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The traditional print publishing industry requires long production cycles before any book or publication can see print. This situation has become more acute for authors like myself who publish books on annual software releases. I hope to use this blog to publish information, updates, addenda, ruminations, and other "mid-cycle" missives. I hope you enjoy it.

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Final Stages of Book Production

When I first started this Blog, I began with a discussion of the print publishing process as it pertains to CAD books. (I suspect that my experiences with CAD books are similar to those had by publishers of other kinds of books, but lacking first-hand experience, I cannot be sure).

I have written three books this year. Two updates to existing titles and one new title. In addition, I authored three Course|Notes Reference Cards which have a similar (but abbreviated) process. This is quite a bit of work; especially given the annual release cycle of Autodesk products. It looks like we will make Autodesk University however (refer to this post where this crucial deadline is discussed), so I consider that worth it.


At this stage of the process, I still have a few proofs to review, but the projects are mostly out of my hands. I now must shift my attention to the next phase of the process... selling books! In the end, we all want a best seller right? So, I am now polishing up my "online image". Got to log in to sites I haven't updated in a while and update profiles, edit information, spruce things up. First stop, Amazon.com. Most of my book sales come from places like Amazon. So it is important to make sure that the listings are correct and easy to find. We had a few issues there recently with the new MEP book. Seems they were missing one of my co-authors and the pre-order link was not working. Note to Amazon: if someone wants to buy something early, let them! Apologies to Gregg for the initial omission of his name, we got it squared away now.

Once we have correct information, we need to get those five-star ratings! Ideally, they just happen by themselves. If I do my job correctly, and write a top-notch book, people will be so thrilled with what they learned that they will be compelled to write a glowing review. This is my preference. I must admit in the interest of full disclosure, that I sometimes encourage people to review my books on Amazon. I NEVER tell them what to say, or how many stars to give.

But here's a hint, if the author asks you, "hey, if you get a minute and don't mind, please visit Amazon and post a review of my book", they are really saying "Hey, please go up to Amazon and post a five-star review full of heavy praise for the book."

I don't know too many authors that would say: "Hey, if you get a minute, please post a review trashing my book and oh, two or three stars is fine." Heck, we don't even want four stars. People make purchasing decisions on those stars. Five-stars all the way man! That's what we want.

Oh, and don't shoot the messenger. You are reviewing the product (the book in this case), not Amazon. If you have an issue with Amazon, or delivery, click the Help link on the Amazon home page and send them a note. Amazon is excellent about returns and replying to customer issues. I have contacted them myself several times and they have always done everything they can to make whatever I was calling about right. So please, if you think my book is five stars and Amazon's delivery was one star, don't round off to three stars. The next guy that browses for a book may not bother to read the review where you said the book was great, but Amazon was the issue, they might just move on. Every three star review means fewer pennies in the kid's college kitty.

OK, so there you have it. That is the complete process:

Idea
Contract
Manuscript
Tech Edit
Copy Edit
Proofing
Proofs
Send to Press
 
Real book available to purchase and Shamless plugging and fishing for good reviews on the part of the author.

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