A wonderful day! I finished the final author revision and edit of Solaris 9 for Dummies, coming soon to a bookstore near you!
For those of you that aren’t familiar with the process of writing and publishing a technical book, here’s how it worked for this title…
First, the acquisitions editor and I collaborated on an extensive table of contents (about 8 pages or so) that detailed what was covered, in what order, and at what depth. A target page count was also agreed upon at that point. That went to a group within the publishing firm (J. Wiley & Son) known as the new book screening board (or something like that). They chew over the title, content, organization, and whether the topic fits into the current plans.
Once that’s all agreed upon, the work shifts to the author, and it’s write, write, write, write and, occasionally, test. 🙂 With, typically, oodles of screenshots. Keeping track of all the resultant files (Solaris for Dummies, all told, is split across about 240 different files, mostly screenshots).
As the book is written, chapters are sent to the development editor who forwards them along to a copy editor and sends a copy to one or more technical editor. The copy editor does that grammar thing while the tech editor tests and verifies to ensure we aren’t saying blue when something is red, etc. Once the copy editor is done, the development editor goes through the document and adds the comments from the tech editor and their own $0.02 on structure, meaning, usefulness of examples, etc.
The combined document (with 3-5 people’s comments embedded) is then sent back to the author for revision. The subsequent cycle of revise, submit, edit, return to author can go on for as many cycles as necessary for everything to be ‘just so’ according to the boss of the process, the managing editor.
This is the milestone I reached today with the Dummies book: we’re done with revisions, everything’s laid out for printing, and we’re ready to get this baby into production. The only step left now, from an author’s perspective, is to (ideally!) be able to read through the page-proofs of the book post layout, but pre-printing, and to contribute to the cover copy and material.
Basically, in 30-45 days I expect to receive a box of books on my front doorstep, while everyone else gets to see it in their local bookstore.
Sound intimidating and tedious? It’s not. It’s fun. But then again, I like this kind of thing, so go figure. 🙂