The agile author project

I’ve been saying all year that I’m going to write a book, and I’ve finally managed to carve out enough time to start making that into a true statement. I have a major event coming up in March, meaning the book needs to exist in a physical form no later than March 1. Working backwards, I’m allowing a couple of weeks for the proof to be printed and sent to me, which means I need to be uploading files to Create Space on February 13th.

Happy Valentine’s Day to me (and probably to D as well, since I’m going to be knee deep in words (both mine and other people’s) between now and then).

Factoring editing time, I’m shooting for a final draft on February 6th. That didn’t sound too bad until my old nemesis Math showed up.

This book is going back to my academic roots, meaning each section will have a solid research foundation (that goes well beyond “What can I find on the first five pages of my Google search?”). Love that, but it means I need around a week of research to go with each section.

My current outline for the book includes 5 sections. Since I’d like the book to have around 200 pages, my final word count needs to be in the 75k range, or about 15k per section. A reasonable pace for me is 1k per day, probably more on weekends when I don’t have client work pulling out words too. So, I need two weeks for each section.

For those of you playing along at home, that’s five weeks of research followed by ten weeks of writing.

While thinking about all of this, and trying my hardest not to abandon these numbers for a nice tall glass of whiskey, I thought, “Why the hell would I force myself to cram all the research in up front? That’s just as bad as spending a whole quarter creating a marketing plan (which, for the record, is a terrible idea).” So, being a complete and total agile nerd, I’m adopting a sensible approach and running my book like an agile marketing release.

The release plan goes like this:

  • Iteration 1, 10/24 – 11/13: Research and write Part 1: An authority-less profession, and those who practice(d) it.
  • Iteration 2, 11/14 – 12/4: Research and write Part 2: The perils of opinion-based expertise
  • Iteration 3, 12/5 – 12/25: Research and write Part 3: Won’t somebody think of the marketers?!?
  • Iteration 4, 12/26 – 1/15: Research and write Part 4: Agile: the savior of both marketing and marketers
  • Iteration 5, 1/16 – 2/5: Research and write Part 5: The rise of the agile marketer

Here’s the problem: I can’t just research and write.

I also have to make sure there are people who actually want to buy this book when it’s done. This is, according to my reading, not as easy as one might think.

So I’m going to have to be promoting this thing while writing it, which is just cruel. Fortunately, my agile approach will mean that early sections of the book will actually be shippable long before February. My plan is to offer excerpts to various marketing sites as guest posts, and then drive traffic back to a landing page where you can sign up to get early notification when the book goes live…and some other awesome stuff I haven’t thought of yet.

I’m fully aware that, unless my year ends on a very, very high note, I won’t have the time to market the book like I might want. BUT, I can do enough that it might have a shot at making back the money I paid for its domain.

This whole idea may blow up in my face spectacularly, so keep your eyes on my blog just in case it does. I’ll chronicle the whole experiment here (in between rare moments of sleep).



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