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The Internet: A Writer's Guide - by Jane Dorner
A C & Black (Publishers) Limited, London, UK, 2000
 
200 pp., illus; paper, £9.95.
ISBN: 0 7136 5192X.
Reviewed by Nisar Keshvani

E M Forsters famous words, "only connect" begin this book, but British writer Jane Dorner prophesises that it should now be updated to "only interconnect". How very appropriate in this modern electronic age!

Today's writers should embrace rather than shun away from technology and the world of the Internet is the message.

She describes her book as a cookbook rather than a recipe book, the difference being the former demonstrates the exact ingredients needed, whereas the latter "gives general principles together with tips and tricks from personal experience".

It definitely keeps to its promise. I've met many a writer, journalist or reporter who doubt and fear change, and naturally so. They say, "if it ain't broke why fix it?"

This book shows you how to enhance your writing skills and capitalise on the resources available on the Net. In simple terms it brings high-tech jargon down to earth. Besides new avenues of publishing, it suggests ways of connecting with subjects, audiences, and other authors. The first half of the guide covers getting online, email basics, understanding web browsers, joining discussion circles and forums.

The second half, though, is slightly illuminating. Dorner talks about fresh publishing opportunities, Internet publishing practicalities and online resources. (It provides a list of excellent links via an accompanying website: http://www.internet.co.uk/) A list of more than 800 writing-related links is accessible online with a password disclosed in the book.

Lest, one is misled into thinking that the Net is the answer to all the occupational hazards of being a writer, Dorner is quick to point out: "It does not replace the post, the telephone, going into libraries, browsing bookshops, attending literary events or talking to people face-to-face. It is as well as."

Dorner's honest writing style is in no way intimidating especially for Internet newbies and serves as an excellent start-up guide with practical and useful tips. She shares tricks of the trade such as best times to cold call an editor (early morning is bad as they are dealing with morning mail, lunch time they deal with appointments and after lunch they rush to meet deadlines. Her conclusion: between 10.30am 12noon for best results).

I found the guide to be a valuable read. It's a useful reference and warrants a space on a writer's personal shelf for days when you are drained of ideas or need an Internet-related question quickly answered.

As a wordsmith, I suggest that someone work on a book on how to overcome information overload next How to manage the tonnes of URLs, emails, organise your hard disk for optimal searches, and storing digital information. Now that would be a bestseller, and I'd be first in line to pick up a copy.

First published by the Leonardo Reviews and
Leonardo - Volume 34, Number 2, April 2001, p. 165 - Review
     

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