Writing Book Reviews

The Internet Writing Journal, March 2002

Page One of Two

Damn! Why Didn't I Write That? by Marc McClutcheon

Quill Driver Books, October, 2001
Paperback, 261 pages
ISBN: 1884956173
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Damn! Why Didn't I Write That?
edited by Marc McClutcheon Although many writers are interested in writing fiction, author Marc McCutcheon sternly informs readers that of the 50,000-plus new book published each year at least 46,000 are nonfiction. He also tells writers they may already be knowledgeable enough in a subject to write a bestseller. McCutcheon, himself a high school drop-out who has written bestsellers like The Compass in Your Nose and Other Astonishing Facts About Humans and Roget's Super Thesaurus, conveys the idea that anyone come up with a great idea for a bestseller. One of the most interesting sections in the book is a list of bestselling nonfiction books, which includes some unusually simple subjects like The World's Dumbest Criminals (80,000 copies sold), 35,000 Baby Names (100,000 copies sold), Really Important Stuff My Kids Have Taught Me (172,000 copies sold), All I Need to Know I Learned From My Cat (1,608,000 copies sold) and The Beanie Baby Handbook (3,000,000 copies sold). McCutcheon goes on to elaborate on some of these nonfiction success stories, as well as inform readers about how many books they will need to sell to make a living. He also offers suggestions of niche nonfiction markets and provides tips to help writers come up with a subject to write about. In addition to helping writers select ideas for their books, McCutcheon devotes several sections to agents, query letters, book proposals, contract negotiations and book promotion. Examples of queries, contracts and book proposals are given. McCutcheon also includes a special chapter full of tips and information about other helpful resources for people interested in getting a book published. This is a very different kind of writing book that is extraordinarily fun to read. Aspiring authors should take heed of McCutcheon's advice about this genre which for most writers is far more financially rewarding than trying to write and publish the Great American Novel.

Hot Text: Web Writing That Works by Jonathan and Lisa Price

New Riders, January, 2002
Trade Paperback, 507 pages
ISBN: 0735711518
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Hot Text: Web Writing That Works
edited by Ian Bessler The opportunities for online copywriting, business writing and freelance writing have been hurt by the recent recession. However, there are still plenty of opportunities online. Companies will continue to need an online presence and some of the Web-only start-ups will succeed. Plus, there will always be new company launches and new websites. Over the past several years more has been learned about effective online written communication. Answers to questions like how much text will people read, what draws the reader's attention, how does the formatting affect what people will read online and many other questions are slowly being answered. Hot Text provides answers to many of these questions. The book also analyzes samples of actual online correspondence and writing to help readers understand what works and what does not. For example, in one section the book's authors discuss email correspondence from an Amazon.com customer support employee. The book also contains scores of ways to make your online text more effective, including examples of the best ways to embed links in your text, tips for making your text sound more positive instead of negative to the reader and instruction and examples for writing website headings and menus. In addition to writing advice, a section covering careers in editing and writing with advice and tips for writing a resume is also included.

Professional web writers and editors Jonathan and Lisa Price (who have worked with clients like America Online, Hewlett-Packard and Disney.com) help readers learn how to write for the Web with easy to follow instruction on writing a variety of content, including FAQs, help sections, email, marketing copy, press releases, resumes and web pages. Even the finer points of online writing are covered, such as writing attention-getting headlines and creating titles for navigation bars. The authors give plenty of helpful examples for readers, including useful before and after examples showing the incorrect or verbose text before it changed to the improved version. Hot Text is packed with instruction and tips for making online content do its job efficiently: to inform and to sell. A must-own book for everyone from web developers to copywriters to freelance editors. Highly Recommended.

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