Who can Write a Self-Help Book?
Really anyone nowadays can, given the many avenues for self-publishing. And, unfortunately, it is not always talent that is rewarded. Nonetheless, writing a self-help book, whatever the category, presupposes that you have cracked up the code of success in that category, hence the hesitation of some honest souls, or is it lack of self-confidence ?, to go down those avenues.
The hype around these books is misleading on more than one count and the industry has some good days ahead . It banks on people’s insecurity and aversion to uncertainty and greed. If you buy my book, you’ll have it all : the love, the money, the time to spend it, success, happiness, you’ll be number one and what not… provided you follow the recipe, the formula outlined in the book.
The cookie-cutter formulas are seductive with their clearly formulated bullet points but they fail to give a genuine account of the process to get “there”. These books presuppose that people want that “there” and create and perpetuate an ideal of success or happiness in one size-fits-all.
It doesn’t mean that authors of such books are phony greedy writers. I believe that most of them know about success, happiness and have found how to live a happy fulfilling life, besides writing such books. However, the imperatives of publishing and the genre, even when one self-publishes, are such that the writers’s hand over mouth moments are edited to fit the formula, as if it followed a straight line. Deep inside though, they know that life is a journey full of turns and coils and recoils, blind alleys and booby traps. It’s bloody hard to write a book, even a formulaic self-help. And they did it. However, persuasion is the name of the game, not authenticity. The later is found in heartfelt poetry, novels, biographies, memoirs and essays of all kinds. Books after my own heart. The good news is that some self-help authors have caught up with the essay discourse.
The “Been there, done that” genre, more often than not turns into self-promotion. There’s nothing wrong with that : if you have something of value to share, by all means, people should know. It’s all heuristics! Each according to her own journey, but one has to take the risk of the journey and venture a little further than Self-Help County.
This being said, I don’t throw the baby with the bath water, as they say. As long as I remember that it’s success, happiness on somebody else’s terms, how successful that one may be, I find some use to these books: after reading and experimenting with countless of them, I am relieved to find that “The Secret” is safe.