Writing a book

Post By Luke ~ 13th February 2017

Writing a book

The book which I’ve been working on has now been published. Reviews so far are good, which is a relief! I’ve no idea on how sales are going yet but I should get an idea of that over the next couple of months. This post isn’t really about my book (well, maybe a bit) instead it’s more about how I came to write the book and the process of writing. I hope it’ll be useful for people who are considering writing.

This post gives a brief overview of how I came to be writing the book Researching UX: Analytics and how I found the process. It’s primarily intended as a bit of an FAQ for people who are considering writing a book.

How did you get to write a book?

The publishers, Sitepoint, contacted me. I think it helped that my subject was fairly niche, so there wasn’t a huge amount of competition. I think they found me via the webpage for the Analytics and UX workshop that I ran for UX Brighton. It helped that there was also some examples of my writing online. These included blog posts for employer blogs, my own blog and on industry blogs like UX Booth.

The guys at Sitepoint were creating a series of UX books and wanted one on UX and Analytics. They got in touch with me completely out of the blue and asked me if I wanted to write one for them.

How much did you get paid?

I’m not sure I can say exactly how much I was paid, but it’s safe to say you won’t get rich just by writing a book! I got paid an advance and then a percentage of book sales. The way an advance works is that you get paid a sum of money (in my case half when half of the book was completed, and the remainder upon completion of the book) which then is effectively paid off from your initial book sales. If you get paid £5 per book sale, and your advance is £5,000 then you need to sell 1,000 before you start to get royalty payments. Here’s a full explanation of how advance payments work.

As well as this I received a small bonus for completing the book, more or less, on time.

What was the process?

It was actually very straight forward. Once I agreed to write it I was asked to write an outline of each chapter. This was discussed with my editors, and when we agreed on a final outline I started writing.

I had three people involved in the production of the book from the beginning. They were my main contact at the publishers, the series editor and a technical editor of my choosing. I submitted each completed chapter to be reviewed by the three guys who gave comments and questions which I then answered/covered in the second draft. This process worked well, and was simple and helpful.

Aside from this I produced the graphics and screenshots for the book. I had some help here from the publishers and friends.

Overall the process was much simpler than I expected, even if there was a lot of work involved.

How long did it take?

It’s really hard to say how long it took in terms of hours. I’d fit in writing where I could which meant some weeks I might’ve spent up to a couple of days writing, while others it was probably just a few hours. From start to finish the process took around five months. If I had to estimate the total time I’d say around one day a week for those five months.

A good rule of thumb that I was told before I started writing is that 2,000 words a day is a decent and realistic number to aim for. You will need to take into account the time for editing and finding images though. I could’ve probably written a draft version of the book in about half the time it took me to complete the final version.

Would you recommend doing it?

Yes, yes I would. It’s a big commitment but with the back of a good publisher it’s not a scary process. Sitepoint were very supportive throughout which meant that all I had to worry about was writing the thing! It does take up a lot of time, and if you’re not lucky enough to have a bit of spare time on an average week then it could take a long time to complete.

If you want to know more about my experience of writing the book feel free to get in touch.

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