My research area is Enterprise Application Management, continuing on from the books, although the first 6months is for working out exactly what research I will do – the hypothesis I can come up with and what I can really, practically, test out.
The first part includes two ‘research’ taught modules, great for someone out of academia for so long, and having completed the first on the philosophy of research (and its 5000 word assignment), I am learning a great amount already.
Sure, it’s a huge challenge, loads of extra work (outside of work), lasts from 3-7 years (part-time), but the opportunity was there and I’d be really stupid not to try.
Finally (30th October) it’s all done, reviewed, edited, re-reviewed and re-edited, printed, and in the stores. Just in time for Christmas!!
The next (and final) phase is a review of the ‘page proofs’. These are PDF’s of each chapter of the manuscript now with final layout and graphics, but still allow for markup and comments. Very easy to use. Requires another full reading iteration, although each chapter takes only a few days to go through. Files are secure FTP’ed back and forth to publishing companies servers into clearly marked folders. Files move from folder to folder showing progression through the process.
- Reviewed the ‘front matter’, basically the cover and initial content – the introduction, acknowledgements, dedication (always fun). Noted there are some nice new graphics for this book.
- The actual book title, sub-title, and table of contents all reviewed and proofed as well. Amazing the last few changes made.
- Also the back of the book wordings, again always nice to draw out the highlights. This time no problems in reviewing what the publisher came up with – and better than I could have put it!
- Added and reviewed the Appendix proof. This is a complete product listing which runs to quite a few pages. Nice reference thought as summarizes what the dozens of products are used for.
- Noticed a couple remastered using the publisher stock images for common items like laptops or servers. Seems to be a copyright thing, so left most with the replacement images.
- Noticed the books nearly 400 pages now, with all the images and extra bits.
- Page Proof cycle done by 1st July, taking about 3 weeks for the whole book. Not bad since required a complete re-read and I did still find some typos and small mistakes that are nice to have corrected.
- A Publishing Services 3rd party company took over, who do the printing, and including another full iteration by them, sending back about 20 questions on things that could be improved. Some meaning, some graphics, some references for further reading. Another 2 weeks to complete that.
- The book is now (10th Aug) complete, and off to the printers. Expected about 6 weeks before first print run copies are out. I get 10 copies myself, so am watching the post with some excitement.
- Final payment of the Advance (4 chunks based on draft manuscript completion phases). Not huge amount of money after taxes and $-to-£ conversion, but still a nice reward for the hard work.
- April 2013: I had to re-review a bunch of images, around 30, which where too large for printing in the normal space (4 inches), making them either hard to make out or illegible. Some serious cropping was done whilst keeping the main gist. A few fresh ones with a bit more focus were used as replacements, which is some cases meant setting up another testcase. This is another reason why having a publisher on-board is good, as they know what wouldn’t work, as opposed to self-publishing and finding out after printing!)
- May 2013. Each chapter (1-11) had to be next copy-edited by a professional (outsourced to a third party by the publisher). It was shocking that there were many adjustments to be made, not quite every sentence, but lots. In some way it does mean that the final work is to be of great quality however!
- Also the copy-editor is non-technical therefore queries parts that don’t make obvious sense, often because I have assumed too much. Also a good check on cross-references, images make sense, my metaphors work, and other general writing improvements.
- Each copy-edit cycle of 2 chapters at a time gave me about 1 week turn-around. Therefore another 5 weeks of work on this phase, reviewing every single sentence over again. I finally finished this cycle on the 7th June.
- Next to go are Page Proofs review cycle. This is basically PDF’s of the completed content but with final layout and styling applied. I think with images also which will be pretty existing to see.
Progress markers are starting to appear, now with a set of files that seem to look more like something that could become a book, as opposed to drafts, links, images, and notes. Here are the latest progress points:
- Completed Chapter 11 on schedule, marking the finish of the ‘first write’ of the manuscript. The content is mostly there, in sections and sentences, and with graphics. This was due on 10th March and go in about 9 days early.
- Spent about 3 weeks getting each of the 11 chapters back from the two Technical Editors, with comments and suggestions. Somewhat laborious work going through each of these 22 chapters and making changes to my original files. All credit to my editors for turning these round quickly and including lots of comments and extra information. Also noted was able to add more ‘experience’ to the content based on what they’ve seen as well.
- Completed the Technical Edit incorporations (including many graphic edits) and all sent to publisher on 2nd April.
- Did count up of the manuscript so far:
- 227 pages of text – without graphics/final formatting.
- 241 graphics – mostly screenshots and diagrams
- 126,000 words approximately
- Next the draft manuscript goes to editorial review which is a copy-edit cycle for grammar, typo, style etc. As such another long process of reviewing all 11 chapters (+intro and appendix).
I have been enjoying the book ‘Bounce‘ by Mathew Syed and learning how 10,000 hours of practice is generally standard to gain real expertise. Mathew goes on to mention that this is not just ordinary repetition however, but something he calls purposeful practice. In essence this is working hard and working cleverly, using specially developed techniques to continuously improve. He refers to driving a car, where most people have spent more than 10,00 hours however very few improve significantly because they are just running on personal autopilot.
I was thinking about this after reading a very technical document and realized that purposeful practice applies at work too. I have spend years working in a certain areas however would say that I have expertise in only very few, even though I have spent way more than 10,000 hours in many. I am certain it is because I have not really had a singular purpose for many topics, with no real focus to produce a result that requires full immersion and practice. I have done lots of tasks on the topics I know best.
I also found the diagram below that supports my thinking that to gain real expertize, even for knowledge, it requires some kind of associated physical movement, it’s true for me anyway. Examples include writing a related summary or article, or sharing the knowledge with someone else through talking or presenting. Certainly I’ve bought and half-read dozens of books that I can barely now because I never really applied them.
I’m therefore now looking out of opportunities for purposeful practice, where I can take on practical tasks in areas I wish to develop, and move towards enlightenment. Or to put it another way, I hope to reduce the amount of time I waste on looking at things I then forget!
My new job is currently focused around blogging out content also right now, so wordpress (and others) is becoming my best friend. Isn’t is weird how things change, usually when you almost give up hope.
Anywhere here is my recent progress report.
- Submitted Chapter 9 (first write) on 10th Jan, actually four days early! A shorter chapter, although still rich, mostly because some topics were better served by summary and directing the reader to specialist content (books, articles etc) than me trying to pretend I know everything about everything.
- Got a full month until Chapter 10 deadline (10th Feb) which is nice. This is a “bringing it all together” type, and the challenge is getting the messages clear rather than technical content particularly. I also found some old content I wrote intended for another book (never published) with some similar topics so go a good start there.
- During research I stumbled over some additional items for other chapters, which I regard as lucky and a blessing, rather than giving concerns about why I missed this the first time! Fortunately additional content can be still added so a good catch.
- Got my first Advance Payment cheque also, paid in installments after submission of a certain amount of content. After taxes and $-to-£ exchange rate it didn’t look quite such a juicy figure at all, however it was really great to receive after the Christmas overspend and a little reward for the hard work.
- Once this is done I am on the LAST CHAPTER – hurrah! It doesn’t mean its finished just yet, with the Introduction and Appendix to do, plus all the technical and editorial edits. But compared to facing a blank word document and a legal contact to submit a chapter in a month, what’s left is a breeze.