Cheap, hastily produced, awfully written self-help books are a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. Doesn’t matter if it’s about handling menopause, how to get Tabby the cat to lose weight, or liberating an inner child, I”ll read it. They make me grin, they make me thankful for my life, and yeah, I suppose I do sometimes learn something.
But I just have to wonder… do people really fall for the infomercial writing style?
“If you’ve ever wanted the ability to take control of every conversation and situation, now you’ve got it!” “You’re about to learn how to use the greatest psychological techniques for success in every area of your life.” In these examples, the emphasis was not added. It’s there in the original copy.
Almost all self-help books feature this technique. They also use the age old technique of beginning with a question. “Do you want to wealthy, taller, skinnier, attractive to the opposite sex, healthy, intelligent, able to speak five languages, and omnipotent beyond all imagination?” Well, yes, of course. But is this going to make someone more likely to buy a book?
It’s the equivalent of the television commercial refrain “But wait! There’s more!” which we all know by heart. That phrase has never pushed me over the edge and sent me dashing for the phone to order some Oxy-Clean. Any of you persuaded by that? When I see these strategies employed in book form, I just blast right through them to try and get to the substance of the self-help tome. The sooner I learn exactly how to overcome destructive patterns and reclaim myself, the better. But when every single self-help book uses these techniques, they must work on some level, for some people. Right?