Interview with John Hunter on self-publishing

What inspired your book?

A combination of several things inspired me write this book. The success of my blog, Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog was a big factor; by providing me evidence that people were interested in what I had do say. The blog also allowed me to gain confidence in my writing. Another inspiration was my father's book, Statistics for Experimenters, and the success that book had over several decades.

Another factor was my desire to solidify a complete systems view of management for myself. One of the challenges I have in writing my blog, and talking to people about management, is that I see the question of what should be done now (in managing and organization) is dependent on the state of many interdependent components of the organization. This systems view of management seems ideally suited to a book (versus the blog that I have been writing).

The opportunity was provided by my move to Malaysia for what is probably best compared to a sabbatical (while not a completely accurate description it is the best simple comparison). One thing I wanted to try during the sabbatical was to write a book, which I have now done.

What was the hardest part about completing your book?

The rewriting, to clarify and expand upon the initial draft, as well as finishing up the sections of content I left blank initially took far longer than I estimated. Getting most the content in place actually went much quicker than I expected, but finishing things up took much longer.

Did you learn any lessons in the book creation process, if so what where they?

It isn't that difficult. Just put your mind to it and put in the work and you get a book at the end. Just realize the amount of work could be much more than you anticipate. Having written several blogs for nearly 8 years helped a great deal with being comfortable writing.

Did you enlist support in getting your book done? If so, what kind of support?

I hired someone to create graphics and another person to edit the book. I also ran some ideas by a few friends.

If you self-published, what made you self-publish?

I published through leanpub, which is a great option for me. Continual improvement is a big part of what I write about in the book. I think that continual improvement makes as much sense for books (though less for novels than non-fiction) as it does for organizations.

I don't have any intention of setting my book in stone. I'll continually update it as I find ways to make it better. I don't know of traditional publishers that understand this idea yet.

I also work in the software development field. A few decades ago publishing software was similar to how publishers view publishing now � lock something in stone and publish the software. In the last few years continuous deployment has become a common practice for good software development. I think publishing will eventually come to the same continuous publishing idea with books, but the reluctance to improve will delay that process outside of a few innovative publishers (such as Leanpub). If updates are made to the book (as with much software now) the next time the person reads the book any updates since the last use are available to the reader.

I am a first time book author and I would not expect traditional publishers to be fighting over my book, even if I wanted to go that route. But, even if they were, I know many very successful business book authors and all of them had all sorts of trouble with traditional publishers being very controlling, rigid and slow. I had no interest in going through that process. I have the ability to do what I want, when I want with my web sites. I had no interest in putting myself through some traditional publisher process.

Leanpub also pays royalties of 90% of revenue less 50 cents per ebook. This is an exceptionally high payout. They also have a very good process for continually updating the book to all readers that have purchased it (the book is available in mobi (kindle), epub (iPad, etc) and pdf formats.

Are you writing or planning to write an additional book(s)?

Yes. When I decided to write a book my initial thoughts were actually to start with a more focused books (on specific management tools or practices) that I could hopefully complete fairly quickly and potentially market well (as targeted solutions to provide immediate, visible improvement).

But in thinking about those potential books I kept finding myself wanting to place that practice within the proper context � determining when to use it, how to do so (depending on other factors) etc.. So I decided I would first write an overall management system book that then I could refer to in any book on a specific application or practice.

I am very happy with how this book has come together. I plan on writing those shorter books focused on specific practices next.

How can people find out more about your book?

My website for Management Matters provides information on the book including a sample with over 50 pages from the book and interviews and podcasts discussing the ideas found in the book.

My personal web site provides more details on my background.

The web site that posted this deleted their interview series :-( so I have reposted it here.


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