Everything Will Take Longer Than You Think

During the editing process, our project manager on Eureka, Phil Vecchione, observed that writing the book — which we both expected to be the lion’s share of the work — only took about 1/3 of our project time. One-third!

That observation is part of the biggest lesson I learned as a first-time publisher, which I want to share before I forget it:

Everything will take longer than you think.

Even though some things did take as long as we’d allotted for them, on balance this guideline was amazingly consistent. Intellectually, I expected stuff to take longer than I thought it would — this is our first book, we want to get everything right, and there’s a learning curve involved. But even expecting it wasn’t enough: I didn’t expect how much longer than how much longer I expected things to take they would actually take. 😉

That’s not a slam on anyone who worked on the book — we have an amazing team behind Eureka, 19 people strong, and they did excellent work on timetables that were often very tight. If anything, my wild-ass guesses about how long different elements of the design and publication process would take are the real culprit. And I see that as part of the learning process: Take your best guess, see how it goes, and try to guess better next time. Over the course of developing Eureka, those guesses got a lot more accurate.

Ultimately, it seems to be the nature of the beast given the circumstances: trying to balance Eureka with our day jobs, family time, raising kids, and gaming, plus producing a large book for the first time while collaborating long-distance — the whole enchilada. That process itself was a great teacher, and we’ve taken a lot away from the whole experience.

When I start looking seriously at Engine Publishing’s next project, or if you’re reading this right now and are interested in starting your own small-press publishing company, number one with a bullet on my list of things to bear in mind is “Everything will take longer than you think.”

And in the end, only one thing really matters: the quality of the finished product. As Eureka rolls into it’s final run-through and preflight stage, I believe we’ve taken the time we needed to produce an awesome book.

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