Monday, September 12, 2011

Sixth Time’s the Charm

Today I’m releasing the 6th edition of a book (Professional SAS Programmer’s Pocket Reference). You might think that by the sixth time through for something as big as a book release, you might have all the kinks worked out, all the more so when you consider that my participation in the book publishing process goes back 20 years. But no. There are several new twists every time.

Some of this is because the world changes. That’s obvious enough in a book about computers, and indeed explains why so many editions are needed, but I am also affected by trends that are not so related to computer technology. One of these is the increasing cost of energy, which affects postage rates and the way people travel. That made it important to make the new edition weigh less. With the lighter weight, the book can go along on the airplane more easily and will cost less to send through the mail.

It’s a reminder of how long it takes to become highly skilled at anything. Even if the world were not changing, it can take years to master a process as complex as book publishing. But the world is changing all the time. As a result, achieving mastery takes even longer.