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Des Moines, Iowa


Book Ideas

Geoff Wood

One of the goals on my "list of things to do at some point in my life" is to write and publish a book. I've been an avid reader, and writer, for most of my life and I've always thought that a natural extension of that would be write my own book.

I'm not yet ready to start on my book but the subject has come up a few times in the last few weeks and for some reason became top of mind tonight as I was working up some marketing homework.

I was at a luncheon with some friends from class the other day and one of the firms present was AuthorSolutions a company down in Bloomington that facilitates people publishing their own books. It's not necessarily the "I've been published and I'm rich" type of publisher but someone that I'll keep in mind for the future.

Anyway, one of the barriers to writing a book is getting the idea to write about and I'm far from it. However, there are a couple ideas that I'm interested in writing about though I don't think any of them will become book-worthy. However, they are all interesting to me, most are interesting to at least some of my friends and family, so if they did become a book I'd probably be able at least give them away as Christmas presents.

Idea 1: A History of the Iowa Gamma Chapter of Phi Delta Theta
I love tradition and feel very attached to my fraternity. At some point in the last year the chapter unveiled a new website and I noted that the chapter history page is severely lacking. Part of the problem is that the chapter churns one fifth or so of it's active members every year and no one really takes the job of historian very seriously. Therefore, traditions morph a bit as does recall. This year was the 95th anniversary of the chapter and therefore just about time to have a historical account written. Unfortunately, with school, work, and the rest of my life, I never got more than five or so pages into writing to it. Perhaps I should embark now on putting together a comprehensive history for the 100th Anniversary in 2013.

Estimated Sales: Well, there are 1800 or so initiated members (though many have passed on) - maybe - 100 or so? Actually, now that I think about it, it might be something that could be included as an incentive with a capital campaign for the chapter. They did this with a drawing of the original chapter house during a capital campaign around the 85th anniversary.

Idea 2: A History of Iowa State Dance Marathon
Much like the Iowa Gamma history project, I also started this last summer and worked on it for a few weeks before getting distracted with other more pressing matter. Dance Marathon, my chosen philanthropy at Iowa State, suffers from the same churn as my fraternity, and I've noticed on the current website that a lot of facts and history have been forgotten or changed over time. I was part of Dance Marathon since it's onset (just an observer in Year 1 but part of the organizing committee for the next three years) so I'm somewhat at fault for not documenting those early days. Rather than a book, I have this targeted for a Wikipedia article.

Estimated Sales: 0 (Wikipedia is free for all).

Idea 3: A Research Project on MBA's an My LinkedIn Network
This idea is a bit random but when I started my MBA studies over a year ago I noticed that a lot of folks have their MBA. Nowhere is this more visible than in my LinkedIn network, where I can the history of higher education in for all of my (currently) 263 professional (and personal) connections. I'm not sure why this is of interest to me but it's the type of thing that I'll spend a bunch of time on some day.

Here's how I'd lay out the research, with lots of cross-indexed information on each connection...
  • All higher degrees
  • MBAs of any sort
  • MBAs by rank at time of the person was in school
  • Various circles of acquaintances (high school friends, Phi Delts, I-State connections, post-grad folks, business only folks, etc).
Estimated Sales: 0. This one's not book-worthy, either, but it might just be Web 2.0 enough to get into some sort of tech or Biz School journal. Actually, if I can make it professional enough this might just be an idea for an article in the Harvard Business Review. I've read a lot of the ol' HBR in the last few years and have added that to the aforementioned "list of things to do at some point in my life".

In summary, if I'm able to actually get any to the point of publishing (be it AuthorSolutions, Wikipedia, or HBR) I'll likely net all of $0. Oh well, great writers write for passion not for money, right?