Self help, self publicist

men.jpgI came across a review of what looks like one of those particularly awful books, The SCREAMING Self-Help Type Book. It is called Men! Forget the Fiction! Where are the Interesting and Available Men? It screams out like some manic, crazy advertisement for something cheap and nasty. Honestly, the cover gave me a fright when I saw it. (Click on the image, but be prepared for a shock…)

It is written by one Isabel Losada. That’s a great name, honestly. I am truely impressed by this name. And, in fairness, although I am making a laugh at her expense, I have a sneaking regard for her. She has got books published, which is no mean feat, and fair play to her. She is, as the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe would say, harmless. However, it is all downhill from there. As she claims herself: “The Author – a self elected representative of all intelligent single women over the age of 35.” Since when? This is embarassing Isabel, drop it.

Let’s look at her Amazon page. Notice anything about the reviews? They are all written by the same person, honestly! She has signed in as herself under different pseudonyms. They are a dead giveaway: all way-over-the-top, all ask you to “buy the books for all your friends”, or even claim that they’ve done that already. Look at the titles: Radical Honesty, Six Stars for this book Please!, Original, funny and so true, The Search for the Elusive Male……,The bravery of honesty, etc. Ad nauseum. Oh come on Losada, mix it up a bit! All the reviewers invariably write “Men” with an initial capital letter, the reviewers have all only ever written one review (I checked) and the style is so consistent between them. This is a blatant bit of manipulative self-publicity. I mean, look at the one by “Kevin Hopkins”. Ugh. And notice the blatant angle of each and every review: this book is “honest”, “intelligent”, and “suitable for both men and women”! As if.

Isabel has kindly put up some pictures of herself. The captions are hilarious. Amazon asks, “Was this image helpful?”. What’s helpful about an image? Did it make me a cup of tea, or tuck me into bed? No!

Her own website is a brilliant laugh! Under her favourite Poems section, she is candid enough to reveal: “Sometimes I find that books have just too many words in them.” So true! Why do they put so many damn words in books Isabel, and why can’t they just put in nice pictures. And you wonder why you cannot find an intelligent man?

Take her “100 Reasons to be Glad“. Honestly, this is pap of the highest order. It covers that awful middle-ground of dumb profundity that self-help books excel in. “The sea” is at number 8. “New pillows” at 74. And on and on the list goes, some are just idiotically “charming” entries, like toast, a glass of water, showers, rain, spider’s webs, etc, others profound and political, like Mandela and the Dalai Lama. Here are some examples:

Number 5: That sometimes a bus comes along just as you walk up to the bus stop.  What about all the times it arrived just before you got to the bus stop. Seems to me it all evens out over time, cynic that I am.

Number 39: That Robin Williams is in SO many films. Ugh.

Number 54: Re-incarnation may be true. I dread the thought! 

Number 65: Lambs. (And the fact that some people don’t eat them). That is a fat load of consolation to the lambs! Do they sit in the fields, gambolling about, or whatever it is they do, consoling themselves with the thought that, “We may be eaten, but at least we won’t be eaten by vegetarians”. Huh?

Number 89: Coloured pencils.  Oh dear, running out of ideas, are we? Still 11 more to go…

Number 100: That you can write your own list… xxx isabel

Okay, let me take the challenge:

Cake
That I am not Isabel Losada
That I am not a lamb who is going to be eaten by someone
That Robin Williams will die some day
Air
Armpits
Guinness
That I was born after someone invented the Delete button
Coat hangers
Navel fluff
That we can leave Ireland and escape the rain at least once a year
Scotch whiskey, yum!

Fantastic fun! Thanks Isabel, for putting a smile on my face.

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3 Comments

  1. David said,

    July 7, 2007 at 1:42 am

    Thanks for finding and sharing this diamond in the very, very rough.

    Since you started this, shazgood …

    Her website is NOT merely a website, but her cyberhome! Clearly she’s got a friend who’ll trade HTML for “favors”.

    I agree with her on Robin Williams, but I love him anyway. He channels Jonathan Winters, who is not even dead yet.

    I thought such “pap” was only found in supermarket and chain drugstore checkouts in the USA. It’s encouraging!

  2. July 23, 2007 at 11:56 pm

    Dear Sailing to Byzantium, Hello – well goodness you do hate me don’t you? I’m not sure quite what I’ve done to excite such hatred. Initially you seem to hate the cover design for ‘Men!’ – well, fair enough – I have some reservations about it myself. Then you hate the book itself although you don’t say whether you’ve read it or not so I have to assume that you’re basing your hatred on your own assumption about what’s inside based on your loathing of the cover. I’m sure that even you would have to admit that your assumptions about whether the content is hateful or not at least may or may not be accurate. You may even have agreed or enjoyed some of the book…. How strange to loathe a book so much that you feel inclined to write about it. Did you read any of it I wonder?

    On to your assumptions about my book reviews. No I don’t write them myself. The reasons that my book reviews are for the most part 5*’s is that I have a website where people that have read my books write to me and let me know how much they have enjoyed them and often with questions. What I do do is that I often ask people that have got in touch with me personally by email and said nice things if they would mind repeating their positive comments in the form of an amazon review. That’s one reason that all 3 of my books have lots of good reviews. I don’t think many authors care much about amazon but I love it.

    Finally the part of my website that you most loathe – ‘The 100 Reasons to be Glad’ well – yes I KNOW it’s naff. I wrote the list one night when I was feeling fed up to cheer myself up. But, as I said, I was attempting to go beyond naff and reach gently profound. Obvioiusly in your estimation, I failed – Oh well I tried. It’s easy (perhaps too easy?) to be cynical and frankly not being me is probably a good reason to be glad – but then I’m with you on cake and Scotch Whisky.

    Is it naff to say ‘cyberhome?’ I wrote that years ago when I first made the website – and no I don’t have a friend that writes HTML for me – I do it myself in Dreamweaver.

    Anyway – I’d be glad to hear from you (my contact details are on my webstie) and know whether your venom is due to having read ‘Men!’ and hating it or due entirely to the cover. I’m also sorry that you found nothing on my webstie that you enjoyed – perhaps some of the poems may have pleased you?

    Anyway – very best wishes whoever you are…

    Isabel Losada – Author at http://www.isabellosada.com

  3. shazgood said,

    July 24, 2007 at 11:54 am

    Oh gosh, my apologies. Isabel, I don’t hate you, believe me, I never intended “hate”! It is a terribly negative emotion that I try my best to work on eliminating. I try venting my frustration sometimes, but usually I work out that it is never worthwhile to hate. So I was disappointed to think that you thought I might hate you, someone I’ve never even met. It would be unfair and unjust.

    I re-read my blog posting on you again, and don’t think it shows I hate you. I do admit, I can be quite cynical at times however, and the posting does come across as a bit harsh and one-sided. Oops. And, yes, I played on your website for some cheap laughs. Sorry! And, yes, I dislike self-help books. Not just your one, the whole genre.

    I do say in my blog that I admired the fact that you’ve written books. (“And, in fairness, although I am making a laugh at her expense, I have a sneaking regard for her. She has got books published, which is no mean feat, and fair play to her.”) I genuinely admire that! I then relentlessly pillory your book and website, oh my. Why I picked on your particular book is simply because I came across a review of it in the Irish Independent a couple of weeks back. Luck of the draw.

    It is easy to forget when one is writing on the web that I am dealing with real people; ordinary people trying to spread some light and happiness & offending no-one. You seem to have a great spirit and great attitude to life, so please accept my apologies if I offended you personally (grovel, grovel…!).

    As for the Amazon postings – hmmm…Isabel, I’ll accept your word on it. But I am sure you have lots of supporters who want to help you out, so good luck to them, but it isn’t very objective. Those reviews are terribly similar and terribly over-the-top!

    I haven’t read the book. I don’t intend to either. Neither do I attempt to review it (I do say that clearly in my posting.

    It seems to me, you have to be able to deal with negative views as well as the purely positive. And not take it personally. I have had some comments about my postings, few though they are, along the lines of “simplistic rubbish” and “idiotic” etc. I didn’t take it personally!

    Good luck with the book, please don’t take anything I said personally!


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