Frequently Asked Questions
» How long does it take to do a successful corporate history book?
We can synchronize our schedule with yours. Some organizations contact Write Stuff 5 or 6 years in advance of a major corporate milestone, like a significant anniversary. They want to ensure that Jeff Rodengen and Write Stuff are available to accomplish this extremely important work. In the case of long-term development, we will discretely conduct oral history interviews for the first half of the schedule, and then swing into manuscript development for the last two years or so. Other corporations, perhaps due to circumstances beyond their control, will need a book available much sooner, from a year to 16 months from contacting us. Our quickest is 9 months, our longest (by request) 6 years. The average for our over 130 corporate history books, is between 14 and 18 months. We are passionate historians. The longer you allow us to research, the more thorough we can be.
» Our staff is extremely busy. Is this going to take up a lot of our time?
Most employees never realize we are working on the book until shortly before publication. That's why we've been considered stealth or minimally invasive researchers. Our research team quietly and efficiently gathers the information we need. Our turnkey process is designed to minimize the time investment on your part. Executives are consistently impressed with our courtesy and discretion.
» We don't really have what you would consider "archives." Can we still do a book?
Over many years of research and manuscript development, we have seen the best and the worst of archives, and have become resourceful at adapting our research accordingly. Companies that tell us they lack archives are very impressed with the degree of historic detail and breadth of anecdotal narrative we are able to provide in our volumes.
» How will you ensure that the story is told accurately?
Our research teams use many sources of information, including antecedent works, annual reports, corporate newsletters, published articles, executive speeches, and industry trade publications, as well as library and historical society archives. We also interview the widest spectrum of officers, veteran employees, retirees, industry authorities, technical experts and, with your guidance, key customers and vendors. Our work is also heavily annotated and thoroughly indexed, leaving a valuable trail of references for future historians to follow.
» How will a major revision be avoided?
Write Stuff's team is responsive to your goals and concerns, and the most experienced in matching a corporation's expectations to its strategic audiences. By presenting our manuscript in an incremental sequence, two or three chapters at a time, beginning with a comprehensive outline, our work is contoured to your goals from our first meeting to the delivery of your books.
» Our corporate anniversary or special event is still three or four years away. Shouldn't we wait?
It's important to start as soon as possible to preserve essential oral histories. We can design a "smart start" schedule to synchronize with your requirements.
» How are you going to please all of the reviewers who will have a say in the final product?
Pleasing different readers can be a challenge, and that's why most organizations turn to Write Stuff rather than challenge already stressed internal staff to undertake the substantial research, interviews, drafting, and technical publishing chores required to deliver a provocative and persuasive professional publication. Nearly a quarter-century of experience has taught us the importance and sensitivity in ensuring that the book will be well-balanced and accommodate the widest range of voices.
» We are more interested in a book about our future than our past. Can you help us?
Yes. In today's economic environment, that is a common concern. We pride ourselves on providing an effective tool for potential acquisitions, sales, marketing, promotion, recruiting and sustained growth. We will fashion a book that supports where you've been in a way that illuminates where you're going.
» How many individuals are typically interviewed, and how long does each interview take?
Our interviews are brief (about 45 minutes to an hour) and well researched. We promise that our schedules will remain flexible in deference to the important responsibilities of your leadership and all interviewees. We will begin with a list of 30 or so "absolutely need to be interviewed" nominees. During these interviews, additional names are nominated. We will make note of these nominations and share them with our corporate liaison, who will approve the suggestions. We will eventually interview between 50 and 75 individuals, representing the widest spectrum of officers, veteran employees, retirees, industry authorities, technical experts and, with your guidance, key customers and vendors. All interviews will be digitally recorded, transcribed, and carefully harvested for inclusion into the developing manuscript. These historically important transcripts will be made available for your archives at the conclusion of the project.
» Could you please describe the time commitments required for a "thorough review" of the manuscript?
The manuscript will be presented in incremental fashion, usually two or three chapters at a time. Not only is this process easier on reviewers, our team will also receive valuable incremental guidance along the way. With each review cycle, you will be given a generous amount of time, never less than two full weeks, and often a month can be scheduled. To put this into perspective, the incremental drafts received can be carefully reviewed in an hour or two.
» What does the manuscript look like?
The manuscript, as well as the incremental manuscript chapters, look just like the book. It contains all the text, all the images, all the captions, and all the artistic devices we have employed to keep the reader interested, motivated and entertained. These devices are elements like personality sidebars, technological sidebars, industry milestone sidebars, timelines and other special features. The more interesting you can make a book, the more of the actual text a reader will absorb and retain. After all, a corporate history book should be one of the most important tools in an organization's communication tool belt, and the message should be developed carefully to target specific goals for specific audiences.
» Can we publish our book in multiple languages?
Write Stuff has published corporate history books in such diverse languages as Chinese, Portuguese and Spanish. Our principal author, Jeff Rodengen, speaks several languages, and has interviewed in Spanish, French and English. We have a superb system for parallel English and foreign language manuscript development. Once our English incremental chapters have been approved by you, translation of those chapters begins. One of our works, for renowned Brazilian aerospace giant Embraer, was published in a single, composite English and Brazilian Portuguese edition.