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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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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Time to start again

believe it or not, it is already time to start the new editions... (I am not sure I am ready...)

I just got "extracted Word docs" from the publisher. After we submit our files, they go through several hands and changes before becoming printed pages. There is a compositor who does the paste-up of the final pages. The artwork must be processed into the required format. There is a proofreading pass, the index is compiled, the table of contents finalized and built and probably a few other steps I forgot. Much of this work is performed in Microsoft Word, but the final steps occur outside Word. So, when it comes time to repeat the entire process and start over again for the new release, we need to get Word documents back. So they "extract" them from the page layout files. This is not completely automated from what I understand and someone must manually check each document before making them available to us.

This year we get a new Word template, so style names are changing and some other subtleties. (Never a dull moment). Our task now, as the authors, is to:

1. Decide WHEN to start writing. Factors influencing this are the current state of the beta release of the software, how likely that whatever we want to start writing about will change in the next build and of course our own schedules.
2. Setup folders, files, SnagIt profiles, schedule time, and plan tasks with co-authors.
3. And most important, become familiar with the new version of the software.

Every year it is the same. This time a year comes around and we say:
"this year we will get the manuscript out earlier..."

"Hey Paul, how's that working out for ya?"

Let's see how that goes this year... Stay tuned.

2 comments:

Duane said...

Hey Paul - Happy New Year!

Quick question for ya: You mentioned that one of the annual tasks is to become familiar with the new software releases, simple enough... right? Do you have a "routine" or an approach that you like to take when trying to do this?

I recognize there is a big difference between learning a new software and familiarizing ourselves with a new update - perhaps you could make it a topic on one of your future blogs!?!?

Thanks Paul!

Duane Gleason (Vico Software)

Paul F. Aubin said...

Hi Duane:

Thanks for the comment. My process usually involves carving out the time to devote to the task as much as any specific technique for learning. I am on the Betas for AutoCAD and Revit, so I do see early releases of the products, but of course I am under non-disclosure for these, so i cannot post anything specific. Working with the alpha and beta releases does help a lot. It gives me a good idea where the new focus is and what new features are coming.

I also have to plan out the scope of the new book. Which chapters require update? How many are affected? Should there be any new Chapters or sections within existing chapters? Etc. I also coordinate with my team. Some of the books have co-authors, some I use contributors for certain parts. So I have to get everyone on board.

It is a a lot of work, and probably would make a good post. So I will attempt to get a post together on this topic in the next couple days or weeks. Thanks.