Posts Tagged ‘Media’

Designing the Invisible: The birth of a book

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No idea is a bad idea. Well that’s not true, tons of ideas are awful and you only need to watch Dragon’s Den to find that out. But some ideas start as a simple, rough around the edges thought, that can be honed and polished into a winning concept. That is exactly how Designing the Invisible came to life.

I remember the moment well. It wasn’t a eureka type event, more of a ‘I’m going to email Mark (Boulton) with a book idea and expect to be laughed at’ moment. Hours later I was onboard as a Five Simple Steps author. I’m getting ahead of myself here though, let’s go back to the root …

‘Mark, I’ve got an idea …

I was working at Mark Boulton Design as a Project Manager and I was heavily involved in the work for Five Simple Steps, this is the publishing company headed by Mark and Emma Boulton. As a team we were in the latter stages of getting Mark’s first book released but were already thinking beyond that, including future titles and authors.

I had written for several travel publications previously, but it was media studies and the web that really ticked my boxes, so those passions coupled with my year working at BBC Wales in Audience Research led me to email Mark a book idea which has since been polished to what is now Designing the Invisible.

A dirty diamond.

In its original form, the book was more focused on audiences and was going to discuss topics such as audience research, analytics, and personas.  It was given a title (which I won’t reveal in case Five Simple Steps want to use it at a later date) and the ball was rolling.

When Mark and I met about the book for a progress report, we both had the same reservations about some of the subject matter. Mark felt that the chapters that were centred on communication and semiotics were the more interesting, as did I, and so we agreed that they would become the focus of the book.

I went away, did my research, revised my table of contents and sent it to Mark. That makes it sound easy but it was a time consuming and at times, tough process. The whole time I had to focus on what made this book different to others, what was the unique selling point? So whilst it may seem that I have dismissed several weeks work in one sentence that isn’t the case. Honing the idea was hard.

That said, it went through a couple of revisions over a few weeks and it was a relatively fast and pain free process compared to many publishing stories I have heard. Before long, it was signed off.

The aim for any book published under the Five Simple Steps brand is for it to arm the reader with practical advice for working in that subject area – eg web design. It should also be written in an easy to read, friendly style and the design of the book/packaging should be beautiful, simple and clean. We had the content pinned down in keeping with the brand, but we needed a title to represent the broad range of topics and content to be included. Because it was part of the Five Simple Steps brand the title was most likely (though it didn’t have to) start with A Practical Guide to …

The naming ceremony.

Thinking of titles and headlines is my downfall. I struggled. Then one day Mark came into the studio and said ‘Designing the Invisible, I think we should call your book Designing the Invisible’. At first I felt it was a bit of an enigma, people wouldn’t ‘get it’ and connect to the book but it does represent the content so well and it grew on me. I said yes and then I probably made him a cup of tea or something.

Never judge a book by its cover …

…but if you do then you will judge the Five Simple Steps books in a positive way. With the nitty gritty details agreed we continued working on Mark’s book, Designing for the Web. As we reached April 2009 when the print version was released we included two postcards, one for Mark’s second book, Designing Grid Systems, and one for my own, Designing the Invisible. These postcards featured the covers, designed by Nick Boulton, and a synopsis of each book.

Soon, but not yet.

Since April lots has been going on behind the scenes regarding legalities and contracts but I won’t bore you with that or it will be a future blog post. The book was originally due to be released on December 1st but such masterpieces cannot be rushed so it has been pushed back for a short while. We have a tentative date and should be able to confirm this publicly in the coming weeks.

Stop talking and start writing.

I have been beavering away researching, writing, panicking, worrying, but above all, getting excited. I am in a position now where I can start to reveal the process and content of the book and this will be happening here on my blog, via the Designing the Invisible Twitter stream and on the Designing the Invisible website.

There will be more blog posts to follow documenting the whole process. We are hoping to show you a behind the scenes, warts and all account of self publishing.

It’s worth asking.

I had part of an idea and within weeks I was confirmed as an author. I urge you, even if it is just a small idea, to share it. You never know what it might grow into after a few creative discussions, brainstorms and some research. It is better to try and be told no, than always wonder what if (bit soppy there sorry). You can even contact Five Simple Steps with your idea.

For now though, thanks for coming along for the ride. It’s going to be bumpy but I’m strapped in.

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First photo taken by Felipe