[Note: This comment from “Adan” seemed to merit a reprint as a “Does Anybody Know” column. I’ve sent him a Google Wave invitation myself.]
I was using Yahoo Groups (they bought and crippled Dutch “Clubs” software, while Google Groups is even poorer; all quite outdated) and a little Drupal and Mediawiki site setup for some information freedom activist news. Most issues could be done in Drupal and/or Mediawiki. But now there is Wave…
Then my girlfriend and I both have some stories to write books about. She about (extreme) personal experiences and I about some political murder research.
So don’t know what to do. Maybe just start with Open Office to get the text digitalised, get Mediawiki and/or Drupal ready with add-ons. Must be secret and encrypted too, as the first edits contain too much personal info. I haven’t figured it out yet.
Anyway, I’d applied for Wave, but probably my remarks about Yahoo versus Google groups were not a main reason to select me.
Hope you still have an invitation for THE Wave and maybe can give more suggestions how to get to publish a book; both on internet and bookstores.
Consider joining the Yahoo group, Self-Publishing. There are nearly 3,000 people with varying degrees of experience in bringing books to market there. Unless, of course, you’re wedded to doing an interactive, web-based ebook.
In general, if you’re producing text, you want to use a word-processor. Regardless of whether you want to pour it into a design for a print book, or convert to several ebook formats, you need to follow a few simple rules (one carriage return to end a paragraph, handle indents with styles, only one space after a period, etc., minimal number of styles)
After that, the steps vary, but you might start by writing the book that will best meet your readers’ needs. The rest can be dealt with after the second or third draft.
Just a few thoughts . . .
It’s just my natural paranoia, but under no circumstances put personal, sensitve, proprietary, or valuable information “in the cloud”. Collaboration should be done over one-to-one links that can’t be easily accessed by large numbers of people, the phone, secured email, etc. If that means mailing thumb drives back and forth, so be it.
“In general, if you’re producing text, you want to use a word-processor.”
Interesting, I tend to think much the opposite. If you are producing formatted pages, then you want to use a word processor. If all you are producing is text, stick with simple tools. I would go with a light weight text editor and write in markdown (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Markdown) or one of the other lightweight formatting languages. Various web tools, and the ever-capable pandoc (http://johnmacfarlane.net/pandoc/) can turn that into whatever finished format you need.
As for privacy and encryption: if you’re using plain text, the files are small enough that you can securely store them in any number of ways. I would download thunderbird, mozilla’s email client) and the enigmail (http://enigmail.mozdev.org/) plugin and just send the different versions to myself as gpg-encrypted files. You could also look at keeping the files in an encfs (http://www.movingtofreedom.org/2007/02/21/howto-encfs-encrypted-file-system-in-ubuntu-and-fedora-gnu-linux/) directory.
Google wave is an unconditional failure for you if you are looking for the privacy of very personal data. Closed services run by data-miners should not be trusted to keep your information secure.
I second the warning re: Google Wave. Especially in light of the news just come out that the attack on Chinese citizens by, apparently, their government, through Google and Gmail, used a ‘back door’ that Google put into Gmail at the insistence of the US Government.
Security: Not usually a big issue for manuscripts in process. There are 2 million finished ones looking for publishers in the US alone, in an average year. There were more than 400,000 published in the US alone in 2008, and undoubtedly ore in 2009. The vast majority sold very few copies. If you’re going to steal something, it’s wise to steal something with a greater probable value, so most data thieves aren’t going to bother with most unpublished manuscripts. (NB: There are exceptions, but you know them when you see them.)
@Ian: Absolutely, you might want to use a text editor for writing, and then something heavier for formatting, but I would NEVER advise using a word processor to format a book. It’s quite hard to get a pro-level format out of one, and it’s usually a waste of your time to try. Use the right tools for the right jobs, and you get better results for less effort.