In Smarter, Faster, Cheaper: Non-Boring, Fluff-Free Strategies for Marketing and Promoting Your Business, author David Siteman Garland seems to be having a conversation with himself (constantly).
He does this by writing a line and then immediately inserting a comment in parentheses in order to convey his thoughts on the sentence he just wrote (repeatedly). There are two (at least) net effects of doing this:
• First, it’s distracting to reader.
• Second, it makes the reader dread the next occurrence (which is most likely in the next paragraph).
As with the recent Never Get a “Real” Job, this has the net effect of diluting what might have otherwise been a very good book (which is unfortunate because Garland is fully entrenched in the new media world of which he writes). He can tap the likes of Tony Hsieh of Zappos fame and Ali Brown of Ali International as respected sources for the materials in Smarter, Faster, Cheaper.
Moreover, as the host of a number of web shows and even a television series—“The Rise to the Top”—Garland comes across as a likable and engaging authority on the wired world.
Just not in this book.
Part of the problem stems from the fact that he doesn’t seem to take his own advice to heart. For example, in Chapter 10, Creating a Sharable and Spreadable Website, he writes,
“If you think about it, your website is your house. You can have the best marketing and promotion in the world, but if your house is a mess, nobody will want to come over or come back.”
That’s not only sound advice, it’s totally right. But look at the very next sentence.
“The corporate-speak, one-way website is dead (or at least near death and digging its own grave).”
The thought is sound, but the message gets lost in the medium, namely his writing style of commenting on something he just wrote. Is it dead or not? Pick one and let the reader move on.
Before you think that this is too picayune an issue, consider that in that chapter alone there are 26 parentheticals in 11 pages, or over 2 per page. It makes the chapter almost unreadable.
The reader finds himself shouting, “Stop talking to yourself!” It’s little different than reading a book full of expletives or listening to someone who peppers every sentence with “you know” or “like.”
Garland has good points. It’s just that what he has to say is buried under layers of unnecessary distractions and commentary. This is one of those books you need to flip through before deciding to purchase.