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!