By the Numbers
Wow, it's hard to believe four long years have gone by since I received the call that sent me on this adventure. So much has happened during that expanse that I hardly remember what life was like beforehand. As I sit here writing the first of what is sure to be many blogs to come, I feel compelled to explain some of the factors involved in writing and publishing this book which I was painfully unaware of until far into the process.
When I was contracted by a major publisher to write this book, I was required to produce 60,000 words of text as well as provide 300 pictures which together constitute a typical 175-page large-format book. This was an intimidating proposition which had me wondering, how the hell am I going to be able to stretch out the discussions to meet those requirements?
As the writing process began I started by compiling an outline of the topics I wanted to cover and contemplated how best to organize them in a chronological and understandable manner. Over the next three years, I systematically tackled the points I had outlined. However, I soon realized that there was so much ground to cover that I found I wasn’t truly able to go into as much detail as I would have liked as the word and picture count kept ticking up ever higher. In fact, by the end of the first draft, the word count was at approximately 150,000 words and 750+ pictures! This was a big problem. The publisher insisted that I reduce the content so I went through and edited out the text I felt was less relevant or significant and extracted many of the diagrams and some pictures. This still far exceeded the expanded 192-page format which the publisher was willing to commit to the project. But to be fair, as I would soon learn, they had reasonable financial grounds for their position. A large-format 192 page book would require at least a $30-$40 cover price to be economically viable. So a book two to three times that size was way beyond what they felt the market could support.
Obviously, with the several thousand hours I had invested in the project, I had become emotionally attached to its contents. Asking me to trim away parts was like asking me which of my children I was willing to abandon. So try as I may there simply was no way to edit the content down to nearly one-third of the original. We discussed breaking it up into two or three books but in doing so there would be a great deal of duplication of front and back end material which would ultimately drive the unit cost up and the consumer would end up spending over $100 to read all of the content. It was not economically feasible for the publisher to produce such a book and I was unwilling to bend to their will. We were at an impasse. So we agreed to go on our separate ways.
Rather than shelve the project I was determined to figure out a way to get it into the hands of dedicated monster truck fans who for various reasons I genuinely believed were in desperate need of being made aware of the information it contained. The challenge was how to stuff two and a half books worth of content into just one. Fortunately, after some research, a solution was identified which although not necessarily economical, did make it possible to bring reasonably unabridged 456 page and 692 picture versions to market. And, a strategy was developed which would allow the topics to be expanded upon in greater detail than what could ever be done within the constraints of a book’s covers.
The average person reads at 200 words per minute and spends approximately 45 minutes per day doing so. Admittedly certain portions of this book are probably not easily understandable in their first reading due to their technical nature. However, I felt that the industry and its fans have reached a point of sophistication where it was important to convey the true nature of the subjects in a more in-depth manner than ever done previously. So based on the actual word count, on average it will take a dedicated reader just over two weeks to plow through it the first time. But realistically, there is so much information contained within that I believe it will likely take a month before it can truly be digested. And after that, it will continue to provide value as a handy reference book on into the future as evidenced by its double-column 12-page index.
I sincerely hope you find Monster Truck Technology: The Definitive History of Monster Truck Evolution as interesting and dynamic a read as the adventure it has been to bring it to you.
Stay tuned folks, lots more to come.