When I first started working in User Experience, my mentors explained to me that part of my responsibility as a designer was to pass on to others what I had learned. My team exemplified that ethic: they were running the IA Summit that year, most of them had given at least one presentation about the things they’d learned at work, and one was writing a book.
“Someday, that will be you,” they said. “You should write a book.”
I was shocked years later to find out that not all UX teams or leaders believed it was our responsibility to pass on what we’d learned. Still, I knew enough people who, like me, felt that passing on our knowledge was one of the responsibilities of a good designer, so I found myself writing a column on a design-related site, then launching my own design-related site with some friends, then giving talks about the things I’m passionate about. But finding time to write a book? Hah.
Now I’m in a situation where the time has been thrust upon me. I don’t particularly like public speaking, and I’d much rather not attend a mess of conferences in our not-quite-post-COVID 19 world. Writing a book seems like a reasonable choice. Still, I am not usually a person to take big risks.
You Should Write a Book by Katel LeDû and Lisa Maria Marquis is a critical book for people like me, who don’t want to move forward without some guideposts and who don’t want to bug their friends for hints or tips.
It does not go into depth about every single step. (There are lots of resources that will provide that for you, and they are dependent on the choices you make on how to write, polish, and publish your book.)
It does give you the map of the process, the understanding of why each of the process steps is there, what differentiates one choice for another, and a pretty deep appendix of next-step sources.
It is also intentionally written to encourage both non-marginalized and marginalized writers. The authors acknowledge in the beginning that they are “college-educated, able-bodied, cis white American women whose direct book-publishing expertise derives mostly from a single organization: A Book Apart. While we hope our perspective is useful, it is also bound to be limited in certain respects.” These authors essentially say that the process for publishing a book is the same for both marginalized and non-marginalized authors, except that that marginalized authors have to do it on hard mode.
This book will not tell you how to choose whether to self-publish or not. It will tell you about self-publishing and what the differences between it and traditional publishing are. It won’t tell you where to find editing or marketing services. It will tell you what they are and why you want them. It won’t tell you what to write about. It won’t tell you what anything costs — those numbers go out of date too quickly anyway. It will gently laugh at you if you think that you can retire on the money from one book.
Because the authors are deeply and intimately familiar with the publishing house A Book Apart, where they both work, they are able to not only give you insights into ABA’s publishing methods but also give you insights from ABA’s authors, who they’ve spoken to about the publishing experience.
In short, all models of the publishing industry are wrong, and this one is useful.