spirit Press’s account and if we receive anymore unwelcome correspondence after asking said person not to contact this company’s email box again, we will look into filing harassment charges. Internet stalking is NOT okay, folks.

6 thoughts on “Buyer Beware

  1. Yikes! I won’t “like” this post because it’s just a horrible example of things that can go wrong when you don’t expect it. Sorry you had to deal with all that garbage. But at least it was a learning experience that will make your future work that much easier, and better.

    • Thanks, Dave. This has been the day from hell. First I had to deal with this nonsense, now I’m sick. And I’m not entirely sure the stress of this craziness isn’t responsible for aggravating my stomach problems.

      All I know is, I’m no longer giving people second chances. That’s what I learned from this experience. If my gut tells me someone is bad news, I’m moving on no questions asked. Life is too short to put up with other people’s drama.

      • Absolutely. Always go with your gut … it will always be right. You don’t need to give people second chances to mess up your work. It’s your writing and it deserves to be treated professionally. I know you’ll make great decisions in the future. Sorry to hear you’re getting sick as well. Makes for one crappy day. Hope you get to feeling better very soon!

  2. As someone who buys premade covers fairly regularly, I’m a bit concerned now. I’ve never had any problems so far, but would you be willing to share the name of this designer so I can avoid them in future??

    • I won’t name names because that wasn’t the point of the post (plus, I’m a firm believer in the whole “Speak of the devil and he doth appear” thing and the only place I want this person appearing is at a shrink’s office to get their meds adjusted, NOT this blog).

      I will, however, tell you that I’ve had wonderful experiences with Jes Richardson at coverbistro.com and Cormar Covers just this weekend – the latter after this whole saga was over. Check out their sites and see if they have anything you’ll like. If they don’t they’re both really helpful and they have great rates for something custom.

      Don’t be concerned about buying premades from designers online. I continue to work with some amazing people in this capacity who are courteous, responsive, and most of all, professional. What this post was really about was making sure indies do their homework before engaging perfect strangers and entrusting them with their time and money. If I had waited a bit to see this person’s aggressive, argumentative side that keeps popping out at random times on the net, I could have saved myself the trouble and gone to Cormar sooner. I don’t deal with aggressive types well in real life – that’s just me. Someone else could see this person’s posts and see nothing wrong with the tone. Everyone’s different. As long as you’ve had good experiences so far, I’d say don’t be nervous – just be alert and be smart.

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