It’s All About The Cookies

I used to hang out with Customer Service’s evil twin Customer Hell.

You might know him. He deflects problems like Roger Federer does tennis balls—he sends them in directions you aren’t expecting, until  you waste hours of time, scrambling to sort things out.

After years of being around him—whether at the phone company, the TV company, with home contractors (he gets around)—I picked up a few fleas. When things didn’t go right, I raised my voice, gave curt, sarcastic answers, belittled.  It was the only way I knew how to deal with Customer Hell.

And then I screwed up and I needed Customer Service to help me out.

My family is addicted to Cheryl’s cookies. A couple of years ago, I bought them for clients, and mixed up the greeting cards. I had the wrong cards going to the wrong clients. When Customer Service answered my desperate call for help, I assumed Customer Hell was on the phone and proceeded accordingly—even though I was the one at fault. To Customer Service’s credit, he stuck with me until I realized I was talking with the good twin. He hustled to try to help, but the orders had already gone out. I called my clients to let them know of the screw-up and then wrote Cheryl’s a thank you for trying to help.  Customer Service made me rethink my approach—my assumptions—and I wanted his company to know.

And then Cheryl’s sent me a generous discount coupon, thanking me for sending positive feedback. It seems I wasn’t the first to assume their phones were answered by Customer Hell, too.

These days, Steve, Shawn, Jeff, and I are borrowing Customer Service’s hat, trying to do for Black Irish what he does so well—get back to people in a timely manner, help out when issues come up, and so on.

For the most part, people have been kind and understanding—and for those assuming Customer Hell is up at bat, we keep cool and pull from Cheryl’s playbook.

We’re striving for Customer Service’s example—and banning that evil twin.

Along these lines, we’ve developed a Frequently Asked Questions page, to address some of the issues people have contacted us about. If there’s anything you’d suggest adding, please let us know.

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Steve shows you the predictable Resistance points that every writer hits in a work-in-progress and then shows you how to deal with each one of these sticking points. This book shows you how to keep going with your work.

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A short book about the writing of a first novel: for Steve, The Legend of Bagger Vance. Having failed with three earlier attempts at novels, here's how Steve finally succeeded.



Steve shares his "lessons learned" from the trenches of the five different writing careers—advertising, screenwriting, fiction, nonfiction, and self-help. This is tradecraft. An MFA in Writing in 197 pages.



Amateurs have amateur habits. Pros have pro habits. When we turn pro, we give up the comfortable life but we find our power. Steve answers the question, "How do we overcome Resistance?"



  1. Basilis on July 27, 2012 at 4:15 am

    Your frequently asked questions exorcise for good Customer Hell!

    I just have to ask one question that might one day have to do something with the frequently asked questions:

    Is there a possibility of Black Irish Man books to be translated in other languages?

    Have you ever thought a cheap and sufficient way to send translated version of the books when asked?

    I’m sure that it is extremely (expensive and) difficult to try it when a single guy from Greece or Senegal, or China asks for a printed version of the book.

    But what about e-books?

    Is there a way that the translating expenses can stay in low cost?

    I guess that the ideal situation for what I’m talking about is this:

    A customer from Greece, Japan, Aegupt asks for a translated version, and Black Irish Man provides it without creating high-cost problems for customer and publisher.

  2. david Y.B. Kaufmann on July 27, 2012 at 6:36 am

    I expect to meet Customer Service first – and have with you!

  3. Carrie Sharpshair on July 27, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    Talk about timing!! I was on the phone with said Customer Hell when this came into my mailbox. It was a great reminder that not every company out there employs Mr./Ms. Hell. Love everything Steven writes. Thank you.

  4. Ryan Nagy on July 31, 2012 at 10:12 am

    To give a thumbs up to what “Basilis” wrote above, I would love you for ever and ever if you could crank out some spanish language editions of any of Stephen’s “self help” stuff. I am a U.S. expat living in Mexico and would love to buy and gift spanish-language editions of his stuff. And for that matter, Seth Godin’s work.

    hmm..and for that matter Kindle Spanish language stuff. Getting stuff shipped down here can be expensive. Actually, it can be cheap too. But when it is cheap it rarely arrives.

    Just some thoughts. I know you guys are busy and spanish language editions might not be financially viable.

    cheers! – Ryan

    • Basilis on August 6, 2012 at 7:59 am

      Actually Ryan I believe that the odds are better for your language. Half of the world is speaking it!

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