As a published technical writer, I’ve had my share of experiences working with a publisher and its editors for a period of seven months. For my own sanity, I’ll post some of my experiences in this series of blogposts on Experiences with Being Published. I feel these stories can be quite entertaining, and I might even get a smile on my face when I look back at these stores in a couple of years’ time…
Let’s talk about the tool I had to use and you, when you work together with a publisher, might need to use, too.
My publisher uses a WordPress-based, web-based solution, called TypeCloud. My deadlines required me to provide my content in this tool. From the start, I worried about my productivity, but I was in for a bigger surprise.
At the start of the project, I thought I had ample time to meet my deadlines, as I was scheduled to spend roughly 35 hours on planes in a couple of weeks, However, an online platform to work with means you can’t access it, when you don’t have an Internet connection… Resolving comments, impossible.
As this tool is WordPress-based, it uses WordPress’ one page lay-out with the classic editor. When writing chapters of 50 pages, this lay-out is extremely tiresome. When comparing this experience with Microsoft Word, where I would have five pages open side by side on a 38-inch widescreen monitor, it made no sense at all.
So, I decided to write my chapters offline in Microsoft Word and copy the contents over to TypeCloud, when done.
Not so fast…
The first thing I figured out was, that TypeCloud doesn’t really like Edge, Internet Explorer, Chrome or FireFox. Google’s Chrome seemed the only browser that kinda worked… However, even when using Chrome, though, when copying over text from Word to TypeCloud, lay-out got lost and heading levels 1 and 2 got converted to paragraphs. Several formatting options were only available in TypeCloud and needed to be adjusted manually. Screenshots needed to be uploaded manually and then linked to from TypeCloud. Also, I would better not mess with tables, because the browser would just freeze up.
Each chapter, next to creating the content, I struggled with TypeCloud for another six hours to get the content into the tool my publisher uses.
If it worked at all…
If it worked, I could meet my deadlines with a lot of frustration. But of course… there were outages and periods of time where the tool didn’t work 100%. I couldn’t meet one of my deadlines, because TypeCloud was down one weekend. Another weekend, I had trouble uploading screenshots, leading to remarks from the editor complaining about the lack of screenshots…
We’re all struggling
The publisher’s aim is to have one system where every letter for every book is stored with absolute integrity. That’s why their employees have to work with it, too. Some of them have even created enhancements to get sufficiently productive to meet their deadlines.
As there was no mention of TypeCloud in the contract, prospective writers should ask about tooling to use, before signing. It could just prevent wrecking fourteen Sunday nights.
Picture by Kunkelstein, used under CC BY-NC 2.0 license. Adjusted in size.
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