Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Words Written Down Book Process

Now that I've actually finished writing and publishing the thing, it seems high time to note the process I went through with the book.

Writing a book has for quite a while has been of interest, but more in the "gee, wouldn't that be great to some day write a book about, I don't know... something" type of way. In October of last year, though, I came across a blog post from Brandon Sneed titled "Why You Should Write A Book" which got me thinking more of the idea and then what really triggered action on the book was reading in December the James Altucher book I Was Blind But Now I See.

There were a number of things that struck me from Altucher's book and in relation to my actually writing one, I noted his mention of having self-published using CreateSpace from Amazon. Related to this, I found interesting that that book didn't seem to have been closely edited (grammatical errors and odd layouts in places), but this didn't take away from a lot of interesting ideas and content from Altucher. Really, it was kind of inspiring to think of just getting words on the page and not letting a need for perfection stop or prevent the book process from beginning.

I began listing out ideas for the book by mid-January and then was further inspired to write the book after reading two pieces that trumpeted self-publishing. Also linked to in this blog post, they were Chris Dessi comes of age by Jeff Pearlman and Self-Publishing Your Own Book is the New Business Card from Altucher yet again.


Back to my own process of book writing... my initial idea had the book as a sort of autobiographical rambling around my writing background that would also include significant work from my blog. As I began working with the blog content (copied over into Word via Paste Special with formatted text) I realized that I was doing more of a book compilation project using writing already done rather than something completely new... and was totally fine with that. While getting further into the cleanup (for grammar, layout and to remove content no longer interesting to me) of 150,000 or so words, I fairly easily decided on the book sections and then part of the editing process was including each relevant post into that given section.

As this editing continued, I assumed/hoped that the CreateSpace process would go fairly smoothly once I was ready to submit early March... and was happy to find that it did. Steps involved taking my Word document, saving it as a PDF file and then uploading it, picking a cover design from the CreateSpace library and then waiting a day or two for CreateSpace to complete the acceptance and (cursory, I'm sure) review process so that I could order a proof. I received the paperback proof copy less than a week later and in reviewing it saw that I had basically the finished product book I wanted, but still a few modifications were needed. This mean going back to the original Word document and changing a few words, moving a few sections and going through what I found to be the cumbersome process of adding to each page a header that varied by section. I eventually was able to get the Word doc as desired and then save as a PDF for resubmission to CreateSpace, but it required quite a bit of looking online and then following steps in an exact fashion to get the section headings and page numbers as I wanted them.

Once the new PDF was submitted to CreateSpace and second proof ordered, I worked on figuring out how to have a PDF download available from the blog. I found mention of both Google Docs and Scribd for the purpose, but it seemed to me the interface just nicer via Scribd... which also included the ability to actually embed the book into a blog post.


So, all this said... I took 3 1/2 years of blog posts, cleaned them up, cut out the ones of less interest now, organized the posts into sections, added introductory text and wound up with a book. Pretty happy with both the end result and that the process took only around two months. Not too bad.