Top critical review
Ecellent Detail, Often Redundant
May 28, 2016
I'd have to give Vols 1 & 2 5 stars, as these volumes contain very valuable and detailed information for the first-time self-publisher. I wish I had this volume two years ago when I was writing an academic manuscript, as McMullen's details about formatting would have saved me days of hair-pulling frustration.
The reader of this "boxed set" should be warned: Volumes 3 & 4 are the overview versions of Volumes 1 & 2. So, if you're looking for broader treatment of the ins and outs of self-publishing, read 3 & 4 first, then when you're ready to actually do the nitty-gritty of formatting, proofing, and editing, open volumes 1 & 2 for detailed (I mean, key-stroke-by-key-stroke details) on how to format, create covers, build interior tables, etc.
If you persist (as I did) and actually read all four volumes page-by-page, you will begin to wonder why McMullen packaged vols 3 & 4 with 1 & 2, since much of 3 & 4 is redundant (word-for-word redundant in many places).
There are some glaring problems that only a careful reading will expose (some might call it proofreading). For instance, in volumes 3 & 4, there are many grammatical errors that should have been caught in the proofing process (missing pronouns, dropped verbs, etc). This violates the copious advice that McMullen offers regarding the how's and why's of careful proofreading as a mark of professional writing/publishing.
There is one glaring discrepancy between Vol 1 and Vol 4 when it comes to calculating royalties using CreateSpace. On p. 147, author cost is represented as $2.15 for up to 108 pages and $0.012 per page over 108. On p. 509, author cost is represented as $2.15 for up to 108 pages and $0.85 plus $0.012 per page over 108. This contradiction would only show up when one reads the whole set. I point this out since it, too, violates McMullen's argument in favor of print-on-demand publishing where he says that as facts change, the author can go into his/her work, make the changes, and release a more current and accurate printing/version. The problem with this "boxed set" is that the information (whichever is correct) was not changed in both places.
The reader will also notice that the font changes between Vols 1 & 2 and Vols 3 & 4. In 1 & 2, the san serif Calibri font is used, in 3 & 4 is found Georgia. Readers might wish to compare those different fonts to see which is easier on the eye. Personally, I found the Georgia to be a far more comfortable font style (this is offered in case McMullen was testing his market and wanted some feedback).
I would certainly recommend this set to a would-be self-publisher. I answers questions most of us would never even think to ask, and the details (particularly in Vols 1 & 2) are worth far more than the cover price of the set. Just be forewarned that you'll find yourself thinking, "Haven't I read this before?" when you move into Vols 3 & 4.
(NOTE: these comments refer to the set that was ordered on May 19, 2016 and printed on May 20, 2016)