Even in this age of digital media and ubiquitous online content, books still possess a certain aura of magic. We have a tendency to view books only as the finished product, the perfectly polished manuscripts that came flowing out from the author’s mind in just a few sittings.
Obviously, that’s just not how most books are written. To finish a book – no matter the topic or length – requires a level of rigor, discipline, and perseverance that is difficult to sustain. And almost all books are collaborative products, the combined efforts of writers, editors, and researchers.
At Evolved Media, we’re in the business of being the catalytic engine of this collaborative process so that those in the tech world can transform their ideas for books into reality. A prime example of how we achieve this is our work with SAP HANA’s Jeff Word and the ongoing publication of his book SAP HANA Essentials.
Word is a prodigious writer, as well as the host of the HANA Effect podcast—arguably the best source for learning about what’s new in the world of SAP HANA. He’s also someone who refuses to abide by the status quo. So when he set out to write a book about SAP HANA, instead of wading through the slow churn of the normal publishing process, he co-founded a publishing company to get the book to market as fast as possible. And for the ongoing updates to that book, he chose to partner with us.
Step 1: Relationship Building
Our work with Word is emblematic of Evolved Media’s approach to book publishing as a whole – the foundation is establishing a strong relationship with our partners to foster a bond of trust and mutual exchange of ideas. Word originally came to us because of our deep experience working with SAP – Dan Woods first worked with Word on SAP NetWeaver for Dummies and since that time, Evolved Media has written a total of 9 books for SAP.
This long-standing relationship with SAP means that we not only have a high level of trust, we also have the content expertise to understand the goals Word is trying to achieve in SAP HANA Essentials.
Step 2: Distilling the Gigantic Library of Research
Word was intent on getting SAP HANA Essentials out quickly, so in addition to creating his own publishing house, he decided to release chapters as they were written. This type of innovation is possible with ebooks, where you’re literally not bound by the paper page.
But in order to further expedite the process, he relied on Evolved Media to synthesize SAP’s extensive research base into book-ready content. We did this through six stages: interviews, research, outline, deeper interviews, writing, review, and revision.
For the interviews, we either spoke with Word or one or more experts at SAP. We then used that interview to guide our examination of the copious amount of research Word would send to us, research that we’d augment with additional resources we tracked down on our own as needed. We would then create a chapter outline, which Word and the SME would review. We’d interview the SME and then write the chapter and send it to Word and the SME to edit. We’d revise it to final, and get the chapter (and the rest of the book) ready for its update.
That makes this process sound much simpler than it actually is. With a book about SAP HANA, as with most Evolved Media projects, the amount of research we set out to integrate is substantial, often running to hundreds of pages per chapter. That’s where our ability to boil things down comes in handy, as well as our mutual understanding that this book wasn’t meant to be exhaustive, but simply to point readers to the best resources for learning about SAP HANA in more depth.
Step 3: Ongoing Updates
Another benefit of ebooks is that you don’t have to wait for another print run to update them. Word wanted this book to be a living document, one that reflected the evolution of SAP HANA. Therefore, our work with him doesn’t end once we write a chapter or two. We continue to partner on updates for the book.
We follow a similar process for Support Package Stack (SPS) updates, but the main difference is that SAP’s changes to the HANA platform mean that the update has ripple effects across the breadth of the existing book. It takes some editing on our part to help those new features flow in naturally and update the pointers to additional resources that make this book effective.
So I hope I’ve pulled back the veil on the ebook publishing process. It’s less magic and more hard work, but hard work that is predicated on a partnership of expertise and trust that guides our client relationships at Evolved Media.
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