Some people dream of becoming famous. Others dream of becoming rich. My professor told me that writing a book is a road to neither. But I still dream of seeing my name on the cover of a book, just the same.
Shortly before I became job-free, some sixteen months ago, I collected the magazines in which I had written articles about the business of energy trading, risk management, and IT, and sent them to the publisher of RiskBooks.
I wrote, "Won't it be a great idea to translate and update these articles into a book?"
For two years, Conrad, the publisher, had been very kind to send me his books for review in the book review section which I had started two years before. Although I managed to get only two of his books reviewed, he was very grateful for the exposure. We arranged to meet (face to face - at last!) in central London.
"It would require a lot of work. The writing style has to change," he said. "What about copyright?"
"No problem," I replied. "I own the intellectual copyright of what I've written."
I have always wanted to write a book, not only because my sister, my father, and my late grandfather all have several books to their name. A book conveys permanence, whereas magazines are short-lived. Authoring a book is the ultimate to being called a writer.
After our meeting, I drafted a book proposal. I had been surveying the energy industry for many years now. And I had not come across the kind of energy economics textbook that explained the economics of a deregulated energy industry. I wanted to write an introductory text to help people understand more fully and more comprehensively what was going on, from alpha to omega --- that is, from the moment you buy a primary fuel such as oil or natural gas, convert it to electricity, deliver it down the wires, and finally supply it to the end-user.
The economics of the electricity business after deregulation are treated very differently from the regulated era. In the process of writing about it, I was consolidating my own understanding of it.
In my job-free state, I became less interested in monitoring energy news and more interested in pursuing my portfolio career of writing about subjects outside of energy, organising and performing classical music concerts, doing community work, and exploring other roads less travelled.
Over the next few months, I found and invited industry experts to write different chapters of the book. The more they committed to contributing, the less I felt like writing. Having so many contributors meant more work in coordinating between them and ensuring their chapters were within the context and flow of the original book proposal.
In some ways, writing an entire book may have been easier than coordinating and editing the contributions from different experts. Everything came to a head in April after I decided that I was not going to write the entire book. My publisher and I renegotiated the terms of the book contract so that I only had to write one introductory chapter and edit the contents. While this was a relief, it also meant I could no longer call myself author.
Almost a year after I submitted my book proposal, I met up with my publishers. I looked forward to the day with great anticipation and excitement. They had a single copy of the book to show me. "Risk and flexibility in electricity: introduction to the fundamentals and techniques edited by Anne Ku."
I borrowed the desk copy for 24 hours to show my friends. Later that evening, two of the chapter authors and I met for dinner to celebrate.
While I wait for my own copies to be delivered, I'm already thinking about how I can help the publishers sell the book. My role as editor isn't over yet --- there's a book-signing event at the largest industry get-together in Europe in mid-February 2004!
8 November 2003 Saturday
Risk and flexibility in electricity: introduction to the fundamentals and techniques
edited by Anne Ku