Book Magic is a practical guide for writers who have not yet ventured into the publication arena. Ferguson discusses how to predict markets, pitch ideas and reinvent yourself as an expert in your field. She also covers the importance of query letters, picking book categories and genres, and using agents (or not). Mostly, though, Book Magic presents writers' publishing options, including commercial, print on demand, e-books and more. Even published authors will find valuable insight in these pages. Ferguson plainly lays out the pros and cons of each publishing method, as she herself has published in several genres and explored every avenue.
If you're turned off by or skeptical of the use of "magic" in the title, you needn't be. Though the magic theme/gimmick feels hokey, Ferguson describes the hard work and effort that are the real magic behind getting published. The only disappointment in the book is the writing wasn't as smooth as I would have liked; sometimes it feels stilted, and that's not helped by the author's fondness for commas, the extra spaces between paragraphs or the numerous bulleted lists. Not that the bulleted lists are bad--sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. Overall, though, I found the text to be reader-friendly.
Book Magic would be an invaluable resource on the shelf of most Canadian* writers, especially those new to publishing. The important information offered is succinct, and its 121 pages (plus helpful appendix) cover a lot of ground. And when you're done, publishing won't feel like such a huge obstacle.
*Ferguson, a Canadian, focuses on Canadian publishing information, but doesn't neglect the more numerous publishing businesses in the US, either.
When Julie Ferguson presented at the Powell River Festival of Writers (2008), I was privileged to be volunteer chauffeur for her two-day stay. When she asked me to review the second edition of Book Magic, I was flattered.