Making a Soft Skills Book: Part 1

This week saw the release of my new book, Soft Skills: How to Succeed at Your Technology Career. It’s a spiritual successor to several books, including one by another author, and I thought it might be fun to share a bit about the new book’s genesis and development.

Manning had a previous book named Soft Skills, but discontinued that for various reasons. But the book had a big following, and I knew one of my tasks would be to ensure I was covering similar ground. A review of that book’s Table of Contents (ToC) was a starting point. I deliberately set aside topics I didn’t feel I could write helpfully on, like managing personal relationships or getting to the gym more often, and decided to focus entirely on career-related issues.

I also looked to my own Be the Master: Fourth Edition and Let’s Talk Business, books that touch at least peripherally on career-related topics.

The result was a fairly extensive outline. I wrote about 2/3 of the book, and it was trending toward almost 600 pages, which feels like a lot for a career book. With my editor’s input, I also started to look more closely at some of the material I’d brought over from Be the Master. While that book was all about using your own success to help others, it got a little long-winded when you boiled the topic down to just achieving your own success.

So I literally tossed almost everything I’d written and started over.

The result is a ~300pp book that’s much tighter in focus, more firmly aligned around soft skills (with a couple of “firm skills” thrown in for good measure), and that hopefully has a stronger narrative around you.

Over the next few posts in this series, I’ll explore some of the decisions I made, some of my starting points and middle points, and some of the thinking I put into the book. If you’re reading this in November 2020, the book is just entering its “Manning Early Access Program” (MEAP) phase, meaning you can actually get batches of chapters as we finish editing and producing them, and leave live feedback for me to consider as we take the book through the completion.

Head here to see the book, or stay tuned for the post-mortem on the book’s design.

2 thoughts on “Making a Soft Skills Book: Part 1

    1. Don Jones

      No, not legal troubles. Publisher decided they wanted to avoid the impression that this was a second edition that built directly on the previous content, as near as I can gather.

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