Now Out: The Elements of Content Strategy

My book is out today! And although I wrote a bit about it when it was first announced, I’m going to indulge in just a little more.

A stack of copies of the book

Fruits of labors, via Mr. Santa Maria

I wrote The Elements of Content Strategy because as the internet worms its way further and further into our lives, digital content becomes centrally important to the ways in which we live and work. And it follows that content strategy—the practice of planning for, designing, and managing content—is also getting closer to the center of both web projects and entire organizations.

So I wrote this book in the hope of providing a compact, useful reference—both for those of us already doing content strategy work, and for those who want to know more about working with (or becoming) content strategists. Like the two superb books that precede it at A Book Apart, Elements is meant to be a handbook, in the literal sense, which the OED has, charmingly, as “A small book or treatise, such as may conveniently be held in the hand.”

But it’s also meant to be a book kept close at hand for use during spells of intensive effort. In that way, it’s a book I wrote because I needed it myself, if only to remind myself of things I’d already learned: not just deliverables and processes, but principles, rationales, and traditions that might be called into service when weird new problems arise.

Old-School Publishing for the New World

What can I say about A Book Apart, except that they have been ideal publishers in every way? JeffreyJason, and Mandy do extraordinary work with an attention to editorial rigor and design integrity that is unsurpassed in our field, or most others. It’s also a genuine honor to join Jeremy, Dan, and (soon!) Ethan on the ABA shelf.

Beyond this, though, I hope that the viability of A Book Apart’s approach is a sign of good things to come. On one hand, it’s a very new-school publisher, built on a web-based brand and the ability to sell books directly to readers with little friction. But on the other hand, it’s a very old-school house, built on editorial and design values too often abandoned by the traditional presses.

Many of my favorite books of the last few years have been published by small presses like Unbridled, Akashic, Subterranean, and the astoundingly great Small Beer, or by micro-presses like Temporary Culture and Graphics Press. In a moment of economic disaster for so many publishing and media companies, these presses demonstrate that old-fashioned editorial care is still viable if you make it the center of what you do. The existence of publishers like these, within our industry and outside it, fills me with optimism.

I am so grateful to Jeffrey, Mandy, and Jason for giving me the opportunity to write precisely the sort of book I wanted to write, and for making my manuscript into such a beautiful little object. I hope the result proves useful enough to reward their confidence.

27 thoughts on “Now Out: The Elements of Content Strategy

  1. Delighted to be reading this already. A good book stirs deep thought at a steady pace, and from what I’ve read so far I feel like I’m learning constantly. Great work!

  2. Loved it! Thanks, Erin, for such great insight on an otherwise mysterious topic. I’m feverishly excited to start marrying these ideas into our own process. Oh, and it was very, very funny too. Thanks, so much.

  3. Informative post. The design looks great and I am eager to look at its contents. I work at a large university and I am hopeful to use this as a manifesto as to how we go about managing our web site.

    P.S. – heard your interview on 5by5. Good show.

  4. I just blew off two client calls to read Elements of Content Strategy from cover to cover. An excellent read with a large quantity of new ideas to apply to my next website revision.

  5. Wow, I look forward to reading this. I am stunned by the poor presence strategy and business strategy that exists with some pretty big players in the digital world. Thanks Erin for your inspiration! Kirk

  6. Great job on the book, Erin. I bought both the printed edition and the eBook. I’ve gained so much from reading it and wish that I had had it sooner.

    One thing to note: Although I love having the bound edition, I find that highlighting doesn’t always completely dry on the slick pages. I’m a fanatic highlighter, and several pages on which I have highlighted text now routinely stick together. I’ve had to peel some of them apart, which sometimes causes the page type to peel off, too. I don’t know if there’s anything A Book Apart can do about that. I’ll just make a point of buying eBook editions from now on.

    Regardless, I love the book, in any format. Thanks for this phenomenal contribution.


  7. Just read it straight through. Too embarrassed to link to any of my own sites. Heh.

    From the first read, my estimation is I could extract a good, detailed blog post from each full page, 30 to 40 articles for sure. Part of my audience is marketers in Blogistan, and they need this material desperately, explained in a way they can understand.

    Nice reference to Katamari and Mars. I noted a few others, but those stand out.

    From the perspective of “curated content,” the book is worth the purchase price just for the reference list. Probably just for the Acknowledgements, as I now have a point of entry: who I need to Google up.


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  10. I just finished reading “Elements of Content Strategy” and it is — wonderful. Scary. Inspiring. Daunting. Nitty gritty. Funny. Amazingly useful. I absolutely needed the detail on how and why to do a quantitative content auditl to me for a huge print-to-web project I’m looking at. Thanks for your diligence in creating this work, and for sharing your insight.

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  13. Hi, bought the book yesterday and devoured! I’m now re-reading, pondering and taking notes. Reading 2nd chapter and matching with italian editorial market climate made my heart shed tears.

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