Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Authors: can a book have too much advance praise? Sure!

Before a book is published it's common for "Advance Review Copies" to be distributed to famous people with the hope that they'll write short, complimentary "blurbs" that can help sell the book to ordinary people. Sometimes blurbs are written by ordinary people.

Part of the back cover of my Stories I'd Tell My Children (But Maybe Not Until They're Adults) is shown below.

Many blurbs are written for authors by other authors in corrupt "if you kiss my ass I'll kiss your ass" deals.

Blurbs are often labeled "Advance Praise for [title]" and printed on a book's back cover and first page, or pages. 

One or two pages are enough but some authors go much too far.

Michael Hyatt is an egomaniac whom I can't stand for several reasons. Six years ago I bought—but have not yet been motivated to read—his Platform: Get Noticed In A Noisy World. The book has four blurbs in tiny type on its back cover plus SIX FRIGGIN' PAGES with 14 blurbs ahead of the title page.
  • If someone is not convinced to buy a book after reading three or four blurbs, will 14 do the job? Probably not.
I have mixed feelings about Shel Horowitz, author of Grassroots Marketing for Authors and Publishers.

Shel's book has an appropriate three blurbs on the back cover (in an easy-to-read type size), plus three pages with a dozen blurbs ahead of the title page.

I like most of what Shel has to say—but the blurbing bothers me. The book has a blurb from John Harnish, special products director at Infinity Publishing. Harnish praises Shel and says, "...selling more books is what successful marketing is all about..." 
  • However, Harnish is in the business of selling Shel's books, because Infinity has co-published an edition. That’s a conflict of interest, and tacky.
Shel has mini-reviews in the back of his book, plugging books written by some of the blurbers who praise him in the front of his book. Tit-for-tat, even the appearance of tit-for-tat, is tacky.

Shel writes well and he seems to be an expert on book marketing. I don't doubt the truth of the endorsements of him or by him—but his work is marred by the appearance of sleazy deal-making. Mutual ass-kissing may be frugal marketing but I don't think it's ethical, or effective.

Helen Gallagher wrote an ugly, sloppy, padded, inaccurate and poorly edited book titled Release Your Writing: Book Publishing, Your Way!

A Five-Star review on Amazon says the book, "offers fabulous, practical tips for writers. I had the opportunity to meet the author. She is a great advocate for fellow writers. This book is a 'must have' if you want to complete your writing project, launch it, and market your work."

That sounds impressive, but don't be impressed.

The reviewer is Marguerite O'Connor. Marguerite is an author and funeral director and teaches bereavement counseling. Even more depressing than that is the fact that Marguerite's book received a Five-Star review from Helen.

Yes, they kissed each other's asses.

And by the way, Marguerite O'Connor is also the editor of Helen's poorly edited book. Helen is a decent writer, but from the evidence I've seen, Marguerite is a terrible editor. I hope she buries bodies better than she edits books. 

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