The first thing that I noticed was the title of the audio book, which mentioned that it is ‘Illustrated’. I had my doubts, how an audio book could be illustrated, may be it was named not to clash with the book by Francesco Cirillo. The narration is lucid and it was easy for me grasp most of content while driving to office, so the illustration here was more to help paint the picture in the listener’s mind. After the drive to office when I sat down to review what I heard during the drive, that is the time I felt the disadvantage of the audio book format. Fortunately ‘The Pragmatic Bookshelf’ had made the table of contents available which helped to review the chapters after I had heard them. I would say the audio book is a complement to the Paper/e-book than a standalone audio book.

Coming to the technique discussed in the book, I was surprised the speed at which I found the technique to be effective. The simplest change I did to myself was to handle the interruptions and backlogs well. As a consultant I was used to constant interruptions and as a result grow a huge backlog of tasks. I set aside just two pomodori every day for some tasks (like blogs, presentations) which required some concentration, I was able to accomplish those tasks in far lesser amount of time than I used to take earlier. The effectiveness of that prompted me to get a diary to help plan and record my days. I have begun to find the difference it brings by keeping me focused and organised on my tasks and also made me come to a mindset to drop or delegate tasks I am not able to do.

Will I recommend this audio book to anyone? I had a glance at the paper book in the library, compared to that I would say the audio book as a standalone makes it difficult to go back and refer or review what you have listened. The technique is very useful to learn and it makes a good impact in a short amount time, my suggestion is to go for the e-book/paper book, and proceed one chapter at a time, try to implement, review and introduce your variations. You will be surprised to see how quick it starts changing your lifestyle.

Dr. Liz Alexander visited ThoughtWorks Bangalore today (Sunday Apr 29, 2012) to give a talk about writing a non-fiction book. Many thanks to her for agreeing to give a talk on a sunday morning. It was great to hear from someone who has written 13 books and has a readership of a million.

Below are my key takeaways from talk.

Why to write a book?

  • The question I like to answer is ……
  • Who is my target audience?
  • Where are the audience and how do I find them?

Platform

  • Establish a writing platform, show up at places, expand reputation. Blogs, magazine, conferences matter.

SEO of book writing, it is OES

  • O-Opt-in identifier. Take into account demography and psychography.
  • E-Emotional hook. Can people relate themselves to the book?
  • S-Special sauce. Our knowledge and expertise.

Help from others

  • We need the help of proof readers, critical reviewers, layout artists, cover artists, page look and feel designers for a book to be of publishable quality.

Publishing

  • Vanity publishing vs commercial publishing
  • Vanity publishing requires upfront investment from the author to get it to the market.
  • Commercial publishing takes a lot of effort, credibility, being at the right place right time. Also pays upfront but a lion’s share of revenue goes to the publisher for the risk taken.

Ego vs care for readers

  • It will be tempting to push an idea into a book through vanity publishing which is like a startup idea being tried in a small office space at the corner of the road without any business plans.
  • The desire to sell the books written will also focus on what the readers want than trying to get the book published and not sell much.
  • Critical reviewers are very important to shape the final look. Friends, relatives and fans will just praise the effort without helping to improve.

Once again I thank Dr. Liz Alexander for her presence and sharing the knowledge, Rajiv Mathew for arranging the meetup.

Image: Rajiv Mathew/ThoughtWorks