Tuesday, March 13, 2007

CafePress: from awe to "Augh!"

A tragedy in pictures.

I went back and checked the 305-page PDF that CafePress had done for me, and which I had uploaded to the CP site. The PDF is fine; no foreign manuscript adulterates its pages. This means that the foul-up probably occurred when the book was being physically assembled, not when it was being printed. Having seen this process in action at my local CopyZone, I can see how a bit of inattention might lead an unthinking worker to stack manuscripts incorrectly. The CopyZone folks have been very precise in their handling of my manuscript, but I see that the back of their work space is filled with reams and reams of as-yet-unbound manuscripts.

As you might imagine, this snafu greatly diminishes my estimation of CafePress. Up to now, I've been happy with how they handle products like mugs and mousepads and tee shirts, but when the very first book I order shows up with nearly half the text missing and replaced by a foreign text, I'm not left in a good mood. This isn't as selfish as it might sound, either: I'm worried that, because the mistake occurred during book assembly, it might occur for my customers as well. Anyone who buys my product needs to know they're getting what they pay for, return policies notwithstanding. When my printer makes a mistake, I end up looking bad and potential readers end up wasting time and money.

Perhaps I will keep this book and follow the advice in the intrusive half-manuscript about how to create, market, and sell my products. But right now, I'm wondering whether it might not be better for me simply to sell directly from the printer here.

Two more books are coming from CafePress. The second book ought to have slightly better-aligned cover graphics. The third book will sport the same cover as the second book, but will contain the final (and, we hope, error-free) draft of the manuscript. As I mentioned before, the third book is also from a different PDF file-- this is a file I created on my own and uploaded directly to my CafePress site after much struggle. I'm very curious as to whether that third book printed out properly. I'm crossing my fingers in the hopes that the next two books' interiors will contain nothing but my 305-page text. We'll see.

Meanwhile, many thanks to the mystery author of that CP marketing manuscript for the, uh, free consultation.


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