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Top 7 Tips for Buying a Self-Help Book
By Bill Lampton, Ph.D.
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You will find a self-help book section in every quality bookstore. While many of these books offer practical advice you can implement quickly, others will waste your time and money. The big question: How can you tell which books to avoid and which to buy? As an avid reader of self-help books, and the author of one on communication, I offer these guidelines that will help you shop wisely.
- Look at the author's claims. They must sound realistic. If the author promises you will lose thirty pounds in ten days, leave that book alone. Or if the author guarantees that everyone who reads her book will become a millionaire, go elsewhere for financial advice. You are not seeking miracles, you are seeking pathways to improvement.
- Evaluate the author's credentials. Let's say the author is writing about sales. Has he or she ever sold anything, other than the book you are holding? If the topic relates to management and leadership, what positions of responsibility has the writer held?
- Check the testimonials on the book jacket. A strong endorsement from two or three nationally recognized experts lends credibility. Determine whether the "blurbs" have come only from close friends who expect the same gushy endorsements for their books.
- Ask the bookstore manager what customers are saying about the book. Readers who come back to the store express their likes and dislikes. When a book has been on the shelf for several months, the manager has heard enough comments to indicate the value level of the publication.
- Skim the book to examine the author's supporting material. The author who quotes only his or her previous works as evidence has not conducted adequate research. Rather than trying to inform you, they are dedicated to selling more of their products.
- Determine whether the author offers detailed practical procedures for readers to implement. After all, that's what "how to" implies.
- Compare the book to similar titles in the self-help section. What's missing in the book you are holding, that is offered in the other books? What unique contributions does this book make that others omit? Content comparison helps you choose the book that meets your needs.
Bill Lampton, Ph.D., has generated wide acclaim as an expert in communication, motivation, sales and customer service, following the motto Helping You Finish in First Place! He has been interviewed by Entrepreneur, The Washington Post, Delta's SKY, Cosmopolitan, Investor's Business Daily, UPI, Gannett News and 300 radio stations.
Visit his Web site: www.ChampionshipCommunication.com
E-mail him to subscribe to his free e-mail newsletter, using the title SUBSCRIBE: drbill@ChampionshipCommunication
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Article Submitted On: October 22, 2004