Content Strategy 101: An experiment in book collaboration

Sarah O'Keefe / News3 Comments

I have started work on a content strategy book. The working title is Content Strategy 101: Transform Technical Content into a Business Asset, and I need your help.The book, in an early draft, is available at contentstrategy101.com. You can read through it and leave us your comments. Will this book be useful to you? What’s missing that will make it (more) useful? What appalling typos did you find?

I hope to have the first edition available in September 2012 in print, Kindle, and EPUB formats. For now, the web version is free.

I have no idea whether this new site will result in a trickle of comments or a flood, but I’m excited about trying out a collaborative approach to developmental editing.

Here’s the opening salvo:

The ugly ducklingIt used to be so simple. A technical writer would meet with an engineer, gather information, write it up—in longhand—on a legal pad, and then send the information off to the typing pool. After some revisions, the typed manuscript and perhaps hand-drawn graphics would be delivered to the printer and, eventually, a book appeared. Over time, the legal pads were replaced with typewriters; then, the typewriters were replaced with computers. In addition to producing text, technical writers accepted page layout and pre-press production responsibilities.

Today, technical writers are more often technical communicators: they produce text, images, photographs, charts, live video, screencasts, webcasts, comic books, simulations, and more. And technical communicators face a bewildering array of options: XML, help authoring tools, wikis, customer-generated content, desktop publishing tools, conversion tools, and so on. Instead of creating content in isolation, technical writers coexist with training, contradict technical support, and compete with user-generated content.

I am looking forward to your feedback at contentstrategy101.com.

About the Author

Sarah O'Keefe

Twitter

Content strategy consultant and founder of Scriptorium Publishing. Bilingual English-German, voracious reader, water sports, knitting, and college basketball (go Blue Devils!). Aversions to raw tomatoes, eggplant, and checked baggage.

3 Comments on “Content Strategy 101: An experiment in book collaboration”

  1. Hi Sarah,

    I’m definitely looking forward to reading the contents 🙂 I realyy like this “collaborative approach to developmental editing”! Reminds me a little bit of how Stewart Maders book “Wikipatterns” came into being.

  2. A *great* idea that (IMHO) represents the future of techcomm. I have produced two books similarly, via “crowdsourcing” (from a wiki), and have found the experiences very interesting.

    I’m curious as to how you’ll incorporate folks’ comments into the final manuscript… On http://www.contentstrategy101.com/about/privacy/ you state that “By submitting a comment, you agree that the comment content is your own…” Does this imply that if you use my comment, I’ll receive some sort of mention or credit?

    1. Hi Rick,
      I do not intend to incorporate comments verbatim, but the information coming back will obviously affect the direction of the book (otherwise, what would be the point??). Most comments tend to provide fodder for additional content (“don’t forget this,” “have you consider that?”). The line *after* the one you quote from the privacy policy actually says explicitly that we are allowed to use the comments with or without attribution.

      Currently, I am maintaining a list of commenters in the acknowledgments (not yet available on the web site). I was a bit vague in the original privacy statement as I hadn’t yet figured out an initial plan. The “without attribution” is mostly to allow for the possibility that I inadvertently leave someone out in the credits list.

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