I don’t often talk about work with private clients, but I had one really interesting experience that taught me a lot.
Early in 2007, I was asked by Apress.com to be the Technical Reviewer for Dan Rahmel’s new Joomla book: “Beginning Joomla! From Novice to Professional.” As a blogger it was fascinating to get a small glimpse into the world of book publishing and the processes they have for making sure a book hits the shelves ready-to-roll, with all spelling, grammatical and tutorial bugs squashed.
I’m really pleased to notice that its now the best-reviewed Joomla book on Amazon.com.
Five Things this Blogger Learned From Paper Publishing
- Writing a book during the limbo between Joomla 1.0 and 1.5 isn’t easy. Dan wrote with 1.5 primarily in mind but it was tricky to write a book that works for both versions.
- It’s hard to write generally when there are so many possibilities. How do you cover them all? Dan’s solution was to pick one solution and keep it simple. All the hosting was explained with GoDaddy as an example and all the FTP sections with Filezilla.
- One, two or even three brains just doesn’t get it done. In addition to me, Apress had several others providing a feed loop catching typos, unclear passages and missing tutorial steps.
- A good tutorial might be 30 to 50% images. A someone working in SEO, I’m naturally very text-orientated for explanations, so it was interesting to see how densely packed the illustrations were in Dan’s final version.
- Color just isn’t worth it. Lulu.com estimates that a 150-page black-and-white book costs about $4 to print. The same book would be three times more expensive in color.
Over the years I’ve seen a lot of print designers struggle to get their heads around working online (“Whaddaya mean we can’t make the website 15 inches wide?“) and this time the boot was definitely on the other foot.
Hopefully we’ll be able to publish a hardcover version of the Joomla SEO Book in the new year. It certainly would have been a worse book without the opportunity to work through someone else’s book and and quality processes.