Pitch Bitch your vegan feminist article ideas! *

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

2011-09-21 - Mags is a BITCH! - 0011 [small square]

Calling all vegan feminists!

Bitch magazine recently announced its next five issue themes – Habit(at), Pulp, Micro/Macro, Gray, and Food – for which it’s currently accepting submissions. Habit(at) and Food (Winter 2012 and Winter 2014, respectively) seem especially ripe for vegan discourse … but I bet you crafty people can work a little vegan magic into any one of these topics, don’t you think?

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: Writer’s Market Companion, Joe Feiertag (2004)

Thursday, May 19th, 2005

A Valuable Supplement to “Writer’s Market”

four out of five stars

From Writer’s Digest Books comes “Writer’s Market Companion,” which serves as a valuable supplement to their ‘writer’s bible,’ “Writer’s Market.”

In the volume’s introduction, the authors explain their reasoning for a companion to the popular “Writer’s Market” guide: “As the publishing industry changes, we have become more selective in choosing markets that appear in `Writer’s Market.’ As a result of these choices, we have to sacrifice essential content, the nuts and bolts of publishing…To fill this gap, we’re providing you with this `Writer’s Market Companion, 2nd ed.'”

In their “Writer’s Market Companion,” authors Joe Feiertag and Mary Carmen Cupito provide an overview of “the nuts and bolts of publishing”: writing and selling different types of material, including poetry, short fiction, non-fiction articles and essays, book-length fiction and non-fiction, and even screenplays and scripts. They also discuss alternative markets for a freelancer’s work, such as corporations, web sites, and eBook aficionados. Other topics covered include conducting research; executing interviews; promoting your work; pursuing grants, fellowships, and prizes; finding and evaluating writing groups and communities; treating your writing career seriously, like a “real” business; contractual and copyright issues; and pricing your work.

As compared to other manuals on writing, publishing, and promoting books and articles, “Writer’s Market Companion” is easily one of the more superior ones I’ve read (and trust me, I’ve pored over quite a few!). The guide is well written (an essential when it’s a book about writing!), informative without sounding dry or boring, and chock full of useful advice. However, I thought a few of the chapters were on the weak side; for instance, chapter 13, “Promoting Your Work and Yourself” didn’t offer much beyond the monotonous promotional strategies I’ve seen in every other writing manual. Nonetheless, the book as a whole is good buy, definitely worth the time and money.

A caveat: if you’re just in search of market listings, stick with “Writer’s Market.” There aren’t any paying markets included in “Writer’s Market Companion,” simply descriptions of the different types of markets out there, along with advice on how best to court them. Conversely, if you’re a newbie just starting out, you’d probably be best served buying both the “Writer’s Market” and its companion (after all, what good are market listings if you don’t know what to do with them?).

(This review was originally published on Amazon and Library Thing, and is also available on Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you think it so!)

Book Review: Writer’s Online Marketplace: How & Where to Get Published Online, Debbie Ridpath Ohi (2001)

Thursday, May 12th, 2005

A decent guide to writing for the Web

four out of five stars

In “Writer’s Online Marketplace,” Debbie Ridpath Ohi profiles several hundred paying online markets that accept freelance work. Only 118 pages of this 262-page are devoted to market listings, however. Ohi begins with an overview of writing for online audiences, discussing details such as Netiquette, online queries and submissions, copyright and contractual issues, networking, promotion, e-publishing, and the many types of online markets (including where one can find market info online). Only later does she profile the various markets available to aspiring and experienced freelancers alike.

To date, I’ve read about dozen books on writing, publishing, and promoting books and other work (I’m quickly devouring my local library’s collection!). “Writer’s Online Marketplace” is, by far, one of the more useful, enjoyable, thoughtful, and organized guides available. When reading a self- or e-publishing book, I oftentimes find myself wondering how in the world the author ever managed to publish and sell such an atrocious manuscript. In fact, it seems as though many writers are jumping on the “how-to” bandwagon and rushing their ill-conceived and underdeveloped manuals to print, trying to cash in on the current e-publishing trend (some excellent examples of this phenomenon include “How to Make Money Publishing from Home” by Lisa Shaw and “How to Publish and Promote Online” by M. J. Rose & Angela Adair-Hoy). “Writer’s Online Marketplace,” while it does have its flaws, is a welcome break from some of the other train wrecks I’ve encountered.

Debbie Ridpath Ohi is the real thing – she’s an excellent writer as well as an expert veteran in the field. Her sentences and chapters flow together very well; in contrast to many how-to guides, she writes in a mature tone and doesn’t “talk down” to her readers (no “Idiot’s Guide” here!). She also features articles from guest essayists; again, this isn’t uncommon among writing/publishing guides, but what is exceptional in this case is that she manages to integrate them seamlessly into the book. Each essay is placed into its proper context, and features an introduction and follow-up by Ohi (imagine that!).

Now for the cons. While I did find some sections to be quite informative (Chapter 2, “Online Queries & Submissions”; Chapter 5, “Contracts & Copyright”), others were noticeably lacking. For instance, Chapter 3, “Types of Online Markets,” was very basic; writers who know not the difference between web portals and corporate sites, for example, should pick up a “Dummies’ Guide to the `Net” before even thinking about querying an online editor! Likewise with Chapter 4, “Where to Find Market Information” (answer: on the publication’s web site (you don’t say!?)). The chapters on e-publishing and online promotion were disappointingly basic as well. I felt as though Chapter 9, “Insider Views” (a compilation of short, 2-3 page essays by/interviews of industry insiders) could have been omitted entirely, thus leaving more room for online promotion/networking tips and a lengthier discussion of electronic publishing (particularly eBooks).

Of course, the biggest problem I had was that a majority of the information is out of date – especially that contained in the market listings. This is understandable, as “Writer’s Online Marketplace” was published in 2001 and has yet to be updated. While I won’t detract any “stars” for this inevitability, I also won’t be buying the book any time soon!

Although I didn’t go through every market listing, I did skim through the entire section and looked up those that interested me. All told, I think I tried to visit the web sites of approximately half on the publications listed in the book. Of these, *maybe* a quarter were still online, active, and accepting queries and/or submissions (and this is a generous estimate!). Most of the links were broken, and a search for the publication’s title with Google usually failed to help. The links that were still valid tended to take me to sites that had not been updated in quite some time – several years, in many cases. A few of the publications hadn’t went belly-up, but were actually generating all their content in-house. In the end, I don’t think I found a single new prospect at all! You see, by the time I consulted “Writer’s Online Marketplace,” I had already signed up for a half dozen market-database newsletters. Thus, I was already aware of the few interesting and accurate listings I found in “Writer’s Online Marketplace.”

To illustrate just how pervasive the problem is, consider this: Ohi points readers to her site, Inkspot, for further information in many instances (a site that she’s run since 1995 and even won awards for, mind you). However, the site was bought out by Xlibris 2000 and shut down just eight months later. Thus, even the links to the author’s own site are dead! Not that this is anyone’s “fault,” really, since this is just the nature of the beast. Nonetheless, it does render guides to the World Wide Web obsolete in a ridiculously short period of time. Which brings me to the punch line: if you can borrow “Writer’s Online Marketplace” from the library, a friend, whatever, I say go for it; otherwise, save your money and wait for a revised edition to come out. In the meantime, scout the `Net for free (or even subscription-based) market listings: it’s a much better use of your time and/or money. “Writer’s Online Marketplace” would have been a great buy in 2001, but it’s just too old to be of much use in 2005.

(This review was originally published on Amazon and Library Thing, and is also available on Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you think it so!)

Book Review: How to Get Your e-Book Published: An Insider’s Guide to the World of Electronic Publishing, Richard Curtis (2001)

Tuesday, May 10th, 2005

Elementary, My Dear Watson!

one out of five stars

In the last several months, I have borrowed and read just about every book on traditional, print, and self-publishing that I could find at my local library. Being a self-published author and freelance writer (read: starving artist), I prefer to check out a book for free before actually shelling out money for it. As of yet, I STILL haven’t found a publishing book that’s actually worth purchasing. Not only are most poorly written and out-of-date, but none of those carried by my library focused on ePublishing, my main area of interest.

Needless to say, I was ecstatic to find one (one!) ePublishing book on my library’s shelves after months of looking. After reading “How to Get Your eBook Published,” my elation turned to disappointment. While the authors’ writing is more mature and organized than many of their peer’s, the content in “How to Get Your eBook Published” leaves much to be desired.

Curtis and Quick’s main error is in trying to cover EVERY aspect of ePublishing, from the basics of the Internet to promoting eBooks. The book’s text runs about 260 pages, and the content is divided into 49 (yes, you heard me right – FORTY-NINE!) chapters. Consequently, each topic garners between two to six pages of coverage. Although the authors do manage to broach a number of subjects, each is discussed only superficially. Those with any modicum of experience in publishing, promotions, marketing, or the Internet will find the material rudimentary. Only those who are complete newbies to the `Net and/or publishing will find this book even remotely helpful.

For those who expect more in-depth information, the authors point you towards other resources that you can consult. Many of these are books, which I find somewhat insulting. Why purchase a book that 1) doesn’t give you any helpful information, even though it promises you it will; and instead 2) tells you to buy a number of OTHER books? You may as well just browse through Amazon and consult the reader reviews (for free!) to find relevant resources – no need to pay for this service! Also, Curtis and Quick include a number of URLs, but most are just different pages on the same web site! In fact, they lift entire articles off of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers’ web site, rather than summarizing the info in their own words (or, God forbid, doing additional research and including facts and opinions from a number of sources!).

Finally, the authors waste so many pages explaining what the Internet is, how it was developed, how to go about getting Internet service and a web site, etc., that they devote very little space to actual ePublishing. For example, in regards to promoting your eBook, they suggest setting up a web site and then making liberal use of email signatures in newsgroups. Period. No, really, that’s it! That’s the extent of their wisdom, I swear!

You’d be much better off buying Marilyn & Tom Ross’s “Complete Guide to Self-Publishing” and/or “Jump Start Your Book Sales.” Even though neither concerns self-publishing specifically, many of the strategies are applicable to ePublishers in addition to “regular” print publishers. Their writing style can be extremely grating, but at least you get your money’s worth with the Ross’s.

“How to Get Your eBook Published” is elementary, my dear readers, elementary. The only way you’ll benefit from this book is if you think that pressing “Tab” on your keyboard will magically produce a nice refreshing beverage, a la Homer Simpson. In other words, this book will prove helpful only if you have absolutely no Internet experience whatsoever. A definite pass for anyone who has had Internet access for more than a week.

(This review was originally published on Amazon and Library Thing, and is also available on Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you think it so!)

Book Review: Jump Start Your Book Sales, Marilyn & Tom Ross (1999)

Tuesday, May 10th, 2005

As tricky as a box of monkeys

four out of five stars

Before deciding to self-publish my first tome, I read a number of books about self- and electronic publishing; Tom & Marilyn Ross’s “The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing” was one of the first books I consulted, and it was by far the most useful. It was so helpful, in fact, that I rushed right out and got a copy of their next guide, “Jump Start Your Book Sales.”

“Jump Start Your Book Sales” is similar in style and format to “The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing.” The Ross’s have packed the book with tons of helpful marketing tips – 337 pages worth, to be exact. In 25 chapters, you’ll learn how to: get your book reviewed, both online and off; pull off successful author interviews and book signings; get your face on TV and your voice on radio; submit op-ed pieces and articles to newspapers, magazines, newsletters, `zines, and more; get your book into bookstores, libraries, schools, and nontraditional retail outlets; convince experts and celebs to endorse your book; sell your product in catalogs, via direct mail, and on QVC; and create snappy marketing materials.

Overall, “Jump Start Your Book Sales” is a smart buy. The Ross’s offer a wide variety of strategies to help both self-published and traditionally published authors promote their work. While “The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing” did briefly discuss some of these tactics, the Ross’s expound on this advice in “Jump Start Your Book Sales.” HOWEVER, after reading both of these guides back-to-back, I have a sneaking suspicion that they may have simply copied and pasted sections directly from one book to the next. Although some similarity is understandable (given that some of the topics discussed in “Jump Start Your Book Sales” are also mentioned in “The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing”), I do think that the authors should have spent more time rewriting and updating the information that they included in both volumes. I don’t have time to actually comb through each book to see if any paragraphs were copied verbatim – but, at the very least, the writing, terminology, and phrases used were similar enough to give the feeling that they were copied. At best, this is unfair to those readers who shell out the money for both books.

Also, the issues I had with “The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing” are applicable in “Jump Start Your Book Sales” as well. The Ross’s writing style can be grating at times – it’s way too down-home folksy for my tastes. Their use of similes and metaphors is excessive to the point of lunacy. The “Web Sites, Wisdom and Whimsey” section, located at the end of every chapter, is a waste of time, ink, paper – and ultimately money (yours!). Finally, they fail to give electronic publishing and the Internet as much attention as they merit. The title for this review, by the way, is derived from both the Ross’s love affair with similes as well as their tricky Dicky-ness in recycling so much information from their first book to the second. I hate to repeat myself, so please see my review of “The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing” if you’d like a more detailed explanation of any of the aforementioned complaints.

Even with these flaws, “Jump Start Your Book Sales” (like “The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing”) is one of the better self-publishing books I’ve seen. It’s a must for anyone interested in publishing and/or marketing their own work, simply because of the wealth of information it contains. If you’re looking to save money, you should stick to “The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing” for a good overview of self-publishing, and opt for “Jump Start Your Book Sales” if you’re just in need of marketing/publicity tips.

(This review was originally published on Amazon and Library Thing, and is also available on Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you think it so!)

Book Review: The Complete Guide to Self Publishing, 4th ed., Marilyn & Tom Ross (2002)

Tuesday, May 10th, 2005

Packed with pearls of wisdom as incandescent as raindrops

four out of five stars

Of the half-dozen or so self-publishing books I’ve poured over in the past few months, “The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing” is by far the most helpful guide that’s crossed my desk. Although it does have a few major flaws, overall it’s an excellent reference for those interested in publishing and/or marketing their own work.

In just over 500 pages, the Ross’s discuss the basics of self-publishing, covering everything from electronic publishing to print on demand (POD). They tell readers how to choose and write about enjoyable and profitable topics; revise and refine your manuscript; manufacture your masterpiece; create a publicity buzz, even before your book’s in print; market your product in various venues, including print and electronic media, on TV and the radio, and in bookstores, libraries, and conference halls; pursue subsidiary rights; establish and operate a small publishing business; and negotiate with the “Goliath” publishers. They also tell you how to penetrate oft-overlooked markets, such as schools, libraries, catalogs, and retail outlets.

As a newbie to the self-publishing scene, I found “The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing” to be an excellent introductory resource. It’s literally overflowing with nuggets of useful information. I suspect that publishing veterans will most likely find some of the information obvious or commonsensical, but again, as someone with limited knowledge of the publishing industry, this book was a real eye-opener. Compared to the other self-publishing guides out there, the Ross’s version takes the cake.

Of course, that’s not to suggest that “The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing” is perfect – quite the contrary. I personally found the Ross’s writing style to be somewhat grating. I understand that they probably crafted this volume for general audiences, and thus had to write for the “lowest common denominator.” However, I still found their folksy, familiar tone a bit annoying. I suppose it could have been worse, though – thank goodness they didn’t stoop to the level of, say, a “For Dummies” book or an “Idiot’s Guide”! Those books are so watered down that they’re simply unreadable!

Also, in Chapter 5, which offers writing tips, they advise readers to use metaphors, similes, analogies, and anecdotes to make writing more lively. They follow their own suggestion to the point of overkill – they literally throw in a simile or metaphor every two or three pages. The text itself stands at a hefty 436 pages – you do the math! After page 15, this technique became as annoying as a sharp stone stuck in your sneaker. (I’ve got a few hundred more where that came from!)

My final gripe concerns the “Web Sites, Wisdom, and Whimsey” section that the authors included at the end of every single chapter. Far from providing any useful information, these additional four pages just struck me as a way to beef of their book so that they could jack up the price. Again, at four pages a chapter, and 22 chapters total, that’s an extra 88 pages that they could have omitted entirely (just think of all that wasted paper!). The “Web Sites” portion of this section would have been helpful IF they had included a new web site. Instead, they usually featured a site that they’d already mentioned within the chapter itself. I didn’t see any “Wisdom” to speak of, and the “Whimsey” was silly and self-indulgent. Consider the following: “The nice thing about living in a small town like we do is that when you don’t know what you’re doing, someone else does.” Huh!? What does that have to do with self-publishing? This is something that belongs in the Ross’s Christmas card, for crying out loud – not in a book on publishing!

Now, I’m a busy lady – I simply don’t have the time to waste on this kind of stuff. Sure, the “Web Sites, Wisdom, and Whimsey” is easily skipped over, especially since it’s clearly labeled and placed at the end of the chapter. But that’s not the point – if you buy this book, you’re PAYING for the extraneous junk they throw in, whether you like it or not. At $19.99, “The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing” is priced about 25% more than many other paperback self-publishing books – no doubt because it runs a whopping 521 pages. Had the authors just stuck to the topic, they could have trimmed at least a hundred pages from the book (and a few bucks from the price). Or perhaps they could have more adequately addressed e-publishing, which to my disappointment was a subject that they failed to do justice.

Nonetheless, I gave “The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing” four stars because it is fairly helpful, well-organized, and packed with info, unlike many similar books I’ve seen. Just be sure to brace yourself for those similes!

By the way, the Ross’s followed up on “The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing” with “Jump Start Your Book Sales,” which is essentially a guide to marketing your self-published book. If you just need publicity/marketing tips, skip “The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing” and go right to “Jump Start Your Book Sales.” Buying both would be a waste of money, as the authors recycle their marketing advice from one book to the next.

(This review was originally published on Amazon and Library Thing, and is also available on Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you think it so!)

VHS Review: Secrets of Successful Self-Publishing, Dan Poynter (2000)

Tuesday, May 10th, 2005

Cheesy yet Informative

three out of five stars

It’s obvious from the get-go that “Secrets of Successful Self-Publishing” was produced on a fairly low budget. The sound is choppy and inconsistent, the camera work is shoddy, and the narration and graphics are just plain cheesy (even by 2000 standards!). Bad production notwithstanding, Dan Poynter (founder of Para Publishing and author of 78 books and counting) does offer some useful information in this 34-minute VHS tape.

Newbies will find this video to be a good introduction to the ins and outs of self-publishing. However, as someone who has read countless books on self- and electronic publishing, I didn’t find any new information here. Poynter gives a brief overview of writing and publishing your own book, discussing the actual writing (and revision) process; designing the interior and exterior of your book; getting it printed; listing it with the biggies; and promoting the heck out of it. Again, while few of his tips were new to me, those who haven’t read up on the subject will find his lecture somewhat informative.

Yet, at $29.95, you’d really be better off buying and reading a book (or two!) on the subject. Sure, it might take more time, but it’ll cost about the same and you’ll end up all the more knowledgeable for it!

One word of caution: Dan recommends printing up 500 copies of your book JUST FOR REVIEWS on the first run! From what I’ve observed in the many self-publishing eGroups I belong to, there’s a growing concern about “reviewers” selling their free review copies on Amazon Marketplace (thus usurping YOUR sales and profit). So take his counsel with a grain of salt, and use some common sense.

Finally, be sure to check out Dan’s web site, […], which features a slew of great advice for writers and publishers. His site and newsletter are jam-packed with tons more info than the video, and – better yet – they’re free!

(This review was originally published on Amazon. Please click through and vote it helpful if you think it so!)

Book Review: How to Make Money Publishing from Home, Lisa Shaw (1997)

Tuesday, May 10th, 2005

Should be called “Remedial Self-Publishing”

one out of five stars

As Lisa Shaw’s livelihood (designing and distributing greeting cards for animal companions) is near and dear to my heart, it truly pains me that I have to pan her book, “How to Make Money Publishing from Home.” However, I feel as though I’d be remiss if I were to review the many other self-publishing books I’ve read and skip over this guide.

Before deciding to self-publish my first eBook, I ransacked my local libraries and checked out every volume I could find on self-publishing in general, and electronic publishing in particular. Ms. Shaw’s book was the first to arrive, and I digested it in one night – in one sitting, actually. “Digested” is perhaps too strong of a word, though – there’s so little substance in “How to Make Money…” that there wasn’t anything for me to digest at all. It’s so general a guide that the author manages to say very little about a whole lot.

In under 200 pages, she briefly discusses self-publishing booklets, books, greeting cards, magazines, newsletters, newspapers, software, `zines, ezines, and websites; writing, following, and revising business plans; tax and zoning issues; accounting and finances; the necessary self-publishing technology, including computers, scanners, printers, phone lines, fax machines, networking, and software; day-to-day business operations; and marketing and publicity. Thus, no one subject is afforded more than a few pages. From the wide variety of topics covered, it may appear as though Ms. Shaw offers a wealth of information in her guide. Yet, the opposite is actually true: she tries to cover so many facets of self-publishing that she doesn’t adequately address any of the topics she raises. Any one of the aforementioned subjects deserves its own guide: each is so complex and complicated that only an entire book could do it justice. Indeed, if you were to perform a keyword search for any of these terms on Amazon, its search engine would return dozens of results.

My advice is this: If you’re interested in self-publishing, don’t try to save money and buy just one “how-to” guide (such as this one) to answer all your questions – you’d be cheating yourself as opposed to protecting your wallet. Rather, consult at least one book on traditional publishing, another about self- (or electronic) publishing, a third on marketing, yet another on taxes and finances for small businesses, and so on. “How to Make Money Publishing from Home” is so basic that it should be called “Remedial Self-Publishing” or, better yet, “Self-Publishing for Sixth Graders.” There’s almost no useful information in here – you’re much better off spending your money (and time) elsewhere. Heck, you can even Google “self-publishing” and find more meaningful resources (and largely for free, to boot)!

Finally (and perhaps I’m just nit-picking now), the author began by introducing the different forms of self-published material (booklets, books, greeting cards, magazines, etc.), offering a short summary of each. This left me with the distinct and distasteful impression that this book was aimed at those who want to publish their own work just so that they can make wads of money without leaving the house (which rarely happens, despite the anomalies you read about in the “author profiles”). After all, if you’re self-publishing for self-gratification, because you have knowledge that you want to share with others, or just for the love of the written word, shouldn’t you already have some idea of what you’re going to publish? In any case, this really put me off – anyone consulting a self-publishing book should already know what books, booklets, and magazines are, otherwise they don’t really belong in the publishing business. Unless they’re still in the sixth grade, in which case their ignorance is forgiven!

(This review was originally published on Amazon and Library Thing, and is also available on Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you think it so!)

Book Review: Getting It Published: A Guide for Scholars and Anyone Else Serious about Serious Books, William P. Germano (2001)

Tuesday, May 10th, 2005

Useful for scholars and trade authors alike!

four out of five stars

Having read a number of books on publishing in the past several months, I was delighted to stumble upon “Getting It Published.” Although it isn’t directly related to my current career path – presently, I’m self-publishing a general trade nonfiction book, as opposed to a scholarly tome – I found Germano’s advice to be helpful, thoughtful, and eloquent nonetheless.

In welcome contrast to the many publishing books that are aimed at more general audiences, “Getting It Published” does not dumb itself down for the lowest common denominator. Germano’s writing is witty, enjoyable, and informed – it’s as though you’re receiving guidance from your academic advisor rather than reading a how-to book written by some faceless, self-proclaimed publishing “guru.” It should come as no surprise that Germano is the VP and publishing director at Routledge. His wealth of insight is remarkable – he covers the process of publishing scholarly work from beginning to end. From writing the manuscript, to crafting a successful proposal, signing a contract, and seeing the work through to publication, Germano doesn’t miss a beat. He even covers the not-so-little details, like copyrights, permissions, quotations, artwork, and cover design. His discussion of the various publishing houses and their tasks (“What do publishers do?”) was most informative.

“Getting It Published” is a must-have for those new to scholarly publishing. Newbies to the world of publishing who aren’t looking to publish scholarly work won’t be disappointed, either – there’s plenty of useful information in here for everyone. It also serves as a much-needed break from all those awful “For Dummies” books and “Idiot’s Guides” that seem to saturate the publishing market!

(This review was originally published on Amazon and Library Thing, and is also available on Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you think it so!)

Book Review: How To Publish and Promote Online, M. J. Rose & Angela Adair-Hoy (2001)

Tuesday, May 10th, 2005

A chaotic collection of essays thrown together piecemeal

one out of five stars

Over the past several months, I’ve read about a dozen books on electronic and self-publishing. Although I’ve still to find a truly excellent resource (“The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing” by Tom & Marilyn Ross is the best I’ve come across as of yet), “How to Publish and Promote Online” is one of the worst I’ve seen by far.

The general layout of the book is perhaps the biggest disappointment. Rather than having concrete, substantial chapters, arranged in a logical and progressive order, “How to Publish and Promote…” consists of 58 short essays. The text itself is only 246 pages, divided by 58 chapters…and, well, you do the math! Most of the “chapters” are written by “guest” authors. The old adage about “too many cooks in the kitchen” is applicable here – there are so many authors that the different writing styles become distracting. Even more problematic is their seeming lack of communication. No one appears to have read one another’s essays, or to even have a vague idea of what topic the other authors are writing about. This holds true for the book’s authors, Rose & Adair-Hoy, as well as the many guest authors. Thus, some of the information is mentioned several times and quickly becomes redundant, while other information is presented chaotically and in no clear order. The end result is that the flow of the book is choppy and erratic; the chapters aren’t arranged in any obvious order, and no one section transitions smoothly into the next. What little information is included in the book is hard to find.

For example, a survey of radio and television media executives conducted by Paul J. Krupin is described in excruciating detail twice in the book: first in a chapter written by PAUL KRUPIN himself, and in a later chapter authored by both Rose & Adair-Hoy. Additionally, there are numerous instances where Rose and Adair-Hoy provide URLs for similar web sites in different chapters, when it really would have made more sense to group the links together for quick reference. It wasn’t a big deal for me, since I was typing up notes from the book in my word processing program, and could reorganize the info any way I saw fit – but I’m sure I would have been much more aggravated had I actually shelled out money for this train wreck. By the way, I ended up with six pages of typed, double-spaced notes for a 254 page book; this should give readers come clue as to how much helpful information is actually included.

Adair-Hoy includes this “disclaimer” (her words, not mine) in her introductory chapter:

“Finally…my secret. I have never taken a formal writing course and I don’t intend to. I write the way I talk.”

Without meaning to, Adair-Hoy offers a succinct summary of the primary flaw in “How to Publish and Promote…”. When writing a reference book, it just isn’t acceptable for the authors to ramble on and on in a disorganized, roundabout manner, offering pieces of information here and there in a sort of word jumble. If writing simply involved “writing how you talk,” then anyone could do it! Nonfiction/reference books such as these should be well-organized, informative, and packed with useful knowledge. They SHOULDN’T be thrown together piecemeal. Any one of these 58 essays is acceptable on its own, in a `zine or newsletter, perhaps – but lumped together under the guise of a “how-to” book, they simply don’t cut it.

If you really must read this book, check it out of your local library before purchasing it – I guarantee you’ll thank me for saving you $10+. Then put the Ross’ “The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing” or (if you’re just interested in marketing ideas for your book) their “Jump Start Your Book Sales” on hold. Their writing style can be somewhat grating, but they offer a ton of useful information – and, better yet, their guides are actually organized into REAL CHAPTERS!

(This review was originally published on Amazon and Library Thing, and is also available on Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you think it so!)