The true case: self-publishing a book as a network
27 april 2012
Last Monday we, a group called LOSmakers, launched a book with 11 cases and cross-analysis on learning and organizing using social media. The real story that needs to be told: how we wrote, edited, designed and published a book with a group of 15 people, not binded by any contract, but for the willingness to commit time, energy and a only a little bit of money to get the job done.
This is the story of how a group of loosely connected people starts to grow into a brand.
How the group met
Four of us already worked together for a number of years, training people to use social media. We’re self-employed, forming teams for clients on a project basis. The four of us also know many others like us, working with social media, helping clients to get up to speed with social tools. Talking to eachother we noticed that we all dealt with similar issues to find solutions for and answer questions by clients. We also knew how pleasantly we worked together as a small network and at some point of time we, I guess it was Joitske in particular, expressed the wish to add another layer to our collaboration, with a peer network to share experiences around social media and learning.
We sent an invitation to people in our networks who might be interested in joining us and thus, in spring 2010, we met for the first time as a group.
First steps in sharing
Since that first meeting we started sharing. Sometimes in face-to-face meetings, exploring specific topics, more often in virtual settings where one or two of us would present something during a webinar. We showcased our projects during those webinars, discussed together and at the same time explored different tools to play with during these online meetings.
When the group becomes LOSmakers
One year after the groups’ first steps we felt the need to get a little bit more serious. We wanted to create something for a wider audience, so we could present ourselves as a group. In a meeting was decided to start working on a ‘book with ideas’ and that we needed a name for the group.
In June 2011 we did an online brainstorm for a name and opened a wiki for collecting cases to end up in our ‘book’. By the end of the month we branded ourselves LOSmakers and by the end of July we had a list of 11 cases to write about.
Working to a deadline
People who suggested a case were responsible for writing that specific case and a group of four took the overall responsibility for the process, in other words: kept the group reminding to deliver to the next deadline.
Our first deadline: all cases should be written by October 6th (2011), which obviously wasn’t met by all of us Nevertheless, several cases had been finished as a draft and we started working towards polished versions from that point on.
The PDF grew into a book…
At first we had the idea of putting together a decent PDF and publish this for all to download for free. During that particular meeting in October this somehow evolved (I wasn’t present at that meeting) into printing a proper book, with the use of an editor and book designer.
For a text document to grow into a book you get into the messy process of editing and rewriting, re-reading and re-editing. I’ve lost count how many versions of my own case I’ve written and how many versions of the document I scanned for typo’s. And that times 15, the number of people involved creating the book.
We found ourselves a brilliant designer who voluntarily created a template for our book. He found us a printing house as well and between the 15 of us we could order enough copies of the book for a reasonable price. The hard copies would serve as our own marketing material, the PDF would be distributed in exchange for a tweet.
Idea to book conversion: 10 months
So then we’re back to where I started: last Monday we had the experience of taking our first glance, as co-authors, at the printed version of the book we wrote together and launched the website for people to download the book.
From idea to product in 10 months.
Ingredients: clients, writing experience, perspiration, co-working spaces, skype, pbworks (wiki), google docs, googlegroups (aka email), datumprikker (pick a date), dropbox, Erik Vos…
…and of course the combined hours spent by the LOSmakers.
A special thanks to Hannelore, Sibrenne, Joitske and Simon for pushing the group forward, one step at a time. Without you, it would never have become a product to be proud of
P.S.: you can download the PDF in exchange for a tweet or message on Facebook. Remember though: it is in Dutch. If you’re interested in a hard copy, drop me a line in whatever channel you prefer.
P.P.S: Monday we also expressed a wish to translate the book into English. Are you interested in reading it? Or are you willing to lend a hand translating to document? Drop me a line as well!