On making a book

2013-05-28 09.15.23

I’ve been boasting all over the intarwebs about this, but I have (had) six copies of an actual printed bound book, with my name on it and all! It’s both an amazing thing, and something of a let down. The whole process has taken so long, and is so incremental, that having it finally done doesn’t feel like the massive accomplishment it should.

Just to give a sense of the time frame for this: in March 2010, Clare and I met with Mila Steele from Sage and discussed the possibility of doing a book. We wrote the first draft of the proposal in April,got some feedback after a few months, rewrote, and resubmitted. More feedback, back and forth, and in November we submitted a “final” draft proposal. We heard nothing and assumed that they weren’t interested. In June 2011, we were told the proposal was accepted, and that they wanted the book in twelve months. We wrote all that summer, and during the following year, submitted the first seven chapters in December (nothing), and the final manuscript in July 2012. Twenty-eight months after the initial proposal. On deadline, might I add, which was apparently completely unexpected, since everyone at Sage was on leave, and we didn’t even get an acknowledgement for a few weeks. In August we got feedback on the manuscript, rewrote, resubmitted, more feedback, rewrote, resubmitted. This went on for months, until March, when we finally signed off and got page proofs in April. The book arrived on Clare’s desk May 25th.

From the initial meeting to final book: three years and three months. Clare’s daughter, with whom she was pregnant when we first met with Mila, starts preschool in September. An entire cohort of students who were preparing for A levels when we started, have completed their degrees (and congratulations to all of them!) and are planning theĀ  next phase of their lives.

This is not a critique of anyone, this is apparently how long it takes. We spend a solid twelve months writing the book, but that is less than one third of its gestation period – most of the time elapsed in reading and resubmitting proposals, peer review, and copy editing.
Anyway, it is done, and so help me, I’m actually considering doing another one. I’d say that it’s like childbirth – you forget the pain when considering having one more (not that I know, of course, but this is what people say).

Not that this process was painful. On the contrary, it wasn’t. Clare and I are still friends, and aside from two fights (actually one, spread out over two weeks), at a point when we were both unbelievably stressed, we worked very well together. Working with Clare was an excellent experience: I know she pushed me to meet deadlines and to focus on getting things done. We planned a lot, and used a lot of tools such as Zotero and Comapping, and that really helped with the process, and with knowing what we needed to do when. When I look at the book, it doesn’t feel like it was that much work, although it really was. It’s120 000 words, of which I wrote 55 000, and 10 000 we wrote together. But those 55 000 words are six chapters, each chapter planned into sections, case studies, examples, theory explanations, glossary elements and tips and tools. We planned all of this in advance, and we planned the content of each chapter carefully, so that when I sat down to write, it seemed as though I already knew what I was doing. Still, it ate up a whole year of my life, and a year before and after, in planning, preparing, and then finalising and now, lastly, the boasting.

See, I wrote half a book!

2 thoughts on “On making a book”

    1. Kalahari.net has it, and Anthea should have a review copy for RJR. It is being sold internationally.

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