The Packt Publishing Book Writing Process

I have been meaning to write this blog post for quite a long time. Partly because people have been asking me what it’s like to write a book for and with Packt Publishing. It seems that I am becoming increasingly qualified to answer this question. I have written the following books for and with Packt Publishing until now:

  1. NumPy 1.5 Beginner’s Guide An action packed guide for the easy-to-use, high performance, free open source NumPy mathematical library using real-world examples.
  2. NumPy Cookbook A cookbook style intermediate level NumPy book.
  3. NumPy Beginner’s Guide 2nd ed. The second edition of NumPy Beginner’s guide. (New*)
  4. Instant Pygame for Python game development How-to A short tutorial about the Pygame Python open-source game development library. (New*)

These four books have been written in three different formats. The formats are different with respect to style (fonts, layout etcetera) and section headings. As you would imagine a beginner’s guide for instance would be written for beginners, so a special approach would be required. However, these formats have in common that authors are required to have readers engage with the content as soon as possible. A learn-by-doing approach if you like with not too much theory. Which is fine by me, because theoretical works tend to be boring to both read and write.

Another similarity is the general road map or sequence of phases within the book creation process. In essence these are the common steps that are mandatory for the book author:

  1. Outline. The Acquisition Editor and writer start by agreeing on and creating an outline of the book. The outline is just a rough table of contents, with number of pages and difficulty level per item. This is a preliminary step without any commitment from either side.
  2. First drafts. The actual work starts with writing the first drafts of all chapters. The Acquisition Editor might check a couple of those drafts to make sure you are following the style guide for the particular format of the book. Actually Packt Publishing formally splits this phase in two. So for instance for a ten chapters book, you will be required to deliver the first drafts of the first five chapters and later the last five chapter drafts.
  3. Final drafts. In the final drafts phase you get feedback from technical reviewers and editors. At this stage you may add content, remove content or change anything else as required.
  4. Final checks. In this phase more editors get involved. If you are a software developer then you could compare it with shipping the software or going live to production. This is a very critical step, but you are not supposed to make drastic changes as author. A proofreader will also go through the book to check for language errors and inconsistencies. Eventually the book gets a stamp of approval and is then uploaded to the printers and made available as an e-book.
  5. Marketing. To be honest this is the most boring part for me. But it is also where I get to write posts on my blog and ask for feedback from reviewers, give books away and more.

So that is the book writing process of Packt Publishing in a nutshell. I can give you more details, but you probably aren’t interested in that anyway. Now it’s time for me to do a bit of marketing. As you are hopefully able to read from the announcement bar at the top of the page, Packt Publishing and I are looking for reviewers for my two latest books. Reviewers get free copies of the book. It’s also fine if you leave a comment here instead of sending me an e-mail. I would greatly appreciate it too, if you link to the book websites of any of the books mentioned above from your blog, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or any other relevant website. Looking forward to your feedback.

Selected articles for April 21, 2013

By the author of NumPy Beginner's Guide, NumPy Cookbook and Instant Pygame. If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.
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