Infomercial star Kevin Trudeau turned a book containing such theories as deodorants cause breast cancer and magnetic toe rings reverse the aging process into one of the biggest bestsellers of the year. Now he's hoping to score again by presenting himself as an expert on the seemingly disparate fields of weight loss and personal finance.
With his Alliance Publishing Group, for which he used a multimillion infomercial campaign to turn Natural Cures "They" Don't Want You to Know About into an unprecedented self-publishing success, Trudeau is developing two new books and infomercials, this time targeting consumers who want to slim down or manage their money better. Both are likely to be released next year, said publishing consultant Bill Gladstone of Waterside Productions.
Trudeau came to publishing by default after he was barred from selling health products or services via infomercials in a $2-million settlement with the FTC over his claims about a cancer cure. But the publishing business has turned out to be lucrative for Trudeau, who not only makes money from sales of the book, but also uses the book to direct consumers to his Web site, where they are offered subscriptions to health information for $9.95 a month or $499 for life.
In addition to releasing the new titles bearing Trudeau's name, Alliance will try to exploit its current momentum in alternative health with 101 Natural Cures, a reference book by Bruce Ditchfield, a "natural healer" who claims to have ghost-written several books by well-known, though unnamed, doctors.
The plan raises questions about how much Trudeau's publishing fortunes may be affected by the series of negative media stories about his legal entanglements with the FTC and the New York Consumer Protection Board. So far, Trudeau has been able to capitalize on his adversarial relationships with authorities, and sales of Natural Cures via TV and retail channels have been on a continuous upswing.
"It was my suggestion to create a follow-up that was rooted purely in the substance of natural medicine, and away from the controversy surrounding Kevin's book about government scams," said Trudeau's executive consultant Reno Rolle, who referred to Ditchfield as his personal nutritionist. Though Ditchfield's book will not be accompanied by an infomercial, Alliance will back it with a satellite media tour, book signings and national ads, and possibly some personal appearances by Trudeau.
That isn't quite enough to convince Margaret Noteman, health buyer at Denver's Tattered Cover, to stock up in big quantities. While she acknowledged that Trudeau's involvement could help the book, she was also quick to point out how difficult it is to break out new titles in the overcrowded alternative healing category.
As Trudeau gears up to publish his next two books, his first challenge will be to create an infomercial that's as effective as his last one, which his company spends $500,000 to $2 million a week to air. Coming up with an effective 30-minute TV pitch might be more difficult than making the transition from health adviser to an adviser on weight loss and personal finance. Suze Orman and Deepak Chopra have branched out from their core expertise into other self-help categories, said Barry Rossnick, buyer for Books Inc., the San Francisco area small chain. But that doesn't mean Rossnick endorses Trudeau's advice: "I'd rather not carry books by charlatans, but we will always carry books that people are asking for."