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How to write a book and not go crazy

Remember that old post where I talked about writing the book “The Secrets of Google Apps”? Human proverbial wisdom: soon only a fairy tale. However, in June of this year, 440 days after the “Application Secrets” file appeared on my desktop, the book was released. It seems to me the right idea to sum up the results of my projects and to share with others what happened and what went wrong. The company in which I once worked called this practice “Lessons learned”, in the West such a thing is increasingly called “Project post mortem review”, and in Russian it is simply “Debriefing”.


1. Timing. The search for the publisher began at the time when the manuscript was written exactly half. Then I thought it was the right approach: I had something to show the editor other than the table of contents. And I myself, having gone half the way, understood how long it would take to write the remaining chapters. But even with such a solid time reserve, the search for a decent publisher ended only a couple of months after the text was ready. The time began to work against me: Google’s engineers didn’t sit idle, and I had to make changes to the manuscript related to new features and options in almost daily mode. This does not mean that I will now begin to advise every novice writer to run around the publishing houses, having nothing for the soul but an idea. The meaning is different: having reached the “equator” of the manuscript and having convinced of the seriousness of your own intentions, direct all your efforts towards finding someone who agrees to publish your book. Create a spreadsheet with a list of publishers, the addresses of their sites and electronic mailboxes to which you will send your applications, track who answered and who did not. Write a competent and intelligible description of what the book will be about, having tried in several sentences to describe the distinctive features of your future creation. It is not simple! So, I received a refusal from several publishers with the explanation that the text was written “very artistically”, which is not typical for technical literature. Wonderful! In subsequent applications to publishing houses, I honestly included this remark, but explained that many people (including, by the way, myself) prefer this style of presentation: the explanation of complex concepts in simple language, with numerous screenshots and examples from the author's life.
2. Tasks. Do not think that the work of the author ends at the stage of preparing the text. Be prepared for the fact that you need to work with edits of the editor, collect feedback on the book of reputable people (they are put on the cover of the book - it boosts sales), work on the abstract and, finally, fully help promoting the book after it appears on store shelves: answering readers' questions on a blog, participating in seminars and exhibitions, and even (if you're lucky!) meeting readers in bookstores.

Many of these tasks can and should be “parallelized”. For example, letters with a manuscript and a request to write a review should be sent to experts without waiting for the end of editing - reading your creation can be delayed, but you do not want to delay the release of your book, right? Alas, here I showed myself not in the best way - mainly because I did not know at all that such reviews might be needed. Though could guess that those are required. Do not repeat my stupid mistakes and do everything in advance.

3. Schedule.

Perhaps the rhythm is the most important thing in this business. It’s probably possible to write a book in fragments, on the run, on weekends, but then this process can take more than one year, and the time in the case of technical literature works, as I have already written, against us. Therefore, I treated the draft text creation as another work: every morning I went to my alma mater reading room and spent at least three to four hours there, knocking on the keys. The atmosphere of the "reading room" perfectly adjusts to the working mood and does not allow to relax. In terms of the volume of text given daily, “to the top”, he did not limit himself: it’s clear that this greatly depends on the complexity of the material in question. A couple of times showed records of productivity of 12-14 thousand characters per day, but usually this figure was in the region of 5-6 thousand. So for four months, the text was written in the amount of 370 kilobytes.

4. Feed.
Open a laptop, run a text editor and clothe the flow of knowledge in letters and numbers, without being distracted by external stimuli like ICQ or Facebook, sometimes it is incredibly difficult. Many thanks to Vitaly Kolesnik , who introduced me to the method of Peter Elbow called Freewriting . Very briefly, without details and subtleties, it can be described as follows: open the laptop and start writing the first thing that comes to mind. The first five minutes, a couple of paragraphs - about anything. About the weather, the political situation in the country, people nearby ... Having written a few lines of the text of such a “warm-up”, you will surely feel that sentences begin to appear in your head that are directly related to the topic of your book. Do not stop, keep writing! You will throw out the "junk" paragraphs later, and now the most important thing is to move on. “Stumbled” in a difficult place, it’s very easy to stop and begin to figure out, for example, the subtleties of access settings to Google Sites or the list of experimental Gmail options. But for this you will need to switch to the browser and read the documentation! In your browser, in turn, you will notice that fresh mail has arrived, and the RSS reader is full of funny stories from bash.org.ru ... Congratulations - you have dropped out of the “stream”, now everything has to start over. Having fallen into this trap, I worked out the following rule for myself, which works wonderfully: in a difficult, problematic place, you need to set yourself a small reminder: for example, the * icon, and then move on. Having finished the work on creating text, switch your head to the editing mode - remove typos, edit the style, and at the same time sort out the problem areas - the “asterisks” will not let you lose them. I have not yet invented a better way to stay “in the stream”.

Writing a book is an unusual and interesting project that makes it possible to feel yourself in several roles at once: a writer, an editor, a researcher, and even a designer. Yes, the path from the first word to the signal sample, still smelling of printing ink, harbors many difficulties. But if you have something to say to the world, it’s worth it. I tell you exactly: the book’s circulation, according to the publisher, is coming to an end.

PS In the comments they asked, I decided to answer here: you can buy the book in popular online stores .

Source: https://habr.com/ru/post/107323/

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