Self-Help / Relationships
by Hank Quense
Idea: Quense's pitch with this book -- an author who has self-published many books writing a guide to authors looking to self-publish their own -- is sharply honed, and the resulting book offers exactly what its audience would be seeking. Quense anticipates the pitfalls and mistakes first-time self-publishers face, and he offers clear, concrete advice for avoiding them, bolstered by strong examples from his own career.
Prose: Quense's prose is unfussy and direct, just what is needed for such a volume. He's also to-the-point, never wandering off topic or attempting to pad the manuscript. Quense emphasizes the urgency of working on a manuscript with editors and sensitivity readers, and it's clear on each polished page that he practices what he preaches.
Originality: There are certainly other how-to books surveying the same field, but what's most original and helpful in Quense's volume is its dedication to offering writers a clear step-by-step guide to their self-publishing journey. Quense organizes the volume chronologically, describing the tasks an author should attend to five months before publication, then four months before publication, and so forth. This approach is unique and helps prevent the task at hand from being overwhelming. Another factor separating Quense's guide from other how-to books: Quense is frank about costs, and he makes no unrealistic promises about outcomes.
Execution: Quense is strong in explaining what self-published authors need to do and also demonstrating why these steps matter. Even authors averse to, say, establishing a social-media presence, are likely to find the advice here persuasive and manageable. Making it all "manageable" could be the book's greatest strength -- and it could only be improved in that regard with a more thorough table of contents or topic-driven index. The structure makes the book somewhat less accessible than it might be to authors who just want advice on one topic, like the difference between a publisher and packager or how to find an artist to design a cover.
Blurb: Concise and bursting with practical advice, How to Self-Publish and Market a Book delivers exactly what its title promises, with clear eyes and little fat.
Practice Makes PURPOSE: Six Spiritual Practices That Will Change Your Life and Transform Your Communityby C. Paul Schroeder
Plot: This uplifting and wholehearted guide to spiritual living offers a consistent, clear, and highly readable structure.
Prose: The author writes with warmth, ease, and intimacy--the veritable equivalent of sitting with the parish priest over coffee.
Originality: This work is very much in keeping with familiar formulas found in self-help titles purporting to possess a key to acting with compassion and purpose. The book's mysticism may strike readers as overly general in nature.
Character/Execution: Readers who take the book's instruction to heart, may indeed discover incremental improvements in their interpersonal relationships. The “masters of the Egyptian desert” stories do little to enhance the book's overall credibility or resonance.