First, I’d recommend reading my blog article “Announcing the PowerShell Conference Book” if you haven’t.
In early May of this year (2018), I came up with the idea of what would become “The PowerShell Conference Book“. On the evening of May 6th, I sent an email to Don Jones and Jeff Hicks asking what they thought and if they’d be interested in writing a chapter in the book. The next morning, I’d received positive responses from both of them, confirming that they would be interested in participating.
Leanpub has changed their publishing model a few times and at that point in time, you had to pay to create a book on their site. Luckily I had an unused book I’d created back in 2016 which I donated to the project to keep the out of pocket expense as low as possible (this is why the book’s copyright shows a start date of 2016). I also didn’t previously have a paid GitHub account, but since that’s where we’d be collaborating on the project, I went ahead and paid for one out of pocket. I’ve since found other uses for it which has made it worth my while to keep it even though this project is coming to a conclusion. Luckily only the person who creates the private repo needs a paid GitHub account. Forks of the repo remain private for non-paid accounts.
Over the next few weeks, I contacted the who’s who of the PowerShell community looking for authors. Prior experience writing and/or blogging was beneficial since the book would forgo the traditional copy-edit process. One thing that I would advise anyone to do before undertaking a project like this is to come up with a copyright agreement so the authors know up front what they can and can’t do with their work that they’re donating. After all, if they’re allowed to republish their chapters in full elsewhere as written in the book, it only devalues the project for everyone involved. We created both a copyright agreement and timeline within the first few days, but in hindsight I’d recommend having both of those in place before starting the project.
By the 18th of May, we had enough authors and each of them had selected their chapter title. A lot of the early challenges were getting everyone use to the workflow in GitHub along with the style we were using for the book and of course it all had to be written in Markdown which was new to some.
Jeff Hicks had a lot of great input based on his experience writing books and he became one of the editors of the book. Michael T. Lombardi who also became one of the editors helped nail down the workflow in GitHub and kept us from trashing the repo. With 1900 commits from 45 different contributors, we definitely needed help.
One of the most important things was to protect the master branch and set pull requests so they had to be reviewed before they could be merged.
While GitHub worked fine for collaborating with each author individually, the editors of the project needed a way to collaborate in real time. We used a private Slack channel for this which worked perfectly considering we each used it for other things already.
Curious to know how much work went into this project? Lots and by everyone involved. This code frequency graph should give you an idea of the amount of work that was involved.
The PowerShell Conference Book has been at the top of the charts on Leanpub since its release: “The PowerShell Conference Book is the Featured Book and the Number 1 Best Seller on Leanpub“. Want to know the secret to its success? There isn’t any other than being a multidimensional way of helping others. One author who had never presented before was specifically contacted and invited to speak at a conference based on one of the organizers reading their chapter in the book. The authors have a chance to promote themselves and one another along with knowing they’re helping a great cause. All (100%) of the royalties from the book are paid directly to The DevOps Collective by Leanpub for OnRamp scholarships at the PowerShell + DevOps Global Summit. This also isn’t some limited time deal. The royalties for the life of the book will be donated to them.
My initial thought when I started this project was to change the life of one person. Based on the numbers provided to me, it costs about $4,000 to sponsor one person. I’m sharing the information below to be completely transparent. The book has earned over $10,000 so far for the OnRamp scholarship program.
As of Tuesday, August 21st 2018, the book is complete from a content standpoint with 33 chapters (589 pages) written by 33 different subject matter experts in the industry. As the book’s webpage states, it’s currently 99% complete and upon completion (September 1st, 2018), it will see a $10 price increase.