So i quickly convinced Andy to put his comments in the text instead. He turned on Track Changes, which works pretty well, and I just had to review and accept them. At the beginning, i had in mind that I would be revising and editing, not writing new material. So i also began by enabling Track Changes. But this made the program really sloooooow, and I found that I was a) writing much more than editing, and b) when editing, i was basically rewriting. So i just turned it off.
Book : a peek inside One
Org didnt work so well with them in many cases. I did learn some ways to use them better; eventually i found various toolbars and dialog windows in Writer, and got them to mostly behave the way i wanted so i could write as I wished. But there were still a lot of annoying things, like the inability to have an outline view. Im not sure that. Org cant do outlines one way or another, but oreillys custom styles werent recognized as outline-able heading levels. When Andy edited files, he initially southbank put comments in them using the comment feature. This didnt work well. Orgs commenting and reviewing features, at least in that the version, were hideous. Finding comments in the text was really hard—there seemed to be no relationship between the comment order and the order they appear in the text. And once i found them, i couldnt actually read them, because the interface doesnt even line-wrap them, so you can see only a couple of words at a time.
Thats the final state of the file; as we went, we had sub-sections in this text file plan indicating next steps, who needed to do what, and. Predictably, at various points each section would be changed to say something like final draft complete when in hindsight it was probably about 25 complete. Back to the tools: in fact you can actually compare and merge files from within. Org, but its a crude way to. Org was annoying in several ways; it has a lot of bugs that got in the way. Some were simple, like the way the find-and-replace dialog doesnt remember that you want to use regular expressions from search to search. Others were more serious, and crashed the program upon applying style definitions, for example. Oreilly has a template, which has macros that help you format things with the styles they want so theyll be able to convert the files to their own formats later. These were kind of clunky, and.
Each chapter was in a separate file. We had a few files of meta-data indicating completion, todo items, and. Heres a sample from our Status file: 4 Schema Optimization and indexing (ch04-Schema_Optimization. Odt) * Baron has written nearly everything. Baron is waiting for feedback on one section. Baron moved redundant material to other chapters. Peter has reviewed and commented. Baron reviewed Peter's comments and revised. Baron reviewed for explain appendix.
Writing, your first novel part 1: where
We were geographically distributed pretty widely, from California to london, ukraine, virginia, and Australia. Collaboration was probably what youd expect: we never met face to face, though we did send a lot of email and we had weekly voip conference calls (at 6:30 am my table time, late late night Arjens time). We used a subversion repository oreilly set up for us to store the chapters, figures, etc. Org to write the chapters. This was fine with me; I was afraid when I started that it would be in Word.
I dont like word processors of any type, but I was happier with. Org than Microsoft Word. Using Subversion with binary files wasnt phobia ideal. By default Subversion doesnt lock files for editing, so it was possible for us to edit the same file at the same time, and. Orgs files are binary, so theyre not merge-able. We set the svn:needs-lock property on the files so only one person could edit at a time. While that seems like a problem, there was enough work to do that I dont think we ended up waiting for other people to release locks more than once or twice.
Rimm-kaufman Group, and he was completely supportive of me taking time off work. I went back to oreilly and asked for more advances on royalties to cover me working half-time, and that was approved. I signed the contract and started working. Actually, i may have started working first. The tech publishing industry may work many ways, and Im no expert on it, but the most surprising thing to me was that in the tech world, you generally dont write a book and then go look for a publisher wholl print. It works the other way around.
Generally, they do market research, decide they need a book on a topic, and go looking for people who are competent to write. Especially for a second edition when the first editions authors arent interested in being involved, i imagine this must be a challenge. The process, the process of getting a book to print isnt as simple as just writing it and sending it away. We drafted material, sent it to the editor, passed it around amongst ourselves, re-drafted, re-edited, ad nauseum. And then it went to tech review, and we got back revisions and comments; then more revising and editing; more writing, and on and on it went. Ultimately everything passes final editorial approval and goes to production. If you thought that was the end of the work, ha ha, it was nowhere close to being over. There was a production copyeditor, then a production editor, a professional artist, proofreading, quality control, more proofreading, indexing, final quality control, revisions, and finally it went to press. Each of these steps was a lot of work for.
Book : a simple
I asked him what the process was like. He described a process that had been exactly specified; his contract had specified what he was responsible for disadvantages and exactly what steps were involved in publishing the book, who would perform each step, and when they had to happen. If he didnt get his chapters done, he was not responsible for his co-authors. Oreillys contract, on the other hand, was really vague. I mulled over it, decided the proposed schedule was amusing, and decided to go ahead with the book anyway, bad contract. I did negotiate to be a full author, rather than just being mentioned in the credits as originally proposed by the oreilly team, who thought I wouldnt really be doing much work. And I decided that to make this work, it was going to take a lot of time. I spoke to my boss at the.
in June of 2007. The proposal was to revise the schedule so that everything would go to tech review by October of 2007. I dont know when Peter started on the book, actually; Andy Oram had spent years trying to get authors for the second edition, and I think peter had started quite some time before i came on board. He had then added Vadim and Arjen later, but it was clear that it wasnt going to meet the original schedule no matter what. I asked the editor to send me the contract, and took a look. It was pretty vague. Responsibilities and steps to completion were not specified. I asked a friend of mine whod written a book for. Apress to review it for.
Please excuse the rambling nature of this post. Id love to write it well, but there is a lot to say and its a lot of work to write a long post in an organized fashion. In the beginning, peter zaitsev contacted me about a year ago and asked if Id like to help write the book. In the earliest stages, the idea was that Id write a couple of appendices and help transform Peter and Vadims writing into book-quality material; I was to be sort of like a glorified technical editor. At the time i didnt know who, but i knew vertebrae there would be a fourth author. When Peter contacted me, i asked about the schedule, the outline, and what was complete so far. At that point, there was an outline in pretty basic form—just chapters and headings, with a sentence or two to explain the outline in a couple of places.
Write, a book, for
As you probably know, i recently finished writing a book with a few co-authors. I kept notes along the way and wanted to describe the process for those who are thinking about writing a book, too. Update : see the followup post for more of the story, including my editors responses. Update two, almost a year later : take this with a grain of salt. I wrote it after an incredible marathon of staying up most of the night for months on end. My take on it now that I have some distance from the project is—Id definitely work with Andy Oram and oreilly again, and Id be able to make the process a lot easier for myself the second time. I think its important to be objective; my purpose here is to help prospective authors get a feeling of what its like, and its not all good (but Id encourage people to do it anyway). Hopefully i wont come off as sounding peeved at anyone or like im trying to put people down. Ill have a lot to say about what went right and wrong, and how it helped and hindered the process.