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Great Advice for the 1980s
on August 2, 2012
We can't say we weren't warned: this is the "idiot's guide" to children's publishing, after all. Much of the advice is so basic that only a simpleton would need it: "When a book is produced with a hard, stiff outer cover, it's a hardcover book. When the cover of a book is pliable, the book is softcover." Duh. "Break the manuscript into paragraphs. Start a new page only when you come to the end of another one. Don't try to type it out in book form." Double duh.
One gets the suspicion that this book has been rehashed and haphazardly updated for many years, beginning in the pre-Internet era. Indeed, this is the third edition, published in 2008, but Chapter 30 on "do-it-yourself publicity" makes no mention of web-based publicity outlets. No Facebook, Twitter, blogs, social media, podcasts, giveaways, no mention whatsoever of the way books have been publicized for the last 15 years. Just the dubious advice to hold signings (useless unless you're famous) and send out press releases.
Similarly, Chapter 17, "I Need an Agent!", after the usual simplistic discussion, directs us to books listing agents. These may still be valuable, but MOST agents these days insist on being queried only by email, and there are websites listing agents and writers' experiences with them. Harold warns us that agents don't like "being offered a manuscript that's dog-earned from making the rounds"; when, again, most agents today look only at digital submissions.
When it comes to the self-publishing chapter, Harold dips a toe into the ocean of the web and mentions xlibris.com and iuniverse.com, then immediately says he does NOT endorse what they do. Further on he recommends lulu.com, about which we hear nothing but negative reports. No mention whatsoever of Amazon's free-to-upload POD outfit, CreateSpace, or free-to-upload Kindle ebooks, or Sony, or Apple, or Smashwords, or Amanda Hocking, or...
For its simplistic, superficial overview of the publishing business, and its advice pertinent to a prior century, this one gets two stars.