I never wanted to write Content Strategy for the Web.
Did I want to travel the world speaking at conferences? Did I want to start a larger conversation about a topic near and dear to my heart? Did I want people everywhere to recognize the importance of content and put it at the center of their design and build processes? Well OF COURSE I DID.
But actually writing a book? Too hard. And, frankly, back in 2008, I knew for a fact I wasn’t the best person for the job. At the time, my knowledge of content strategy was fairly narrow—I was a copywriter who backed into the practice by necessity (read: for my own sanity). I could articulate the problem. I could offer some high-level solutions. But I was by no means a full-fledged expert on the topic.
It takes a village
And so, before I even had a publishing contact, I started reaching out to every single person I could find who’d written anything valuable about “content strategy” (which, according to Google, were fewer than twenty people in ten years … and believe me, I harassed them all). Content Strategy for the Web is really the first attempted synthesis of all the insights of these diverse individuals and disciplines, written in the most straightforward, conversational style I could manage. I wanted it to be a book that anyone could pick up and work with almost immediately, the kind of book I wanted in my own library of content resources.
Content Strategy for the Web appears to have struck a chord, and it did what I hoped it would: it kicked off a larger conversation that I can no longer keep up with. This was my vision, and it has become reality. So now is the part where I can ride off into the sunset. Right?
Two years later … OMG
So, between January 1, 1995 and December 31, 2008 (14 years), there was a sum total of 263,000 mentions of the phrase “content strategy.”
Since January 1, 2009 (about 1.5 years), there have been 1.66 million.
This pleases me.
It also obviously means that the conversation is evolving with lightning speed. Thinking about all the great stuff I’m not reading, seeing, or listening to keeps me up at night. So when my editor Michael Nolan approached me (read: kicked my butt) about doing another edition, my knee-jerk response was that it was so dated that it wasn’t worth updating. I mean, I don’t even agree with the title anymore—content strategy is rarely confined to just the Web. For these reasons, I’ve been saying publicly for two years that I would never write a second edition. Also, writing a book is hard.
But. I recognize that the book still acts as a solid introduction to the topic. And as more people step up to the plate to talk and write about their ideas and insights, there’s more information I want to help parse, synthesize, and share with a larger audience. That’s my job, and I love it. And so I said “yes.”
But only on one condition.
Introducing my co-author, Melissa Rach
There was one person without whom Content Strategy for the Web would have been, to be blunt, a hot mess. In my darkest hour (which was basically a few weeks before my all-in deadline), she agreed to put her life on hold to act as my technical editor. As I mention in the book’s acknowledgments, she’s responsible for creating much of the methodology described in Chapters 4-6. She tore apart other chapters, more or less wrote certain sections, and basically helped make the book what it is today.
Melissa is the Vice President of Content Strategy at Brain Traffic. While I’ve been on the road for three years building the case for content strategy, she has been at Brain Traffic leading a team of world-class content strategists to develop and evolve our tools and methodologies.
Now, I consider myself an expert in the core components and key deliverables of content strategy. I love identifying shared content challenges and principles between myriad disciplines. I work every day to help shape a conversation that brings us ever closer together to focus on content as a central business asset. However, and especially now, Melissa is far better suited to write about how to build and sustain a content strategy. So that’s why I’ve asked her to participate as my co-author on this edition.
Getting to the point
And so, we are pleased to announce that Content Strategy for the Web, 2nd Edition will be released in February 2012. You’ll see updated methodologies, more template samples, case studies, and some other good stuff that we’ll announce later. Thanks again to Michael Nolan and the staff at New Riders for giving us the opportunity.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, we’ve got a book to write, which means I have to start procrastinating IMMEDIATELY.