First book review

This is my first book review on this blog.

I have avoided reviews thus far because I have yet to succeed in slotting regular book reading time into my daily schedule. I also suspect I am a bit of a coward: I don’t want to hurt people’s feelings.

But I have to start somewhere, right?

Over the last couple of years, I have spent a fair chunk of my time digging up everything I can about people, tools and resources that have anything at all to do with authors, books, writing, publishing and marketing. I have been busy booking marking, saving to Evernote, curating and copying and pasting everything that I found of potential interest.

The book reviewed in this post has saved me some major effort.

The book

This is a review of The Self-Publisher’s Ultimate Resource Guide by Joel Friedlander and Betty Kelly Sargent. I subscribe to Joel Friedlander’s blog, thebookdesigner.com. In mid-January 2015, I responded, with great enthusiasm, to a post offering the book in exchange for honest reviews.

And so here we are. Let’s get honest.

Disclaimer

Before I go further, I must make a couple of things clear:

  • I have not been offered anything other than a free copy of the book to write this review. I have not volunteered to give anything other than an honest review for the book.
  • Apart from this arrangement, I do not have any kind of understanding whatsoever with either Joel Friedlander or Betty Kelly Sargent. I am reasonably sure neither of them is aware of my existence.

The substance

I am disappointed—not with what is in the book, but with what is not in the book. The contents are of tremendous value, and will save most readers a lot of effort.

I admit a major part of that disappointment is because I had great expectations when I started reading the book; I was stupid enough not to really absorb the true impact of the words “The over 850 curated, verified, and up-to-date listings to service providers of all kinds are saving people time and making resources easier to find” in Friedlander’s blog post asking for reviews.

Given the authors’ backgrounds, I expected some kind of magic writing, editing, designing and marketing formula that would help authors singe the literary world. I got lists, as promised. Helpful lists, yes, but nothing to spark a fire.

As I said, stupid of me.

The book is a list of lists of resources. Resources that authors typically spend tons of time and effort in searching for: editors, designers, illustrators, translators, writing resources, authors’ associations and events. You get the idea.

The book is a boon for novice authors, and a whole new, extensive menu of potentially better options for more established authors. I am sure given their respective backgrounds, Friedlander and Sargent have would done some extensive vetting before they added names to the lists in the book.

You would not say no to a better deal if you come across one, would you?

And now the gripes

Not all authors and readers are in the USA

The resources listed in the book are almost exclusively US-based. For authors who are not in the USA, and especially for folks like me who are on the opposite side of the globe, that has implications.

We have access to cheaper—much cheaper—local resources. I would not use all of them, though. I would use the services of American editors and proofreaders even if they are more expensive, because that would be a worthwhile expense. But I would hesitate to use American website designers, cover and inside illustration artists and social media experts because I can avail of the same quality of services locally at considerably lower costs.

Genres: (glaring?) omission

Most role players essential to an author, such as editors, agents, designers and publishers, have their preferred genres. It would save readers (authors) a great deal of effort if the book had specified the genres preferred by each of the role players listed.

And now, the wrap up

Having had my say, I now come to the final question, the obvious conclusion.

Is this book, The Self-Publisher’s Ultimate Resource Guide by Joel Friedlander and Betty Kelly Sargent, worth buying?

Yes.

If you have read the book and want to add to what I have written above, please do comment.

First book review

by Venkatesh Iyer time to read: 3 min
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