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Take Control of Your Daily Life

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Having recently published my ninth Take Control ebook in two and a half years, I finally had to admit that my productivity is slipping. While that level of output may seem prolific to some, my own standards are higher; in the 2004-2005 season of my Interesting Thing of the Day site, for example, I published an article of up to 1500 words every single day (while also writing ebooks and magazine articles, of course); I also wrote an entire novel during the month of November. Therefore, publishing ebooks so infrequently must be a sign of growing inefficiency. Clearly, I was spending too much time on mundane tasks such as eating lunch and walking from my computer to the coffee machine.


With this realization also came a solution: I’d figure out how to take control of every aspect of my day, and package that knowledge in a new set of mini ebooks that could be released daily. This series, Take Control of Your Daily Life, goes on sale later today.


Each weekday, you’ll learn how to take control of some routine task. The first week’s titles include “Take Control of Personal Hygiene,” “Take Control of Your Laundry,” “Take Control of Pet Care,” “Take Control of Vacuuming” (with a special appendix on the Roomba and other robotic vacuum cleaners) and “Take Control of Breakfast.” Future titles will delve into such diverse areas as coordinating after-school transportation, managing phone calls with talkative relatives, and making the most effective use of time with your spouse or significant other.


When I first suggested this series to editor-in-chief Tonya Engst, her reaction can be best described as a mixture of amusement, horror, and incredulity. She reminded me that, apart from our standard editing and technical review steps (which together can last several weeks or longer), each ebook requires a production process that often takes more than a day. So it seemed logistically inconceivable to release a new ebook every single day.

After considerable discussion, brainstorming, and applications of strong spirits, however, we were able to develop a system that should be able to handle the process. First, each daily ebook will be much shorter than usual – an average of 10 pages, which is still more than twice as long as a feature-length magazine article. Borrowing techniques from the Extreme Programming method, the ebooks will be written, edited, and reviewed in parallel using SubEthaEdit. And finally, the PDF production and release process will be automated by custom software developed for us by a small programming firm in India for a mere $99 and a green card.

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Since our traditional print publishing partner, Peachpit, doesn’t generally venture outside of the technical world, we went looking for a publishing company with chops in the life-improvement space. We’re pleased to announce a new relationship with Rodale Books, publishers of such masterpieces as “The South Beach Diet Cookbook,” “Bicycling Magazine’s Guide to Bike Touring,” and “The Martha Rules” (in which we learned that, when given a choice between black-and-white stripes and an orange jumpsuit in prison, go with the stripes unless you’re on the heavier side). Rodale has now agreed to compile the first six months’ worth of the series into a paperback book titled “Take Control of Everything, Volume 1”. At an estimated 1,000 pages, the illustrated book is expected to hit the shelves in early September, for a retail price of $55. Whether or not future volumes appear will depend on the sales of the initial book.


Online, however, Take Control of Your Daily Life ebooks will sell for the reduced price of $2 each. We are also, for the first time, offering ebook subscriptions, a much-requested feature. A year-long subscription to this series (200 ebooks) costs only $300, a 25 percent savings over the individual price. As usual, free updates will be available to all purchasers so you’ll be able to stay up-to-date with the latest in toothbrush technology, suggestions from readers about better laundry-folding techniques, and how to avoid left-hand turns while doing errands.

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