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“You can have this for free, if you pretend to hold an invisible tray!”

There’s a meme that made the rounds, and one form or another of it still occasionally pops up in my social media input bins:

Oh, believe me — I have many more than just one.
But today, I’ll concentrate on one that is applicable to business, and especially to my current vocation of writing. That thrice-cursed phrase is:

The Customer Is Always Right!

They are not.

If the subject is “What color sneakers should I buy?“, then yes, the customer is always right. The choice is essentially immaterial. Little to no additional labor, time, material resources, and/or expense is incurred.
However, there is a line, beyond which, a customer’s demand becomes unreasonable — and the customer is not “always right.” They are wrong, dead wrong, sometimes “please go away so I don’t kill you” dead wrong.
This is something I formulated when discussing this point with a supervisor (back in those salad days when I held down a 9-to-5 in the world of cutting edge microelectronics).
The customer is driven by understandable market forces, and wants to get the biggest bang for their buck. Nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all!
However, difficulty arises when the customer gets intolerably greedy. Their request is of the form, “I want EVERYTHING, I want it for FREE, and I want it NOW.”
Ridiculous, right? How can a producer of goods possibly make a living if everything has to be given away? Hold onto that thought.

So, how does one answer something so unreasonable?
I think the best answer was a graphic I spotted in another supervisor’s office.

You want GOOD and FAST?
It’s gonna cost you. And proportionally to “how fast” and “how good” you desire.
You want FAST and CHEAP?
We can slap any Rube Goldberg thingamabob together. Tada! But the end result might fall apart if you look at it funny.
You want CHEAP and GOOD?
It will take a long time to design and retool. So you ain’t getting it anytime soon. (And you’ll have to buy in bulk.)

Fast forward to the world of writing.
Thanks to the great god Internet, the reader (and sometimes even the publisher) has come to expect all three of the unholy trinity of Good, Fast, Cheap. I won’t wax eloquent anymore on how ignorant and selfish this is, regardless of how prevalent it is.
But I WILL plant my flag in the ground here. I ain’t giving my writing away for free anymore. I expect SOMETHING in return for my blood, sweat and tears. The bait and switch of “you’ll get exposure” doesn’t cut it anymore — for me, at least.
OK, I’m stepping off my soapbox now…

Anyway, my social media advisors tell me I must have a call to action at the end of my blog entries. Trouble is, I have no clue how to transition from a crabby lecture to a pleasing unicorns & rainbows sales pitch. So here it is, pure and unadulterated.

BUY MY BOOKS! Have a nice day!

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