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Friday Report: December 2, 2022

This week we concluded our Black Friday sale, during which many thousands of books were purchased. Thanks, everyone, for your support, and we hope you enjoy your holiday reading! Other than shoveling a lot of snow and caring for myself and the rest of my family as we slowly recover from our illness, I was unable to accomplish much else this week.

But I did receive a startling number of email messages, and dealing with those took up all the time I would otherwise have been able to spend updating books and doing other important tasks. That leads me to today’s rant.

Help me help you.

The entire point of Take Control Books is to solve problems, answer questions, and eliminate confusion. We are trying to bring order to chaos—to help you, you know, take control of your technology!

Our expert authors put their decades of knowledge and experience into their books to help you. But also, to be perfectly honest, we do it because we are the ones our friends and family (and often strangers) call upon constantly to answer tech questions, and we’re tired of explaining the same things repeatedly. So, hey! How about if we explain them once, in a book, instead? And then if you want an answer to that question, you look in the appropriate book.

We’re all about helping you help yourself. But that means we need you to meet us halfway.

When you have a question about one of our books, or about our website, or about anything else related to our business, do you… try to find the answer yourself before asking us?

  • Answers to a lot of common questions are inside every single book. Did you check the Table of Contents? Did you look at the “Ebook Extras” chapter at the end? Did you use the Search feature in whatever app you’re using to read the book to find the information you’re looking for?

  • Our website has a handy Search field too. You would be shocked how many people write to ask, “Do you have a book about x?” where a quick search for x on our website would have answered that question.

  • Do you have a question about an update to a book? This page has ALL the answers. Do not write to ask me whether or when a book is going to be updated. I’ve gone very far out of my way to put that information at your fingertips.

  • Did you read our FAQ? It’s linked prominently at the top of every page on our website. I update it regularly. If you have a question, wouldn’t it be sort of a no-brainer to check a site’s FAQ? (You do know what FAQ stands for, right?)

  • If you have a question about a webpage, did you read everything we wrote on that page? People send me screenshots of error messages when the messages themselves contain the answers to their questions. You don’t have to send me a screenshot. I wrote that message! Did you read it?

  • Likewise, if you have a question regarding an email message we sent you, did you carefully read everything in that message? If I had a nickel for every time someone completely ignored the text I carefully put at the top of, for example, our email receipts, I could retire tomorrow.

We put all these answers in all these places to be helpful. But the answers are helpful only if you actually read them and follow the instructions.

SO MANY people don’t read the instructions, and instead jump straight to “I’m gonna email them (or, ugh, call them) and ask.”

Not occasionally. Not rarely. Nearly every day. Often multiple times a day. And answering all those questions that we’ve already answered takes away time from doing what we’re here to do: creating books.

On our contact form, which is the way most people send us email (and it’s certainly the best way to do so!), there is a big green box above the actual fields you fill in. It says “Before you email or call,” and it contains answers to the very most common questions (and pointers to other answers). I added that a long time ago because people weren’t reading our FAQ on their own or looking in other obvious places before sending us email. And yet, even though I expanded the advice in that green box and made the heading more prominent, people still ignore it and ask the same questions.

So, I recently added another feature to the contact form: a checkbox that has to be checked to confirm that you did in fact read what’s in the green box and that it didn’t contain or link to an answer to your question.

Folks, I hate doing stuff like this. You, our book-reading audience, are composed of intelligent, literate adults. I don’t want to insult your intelligence or make you jump through stupid hoops. But I’m at my wit’s end. My time is extremely limited, and if you want updated books and fixes to bugs on our website, for example—and I know you do, because you keep emailing me about them!—then you should understand that every email message I have to answer takes away from those other things you want.

And sure enough, a couple of days after I added that checkbox, someone checked it to confirm that they’d read the instructions in the green box but then proceeded to ask a question that was right there in our FAQ, which they (obviously) did not read. Even though they said they had. And when I pointed out this fact, they were like, “Um, sorry, no I didn’t read that. My bad.”

And then the very next day, the same thing happened again, with a different customer and a different question.


We here at Take Control Books are working as hard as we can, as many hours a day as we can, every single day, to help you. Adding to our workload by asking questions you can answer yourself is doing the opposite of what you want: it’s preventing us from helping you. So, please help us and yourself by reading what we write and making every effort to find your own answers before asking us. I thank you in advance for your kind consideration.

See you next week.