On Your Feet: A Dancer’s Handbook For Self-care
Dawn Nichol


The Montreal Review of Books receives many copies of self-published books as submissions for review. The sad truth is that, despite the fact that self-publishers are increasingly sophisticated, market savvy, and ubiquitous, the books themselves are generally not very good. When an author publishes through a traditional publisher, the manuscript is subjected to a selection process. Manuscripts that have market appeal and good writing are more likely than others to be chosen for publication. Then comes the substantive editing, copyediting, and proofreading. Of course there are typos and mistakes in traditionally published books, but usually only a few. In many self-published books, which do not profit from this editing process, there are far too many.

So the self-published author has a book that has been spared real critical analysis, and is sometimes “edited” by a firm that is not particularly interested in a superior book. There is also the problem of distribution if the book is only available online, as many school boards and libraries have to buy through accredited bookstores.

All that being said, there are always a few that stand out as worthy of mention.

One of the best, and a great example of when self-publishing works, is On Your Feet: A Dancer’s Handbook for Self-Care by Dawn Nichol. This charming little book, professionally designed, well written, clearly and simply illustrated, might have had trouble finding a traditional publisher because of its limited market, so self-publishing makes sense. The author gives the editor almost equal billing, and – most important – the author knows her subject, obviously cares about it, and knows how to share her knowledge.

In fact, On Your Feet could be read by any athlete, as there is a wealth of information about giving one’s body optimum care. The common problems, from Achilles tendonitis to shin splints, are described, with cause, prevention and treatment. Stretches are explained, and pain management is addressed, with descriptions of pain. When to use ice, heat, or a vascular flush; when to rest and when to work through the injury – every detail imaginable is here. Add to this sensible, no-nonsense material on nutrition and cross-training, and On Your Feet becomes invaluable.

On Your Feet can be ordered through www.dancershandbook.com – a gift for aspiring ballerinas, perhaps? mRb