This summer and fall I had the opportunity to write “Refactoring with C#”, a technical book on C# development, through Packt Publishing.
When I considered doing this project in the spring there wasn’t much out there on what it’s like to be an author with Packt, so I thought I’d share my experience writing the book for those considering it in the future. Please note that this is focused just on the writing process. I’m deliberately not covering the proposal and outlining phases as I plan to write a separate article on that topic.
Also, you may be coming into this article with a negative opinion of Packt Publishing. I read a lot of technical books, including many from Packt, and can attest that they hit a slump awhile ago with quality issues in their published books. I have to say that my experience with Packt was almost entirely positive — provided that you make the assumption that you as the author own the quality level for your own book. We’ll talk more about this as we go on.
The drafting process for the book starts a week or two after the book’s proposal and outline are approved and the contract is signed.
Packt provides a Word template that they expect you to follow. This template uses special format markers that match Packt’s styles and formatting. These styles include special coloration to help communicate the style during the editing process and result in your markup looking very colorful:
Because Packt wants you to use these styles, it means that you can’t just use Ctrl + B to bold or Ctrl + I to italicize. I was surprised how much this slowed me down, but it did slow me down until I found a workaround for it.
I eventually edited Packt’s template to include keyboard shortcuts for the formats I used frequently. I then took those complex keyboard shortcuts and created buttons for them in my Stream Deck setup:
I then mounted the Stream Deck next to my monitor so it was always in reach and in my peripheral vision as I was writing: