REVIEW: YOUR FIRST 1000 COPIES
I'm not a huge consumer of self-help books or professional development texts. It's not that I have any problem with improving upon myself, in fact, I'm all about growing in both a personal and professional sense. The reason that this type of writing fails to appeal to me is that they are so often filled with utterly useless and uninspired information that only people with minimal understanding of the topic would learn anything from the material. Every once in a while though, there is one that comes out and shares some genuinely insightful and helpful advice. When I picked up YOUR FIRST 1000 COPIES, I hoped I might have found such a book.
HOW I CAME UPON IT
As one might imagine, I take great interest in any source of new information regarding improving my writing and bolstering my book sales, so this book certainly felt like something worthwhile. It also came recommended to me by several people with varying degrees of familiarity with the work. In review of the synopsis and looking over the author's credentials, I has to agree that this seemed like a good read. It had good reviews too so I figured this would be well worth a purchase.
HOW I RATED IT
2/5 Disappointing and dishonest are the main words that come to mind here. The advice within this work manages to be inconceivably vague despite coming from a supremely narrow experiences. In terms of what I actually think of it, it's actually a 1 for me and only gets a 2 because of some general tips that should be common sense, but many indie authors have proven otherwise. I also got a new idea or two for my own platform which might sound positive but those ideas come more from the spirit of what was said rather than what was actually being said.
The rest of the review will follow a similar format to my novel reviews, but will feature altered criteria since this is not a work of fiction.
I found most of the advice in this book to either be vague or nonsensical. Sure, there are good points about how authors shouldn't spam their twitter followers with countless posts about the same thing or go around demanding attention for their work as if the world owes them something. When it comes to this sort of thing, the advice of what not to do is totally valid. The problem is that those who are reading this book probably care enough about being successful and establishing a positive reputation that they aren't the ones guilty of those types of offenses. It's effectively a "preaching to the choir" type of scenario on this end - at least so far as I see it.
Next up are the bits of "advice" that are really just sweeping and unhelpful. There's a chapter on providing marketing content that effectively states that authors should provide worthwhile marketing content. The book never really bothers to provide examples about what might constitute good, worthwhile content for a fiction author. It provides one or two examples from authors that the writer of this book has worked with, but all of his clients seem to come from self-help and professional development sort of backgrounds so the type of marketing content they provide is NOT going to be what a fan of fiction cares about. If you happen to have an interest in non-fiction writing that is intended to improve people's lives, then please note that YOU may very well like this book. The problem for me is that this is in no way indicative of the type of books I want to write and I feel like this should have been a book marketed as something that only really applies to those who want to successfully write within this niche field. If you're like me and prefer fiction writing then the rest of this review will probably be of interest to you.
As a precursor to the next main section of this review, I want to say how a lot of advice seemed utterly ludicrous to me. The author seems to have strong feelings against social media and prefers things like email lists and pop up ads. I'm sorry but email lists and popup ads?! I have never clicked on a popup advertisement, in fact, if it looks sketchy enough, I literally close that web page and never come back. And as far as email lists go, they do make sense for the type of marketing content that HIS PARTICULAR clients would be providing, but I do not want a fiction author in my inbox, even one I really like. Unless it is a direct interaction that an author is having with me like asking for a review swap or exchanging publishing advice, I really just don't have an interest in emails from authors. At the very most, what I will do is email subscribe to their blog feed. Blogs, in fact are my preferred way of getting updates from the authors I care about and social media - twitter in particular is something I've been getting more engaged in (now that I've un-followed the really spammy writers who were dominating my feed with shamelessly repetitive advertisements and self-promotion). Fortunately this book does bring up blogs as a good way to connect with readers and other writers, but again, the details of how to do this correctly are so hopelessly obscure.
I mentioned above that I had a lot of beef with this author's stance on what tools are good and why. He practically trashes social media in one chapter only to backpedal a bit later on and say how it can be good as a supplement. He is correct in saying that the number of likes to a page does not reflect sales, but you can absolutely use social media as a good way to spread the word about things, its just difficult - like every other form of marketing. He also cited some ridiculous "fact" about how people read only 1% of their news-feeds on social media sites and that the percentage of emails read is much higher. I don't know if it's just an age demographic thing, but I DO NOT read even close to half of the emails that come in, but I WILL read just about everything that shows up on my main feeds. I won't continuously scroll so that more content loads so maybe that's where the 1% comes from since the concept of the feed isn't really defined. It just felt like a really wishy washy fact and a lot of the alleged statistics here definitely felt the same. It might seem arrogant to call out someone who has built up successful marketing platforms, but fishy facts are fishy facts and I just had a really bad gut feeling about nearly everything this author tried to convince me of.
The opinions felt incredible dated and inaccurate despite this being published in 2013. There are tools like Goodreads that I don't recall him touching upon at all and he never really gets into the most important part of book sales: REVIEWS!!! Maybe he mentioned these things in one fleeting statement or two, but it certainly wasn't substantial enough for me to recall even if it was there.
There's one part where the author gives the example of the shady car salesman and how he is someone who only really cares about selling you the car that is right for him and not necessarily for you. It's easy to shut down and walk off the lot upset because any functional person is going to know when someone is trying to manipulate them into something they don't want to do. The feeling is even worse when we realize that someone has actually succeeded in said manipulation. This is absolutely the the case with authors since there a lot of ways that a writer can oversell or falsely advertise their book. My problem with this point is that I felt like the author is guilty of being the selfish salesman. He's very patronizing in his tone and I think he just tries too hard to make himself sound more knowledgeable than he really is. That sounds insanely harsh, but the bottom line is he keeps bringing up HIS clients and their experiences, none of which felt applicable to ME. This book felt like a car that a salesman tricked me into buying - a purchase that I now somewhat regret. Maybe I still needed that car like I need this information, but at the end of the day, what I ended up with isn't something that fit those needs and now I need to look elsewhere. I feel this is something that needed to have a more specific focus because the way that it tries to be all encompassing, is not only disappointing, but also just plain dishonest.
The spirit of this information is simply just a lot more useful than the information itself. It may very well be worth a read to authors who need that high-level overview of book marketing as a general topic, but those genuinely looking for concrete assistance in building a solid marketing platform will probably be just as disappointed as I am. I mentioned before that this thing is really well reviewed so it feels weird that I was so utterly disenchanted with it. If ever there was a review where I'd love to see some comments either in agreement or disagreement with my opinions, this would definitely be the one. Maybe I'm just missing something or too stuck in my ways to see the stroke of genius here. If that is the case, I would be grateful to have it pointed out to me.
If you're curious about reading some of those reviews or check out the book for yourself, then is can be found in eBook, Paperback, and Audiobook editions on Amazon.