It’s a lot of pressure to write a book!

Regression and Other Stories is almost done, and I was spending a couple hours going through it starting from page 1, cleaning up imprecise phrasings and confusing points. . . .

One thing that’s hard about writing a book is that there are so many places you can go wrong. A 500-page book contains something like 1000 different “things”: points, examples, questions, etc.

Just for example, we have two pages on reliability and validity in chapter 2 (measurement is important, remember?). A couple of the things I wrote didn’t feel quite right, so I changed them.

And this got me thinking: any expert who reads our book will naturally want to zoom in on the part that he or she knows the most about, to check that we got things right. But with 1000 things, we’ll be making a few mistakes: some out-and-out errors and other places where we don’t explain things clearly and leave a misleading impression. It’s a lot of pressure to not want to get anything wrong.

We have three authors (me, Jennifer, and Aki), so that helps. And we’ve sent the manuscript to various people who’ve found typos, confusing points, and the occasional mistake. So I think we’re ok. But still it’s a concern.

I’ve reviewed a zillion books but only written a few. When I review a book, I notice its problems right away (see for example here and here). I’m talking about factual and conceptual errors, here, not typos. It’s not fun to think about being on the other side, to imagine a well-intentioned reviewer reading our book, going to a topic of interest, and being disappointed that we screwed up.