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Book Review: The Do-It-Yourselfer’s Guide to Self-Syndication by Jill Pertler

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Have you ever dreamed of becoming a columnist and self-syndicating your work to newspapers? If you have, you’ll want to pick up a copy of The Do-It-Yourselfer’s Guide to Self-Syndication, by Jill Pertler.

An award-winning syndicated columnist, Pertler shares her secrets of success in this engaging, informative manual written in a style not unlike her popular humor column.

Step by step, the author describes her process, from her early days to the present. Her column, “Slices of Life,” is now syndicated to more than 50 newspapers across the country, so she must know what she’s talking about.

Topics explored include: what makes a good column, how to choose the right name and topic for your column, how to organize your computer files once you start pitching your column to editors, how to initially approach editors (including what you should include in your query), building a platform and name recognition, and much more.

Pertler also discusses some of the problems columnists might face and offers advice on how to handle them, as well as the nitty-gritty details of invoicing and copyright. At the end of the book there’s a Resources section with pertinent online writing sites and newspaper association websites listed state by state.

This is a light, fast read. The chapters are short and the language uplifting and inspiring, making this little manual a delight to read. Anybody who wishes to start a column will find the information in this book practical and instructive. Pertler demystifies self-syndication and takes readers “behind the scenes.”

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About Mayra Calvani

Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults and has authored over a dozen books, some of which have won awards. Her stories, reviews, interviews and articles have appeared on numerous publications such as The Writer, Writer’s Journal, Multicultural Review, and Bloomsbury Review, among many others. Represented by Serendipity Literary.
  • Willow123

    A guidebook must contain specific well-detailed instructions about its topic, examples of instructions given, and, relevant sources of further information. It should be written in a direct, fact-filled, details overflowing, informative style, containing no fluffy chit-chat filling page after page (I didn’t buy the book for the author’s so-called humor). Finally, a guidebook should always leave the reader satisfied that the title delivered. This title, for the most part, delivered about 25% of its content as good information. For the remainder of this “guidebook’s” fluff, it did not deliver at all.

    The author admits more than once that she doesn’t have this column-writing business quite understood yet, and, she’s right. Why, then, did she mislead me into buying this book–believing by her title’s promise that she was experienced, and, had all answers about self-syndication? I actually read this book in one hour. Afterward, I took a tour of the Internet regarding “self-syndication.” I read far better articles on this topic for free (one, written by a PhD, demonstrating what professional research, and, writing looked like). It was clear from this reading that this author was correct in her lack of understanding, she missed some very relevant, important information.

    I’m annoyed at myself for buying this nonsense without checking credibility first. It is a POD (print-on-demand) book. Although the changing book market is phasing out major publishing houses, and, is opening markets for self-publishing (providing solid authors opportunities to finally have their work published), it’s also allowing any pen to write without benefit of good editing, or, solid content. I actually cringed at some of the content of this book–the author actually devotes 16 long pages to creating headshots for a column. This section was written as the visual equivalent of watching grass grow. Ridiculous.

    By the way, typical of a “fluff” book is the amount of white space on each so-called “page.” I’d rather not spend any more time providing examples of why you should not buy this book–it’s simply not worth my time to write such a long list. Suffice to say, don’t buy this–what is it called again?–“guidebook.”