« Winter Time - Hot Chocolate Time | Main | External DVD Burner for iBook »

December 3, 2004

Deciding to Author a Book

Two months ago I got an email from a publisher inquiring whether I'd ever considered authoring a book on a particular subject (to be revealed in a future post).

For the first day I was in a bit of a daze, not knowing where to start asking questions. I decided since I didn't even know what questions to ask it would be good to take some time just to put together the questions. I wrote back to the publisher and said "I'll get back to you in a week, after processing."

Heidi (my wife) was the first to contribute to the question list and offer suggestions. One of my primary concerns was how pouring time into writing would affect our family. Still a little concerned about that, but Heidi assured me we could find a way to clear time for me to write.

My quest to generate a good list of questions then went to Pete, who thought one of the most important things I could do was talk to other authors and have them share both thoughts on relationship and arrangements with the publisher as well as observations in the authoring experience.

Over the week I got information (varying anywhere from email to IM to phone conversations) from my father, Phil Windley, Jim Fazio and Jeremy Zawodny, each offering excellent snips of advice.

The list of questions:
1) Am I interested in writing?
2) What are the reasons I'd want to write?
3) Do I have time?
4) Do I have the knowledge and experience (or drive to find the knowledge and get the experience) to write on the subject?
5) Is there room for another book on the subject matter?
6) Is the press respectable?
7) How does the press treat it's authors?
8) What does the contract look like?
9) What's the advance, royalties?
10) Should I use an agent?
11) Are there co-authors? Who will find, choose, approve?
12) Could some of the writing be outsourced?
13) How does my work on the book relate to Tufts University (my employer)
14) What are the clauses in the contract for a rejected manuscript or if the press decided not to publish.
15) Am I really prepared for the work (which I won't be able to imagine until it's upon me)?
16) What is the schedule, time frame?
17) Who decides the contents of the book?
18) What are the steps in going from initial idea to table of contents to writing chapters?

With this set of questions, some of the personal ones answered, I went back to the publisher and agreed to go forward and have a dialogue about the questions I couldn't answer on my own.

More to come . . .

Posted by mike at December 3, 2004 12:03 AM