A couple of weeks ago when I got access to the shared Google doc by the head editor at Hyperink—the doc that included the production schedule, responsibilities, instructions, proposed outline for the book and the actual book drafting space—my first thought was that they were all smoking something that was not being shared with me.
Then I thought that well, these are just suggested deadlines, not real ones. But throughout the process, we met every single deadline—most, just in the nick of time.
Work actually began in earnest on Monday, December 5. That was all the preliminary stuff, i.e., combing through the roughly 1,600 blog posts going back to 2007, deciding what to include, how to break things up, etc. The actual drafting of the manuscript began last Saturday, all day, and then onto Sunday, all day. This was primarily by the journalist and I was watching in real time, adding information, fielding questions and clarifications, drafting supplemental info on the fly. By Monday afternoon, the very rough 1st draft was done. On Tuesday morning I read through it, taking copious notes as to what to change, what to add, and sourcing various bits and pieces from the blog and other sources using Google. On Tuesday, the editor did her review, adding her notes and comments to the shared doc. Finally, Tuesday evening I got it back and this time the lead was mine to drive the 2nd draft. It was grueling. Well into the night on Tuesday, at it early Wednesday all day and evening, then back at it Yesterday, all day. The journalist jumped back in in the afternoon, and so did the editor, so three of us working at the same time. In all, I added more than a third again to the length of the original draft.
I had no idea what a powerful collaborative tool Google docs is. We could all edit at once, tag text, create comments which could be replied to by others, so a threaded discussion. And you can text back and forth as well. Amazing and cool. You can watch other people’s work in real time.
Today, December 16, less than 2 weeks later, the book is done. There were just a few things to do this morning, final touches, one more sweep through by me, the journalist, and then the editor. Here was the email I received a bit ago.
I’ve just completed my final review of the manuscript, and it looks GREAT. I think it strikes a wonderful balance between Richard’s humor, while still reaching the wider audience he wanted to target. Also, the anecdotes and success stories are wonderful, and the INSANE amount of research really helps drive home any points of contention that naysayers may have.
Richard and Theresa: Well done! This book has been a real pleasure for me to both work on as an editor, and to read as a reader. Thank you both for the diligence and commitment you’ve shown.
Amy, there are currently no comments or open issues in the document, so it should be ready to enter the publishing queue!
Now it goes to publication and I’m told it should be out before the holiday. In total, it looks to be just about 25,000 words, so 100 pages in book format size or around 65 in 8.5 X 11. That’s the thing with an ebook. There’s no economies of scale that demand 200 pages or more, and for what, really?
This book has exactly everything I wanted in it, and nothing I didn’t. I have nobody to impress with irrelevant run-on drivel or non-sequitur and diversion for the sake of length. My driving motivation was that, curiously, I want it to actually be read; I want it to be read in a short time, and I want it to be understood by virtually anyone who does that. Since it’s an ebook (there is a print-on-demand version), I made copious use of in-line hyperlinks, as well as “Additional Resources” hyperlinks after every chapter to blog posts here and posts by all the usual suspects, original research, videos, and so on. So, those who really want to dig in, can. It can be read in a few hours to get the basic information, or three days or more for those who wish to chase down all the rabbit holes.
Something for everyone. But mostly, totally accessible to all. No doubt. I am very confident of two things: first, long time readers likely aren’t really going to learn much they don’t already know; and second, they will recognize it for what it’s intended to be, which is absolutely the best book yet to give to a friend or family member along with “look, this’ll only take you 2-3 hours to read, and then you’ll understand everything I’ve been saying all along. You’ll have it all.”
There’s no profanity, so it’s suitable for granny—well, maybe except for the penis enlargement bit (lose the donut of fat!)
…I believe it was yesterday afternoon where I realized I hadn’t changed clothes or showered in three days. And I ate mostly tuna, sardines and boiled eggs. But I never lost the groove.
It was outrageously fun.
Update: There’s one element of this deal that I forgot to mention—which is strange, as it was a major deciding point for me to go with Hyperink. As an ebook, it can be revised and updated almost continuously. Thus, this is likely the only book I will ever write on the paleo lifestyle as concerns diet, exercise, health & fitness. What Hyperink does is share a Dropbox folder with me and whenever I have updates, corrections or new material to add, I just drop it in there, they make the corrections and republish it in all the various ways (PDF, Kindle, Nook, iBook, etc.). Right now, I plan to do that on a quarterly basis. I don’t know what price points they are going to set, but I do know that getting the PDF directly from Hyperink on their website—as opposed to the other outlets—is a higher price point that comes with some extras, one of those being lifetime updates.