Creating a book is often viewed as if an author were some sort of alchemist transforming the base metals of an idea into the precious golden prose of a book. Let’s take a step back and look at creating a book in a less pretentious way. Creating a book might also be viewed as an exercise in project management.
We’ll be speaking this week at the Association of Personal Historians Conference in Las Vegas on the topic “Managing a Book Project Start to Finish.” We’re excited because the conference will be a bit of a departure for us. Usually we speak to authors who want to create memoirs and family histories. This time we’ll be talking to professionals whose business is creating books. In thinking about how best to guide people through the process of creating a book we decide it would help them to think of themselves as project managers.
The process of creating a book involves multiple steps: imagine, plan, create, edit, design and publish. We’ve given that process a lot of thought. Nancy has written a book to guide people through it called Stories To Tell: An Easy Guide to Self Publishing Family History Books and Memoirs. Some people have the skills to do what it takes at every step along the way, but most of us don’t. Making a book a reality may require the assistance of multiple professionals like transcriptionists, editors, and book designers. When the files are ready they need to go to the best printer for that specific book. Deciding who that is can be tricky. Part of the job of creating books is to decide when to call on those people for assistance, how to choose the best person to help, and to communicate effectively with them throughout the process. That’s an exercise in managing people.
In addition, personal historians working with clients to create books must recognize that the process works best if they communicate with their client at each step along the way. It’s their job to make sure that the client is happy with what the professionals produce. That’s a type of communication people managing their own memoir or family history project will recognize as they try to enlist the assistance of relatives in creating the book.
So when we speak to the group on Wednesday we’ll try to help people see that creating timelines, hiring the right people, and communicating effectively with everyone involved in the project is as important to getting a book into print as creative inspiration. We hope everyone will understand that no book project is successful without someone who manages it effectively.