Review – “Slicing the Hype: A Simple Formula for Finding Great Non-Fiction e-Books” by Michal Stawicki

Everyone nowadays is buying ebooks, and most of us are faced with the same problem; Out of all the myriad books available, how do we pick the good ones? How do we sort through the dross to find the gems?

So when I find a writer who promises a technique to solve the problem, I’m interested, and I think a lot of my readers will be, too. I received the book on a free promotion, but it is regularly on sale at Amazon for $0.99.

To save you going any farther, I will state two points off the top: the book actually does have some good advice, which I will follow in future. On the other hand, as the subtitle states, the information applies mostly to non-fiction. Fiction readers do not have the same avalanche of get-rich-quick artists deluging them with titles. The technique does work for fiction readers as well, though, so I thought my readers might enjoy finding out about the book.

Stawiki states in the introduction, “I had a problem with a multitude of titles that promised to solve my problem but didn’t deliver.” Well, Stawiki himself is an author who promises a simple and easy-to-use solution. Does he deliver? I’m going to apply his system to his book and see if I would buy it. Here goes.

Chapters 1 – 5

The introduction lays out the author’s picture of the publishing industry at the moment: “Big Five” publishers, Independent Authors, and Pseudo Authors, or Kindle Goldrushers. In tune with the intention of the book, he spends more time on the pseudo authors we all want to avoid, but by a third of the way through the book he hasn’t given us any information about how to recognize them yet.

Chapters 6 -10

Now we take a small detour from the stated topic of the book, but fear not. This part is worth the read, and it’s the information that appeals most to fiction readers. This section is mostly about genuine Indie writers: what they are like, how to recognize them, and the advantages of dealing with them. It is this author’s opinion that the main advantage of dealing with Indies, especially in non-fiction, is their accessibility. The point he makes is that the Big Five publishers keep a very strict firewall between their authors and their readers and the pseudo writers have no interest in contacting their readers. However, the Indies, both fiction and non-fiction, want and need feedback from their customers, and this can be an enlightening and enriching experience for the reader.

Chapter 12 – end

Here we finally get to the nub of the problem: how to recognize the fakes. This is the material that was originally promised, so we are glad we continued to read this far.

However, at this point the structure of the book becomes rather scattered. This chapter helps us recognize the Kindle Gold Rushers. The next chapter tells about how to find legitimate Indie writers. Then it’s back to the Gold Rushers under a different title, and finally there is a “bonus chapter” on what seems to be the same topic.

I will not take sales away from the author by putting a spoiler in my review, but the real information in this book could be stated in a few sentences, fleshed out into one decent blog, and stated clearly in one word: “accessibility.” My only caveat is that this book is not really about “How to find good books.” It’s about “How to find good authors.” Which, in the long run, is a better solution to the problem, and takes a bit longer to discuss.

However, the extra information given in the centre section is of interest to all readers and all writers as well, so I feel the book is worth a look. In applying the techniques Mr. Stawiki suggests, the picture I get of the man himself is not completely reassuring. He seems to have a lot of self-help books on a lot of different topics, on none of which he is an expert, a fact that he freely admits. However, in this area his information is good, his suggestions ring true and he comes through with more than he promises in the hype for his book.The author is of Polish nationality and is mostly self taught in English, but the the prose is clean and correct. He is either a very bright boy, or is smart enough to hire a good editor.

Recommended for all who want to be knowledgeable about the buyer’s end of the writing business and wish to develop relationships with the authors they read.

Four stars out of five.

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