Writing a Book – A Labor of Love
Any tech types who’ve written tech books can attest to the fact that it’s a LOT of work. And this one was no different. Skype for Business is a very dynamic product, with features being added and updated on a continuing basis. Fortunately, I had the chance to work with some great tech luminaries – people far smarter than me, for Skype for Business Unleashed. That includes Phil Sharp, Rui Maximo, and Alex Lewis. But don’t let the fact that there are four names on the cover fool you. Plenty of others work behind the scenes, including contributing authors, editors, and publisher staff. I can’t possibly name them all, but I would like to point out a few. Stale Hansen stepped up and wrote a killer chapter on the VDI components of Skype for Business, while John Cook handled, what else, the Mac client chapter. Tom Morgan, one of Modality Systems’ ace developers, wrote on Developing Skype for Business Solutions. Former colleagues Tom Arbuthnot and Iain Smith also contributed. Even ‘The Hoff’ himself, Ken Lasko, added some great info. And to keep us all true to the product, Tim Harrington served as the tech editor. Jamie Stark, a beloved Program Manager in the Skype product group at Microsoft, wrote a killer forward.
During the project, several events occurred that seemed to derail the project. The publisher, Pearson, eliminated 4000 staff in a corporate downsizing. This was also around the time that Microsoft Press also underwent a significant restructuring. The project was in doubt for a while, but Pearson came back, committed to getting the book on to the shelves. Our normal full time gigs, family lives, and other interests also came into play. And unfortunately, someone involved in the book suffered a tragic loss. All of these caused the project timeline to slip. And during this time, the product group kept working on the product. Each time a Cumulative Update was released, we would have to review what had already been written to verify it still was valid, including details, screen shots, PowerShell commands, and more.
So why write this book? We certainly aren’t getting rich doing it. In fact, we’d all likely agree that you can’t survive on writing books at this pace. And time spent away from family and friends, and other interests can be tough. But seeing it on the shelf is rewarding on so many levels. It’s great to add the publication to your resume, LinkedIn profile, and more. Name recognition is always nice. But more importantly, getting the knowledge and experience into a format that can be beneficial to others is extremely personally rewarding to me. Is every little tidbit in there? Of course not. The book is 1100 pages. Decisions were made on how much space we could to allocate to each topic. Some chapters could be exponentially larger. But we tried to touch on the important stuff. Enough to get an environment properly designed, build, configured, and administered. And I think we did pretty well in that regard. And of course, as soon as we turned in the final edits, new features were released by the product group.
Books don’t sell unless people know about them. So we don our marketing hats and get on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and other online resources and let the world know it’s out there. Modality Systems was generous enough to put together a book signing event at Microsoft Ignite, and gave away some signed copies, as well. Twitter followers even started sending in pictures of where the book had been sighted, including the Microsoft Conference Store, MIT, and more. A signed copy even made its way to Gurdeep Pall‘s desk. Gurdeep is the Corporate Vice President of the Skype business unit at Microsoft, and he tweeted a selfie of himself holding the book. As I write this article, the book is the highest ranked Skype for Business book on Amazon. And that’s no easy task, as the other books were also written by some other top notch nerds like us.
I again want to thank everyone involved. It would not have been possible without them. I’d also like to thank the entire Product Group, as well as the Skype for Business MVPs. Both of these groups were instrumental in answering questions that popped up throughout this process.
I hope you enjoy the book, and welcome any comments or concerns.