Deadlines Don’t Care


I have been writing books since 2006 – that’s a LONG time! The thing I’ve learned about book deadlines is that deadlines don’t care about your life. They don’t care about when you have the flu, or when you have 100 other things piling up in your To Do list, or even when you just flat out don’t feel like writing. Deadlines are unforgiving.

I am currently in the process of updating my book, WordPress All In One, for it’s 5th Edition. Updates are fun – they are not nearly as time or labor intensive as writing a 1st edition, that is for sure. For updates, I need to go through the content I’ve already written in previous editions and update it with the most current information available today. This could mean a WHOLE lot of writing for new content, or it can just mean refreshing screenshots of the WordPress Dashboard to make sure that the screenshots in my latest edition match the current version of the WordPress software. In the case of this new edition of WordPress All In One, it is a healthy mixture of both.

In regards to Block Themes (some people are still calling them FSE themes), the Site Editor, Block Patterns and the Block Editor – there is a bunch of new content I am writing for this updated edition. This requires a considerable amount of research, as well as a lot of testing and using the newest features so that I make sure I’m covering everything a new user needs to get up and running with it.

There are other areas of WordPress that haven’t changed at all since the last time I updated this book (2019) – things like settings pages in the Dashboard that haven’t changed don’t require any content updates at all with the exception of refreshed screenshots of the user interface to make sure my readers are looking at the most current version.

Books versus Online Documentation

So many people ask me the same question everytime I put out an update of one of my titles and that is this:

Why would people want to buy a book on WordPress when there is so much good documentation and information available online?

It’s a valid question! The online resources around WordPress have gotten better and better over the years (I see you WordPress Documentation portal!) However, I have seen online documentation lag behind releases, as well. And if you hit up Google for what you need for WordPress, you may or may not come across up to date or accurate information either. Ultimately, at the end of the day, we’re all humans trying to put out the most accurate information available to us at the time of writing it. Someday AI-powered robots/programs will do it all for us and us humans can just relax and enjoy the ride!

I put out an update to my books roughly every 18-24 months. There are books I have written for Wiley Publishing in the For Dummies series that never made it past the 1st edition because of a lack of sales and interest (which one? It was called BuddyPress For Dummies – but don’t buy it! It is woefully out of date, but still available for purchase on Amazon for some reason!). My primary title of WordPress For Dummies is in its 9th Edition, and this upcoming title for WordPress All In One is going into its 5th Edition. My publisher will not approve a title for a new edition unless the sales are there on previous editions to justify a new one. Some people like books .. some people like getting their information from online resources…and some people like both. It doesn’t have to be an either/or situation.

Keeping Up With WordPress

Another very valid question I get a lot:

With as much, and as often, as WordPress changes – how is it possible to keep up with the development cycle in print? Isn’t the book outdated by the time it hits the shelves?

The answer to that second part is: sometimes yes, sometimes no – depends on when during the development cycle I am updating the book. Overall, almost all books on software are outdated by the time they hit the shelves. The goal of a book like this (and for all For Dummies books) is to give the user the tools and information they need in order to get up and running with the software. In regards to WordPress – I would say at any given time, the book covers everything a new user needs and familiarizes them enough with the platform so that by the time they come across new features included in the next release cycle, they are well-equipped to utilize it because they already understand the ‘WordPress’ way of using the platform (features, options, settings, blocks, etc). Honestly, I would say that, upon release, the book is about 90% accurate and for the 10% that is not in it, readers are equipped to figure it out.

It’s a very rare thing that we update a title during, or just prior to, a major release. I’m not actually sure we ever have done that – I’d have to look back over the 17 years I’ve been doing this to see if we have.

One of the drawbacks to updating my books is that I really get to dig into the latest version of WordPress and play with all of the new toys, bells and whistles, which really makes me want to build something new for my own websites – which a great procrastination excuse that takes my focus off deadlines!

Deadlines Don’t Care

Anyways .. back to those deadlines that don’t care. These book contracts seem to come around in my life during times of change, upheaval or just general busy times. I can remember one time trying to hit deadlines during a move and sitting on one box, with my laptop on another box while the movers were packing things in the truck outside .. I probably had a deadline the next day.

I have an upcoming surgery happening on Friday Sept 8th – it’s not minor surgery either – I’m having a lumbar spinal fusion done and the recovery is going to have me down and out for several weeks. I have taken 4 weeks off work during which time I will be focusing 100% on my healing and recovery.

My deadline on this book doesn’t care, though. The deadlines are still going to be there, no matter what. My usual procrastination patterns that I have relied so heavily on for the past 17 years that I have been writing these books are not going to be patterns I can rely on any longer, at least not this time! Because, yes – deadlines don’t care what is going on in your life – they are unforgiving.

I have already submitted 33% of the book last month and this month I have 33% more due by the 18th of Sept, but I’m working hard to get it done before my surgery this coming Friday so I don’t have to sweat it. Pretty confident I’ll have it done by Thursday of this week – but wish me luck!

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