I know, I know, they seem so cheesy. Some are. For that reason, I don't buy them. I go to the library. Search the self-help section, or even the psychology section. Find a book that is applicable to you. I usually will try to read only a few pages a day, sometimes coupled with my journaling time, just as kind of food for thought. You'll be amazed what you can learn about yourselves, and others in you life!
I agree with what has been said. I resisted, for years, turning my seminar material into a "self-help" book but finally did at the behest of my students. I have gone to school and received the training but more importantly, have lived what I teach for 22 years. I turned my life around and it's been good. My work is aimed at a specific group (getting over a breakup) and I don't profess to know everything about everything or be everything to everyone.
I am always amazed at people spouting off about things they have little clinical experience and even less life experience about. It boggles my mind. You can do it for some things but other things take a bit of knowledge to help people on the right path.
I agree with Greg...definitely research authors and their life's path.
I think it's about finding an author whose voice you connect with, resonating with an author will allow the work to really hit home. Most peopel aren't just reading random self-improvement books; they're looking for answers to specific questions. I too get most of my books out of the library, but those I'm considering buying I do some research before I plunk down the dollars. See if the author has a website and look into their path of development...it's always good to make sure the self-improvement "guru" walks their talk.
I have always felt the same way. However, I have now been able to find awesome books that are referred by other people. They share them with me. I check them out on amazon first, buy them used. Make sure I'm familiar with the Author. Also depends on what kind of self help you're looking for. I did get a real stinker of a book but it was my own fault. I am loving books with positive affirmations and minfullness.