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Oct
16

How to Become Rich and Famous as a Technical Book Author

Well, you may not become rich and famous in the conventional sense. You may not make it into the best seller list or your favorite book club but you can impress your friends, relatives, and associates and increase the marketability of your skills. More important is the sense of accomplishment in adding your expertise to the common body of knowledge. Here is the chance to share what you have learned and insure it is not lost.

I didn’t start out as a particularly a good writer and I am still learning. You are not trying to win any literary awards. You would be taking way the job of the ISA copy editor if you were to write perfect sentences. Like anything, writing becomes much easier with practice. A side benefit is it seems to have made me more articulate in public speaking.

I listen to music while writing but I have to admit I prefer peace and quiet when I first get started on a new subject. Once I get a flow going then I can rock. The inspiration and feeling I get from my favorite artists has helped make the writing process more fun and creative. The following is a summary of what has worked for me.

• Think that you are trying to say what is most important to a good friend

• Just get started and get a stream of ideas out

• Do figures last so it doesn’t interfere with the flow

• Start each paragraph with introductory sentence

• Keep sentences short

• Explain each point in detail

• Define nomenclature and engineering units for equations

• Give assumptions and offer examples

• Don’t obsess about wording – this is the ISA copy editors job

• Get associates in your field and related field to proof read everything

• Double check equations and figures

I am a terrible proof reader of my own stuff, because I read what I want to say and not what I actually have in print. Before you send a rough draft to ISA, it is wise to get several of your associates to proof read the text, equations, and figures. All technical comments are useful because even the ones that are off-base reflect a misunderstanding that should be addressed. Note that ISA for the last 3 years requires that you submit drafts of chapters as they are completed for technical review. This process should start about a year before the next ISA Expo. A schedule showing the planned submission date of each chapter is submitted with the outline and brief description of the book’s uniqueness and audience in the proposal. Below is an example of a proposal for my most recent book. The schedule shown was too tight.

Book Proposal Example

I have found it useful to put key concepts (insights) in italics for emphasis and easy reference. So often we get lost in the details and lose track of the underlying principles and governing generalities that are so important for dealing with new situations.

The following presentation at ISA Expo 2006 in Houston in the “Automation Connection Series” on Oct 18 offers a Smorgasbord of books, advantages of being an author, and the steps. Contact me if you want to get started on the road to fame and fortune.

ISA Expo 2006 Presentation