There’s a scene in Fredrik Backman’s book My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry when Elsa, the main character, recalls a piece of advice from her grandmother:
Granny always said: “Don’t kick the shit, it’ll go all over the place!”
Why should this advice matter to you?
While Granny never out and out says it in the book, the unsaid yin to the yang of her advice would likely be:
Hug the sh*t.
Sh*t in this context is anything that gets in the way of what we want to do, anything unexpected that pops up and has us exclaiming “sh*t” or “shoot” or whatever your word choice is for such situations. Smells a lot like Resistance. The trick is to turn the sh*t around, to use it for good. Think fertilizer instead of nuisance.
In this post, examples of sh*t come courtesy of the recent ebook giveaway of Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t.
The Mobi/Firefox Sh*t
The Mobi file for the ebook wanted to open up, rather than download, for Firefox users. The result? Firefox users were presented with gibberish on their screens. Of the thousands that downloaded the ebook, less than 100 contacted us about this issue. Of that 100ish, a few e-mailed to give us a head’s up, and note that they sorted out access on their end (right click on the Mobi file image, rather than click on the Mobi file image), while the others assumed the link was bad, that we weren’t using a good service, that we were up to no good and literally providing sh*t.
How to handle this sh*t?
We e-mailed this group and advised them how to access the file and/or offered a print edition. The majority of the individuals were fine, but a few still couldn’t access the files. No luck period. A free print edition was offered to a number of people in this group.
Side note: When it comes to ebooks, one group will always consist of technically-challenged individuals. Even if your files are perfect, this group will not know how to access the files because they don’t know how to use their devices. Even if you make it as easy as possible, some will never sort out access to your files. Offering them a free edition when available has been our route in the past. It’s better to help than to restrict access to the one route they can’t sort out.
The Server Sh*t
We were overloaded and ran into an issue with the server for a short period. The result? Though it was a blink of a period, individuals trying to access the free download during that blink ran into problems. The files timed out, wouldn’t download?
How to handle this sh*t?
We e-mailed the individuals to sort out what was going on, apologized, and offered a free print book in most cases.
The E-Mail Sh*t
A few individuals scanned the e-mail with the free offer. Instead of clicking on one of the file images, this group clicked on the “more information” link, which directed to the sales page. The result? Once they bought the book, and then learned more about the free ebook via friends, other newsletters, etc., they became upset. In their minds, we should have offered the book for free first (which is what we did), before offering it for sale.
How to handle this sh*t?
The child side of me wanted to point out this group’s error, but the adult side learned a lesson. The “more information” link was sized on the large side. It pulled in the eyes. In the future, we’ll rethink the sizing and where the eyes are drawn. For now, we apologized for the confusion and refunded the cost of the book and shipping. Should the reader of the email have paid more attention? Yes. Could we do a better job making things as simple as possible? Yes. We can always do more.
As a side note on the e-mail, I had wanted to add a place within the e-mail for people who were interested to sign up for the Black Irish or Steven Pressfield mailing lists, too, but Shawn thought that might be too confusing. He was right. Had we done that, it’s likely that we’d have a group that felt they’d have to sign up to receive the promo. In the end, new people did sign up for more info. and they did it on their terms. Lesson learned: Keep things simple.
Hug the Sh*t
In the natural world, sh*t is a fertilizer. Rather than being a nuisance, it helps things grow.
One of the greatest lessons Black Irish Books has learned is that sh*t is a great way to grow relationships, hence all the outreach mentioned above, in the “how to handle this sh*t? sections.” While there are miserable people out there, the majority of those contacting us with one issue or another have been amazing. Some sh*t happens on our end, they reach out to give us a head’s up, and once we connect, relationship seeds are planted. The sh*t they contacted us about is potent fertilizer, rather than the variety of crap you drag your shoe through the grass to remove.
While my schedule could do without the sh*t, the Black Irish Books business can thank the sh*t for helping it grow.
So, as Granny might say,
“Don’t kick the shit, it’ll go all over the place!” Hug the sh*t instead.