Publishing 101: The Publishers Weekly Introduction to Publishing and Self-Publishing | Book Review

Rachel Deahl is a journalist and news director at Publishers Weekly. She has just authored and published an e-book about the choices and paths facing writers when they have completed a manuscript; Publishing 101: The Publishers Weekly Introduction to Publishing and Self-Publishing. The book is intended to demystify the publishing process and offer writers a real-world take on what actually happens on the road to publication, whether through traditional publishing or by using a self-publishing platform or service provider.


The book is split into the following general areas:
• What to really expect from your agent, editor, publicist and publishing house.
• What writers should and should not have in their publishing contract.
• The pros and cons of various digital self-publishing platforms.
• How to get your self-published book distributed and reviewed.
• Success stories from self-published authors, and their own hard-won advice
Readers should be aware that this is a very short book. Published by Deahl’s employer, Publishers Weekly (an industry trade magazine), it reads more like a very long online article than a book. I would describe it more as a brief introduction into the current world of book publishing. It is by no means a writing or publishing primer, and to be fair to Deahl, she makes that clear from the outset.
My disappointment with the book is that there is not a whole lot new here for authors investigating the modern publishing world. In fact a writer would learn as much from a casual browse of the Internet from reputable resource websites over a couple of hours, or indeed reaching Publishers Weekly itself.
Deahl actually does reasonably well in the early part of the e-book explaining the state of play in the modern commercial world of publishing, the role of big publishers and agents, independent publishers, small presses and the rise of self-publishing. Each section is completed with a what to expect and what not to expect summary—a nice touch even in such a short book.
The section on self-publishing mentioned few service companies and seemed to reflect predominantly DIY publishing platforms like Amazon KDP, Lulu and CreateSpace. Full service publishing was mentioned with a nod to service behemoth Author Solutions—fortunately with the qualifying remark that the company was embroiled in a class action suit at the moment, taken by three authors who signed contracts with Author Solutions imprints.
At times Publishing 101 read like a quick holiday guide for publishing, complete with places to go and the cost of cutting a deal (royalty, advances and rights), but without the deeper elements that is going to attract me down those paths! Well you can go on holidays to Greece, Cyprus, Hawaii, Spain, Italy or anywhere you like: and you can get there by car, boat or plane; but, fuck me, don’t ask what might attract you to those places. In essence, I felt somewhat informed, but no so much engaged. What was needed was a far better drill down as to what is different by going the DIY publishing route or the full service route. That kind of drill-down was dealt with in the sections on traditional publishing (forming the best sections of the book) but it seemed completely lacking in the self-publishing section—as if it was added on as a last minute thought. The book features the thoughts of three successful self-published authors and their experiences, but much of this information appeared to be pulled from Publishers Weekly articles and other interviews the three authors gave elsewhere.
For that reason, it makes me wonder what the real point of Deahl’s book—or rather booklet—is. It lacks any great distinction and there are countless books in this area that explore the options for writers in much grearer detail.
The release of the ebook coincides with Publishers Weekly launching a writer resource site for writers (BookLife) and I can’t help feeling that the e-book is nothing more than a promotional afterthought for the website. Ultimately, the content of this e-book would be far more at home on the BookLife website.
Publishing 101: The Publishers Weekly Introduction to Publishing and Self-Publishing
(e-book only)
by Rachel Dealh
Published by Publishers Weekly
Available through Amazon Kindle, Apple iBooks and Nook (Google Play and Kobo due soon)
RATING: 05/10

Mick Rooney – Publishing Consultant

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