Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Retreat after 'Retiring': Publication Project Cancelled

the past few days have been full of rumble tumble:1/ i finalized Poetry Pacific (3.2), posted each page and released the summer issue yesterday morning, but got some postings mixed up with dates, as in the cases of previous issues; 2/ i prepared, finalized, and released PP's 3rd solo poetry collection by a bermudian author, but only for the author to notice the upper margin wrong; as a result of this mistake, i have had a terrible time trying to solve this technical problem eventually without success. fortunately, the author proposed to release her from our publishing contract, and i readily 'retired' the published book from my project list with lulu. here is my response to her::

thanks so much for your kind and considerate message, and i fully endorse your proposal to release your from the contract! while i am sorry that you do not like the idea of publishing your book on a print-on-demand basis via lulu, please feel free to do whatever you would prefer to do with your manuscript, since you own all the publishing rights anyway. 

during the production process, i have learned some valuable lessons as a small press publisher about publishing other authors' poetry as a 'business' or rather an 'economy of love'. to tell you the truth, my love of poetry has been causing me to suffer much more than necessary in terms of time, money and health. maybe it's high time for me to back down and just concentrate on my own writing and getting my own poems published. 

at this moment i also feel deeply sorry, exhausted, frustrated, eye-hurtful, regretful and disheartened about the project, but i am grateful to you for your kindness, understanding and tolerance. to set both of us free from this awkward situation, i am certainly ready to say yes to your request to be released from Poetry Pacific Press. 

i have to take a break now as my eyes cannot open any more... 

i did all this while still working with a student at my home classroom. because of this extremely bad experience with lulu/computer technology, i have to take a break now - alas, ironically right after i announced my plan yesterday to take email subs for future poetry book publishing projects - to either consider switching into a different 'self-publishing' agency or improve my own computer skills. sadly, i am not prepared for either of the two options for the time being: my eyes hurt so much that i have to keep my computer time minimum.

i would very much love to pursue my interest in maintaining our e.journal and publishing poetry by other authors, but with my lousy computer skills and deteriorating health, i find it increasingly hard to continue this solo; perhaps i really need to do some rethinking about how to spend my limited resources.

computer technology has been as much an angel as a devil, as far as i am concerned. i fast-read a book today: the design of everyday things by don norman. here are some intriguing points:

- all artificial things are designed by humans;
- innovation may come fast, but slow is its acceptance, and even slower its fading away;
- human error? no, bad design; (i've long been haunted by this as i see stupid designs everywhere)
- 5 whys to find the root cause;
- technology changes fast, but people and culture slowly;

his talking about the confusion of poorly designed doors, and complex kitchens is inspiring: i wrote and published a good poem about doors, and could write more about the idea of door and kitchen.
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[lesson learned from lulu experience: archived]
Re: Lulu Support Case 01087637, [ ref:_00D506zQ6._50050UjWqh:ref ] -7aug14
"Lulu Support" <existing_ticket@lulu.com>

hi dear Beatriz, 

thanks so much for your kind message!

i have too much to say, but simply put, it's a terrible experience with lulu for me this time - as a result of the technical difficulty we run into and failed to address in time, the author was so disheartened that we had to release her from our publishing contract and retire/cancel the whole project after so much effort we all have put into it, in terms of preparing, editing, promoting, etc...

thus far i have never gotten any answer to my repeated question:: why did i have to face such technical crisis although i did exactly the same things and following the exactly same procedures as i had done before? - i had successfully published 2 authors before this one. did it mean lulu has changed its software or system? if so, why less convenient and much less user-friendly now? in other words, why the file converting issue this time? if we as a one-man small press had to know all those technical details about how to edit files (esp on a pdf format), change the margins and sizes (of any document in any format), and convert them in anyway we want to fit in any template (lulu provides), then there is no need for us to use lulu's service. the meaning of your very existence is to enable us to 'self-publish' works, but it seems i cannot self-publish through lulu, not this time at least. 

several suggestions to improve your services::
1. your contact phone should not always be an answering machine, as live cross communication is much more efficient and helpful;
2. make your system more compatible with any possible editing, converting software used by a typical author;
3. make your system truly user-friendly: most authors are technically 'poor,' if we had all the necessary computer skills for editing documents (sizes, fonts, margins, page layouts, etc), each of us authors can have our own 'lulu';
4. give the author/publisher more choices when it comes to cover images, templates, layouts etc.

on the whole, you are offering authors/small publishers a great opportunity, but there is a lot more room for improvement.

from this experience, i have learned a big lesson about the need to be more cautious with authors as well as lulu.

thanks for your time and attention!

-mike yuan
publisher of Poetry Pacific

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