HTWGS book review – ‘Winning Secrets from The Game Show Guru’ by Scott Hostetler

This week, I’ve got a book review for you; my thoughts and impressions of Winning Secrets from the Game Show Guru. This 198-page book was published in 2009, and is the work of “Game Show Guru” Scott Hostetler, whose site is at Scott’s a veteran of over 17 game shows, and this book distils all of his game show experiences – and a number of great tips – from his long and successful game show contestant career.

I’d recommend this book – it features a lot of handy hints all learned from Scott’s personal experiences, and anecdotes that will entertain anyone who’s a fan of game shows.

Scott has divided the book into three parts.

Part One goes into great detail about the actual process of of being a game show contestant, with sections entitled Getting an Audition, The Audition and Championship Strategies. The content here is all really useful stuff, and it’s clear that Scott is really passionate about the subject. It’s told concisely, clearly and with a nice conversational lightness of touch that makes it very easy to read. In getting some of the points across, Scott uses two characters named “Iwinn Bigg” and “Unprepared Pete” to illustrate the right way and wrong way to do things. This is probably unnecessary, and feels a little forced, particularly when the author seems to have no shortage of real life memories of contestants (and would-be contestants) to provide examples of dos and don’ts. The points are usually illustrated well enough with anecdotes from Scott’s various game show adventures, and by the end of this section – provided you’ve been taking notes – you’ll have learned some useful tips and techniques that most people auditioning won’t know.

Part Two of the book is entitled The Game Show History of the The Game Show Guru. This is pretty much what you’d expect from the title – a blow-by-blow account of Scott’s appearances on various game shows over 30 years, from 1977 – 2007. Each show is given its own chapter, and Scott often includes another tidbit after the telling of the story, whether it’s a backstage recollection, a strategy tip, or a moment in game show history. Scott’s an accomplished raconteur, and in many of these chapters, he invites the reader the chance to play along, by solving the various puzzles with (or should that be against?) him, as his account of the game unfolds. I thought this was a neat idea, and particularly enjoyed ‘playing along at home’ when reading the chapters that included these puzzles.

The final part of the book is given over to 25 pages of practice tests that Scott has devised; essentially Wheel of Fortune-type ‘fill-in-the-blank’ puzzles, and trivia questions.

And there you have it. Although I did generally enjoy the book, there were three things I wanted to mention. Firstly, an aspect that left me wanting more:

Scott mentions in the book and on his site that 100% of the people he has personally coached have gone on to have some degree of game show success. I wanted to know more about this. Scott doesn’t say anything more than this about his one-on-one training. I assume it consisted of him taking his students through the tips and principles he outlines in this book, but maybe including a chapter on this would have added a little more value. As a reader, I was curious as to how he trained them to get such great results, and would have loved a peek behind the scenes at that process.

Secondly, another aspect that really doesn’t do the book any favours is its graphic design. The cover, as you can see, doesn’t really catch the eye, or tell much of a story, and the many cartoons by Jeni Emery throughout the book have a distinctly amateurish feel, to say the least…

I don't think they're stuck inside giant polystyrene coffee cups; I think they're supposed to be standing behind game show podiums.

I think they’re supposed to be standing behind game show podiums, and not trapped inside giant polystyrene coffee cups.

This “GAME SH OW CHAMP” apparently has no body below his torso. And his wedge-shaped boat has a sporting pennant instead of a sail.

Apart from the caption being wrong… is this really the final draft of this drawing? Look at his hand.

This is supposed to be a poignant, solemn funeral wreath of roses, paying respect to the late Merv Griffin.

And I think this is supposed to be a poignant, solemn funeral wreath of roses, paying respect to the late Merv Griffin.

I think Jeni Emery’s a great illustrator. That is, if she’s ten years old.

Thirdly, the editing of the book, by Tricia Ariane Morgan, leaves a lot to be desired. There are typographical errors, spelling errors and grammatical errors peppered right throughout the book, and when two of those spelling errors appear before we reach the end of Page 1… well, that’s not a good look.

But these are minor niggles. The content of the book is good. There are lots of good practical tips, gained from Scott’s extensive experience, and the ‘lessons’ are delivered in a very chatty, personable style. I would recommend this to add to your collection if you’re a keen game show contestant. Or a keen would-be game show contestant! Subtracting one buzzer for the editing and the illustrations, I’m giving Scott Hostetler’s Winning Secrets From The Game Show Guru 3 game show buzzers out of 4.

3 Game show buzzers out of 4 - colour


And speaking of game show buzzers*, they’re also mentioned several times in my eBook How To Win Game shows, which is still available at the special price of $9.99 AU, if you click this link. There’s even a picture of one, on page 5.

See you next Tuesday!  

* This has been the latest in my series of ludicrously tangential eBook plugs at the end of my weekly post. Thank you.



2 thoughts on “HTWGS book review – ‘Winning Secrets from The Game Show Guru’ by Scott Hostetler

    • Oh Scott, thank you so much! I really did enjoy your book, and would recommend it whole-heartedly to anyone interesting in undertaking a game show journey, as you and I have. All the very best to you, and to your game show student alumni!

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