June 19th, 2013 by Bob Bly
Subscriber SM isn’t happy with me.
A week or so ago, he e-mailed and asked me a yes/no question
about his career.
I immediately e-mailed him the answer, which was one word: “Yes.”
I was proud of getting to the point so succinctly. But my answer
made SM unhappy. He wrote:
“Thank you for your one-word reply. It is obvious to me now that
I have to spend $$$$ with you to be a friend.
“I must tell you I have spent Aussie dollars on two of your
books The Copywriters Handbook and How to Write and Sell Simple
Information. Obviously an e-mail with a few words of hope or
incouragement [sic] must be too much.”
As a professional writer for 34 years, I feel compelled to point
out to SM that being concise in writing is a virtue. Its main
benefit is an important one: it saves the reader time.
I like to think I have mastered the art of concise writing, and
I have to tell you that many of my subscribers who e-mail me
They send long, convoluted e-mails in which they have buried a
point or question somewhere, then expect me to do the work to
dig it out.
Since I am incredibly busy, I won’t. My usual reply is: “Can you
ask me your question in fewer words, please?”
I think what bothered SM was that I wasn’t more chatty and
leisurely in my e-mail to him.
He also thinks his having bought a couple of my books (on which
I earned a total of about $2 in royalties) obligates me to spend
a certain minimum amount of time with him. Obviously he feels I
did not take enough time in answering his question.
What he does not understand is that I get a large number of
questions and requests by e-mail daily.
I do answer every one, which is something that, as far as I can
see, most of my peers do not do. And I answer them as soon as I
But to answer them all, I necessarily have to keep my responses
Otherwise, I would be spending the whole day answering queries,
for which I am not paid, and would have no time to write copy
for my clients, for which I am paid.
I am generally cordial to my readers (unless they are rude to
me) and I have warm feelings toward them – and I want them to
So I gladly answer short questions without charge … just as I
would do for any friend.
But I do not believe I am required to be your unpaid mentor or
coach. Do you?
And since I don’t offer paid coaching or mentoring, you will
have to look elsewhere for a private teacher.
I am often asked, “Many of your colleagues offer paid coaching
programs and make good money from it. Why don’t you?”
The reason is simple: I don’t enjoy coaching. And that’s it.
If someone needs advice or instruction, they can either read my
books – or if that’s not enough, I will happily recommend a
coach to them – someone I know and trust.
I don’t know about you, but the whole reason I am self-employed
is so I can do the things I like to do – which is write – and
avoid things I don’t like to do.
Isn’t that what you desire, too?
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