Why creating an Excel guide took so long

Last week I finished Excel In 30 Minutes, a basic Excel guide and the third book in my In 30 Minutes™ brand.

The writing and production processes associated with Excel In 30 Minutes took twice as long as those for my previous two books about Dropbox and Google Drive. Why? I see three reasons:

  1. The complexity of spreadsheets. Demonstrating something as simple as addition or calculating a percentage require several discreet steps and screenshots. All of this had to be explained, and the total length of the Spreadsheets book was about 40% longer than the Dropbox book — mostly because of extra screenshots (100 in all!)
  2. Multiple versions of Excel. There is basically only one version of Dropbox and Google Drive floating around. Excel has many commercial versions currently in use. There are significant differences between them, which required additional writing and testing.
  3. I included Google Spreadsheets as well. My reasoning: Most spreadsheets are basically the same, and not everyone owns or wants to own Excel. I thought including explanations of how to do the same tasks in Excel and Google Spreadsheets would be a good idea — but it took extra time to include those explanations.

Sales off to a slow start

In terms of sales, I’ve found the book has gotten off to a slow start. Only two copies have been sold in five days. Poor search ranking in Amazon is part of the reason. But I am also wondering if readers do want to focus on a single product (Excel) rather than a class of software (spreadsheets). Depending on the results of various marketing efforts as well as sales across various channels, I may have to rethink the name of the book or concentrate only on Excel (instead of both Excel and Google Sheets). This will take some experimentation to get right …

One of the 100 screenshots used in the book:

Excel Basics guide


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