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Matt-M-McElroy

What it Means to Work with Everyone

Posted on April 10, 2015 by Matt-M-McElroy

Normally, it can be difficult for me to talk about my day job and/or part-time gig as a freelancer here on Flames Rising due to any number of reasons. However, after learning so much over the past few years I wanted to start talking about various aspects of what I do.

Today, I want to address what it means to work with everyone…

There are thousands of active titles on the sites I manage for DriveThruRPG.com, DriveThruComics.com, and DriveThruFiction.com. I’ve had the pleasure of working with publishers and creators that are beyond awesome. I’ve also worked with publishers and creators who say and do things I disagree with in any number of different ways. For example, I have seen publishers lashing out on on social media or forums at customers they disagree with, or failing to pay freelancers, or never fulfilling obligations, etc. Most publishers and creators will of course fall somewhere in between the extremes of awesome and not-awesome. Most times folks are some each depending on the week or project.

This does bring up the question of the availability of titles from different publishers on these sites. There has recently been a bunch of questions along the lines of why the sites have [Product ABC] by [Creator XYZ] available when they did or said some thing the person asking doesn’t like. Personally, this bugs me a little. To accuse me (or the folks I work with) of endorsing every single title and publisher that is currently available on site is more than a little absurd. That just isn’t how an open submission online marketplace works. We are not boutique shop where we are friends with everyone who sells on site and thus curate the list of available titles based on our personal views. Much like say Amazon or Barnes & Noble we have a huge database and actively encourage a do-it-yourself environment with a suite of publisher tools built to make it easy for big companies and tiny self-publishing creators to upload and make their work available to the world.

So, that means that a huge variety of people with vastly different world views, politics, and lifestyles are going to make their titles available all in the same place.

This also means there is going to be a wide range of professionalism from those same people. Some people will be in this for a business and treat it as such, others will be doing this as a hobby just uploading something they work on now and then for fun, others will specifically be creating products to push an agenda or explore important issues that are important to them.

This, is just one part of what makes my job awesome and occasionally frustrating as well.

The amazing array of creative energy that goes into RPGs, Comics, Fiction, and all of the other types of products sold on these sites. Am I going to love everything that is uploaded? Not remotely. Am I occasionally turned off by the poor quality of a PDF or appalled by the unprofessional behavior of some creator? More often than I like. However, due to the nature of our mission to be an open submission style marketplace that actively wants more content from creators all over the world we’ll get more than a few duds alongside the awesome. We are definitely going to get titles that cover questionable material and titles from creators who are rude/unprofessional and just about any other adjective you can come up with.

The sites have a robust review and discussion thread system. Customers can rate and review titles they have purchased. Anyone can contributed to the discussion threads on the title pages. I feel this can be a good way for the community to judge quality of a title. Awesome stuff will be highly rated, not-so-great stuff will be rated poorly. Best sellers will climb to the top of the Top 100 Lists. The community will talk about stuff that isn’t in the product (such as a creator’s politics, attitude, etc.) offsite on social media and forums, which will also help customers decide if they should support that creator.

Anyway, this rant comes from the occasional message I get claiming that I personal endorse some title (or the creator) just because that title is available on one of the sites I manage. As someone who has been working in eCommerce for years and years…nope, that just isn’t right.

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