Friday, December 19, 2008

Fresh off the presses

I just received the final, final, final proof copy of the layout for my upcoming book - Digital Body Language. We're sending it to the print on demand presses tonight, and I should have a copy in hand within a week. Exciting times, to be sure. Also a good time to look back on the overall process for creating it. I had only a limited idea of what I was getting into when I agreed to write a book, so for anyone who is considering it, here's what it actually entailed...
  • ~ November 20, 2007: original idea formulated and discussed. Really vague discussions, where I think I said "yeah, that sounds like a good idea".

  • ~ November 25, 2007: as a complete surprise to me, Joe Payne, our CEO, announced at the company meeting that I would be writing a book. Nothing like pressure.

  • December-February 2008: I spent quite a bit of time sketching out a rough outline (bullet points - maybe 20 per chapter) of what might make a compelling book.

  • February-March: Here's where the fun began... by this point I had spent a bit of time reading a few articles on book writing, but I would say that the best advice was "just start writing", so I did, scratching out a rough draft of the first chapter (and a bit).

  • March 2008: introduced to Dave Morris, at New Year Publishing, who agreed to take on the title as a publisher. He described a publisher as being basically a project manager who knows all the ins and outs of the book industry, and can get the right set of layout editors, printers, copy editors, and proofers together. Fair enough.

  • March-July 2008: Writing like mad. I end up travelling a lot from Toronto (home) to the West coast, and 5 hrs is about the right amount of time for putting in a solid writing session. Mike Dowding, my copy editor kept me sane by massaging my writing into a more readable form.

  • June-July 2008: The thing that I really wanted to do with this book was highlight a lot of real-world case studies; what real marketers are doing to improve their marketing. During this period, I did deep interviews with around 50 organizations that are doing very interesting things in their marketing functions

  • July 2008: Live on Amazon - Seriously, you only need cover art and an ISBN number to be live on Amazon - I was amazed.

  • July-October 2008: Getting a case study from a client published in a book requires a LOT of back and forth. A draft, multiple revisions, PR approval, legal approval, changes from both of those, signoff; lots of back and forth. I was doing around 40 case studies, of which about 30 got to final approval. I had no idea going into the process that this would prove to be the most time-intensive part of the whole book creation process.

  • October 6, 2008: We had Eloqua Experience, our international user group in Las Vegas, and the goal was to have copies of the book for everyone there. It takes about 6 weeks to offset print and ship books and about 1 week to digitally print and ship books. We missed both deadlines. Disappointment, for sure, but we did have a single advanced release copy available to hold up to the audience. Small victory...

  • October 15, 2008: Final version of manuscript and all finalized case studies and approvals submitted to layout for the final time. The approval back-and-forth had lead to a LOT of changes; case studies in and out, pull-quotes in and out, stats in and out. This was now final. Big weight off my shoulders, sigh of relief...

  • November 22, 2008: Just back from vacation, realized that the "final" layout I had been sent for review had used the wrong version of the manuscript and case studies. Oooops, all wrong, back to the drawing board.

  • December 11, 2008: Final PDF of layout arrives, all is good, sending it for print-on-demand proof to be created.

So, that's the process - just over a year from idea to completion - from what I've heard that's about the norm. All in all, it was interesting and even enjoyable in parts. Working with a broad spectrum of marketers tackling interesting and difficult problems was by far the best part; it's amazing how open people are to sharing the good and the bad of what they've been working on. It was fascinating to hear many of the stories.

Next up, the book as part of our Marketing efforts. Anyone who has done this before, I would love to hear from you on what worked, what didn't. Anyone who is thinking about it, I'd be glad to share more of the trials and tribulations if you're interested.

Many of the topics on this blog are discussed in more detail in my book Digital Body Language
In my day job, I am with Eloqua, the marketing automation software used by the worlds best marketers
Come talk with me or one of my colleagues at a live event, or join in on a webinar


SweetThingsTO said...

Congratulations.... although you may have just jinxed yourself by saying the word "completion" :-)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for spelling out the process. It helps the idea of writing a book seem more approachable. I have been working with my boss for a year to try to get a book on paper. This could be our "how to" guide that helps us get it done!