Having read the new Microsoft Press book “Office live – take your business online“, I wanted to learn a bit more about the author which you can read below:
Q. How long have you been working with Microsoft? How did it all get started?
A. I started writing books for Microsoft years ago, thanks to my agent, Claudette Moore of Moore Literary Agency. She had a long-time relationship with Microsoft Press and she introduced us. I’ve written many books at Press over the years, ranging from books for beginning users (such as Share Your Story: Blogging with MSN Spaces and Microsoft Expression Web Plain & Simple) to intermediate-to-expert books, like Microsoft Office Word 2007 Inside Out. Office Live Small Business: Take Your Business Online is my most recent book with Microsoft Press, and it was a really fun one to write.
Q. What got you into writing books like ‘Office live – take your business online’?
A. I’ve always had a knack for writing how-to material. I knew I was fated in third grade when the teacher gave us an assignment on how to cook an egg. Most kids in the classroom had three or four steps – and I came up with 21! It seems to come very naturally to me to break complex processes down into simple steps. I seem to do that in other areas of my life as well. In my early 20s, I took a job editing computer books (that was in the 1980s, just as the first IBM PCs were showing up on desktops) and that gradually grew into a role that involved content development and instructional design. Eventually my job involved helping authors learn how to write computer books, which was the perfectly logical jumping off point for me to start my own business writing the books myself.
Q. How did you specifically go about the process of writing this book?
A. As early in the process of software development as possible, I begin working with the software so that I can learn how it all functions and interrelates. Then I consider the order in which a new user is likely to want to learn the software, create an outline, and write the chapters in the sequence I think readers will most likely use them.
Q. Do you get to spend time with the program managers in Redmond?
A. Not in person. I live and work in the Midwestern US, so I’m far away from the Redmond campus, but I am often able to work with program managers on various software projects as I’m working with programs. I wrote the Office 2007 documentation and the Office program managers were really wonderful about answering questions; reviewing chapters, and providing feedback on features and coverage. As I was working with Office Live Small Business they were going through a software update, and a number of people on the Office Live team were helpful in answering questions and reviewing material. This helps me make sure I’m including all the best features of the software and presenting information in a way that will connect with what readers want to do.
Q. Have you been tempted to set up your own Office Live website?
A. I set up a number of Office Live Small Business sites over the months I researched and wrote about the software – it’s a great program! I do have two sites I work with now and also use it in conjunction with Office Live Workspaces for collaborative projects. Just recently I set up a shared workspace for a non-profit so the board of directors could share drafts of a project they’re working on – and the collaboration features of Office Live Small Business and Office Live Workspaces work really well for them.
Q. What do you feel are the best things about Office Live?
A. I think Office Live Small Business is a great thing for small businesses – it includes so many different features (all the types of things small businesses really need), and it’s free! I especially like the marketing and the online sales components. The marketing feature enables you to set your own budget and tailors your keywords and ad content; you only spend as much as you want to spend, and it’s all within your control. Even the smallest small business can afford to do a little web advertising if they can control their budget (£20 a month, for example); and you can increase the likelihood you’ll appear in search results by choosing your keywords well and tracking results. The shopping cart experience is easy to set up and manage – and really looks professional. For a reasonable cost per month, you can sell right from your own (free) web site and also include listings on eBay that you can track and control from Office Live Small Business. Great features, low cost, and easy to set up and manage, so even a one-person shop can do it.
Q. Can you share a little about yourself – location, family, etc?
A. Sure! As I mentioned above, I live and work in the Midwest (Indiana, to be exact), and I’m a mom (of three), grandma (of two), and animal lover (two dogs, three cats, and a turtle). J In addition to the writing I do about technology, I have a publishing business called reVisions Plus, Inc. (http://www.revisionsplus.com) and serve as the managing editor of The Educational Forum, a scholarly journal publishing essays and research in education. I also publish a number of blogs – one about technology called BlogOffice (at http://www.revisionsplus.com/blogofficexp.html), and am working on building social networking strategies (Facebook, LinkedIn, and more). I enjoy writing about technology because I love the way it can expand and connect our world. It gives us access to information, people, places, and experiences today that we couldn’t even dream of 20 years ago. I’m excited to see where technology will take us next!