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April 13, 2015

My Book Doesn’t Cover That Topic

Filed under: Main — admin @ 12:01 am

There, in big letters right across the top of the front cover of Word 97 For Dummies, it said, “Covers creating web pages in HTML.” The problem? My book featured no such topic.

The publisher had the outline weeks before I started writing. They looked at the chapters as they came in, reviewing the content to ensure that it matched my submitted outline. No one said anything, yet someone ordered the cover copywriter to put text that mentioned something completely not covered in the book.

I pointed out the error to my agent (which is another good reason why I have an agent). Eventually I found out that the publisher, in a frantic fever to make all their books “cool” and “new” decided that every title would feature something about HTML and the web.

Still, my book didn’t cover creating web pages in Word. I knew that Office 97 was heavily into creating web pages. Not only that — and you probably didn’t know or didn’t remember this — but you could actually surf the web by using Word or Excel. Who needed that feature? No one, but that was Microsoft’s Internet-desperate strategy of the late 1990s.

My reply to the publisher was, “No one who is serious about creating web pages is going to use Microsoft Word to do so.” I wasn’t just weaseling out of work; anyone who designs web pages knows that Microsoft Office isn’t up to the task.

For a few minutes, I actually believed that the publisher would see the error of their ways and correct the cover. But, no. Instead, I was ordered to re-write the book and include the irrelevant HTML information. I begged. I pleaded. I threw tantrums. I even explained that the publisher had a book out called Creating Web Pages with Word 97 For Dummies. Nothing worked.

So I wrote a bonus chapter for Word 97 For Dummies. Here’s a text snippet from right up front:

If you’re careful, you’ll never encounter any Web nonsense during your word processing duties. In fact, you never really need to do any of this, which is why I stuck this chapter way, way in the back of this book.

That’s me being nice.

I also wrote this tidbit as the last bullet-point in the chapter:

Remember: Word is a word processor. You use it to create documents and such on your computer. It only does HTML like your doctor may dabble in stained glass work; it’s an interesting hobby, but if you’re serious you should consider using a professional.

By the way, the following edition of Word For Dummies did not include any HTML or web page publishing information.

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