The unexpected joy of writing (and reviewing) a book
I have just finished the second draft of a book I am writing. It's about how to create products that solve worthy problems, a reference guide that goes from idea inception to business development.
It started as a compilation of technical notes I had prepared for my students, who typically complained about how I always recommended more than twenty books per course, "to know more". So in 2012 I started this as a purely academic and personal project. But, as I advanced, I realized there was no similar book in the market. There are great books about business development and lean methodologies; decent books about product strategy and management; and a very limited amount of books about creativity from a pragmatic standpoint. But a map about how to navigate each area and cross each intersection? None that I could find.
So, with the help of my editor and colleague, Alex Fernandez, I embarked on the idea of converting a version 0.1 of my book in a first draft. I'll write some time later about how great the experience of working with someone like Alex has been, as much as he made me change my writing style so much... or because of it! I wanted to focus on the expert revision process.
I clearly wanted to have some of the best people I could find in my network, review the first draft. Experts from creativity, product, business or entrepreneurship. Only if the best read your draft and offer honest feedback, you can get it ready for publishing. I had only a few rules:
- The book draft was in Spanish, so they had to be fluent speakers in that language.
- I didn't send it to anyone whom I worked with more than a few months. No colleagues from Denodo or 24symbols, for instance. The reason? I wanted pure honest feedback, not related to thoughts about how hard I worked for the book, etc.
- I asked for commitment. That was hard to accomplish as the people I requested for revision are successful professionals full of tasks, trips, etc. Though the response rate has been high, over 60%, I am going to miss the thoughts of some great people that could not find the time at the end.
Writing a book like this means showing all you got, at least from a professional standpoint, but somehow from a personal one as well. The books tells how I understand products should be built. And while some sections are quite close to the standard, others are clearly not at all. Seeing how so many outstanding professionals read the draft, and provided their feedback, sometimes positive, sometimes harsh, but always with a constructive approach, and with a general acknowledgment that, with all its flaws, it could be a useful work for many potential entrepreneurs and product managers, made me tremble with pride, though also with responsibility.
Now its time for the following stage, which is to convince a publisher that this is a book worth being published. Let's see if we make it!
Photo credits: https://www.flickr.com/photos/crdot/6855538268/