Book review: Author Marketing Secrets

It’s not very often that I laugh out loud while reading business nonfiction, but it happened a few times with Author Marketing Secrets: The Comprehensive Guide to Book Marketing.

It started with a smile . . . that was my reaction to the “edited by” credit on the cover. That’s not how it’s done, especially for super-short nonfiction. I thought, “Oh, this is going to be interesting . . . .”

Then I laughed when I saw there was no author bio on the Amazon sales page. That was the second clue that the book wasn’t written by an expert.

The next was when I read in the introduction about “people who think they are ‘experienced’ “, adding, “Don’t believe in the range of experience . . . .” Only someone without experience with her book’s topic is compelled to make that kind of statement.

Author Demi Bernice took the mystery out of it completely when she shared her credentials in the first chapter. She’s a graphic artist — or, in her words, “. . . the services that I offer is Graphic Design for Authors.” (Note to self: Beau Norton is not a good editor.)

It doesn’t get better

I laughed again when she recommended a specific strategy and gave as proof the fact that it was recommended in a webinar she watched.

This was followed by a recommendation she saw in a YouTube video (the source wasn’t identified). Then there was the “my boyfriend made a good point when he said. . . ” observation.

Well, you get the point. She has been poking around the interwebs and talking to her beau Beau (the book’s editor) for “stuff” — her word, not mine — to put in a book. And I’ve been having fun reading what she’s learned, even though this isn’t a humor (or humorous) book.

I almost didn’t review Author Marketing Secrets

Because of all of this, I almost didn’t review Author Marketing Secrets. I don’t enjoy writing negative reviews. (And for that reason, you won’t see me review this book on Amazon or Goodreads.)

But here I am, reviewing it anyway, risking accusations of “sour grapes.” I think that pointing out some of the flaws will help anyone who reads it better understand what they can and can’t take away from the book’s information.

Let’s start with the word “comprehensive” in the subtitle. A 45-page/5,000-word book on this topic isn’t comprehensive. It’s not a book — it’s a magazine article or an epic blog post.

One key missing topic, for example, is knowing your target audience and where you’ll reach them with messages about your book. It also doesn’t mention reader reviews.

Speaking of that, at the time of this writing, this book published four months ago has zero reader reviews. Why would you take advice about book marketing from an author who hasn’t been able to garner reviews on a free book?

No documentation for claims

There’s also little documentation supporting Bernice’s claims about what works and what doesn’t.

For example, there’s a chapter on book trailers that reports a book video is “a scarcely-used strategy that works,” but we’re supposed to take her word for it. She offers no data showing that authors who produce book trailers sell more books than those who don’t.

In that chapter, under “what works” with book trailers, the author advises that you “catch and keep your prospective readers’ attention.”

How? In the text following that subhead, rather than offering tips for creating a compelling book trailer, she writes about “how big YouTube is.”

In addition — and sorry, I’m laughing again — the author writes, “Book trailers are a good option for authors who don’t have a ton of money for promotion . . . .” That’s followed by, “You can make your own book trailers if you have good equipment like a DSLR camera, good actors/actresses, and awesome video editing skills.”

Doesn’t sound like a low-budget option to me.

Still . . . that’s not to say that the book doesn’t have value.

The section on Amazon keywords is useful. The book’s title and subtitle are excellent examples of that section’s advice. The problem with the title, though, is that it’s not an accurate reflection of the book’s content.

In addition, while it’s not comprehensive by any means, Author Marketing Secrets does cover a few of the key topics, just not in an authoritative, consistently accurate, or comprehensive way.

Think of it as a table of contents for some of the information you need to know. Plan on doing additional research on the strategies you’d like to explore.

On the bright side, it’s free!

All of this begs the question: Why would somebody with no book marketing experience write a book on that topic?

With several references in the book to Bernice’s work designing author websites and the other services she provides (plus what are probably undisclosed affiliate links to related services), I suspect that the book is a lead magnet for her business.

The author wants other authors as clients and offers Author Marketing Secrets for free as a way to get them — or to try, anyway.

If you decide to read this book, just keep the author’s motivation in mind. It’s quite likely that she wrote it to support her business, not yours.

Know of a book marketing book that delivers on its promise? Share the title in a comment! 

If you truly want to know how to market your book, take a look at the curriculum for each of my Book Marketing 101: How to Build Book Buzz courses. There’s one for fiction, another for nonfiction. You’ll get everything you need (and be sure to click on the down arrow for the course outline for each so you see all four modules).

 

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18 Comments

  1. Marketing is such foreign – and often scary – territory for many authors that they may be seduced by this book title. Since I have three decades of marketing experience, I was laughing along with you as I read post. Thanks for the honest review.

    A just released book that authors will find more useful is Sandra Haven’s “How to Publish a Book, Novel, or Series.” https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07F8CMBM4

    In the interest of full disclosure, my own publishing experience is included in a”Keeping it Real” section of the book.

    1. Honestly, Carol, it’s a great book title! It’s just too bad that it doesn’t deliver on its promise. I hope that anyone reading it will see the flaws as easily as I did.

      Thank you for the book tip! Looks like a good one!

      Sandy

    1. That change is recent according to StumbleUpon.com — it moved to “Mix” on June 30 — so if she isn’t a StumbleUpon user herself, she wouldn’t know. I’m glad to know that, though — I appreciate that update. And I’ll note that it is SO HARD to stay on top of online resources. They come and go constantly. That preview section also recommends posting your book on Quora, which is a site where people ask and answer questions, so that particular tip made no sense to me at all. (Sigh….)

      Any other thoughts on what you read in the preview?

      Sandy

  2. We need more takes like this. Author marketing is so incestuous and the range of advice so insane that we need more voices to point out that not all marketing advice is equal.

    (I say this with some trepidation because I’m writing my own advice book. I can say confidently that it will be longer than this book.)

    BTW, this book would have triggered my BS meter with the word “secrets” in the title.

    1. Ya know, Bill, I normally don’t review books I don’t like because I prefer to focus on helpful resources, but as I started reading this, I got pissed off, thinking, “How dare she?” As you noted, it’s so hard for authors to know who to trust — and books like this sure don’t help. The fact that there’s no author bio on the sales page is a good clue for anyone paying attention, though. I have to think that was intentional, not an oversight.

      I like your feedback on “secrets” in a title. Why do you see it that way? As a reader looking to learn about something from a book, I do want to know the “secrets.” Is it too much hyperbole?

      Sandy

  3. The annual Weird & Wacky Holiday Marketing Guide is a terrific resource for authors and businesses alike. It consistently wins awards under business category and has been #1 Best-selling series on Amazon in the marketing category.

  4. Thanks, Sandra — I needed a laugh this morning! Why she didn’t just write a book on stellar author websites — something she at least has done!

  5. I agree with Bill–I think we need more negative reviews when it comes to shysters with no credentials just gleaning tips from no-name YouTube videos. Ugh. It’s one thing to disagree with someone who has expert credentials–another to expose people who are preying on authors.

    I’ve been in marketing for over 25 years and I know that marketing is not a “free for all, whatever you want to do goes.” That’s why experts spend time studying, testing, and researching. Then, readers reap the benefits. And I agree…Beau is not a very good editor. Maybe that’s the boyfriend.

    1. Thanks, Chris. I was initially reluctant to write this post, but the more I read, the more I knew I should.

      And yes, Beau is her beau. (You missed my sly reference to “her beau Beau.” I’m going out on a limb here and suggested that beau Beau influenced the book topic, too, since he has written several books. (I clicked on his linked name under the book title on the Amazon page.)

      Sandy

  6. Sandra, thanks for the transparent review of the above book… My favorite line is If you decide to read this book, just keep the author’s motivation in mind. It’s quite likely that she wrote it to support her business, not yours.

    I agree with other people who have left comments, we do need more negative reviews. For one, when an author is open to it, the review can teach them something. And of course, it spares an audience the trouble of spending time reading a particular book. After all, each of us is given only so much time on this earth, I for one don’t want to waste mine reading a book that does not inspire me or teach me something.

    Heidi Richards Mooney, Aspiring Author

    1. Heidi, I felt like I was sticking my neck out a bit being so honest about this book, so I’m glad you think it was a good idea.

      I agree that authors can learn from less-than-favorable reviews, but I think it can be hard to be open to that feedback.

      Thanks for the feedback and for taking the time to comment!

      Sandy

  7. Do you have any thoughts on Chandler Bolt, his Self Publishing School or his book, ‘Published- The Proven Path From Blank Page to Published Author’ ?

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