How do you write a book collaboratively?
There are many misconceptions about what a collaboratively written book might look like. We don’t bring a group of people together simply to write their own individual chapters. The voice, the narrative, the style and of course the content is all collaboratively developed.
What would be a good group constellation?
We advise organisers to invite between 5 and 15 participants to achieve consensus and collaboration. Barbara describes why.
Participants’ various expertise and experience should cover all of the subjects addressed in the book. Some diversity in participants —perspectives, experience, job roles, ethnicity, gender— creates a better work dynamic and a better book as Laia explains.
What if people have different language skills and writing styles?
The collaborative method helps to create harmony out of all the different voices and styles of the writers. Participants do not have to be experienced writers or native speakers of the book’s language, but some of the participants should be. And because the Sprint is an iterative process with multiple reviews and edits by the group, no one individual is expected produce perfect copy on their own.
How long is a book that comes out of a Book Sprint?
Most people have an ideal weight or page count in mind when they think about what constitutes a book. We’ve found however that it totally depends on the group and what the intended use of the book is, as Barbara explains:
How do participants need to prepare?
Participants unique knowledge and expertise of the field is the main preparation. The book will be conceptualized and written from scratch with the people in the room. In this way the Book Sprint presents an opportunity for a group of experts to come together and create a unique product together. While every previous articles/books/blog posts people have written before can be useful reference material, they are not allowed in the book. Adam explains why:
What makes a good location for a Book Sprint?
Book Sprints rely on a central meeting room where everyone meets every day. This should have natural light and a central table. Large wall space suitable for sticky notes is essential. Break-out spaces for smaller group discussion nearby are good to have. Ideally, a Book Sprint takes place in a secluded, distraction-free place away from the usual work environment.
What is the role of the facilitator?
Book Sprints facilitators are production-oriented facilitators. While they create the space and setting for equal group discussion and decision-making, they are also focussed on doing whatever it takes to get the book done. Faith explains what you can expect from a facilitator.
What kind of tools will we need?
Each participant will need a laptop and stable wifi to connect to. The working room should be equipped with:
- Power outlets, power strips, and adapters (for travelling participants)
- Whiteboard or flipchart
- Flipchart paper
- Sticky notes and markers
- A projector and screen
- Access to a printer
Book Sprints will provide an online collaborative authoring platform which we have designed for the process. More on why this tool and not others:
What does the production team do?
How does the illustration service work?
Visuals make books much more compelling and often aid in readability too. Our illustrators work alongside the writers, turning their ideas into compelling diagrams, charts and illustrations.
What's the schedule?
Full commitment is required from participants in a Book Sprint. Everyone must be present for the full Book Sprint: no late arrivals, early departures or leaving for half a day at a time as people might be accustomed to in other meeting settings.
On a typical day we will start at 9 am and work until 9 pm, sometimes 10 or 11 pm, with lunch and dinner breaks in between. The schedule is very much defined by the
rhythm of the group and the development of the book. The diagram below shows the flow of an average Book Sprint in three overlapping and iterative production phases.
Is it possible to participate remotely?
It’s tempting to want include everyone in the process, even those who can’t attend in person however we have a strict rule on this because we think collaboration requires face-to-face interaction. Laia explains.
What is the outcome apart from a book?
Apart from the book, participants tells us that the discussions, shared learning and consensus-building are some of the key takeaways for them. The process is an immersive adventure in group-collaboration and shared authorship.You will discover the incredible levels of productivity a group can reach, with the right
timeframe, space, and facilitation process. Barbara explains.
What kind of books do you produce?
We really don’t discriminate on this topic and can use the method for any type of book. The most important thing is the people needed to write the book! Barbara explains some of the kinds of books we have worked on.
Is there a need to write a book in 5 days?
The idea of writing a book or how to do it can seem unfathomable to companies and organizatons who haven’t done it before. Even for those who have written books, the idea of group-writing can fill them with horror. Book Sprints helps demystify this whole process and simplifies it so the burden of writing and publishing a co-authored can be overcome, as Adam explains.
How do you ensure the design of the book compliments the content?
Typically books are laid out and designed after the content is written. In a Book Sprint these two steps happen simultaneously. The design is developed in close collaboration with the writers’ vision for how the book will be used and what they want to communicate visually. Julien explains.
Do you print and publish the books too?
Our focus is on the process of producing the book and we leave the printing and publishing to the client, although we can certainly help with our 10 years of experience working in the industry.