What happens when a marketing expert who's a sloppy writer hires a designer who doesn't know how to design books and an editor who doesn't notice mistakes?
They make a bad book.
Normally, in any effort -- especially one from a "marketer extraordinaire" -- people know to "put your best foot forward."
- While this book is not specifically about producing a book, it is dangerous because newbies who read it and are impressed by its reviews and Michelle's apparent success, may assume that it is a proper example of publishing.
- There is so much wrong with this book that I could write a book about all that's wrong with it. Instead, I'll do two blog posts.
- Sadly, the author thinks the book is fine. In an online forum, Michelle wrote, "My proof came back perfect -- woo hoo!" (I could be really unkind here and say that only someone who knows nothing about books or can't read or has extremely bad vision would think a proof of this book is perfect -- but I won't say that.)
- The book has 12 five-star reviews on Amazon.com. One is particularly suspicious. It calls Michelle an "author extraordinaire." Michelle calls herself a "marketer extraordinaire." The reviewer also gave five stars to one of Michelle's books about bill collecting. I find it hard to believe that someone would buy Michelle's books about both bill collecting and book marketing. I call "BULLSHIT!" Another five-star review was written by someone who wrote part of the book and may benefit from its success. Most of the reviewers were blind to the book's abundant errors. The one expert reviewer who noticed what is wrong with the book, awarded the minimum one star.
- Michelle may not have progressed much from a previous $57.95 book about bill collecting. One reviewer of that book wrote, "poorly edited." Another said, "There is so much nonsense filler . . . Michelle goes as far as to define the word 'money.' Come on, are you serious?"
With a book, the best foot should be the front cover. Michelle's cover is dreadful, and the book gets worse as it progresses.
There is a finite number of illustration themes for books about publishing. Typical cliche pictures include books, readers, writers, money, and such writing tools as pens, pencils, quills, PCs and notepads. Or, a cover could be all-text. I've already used books, a reader, a writer, and all-text. I'm getting bored. My next book about publishing has a golden retriever on the cover. (Most of my covers use inexpensive stock photos, too.)
Michelle's cover also shows the word "Buzz!" in light gray lettering emanating from the laptop three times. (Actually the online cover shows four buzzes but the physical book buzzes only three times.) You have to look closely to see the buzzes -- and one is just an "uzz." Frankly, if my PC buzzes or uzzes, I'll send it out to be repaired.
There are also problems with the text on the front cover. "Award winning" should be hyphenated. "Best seller" should be one word. "That" should be "which" and probably should not be capitalized. The book is shown to be written "by Michelle Dunn." Sorry, Michelle, the word "by" is seldom used before an author's name after third grade.
- Damn! Look at all the errors I've found, and I have not even flipped open the cover.
The sins on the back cover include amateur typography (straight quote marks instead of curly "typographer's marks" and an en dash that should be an em dash), bad punctuation, inconsistent uppercasing, and bad writing. "Learn from an industry veteran with over 10 years experience all in a convenient book . . ." sounds like all of Michelle's 10 years of experience occurred within a book.
There's also a factual error. Publicity is not "FREE" if someone is paid to generate it or if money is spent distributing press releases. (Inside the book, Michelle says that most of her own publicity was free.) The paragraph about the difference between publicity and marketing does not provide information about the author or the book, or a reason to buy the book. It does NOT belong on the cover.
Michelle strangely decided to print an incomplete and unnecessary ISBN and an "EAN-13" below the logo on the bottom of the back cover. The full ISBN is printed above the bar code. "EAN" was originally "European Article Number," but is now used to mean "International Article Number” -- and there is no need to have it on the book.
OK. With significant foreboding, substantial dread and overwhelming apprehension, I opened the book, and stepped into even deeper shit.
Michelle's atrocious first page has so much wrong with it, it's almost a MAD magazine parody of an inept self-published book. (I know I've used that line before, but it's appropriate here.)
(Left-click to enlarge, if you dare. Have a barf bag handy.)
Here's some of what's wrong with the first pages:
- In a "normal" book, the first page could be a half-title page (a.k.a. "bastard title"), or a title page, or a page of blurbs, or even a blank page. But, Michelle is anything but a conventional publisher. Her ugly first page combines elements of a title page AND a copyright page -- which is normally the page printed on the back of the title page.
- In a recent blog post at SellingBooks.com, Linda Jay Gelding said, "The message that you want to convey through your book would be distorted, tarnished, or even ruined if readers discover that the text is riddled with errors." I was initially pleased to see that Michelle's book had an apparently professional editor. The first page says, "Editing by provided by Arlene Stoppe." HOLY SHIT! Even the simple line about the book's editing was not edited properly.
- The page has the name of Michelle's publishing company THREE TIMES. Once is enough, dammit!
- However, the book's ISBN is not provided even once on this page or anywhere in the front matter.
- The page shows what should be a Library of Congress Control Number ("LCCN"). Michelle strangely puts "control" in lower case, and the number she shows is not an LCCN, and I have no idea what the hell it is. On page 172, Michelle uses the obsolete term, "Library of Congress Catalog Control Number." Michelle is consistently inconsistent.
- The bottom of the page has a disclaimer warning readers not to use the book for legal advice. This is just one of THREE DISCLAIMERS which Michelle provides in the first FIVE PAGES. She repeatedly warns the reader to consult an attorney. I wonder if Michelle operates an attorney referral agency. ONE DISCLAIMER IS ENOUGH. ONE DISCLAIMER IS ENOUGH. ONE DISCLAIMER IS ENOUGH.
- The second disclaimer says that the author is not giving "professional advice." Should we assume that the book contains UNprofessional advice? That disclaimer strangely starts in the third person, switches to first person, and then goes back to third person.
- Although it's the wrong place, the first page indicates a copyright date of 2010, with the name "Michelle Dunn."
- However, if you don't like 2010, just flip the page. You will then see a copyright date of 2009, and here Michelle's name appears with the middle initial "A" and there's a comma before her name. Again, consistency is not Michelle's strong suit.
- It's also not a prime characteristic of editor Arlene Stoppe. real estate. She may be Michelle's landlady or best buddy, but I could not find anything online -- and certainly not in this book -- that qualifies Arlene to be an editor. I will give Arlene a few points because she has a photo of a golden retriever on her website -- but she probably should not be editing books.
- Arlene may have a good eye for picking dogs and houses, but not for editing. Neither she nor Michelle noticed that the second page says, "This book is designed to provide information to help you start up and run your own DEBT COLLECTION AGENCY." That's right. Michelle stupidly copied material from a previous book about an entirely different subject and pasted it, unread and unedited, into the mosquito book. If I've already found so much wrong and I'm still on the second page, can I trust anything in this book?