Books of 2004

I bring readers up to date with the titles I churned out over the past year.

I realized, in writing my last blog entry, that the last book I’d mentioned finishing on these pages was my Mac OS X 10.3 Panther: Visual QuickStart Guide last October. Don’t think for a minute that I’ve been idle since then.

It’s been just over a year and, believe it or not, I had to consult a list of the titles I’d put out to see just what I’d been up to. I just couldn’t remember them all. Here they are:

Microsoft Office Excel 2003 for Windows: Visual QuickStart Guide was the most recent revision of my Excel for Windows book. Not much new in the way of content because there’s not much that Microsoft can already add to that feature-packed program. It came out in December 2003.

QuickBooks Pro 6 for Macintosh: Visual QuickStart Guide was a brand new title for me (and Peachpit). I’d proposed it early in the year, when I was looking for work and it took several months for them to say yes and come up with a contract. By that time, I had other work lined up. (Feast or famine.) The book underwent a lot of content changes as I wrote. For example, it was originally going to include payroll coverage, but since payroll is done with a separate program bundled into QuickBooks and the future of the bundling was questionable, we decided to drop it. (Frankly, I think payroll is so confusing that a whole book could be written about it, but don’t think I’m volunteering.) The book came out in May 2004 and is doing surprisingly well. So well, in fact, that Peachpit wants me to revise it for the recently-released new edition.

Quicken Premier 2005: The Official Guide is the sixth revision to my original Quicken Official Guide. It was finished in June 2004 and published in August 2004.

Creating Resumes, Letters, Business Cards, and Flyers in Word: Visual QuickProject Guide was a brand new title in Peachpit’s brand new Visual QuickProject Guide series. The series is great for beginners or people with computer phobias because it shows every single step in a process, with callout lines and numbered instructions. It makes a VQS look like a technical guide for MBAs. And it’s in full color! It’s 160 pages long and costs only $12.99. A great deal. The only thing I don’t like about it is the title — it’s way too long! It came out in September 2004.

Creating Spreadsheets and Charts in Excel: Visual QuickProject Guide is another brand new book for me. This one offers the basics of working with Excel spreadsheets and charts in a format anyone can understand. It’s eight chapters took me eight days to write and lay out. (That’s not the record. My record is a 350-page book that I knocked off in 10 days back in 1993. Of course, I didn’t do layout for that title.) I think it’s a great book and I’m extremely pleased with the way it came out. Like the Word book, it’s cross-platform. It came out in October 2004.

Microsoft Word 2004 for Macintosh: Visual QuickStart Guide is the latest revision to my Word for Macintosh book. It has a bunch of new stuff inserted throughout the book and a brand new chapter covering Word’s new Notebook Layout view feature. I finished it two days ago and it’ll go to the printer today. I expect to see it by the first week in December and, of course, it’ll be at Macworld Expo.

So in the course of a year, December to November, I finished six books. Of these, three were revisions and three were brand new titles. (That’s not a record. My record is 10, set a number of years ago, and I hope I never do that again. Talk about burnout!)

In addition to writing all those books, I also managed the Wickenburg Airport’s FBO (for a short time, anyway), did helicopter tours in the area, got a part-time job flying at the Grand Canyon, and wrote a handful of articles. So anyone who says I have an easy life obviously doesn’t have the big picture.

I’m not complaining — certainly not! I usually take a week or two off between books and spend that time catching up on things like bills, surfing the ‘Net, shopping, and writing in my blog. If I had a helicopter, I’d be flying, but I’m between ships right now and grounded. This week, I’m trying to write three or four articles that I owe various editors. I knocked off one yesterday and started a second one. I’ll finish that and write at least one more today. Tomorrow, my brother, his wife, and my sister are coming in for a week, and my mother and stepfather are showing up on Tuesday for a week, so I’ll spend time with them.

Then it’s back to the salt mines for me. Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger is on its way and I have to revise the existing book to turn it into Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger: Visual QuickStart Guide. I always have the first Mac OS book out in stores and I’m not about to ruin my record this year.

After that, it looks like a QuickBooks revision, but if I’m lucky, they’ll let me write one or two more Visual QuickProject Guides. I proposed a bunch of titles, and they finally seemed to like one of them. Cross your fingers for me. I’m also writing an eBook about iBlog 2.0 for Spiderworks. I’ll probably finish that sometime in December, if I can find time for it between my work on the Tiger book. I’m also working on a book about the Grand Canyon with a photographer and hope to have that ready for publication in May. It’ll be nice to have a book that doesn’t need revising every one or two years. (The Canyon doesn’t change much.) And I’ll always be writing articles. Informit.com likes my work and I like writing for them. FileMaker Advisor also wants me to write for them, but I’m always having trouble coming up with fresh ideas for them, so we’ll see how I do.

That’s it in a nutshell: the past year and the next four to six months. Busy, busy, busy.

What do you think?