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While writing this course it occurred to me that some of these lessons might seem kind of theoretical. So I thought back to my own freelance career looking for ways that I actually used these techniques and remembering how I developed them. In the end I realized that they're evident in every project so I just picked one. A book I wrote about the web development software Drupal. What you'll notice is that every step along the way required preparation I might have done years before, but it all paid off in the end.
I got that job, because I knew I wanted to write a book about the upcoming release of Drupal's latest version. But I didn't know what publisher would be right. So I talked to a literary agent who specialized in technical books. Now I had met him years before through an email discussion group for computer book authors and publishers and in fact we had already worked on another project. He sent me up with a publisher Peachpit Press, and helped me negotiate the contact. As it happened I already knew my editor at Peachpit, because we had worked together at the same magazine publisher ten years earlier.
We set up a schedule to deliver, review, and revise the dozen chapters and other elements that comprised the book. We had regular meetings over the next few months until finally the first draft was nearly done. Then tragedy struck. We realized that the software had changed substantially while I was writing the book and that a lot of it would simply have to be reworked. We reset the schedule and got it done. Then there were rounds of technical editing, lay out, galley checking, and the like.
But to make a long story short, we released the book on time just before the new software version came out. I made a website to support it and worked with the publisher to promote in other ways. So, what can we get from the story? First, I wouldn't have found a publisher so easily if I hadn't already developed a relationship with my agent and I wouldn't have met him if I hadn't started actively taking part in this online community of computer book authors. When we started working on the book, my editor and I broke down the daunting task of producing a 264-page book into manageable chunks.
Then I just plowed ahead and wrote the thing. When we needed to change our course, it was okay, because we'd planned for that contingency and we'd stayed in close contact the whole time. But the job wasn't over when the book was done. By creating a supporting site with affiliate links I both gave myself passive income and showed the publisher that they got more than just a writer when they signed me on the project. This job is just one demonstration of how diverse skills can add up to a successful freelance project.
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