A couple days ago my first full size book went into beta and is now available at the publisher website – http://pragprog.com/book/nkout/outsource-it. I feel very happy and relieved that the book is finally out, writing it was far more challenging than I’ve ever anticipated. At the same time I feel happy and proud, proud to be one of the authors of the pragmatic bookshelf, the group of technology writers that earned respect across very broad and demanding technical audience.
It will take a little while before the book hits the shelves of Amazon and other bookstores, but you don’t have to wait and get your e-copy of it today. While the book is in beta your comments and suggestions would be taken quite seriously and could result in changes and additions to the content, hopefully making the book even better. I am not sure how long the beta would take but hopefully much less than it took me to get here –
Roughly two and a half years ago I came up what seemed a great idea at the time – compile my blog material into an easy to read eBook. In a couple months I produced the first volume that was dedicated to making decisions on whether and how to outsource. In a short order I received substantial feedback that made it apparent that just recompiling the blog and doing surface level clean up won’t add too much value, and probably was not worth the effort.
Even though eBook did not take off like a wild fire I was still convinced that despite large number of existing publications dedicated to outsourcing many of the aspects of it did not receive sufficient coverage and there was a need for a practical / pragmatic guide to offshore outsourcing. After giving it some consideration I decided to try another approach. I created a couple page long book proposal and sent it to a publisher that seemed a perfect candidate – the pragmatic bookshelf. This publisher was a brainchild of two co-authors of the best-selling book “The Pragmatic Programmer” Andy Hunt and Dave Thomas. To no surprise the pragmatic bookshelf is focused on publication of high quality, down to earth, pragmatic technology books.
To my great joy and surprise my proposal was accepted and I started working on the book. Producing content initially was quite easy – the topic of outsourcing is somewhat familiar for me – and in just a couple of moths I had about 350 pages corresponding to roughly 50% of the book. And that’s when the things got much more difficult. The pragmatic bookshelf had no room (the pan intended) for 700 page long tom on outsourcing, especially the one with lots of examples, diversions, and repetition. What works in presentations or blogs, not necessarily is so good for the book. And I had to start reworking the content to the standards of the publisher established by the founders and the publisher’s audience.
In addition to streamlining and condensing the content I had to change the style to cater to a broader audience. Major refactoring so to say. Re-working the book turned out to be far more complex and time consuming than producing the original content. Finally, about a year ago I had 70-80% of the book ready and my publisher sent it to a group of technical reviewers. The results were rather discouraging – many of the reviewers still found the book to wordy and at the same missing some important elements of content. Frankly, I was about to call it quits.
Fortunately, my publisher assigned a new editor who helped me get out of the vicious circle, and get back to basics – structure, content, audience. A few rounds or rewriting, rephrasing and reformatting and the books starting shaping up into something more slimmer and muscular. Even though I saw at least half of the content go away, I felt increasingly better about the book. So did the reviewers. And then, far too quickly given the lengths of the journey, the book was ready for beta.
The book went into beta just a few days ago and to my great surprise already found quite a few readers. While in beta the book is only available in its electronic format, so I guess I can say – eBook is dead long live eBook ;)