And this is where slogging through Number One’s crazymaking was worth this gem: “You paid for your training in sweat, money, tears, and sometimes blood. Why are you giving it away?”
As some folks know, my day job is formatting ebooks and designing print books, and otherwise helping authors get where they want to go in the world of self-publishing. I consult with nonprofits, corporations, and churches to manage their in-house publishing divisions.
Occasionally, someone will come along who wants my help, and they start picking my brain about general things because they don’t know where to start and the plethora of information on the internet is almost as bad as no information at all. No problem. I like helping people, answering their questions. After all, there are people who handed little nuggets of wisdom down to me when I didn’t even know what questions to ask. The companies who hire me pay for all this advice.
There comes a point where the potential client is not picking my brain so much as trying to learn how to do my job. I can always tell when they get to that point because they’re asking specific formatting questions, but they’re not asking the right questions.
This is where I stop responding to their emails.
This summer was difficult for me work-wise. So when a potential client continued to email me to mine my brain after I’d already invested several hours in him, I stopped responding because I simply didn’t have any more time to spare for him.
And then I got a nasty note berating me for not helping him. He did offer to pay for my “exclusive time,” but not until after he’d had his say.
This is where my viewpoint differs from Number One’s. I don’t feel like I’m giving my knowledge away for free, I feel like someone is trying is trying to steal from me. They don’t value my knowledge, my time, or my skill, therefore, it’s fair game.
Coincidentally, today I went googling for a user’s manual for a 40-year-old tool. It was online, free, a scan of the original user’s manual. I don’t know who did that, but I will be forever grateful.
Knowledge comes with a price. In my case, it was time. I don’t mind donating a little of it, but time (like money) is a finite resource. My family has to eat. And sometimes, an hour makes a big difference.