Hey, Let’s Write a Book Together

(and how we did it remotely)

Peter and I met in Montevideo, Uruguay, in February 2016 as members of Remote Year’s second ever group: Battuta.

With Remote Year, we traveled together to Uruguay, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, the Czech Republic, Serbia, and Croatia. Peter left the program and traveled on his own around SE Asia, visiting Bali, Thailand, and Vietnam. I remained on Remote Year, going to Kuala Lumpur, Koh Phangan, Phnom Penh, and Ho Chi Minh City.

In October, when I was in Kuala Lumpur and Peter was in Bali, he reached out to ask me for my opinion on a project he was working on.

A photo of me recording a podcast interview in one call room of our KL office space. Did not think to document our illustrious first call. (credits mine)

We scheduled a Slack call for October 27, which I took from a glass-walled call booth in our Remote Year office space in the 14th floor of a mall overlooking a busy intersection in downtown Kuala Lumpur.

Peter told me that he was starting to write a book about how to become a digital nomad — a kind of survival guide for beginners.

He’d joined several digital nomad Facebook groups, a nomad Slack group, and was working in various coworking spaces during his travels. He kept seeing similar questions arise again and again, and while there are already countless blogs and even some books that address them, he felt that there was still an unmet need for a resource with real, practical advice.

Initial Idea

(from my call notes in Evernote)

  • More of a survival guide, less excitement, more practical
  • Focused on logistics, etc
  • Bonuses of checklists for readiness, packing, etc
  • Aiming for 100 pages ish, goal of 35k words, currently at 12k words
  • Working title “Digital Nomad Survival Guide”
  • Market — several Facebook groups, RY communities, aspiring nomads
  • Don’t want it to be a book about RY only
  • Goal: by the end of the year for the holiday rush for new Kindles etc

As we talked about his idea and the outline of the book he’d started working on, I thought to myself, what a good idea — I should have thought of that!

He asked me if, as a writer, I would be interested in coauthoring it with him.

Kickoff

After the call, Peter shared a Google Drive folder with a project tracker spreadsheet, an outline document, and a folder with a doc for each chapter.

The project tracker had each chapter with the current word count to track progress out of the goal word count of 36,000.

On the next Slack call, November 2, we planned how we’d work together and discussed how we wanted to format the book’s content and define the voice.

We decided that it shouldn’t be a self-help book and that we liked the idea of a survival guide with a tone of giving guidance and specific instructions. We scheduled our next meeting for November 10.

Style Guide

I created a Style Guide document based on our conversation, following the process that I’ve learned and applied with clients for the past 3 years in my role working with Sarah Ancalmo / Public Persona (a brand strategy studio).

I wanted to be sure we had clarity on our voice, content, and objectives upfront before we dove into writing:

Screenshots of our Style Guide google doc

(I increasingly use Google docs with formatting to help navigate and organize content — if you use the various headings, you can drop in an interactive / clickable Table of Contents.)


Phase Summary

  • Calls + meetings = 3 x 1–3 hours = 6+ hours
  • Initial planning + outlines + style guide = 8+ hours

Next Steps


Katherine and Peter are digital nomads, working remotely while they travel the world. They were members of Remote Year 2 Battuta, living around the world with 75 other digital nomads from February 2016 to January 2017.


The Digital Nomad Survival Guide is available on Amazon Kindle.

No Kindle? No problem. Download their free app for other devices.