In this episode, Excel TV guest Excel MVP and author Oz Du Soleil joins Excel TV host Rick Grantham and cohosts Excel Author Szilvia Juhasz and Excel MVP and author Jordan Goldmeier in discussing what they have learned about writing Excel books.
How do you work through writers block?
Oz: It helped to get people involved. I paid some people because I have an idea and then I need help structuring the ideas. Ideas start to overlap. I’m an expert with the content, but I’m not an editor. I had to let go of making diagrams or how graphics looked. That is for the layout person.
How has your thinking evolved regarding writing books?
Jordan: The main difference is that I used to care more about the writing. I don’t try to make it perfect anymore. Rely on your editor. There’s always something to change. I have to control myself when I’m writing to not bring up things that I don’t need to cover.
Szilvia: What resonated with me was remembering what is important. I obsessed over the first few tips. It was an exercise in learning to trust that you have something valuable to say.
Oz: Let the editor decide what needs to be developed. Let the editor tell you where you are repeating things and where it would be best placed.
How was the writing process different in the second book versus the first book?
Jordan: When I first started, it took me forever to write and I cared too much. Now, I follow a rough outline and I can blow it out of the water. I put everything on paper and then I go back and edit out what is extraneous. I can go a lot quicker without the stress I first had.
Oz: The two books I have written have been very different. Guerrilla Data Analysis Using Microsoft Excel: 2nd Edition Covering Excel 2010/2013 has chapters that stand on their own, so I could tackle topics each day. But the new book, Full Contact Data Management: Excel Methods for Exposing, Handling and Preventing Bad Data, is more intertwined and focuses on the data cleansing part and not predictive analytics or dashboard making. Because things are so intertwined, it was a different writing experience.
How is working with the co-author process different?
Szilvia: Sometimes it felt like two independent authors writing. We each had our own things to obsess over and there were compromises and negotiations. So you want to have a co-author you get along with, like Bill Jelen. A great thing about having a co-author is it helps keep you on your toes like a coach.
Oz: My experience was different because I revised a book that someone else wrote, Bill Jelen, in 2002, so I wrote 98% of the second edition. Regarding revising a book, there is a format to follow already. I had to update examples that would be relevant now. And I wanted to bring in more examples on certain topics.
Jordan: It was a very easy process with Chandoo. I had chapters I wanted him to write for Dashboards for Excel. I used a table of contents and assigned chapters to him and asked him to follow that format.
Szilvia: We used a crowdfunding campaign for Mr. Excel XL: The 40 Greatest Excel Tips of All Time. So readers requested topics.