For the bulk of 2009, I researched IT industry best practices to write a former company's System Development Life Cycle (SDLC). As a fairly young IT organization, the company does not have many documented standard procedures. I only know of two, their computer use policy and the change control procedures. There were no standards for system development. I delivered the SDLC to the organization on Nov. 24th. It is the result of 8 months of research, presentations and vetting with approximately 50 people. The result is what the company considers a best of breed SDLC model that complements the IT governance process. Two weeks and a day after delivering the document, I was laid off.
Before leaving the organization, I discussed the possibility with my CIO of capitalizing on the research I had done and turning it into a book for the masses. He thinks the idea is great. Personally, I've never seen anything like what I am proposing anywhere in the marketplace. What I've done is unique. He encouraged me to reach out and contact a very well-known and significant publisher who shall remain nameless at this point. He published a book with them and couldn't speak more highly of their editorial staff.
On Friday, December 18th, I spent the entire day, almost 12 hours, writing an 18-page book proposal. I submitted it to the publisher at about 7:20 pm Eastern time. I prayed and began to hold my breath. I am not new to publishing. Over the years I've written many technical and emergency medical related articles, as well as op-ed pieces that have been published in a variety of newspapers and magazines. I haven't done this for over 7 years, however. I wasn't inspired to write while I was serving as an IT Director. I know from my magazine writing days, that it can take quite awhile to hear back from an editor, even if you discover later that they are very excited over your work.
What's new to me is book publishing. I don't know what to expect here. I don't know if editors get back to you quickly or if the process can be lengthy as with magazines. About 2:30 in the afternoon on Monday the 21st, I received an email from the editor acknowledging the receipt of the proposal and saying that she would review it. It seemed to me to be a standard polite response. But wow, did I get surprised the following day! On December 22nd, she sent me a second email stating the book is very interesting to her. She asked my permission to send the proposal out for peer review. I readily agreed, not having the foggiest idea what she meant by "peer review." Did she mean peers of hers as in other editors, or did she mean peers of mine as in other authors? Whatever she meant, she had my consent to do it. I was very excited to hear back so quickly.
She offered some suggestions on how to make the book more marketable. She asked me to be flexible with the title. To give you a little background, after I left the company for whom I wrote the SDLC, I really started thinking about how I can transform the research into a book without duplicating what I wrote for them. I don't want to go back and seek permission to use anything I wrote, if at all possible. It's a work product of my employment. It doesn't belong to me. I had to develop a new approach for my writing. I came up with the idea to encapsulate my research into 10 foundational principles and build the chapters around them. The working title I proposed was "The 10 Commandments of a System Development Life Cycle." Rather than provide further explanation, here's what she said regarding the working title:
"The religious connotation in the title may be off-putting in the marketplace, especially the global marketplace. I am aware this is a foundational piece organizationally, but are you open to reconsidering?"
Of course, I'm open to reconsidering! Writing a book is all about selling the book. With her vast experience in the global marketplace, it only makes sense to take heed of her advice. I let her know that I bow to her expertise and yes, I'll consider a new title. She said, "Thank you for being flexible on the titling. I’ve been publishing IT books for 20 years now, and I’ve learned about some issues surrounding potentially charged titles, especially as we attempt to sell our books into emerging markets like the middle east, etc.. I appreciate that."
The newest title I propose is "Principles for Maturing your System Development Life Cycle." I'm not sure if I want to include the number 10 in the title or not, as in "10 Principles" because there are probably going to be more principles I'll come with as I write the chapters.