Writing the GitLab book: part 1

Jeroen van Baarsen
Jan 5, 2015

This is a series of blog articles about the process of me writing a book about GitLab. It will contain information about the process with the publisher, about the different state of minds I went through, and how it feels to actually finish this thing!

Part 1: The preparation

When I received an email from Vinay - an editor for PacktPub.com - with the question if I wanted to write a book about GitLab, I really thought he was crazy. I'm a developer, not a writer! Even though I believed the idea was nuts, I presented it to my girlfriend, at first she thought I was kidding, but after she realized I was serious she started to support me right away, and began to push to actually do this.

After a week or so I decided to actually go ahead and start writing this book! In this blog post I want to explain the process I went through, and what help I got from the publisher. From starting the chapter outline, to the day the book was released.

The book I was going to write was one of the Cookbook series of packtpub.com, it's a book with all kind of small things you can do with the subject of the book, in this case GitLab. I had to write it in a way that the reader can follow along, so with steps how to achieve the goal, and with an explanation of what the reader has done and how it works.

The first step was to come up with a Chapter Outline. In this outline I had to write what chapters I was going to submit, and with what "recipes". I came up with the following outline:

  1. Introduction and Installation
  2. Explaining Git
  3. Managing users, groups and permissions
  4. Issue tracker and Wiki
  5. Maintaining your GitLab instance
  6. Webhooks, external services and the API
  7. Using LDAP and omniauth providers
  8. GitLab CI
  9. Appendix

This was accepted by the editor, but with a footnote that I had the freedom to change things around if I felt the need to do so. The next step was to estimate the page count, that's a hard thing to do! Since I did not really know what I wanted to write about, how was I suppose to know how many pages it would cover! After discussing this with my editor he really helped me to figure out this things.

After all the above was accepted we had to sign the contract since the book was accepted for writing, this was all done true a service called Signable, if you ever have legal documents to sign remotely, this is a great service to do so! I recommend it!

In the next part I'll cover the preparations for the actual writing, and the writing itself.

Go ahead and buy the book!


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