(This post was originally released on 1 March 2012, but was unpublished while judging of the Global Ebook Awards too place. The original post is being republished in October 2012 now that the judging process is over.)
Well, I’m surprising even myself. Despite the fun, stress and exhaustion that accompanies releasing every issue of Narrator Magazine (the latest one came out today), I still managed to read another ebook this week in my role as a judge for the 2012 Global eBook Awards.
This week’s book had me thinking deeply – not so much about the book itself, but about how I felt about it. Judging books is a new experience for me. Editing is one thing – you’re helping someone bring life to something in the best possible way. But judging? The responsibility is enormous: you could kill a book with a bad review.
I know how much hard work goes into a book, and how, to publish, it’s as if you’re standing naked in front of the whole world, which is why I don’t post unfavourable reviews – I feel it’s better to post nothing than to be critical. And there is also the point that my perspective of something may be just that – my perspective – and it might not be such a bad book, it might just be the way I view it and it might appeal 100% more to someone else, and I would not want to damage an author’s hope of getting someone to read and enjoy their book by posting something unfavourable.
So, why the ramble? Well, I had to come to terms with how I felt about Alpha Chick. Ms Duane is certainly intelligent (or her editor is very sharp and grammatically correct) – this is no book for dummies. You need a decent vocabulary and to be able to comfortably read good grammar – I am sure there was no sentence in this book with a preposition at the end! But despite the properly constructed sentences, this is a warm, friendly, authentic read.
The book is in two parts with the first part being Ms Duane’s basic life story, explaining her initially happy childhood, the changes in her life which led to her alcoholism and poor relationships which were contrasted against her incredible business successes, through to her epiphany/light bulb moment/moment of clarity where she found the strength to face her demons and get her life back on track. The second part of the book is Ms Duane’s five steps to help the reader do the same with their life.
I suppose my problem with this book, and which is why I talked about perspective earlier on, is that I have read quite a few similar books, and learned a lot of the techniques Ms Duane suggests, in my career as a business person. I have attended many courses and workshops and devoured many highly recommended reads as suggested by various business coaches, mentors and associates, so reading Alpha Chick I often felt that I wasn’t reading anything new, that it had just been re-packaged for a different audience. And then I realised – that’s the point.
Ms Duane is talking to women – women who have been beaten by life, by their husbands, by their fathers, by their children, by the mundane and the everyday – women who have lost hope and just don’t know where to start looking for it again. Alpha Chick is designed to give them that hope. It’s not going to solve their problems just by reading it, and that’s the point of the book – the way we live our lives, for the most part and barring extreme misfortune, is our choice. And we have choices, no matter how small, and it’s up to us to exercise those choices – to take responsibility for our own happiness because if we don’t, no one else will.
But Alpha Chick will let these women know that they’re not the only ones in the world facing misery, that it’s not impossible to do something about your life, that it’s not easy to do something about your life, but that if you want to, you can. Ms Duane provides her five steps with more story than simple 1, 2, 3 – there is plenty of reading in this book – and she also directs the reader to her website, for freebies, feedback and help. Ultimately, this is a business book – Ms Duane has trained as a professional coach and this book is partly a marketing asset to help expand her business – but that’s the cynic in me, the cynic who has edited/proofread many similar books under the 21st century marketing agenda of ‘You’re an expert in your field, write a book and double your authenticity so you can up your prices/attract more clients etc’.
So taking my perspective out of the equation, taking away my editing history and mediocre marketing knowledge/awareness, is this book any good? Yes, it is. It will show you how the only way to help yourself is to hold that big, ugly mirror up in front of your face so that you can see yourself, and the life you’re living, warts and all. And if you’re ready to do that, then you’re ready to start making the changes Ms Duane had to make to begin living a life that’s rewarding, that’s worth living. And shouldn’t we all be doing our best to do that?
Alpha Chick is available in print as well as for Kindle, through Amazon.