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Saturday, July 9, 2016

The ridiculously insane costs of “free advice”

What you get free costs too much.  
Jean Anouilh

Last week I posted a blog “The Five Most Common Mistakes When Seeking Book Reviews FromAmazon Top Reviewers” and received an astonishing amount of comments below the blog, on twitter and, of course, on Facebook. Most of the readers had never heard of what I wrote. 

The gist of the blog is that frequently many bloggers encourage indie authors to tailor a template when contacting Amazon top reviewers with the request to review their books. 

In short – This is incorrect advice!  (But – it was free.)

With roughly 4,500 books being published every day, authors need to write stand-out request emails that explain why their book is remarkable. In contrast, tailoring a template is the exact opposite; it leads to run-of-the-mill emails. 

So, why are bloggers publishing incorrect information?

They don’t know that it’s wrong.

The problem with the concept of giving free information

Ever since the concept of “attracting customers by giving them free information” became popular a few years ago, every week hundreds of thousands of people blog, worldwide. Occasionally, they may try to meet their deadline while the kids are having a fight in the living room and the spouse is shouting “I can’t find my striped shirt” from the bedroom. Under stress, some bloggers may try to get inspired by reading others blogs... Just – maybe? 

If they are not experts in the specific field they won't realize if the original blog’s content was flawed. 

Among indie author topics, the question “how to get book reviews” is hugely popular. Authors who google “how to get reviews” find 89 million blogs and articles, which proves that many bloggers’ articles are mere guesses or hearsay. 

Quite obviously, there aren’t 89 million experts on this specific topic. If indeed there were that many expert book reviewers, who have insider knowledge because they review lots of books, indie authors would have no problem finding book reviewers. 

The ridiculously insane costs for readers

Following flawed FREE advice leads to

  • loss of recreational time 
  • loss of time that could be spent making money
  • exponential build-up of frustration

Typically, authors spend ten, twenty, thirty or more hours trying to contact top reviewers. If you multiply that number by only $7.25 (minimum wage) you can estimate the loss in money. Certainly, spending ten, twenty, thirty or more hours with family and friends is much better than sitting frustrated in front of a computer and wondering why none of the hundreds of top reviewers requested the book for review. 

But, even worse than all of this is that some authors get so frustrated that

  • they give up!

I bet ten bucks that there are plenty of authors who penned a great book, but since their books never received enough starter reviews, they never took off. Eventually, the authors gave up. 

Other free content

Of course, blogs aren’t the only “free offerings.” There are also webinars, teleconferences, and video seminars. Almost always the ads promise that participating in a particular event will teach valuable skills. That’s true, but this type of offerings are really teasers. Usually, the organizers volunteer about 10-15% of the knowledge during the teaser – which makes sense. 

All of us know it anyway – Nothing in life is free!

Believing that one can get best information for free can be very costly. 

I have at least one friend, who got so frustrated trying to learn everything about book marketing for free, that finally she bought an expensive seminar for $4,500. Sadly, that did not lead to her book becoming a bestseller. 

The common thought is that if one pulls free information, one has to work harder because one has to figure out the missing information oneself. And, in many cases this is true. However, in the majority of situations, doing precisely that – working harder – is what leads to the build-up of frustration. Frustration makes people vulnerable and vulnerability leads to making bad decisions like buying a seminar that won't work (for the “student”) or buying from somebody who isn't really an expert. 

So, how do you find out who you should believe? 

Investigate, on Google! 

Don’t confine yourself to looking for “words”; look for pictures and videos, too!

If you can’t find proof that the publisher/ host/ organizer can deliver what you need, you better head on. 

Also, check the dates! 

I see lots of people promising to teach how getting on radio shows will help book sales. Before you spend money on such a course, you should check the release dates of the mentioned books or the mentioned authors’ works. Radio shows have undergone great changes since the emergence of Sirius radio and podcasts. Therefore, you only want to take a course that is up-to-date. 

There are also lots of seminars about “learning how to get booked as a guest on Oprah’s show.” While the organizers may have experience doing that, you need to check if they booked guests for any of the OWN Network shows, or, for “The Oprah Winfrey Show”(which aired last on May 25, 2011).

Summing it up:

Nothing in life is completely free!

To get the best deal, you need to be your own agent and investigate. Ask yourself the same questions you would ask your (imaginary) literary agent or publicist and make your decision based on this information.


Gisela Hausmann is a 29 yr. self-publishing industry veteran, an email evangelist and a top reviewer. 

Her work has been featured in regional, national, and international publications 
including Success magazine (print) and Entrepreneur, on Bloomberg, The Innovation Show  a show for Square Pegs in Round Holes, "The Brutal Truth about Sales & Selling"-podcast, and Austria's Der Standard and Das Wirtschaftsblatt. 

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Gisela tweets @Naked_Determina

© 2017 by Gisela Hausmann 

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