Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Why Technical Publishing Shouldn't Be Art..

Writing is a solitary occupation. Publication is a group exercise,” so stated novelist Madeline Robbins in her February 25, 2008 blog entry on the DeepGenre web site. And she’s correct. The work may start with the author, but to get it from the author to the end reader means it also has to go through an editor, copy editor, book designer, typesetter, printer, sales and marketing team, distributor, book buyer, and, eventually, a retail store.

It’s a model that the book market developed centuries ago and still works today. Although it could be argued that the Web and print-on-demand are altering the delivery mechanisms slightly, the same basic process still applies. The book trade is based on the fact that the artistic elements, the creation of the content, and the design of the book are small parts of the overall process, and that the publishing process is a business that only flourishes through being scalable and repeatable.

Yet the more I write books and the more I become involved in the book business the more I am struck by the differences between it and what has been my “day job” for over twenty years, technical publications.

Over the years, I’ve been trained and worked as a writer, editor, document designer, coder, formatting expert, content management specialist, and workflow designer. I’ve used software tools that applied to every one of those disciplines. And here’s the point: often at the same time.

Click here to read my full article on "Why Technical Publishing Shouldn't Be Art" at Techcom Manager

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