Books by Melissa Bowersock

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Information, Please: The JustAnswer Experience

When I was finishing up one of my last novels, Stone’s Ghost, I realized I needed some help. My main character lived in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, and owned a Sea-Doo rental shop on the lakeshore near the London Bridge. Part of the story concerned his dealings with a difficult customer who manhandled one of the rented Sea-Doos. As I was writing, I took a wild guess at ways a customer could foul up a Sea-Doo, but I really had no idea. When I got to the editing stage, I knew I needed to check the facts to make sure I was telling a credible story.questionsI did the usual searching online but after several days and scores of sites, the specific information I needed was not coming up and I realized I had to do a much more targeted approach. I found JustAnswer and decided to give it a try.justanswerOn their website, they describe their 4-step service like this:

1. Ask a question
Enter your question, and create a user account.Place a refundable good faith deposit.JustAnswer will send an e-mail notifying you of any answer or request for information from an Expert.A positive rating pays the Expert and tells us you’re happy. If you got great service, consider adding a bonus. That’s all. We guarantee your satisfaction.
2. Name your price
3. An Expert answers, often within minutes, usually within a few hours
4. Rate the answer
They boast of having over 100 categories and they run the gamut from legal to medical to electrical and plumbing to relationships and clock repair (separately, not together). Since I wasn’t having much luck elsewhere, I decided to give it a try and typed in my question about small watercraft.
The “name your price” aspect is based primarily on urgency; the quicker you need an answer, the pricier it will be. Mine wasn’t all that urgent — I still had plenty of editing to go — so I chose a less expedient degree and my price was $19.

I got a response back the very same day from a marine mechanic. JustAnswer provides the expert’s credentials and experience, and my guy had 39 years of experience and was a Certified Master Technician. Seemed like just the guy I needed.

My initial question had not been very detailed, so my expert asked me to clarify exactly what I was after, and we went back and forth a couple times before I was able to really zero in on what I needed. (If I knew what I was talking about, it would have been easier, but then I wouldn’t have needed the help, would I?) In any event, we got to the crux of the issue in just a couple of exchanges and by the end of the day, I had my answer. Perfect! I paid, rated my expert and went on to clean up that portion of my book. I was a happy camper.

Will I use JustAnswer again? Definitely! This will be my go-to place for those picky little things that I need to be authentic for my books but things for which I don’t need to do an online course to learn the entire discipline. As far as I’m concerned, this is a gonga deal.

Originally published by Indies Unlimited on 2/6/2014.

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