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Success Stories

by Dan Poynter & Danny O Snow is a guide to, or rather, a "consultation on", book publishing and promotion, and is subtitled "How 'U' can compete with the giants of the publishing industry". It contains some very constructive advice. It also contains a large quantity of shameless advertising for the professional services provided by the two authors.

That's okay with me. Most of the authors featured in these pages are happy to accept any free publicity they can get, and if they could get readers to pay for the privilege of giving them even more publicity, they would jump at the chance. Those who buy this print-on-demand paperback, however, should be aware of the not-very-well-hidden agenda. Its purpose is not to give impartial advice to the would-be self-publisher; it is to coax that individual down the POD road, preferably employing the services provided by Unlimited Publishing Ltd, a company with which this reviewer has been closely associated for the past couple of years.

Some of the text is lifted directly from UP's own web site. Take this sentence: "Check out the professional book design by Charles King, the binding, the paper.  Can you believe that this copy was printed especially for you?" As it happens, I'm familiar with Mr King's efforts, and I have to say that I can believe it only too readily. However, that is not the point at issue. The question is, was the editor unable to tell the difference between promotional material and hard facts, or did he simply not care?

This is in fact the third edition of Poynter and Snow's work, providing useful evidence of how POD can be used to keep published material up to date in these times of exponential technological growth, without incurring wasteful costs. An objective view of the contents list suggests that the authors have covered the self-publisher's problems from every angle, albeit giving more weight to the topics that interest them than to others. And, to be fair, they don't pretend to be experts in every one of these fields.

A major point of interest in this book, in fact, is an introduction to yet another new "technology". PQN (print quantity needed) may represent an alternative future for some. It is a halfway house, with lower unit costs than POD, but minimising (though not eliminating) the remainder problem created by conventional printing. The major drawback of this is that it still requires effective promotion, and promotion, as most of those reading this will already know, can be the most difficult and costly aspect of self-publishing.

Enter Dan Poynter's "New Book Model". Even after reading the book, I'm not sure what this is. It seems I have to go to Dan Poynter's web site to find out. When I get there, I will probably be encouraged to buy copies of his other books, in order to obtain the information he promises will help me save money whilst promoting my work more effectively.

Although the book is primarily directed at the American market, much of the advice it contains is equally valid for self-publishing authors in other countries. Likewise, although much of it has particular relevance for non-fiction (especially the kind of "how-to" books in which Mr Poynter specialises), it can also be useful to fiction authors. However, it must be noted that numerous pages are devoted to lists - of publishers, booksellers, reviewers, libraries, and other agencies. These are of limited value to non-US readers and will date quickly.

I don't want to be dismissive of the authors' efforts, but they have a captive audience for their work. I believe they are two intelligent and sincere people who genuinely believe in the effectiveness of their publishing and marketing strategies. Unfortunately, they have yet to convince me that their tactics work for self-published books other than their own.


ISBN 1 58832 002 2
Published by Unlimited Publishing, 2002 (rev ed)
183pp, paperback
Retail price $14.99

Open Book

Review by Deborah Fisher