A review of Writing.Com by Moira Anderson Allen

Writing.com is a very well paced, clearly written and nicely organised reference book which writers will find significantly more useful than any Dummies guide or technical manual. While no single book could cover everything that the Internet has to offer writers, this one does a good job of covering, in a neatly paced manner, the key issues which writers will face as they work their way around the Internet.

Reviewed by Magdalena Ball

Writing.com: Creative Internet Strategies to Advance Your Career
Revised Edition
by Moira Anderson Allen
Allworth Publishing
July 2003, 256pages, paperback, $19.95usd

If you’re a writer and have been spending time in cyberspace the chances are good that you’ve already heard of Moira Anderson Allen. Her web site Writing-World.com is one of the pithiest and most useful sites for writers, with hundreds of articles, links and submission calls. Allen’s own columns have been published in prestigious print journals, but it is as an online presence that Allen really stands out. She has been guiding writers to create their best work virtually since the beginning of the Internet, and it is likely that her knowledge of how to maximise the value of the Internet specifically for use by writers is unparalleled. Writing.com has been in print now since 1998, but the latest edition has been significantly revised to take into account the many changes to technology, changes in legality, differing trends, and revised resources.

For those writers who are already very familiar with the necessities and benefits of using the Internet to further their writing careers, Writing.com will serve as a good overview of the basics and handy reference guide, covering such topics as setting up a writer web page including hosting and domain names, dealing with viruses, conducting online searchings, writing communities, online markets, protecting electronic rights, avoiding scams, promoting online, and e-publishing. The book is written in simple, easy to understand language, but always assumes that the reader is a serious, and experienced writer. Some of the information may well be familiar, but there are chapters which can be referred to repeatedly, such as the very useful advice on how to avoid getting gibberish appearing in your cut and pastes from MS-Word, or advice on how to query by e-mail (Allen wrote a whole book on submissions and queries and her advice is very sound):

IF THERE IS A SINGLE rule about e-mail submissions, it is this: Never send an unsolicited manuscript by e-mail! No editor wants twenty unsolicited pages in her inbox – or worse, an attachment that takes five minutes to download. And with today’s fears about viruses, many editors will delete unsolicited attachments unread – along with the e-mail that sent them. (85)

Allen’s predictions on future online trends is also very interesting, covering topics like cyber-security, issues on e-rights and e-publishing. The book is enriched by articles from a range of experts, including Debbi Ridpath Ohi on the value of writer’s web sites and the benefits of author showcases, Mary Janice Davidson on using ‘chats’ to promote your book, Lenore Wrights on using the web for screenwriting, and Charles Petit on how to find out if your work has been pirated, to name a few.

For novices — writers who are relatively new to the Internet — this book is a must. It provides information on why the Internet is critical, some of the dangers, along with a wide range of clearly written areas, from using the internet to find markets, making use of online tools, to promoting, and avoiding the scams which abound. The focus throughout the book is on usefulness for the writer, and the book avoids technical language without overly simplifying the subjects. Each chapter ends with a list of resources, and the whole book is supplemented by a “live” always current .pdf files of two thousand online resources for writers which can be downloaded at the publishers site. The text is lightened by sidebars, excerpts and examples, some of which come from Allen’s considerable experience as both a writer and editor.

Writing.com is a very well paced, clearly written and nicely organised reference book which writers will find significantly more useful than any Dummies guide or technical manual. While no single book could cover everything that the Internet has to offer writers, this one does a good job of covering, in a neatly paced manner, the key issues which writers will face as they work their way around the Internet. From submitting and promoting your work online to actually creating work that takes advantage of the new technology, and then protecting that work, Writing.com is a classic guide which packs a lot of information between its covers.

For more information visit: Writing.com

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