The Book is to the Publisher

January 19, 2007

There is little to compare to getting a major project completed. Yesterday I sent the last 3 chapters of my book to the publisher. It was as if I finally got the driveway cleared after a 6 foot snowfall. I came home and celebrated by NOT turning my computer on. I know, that’s not much of a celebration, but, hey it was a change of pace and it felt really good.

What made yesterday great was that not only did I get the last 3 chapters completed, but I felt the work was high quality. This is a new edition of an existing textbook and the 2nd edition I have worked on. Overall it’s the 8th edition of the book. We are a team of 3 and joined together to become the new authors. When you first take over someone else’s work it feels a little like getting a bunch of hand-me-down clothes. They are a little worn, don’t quite fit, not sure that I would have purchased them, but hey, they were free. The first edition of the book felt a little like that. Our publisher’s expectation was what I call a quick and dirty. Just get it out and in less than 6 months. At times it felt like I was going through a cave without a light, just feeling our way along. Those weren’t particularly comfortable moments. But, we got it done, and learned far more than we gave. That first edition was not our best work, but given the circumstances it was a great learning process. It set us up for a far more successful 2nd edition.

This new edition is considerably better. Some of the chapters will have minimal change, others have considerable change. All of my chapters had considerable change. We divided one chapter into two, both in areas I’m not particularly comfortable. My solution was to find 2 colleagues to work with me.

The futures chapter was the most challenging. I had done some work on it in the last edition, but this time I probably trashed 80% of the text. I’ll write more about the process of updating the futures chapter. I had some significant learning experiences with this chapter.

The next test, and our editor will let us know if we were successful, is if the 3 of us can sound like a single voice rather than 3 disparate voices. That is a significant challenge. It can make or break a book.

I start my next book revision tomorrow – Friday! It has been 7 years since the last revision and in my field it is a best seller – in part because it is the only comprehensive book on budget and finance available.


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