Recently a client resurfaced from fifteen years ago and asked me to promote his new book. It had to be great, I figured—after all, this man is an industry leader and a frequent public speaker, and the company he founded has a good back-story.
I accepted the project based on the marketing materials another book promoter had written. Big mistake.
The self-edited author is as foolish as the self-medicated patient.
While much of the content was perfectly relevant and the cover and pages were professionally designed, the book had been in circulation four months without sales (most reviewers won’t pick up a book older than two weeks off the press); it was poorly organized and defied categorization (eBay classified it as “Books—Other”); there were dozens of spelling, grammar and usage errors that the proofreader had failed to correct; yet I had promised to promote it.
I was able to generate both local and national media coverage by presenting excerpts that I carefully selected according to the audience and style of each newspaper, magazine, broadcast and blog—not by asking for reviews. I decided to promote the author, not the book.
My client expressed his displeasure with my methods one day on the phone. It should be “easy peasy” to generate reviews of his book, he said. (In other words, my work wasn’t worth much because the book would sell itself.)
Then he declared, “I had a proofreader but the content needed no editing.”
He was wrong, but I didn’t tell him that. I simply forwarded the feedback from the reporters I pitched, and continued on my track of promoting the wisdom of the author, rather than arguing for the relevance of the book.
As I was wrapping up the project, I found a free PDF of entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki’s ebook on self-publishing, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur—How to Publish a Book. I sent a copy to my client.
Chapter 8, “How To Edit Your Book,” contains brutally honest language: “The self-edited author is as foolish as the self-medicated patient.” Thank goodness Mr. Kawasaki said it so I didn’t have to.
Want your own copy? You can order it here. And don’t forget to call your editor!