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Writer's Online Marketplace : How & Where to…
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Writer's Online Marketplace : How & Where to Get Published Online

by Debbie Ridpath Ohi

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A decent guide to writing for the Web

In "Writer's Online Marketplace," Debbie Ridpath Ohi profiles several hundred paying online markets that accept freelance work. Only 118 pages of this 262-page are devoted to market listings, however. Ohi begins with an overview of writing for online audiences, discussing details such as Netiquette, online queries and submissions, copyright and contractual issues, networking, promotion, e-publishing, and the many types of online markets (including where one can find market info online). Only later does she profile the various markets available to aspiring and experienced freelancers alike.

To date, I've read about dozen books on writing, publishing, and promoting books and other work (I'm quickly devouring my local library's collection!). "Writer's Online Marketplace" is, by far, one of the more useful, enjoyable, thoughtful, and organized guides available. When reading a self- or e-publishing book, I oftentimes find myself wondering how in the world the author ever managed to publish and sell such an atrocious manuscript. In fact, it seems as though many writers are jumping on the "how-to" bandwagon and rushing their ill-conceived and underdeveloped manuals to print, trying to cash in on the current e-publishing trend (some excellent examples of this phenomenon include "How to Make Money Publishing from Home" by Lisa Shaw and "How to Publish and Promote Online" by M. J. Rose & Angela Adair-Hoy). "Writer's Online Marketplace," while it does have its flaws, is a welcome break from some of the other train wrecks I've encountered.

Debbie Ridpath Ohi is the real thing - she's an excellent writer as well as an expert veteran in the field. Her sentences and chapters flow together very well; in contrast to many how-to guides, she writes in a mature tone and doesn't "talk down" to her readers (no "Idiot's Guide" here!). She also features articles from guest essayists; again, this isn't uncommon among writing/publishing guides, but what is exceptional in this case is that she manages to integrate them seamlessly into the book. Each essay is placed into its proper context, and features an introduction and follow-up by Ohi (imagine that!).

Now for the cons. While I did find some sections to be quite informative (Chapter 2, "Online Queries & Submissions"; Chapter 5, "Contracts & Copyright"), others were noticeably lacking. For instance, Chapter 3, "Types of Online Markets," was very basic; writers who know not the difference between web portals and corporate sites, for example, should pick up a "Dummies' Guide to the `Net" before even thinking about querying an online editor! Likewise with Chapter 4, "Where to Find Market Information" (answer: on the publication's web site (you don't say!?)). The chapters on e-publishing and online promotion were disappointingly basic as well. I felt as though Chapter 9, "Insider Views" (a compilation of short, 2-3 page essays by/interviews of industry insiders) could have been omitted entirely, thus leaving more room for online promotion/networking tips and a lengthier discussion of electronic publishing (particularly eBooks).

Of course, the biggest problem I had was that a majority of the information is out of date - especially that contained in the market listings. This is understandable, as "Writer's Online Marketplace" was published in 2001 and has yet to be updated. While I won't detract any "stars" for this inevitability, I also won't be buying the book any time soon!

Although I didn't go through every market listing, I did skim through the entire section and looked up those that interested me. All told, I think I tried to visit the web sites of approximately half on the publications listed in the book. Of these, *maybe* a quarter were still online, active, and accepting queries and/or submissions (and this is a generous estimate!). Most of the links were broken, and a search for the publication's title with Google usually failed to help. The links that were still valid tended to take me to sites that had not been updated in quite some time - several years, in many cases. A few of the publications hadn't went belly-up, but were actually generating all their content in-house. In the end, I don't think I found a single new prospect at all! You see, by the time I consulted "Writer's Online Marketplace," I had already signed up for a half dozen market-database newsletters. Thus, I was already aware of the few interesting and accurate listings I found in "Writer's Online Marketplace."

To illustrate just how pervasive the problem is, consider this: Ohi points readers to her site, Inkspot, for further information in many instances (a site that she's run since 1995 and even won awards for, mind you). However, the site was bought out by Xlibris 2000 and shut down just eight months later. Thus, even the links to the author's own site are dead! Not that this is anyone's "fault," really, since this is just the nature of the beast. Nonetheless, it does render guides to the World Wide Web obsolete in a ridiculously short period of time. Which brings me to the punch line: if you can borrow "Writer's Online Marketplace" from the library, a friend, whatever, I say go for it; otherwise, save your money and wait for a revised edition to come out. In the meantime, scout the `Net for free (or even subscription-based) market listings: it's a much better use of your time and/or money. "Writer's Online Marketplace" would have been a great buy in 2001, but it's just too old to be of much use in 2005.

http://www.easyvegan.info/2005/05/12/writers-online-marketplace-by-debbie-ridpat... ( )
  smiteme | Dec 4, 2006 |
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