User:Whiteknight/New Book Guide/Split

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Big Books[edit]

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It's easy to create a big ambitious plan for a book when you're just getting started. There are so many topics that need to be covered, and so much related material. It can be too hard to create lines in the sand between material that belongs in your book and material that does not. Plus, it's almost unthinkable that you would create two books at once. If you're doing the work, it's easier to just put all the information in one place and do all the basic structural work once.

However, the truth is that some books become so large and sprawling that they lose quality because of it. A book tries to cover too much material, and ends up not focusing enough on any of it to provide proper coverage. In these cases, sometimes the best thing you can do for your book is to split it into smaller books

Caveats[edit]

Notice that bigger books are not always well-served by division into smaller books. Here are some situations where having a single large book may be more desirable than having several small books covering the same topics:

  1. If the book is fundamental and comprehensive. Breaking it into smaller books, each one will be less comprehensive and therefore likely to be less valuable (without extensive cross-linking). Sometimes the sum is greater than the combined value of it's pieces.
  2. If the book has a large and dedicated team of contributors. A cohesive group of contributors, especially like those from academic institutions (groups of teachers, classes of students, etc) can work together to maintain and improve larger bodies of work.

Consideration should be made to break a large book into several small books if such a split will improve the quality and coverage of materal.

Mergers[edit]

The opposite of a book split is a book merger, and sometimes these are just as necessary. When individual books are too small and limited, or when there is significant overlap between two books without significant differences in definition (scope, target audience, etc) the two could probably be merged.

Small Books[edit]

Small books have a number of benefits. Here are a few:

  1. It's easier to measure completion in a smaller book
  2. Smaller books have a more well-defined focus, which means they tend not to sprawl as new material is added
  3. Fewer pages means fewer pages that need to be written to and kept at a particular level of quality
  4. It's easier to identify holes in coverage when the subject matter is more focused on a particular topic
  5. Instead of creating a large book with many redlinks (which can make you feel hopeless), you can create a small book and make noticable progress on it. Create additional books later, as earlier books grow.

I recommend writing smaller books when possible, and if you have a large idea for a book you should separate it into ideas for multiple smaller books.

Splitting Books[edit]

Here are some steps to take when splitting books, so you don't get overwhelmed with the job:

  1. Mark the page with {{Split}} to make sure other people are aware of your intentions. This way you can get interested parties involved in the planning and execution, and you can solicit feedback.
  2. Create outlines for all books that will result from your efforts, including books which already exist but are being radically altered. Make sure you know what the end goal looks like, so you know what direction you should be heading in at all times. These outlines can be on paper, or on a talk page, or somewhere in your user space, or wherever. The important part is that you have a plan.
  3. List all existing pages in your book on the outline, and show where they are moving to, what they are being renamed to, and how they are being altered for the final project
  4. Create any necessary templates for all the books, including navigational templates and categories.
  5. Consider creating a subject page that will keep all the new sub-books organized, and acknowledge that they are related in some way. Consider turning the old main page of the book being split into a redirect to the new subject page.
  6. Create the books, or create one of the books first and keep the rest of your outlines handy. You can come back to your notes later when it's time to create the next book in the series, or other authors can get started on the work before you have time to get to it.

Opportunities[edit]

So long as you are massively rearranging the structure of one book, and creating at least one other book from scratch, this could be a great opportunity to do a few other high profile changes as well: Mergers between related books on the sub-topics, rearrangements of reading order, etc. So long as you are doing the work,