Projects and possibilities: An update

I occasionally post something here (or write something as a Bibs & Blather in Cites & Insights) about possible Major Projects I’ve considered, abandoned, or whatever.

As I look back, it appears that I haven’t actually done a coherent list of possible projects since February 2009; I’ve just noted individual things along the way. Given events of the past two weeks, I think an update is in order.

Or, rather, two updates.

1. Updating the February 2009 list

Here’s what I said in February 2009 as to possible projects at this point–not including my fifth choice, “treat semi-retirement more seriously,” which could have been worded “remove the semi- from semi-retired; take up golf or gardening or yelling at kids to get offa my lawn or, more realistically, get heavily involved with the local Friends of Libraries”:

Here’s the list, in alphabetic order for want of any better:

  1. Balanced Libraries, Second Edition (incorporating Library 2.0 & “Library 2.0″)
  2. Blogging for Libraries – A replacement for Public Library Blogs and Academic Library Blogs but done in a very different way.
  3. The Liblog Landscape Revisited - Some differences in approach, but largely an one- or two-year update.
  4. Library as short-run publisher – A workshop and book on no-cost print-on-demand publishing for public (and academic) libraries, for their own purposes and to aid patrons (e.g., genealogists and others).

And here’s what’s happened with each of the four:

  1. Nothing so far. I did a major follow-up to the original essay. So far, combining those two and other essays into a book doesn’t seem like either a great or a terrible idea. Maybe closer to “terrible.”
  2. Didn’t happen, not going to happen, no way.
  3. Sigh. I did this. Twice. The first one sold badly (21 copies to date, as compared to 69 for the original). The second one barely sold at all (it’s still stuck at two-digit total sales, but hope springs…well, maybe not eternal). I am not doing a 2011 version, even though the semi-comprehensive nature of the 2010 version almost calls out for continuing study. Without upfront funding, that’s just not gonna happen. See #4 and the rest of this post, along with people directly telling me that not only wouldn’t they pay for the book but they really didn’t give a damn about the whole thing, to understand why. I’m a slow learner, obviously, but not wholly incorrigible.
  4. Here, I got somewhat positive feedback–but ran up against issues with workshops and bigger issues with trying to do it as a self-published work. I concluded that it only made sense if it could get a wide library audience, which meant having a reputable library publisher behind it, and that maybe it was a little premature. Well, I now have a highly reputable library publisher behind it, and I no longer think it’s premature. Which leads us to…

2. Where things stand as of now

  • I’m starting serious work on a new book project based on idea #4, not necessarily for libraries as publishers (although that might make sense in some cases) but for libraries as facilitators for community members. I believe it’s going to be a great, relatively brief, book (that could lead to workshops if there’s demand) that will be immediately useful for nearly every public library and possibly many academic libraries. It will be published by a major library publisher with a good track record for reasonable pricing, good publicity and good editorial quality–but it will also be an example of what it espouses (walking the talk), as the typography and layout will be done by me, using Word2010 and a .dotx template that will be readily available for use by others. This project will get the bulk of my extra time from now through early fall; not sure when it will appear, but hoping for the first half of 2012. I’m excited about this one: I’ve been thinking about it for a long time, I think the conditions are better now than ever before, and those I’ve talked to–including my wife, not always enthusiastic about these projects–is reasonably enthusiastic about the possibilities.
  • While #2 above is dead in the water, I will be working on a somewhat related project, primarily this fall and next winter: the actual experience of (primarily public) libraries in social networks (primarily Twitter and Facebook), based on a combination of broad research, requests for feedback and comments from libraries, and other resources. I believe this one will also be immediately useful to most public and many academic libraries.  (No, it will not be 170 pages of tables and charts, although there will be some tables.) It will be published by another leading library publisher with a good track record for editorial quality, good publicity and books that aren’t wildly expensive. No idea of the schedule; guessing latter half of 2012.
  • I’m pondering some possible major changes to the way Cites & Insights operates, although I’ve made no firm decisions yet. Some changes might be visible as early as this summer.
  • There’s one new thing that seems likely to come to pass, but I’m not willing to talk about it until it’s a done deal. If it happens, chances are you’ll see something late this summer or early this fall…

I suspect that I’ll start fomenting new “big project” ideas around the time I’m polishing the submission draft for the second book noted above; as long as I can find at least one good topic a year that meets three tests, I’ll keep looking for and working on them. The three tests:

  1. It’s something I believe I can do well that either hasn’t been done before or hasn’t been done nearly as well as I believe I can do it.
  2. It’s something I believe will add value to the library community.
  3. It’s something a library publisher (or, I suppose, some other “traditional” publisher) will put under contract. After my experiences with self-publishing, I’m becoming a great believer in “Show me the contract!” as a way of testing likely marketability…and of letting the experts do the marketing (and help polish my books through editing).

In case it isn’t obvious from all this: I may be discouraged about a few situations and apparent failures, but I’m not giving up–and the two book contracts surely help keep me upbeat and moving forward!

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