Tips from the Trenches: Managing Social Works
About a month ago we announced Social Works: How #HigherEd Uses #SocialMedia to Raise Money, Build Awareness, Recruit Students and Get Results. As the individual managing the work it strikes me how different this project is from day-to-day operations. We are midway through this endeavor and I have no doubt we’ll have additional insights at its conclusion, but here’s my tips at this point in the journey.
Ask questions in the beginning. There’s a tendency to think of “write/publish/manage a book” as a task rather than a project, but this is truly a project and it needs to derive from a concrete strategy. The best strategy will come out of asking lots of questions and finding out what you need vs. what you want and ranking priorities.
You need a timeline from Day 1. Hashing out a detailed timeline from inception through release will force questions you didn’t even know existed. A timeline also helps the team face reality – can an author really turn around edits in a matter of days? Maybe. Looking at those days in context on the calendar, though, will highlight the stress points.
Pad your timeline by 20%. Actually, pad your timeline and your budget. More than most projects, internal creative projects are susceptible to the “wouldn’t it be cool if…” mentality. The answer is yes – it probably would be cool, but it’s going to cost you.
Hire the best copy editor you can
afford. At the end of the day, you may produce a book with high quality graphics and stunning cover art, but your content determines whether audiences follow you or dismiss you. There is nothing more important than making sure the words are grammatically correct, stylistic consistent, and thoughtfully sound.
Build with an eBook first philosophy. In 2012 the Association of American Publishers revealed that eBook sales far outpace hardcover sales and are close to overtaking paperback sales. The rising availability of affordable eReaders and the friendliness of the ePub format to those of all generations makes this a trend unlikely to slow. eBooks requires one to follow styles and standards distinct to the format; it will be far less painful to build an eBook first rather than retroactively fitting a print book to the format.
Design the book’s cover art with iBook sales in mind. If the majority of your readers are likely to purchase your work off their iBook app than the local store’s shelf then their browsing experience will differ significantly. The cover art on my iPhone is about the size of my thumb and the work on my iPad is only slightly larger. Keep this in mind when you’re selecting design details.