*(Insert Swearword)*

A year or two back I picked up a book out of the local bookstore, titled “Life’s too *(insert swearword)* short”.  I must admit that most of the reason I bought that thing was sheer curiosity as to how any author can get away with a swearword in the title!  It promised to be the self-help book to end all self-help books.

After reading it, in the first place the book fell apart.  This was to me a clear indication that one is only supposed to read it once, anyway.  It irritated me as a small publisher who is constantly hunting for better quality of print, lamination, layout, and yes, binding.  How can a large chain bookshop (who pull up their noses at small local publishers) get away with selling books that fall apart?

But what struck me more is that if that lady can get herself published hugely enough that her book makes it from UK to South Africa into our most “exclusive” book chain, then anyone can write a self-help book.  Seriously.

She wrote about things like hair…  posting images of the weird hairstyles she’d tried through the ages (let’s all agree that the 80’s were a weird time for hairdos).  Things like boyfriends and how not to take nonsense (she’s what you’d term a “serial monogamist”), and how to deal with other people’s children (unsurprisingly she has none of her own). Honestly, if someone can give you advice on children without having any, you can advise people on anything you like!

But quietly I’m convinced that the whole book, “Life’s too *(insert swearword)* short” was only written as a market study:  To find out how many people will buy a book with a swearword in the title, out of sheer curiosity as to how the author (and the publisher) gets away with it.  Next time you try publishing a novel, try inserting a swearword into the title.  Just for a lark.  See how it takes off.


4 thoughts on “*(Insert Swearword)*

  1. I went through a stage in my life where I had a look at these type of books where I could never found the answer for who really bought them and found them helpful.
    I never got to get an answer to that one though. But one thing I realise now too is that review are not honest that there is a lot of funny business going on behind the scenes about which we really will never know.
    Just read in one of his books by Paulo Coelho that even when movies are made the author sometimes makes next to nothing because he does not get to read the small print (the movie maker says sign right now or the offer will go away) so even in this business all is not what it seems

    • I’ve read many self-help and motivational books and often find at least something to take home. There are some that are absolutely brilliant. There’s a business networking book I read last year that was simply a gem. Ditto “Letters to a young artist” by Julia… I forget her surname, but the book had a lot of down-to-earth practical advice in there, amongst the humour. (I think I reviewed that one on Letterdash.)

      It is absolutely dreadful when the creators of the novels & storylines get crooked. I’m in the business of finding out just how finely things are cut at the lower end (small print runs). Of a book that retails at R120 in the shops, I make exactly R8 profit (less than the author) – if I don’t calculate hidden cost such as my phone calls, fuel and internet time. The “lions’ share” authors always think the publisher makes, actually goes to the retail shop. But we do need the shops, for distribution. So, yup, it’s not an easy business.

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