Like a lot of folks, I’ve always kinda wanted to write a book. I don’t really have any training as a writer, though I dabbled in journalism in high school and college. Graduate school, of course, required a ton of writing and that’s really where I started to enjoy it.
I’m noticing that a lot of folks are working on books these days. Jeremy‘s doing it. Hugh‘s doing it. Scoble and Israel are doing it. Lessig is doing it (kinda). Chris Anderson’s doing it. Curt‘s doing it. Lisa, Rosa and Yvonne just finished doing it. And that’s just off the top of my head. Hugh’s written pretty much his whole book on his blog. Jeremy’s being pretty transparent and letting folks review his proposal. Scoble and Israel are doing theirs via blog. Lessig is doing a revision of a previous book by wiki. Chris Anderson’s doing his via blog too. Curt’s letting folks peek behind the curtain via his blog.
After writing the manifesto, it occurred to me that there was a lot more that could be said about and for ‘slackers@work.’ So, I started this blog, thinking that I’d write some stuff that maybe could be incorporated into a book someday. And I have. Of course, once you start thinking like that, you’ve just gotta write a whole proposal.
I slammed out a few mindmaps (by hand, of course…Visio just doesn’t do it for me), and I started cobbling together an outline. Then I read a great book called How To Think Like Your Editor. The author even did one of those online classes through Barnes and Noble. I peeked in on that, but it basically amounted to the author fending off a lot of requests for manuscript reviews. Once I knew what I was supposed to do for a book proposal, I started putting something together in earnest, using Word. ‘Course, I wanted to work on it whenever I had free time, so I was emailing Word documents back and forth to myself. That quickly became cumbersome, as I had different versions of the document on different computers, including my Palm.
So I talked to the good folks over at JotSpot and they hooked me up with a beta test of their version of wiki. Now, I could’ve just set up a wiki on my own, but JotSpot has some sweet features that I couldn’t get with any other basic wiki package. First of all, it’s password protected, so there’s no chance of it getting defaced. I can email stuff right to the wiki, so if I have a brainstorm in the middle of doing something else (you know how that goes), I can just dash off a note and send it to the wiki for processing later. Probably the best feature is that it supports rich text editing in both the ‘edit’ pages and the ‘viewing’ pages. That means that it’s super easy to copy/paste text from the wiki into Word, without losing any formatting. Sweet! So now I can work on the proposal from anywhere and when it’s done I can just drop it into Word and print it. My use of the JotSpot wiki is pretty basic…right now I’m just working on three pages. But they’ve got some interesting pre-built templates that could be pretty helpful for businesses (especially small businesses with limited resources). Worth checking into.
So, it turns out that book proposals require three parts: the proposal, a table of contents and a sample chapter. I’m pretty much done with the first two and just shining up the sample chapter. I was really hoping to be done with this a few weeks ago, but life happened. So now I’m hoping to get done with the sample chapter this week and getting the proposal in the mail to Ten Speed Press and over to an agent for review. I’ve always enjoyed Ten Speed Press’ catalog, and they seem like a quirky enough publisher to take on something like Slacker@Work. 🙂 We’ll see…