Friday, July 23, 2010

Apologize & Learn (For Tamar Weinberg)

Yesterday I had a chat (via Twitter) with Tamar Weinberg about her book, The New Community Rules. To make a long story short, it didn't go well. I'm pretty sure that by the end of it, she thought I wore a pointy black hat, cast spells on people and rode around on a broom (because I sure thought she did). A connection that should of been win/win ended up feeling negative. I have zero interest in negativity.

So, I took some time to think about what happened and realized that I was unfair to Tamar. I wanted to apologize but also wanted both of us (and you, dear reader) to learn something from this.


Dear Tamar,


I realize that I was unfair to you yesterday. I had researched the 4 most popular books on Community Management and your book, The New Community Rules, came up. When I saw that it was published by O'Reilly, I got really excited. I know that O'Reilly publishes many of its books in PDF for free. My current salary (none) does not enable me to buy books, so I was excited that I might be able to read it now, and not have to wait weeks and weeks for the library to get it. I'm also from a Open Source background and was still flying high from the community and collaboration of the Community Leadership Summit 2010 and OSCON. I stand behind everything I said about not really being able to lock down a book, and that you could expand your readership exponentially by offering it for free.

But, in retrospect, I realized that I did not contact any of the other authors of the books I found. Only you, because your publisher was O'Reilly. And in this, I was unfair to you. I should of treated you all the same. For this, I am sorry.


I can see from your blog comments, and from the reaction I got from you, that you have been asked many times if there is a free version of your book. I can't make that question stop, but I can suggest some ways to make the exchanges more fun.

Here's our exchange:

You have a potential reader that has taken the time to track you down, wrote a heartfelt message, and has stated that she is honest. Rather than sending a short, curt message, this is the perfect opportunity to Thank, Listen, Engage and Educate.

My suggested response:
I'm so glad you are interested in my book! Thanks for checking with me, but no, there is no free & *legal* copy of it.

This sort of response would of left a positive message while also educating about the situation. Most people would probably stop the communication there, but let's assume they continued (like I did).

You still have a potential reader that is asking thoughtful questions, and suggesting things she thinks might help you. Again, I suggest you Thank, Listen, Engage and Educate.

My suggestion:
Thanks for thinking of me. The licensing of my book is not up to me. :( Sorry you can't swing the $. Have you tried the library or sharing with a friend?

I know you are thinking, "Why suggest the library? You will lose a possible book sale!" Well, if you look closely, you can see that I never had the intention of buying the book. I suggest you think beyond money. You want to create evangelists, but they don't have to all buy the book. The conversation could of ended there, and on a positive note. Instead it unraveled:

I hope you take this apology and these suggestions to heart. I truly want you to succeed Tamar. And if you now think I am the queen of the witches, that's fine. My hope is that someone had read this and learned something helpful.

All the best,

Lia Hollander
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