Free Self-Help E-Book Giveaway: Insights into the Self-Improvement Genre

As thanks to my wonderful readers, I am giving away my book The (Psycho) Path to Success.

It is an expose/parody of the self-help industry. I want to share the insight I have been given into a genre that–for the most part—deviously deceives its readers, with tactics designed to enrich, not its followers, but its authors.

Self-help gurus and life coaches make millions with their books and ‘life mastery retreats’ while making unfounded claims that if you follow their expert advice, you too will have everything you want. (All you have to do is buy into their schemes: they sell hope, so you can buy it.)

In The (Psycho) Path, I expose their tactics and deceptions, using one of their own tropes against them: the classic 7 Steps format. Steve Salerno’s own brilliantly researched expose on the self-help industry—SHAM—was very informative, but ultimately it turned even me away. It was clear the man had bones to pick with self-help. His tone was angry, hateful.

So I employ a more playful tone in my expose, treating it like a parody, but filled with incites and tips on how to free yourself from the expensive schemes of these sham artists.

It is my gift to you, for free until November 26, this Sunday. After that, Amazon will force me to start charging for it. Grab it up for free while you can (it’ll still be only .99 cents after Sunday) and discover why (most) self-help spiels inspire, motivate, and exalt you, but ultimately fail to improve your life; and how (most) life-coaches stroke your ego while draining your bank account.

Remember, not all self-help books are deceptive and underhanded. Some select few are genuinely designed to help people. But they are the minority. Beware how you browse the Self-Help shelves.

The playful tone of my little e-book is wonderfully captured by J.P Sears, in his How to Be a Life Coach YouTube video. Check it out down below, and don’t forget to grab The (Psycho) Path to Success for FREE if you want to find out how a multi-billion dollar industry is duping millions of Americans. Happy reading!

The Ending of Harry Potter: What We Learned

You’ve stumbled upon the definitive exploration of the ending to Harry Potter.

Kick back, put on Nicholas Hooper’s brilliant soundtrack to The Half-Blood Prince, and discover why the Epilogue in HP is, what Rowling herself called, ‘a mistake.’

Here we find out why this one weakness in the fabulous fantasy creation should never have been.

Armed with this knowledge, you will be able to improve your own story endings.

So here are the problems with the HP Epilogue, in three conveniently bulleted points:

  • It added nothing to the characters and story
  • It inhibited discussion of possible futures for Harry Potter
  • Wrapping everything up with a neat bow was a contrived way to end a fantastic series, and it did not jive with what had gone before.

Your Book Endings

When you are writing your story ending (see Writers Digest for tips), one of the questions you need to ask yourself is: does this finale add depth to my characters? By the end of a tale, your characters need to have changed in some way. This means they must face either a new way of living, or a new way of looking at life. By the end of HP, our beloved characters have been through so much that they have changed much.

But then, the epilogue.

We see in these few pages that, following the battle at Hogwarts, our characters went through no more struggles, faced no more life altering situations. In the nineteen years that followed, they remained on the same dull path: Harry and Ginny (those two lovebirds without chemistry), and Hermione and Ron (that chemistry couple without love) stuck with each other.

Yawn.

What was the point in tacking on this neat little ending? So we could find out that they named their kids after the people they had lost? Aw, that’s sweet.

Epic Story Finales

After Harry mends his wand with the elder wand in the (real) final scene, we are left with delightful questions to ponder. Did any surviving death eaters try to steal the elder wand out of Dumbledore’s grave? Did they recover Voldemort’s body and try to resurrect it, or did Harry burn it?

Do Harry and company return to Hogwarts to finish their final year? Does Harry become a world class auror? Maybe another dark lord, with different powers, comes along and the Ministry turns to Potter for help. Now, that would be cool. I’d rather read that story than the Cursed Child.

But with the tidy bow epilogue, these questions become moot, as we see Harry is alive and well, and sporting a bit of a spare tire. Apparently nothing happened in 19 years. Come on, Rowling, you can do so much better.

You need to leave an opening for discussion at the end of your books. Oh, do solve the big mystery, but leave some questions unanswered. This promotes healthy discussion among your readers.

In my serial killer thriller, Ichabod, I resolve the main issues in an unexpected way, while leaving the ending open for discussion. What happens next?

With Rowling’s epilogue, nothing is added to the characters. We don’t realize anything new about them (except that, for the first time, they can be boring), and we are not left with questions. Everything is answered, nice and neat. This peaceful ending is in stark contrast with the entire series, where Harry and company face one delightful dilemma after another; it just felt tacked on, like the author had died and another author was brought on board to finish it, and this one had a completely different take on things.

In your endings, be sure to bring things full circle. Ask yourself, where did my book begin? In what sort of place were my characters? Make sure your ending honors your beginning. You don’t want it to seem like you forgot how your own story began. In the end, your characters must have learned from their experiences, but they also must remember where they began. The past may have been horrible, but it was important, and remains a vital key to who they are today. My psychological thriller The Light of Lexi Montaigne, brings everything full circle in one of those classic endings that make you go ‘Oh, now it all makes sense’ and inspires you to read it all over again.

Think about your book’s ending. ‘Happily ever after’ is nice if it’s a Disney tale, but it tends to feel contrived in most cases. As Rowling herself explained, distance makes the best editor. Put your MS away for awhile, and then come back with fresh eyes. You might be surprised what you see, and your new ending will be enhanced for your freshly acquired wisdom.

Boost Traffic to Your Blog with New Pages

This looks like the Adirondack Institute of Magic, the school in W.A.N.D.

One of the simplest ways to boost traffic to your site or blog is to add content. If you run a blog, this is easy enough: just keep posting useful things for your visitors. But whether your domain is a site or a blog, you can still increase your hits/clicks counts by adding dedicated pages.

A static page may not be Google’s favorite thing to crawl, but it can still be very useful; it is yet another place to drop in keyword headers and clickable images and other traffic-boosting elements that search engines will discover. After all, the more content you have, the greater your odds of being discovered through organic searches.

More pages equal more options, not just for you, but for your visitors to explore. Adding static pages is a dynamite and sneaky method for increasing bounce-rate opportunities.

With more pages, you have more occasions for linking within your site. This improves your bounce rate, increases conversions, and makes you look good to search engines, which will in turn increase your discoverability.

I added pages and started posting more frequently. Perhaps I’m just getting better at it, but in the first 8 days of November, I surpassed my total traffic numbers for all of October.

I started getting pingbacks and comments. Of course, I am nowhere near the numbers of many others, but that’s okay, considering I took buckelsbooks live in September, a couple months back.

I’m learning, and just wanted to share what I am learning with you. Plenty of other bloggers can better tell you how to increase traffic, share the nitty-gritty details. For now, let me offer you a few quick ideas you might consider employing to boost traffic to your author’s blog and increase your conversions.

  • Instead of having one page devoted to all my books, I’ve split them up into My Books, and Nonfiction and Short Stories. (Probably I will separate them further, maybe dedicate a page to my Mythcorp series of urban fantasy novels, and one for the Steps employed in my nonfiction expose/parody The (Psycho) Path to Success). This way you can link to divergent pages, depending on the nature of the books to which you are guiding your visitors.
  • Create an entire page of ‘additional content’ exploring the world of one of your books. This works especially well for fantasy novels. I added some fascinating back story to my YA fantasy W.A.N.D. through the journal of one of its characters, the grizzled warlock Agabus Duchaine here.
  • You might consider crafting a page for your character bios. This expands your book world and adds interesting content to your blog. It also might entice casual visitors into purchasing your book, which they might never have done otherwise. This is conversion, and it is a beautiful thing.
  • Add a Projects or News page, dedicated to updating your books: coupons/launches/updated material/editorials. It’s also great for informing your visitors of your current progress. Are you working on a sequel to your popular series? A News page is the perfect place to keep them updated on your progress (you could even post about it and then simply leave that post on the page). Constant, or even weekly, updates keeps the page fresh, forcing search engines to work for you

These are my tactics anyway. I hope they can help you with your site. Keep at it, and be patient; if you build it, they will come!