I Am Joe’s Blog:

October 26, 2005 • 6:54 PM

The Four-Editor Milestone

At a party a few days ago, someone asked me what I do for a living. When I told him that I get the bulk of my income from freelance writing, he asked whether I found it nerve-wracking to wonder if or when the next writing assignment would come in. I said that was the least of my worries—I have far more writing jobs than I have time for, and that’s been true for nearly a year now. Most writers, consultants, and other freelancers are happiest when jobs line up sequentially, with as few gaps as possible. For the past many months, I’ve had the dubious fortune of having as many as half a dozen jobs stacked up at the same time. This is my very least favorite work state, because I don’t believe in multitasking. But that’s another story.

I’ve been making my way through this long list, which included four different new or updated ebooks in the 140-plus page range, some smaller updates, and a bunch of longish Macworld articles. Today, I reached an interesting milestone. Counting the article I sent in today, I now have the first drafts of four different manuscripts sitting on four different editors’ desks—three different Take Control editors and a Macworld editor. (If they’re all really slow, I might get as high as six manuscripts out to five editors, but I’m not counting on that.)

All of these, of course, will come back to me marked up with all sorts of edits and queries, and will have to be rewritten to some extent. (Generally, there are two or more iterations of that process, and then the manuscripts go on to technical reviewers and copy editors.) But rewrites of this sort are, for me, a far easier and quicker task than the initial draft.

I’m not saying I’ve been an especially fast writer, or that my editors have been especially slow. This is just the way things happened to pan out right now. Still, I’m feeling pretty good about the fact that my current list is down to just a couple of not-so-huge projects, and then, after the rewrites, I have at least a slight shot at returning to my ideal situation of working on just one project at a time.

For those of you keeping track, the manuscripts that are now well on their way to ebookhood (ebookdom?) are Take Control of .Mac, Take Control of Apple Mail in Tiger, and a fairly significant update to Take Control of Mac OS X Backups. Next on my list: a minor update to Take Control of Spam with Apple Mail, mainly to address some changes in Tiger. Later (as in, early next year), there’ll be a larger rewrite of that ebook to cover spam management in all Mac OS X email clients. Last but not least, look for a minor update to Take Control of Now Up-to-Date & Contact around the time Now Software ships version 5.1.