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The Scary Power Of Useless Information

Tis the season for events! Those of you that stop in here regularly are probably trying to remember what I wrote about before event season kicked in and I’m sort of with you on that, instead of ruminating on topics that have bothered me for years I now have fresh material to drive me to drinking.

Most recently I was at an event that’s orchestrated every year to give authors and aspiring published authors a ton of free content and advice about how to make it in publishing. Everything from web site design and SEO, to social media, traditional marketing, branding…the list goes on.

Unfortunately, and maybe part of it has to do with the fact that I’ve been in the industry for what seems like 100 years, the quality of the information at these events, given out by the so-called “experts” is really going downhill. It’s scary. And the authors who pay to attend are taking it all to heart.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a number of really great people out there that are certainly helping to keep publishing current, and their blogs, books, newsletters and webinars are amazing resources, but we have our share of fossils. People who were on the “cutting edge” back in 1998 that really haven’t had a unique idea since.

The content these posers are peddling is either fluff, very basic info even the most Internet-challenged could find in a Google search, or it’s inaccurate, and follows guidelines from about a dozen Facebook updates ago. Honestly it was all I could do to stay awake through some of the sessions I attended. I was even “shooshed” by a fellow attendee for trying to get some work done when my attention started waning and what I really wanted to say was, “Oh don’t worry about it, everything he’s said so far is totally worthless. Trust me.” Unfortunately that’s considered bad business.

If some of you are thinking I’m being harsh, because well, we’ve all been caught off guard by a social network just appearing or disappearing out of nowhere, or on a more technical level, Google making changes to its algorithm and screwing with our web analytics, remember this – these people are making money off of bad information and old reputations.

It’s totally unacceptable to consider yourself a thought leader in ANY industry while disseminating inaccurate information, and those of us in a rapidly developing industry like publishing are certainly no exception.

If we want better authors, books that are well written, carefully edited, with enticing covers, functional, engaging websites (the wish list goes on) then we as the professionals need to step up our game and commit to giving authors the information they really need – not information we had our assistants pull from articles we wrote 5 years ago or god forbid media strategies that worked in 90s.

Do you have a go-to expert whose blog, book or website has been particularly helpful to you during your publishing process?

If so please recommend them here in the comments, I’d like to recognize those who are putting genuinely useful information out there!