You Can Write and Publish a Book: Essential information on how to get your book published
by John Bond (Riverwinds Publishing, Woodbury, NJ, 2006): 176pp, £15.54, ISBN 0 9767488 0 0.
Reviewed by Susan Bosanko
If this book were a person, it would be a resolutely positive life coach or a cheerleader with a permanent smile fixed to her teeth. John Bond is convinced that you have a non-fiction book in you and that it is your duty to let it out into the world.
He knows that, despite the 'nay-sayers' (i.e. everyone professionally involved in publishing), you can be a published author - all you need is dogged determination and his guidance, even if you score rock bottom on his self-assessment quiz. Oh, and you must also 'strive to have a fabulous title'. If you follow his six pages of advice on that topic, you'll chose your perfect title immediately after picking your book's subject, but before writing a single word of it.
Selling and marketing
Unfortunately, Mr Bond's personal choice of fabulous title does not reflect his self-published book's content. There is very little about writing, and not much more about publishing, with self-publishing getting approximately the same coverage as title selection. The bulk of the book is about selling your proposal to a publisher, dealing with the legal and financial arrangements when you've found a buyer, and marketing your book after publication.
His advice here is sound, although obviously tailored to his American market. The suggestions on preparing your proposal and approaching potential commissioning editors or agents are clear and well thought out. He is also realistic and practical about the amount of post-publication sales and PR work that authors need to do.
But how much advice are you prepared to take from a man who doesn't practise what he preaches? Let me quote his excellent advice on indexes:
Most publishers offer the option for a professional indexer to create one for you and charge your royalty. Take this option. Also, make sure the index is a significant length. It is a valuable tool for the reader and some people will use it to decide whether to buy the book or not. It reflects on the quality of the book.
Then on your criteria, Mr Bond, your book is complete rubbish. This is one of the worst indexes I have seen in a long time. I should perhaps recommend it to the Society of Indexers as a quiz paper for trainees – how many errors can you spot in five minutes? – with a small prize offered for the winner.
True, it is of significant length, five pages, but only because they are single column pages in fairly large type. Significant content is lacking. For example, 'chat rooms' has an index entry, leading to a quiz question ('Do you currently participate in chat rooms or listserves about your topic?'), whereas 'proofreading' does not, despite there being discussion of proofreading both proposals and final page proofs.
But then Mr Bond doesn't go in for much proofreading, or his spelling 'genre' twice with an acute accent would have been corrected.