Coming Clean: Blog Disclosure Day


My buddy RC was recently at an industry event and one of the instructors called him over to the side and basically said, “Hey man, be straight with me. Does Scott really write his blog himself, or does he have a team of people that write under the “Scott” name?”

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this, and I’ve been hearing similar things for years about my books, so I thought I’d interview myself and come clean about the blog, my books, and some other stuff people ask.

Q. So, do you really write all this stuff yourself?
A. Sadly, yes. I write every single word you read here on my blog, and in my books myself. I don’t use “ghost-writers” or anyone else to write the blog or my books, or any article you read with my name on it. I know. It’s a sickness.

That’s why I needed “No Blog Wednesdays,” because I just couldn’t keep up with all my work duties and the blog. Now, I’ve got “Guest Blog Wednesday” which believe it or not, takes around 30 minutes for me to prepare to post each week, but that still takes less time than writing the blog entry myself, (but it does make me long for “No Blog Wednesday” sometimes). The real problem now is; the stuff my guests have been coming up with has been so great, that now I can’t stop it, and I really look forward to reading their posts!. The vicious cycle continues. ;-)

Q. Yeah, but what about using “Co-Authors?”
A. Out of the 50+ plus books I’ve written so far, there were five of those books where I did have a co-author, and my co-author’s name appears on the cover, their photo and bio appear on the “About the Authors” page, and in those cases we split the book 50/50 (so if the book has 10 chapters, I write five chapters and they write 5 chapters).

Q. So why do you use co-authors?
A. Sometimes it’s because I wouldn’t have the time to write the book if I did it all myself (figure it this way; it takes half as long to write half a book), and sometimes it’s because my co-author knows parts of the program better than I do. For example, Terry White and I co-author a book called “InDesign Killer Tips.” I’ve been using InDesign for years (I use it every single day), and there are parts of it I know inside and out (like anything to do with Type), but Terry is an expert at InDesign Interactivity, PDFs, creating rich-multimedia documents with InDesign, and a whole lot more, so I called Terry and asked him to do the book with me, and he did a brilliant job. Without Terry’s involvement, I wouldn’t have even attempted the do the book.

Q. OK, that makes sense, but I’ve got some other personal questions I’d like to have answered. Is that OK?
A. Absolutely. You’re my favorite interviewer, and besides; I feel pretty certain you won’t ask any questions that I wouldn’t feel comfortable answering.

Q. I appreciate that vote of confidence you’ve put in me. You’re really quite a guy!
A. {Blush}. Well, that’s awfully kind of you to say.

Q. So, “Mr. Write It All Myself,” it’s pretty obvious you’re sponsored by Nikon by the way you’re always pushing their cameras. I guess that’s because they send you all your gear for free, right?
A. I wish. Every piece of Nikon gear I have, I paid for (well, some of it my wife bought me for Christmas, and my Book Publisher did present me with a 14-24mm f/2.8 lens for being the world’s #1 bestselling Computer and Technology book author for the fourth year straight, but other than that, I paid for it all). I did sell my Nikon D-200 and D2Xs and some lenses and that helped pay for some of my new Nikon stuff.

Q. Why don’t you ask them to send you free stuff?
A. I’m incredibly uncomfortable asking anybody to send me free anything. It’s a personality defect I guess, but I just hate asking (obviously, more than I hate paying). I don’t mind asking for review units, so I can try out new gear that’s released, and share the results with my readers, but sadly at some point (usually sooner than later), they want it back. I’ve already asked Nikon for review units of the new D700 and SB-900, and I hope to have them later this month, but then they’ll want them back. I hate that last part. ;-)

Q. So how do you get all your gear?
A. I write a lot of books.

Q. Ohhhh, right. OK, here’s another thing: how come you’re not on Photoshop User TV every week? What’s really going on when you’re not there?
A. I get all sorts of email from people who think that when I’m not there somehow something sinister is going on, like there’s trouble on the set, or something like that, which just amazes me. If I’m not on the show, it’s simply because I’m out of town the day we tape the show. If I’m in town, I’m on the show, because I love doing it.

Q. So do you, Matt, and Dave really get along as well as it seems?
A. Absolutely. We are the best of friends and hang out together both at work and after, and what you see on the show is just a continuation of the earlier part of our day. We work in a totally creative environment, and we laugh and joke around an awful lot at work, and what you see on the show is exactly what it’s like during the day at our offices (ask anybody who works there). The reason the show is often silly and sophomoric is because that’s just who we are. We don’t sit there any go, “Hey Matt—at one point in the show, say this or that.” That’s WAY too much planning for us. The show happens as spontaneously as it seems. There is no pre-production meeting, or scripts, or even adult supervision. We meet at the studio at 2:30 pm, and we pretty much just start the show. The only thing we really know at the start of the show is three things:

  1. The “word or phrase” of the day (i.e. “Welcome to another ‘vitamin enriched‘ episode of Photoshop User TV”)
  2. Who’s doing the first tutorial
  3. When to cut to the first commercial break.

We tried the script thing, and pre-production meeting thing early on and we just realized; we’re not professional news people, so it doesn’t work for us. It looks too planned and stiff. We’re not actors. We’re “The Photoshop Guys,” for better or worse (usually worse).

Q. OK, new topic: What about this blog? Aren’t you supposed to give unbiased opinions on stuff here?
A. Nope. That’s what Photoshop User magazine is for, and why it’s become one of the most trusted sources for unbiased product reviews in our industry. But here on my blog, you’re getting my personal opinion, which is biased because I’m only going to recommend the products and services I use myself. I feel that my responsibility is to always give an honest opinion and honest advice, and I give the same exact advice here as I would give a close friend or family member.

Q. Doesn’t that get you in trouble sometimes?
A. Yup. I’ve made some companies really, really upset (and I’ve gotten some really terse emails from them), but I have an obligation to tell it like it is. If their product is great, I can’t wait to tell everybody. If there is a problem, I have to tell everybody, too. I feel like people look to me for the straight scoop, and to be their advocate when it comes to products and services, and I take that role, and the trust they put in me, very seriously.

Q. Do you really read all the comments posted here?
A. Every single one. Even the mean ones. They all get forwarded as email to my iPhone, so even if I’m not in front of my computer, I see them right as they come in.

Q. Do you ever delete a comment?
A. Thankfully, over the years I’ve been posting to this blog (I started back in 2005), I’ve only had to delete a handful of comments. I let a lot of stuff slide, even stuff that is highly critical of me, so it really has to be a personal attack on me (or a friend or co-worker), or just a downright hateful comment for me to remove it. Every rare once in a while one of those pops-up and I delete it, but thankfully it’s rare. That’s why I don’t moderate the comments in advance.

Q. But what about free speech, and all that?
A. This isn’t The New York Times. If you attack me on my personal blog, the blog I write each day for my friends, I have no obligation to let you use my own blog against me. I’ve been very fortunate in that most folks here are very friendly with me and with each other in the comments section of each post (in fact, I’ve become email buddies with many people from this blog), so I’m grateful it’s a place where friends gather to learn, and help each other (and a lot of people do help out on this blog by posting comments).

Q. OK, lastly, tell us something revealing about this blog that most people wouldn’t know.
A. I often send personal emails directly to people who post comments here. In fact, I do it nearly every day. Sometimes it’s to answer a question they posted, or if it’s a question only I can answer, if I have time I’ll drop them an email (when you post a comment, it includes your email address, but only I can see it). Also, sometimes I just drop folks an email to thank them for something nice they’ve said, or just to say “hi” to someone I see posting a lot of comments, or a thank you to someone who’s helping answer questions. I wish I could do more of this than I do, but again—it’s a time thing.

Q. Scott, thanks so much for taking the time to give us this peek behind the curtain. It was certainly enlightening. I’d also like to add that you’re much more handsome and taller in person that I expected.
A. I knew you were going to say that. ;-)

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