Archive for the ‘Rant Alert’ Category

Boundaries

Saturday, October 18th, 2014

This post is an author’s tale of how she confronted a reviewer who did not like her book, an article published in The Guardian, and so given legitimacy.

This post was written by a man who felt his ex should continue interacting with him even though she did not want to.

I see little difference between what’s behind these two articles. In one, an author can’t get past someone’s bad review. Despite all evidence that the reviewer did not wish to be known, this author tracked down the reviewer and made contact. On multiple occasions.

In the other, a woman no longer wished to see her ex, and he writes and publishes an article in which he details why he should get what he wants.

In both, we have the words of the person who pursued a relationship despite clear evidence the other person did not wish, want, or invite the contact.

Both people have written a long justification of actions that violated the peace and privacy of another person.

Both of the people who were contacted against their will, repeatedly, were women. I don’t think that’s an accident.

People like the authors of these articles terrify me.

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The Flush Pile – An Author’s Perspective

Monday, September 29th, 2014

Some of you may know the current situation with Ellora’s Cave. If not, this post at Dear Author should get you to the information you need.

The TL;DR is that several authors who write for Ellora’s Cave have said they are not being paid money due them. The rumblings began at least a year ago. Recently, EC laid off all of its freelance staff. Jane at Dear Author recently wrote a post in which she discussed the ongoing situation at EC. The owner of EC has now sued Jane for defamation. Do head over to DA if you want to know more about this situation.

I am an author who was with a publishing company that was heading toward bankruptcy. (Dorchester Publishing) This post is about what the experience was like for me. My situation ended up with a silver lining, but the outcome I had was never certain, just as it is not certain for any of the EC authors who are wondering if they’ll ever get paid or if they are going to lose their books.

If you have books with a publisher in the Flush Pile, here’s what’s quite likely:
1. No, you are never going to be paid money owed to you.
2. Yes, you could well lose your books. Gone.

Every publishing contract I’ve ever signed has had a bankruptcy clause. The clause means nothing. Zero. Zlich. It might as well not be there. If your publisher declares bankruptcy, your book is an asset of the company to be liquidated and turned into cash to pay to creditors. Authors are dead last on the list of creditors.

At Dorchester, authors talked amongst themselves. Advances and royalties due to authors were paid slowly. Some of use waited months for advances to be paid. More and more often, authors just weren’t paid. Foreign rights got sold and authors were never told. Those monies never appeared on royalty statements. I was surprised, for example, to find that one of my books had a Dutch translation. Toward the end, I also learned about other translations I was never told about and never paid for. One of them did not even have a signed contract despite being on sale. As royalties continued to be paid in haphazard fashion, there were consolidations and reductions in books, imprints and staff, and sales of rights to backlist titles of prominent authors to other publishers. (Marjorie M. Liu’s titles were sold to Avon, for example.)

None of this is legal advice. I’m not a lawyer. But if you’re an EC author, I do have some non-legal advice. In fact, I have advice for ALL authors with traditional contracts.

In 2010, my agent, who did not represent me at the time of my Dorchester contracts, was working hard to get reversions for me. I wanted them anyway, because the books were out of print and/or I was not being paid the money due to me. Dorchester had not filed for bankruptcy, but there was wide speculation that they could not recover from their difficulties and a filing was felt by some to be inevitable. I was advised that it was possible that rights reversions made within the year prior to a bankruptcy filing could be deemed fraudulent and any reversions negated. I was horrified to learn there was case law to that effect.

Even before the non-payment issue was a severe problem, it was clear to me that at long last, there was a good reason (ie, self-publishing) for an author to vigorously pursue reversions for all books that met the criteria of the out of print clauses. I’d read all those clauses and had begun that process with all my titles well before this. And by the way, I was roundly ignored everywhere except for Harper-Collins, who noted the request and put it on their schedule for a decision 6 months later. Literally. The meeting was in 6 months. Let that sink in.

My reversions from Dorchester came through at the end of 2010. Other publishers were an even harder nut to crack. St. Martin’s Press was spectacularly uncooperative. Hachette — I don’t even have words. And I have loads of hind-sight advice about what reversion clauses should say.

Eventually, quite late in the game, and months after I had my Dorchester reversions, Amazon bought the Dorchester backlist. Authors were given the option of a reversion or publishing with their Romance or Horror imprint. I don’t recall if Amazon agreed to pay outstanding royalties to those authors or not. By then, I was thousands and thousands of dollars ahead of the money Dorchester owed me, and more than happy with my own outcome.

My Advice to Authors with A Publisher in the Flush Pile

My advice is going to sound harsh. But, assume you will never be paid. The risk of waiting to see if your publisher rights their ship is the complete loss of your rights in your books. This is your career and you must not fail to take steps to protect your back list and front list.

You should take steps now to get your rights back. Read the reversion clause of your contract(s) and for all books where you meet the criteria follow the requirements for requesting a reversion and get it in now. Right now. If you have titles for which you have not been paid, then request a reversion on the grounds of non-payment. Get a lawyer to help you, if you can afford it. This is your professional writing career on the line, and this is not the time to be nice.

If you elect to wait it out, then make sure you understand the nature of the risk you’re taking. It cannot be that you hope everything works out. You must be sure that you can accept the worst case outcome — you lose control of your books and will never recoup your losses and never make another penny from those titles. The books will disappear from the market and you lose all benefit that accrues to your author brand when you have multiple titles on sale to the public.

In the current environment, every title you control is a title that can be earning you money right now every month. This is NOT a “I don’t know if my book is good enough situation.” A publisher bought your book. Therefore, that book can be making you money right now and you only have to worry about the vendor paying you.

This is also not a situation where you need to find another publisher. That might have been true in 2009 but it’s not true now. An author with reverted backlist can decide whether she wants to self-publish on her own or find another publisher or something in between.

My Advice to Authors With Traditional Publishers or Considering The Traditional Route

For future contracts, negotiate the fuck out of your reversion clause. If the publisher is making you both money, that is awesome. But the minute you’re not both making money or you’re below a mutually satisfactory threshold, then you should be able to ask for and timely receive a reversion. There is no nice girl here. This is your business and you should be in control of its operations. Therefore, you need to stand firm on reversion clauses.

Do not assume a publisher has an interest in your book selling well. They should, but they don’t. Their interest is in seeing which books unexpectedly hit. That’s it. If it’s not you, you’re screwed.

I have 5 books still with traditional publishers and I know for a fact that if those books were in my control, I would be making more money and more effectively controlling my author brand and, therefore, my writing career. That was not the reality of publishing prior to 2010, but it’s the reality now.

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Everyone is not Men

Saturday, July 12th, 2014

Someone tweeted this image because they found it funny. Yeah, I guess on the face of it, it is funny. But there’s a huge problem with this. What’s the problem? The way this prose diminishes women.

Image - Text Below

Problem

PLAY IT LIKE YOU MEAN IT

a real highlight win for us. Do I really hate Tom Brady? I really don’t know Tom Brady, but who wouldn’t hate him? Look at his life. Actually, look at his wife. Every man in America hates Tom Brady, and he should be proud of that.

The text is from Play Like You Mean It: Passion, Laughs, and Leadership in the World’s Most Beautiful Game, written by Rex Ryan, with Don Yeager listed as a contributor. It’s about American football.

I’ll step through the problems.

1. Premise: We should all hate football player Tom Brady. Note that the language is “Who wouldn’t hate him? Look at his life.”

Now up to here, yes, this is amusing enough. Tom Brady is a talented football player. A genuine sports star. And, the language is inclusive. Every sports fan, male or female, can agree that Tom Brady has an enviable life playing a sport he loves for a lot of money.

2. Why should we really hate Tom Brady? Because of his wife.

But, but, wait! Aren’t there a lot of female sports fans who would hate not Tom, but Tom’s wife? Because allow me to point out that Tom Brady is kind of hot. And he went and married a model. Instead of me.

3. “Every man in America hates Tom Brady.” Because of his wife.

And so, in the blink of an eye, we go from a true everyone to everyone = men.

Boom. 51% of the population just disappeared. All the football fans who happen to be women just got erased.

“Everyone” hates Tom Brady because he married a beautiful woman.

Well. No. Actually.

Language like this needs to be challenged. This passage could have been written to retain the amusing suggestion that straight men envy Tom Brady living out the NFL quarterback dream and marrying a model without removing women from “everyone.”

Everyone isn’t just straight men.

Everyone means all the people who aren’t Tom Brady and, presumably, his wife.

When you write a passage in which women exist only as objects to be married by a man, you silently perpetuate a great harm.

This needs to stop.

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Women Used the Internet to Speak and George Will Can’t Stand It

Friday, June 20th, 2014

George Will, syndicated columnist for the Washington Post, wrote an Op-ed in which he said, basically, being a rape survivor is a “coveted status” and now ALL the women want to have been raped. And in order to achieve this, they are lying liars about their “assaults.”

Oddly enough, women did not take kindly to that. The outcry and objections were plentiful.

In a recent interview Will doubled down. In that interview, he repeated his his assertions about woman rushing to lie about being raped and then essentially called his critics rude and hysterical. Why, in this environment, think of all the young men who won’t be able to go to medical school and law school!!

So, ladies, calm down. Stop saying you were “raped” when really, you just got drunk and deserved it, or you dressed slutty and deserved it, or you studied late at the library and walked home alone so you deserved it, or your boyfriend, husband, acquaintance wanted to have sex but you didn’t– too bad!!–he was just taking what was his right to have anyway (yes once means yes all the time!)

Basically, you made it up so you could join the survivor’s club and get your free “I’m a survivor” pin that gets you first in line at the ER AND the mental health clinic.

The internet, Will tells us, in a YouTube video, why, it gives people a voice and they can say whatever the hell they want! Loudly! And rudely! They can lie with impunity!

They can even be ignorant as hell.

It’s not like women’s voices have been systematically suppressed and erased and harassed out of the newsroom or anything. After all, the number of female syndicated columnists equals the number of male syndicated columnists. Am I right? And it’s not like no one on the internet or anywhere else is telling women to shut up and threatening them (with rape!) if they don’t.

Those statistics about rape don’t make sense to Will. He can’t fathom a world where the victim of an assault would choose not to report it to the police yet admit to a pollster that she was assaulted. He can’t fathom a world where there are 400,000 untested rapekits.(Hey, if there’s no rapekit test result, there was no rape!)

:::Excuse me, if you’re transgender, why are you even listening to this conversation? Non-white? Tell your story somewhere else.:::

He has a problem with Colleges that don’t turn these “assaults” over to the criminal justice system where the accused will get full due process.

There’s no disconnect between pointing out that and leaping directly to, therefore, women are lying liars and men won’t get to go to graduate school. His point is that women get to say whatever they want about being assaulted and schools don’t turn such claims over to the police and so the accused never face charges.

:::I really don’t see the point in talking about “surivors” who get no justice. We all know men are the real victims here.:::

On average, an estimated 211,200 rapes and sexual assaults went unreported to police each year between 2006 and 2010. Although serious violent crime was generally less likely to go unreported to the police than simple assault, a higher percentage of rape or sexual assault (65 percent) than simple assault (56 percent) victimizations went unreported over the five-year period.
Bureau of Justice Statisics

From the same report:

During the five-year period, nearly three-quarters of all violent victimizations occurring at school were not reported to police. Of the more than 450,000 unreported violent crimes at school on average each year, half were not reported because they were dealt with in some other way, such as reported to school staff or other officials, or were considered to be a private or personal matter. A fifth thought the crime was not important enough to report.

Again, ladies, you don’t really live a world where you see, time and again, women held to impossible standards of purity while “boys will be boys!” You aren’t at greatest risk of being killed or assaulted by a man you know. Come on. It’s not like you have to warn each other about the office or campus creep. You don’t need to be afraid to leave an abusive partner.

Only about 2% of all rape and related sex charges are determined to be false, the same percentage as for other felonies (FBI). So while they do happen, and they are very problematic when they do, people claim that allegations are false far more frequently than they are and far more frequently than for other crimes. Put another way, we are much more likely to disbelieve a woman if she says she was raped than if she says she was robbed, but for no good reason. [Here]

Lookit, if you didn’t have boobs and a vagina, there wouldn’t be a problem, that’s all Will is saying. Well, that and who gives a fuck about rape when so many men are falsely accused.

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FU GitHub

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

Here’s an interesting juxtaposition:

I wrote this post a while back. April 2nd, I think. It’s about how, as I see my son heading to what looks like a tech career, I would be tempted to tell my daughter (if I had one) NOT to go into tech.

And then, not long after, I posted this — in the same month.

In light of the Julie Horvath mess, and in light of the juxtaposition of those two things, I stand by my trepidation.

As a woman in tech, and hell, just a woman in the USA, it’s obscene that any company could declare itself free of gender discrimination or harassers or any other of the endemic facts of gender bias.

“Hey, we asked around and all the guys said, Nope, we don’t do that and all the girls nodded. We tots rock.”

Here’s the truth:
1. 97% of the guys thought that was true.
2. 3% of the guys said it was true, knew it wasn’t, and believe woman get what’s coming to them.
3. 50% of the guys suspect it’s not true, but their female colleagues seem fine with the culture, so it must not be a problem!
4. 90% of the woman know there’s a problem and have learned the hard way that HR doesn’t do shit and if they want to keep their job or the hope of a good recommendation if they leave, they need not to say anything.
5. 10% of the women are too new to understand what’s happening and don’t know yet they’re underpaid by 20% because of their gender.

Fuck you, GitHub.

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The Enjoyment Ratio: T-Shirts vs. Books

Sunday, March 23rd, 2014

Forget the stupid coffee. Now it’s Books versus T-Shirts!

15.00 for a t-shirt (Because I am NOT paying $25.00 for a t-shirt–I wait for a Woot-off.)

Wear it once a week for 1 year (assuming 12 hours of wear-time per day) = 624 hours of enjoyment!

My T-shirt costs me $0.02 per hour of enjoyment. Admittedly, some T-shirts last a LOT longer than a year. I still have and wear T-shirts I bought when I was in college.

I can read a 100,000 word novel in 8 hours, more or less, assuming I am captivated enough to finish it.

Let’s compare that to T-shirt enjoyment at $0.02 per hour

The comparable Book price should be …..

$0.19!

You’re welcome.

 

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Author Fascism

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

[Comments temporarily closed for this post.]

I didn’t pay much attention when Ann Rice went off on a high profile rant about anonymous reviewers. That’s been done, and I’m kind of tired of it.

But Rice gets big press and the Change.org petition she signed suddenly became high profile.

The gist of it is this: Authors get hurt by people who post reviews that are mean, personal, not about the book, threatening, and/or vile.

The solution requested by the signatories is that Amazon require reviewers to post under their real names. And now there are authors who are continuing the campaign.

Part of me wants to go off on a rant about this, and maybe that will be another post. But actually, this is a serious matter.

I am appalled that authors would suggest this is an appropriate solution.

Here’s the Rant after all

We cannot carve out spaces that look like this:

Novel writing space: Write whatever you want, however distasteful to some sensibilities. Pen names OK! Registration of copyright under a corporation OK!

Review writing space: [Rules defined by authors.] Must review under your real name.

Let’s try an experiment.

Jane Doe has a full time job teaching 4th grade. She also writes erotic novels in her spare time. She writes under a pen name because she feels it’s important for her day job and her writing to stay separate. She might lose her job, otherwise. Her students might Google her, find out what she writes, see covers inappropriate for their age, and perhaps even find an excerpt, and that would not be good. At all. For any reason.

Jane Doe has a full time job teaching 4th grade. She also reads and reviews erotic novels in her spare time. She posts her reviews under a pen name because she feels it’s important for her day job and her writing to stay separate. She might lose her job, otherwise. Her students might Google her, find out what she reads, see covers inappropriate for their age, and perhaps even find an excerpt, and that would not be good. At all. For any reason.

Explain to me why Jane Doe author can be anonymous but not Jane Doe reviewer?

Anonymous speech makes it easy for an asshole to be an asshole.

Anonymous speech makes it possible for people to speak out against moral wrongs.

Anonymous speech exposed criminal wrong-doing by a sitting President of the United States of America.

To argue that we should do away with anonymous speech is to argue that it’s better for wrongdoers to get a pass than it is to allow speech that some may find offensive.

If reviews must be accompanied by a real name, then there are reviewers who will no longer be able to post reviews for reasons that have nothing to do with mean, hateful, or threatening content in a review.

Perhaps the reviewer has a sensitive job but enjoys reading and reviewing sexually explicit books.

Perhaps the reviewer has a violent ex and is attempting to establish an online presence that her ex does not know about.

Perhaps the reviewer used to read and review Dino-Porn but now feels that she must leave Dino Porn behind because she has undergone a moral change and wishes to live a life free of Dino-Porn.

Perhaps the reviewer’s home address, phone number, and names of her children were posted to a website by an author.

Perhaps the reviewer has been threatened by an author.

That Solution is Not the Problem You Were Looking for

Every one of these arguments has a corresponding flip side.

Taking away anonymity of reviews would have far more devastating consequences than seeking a solution that deals with reviews that are out of bounds — supposing we can or should arrive at such a definition. I don’t believe we should, by the way.

It’s far harder to seek a targeted solution that deals with the actual problem– assuming there is such a problem– than it is to seek a solution that affects 100 percent of reviewers.

If you go around proposing jackbooted solutions to speech you don’t like, you run the risk of some wag inventing the phrase Author Fascism.

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On Talent and Artistry

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Eventually, every author hears a request like this:

I have a great idea for a book. If you write it, I’ll split the money with you.

Authors roll their eyes at that sort of thing because we know writing a book is hard work. In fact, the actual writing is way harder than the idea. Ideas (at least in my experience) often come when I’m doing something else not writing-related. Heck, that’s so easy it wasn’t even work! For me.

Now, to the person who has never written a book, I can see how, superficially, it might seem easy. But that’s because that person has no idea. How could she/he? Well, actually, there are lots of people who may not know how much work it is, but they can guess. Because if you’re at all thoughtful or attentive, it makes sense that it wouldn’t be all that easy.

So.

When I overheard an author say that she had a good idea of the graphic work she needed done, so it should be easy for a graphic artist to carry out, I said to myself, Dude. Are you crazy?

That’s insulting to people with graphics talent, and a writer should know better.

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Kerfluffle!!! In Publishing

Monday, January 20th, 2014

So this author posted about how much money she made with her debut traditionally published novel. (TL;DR: Not very much) Rumor is her publisher immediately asked her to remove the post, which she did.

Then Courtney Milan posted about how (in Romance) the performance of books with non-white protagonists is blamed on the non-white protagonists when, in fact, books with white protagonists have had the same poor performance. She provided print numbers and pointed out some facts about the apparent value of a print deal.

Also, Steven Zacharius of Kensington Books wrote an article for HuffPo where he trotted out a lot of misinformation and bad statistics about self-publishing. He also appeared in the comments at a noted site-scraper and defended his position. Kudos to him for mostly keeping a cool head in a highly charged environment. He also appeared at Joe Konrath’s blog and did much the same.

::hand waving and babbling!!!!:::

Traditional Publishers LOVE to trot out bad studies and then make the wrong conclusion from them. A recent poll (by either Writer’s Digest or the ALA, I can’t remember which, though they both suffer from the same issue…) concluded that most self-publishers make less than $500.

::more hand waving and babbling!!!! Authors should be not leaving us!!!!!:::

Well, one of those studies included authors who have yet to self-publish anything.

Edited to add: Annnddddd, here’s a link.

Digital Book World interviewed almost 10,000 traditionally published authors,self-published authors, authors who are both traditionally published and self-published, along with aspiring authors. (Emphasis added.)

Carolyn’s projection: Writing income for an author who has nothing on sale: $0

Edited to add: WHY the hell would you include aspiring authors in a “study” on author income?

Neither study managed to reach a single Romance author. Everyone on the major email lists for self-publishing Romance authors had this reaction: What study was that?

Zacharius asks, among other things:

1. If self-publishing is so great, why aren’t the big authors leaving?

Answer: Where they can, they are. (Stephanie Laurens, Theresa Maderios, Lara Adrian to name just three.) Besides, a lot of authors, big and little, are constrained by the terms of the contracts they signed. Some of them can’t leave. Yet.


Carolyn’s thought bubble: That YET should scare the pants off NY.

2. What do self-publishers have to do to promote themselves? (With the usual implication that a traditional publisher will do MORE and BETTER!)

Answer: EXACTLY the same thing we have to do when we traditionally publish, which is just about ALL the promotion. Furthermore I was present at a Kensington RWA panel where the Kensington employees actually said they don’t so the same promotion for everyone. Already best-selling authors get MORE promotion.

God, this is just so tiring. Publishers continue to conflate print distribution and reader reach with income. As an author, naturally I want readers to find me. But as a self-published author I make more money on fewer sales.

I give up.

If they want to hold tight to bad math, bad statistics, and this belief that what they do for best-selling authors applies to ALL their authors, they can go right ahead.

And lots and lots of Romance authors will continue to self-publish and make a hell of a lot more than $500.

Carolyn’s Thought Bubble: Watch the hell out if offset printing becomes cost-effective for self-publishers.

Edited to add:What’s the old saying? If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.

Traditional publishing is busy baffling us with bullshit.

Jan/21/13 Edited to add: The lastest DBW nonsense is this $295 report “What advantages do Traditional Publishers Offer Authors” which was described thusly in my daily “get carolyn enraged email” :

The author community is abuzz with news of self-published authors who are making very good money by going indie. With the stigma diminishing, this alternative mode of publishing has become increasingly attractive to both new and seasoned authors. However, the 2013 Digital Book World and Writer’s Digest Author Survey found that despite the excitement about self-publishing and complaints about traditional publishing, authors held a strong preference to publish with traditional publishers.This report seeks to understand why.

What advantages do traditional publishers offer authors? The 2014 Digital Book World and Writer’s Digest author survey was designed specifically to compare the perceptions, experiences, and economic returns to authors associated with traditional publishing and self-publishing respectively. In this report, we take a close look at the case to be made to the author community in favor of traditional publishing as well as the areas where traditional publishers might enhance what they offer their current and prospective authors.

When I saw that today, I tweeted this: Because they don’t know any better. #MotherofAllSubtweets

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Sears and the $75 Million Refrigerator

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

How Sears Could Save Millions with website Useability

Three months ago, my dad replaced two junky old fridges in the garage and bought a brand spanking new one from Sears. He also bought a warranty. The new fridge cost about $700.

Almost immediately, there were problems. The freezer wouldn’t keep things frozen. After three Sears Warranty home repairs at a cost to Sears of $750, the third repair man told my dad: The freezer works this way by design. There is an ambient temperature monitor in the unit such that when the outside temperature is below 55, the freezer raises its temperature. If your fridge is inside, it’s not a problem. It’s a feature. If you put your fridge in the garage, and many people do put an extra fridge int the garage, it IS a problem. And this is why, in the user manual, there is a page that says what number to call to order the garage kit.

OK. Think about that.

Two Truths

1. Sears knows that this ambient temperature feature requires an add-on kit for units that will be in a garage.

2. NOBODY EVER READS THE GODDAMNED MANUAL.

xkcd cartoon for Read The Fucking Manual

RTFM courtesy xkcd

OK, if I had a nuclear power plant, I would RTFM.

ROI

Sears has sent 3 repair people out and replaced three parts at a cost to them of $750. More if you factor in phone calls to the warranty department.

Sears repair guy #3 admitted this happens all the time. ALL the time. If this happens just 100,000 times, Sears has lost $75,000,000.

Here’s how you’d do it.

1. Ohh! I want THAT fridge. Click.
2. Website: Will you put this fridge in a garage?
3. Clicks Yes
4. You will need this garage unit for your fridge. Add to your order?

I guarantee that change will not cost millions of dollars.

As someone who has bought from Sears before, this a problem across their website. For ALL their appliances. If I buy a product from you, Sears, and you know some people need the door handle on the right and some on the left, FUCKING say so at the point of purchase. That way the customer doesn’t find out until it’s too late to have the fridge delivered with the door on the correct side. If I buy a gas stove, TELL ME exactly what add ons I might need for that model.

You’re welcome, Sears.

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