Getting the Fastest Question Response

I always want to be sure that you get fast, courteous responses to your book-specific questions. Even though I don’t check my e-mail every day, I do check it most days of the week, so that’s the fastest way to contact me regarding issues that you have with my books. Of course, you can make the response even faster by doing a few simple things when sending your email:

  • Be sure to include the name of the book and the book edition in the message subject line.
  • Tell me which page, figure, or listing number to look at in the book.
  • Document the steps you took.
  • Provide me with the exact error message you’re seeing.
  • Tell me about your platform (operating system, the version of any software you’re using, and so on).

If you provide these basic pieces of information, I can usually answer your questions much faster—often without asking for additional information. E-mail communication can be difficult at times because it lacks that in person body language element and you can’t show me what you’re seeing on your machine. Remote diagnostics are harder than you might think.

It’s also important that you understand that I focus on book-specific questions. I’ve discussed this issue before in Sending Comments on My Books and Sending Comments and Asking Questions. The bottom line is that I want you to be happy with your book experience, but I also don’t have time to provide free consulting. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns about contacting me at John@JohnMuellerBooks.com.

 

Sending Comments and Asking Questions

Anyone who reads my blog for very long understands that supporting my books is a big deal for me. I actively work with my readers because I realize that you have the choice of using books written by other authors. Let’s just say that my support system is one of the reasons you really do want to buy my books. My blog not only answers common questions you have, but also adds examples and other information to the information you already receive through my books, so make sure you keep you eyes peeled for additional information here as well.

The last time I discussed this topic was in 2011 in my Contact Me, Please! post. The same things apply now as they did then. I’ll answer your book-specific questions as soon as I possibly can and in as much detail as I can. However, I won’t write your school term paper for you, accept a marriage proposal, or provide free consulting (amongst other things readers have asked me to do in the past). If you’re having problems with an example or can’t find the book’s source code, please be sure to ask because I want your experience with my books to be nothing less than phenomenal.

I also encourage you to be a beta reader. You can see the posts I’ve made for several recent books. The biggest reason for me to ask readers to participate in the book building process is to ensure you get the book you want. I also want to avoid Errors in Writing. As far as I know, I’m the only technical author on the planet that invites reader comment during the writing process, but I truly feel your input is essential, so I request it in every way I can. As I get new book contracts, you’ll continue to see requests for beta readers posted on my blog.

You can always contact me at John@JohnMuellerBooks.com with any comments and questions you have. This includes both books and blog posts. Let me know about any concerns you might have and I’ll do my best to solve them. In the meantime, happy reading !

 

Sending Comments on My Books

I regularly receive a stack of e-mail about my books. Readers question everything and it makes me happy to see that they’re reviewing my books so closely. It means that I’m accomplishing my principle goal, helping you understand computers in every possible way so that you can be more productive and accomplish tasks with less effort. When I make something easier for someone and they tell me about it, the grin extends from one side of my face to another. It really makes my day.

Some readers are still asking me if it’s OK to send me comments. I definitely want to see any constructive comment that you have. Anything that helps me understand your needs better or corrects errors in my writing makes it possible for me to write better books. As I mentioned in my Contact Me, Please!, I really do want to hear from you. The main element that I need to obtain a usable comment is that it’s constructive. A comment that says, “This book really stinks!” doesn’t tell me anything. Here are some of the things you can do to create a constructive comment:

 

  • What book are you reading?
  • Which page contains the error?
  • What do you view as an error on that page?
  • How would you fix the error?
  • What sort of system are you running?
  • Are you using the correct version of the software (the same version that appears in the book)?
  • When did you encounter the problem?


The more information you provide, the easier it is for me to understand the issue and provide you with feedback. In many cases, I’ll upload the fix to my blog so that everyone can benefit from the response (so be sure you keep an eye on my blog for new entries). I work hard to ensure that my books are as error free as possible, but everyone makes mistakes. Also remember that sometimes mitigating factors, such as differences in software versions or anticipated hardware, make it appear that there is an error in the book when you’re really looking at a different in environment. Help me provide you with better books—send me comments!

There are a few things that I won’t do for you. I won’t help you pass an exam at school. Your learning experience is important to me, which means that I want you to continue your education by working through the instruction on your own. I also don’t provide free consulting. This means I won’t check the code that you created on your own for errors. I’ll help you with any book-specific question, but I draw the line at that point. Let me know if you have any input or insights on my books at John@JohnMuellerBooks.com.

 

Contact Me, Please!

I ran across an online review of one of my books the other day. The author was mainly complimentary, but said he couldn’t contact me using e-mail and found that he felt alone in using my book. He obviously had unsolved questions and felt that he had been left alone to solve them by himself. Of all of the complaints I receive about my books, not being able to contact me for help is the one that hurts worst.

I want you to be able to contact me. In fact, I check several times a day, five days a week (Monday through Friday) for reader e-mail and try my best to provide same day support. The only exception is when I’m out of the office on vacation (I’m striving to provide an automated message to let you know when I expect to return to answer your question). Even then, the first day back from vacation is spent answering reader e-mail. Your comments, questions, and general observations are incredibly important to me. Just in case you haven’t seen it in the book, my e-mail address is:

John@JohnMuellerBooks.com

If you purchase one of my books, you’ll see my e-mail address in at least two places: About the Author and the last chapter of the book as a bare minimum. I try to make it a point to mention my e-mail address five or six times in the book. In at least some cases, you’ll also find my e-mail address on the back cover.

Despite my best efforts, you may find it hard to reach me. If you can’t reach me for whatever reason, contact the publisher. Every publisher I work with has a Web site with a contact page. Normally, the publisher supports a forum in addition to an e-mail address (plus other contact methods that vary by publisher). If you contact the publisher, you can be sure that the publisher will contact me. The publisher knows it’s in its best interest to send any reader queries my way as quickly as possible.

At this point in time, I want to wipe out the “I couldn’t contact the author” complaint from the face of the earth. If you have anything to say about one of my books, don’t be afraid to contact me and say whatever is on your mind. You may be surprised to find that I care deeply about your needs and want to be sure you get the best possible use from my books.

That said, there are some people who try to take advantage of me. I won’t provide free consulting and no, I really am not a marriage prospect (I’ve been happily married for 31 years now). I truly don’t have time to debug your personal project, no matter how much it might interest me (and believe me, you readers have come up with some truly amazing projects over the years). However, if you have any question about my book, the source code, additional materials, or anything of that sort, please contact me, rather than assume I won’t treat you right.

Now, here’s an opportunity to tell me how to improve my books. If there is some other place that you’d like to see my e-mail address, tell me about it. I truly want to hear from you. Let me know where it would help to see my e-mail address so that you can contact me about my books whenever you want. I’ll be waiting to hear from you at John@JohnMuellerBooks.com.