It’s finally here. After 6 month of hard work, Packt Publishing has released my latest book on February 23rd 2014. In this post I want to share some of the insights of this project in an attempt to give you a sense of how these books are made and of what it feels like to be a published author for the third time.
The planning phase
It all started in September 2013. No time to rest after the release of my previous book at the end of August. Packt Publishing wanted me to start writing this one right away. So with Adobe Captivate 7 for Mobile learning just being released, I returned to my computer keyboard to start the whole publishing process all over again.
The first thing to come up with is the Table of Contents. I took the Table of Contents of Mastering Adobe Captivate 6 and started to look into ways to update it properly. Of course I needed to incorporate all the changes and the new features of Captivate 7, but I also wanted to change a few more things after the feedback I received from my first book. That’s why the chapters have been re-ordered a little bit and some topics have been moved around for what I believe is a more logical and consistent Table of Contents.
It took Pack and I about 10 days to agree on a Table of Contents and to estimate the amount of changes to be done as compared to the first edition of the book.
The contracting phase.
With the Table of Contents finalized, we then moved on to the Contracting phase. In this phase, we have to agree on a writing schedule and once that is done, we sign the contract and start the writing. I would have to finish the first draft of all 11 chapters before the end of the year 2013. This is a somewhat tight writing schedule that leaved as little as 3 days of time to turn some of the smaller chapter in! On average though, I was allowed about one week for every chapter, which is… feasible!
The contract was signed on October 4th 2013 and on the very next day, I started the writing.
The initial writing phase.
With the contract signed, the initial writing can begin. The beginning of the writing is a very pleasant phase as it is at that moment that the editorial team builds up and that you get to know the names of those you will be working with for the next few months. Priyanka Goel would be the project coordinator I would have to send my drafts to. As commissioning editor, Harsha Bharwani would be the main chief of this project.
So here I am, back on an empty page 1, starting to revisit the work that I had done almost 2 years before and updating it to the latest version of Captivate.
I did most of the writing in the train, while commuting from home to work in the morning and from work to home at night. I have about a 1 hour train ride from home to work and an other hour on the way back. That makes 2 hours of writing a day! But unfortunately, it was not quite enough to cope with the schedule and I had to get to work on weekends as well!
I was so proud (and relief) to turn the last chapter in on December 23rd, 2 days prior to Christmas and a few days in advance of the contractual date. The first challenge had been met, but it would not be the last one
The rewrite phase.
As I was writing the first drafts of the 11 chapters of the book, Priyanka and Harsha were busy on their side finding suitable individuals to review the book. They eventually found some of the best Captivaters I know about to get this job done and they submitted my first chapters to their judgment as I was writing the last ones.
I wouldn’t have to wait long after Christmas to receive the first chapters back with the comments and suggestions of the reviewers. Christmas holidays would be very busy this year!
Now having such a great team of reviewers is a real blessing, but it is a lot of work either! Nothing would slip through their expert eyes and in many occasions, I was back to the drawing board, revisiting entire sections of the book over and over again until all their comments were addressed.
I take this opportunity to recognize the awesome work of these brilliant individuals. Anita, Joe, Chris, Jimmy and Jack, if you are reading these lines, here comes a public and vibrant “Thank You” for the work you have done on this book! Your input has been critical in making this title the best book I have ever written!
Readers, if you like my book, part of the credit goes to them!
The re-writes phase took about a month. I turned the last re-written chapter early February.
As I was re-writing the final chapters, the book’s team grew bigger as Pack was busy turning my chapters into an actual book. Ruchita was taking care of polishing the text to make it match all the requirements of Packt Publishing, Kapil and Edwin were busy turning the Word documents I had send into inDesign compositions and PDFs files, Proofreaders and indexers were also at work finalizing all aspect of the book.
Kapil and Edwin eventually send me the pre-finals of the chapters. The pre-final if a PDF document of the finalized chapter. Receiving the first pre-final is always a great moment as it is when you have a first glimpse at how the final work would look like. As an author, the pre-final is my last chance to check if everything is fine inside each and every chapter. So I took great care of reading the whole book one last time focusing on the biggest possible amount of little details that may have slipped through the attention of the various members of the Packt Team.
Hopefully Kalip and Edwin had done a great job turning my drafts into a book and, apart from some minor details, the book was about ready for publication.
In parallel of the rewrites and the pre-finals, Harsha and I were busy working on the books cover. Harsha had sent me three cover pictures I would have to choose from. I ended up proposing pictures of my own collection for the book’s cover and Harsha was kind enough to accept one of my propositions. This is something that makes the book very special to me. The cover picture had been taken in Pensacola by my sweet Céline when we were on holiday in Florida. We got engaged during that trip just the day before the picture was taken. Céline and the children had to cope with my insane working hours while writing the book, so I was very happy to involver her in the project that way.
About one week prior to the publishing, I got an eMail from Harsha telling me that the book had been uploaded. Once uploaded, the book cannot anymore be modified. My job was over and the release was imminent. Every morning, I took a look at the book’s page on the Packt Publishing website to see if the book had been published or not. Finally on Friday February 23rd, the book was released to the general public. It was on Amazon 2 days later to begin a life on its own out it the wild.
There has been a lot of hard work that went into this project. I especially appreciated the professionalism of anyone involved in this book, including the editorial team at Packt Publishing and the awesome work of the reviewers. As of myself, I feel it is time to take some well-deserved time off with Céline and the children. As a matter of fact, in a week from now, I’ll be in an airplane en route to Venice for a well-deserved break with my fiancée. Anyway, we may find some time to take the cover picture of the next book!
Until then, I wish you a good reading and a lot of fun with Adobe Captivate 7