October 26, 2005
When Authors Are Jerks...By Angela Hoy | printable version
Since we own an ebook and POD company, we work with quite a few authors. While most are as pleasant as can be, we do run into the occasional jerk. I thought I'd give you all a chuckle (or a roll of the eyes) this week.
We put up an ebook a couple of months ago for an author/ghostwriter duo. It was a non-fiction book so there was no charge whatsoever to list the ebook.
Last week, the author contacted me saying she'd lost the pdf file of her book in a computer crash and asked if I could send her our copy. That's a frequent request from authors and I'm happy to comply, but told her she's have to wait till the weekend because I was on the road and didn't have access to the archived pdf files.
A day later, I got an email from her ghostwriter, who apparently didn't know her co-author had already told me they'd lost the file in a computer crash. The ghostwriter had actually purchased a copy of their pdf file back in August, perhaps to test our system. Her email was extremely rude, demanding I send her the password for extracting the text from the file. She claimed she was blind and insinuated that putting a password on files violated federal law because she couldn't read the file with her software. She then said she was contacting her attorney.
Since I knew the real reason she needed the unprotected file (to extract the text - not to read the book), the jig was up. I wrote back explaining that we send unsecure files to blind customers all the time and that it wasn't our fault she and her co-author had lost their file. I also told her we password protect pdf files "to protect authors, like you, from copyright infringment." I then told her the same thing I'd told the author - that I'd send the file over the weekend.
You'd think it would have stopped there, but it didn't. That night, her boyfriend emailed us, telling us he was going to hack into our server and get the file himself. He also said he was going to track us down, call all the numbers similar to our fax number in order to find us, etc., and made other vague threats. It was quite ridiculous and, honestly, a bit scary.
I wrote back to him and copied the author and the ghostwriter telling them all that the book was no longer on our server because I'd had enough, and had terminated their contract. I told them that I don't respond positively to threats and that I would no longer be sending the file over the weekend because I'd had Zach delete all their files when the contract was terminated. I reminded them our website clearly states "We don't work with jerks." I think you'd agree, these people are definitely jerks.
The one big mistake the boyfriend made was signing his real name and emailing us (and copying her girlfriend) from his university. I contacted the university's president, webmaster and public affairs office and sent them a copy of his threatening email with complete headers. I haven't heard back from them yet, but I did get a copy of the email the boyfriend sent to the university webmaster saying he was sorry and hadn't meant it. Yeah, right.