New Job Title: Author
Writing a book has been on my to-do list since college when I decided to minor in English to help balance my Engineering degree. I wasn’t expecting the opportunity until later in my career, but you know what they say about when opportunity knocks.
The truth though is that I’ve been working on the book for almost two months.
Back in late June I got an email from Mary James, an acquisition editor with Wiley wondering if I was interested in co-authoring a project based beginners book for iOS. My co-author, John May, had many more years experience then myself and had written five books previously. It seemed like the perfect opportunity so I took it.
I’m fairly certain my first email to John included the phrase “deer in headlights”. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing nor did I know how a book goes from idea to final print. John was a great mentor, but unfortunately that only lasted a couple of weeks. He got one of those offers you can’t refuse and had to drop working on the book.
I’m not one to give up an opportunity even if I have no idea what I’m doing, so I decided I would figure it out and do it myself.
Who. What. When. Why. How.
The first part is writing the book proposal. The best way to think of a book proposal is market research. Publishers want to know who’s going to buy it, what makes it unique, when you can deliver and why you should be the one to write it. How is up to the publisher.
Publishers already know most of those answers. What they really want is for you to do the research yourself so you know how to differentiate yourself from the crowd then show them how you’re going to do it. Personally I loved doing this research.
The next major part of the proposal is your complete Table of Contents. Obviously they know it will change as the book comes together, but it forces you as the author to basically write the book with just chapter titles and sub headers. You’ll also need to give estimated page counts as well as when you can deliver on each chapter. Essentially it becomes the roadmap to the final product for the publisher. It also helps you the author organize your thoughts so you can quickly execute should the proposal get approved.
The last part, at least for first time authors with Wrox, is submitting a writing sample using the tools the publisher uses. Just like the Table of Contents, this benefits both the publisher and you the author. The publisher wants to see that you can write but also that you can produce within their parameters. You as the author get to learn the tools and figure out if you’re comfortable using them.
It’s a bit of a gauntlet, but with purpose. If you do well the publisher approves the proposal and you’re on your way.
That’s where I am. My proposal, Table of Contents and sample chapter on implementing Local Search in MapKit were approved last week.
Today I start writing.