Thursday, April 22, 2010

On the production phase of the EPIA book

I have co-edited some "collection of articles" books that are common in the research community, there is certainly some logistics associated with it, but relative to producing a "mass market" book it is a children's game comparing with the production of the EPIA book that I have been writing together with Peter Niblett. The publisher of our EPIA - Manning, has various ways to ensure quality. Manning is a publisher focusing on computing related book, thus it views book development as a software development project (and indeed many of its books are code-driven). While the book was initiated by Manning and not by us, they have sent the outline we sent to bunch of reviewers, all of them people with deep knowledge in event processing. Some of the advices we got were very useful. Since we wrote in the outline that we are going to base the book around a single example, the advice of one of the reviewers was that we'll use an example that everybody can understand, the reviewer added that if we would chose an example from the financial services domain (as many of the EP papers are doing), we might create a communication obstacle with some of the readers, who will not be familiar with the terms. We followed this advise and created the "Fast Flower Delivery" (FFD) that already received multiple implementations in many languages. For each 1/3 of the book, we had a milestone in which they sent the book to a bunch of reviewers (in one of them there was a response from 14 reviewers). The reviewers were mix - some people who have deep knowledge in event processing, and some who don't know what it is, both types of reviewers sent various types of comments, some of them resulted in restructuring of the book (originally we planned 15 chapters and 3 appendices, we ended up with 12 chapters and 2 appendices, but with around 100 pages more than we originally planned)- This was just the development process, and it last for 15 months. A few weeks ago we have started the production phase -- it has a workflow (supported by electronic content management system): Another technical review by a "technical proofreader" - here we looked at PhD student in this area, and thus addressed faculty members active in this area; the person who did this job is Samujjwal Bhandari, a PhD student in Texas tech university, he has read all chapters, made comments and caught various cases of inconsistencies among the different chapters, then it moves to the copy editor who makes editorial modifications, and returned to us with many comments and questions that we had to answer, after doing this round, each chapter is going to the proofreader, who is doing another editorial pass, and then comes back to us with questions and comments, so we are doing another pass on all chapters. After that it goes to the typesetting. In the background there is a graphical work to redo our amateurish figures in a professional way, and then hopefully the book will be ready. Currently we passed the phases of the copy-editing, and now working with the proofreader. There are a lot of editorial rules, and style issues that have to be dealt with (Peter is much better than me in noticing the small details), and in fact -- amount of work is much higher than I anticipated, it consumes much of my free time for over a year now, as we both are doing it in addition to our daily work -- but I hope the result will justify the investment. More about the book - later.

No comments: