The Twitter Book is finished!
In case you wondered why I was so quit and not very responsive over the last weeks, here you have the reason:
My publisher is putting on the final touches and I am waiting for the last chapter to proofread – but Monday should be the start of the printing. It is called “Twitter – Mit 140 Zeichen zum Web 2.0” which roughly translate to “get up to speed with Web 2.0 in 140 characters”. Although the book is in German, over 40 million Germans online should be enough of a market. :) And who knows, maybe with the continuing success of microblogging the US partners of my publisher will rethink their decision and publish it in English as well. ;)
The book will be released mid Dec 2008 and makes a nice christmas present *hinhint* And yes, I tweaked the cover above slightly – they made me look really mean in the cropped image, so at least for here I give you a slightly better looking one.
Asking for your input
I already receive a lot of questions from users and the press, about best practice stories, tips and tricks and Howtos (due to which we are already looking into the 2nd edition). In case you yourself or somebody you know has a good use case / story around Twitter (or in a broader sense Microblogging), I’ll be looking for input from the following areas:
- for interview partners who want to share their experiences
- general business cases / best practice from different industries
- usage of these tools insides the firewall (SMB or enterprise)
- tools and services around Twitter and Co.
- links to articles and tutorials you wrote to link to them
- or just a quick note about what you wished somebody had explained to you when you started. It may sound trivial but you would be surprised what people have questions about.
If you have an idea or a suggestion, especially with a focus on business and enterprise / corporate microblogging, feel free to ping me under “suggestions /at/ mit140zeichen.de” or @nicolesimon. These cases can be in other languages, but unless it is German, I would need the communication to be in English. ;)
Out of experience from the last weeks I’d like to add a warning: Just because you think your contribution is the best thing since sliced bread, but you might want to look at it from a more objective perspective. And blatant advertising will never fly.
I talked to some other authors and we all agreed that writing a book is like being pregnant. You start to understand pregnant women who say “I just want it out. Pop. Now. Please?!” At the same time, you start getting a feeling of ‘the whole’, you see how the structure manifest itself in your head as logical and even beautiful (I assume that is the part like with women finding their own baby to be beautiful no matter what, thank you nature). But I am truly proud of the result: on roughly 230 pages we explain what makes Twitter so special, how to use Twitter, what pitfalls to avoid and give an overview of some good stuff in the twitterverse. It is something both for beginners as well as more experienced users, and we made an effort to contain the biz buzz talk and marketing speak in one single chapter. And yes, the most often asked question was “will it be in 140 pages” followed by “how can anybody write a book about 140 characters?!”
Are there areas where I am grumpy with the editor for cutting or where I wished we would have explained it better, put more effort into it, started earlier etc? Of course. But my co-author and I already talked about how we are proud of what we (with a lot of help from others) produced. And want it in our hands. Now. The rest goes on the already long list for “baby 2.0”.
One does learn a lot when writing a book, good and bad, about yourself and others. For example that it is really a good idea to have friends with certain talents, like proofreading and editing. A mentor and sparring partner for ideas. Or just somebody willing to spend time to have a look at it. Or somebody who can cheer you up. Also more practical stuff like make photos for the cover at the beginning of the project and not the end (when you look like a zombie). You will underestimate the time needed and overestimate your capabilities. The list goes on.
I am sure, every author can write a book about writing a book after his or her experience. But I also think that everybody has their own challenges – you need to go through it once to understand yours and then start your own list of “lessons learned, don’t do that again” aka “improvements for the next time”. As streamlining of processes is one of my strong areas I was probably better off and the fact that I know how to work smart with tools like Word, Latex and Batch files helped me tremendously.
And I know Twitter and the tools around it very well. As such, the structure of the book was easy, I ‘only’ had to cope with writing it. Originally I was approached to write the book alone, but it became clear to me after a while that it would be impossible, at least for the time frame intended. I was glad I could fall back on one of my best friends and make him my co-author. As we have been best friend for over a decade, he and I know each other pretty well in regard to our strengths and weaknesses (yes, we are still friends *g*).
Help from the outside
Let’s start with the people who did not help much: I have to admit I was very surprised at how little (make that close to none) responses we got from the company behind Twitter, even simple requests for basic information where not answered. They must be flooded with requests, but you would think that a company – which btw is still looking for a business model – would have an interest in books being published about their service and at least answer valid requests going to their press department. After all, the publisher is an established real life publisher and not some print on demand service.
Luckily there were people who did help. First and formost of course my co-author Nikolaus Bernhardt. He claims the only reason I got him involved was so that he finally joined Twitter but that of course is not true *cough*. It helped tremendously to have the content judged by a Twitter newbie and while the structure and most of the content per se was done by me, it is only one part of a bigger equation. I could not have done it without him and he is a true co-author.
As it became clear that in order to make it in time for a christmas launch we would need some more help, I asked fellow Social Media Enthusiast Bastian Scherbeck to help out with the business chapter which he wrote alone (with the exception of the parts about internal microblogging and the guidelines for event twittering). Big thanks to him as well.
Of course there are more people involved. From a very dear and close friend who helped tremendously with editing and proofreading, my editor and the publisher, twitterers contributing their stories down to everybody by just asking questions like “what do I need to do if I want to use hashtags, do I have to register them somewhere first”. All of that helped a lot.
Although the writing of the book is over, the work does not end. First of all we will need to put all the information on the blog as we said in the book, following up on the questions and requests as well as getting back on track with the normal life and projects which had to take a bit of a backseat (note to self: don’t do that again).
The two things which became (again) very clear to me when writing and collecting the stories and twitter sound bites was how much I like helping people understand how to use something like Twitter as well as how much I enjoy working with corporations and SMB. I have not decided yet on how I will persue these ideas in 2009, but I will be dedicating more time and focus on the topic of microblogging in general but also into how organizations and SMB/enterprise can use this internally and externally. Especially inside companies I see a lot of application and while you may call me crazy for dreaming of tweeting Abaps – if you ever have been working in a corporate environment and where depending on somebody else finishing their job after such an Abap, you know why this is a very good idea.
Being based in Germany I will of course have a strong focus (but am not limited) on Europe and I am already working on some workshop ideas for online and offline. But first I am going to recover a bit, and head for the next project, the preconference podcast for Leweb. Stay tuned! ;)
ps: once the text is ready, I will also link to the English announcement of the international Microblogging Conference in Hamburg, Jan 2009.