Wednesday, 25 January 2012

How long does it take to write a book?

A number of people have asked me this, since our new book is now out.

This book took us 2 and a half years. This doesn’t include the effort put in by the case study authors and other contributors, so this book represents a lot of work! What exactly had we been doing all that time? I wondered that too, so here is where the time went.

In August 2009, I have my first note of our plan to solicit contributions for a new book on automation experience. We sent emails, put a call for contributions on my web site, and talked to people at conferences, and began gathering potential contributions.

I started keeping track of the hours we spent from December 2009. We had a big initial “push” (the first peak on the graph) and produced a “protobook” – 4 chapters with an introduction. We were sure this would be snapped up by a publisher!

We submitted to the publisher of our previous book in mid-February, but initially they weren’t very keen! This was a blow, as we were convinced this would be a great book! I tried several other publishers over the next few months, and got rejected; I continued to try and convince Pearson/Addison Wesley that they should publish our book.

They eventually relented in July and we signed a contract. We worked steadily on the book over the rest of that year, a total of around 400 hours between us. The complete draft manuscript, ready for independent review was due on the 15th April, and the final manuscript on the 15th October. “No problem”, we thought.

However, we found that we did need to work at a more intense level - we spent another 300 hours to the end of April (the double peak with some time out in February), and another 300 hours to the end of 2011. The final peak was editing the final page proofs and doing the index, more work that we had anticipated at that stage. The total for us comes to just under 1000 hours. We don't know how much time the contributors spent, but it their time was equivalent to ours, the collaboration represents around 2000 hours of time - that's more than one working year.

We enjoyed working on this book and reading all the stories as they came in. There are many useful lessons, some heartfelt pain, and many gratifying successes among the stories.

You can follow the book on Twitter on @AutExpBook. The book tweets tips and good points every few days!

Thanks to all the book contributors, and to co-author Mark Fewster.


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